National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) is kind enough to share some of the impressive data it collects. Recently, its March 2018 Beer Purchasers’ Index showed total beer fell one point below last year’s index to 48. This reading indicates a continued and slight contraction in total orders placed by beer distributors. Looking across the different segments, the index for Imported beer rose by two points to 65. The Craft index dipped to a record low of 45, continuing a three-month trend of slightly lower readings.
The FMB/PAB segment saw a significant jump to 60.5 from a year ago. Cider continues to show signs of recovery in 2018. The cider index at 36 is not necessarily indicating an expansion; however, each monthly index is higher than in prior months. Premium lights and below premiums both posted relatively lower readings, while the premium regular index saw a slight three-point increase over the 2017.
The survey asks purchasers at beer distributorships if they ordered more beer, about the same, or less beer from their suppliers in the current month. The results are reported as a composite diffusion index where a reading greater than 50 indicates the segment is expanding, and a reading below 50 indicates the segment is contracting.
NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones said, “This is the first time the BPI for Craft has fallen below the 50 mark since tracking began in October 2014. This is only a single monthly reading and does not mean a new trend has been established.”
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