Canada is the biggest market for exported craft beers – accounting for just over half of total exports – while Asia Pacific was a strong growth market (up 7.4% excluding Japan).
Export growth was supported by the Brewers Association’s Export Development Program, which seeks to help brewers grow international distribution.
The Brewers Association, the trade association for small and independent brewers, estimates that more than 100 such brewers are exporting beers around the world.
“Supported by the BA’s Export Development Program, craft beer export volume increased by 3.6% in 2017, now totaling 482,309 barrels and valued at $125.4m,” reports the organization.
Canada is by far the largest market for US craft beer exports, accounting for 51.3% of exports. Other leading importers were the UK, accounting for 10.5%; Sweden (6.7%); Korea, (4.6%); Australia (3.8%); and China (2.5%).
In terms of growth, exports to Asia-Pacific were up 7.4% excluding Japan (Japan was up 2.6%), while Western Europe grew by 1.3%.
Export value continues to rise
The value of US craft exports has risen steadily over the past few years, although volume growth is slower than it has been in the past.
In 2016, US craft beer exports reached $121m, with volume growth of 4.4%.
In 2015, exports reached a value of $116m, with volumes growing 16.3%.
Expanding international footprint
Alongside a growth in exports, US craft brewers have been increasing their presence in international markets.
Over the last three years Goose Island has dramatically accelerated international expansion, opening six international brewpubs in just over a year with two more to come in 2018. By the end of this year it will have brewpubs in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, London, Monterrey, Toronto, Melbourne and Seoul.
Brooklyn Brewery, meanwhile, has been collaborating with Carlsberg in Europe for several years, and the partnership is creating a new brewery for small-batch classic and experimental beers in Lithuania.
The Brewers Association launched its Export Development Program (EDP) in 2004. The program seeks to educate international trade and media about US craft beers and culture; inform member breweries about international opportunities; and complement the industry’s own efforts to increase international distribution.
So far this year, the EDP has been raising awareness of US craft beer at festivals in London, Paris and Beijing.
The EDP also provides brand exposure through trade shows in Europe, Asia, North America and South America.