As you likely suspected, craft brewers are bringing fewer new products to market amid coronavirus concerns and a slowing economy. According to Sovos ShipCompliant label registration data for the months of April and May 2020, craft brewers had 43.4% fewer new product registrations compared to the same time last year and are instead doubling down on their existing product lines.
This was not the case in other categories though. Overall, producers and wholesalers in the beer, wine and spirits business registered 16,164 products through Sovos ShipCompliant’s Product Registration Online (PRO) system, while many bars, retailers and tasting rooms remained closed due to stay-at-home orders. This represents a drop of 2% over February and March and a 0.3% decrease year-over-year.
“The closure of tasting rooms beginning in mid-March left many industry producers struggling to make ends meet. Breweries, in particular, appear to have rallied around their core products rather than investing in seasonal or limited releases, as a way to cut costs,” said Larry Cormier, vice president, general manager of Sovos ShipCompliant. “Craft beer innovation takes place in the taproom. With limited retail shelf space, many newer brewers focus on taproom sales rather than traditional distribution. So when tasting rooms closed, the newest and smallest brewers took the biggest hit.”
Carbonated wine, hard seltzers and spirits less affected
In recent years, hard seltzers have skyrocketed in popularity with more than 203 new labels registered at the federal level since 2016. These products, along with premixed wine coolers, make up nearly 60% of all malt beverages registered in 2020 – compared to 40% last year.
However, registrations of special malts are only down 15.7% year-over-year, compared to 43% for the overall malt category, indicating sustained momentum in this category despite the coronavirus.
Carbonated wine as a category is also bucking the downward registration trend. Product registrations for carbonated wine soared in the past two months, up an astounding 33 times over the same period last year. By comparison, sparkling wine decreased by 2%, red table and rose wines saw a 13% increase, and table white wines grew by 11%.
Spirits are also doing relatively well with an overall 38% increase year over year. Registrations for rum, gin, tequila and whiskey products are up 240%, 120%, 40% and 25% whereas registrations for vodka products are down 12%, respectively.
Sovos ShipCompliant offers an advanced system for electronic brand registrations for beer, wine and spirits. The Sovos ShipCompliant Product Registration Online (PRO) system is available in more than 20% of the country, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota.
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