Craft Spirits Producers Sold More Than 7 Million Cases Last Year Alone

american craft spirits association 2018 craft Spirits Data ProjectThe American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), Park Street, and the IWSR presented highlights from the 2018 Craft Spirits Data Project (the Project) at the Third Annual Craft Spirits Economic Briefing at Fine & Rare in New York. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which was first introduced in 2016, is a first-of-its-kind research initiative that aims to provide a solid and reliable fact base for evaluating performance and trends in the U.S. craft spirits industry.

The ongoing Project, which seeks to quantify the number, size, and impact of craft spirits producers in the U.S., is an effort led by ACSA, Park Street, and the IWSR, with collaboration from key industry groups including the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).

Key findings and highlights revealed during the briefing include the following:

1) The craft distilling industry sold nearly 7.2 million cases in 2017, up 23.7% in volume over 2016, with $3.7 billion in sales and 29.9% growth by value. The market share of U.S. craft spirits reached 3.2% in volume and 4.6% in value in 2017, up from 1.2% (volume)/1.4% (value) in 2012 and 2.6% (volume)/3.8% (value) in 2017.

2) The number of active craft distilleries in the U.S. grew by 15.5% over the last year to 1,835 distilleries. Active craft distillers are defined as licensed U.S. distilled spirits producers that removed 750,000 proof gallons (or 394,317 9L cases) or less from bond, market themselves as craft, are not openly controlled by a large supplier, and have no proven violation of the ACSA Code of Ethics.

3) Craft Spirits industry investment has doubled over the past two years. In 2017, investment by the U.S. craft spirits industry increased by over $190 million to $590 million in total, doubling from $299 million in 2015. These investments primarily covered the build out of tasting rooms and other visitor experiences, equipment to increase production capacity, and associated labor costs.

4) Exports are up 5.7% since 2016 with more than half a million cases exported. Exports of U.S. craft spirits reached 598,000 cases in 2017, adding more than 7.7% of additional volume to U.S. craft distillers’ total sales.

5) Distillery and tasting room sales make up 40% of all sales for small craft distilleries, while out of state sales make up 62% for larger craft distilleries. Direct sales at the distillery are important for all craft distillers but especially important for small craft producers (between 0 and 10,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually). Out of state business is particularly important for large producers (between 100,001 and 750,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually).

6) Some states are “craftier” than others, with California, New York, Washington, Texas, and Colorado leading the pack. Geographically, the market remains concentrated. The top five states by number of craft distilleries – CA (156), NY (134), WA (122), TX (108) & CO (99) — make up 33.7% of the U.S. craft distiller universe, and the next five states — OR, PA, NC, OH, FL — comprise an additional 18.4% of the market. The remaining states represent 47.9% of the market.

7) Federal Excise Tax (FET) reform is helping to stimulate craft spirits growth. Surveys of craft distillers indicate investments in equipment and staff in the U.S. craft spirits industry are accelerating in 2018 and are expected to continue to accelerate in 2019 due to the impact of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which became effective January 1, 2018 and reduced the Federal Excise Tax on distilled spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually.

The Craft Spirits Data Project © 2018 is a proprietary research project whose goal is to provide a solid and reliable fact base for evaluating performance and trends in the U.S. craft spirits industry. The Craft Spirits Data Project, which was first announced and presented in 2016, is the beverage industry’s first-ever comprehensive craft distilling study. The Project quantifies the number, size, and impact of craft spirits producers in the United States.

Together, the ACSA, Park Street, and the IWSR launched the Craft Spirits Data Project in October, 2015. 2018 data collection began in January, and remained ongoing through August, 2018. The Project collected data primarily from spirits producers (DSPs), distributors and retailers.

The program aims to create a deeper understanding of the U.S. craft spirits landscape among three key groups: DSPs, distributors and retailers. The study collected comprehensive data on craft distiller production size and patterns, sources of revenue, and the category’s overall economic impact within the spirits industry. The Project also collected data on craft spirits business size, patterns and outlook on the distributor level and assess craft spirits business size and outlook by premise type at retail.

When estimating the number of producers behind the U.S. craft spirits production, the project team relies on a combination of official data released by regulatory authorities, survey data, other industry data sources both national (e.g., NABCA, ACSA) and regional (e.g., Guilds), as well as interviews and team assessments using the craft distiller definition.