(Portland, OR) – The Oregonian has a lengthy piece today detailing both changes and challenges for Craft Brew Alliance and Widmer Brothers, in particular.
But Widmer’s core beers — the ones that got it here — have been struggling. Sales have declined two years in a row, even as the company enters new U.S. markets. Its staple, Hefeweizen, which makes up around 60 percent of all Widmer-brand revenue, has led the decline, crowded out in bars across the country by a bevy of other wheat beers.
To help illustrate, Hefeweizen sales declined 12.3% in volume in the past four weeks in the Food, Drug and Convenience off-premise channels (as tracked by Symphony IRI Group).
CBA has said that the decline of Hefeweizen is to be expected given competition in the market (mainly Shock Top and Blue Moon) and its positioning of Widmer Brothers as the high-end choice in the portfolio over Redhook and Kona. Still, if Hefeweizen is a volume brand with lower margins than what they are executing with product lines like the Rotator IPA series, the Alchemy Series, etc., 60% of revenue is alarming.
Hefeweizen’s struggles aside, management maintained on the last conference call that Widmer Brothers contributed significant positive incremental revenue to CBA, as a whole. Management alluded to the opportunities to continue to “activate” the Widmer Brothers brand outside of the West Coast and they have the AB distribution network at their disposal to be able to do it.