MiBiz finds that the craft beverage industry is growing up, but that’s causing some growing pains.
The state of the craft beer business is examined in a series of articles. MiBiz Staff Writer John Wiegand told WMUK’s Gordon Evans that craft beer continues to grow, but he says that growth is now concentrated among smaller brewers and neighborhood brewpubs. Wiegand says suppliers have carved out a niche to serve those smaller brewers.
Like many industries, craft brewers are keeping an eye on the debate over the federal budget. Wiegand says hop and barley research programs rely in part on federal funding. He says a lot of that research is focused on disease resistance and growing in different climates. Wiegand says it’s uncertain how much research could continue if federal budget cuts were made, but he says the trade group the Brewers Association is putting more money into research projects.
One area where the industry’s maturation is played out in public is the more edgy names and labels for some craft brews. One branding expert told Wiegand that it shows the craft industry in its prepubescent stage. He says curtailing those more potentially offensive names is a business decision because brewers are trying to reach customers beyond white males.
Wiegand says there are challenges throughout the industry in part because “having craft on your label doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.” He says there’s only so much room on store shelves for beer, and it’s harder for smaller players to get their product spread out. Wiegand says while smaller brewers can find a place, “It’s going to be very challenging for someone to become the next Bell’s or the next Founders.”