There was a time—say 35 years ago—when the best beers you could buy in America came from Europe. It was a one-way beer stream flowing from east to west across the Atlantic. The current has finally begun to shift. Well, a little bit. About 80 of America’s 4,000+ small and independent breweries exported beer last year, much of it destined for Europe. (Right: Beers from Seattle’s Schooner Exact Brewing found their way to Japan in 2015.)
Today the Brewers Association announced that last year beer exports increased by 16.3 percent globally, led by a 33.4 percent increase in exports to Western Europe. In 2015, America’s small and independent brewers exported 446,151 barrels of beer. In dollar figures, $116 million. The increase can be attributed in part to the success of the Brewers Association’s Export Development Program (EDP).
Once again, Canada led the way, accounting for 51 percent of exports. Growth was most significant in Western Europe, where Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom each took a market share of approximately 10 percent. The top five was rounded out by Australia, which accounted for 4 percent of exports. Ireland, the Netherlands, Thailand and Taiwan were the fastest growing markets in 2015.
“Small and independent craft brewers are putting American beer on the global map,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “There’s a growing thirst from beer lovers in countries around the world for bold, innovative products from American craft brewers. As the demand for American craft beer continues to grow abroad, the Brewers Association is pleased to support our members by increasing their access to international markets.”
The EDP, which generates exposure for American craft beer through trade shows, festivals, seminars, media outreach and competitions, among other activities, was initiated in 2004 with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Market Access Program (USDA MAP). There are now approximately 80 small and independent brewers exporting their beers from the U.S., by EDP estimates.