Today, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) released the Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) for March 2020. After two months of positive expanding beer orders in January and February, the March 2020 BPI stalled at 50. With temporary closures of on-premise establishments, the craft segment plummeted to lowest ever index recording at 35.
Data for the March 2020 Beer Purchasers Index was collected from March 9 — 20, coinciding with the period of temporary on-premise closures and simultaneous increased off-premise volumes due to pantry stocking.
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.
In addition, the “at-risk inventory” index (inventory at risk of going out of code in the next 30 days) for total beer held at 44 and has remained below the 50 mark for the past nine months. However, with temporary closures of many on-premise accounts, the craft segments “at risk” index rose to 65 in March 2020 from 58 in March 2019.
Looking across the segments:
- The rush to bring new seltzer brands to market continues to produce the highest BPI readings across all segments. However, the FMB/seltzer segment retreated from index readings over 90 in January and February 2020 to 80 in March 2020, and only a few points above the 78 reading in March 2019.
- The craft index plummeted to an all-time low reading of 35 for the month, down from 55 in March 2019.
- The index for imports at 52 is a full 10 points below the March 2019 reading. The index remains in expansion territory for the year.
- Premium lights, regulars and below premiums all continue to struggle, posting below 50 index readings.
- The cider segment took another big hit in March, falling to 29 from 48 at the same time last year.