When it comes to the beer business, the Fourth of July weekend is as big as it gets, with consumers spending a billion dollars on beer by some estimates. So, perhaps it's fitting that as beer drinkers reach for a few cold ones this weekend, there are fireworks erupting over "independence" in the beer industry.
The Brewers Association (BA), the nonprofit trade group which represents "small and independent" craft brewers, has announced the launch of a new seal to designate beers that are produced by "independent" craft brewers. Craft brewers are an increasingly popular segment of the $107 billion U.S. beer market, comprising around 1/5 of brew sales in 2016.
The seal—a beer bottle flipped upside down with the words "certified independent craft"—is aimed to "capture the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned" according to the BA.
The seal will be made available free of charge to any of the over 5300 craft breweries in the United States which meet the BA's definition of "craft brewer." Those requirements include annual production of 6 million barrels or less, and less than 25 percent ownership or control by a non-craft entity.
The "certified independent" seal will appear on packaging, retail displays and in brewery communications and marketing materials. The move comes as craft brewers face increasing pressure in the marketplace.
Total production volume growth of BA defined craft beer slowed to six percent growth in 2016, marking the first time in several years the segment did not post double digit growth. Further complicating matters is the fact there are a record number of breweries in operation, and more on the way. It's making the competition for distribution, shelf space and tap handles as fierce as ever.