For the Love of The Craft

Craft Beer Continues to Delight Consumers with Its Packaging.

By: Elisabeth Cuneo, Editor

With the move towards eco-friendly packaging, the global beer packaging market is undergoing positive change.

I love reading and writing about craft beer. It’s an exciting market that is growing, not as much as when it made its boom years back, but growing nevertheless. I also enjoy exploring all of the new varieties, seeing the interesting package designs and labels available, as well as the quirky names that some of these beers adorn. I also like learning about the brewery and the people behind it that make it all happen.

The Pull to Craft

So, why the craft beer boom? I believe that consumers are getting more daring, more curious and more interested in bigger flavors than ever before. Also, from a packaging standpoint, craft beer generally is packaged in bottles and cans with high-impact graphics, interesting names and an overall more resonating brand identity than domestic varieties. Not that these don’t have strong identity; everyone knows what a Budweiser is, but that Bud may lack an emotional pull that craft beer is famous for, due to the relationship that consumers have with the brewery itself. Many consumers reach for their local brewer’s product. I mostly buy Michigan craft beer because its local and I feel like I am part of something, supporting my state, and drinking beer that’s made only a couple hours, or even minutes away.

According to the 2017 Brewers Association (BA) “Year in Beer” report, there are more than 6,000 craft breweries in operation, and more than 80% of adults aged 21 and over now live within 10 miles of a craft brewery. That means that consumers are saturated with craft beer options!

Beer tourism is also growing, with the average craft drinker visiting 3.5 breweries near their homes and 2.5 breweries within two hours’ driving distance. Also, according to the association, 64% of respondents said that visiting a brewery/tap room was a new or different beer-drinking occasion, which indicates that brewery visits have created a new sales channel for beer. Consumers are buying beer at these breweries, and not just on draft, but cans and bottles for at-home consumption.

Cans, Bottles, Labels, Oh My!

Growth in the global beer market has in turn fueled the growth of the global beer packaging market. Technavio (technavio.com) predicts that the global beer packaging market will grow at a CAGR of over 4% between 2016 and 2020. Growth will be seen in both glass, and can packaging. With the move towards eco-friendly packaging, the global beer packaging market is undergoing positive change. According to Technavio, today most packaging consists of lightweight beer bottles, which are not only eco-friendly, but are also cost-effective for beer manufacturers.

According to the BA, growth in bottles outpaces that of cans, but both segments are growing. While bottles are still the preferred package choice, cans are growing and making their way into more shopping carts. This lies partially with the change in consumer perception. In years past, cans may have had a negative perception with consumers as being less premium than glass bottles, but fewer beer drinkers feel that way as more and more craft options launch solely in cans. Craft beer lovers enjoy variety– of flavors, of packages, of sizes and of brands.

Cans are emerging as more new and small craft brewers opt for a canning line over a bottling line. Cans deliver big benefits to brewers, as they help keep light and oxygen out of the beer better than glass. Another big advantage lies with packaging cans with shrink labels. This format allows brewers to be able to purchase a large number of plain cans and various labels to wrap on demand, eliminating a large stock of one beer varieties’ package. This allows for shorter runs, an easier switch to seasonal runs and less overall waste.

However beer is consumed, whether in cans, bottles, or on draft, its certain that craft consumers enjoy ordering, purchasing and drinking craft beer. With all of the interesting varieties, flavors and package designs, there is usually something for just about everyone, even the beer novice. Craft is growing and with it comes more fun and more options across both bottles and cans to satisfy both consumers and packagers, alike. Cheers!