Constellation Brands, parent of Ballast Point, Funky Buddha, and Four Corners, along with Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico, laid off dozens of its craft sales reps last week.
The news leaked on the same day Constellation announced its $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian cannabis company. Constellation also announced earlier this year that its craft and specialty president Marty Birkel would depart the company in February 2019.
The recent restructuring is part of an effort to “[reorganize] its craft sales teams within its import division,” a Constellation Brands spokesperson told Brewbound.
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Sounds familiar: Last year, ABI laid off hundreds of employees, including most of its High End division.
With craft beer’s biggest opponents also its biggest players, what this says to me is: Big Beer doesn’t care about craft beer. It doesn’t have to. Global conglomerates like Constellation and ABI infiltrated craft beer culture by collectively buying up dozens of its brands. Now, they’ve left it to independent brewers to fight among themselves. As craft beer infighting continues, international brands like Corona and Budweiser prosper.
The us-versus-them ethos craft beer has created isn’t hurting Big Beer. It’s cannibalistic. Lines in the sand will eventually wash away; it’s high time that craft, small, independent, or whatever brewers put down the sticks and start building common ground. Brewers should invest in research and development for their own products, share strategies for quality control, and support legislation to alleviate restrictions on small breweries. Maybe stop dining with Trump, though.
The Only Craft Beer Brand Gaining Dollar Share Is Owned by Heineken
Lagunitas Brewing is the only top five U.S. craft beer brand gaining dollar share, Brewbound reports.
According to recent Nielsen data, Lagunitas ranks fourth in dollar share and sixth in volume through July 14, beating out craft brands like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Boston Beer. It’s also the the top craft brand by dollar share and volume in California.
The name of Lagunitas’ game? Packaging, for one. Lagunitas released new 12-pack and 19.2-ounce package formats for its 12th of Never and Sumpin’ Easy brands, both of which were among the nation’s top-selling, according to Nielsen.
Another key to Lagunitas’ success is diversification. Since releasing Hi-Fi Hops, two hopped-up, non-alcoholic sparkling waters, one with THC and one with CBD, the company can barely keep up with demand. Another new product, Hop Water, is making waves as well.
More volume and more product innovations come easy to beer brands backed by international companies. Unfortunately, “real” craft breweries — that is, small and independent brewers—don’t have the capital, the resources, or the legislative power to follow suit. Small breweries can’t compete with the dollar value offered by big-box retail. No matter how big the box, or how tall the can, what small brewers have to offer is their own values, and that’s something data can’t measure.