Brewers Are Crafting a Case For Their Niche Products

Imported beers long have prospered by being the trade-up option from regular domestic brews. But now such imports as Heineken and Corona Extra must respond to a niche that is grabbing their cachet and sales: craft brews.

Case sales of craft brews increased 10.6% for the year ended Oct. 4 while sales of imported beer at food stores (excluding super centers) declined 0.6%, per The Nielsen Co., New York.

Increasingly, beer distributors have been letting go of old practices like SKU rationalization and are taking on more small brewers as retailers open greater amounts of space for craft brands.
Through the first three quarters of 2008, 191 new beer products were introduced compared with 134 last year and 122 in 2006, per Mintel, Chicago. More of them are craft seasonal brews