This week, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) released the Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) for September 2019, and it’s always an interesting indicator of where the beer and other social lubricants markets are heading. The index surveys beer distributors’ purchases across different segments and compares them to previous years. A reading greater than 50 indicates the segment is expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates the segment is contracting.
The total beer index rose to 58 for September 2019 from 46 in September 2018. Compared to all September readings over the past five years, this marks an improving trend over 2016, 2017 and 2018. The “At-Risk Inventory” index for total beer index dropped up to 46 and continues to remain below the 50 mark ending the third quarter. Looking across the segments:
Repeating last month’s performance, the flavored malt beverage/progressive adult beverage (FMB/PAB) (think hard seltzers, teas, sodas, yadda and yadda) segment saw another significant increase over 2018 with an index reading of 79 compared to 60 in September 2018.
The craft index dropped to 45 for September 2019 compared to 57 from September 2018. This marks the second reading below 50 in 2019. The index for imports also took a significant step down from 2018 highs, but remained in expansion territory with an index reading of 51 compared to the September 2018 reading of 62.
Premium lights posted another slight increase over last year’s readings. The September 2018 reading was 36 compared to 31 in 2018. Premium regulars also ticked up slightly over this time last year from 24 to 27. Below premiums fell over the same period from 34 to 31. All three domestic segments continue to struggle with below 50 index readings.
The cider segment continues to show the most variability of any segment in the BPI, falling from 45 to 34. Cider orders continue to contract from peak readings in late 2018. This series will continue to play out as regional ciders brands compete aggressively against larger national cider brands.
The October 2019 BPI survey will run from October 7 through October 8. Results will be released to participating distributors on October 21.