Breweries Tout Sales Growth in Part to Local Retail Chain Partnership

Finding the right partner to sell your beer in off-premise locations is a way to see continued growth and increased brand recognition, and that seems to be happening in one of the top beer states in the country according to some Michigan-based breweries.

Seeing a 20 percent increase in volume growth for Michigan-based craft beer sales across its six-state footprint in 2016, Midwest retailer Meijer stores said that it continues to show its commitment to its state’s hometown brands.

That commitment represents an annual economic impact of more than $100 million across the Midwest. Meijer says it expects to stay on par with its projected double-digit volume growth in craft beer sales, as the retailer has experienced over the past three years.

“We attribute this growth to establishing a great dialogue with craft beer breweries throughout Michigan and cultivating their popularity across our retail footprint,” said Meijer senior buyer Rich O’Keefe in a release. “The consumer response has been tremendous. We are proud of the great products Michigan-based breweries produce and look forward to expanding the availability and building the popularity of other great regional breweries.”

Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer that operates 230 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

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Being a part of the retailer has helped some breweries gain a foothold that it wasn’t getting elsewhere. Atwater Brewery owner Mark Rieth said early on for his operation, which started in 1997, getting on shelves was not an easy task.

“Meijer was on the forefront and saw the opportunity for that, not only in the craft beer industry but for the Michigan craft brewers,” he said.

Meijer began carrying its first craft brew – Bell’s Oberon – 20 years ago at a single Kalamazoo, Michigan store, and today sells more than 550 different craft beers from 220 Michigan breweries across the retailer’s footprint.

Rochester Mills Beer Co. Director of Marketing David Youngman added that getting the brewery’s product out to customers in an off-premise setting helped set the bar.

“It forced us to be a better brewery and put out a better product because they have very high standards,” he said.

According to Meijer, Michigan craft beer accounts for 31 percent of the retailer’s craft beer sales and 10 percent of the retailer’s total beer sales.

“The concept of craft beer – especially in Detroit – has grown quickly from a garage hobby to a viable economic engine for Detroit and Michigan,” said Peter Whitsett, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing for Meijer.

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