The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) released the Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) for May 2020, and the results have returned to a “new normal.” Yes, I punched myself for typing “new normal” again — but for real, the previous BPI results were wild.
So, the BPI is a forward-looking indicator for distributors to measure expected beer demand. 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.
Data for the May 2020 BPI was collected from May 10 through May 20, coinciding with continued on-premise closures and simultaneous increased sales in off-premise establishments. The total BPI for May rebounded to 66 after falling to 35 in April. The May 2020 reading stands four points higher than the May 2019 reading of 62. This is the largest single monthly swing the Total Beer Index has ever recorded.
BPI saw a significant rebound in the May index across all segments from April lows. Most notably, the below premium segment hit a record reading of 71 in May. At the same time, premium lights and below premiums saw significant jumps and are reporting higher index readings. The high-end segments of imports and craft also rebounded, along with the FMB/seltzer segment which returned to a 90 reading.
With many on-premise retail outlets slow to restart or still shut down, the “at-risk inventory” index (inventory at risk of going out of code in the next 30 days) for total beer remained elevated at 69 but was significantly below the reading of 80 in April 2020.
Looking across the segments:
- The FMB/seltzer segment continues to produce the highest BPI readings across all segments. The FMB/seltzer segment returned to 90 range for May 2020 and is well above the May 2019 reading of 79.
- The index for imports at 53 returns the segment to expansion territory after falling below 50 for the first time in April.
- The craft index rebounded to 42 in May 2020 from the April all-time low reading of 14. This month’s reading is still down from 55 in May 2019.
- Premium lights, regulars and below premiums all posted record high readings in May. The below premium segment hit a record high of 71, premium light hit a record high of 69 and regular premium came in at 59. For the second month in a row, these three segments reported higher index readings relative to high-end segments of craft and imports.
- The cider segment took another hit in May, falling to 31 from 45 at the same time last year.