NEW YORK -- The specialty beer segment, which includes microbrews, will exhibit an average annual growth rate of 15% through the year 2000, according to a report published this month by Beverage Marketing Corp. here, a research and consulting firm.
"The growth of the specialty beer market has been driven by the same factors since its beginning," Gary A. Hemphill, Beverage Marketing's vice president of information services, told SN. "Specifically, consumers are drawn to hearty, high-quality, good-tasting products and the grassroots, hometown nature of the business."
The specialty beer market share has grown from about 1.7% of the total beer market in 1994 to a projected 2.3% in 1995. Microbrews -- beers with an annual production of less than 15,000 barrels -- encompass 13.5% of the total specialty segment.
The largest segment of the category is the regional specialty brews, made by those annually producing more than 15,000 barrels. As microbrews become more popular, they join this regional segment.
National specialty beers, which includes Samuel Adams, Pete's Wicked Ale and divisions of the majors, such as Miller's Plank Road subsidiary, are the second-largest segment of the specialty segment, with a 34.2% market share.
Hemphill said the appeal of the specialty beers transcends the beer industry and relates to a decreasing role of brand loyalty and willingness by the general populace to experiment with new products and brands. Consumers are also willing to pay a premium price to experience a taste that is different.
"At least for now it seems that as long as a brewer has a good recipe, is well located and managed marginally well, it has a good chance of surviving," Hemphill said.
"Sixty percent of specialty beer is consumed in either the Northeast or the Pacific regions, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington," he added.
The 235-page report costs $2,395 and can be obtained by contacting Beverage Marketing Corp. at (212) 688-7640.