The flavored malt beverage/seltzer segment continues to expand, while craft beer continues to contract, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) for February 2021. The BPI is the only 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.
Overall, the February 2021 BPI saw a solid increase to 70 compared to the February 2020 reading of 64. A reading greater than 50 indicates the segment is expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates the segment is contracting.
The “at-risk inventory” (inventory at risk of going out of code in the next 30 days) continues to inch up from its all-time low readings over the summer and fall, and it now stands at 42 with distributor inventories almost recovered.
“The timing of this month’s BPI survey against the extreme winter weather may prove challenging when it comes to interpreting this month’s results,” explained NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones.
Looking across the segments …
The craft index posted another below 50 reading of 45 for February 2021, compared to 51 in February 2020. This is the third monthly reading below 50 as craft continues to struggle to gain momentum with continued reduced on-premises activity.
The index for imports continues into expansion territory for a reading of 61 in February 2021, well above the 52 reading from February 2020.
The index for premium lights continues to post significantly higher readings with February 2021 at 58, relative to 38 in February 2020.
Regular domestic beer index also saw another significant jump, hitting an index of 49 in February 2021 relative to 27 in February 2020.
Below premium beers had an unexpected jump to 51, breaking the downward trend in the index over the past several months.
The FMB/seltzer category continued to outperform all other segments in February 2021 with a reading of 84, compared to 95 from February 2020. Note that this is the second time the FMB/Seltzer index has dropped below 90 since May 2020.
Finally, the cider segment remains below 50 with a reading of 39 in February 2021 from 34 in February 2020.