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October 04, 2013 - Beer Executives Meet in Las Vegas
Five of the beer industry’s top executives, all staunch competitors, agreed on one thing at the 76th annual National Beer Wholesaler’s Convention: continued, overall volume declines of the category are cause for serious concern.

So on Tuesday, when a panel featuring Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, Anheuser-Busch president Luiz Edmond, Crown Imports president Bill Hackett, MillerCoors CEO Tom Long and Heineken USA CEO Dolf van den Brink took the stage to address thousands of U.S. beer distributors, it was with an eye toward ways to lessen the bleeding.

“Volume concerns are a real issue,” said Long. “Our aim in putting together MillerCoors was to grow the size and value of the entire beer category. We are doing a good job of driving the value of the business but the volume has been down.” <

Overall beer volumes have been in decline throughout the year. Industry-wide sales are down 2.1 percent and domestic brewery depletions are down 3.3 percent through August, according to trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Although total beer volumes increased from 205 million barrels to 207 million barrels in 2012, most industry professionals will claim that it was an anomaly and note the three previous years of declines. If this year’s trends continue, the industry will lose about 10 million barrels alone in 2013.

So what’s to blame? Large domestic brewers have pointed out poor weather, the loss of drinking occasions to wine and spirits and the growing consumer shift towards higher alcohol craft beers.

While that shift has helped Calagione, he said that he’d still like to see overall beer consumption improve. >p>“The craft beer community recognizes that we do need to see overall beer trends return to the positive,” he said. “We are hopeful that we can start getting some of that share back from liquor and wine.”

Read it all, including Sam's surprising argument, here.