Bottles have historically been the dominant package chosen by craft brewers, but cans are making consistent gains against bottles as the package of choice. Bart Watson of Brewers Association details the latest trends from studies and surveys, looking at factors such as consumer perception, brewer size, and geographic location. Below is an excerpt, with a link to the complete article.
Cans and Bottles: Craft Beer Packaging Trends
One of the most frequent data requests I’ve been getting recently relates to packaging. As with everything in craft, packaging is an area where change is the constant, so older analyses quickly go out of date.
Packaging is also an area where there are clearly opportunities to differentiate. In our latest Nielsen Craft Insights Panel (CIP), “container type” was the area where the highest percentage (55%) of craft drinkers said there was “not enough” variety, versus 29% for “more than enough” and 16% for “just enough.”
Let’s start with overall trends. First, bottles continue to be the dominant package chosen by craft brewers, but that dominance has continued to ebb. The below graph shows bottles versus cans in absolute volume and as a percentage of craft (scan) volume from 2011 to late in 2016 (Source: IRI Group MULO+C, Total U.S.). As you can see, bottles still clearly outsell cans, but the can percentage has continued to rise. Note that the percentage rise isn’t because of a decline in bottle sales (which have continued to climb), but simply because the increase in can sales has been faster than the increase in bottle sales.