Press Release

NBWA Releases Beer Purchasers’ Index for March 2021

Media contact: Erin Donar | | 703-229-3702

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) released the Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) for March 2021. The trend over the past couple of months still shows a continued, albeit slow, return to the long-running average total BPI of 57.

The March 2021 reading of 63 remains significantly above March 2020 reading of 50.

The “at-risk” inventory (inventory at risk of going out of code in the next 30 days) measure for March 2021 is 37, a significant decrease from 57 in March 2020.

NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones explained, “In this month’s BPI, we see the comparison to data from March 2020, completed right before the widespread shutdown of the U.S. economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at the “at-risk” inventory, we see the impact of two significant recent events: the severe winter weather during week 8 that slowed many distributor operations and the recent cyber-attack that disrupted supply chain operations throughout the Molson Coors network.”

BPI is the only forward-looking indicator for distributors to measure expected beer demand. The index surveys beer distributors’ purchases across different segments and compares them to previous years. A reading greater than 50 indicates the segment is expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates the segment is contracting.

Looking across the segments for March:

  • The index for imports continued into expansion territory for a reading of 60 in March 2021, well above the 52 reading from March 2020.
  • The craft index posted another below 50 reading of 46 for March 2021, compared to a dismal reading of 33 in March 2020. This is the fourth monthly reading below 50 for craft as the segment continues to struggle to gain momentum with the slow reopening of on-premise activity.
  • The premium lights segment finally moved into contraction territory with a reading of 44 after 10 consecutive months of above 50 readings.
  • The regular domestic beer segment is also reverting to its long-running average, hitting an index of 39. While it is above the March 2020 reading of 30, the index has fallen below 40 for the first time since April of 2020.
  • The below premium segment reading also fell in March 2021 to 39 but remains above its March 2020 reading of 30.
  • The FMB/seltzer segment continued to outperform all other segments in March 2021, reading of 85 compared to 80 from March 2020. Note that this is the third instance of the FMB/Seltzer index dropping below 90 since May 2020.
  • Finally, the cider segment remains below 50 with a reading of 37 in March 2021, compared to 29 in March 2020.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,000 independent beer distributors who service every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Licensed at the federal and state levels, beer distributors get bottles, cans, cases and kegs from a brewer or importer to stores, restaurants and other licensed retail accounts through a transparent and accountable regulatory system. Distributors build brands of all sizes – from familiar domestic beers to new startup labels and imports from around the world – and generate enormous consumer choice while supporting more than 140,000 quality jobs in their home communities. Beer distributors work locally to keep communities safe by sponsoring programs to promote responsible consumption, combat drunk driving and reduce underage drinking.