Shift to Cans Gaining Steam Among Craft Brewers

Shift to Cans Gaining Steam Among Craft Brewers

US beer demand is forecast to reach 6.6 billion gallons in 2021. Rising disposable personal income levels will stimulate consumer spending on beer. However, over the 2006-2016 period, demand for beer in volume terms fell at an average annual rate of 0.3% as the market matured and beer lost market share to other alcoholic beverages, especially among key demographics including baby boomers and millennials.

Metal Cans Outcompeting Glass Bottles

Metal cans provide many advantages over glass bottles when packaging beer, as they are available at lower cost and are more environmentally friendly since they weigh less, releasing lower volumes of carbon dioxide during transport. Additionally, metal cans provide superior protection against ultraviolet light and oxygen penetration, which can turn beer stale in glass bottles. These advantages led to declines in demand for beer packaged in glass bottles, with beer in metal cans cannibalizing some of the market.

Craft Beer Still Growing Strong

Over the historical period, beer consumers became especially interested in craft beer, a segment characterized by traditional brewing methods and annual production of less than 186 million gallons. Although craft beer still remains a relatively small share of the market, its importance continues to grow. Most craft beers are packaged in glass bottles for a premium image, but craft brewers are increasingly moving to metal cans. According to the Brewers Association, the percentage of craft beer packaged in cans rose dramatically, from 5.6% in 2013 to 17.2% in 2016.

Following this trend, companies involved in the manufacturing of canning equipment are specifically targeting craft brewers as customers. For instance, Pneumatic Scale Angelus debuted a new canning technology for beer and other beverages in April 2017. The new CB50 Can Seamer and CB50 Can Filler are designed to meet the needs of craft brewers, because they take up a smaller area on a brewery floor and have a lower price point than equipment intended for larger scale operations.

Want to Learn More?

For in-depth analysis of beer trends, see Beer: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group.

This report contains historical data and analysis of beer demand, production, and removals in gallons from 2006-2016 with projections to 2021. Demand is segmented by packaging type as follows:

  • metal cans
  • glass bottles
  • draft
  • other packaging types.

Total US alcoholic beverage production is also segmented by product as follows:

  • beer
  • wine
  • distilled spirits
  • other alcoholic beverages.

While you’re there, you can check out related reports such as Wine: United States and Beverages: United States.

About the Author

Cara Brosius is a Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. She holds a degree in economics, and her experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.