Meijer’s Commitment to Craft Beer Pays Off
Meijer began carrying its first craft brew more than 20 years ago. Today, Meijer remains committed to the growing industry and the up-and-coming local breweries across the Midwest.
According to Meijer, its commitment to local craft breweries represents an annual economic impact of more than $100 million across the Midwest. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based superstore retailer expects to stay on par with its projected double-digit volume growth in craft beer sales, as it has experienced over the past three years.
With respect to Michigan-based craft beer alone, Meijer reports it has seen a 20 percent increase across its six-state footprint so far this year, said Rich O'Keefe, Meijer senior buyer, during a recent exclusive roundtable gathering of some of the best craft beer breweries in southeast Michigan.
A Great Dialogue
"We attribute this growth to establishing a great dialogue with craft beer breweries throughout Michigan and cultivating their popularity across our retail footprint," O'Keefe said during the roundtable at Detroit’s Atwater Brewery. "The consumer response has been tremendous. It proves that the thirst for Michigan craft beer is apparent throughout our retail markets. 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 gathered together several Detroit and Michigan-based brewery owners and founders at Atwater Brewery to discuss product trends and the state of the local craft beer industry. The event kicked off local in-store tasting events with area craft "brewlebrities" on site at select Meijer stores.
"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, EVP of merchandising and marketing for Meijer. "We are proud to celebrate the craft masters who drove this industry to where it is today in Detroit. Their commitment to quality and craftsmanship is fueling demand for craft beer in and around Detroit."
Meijer began carrying its first craft brew – Bell's Oberon – 20 years ago at a single Kalamazoo store, and today sells more than 550 different craft beers from 220 local breweries across the retailer's six-state footprint. Of those, 40 are produced by Detroit or southeast Michigan breweries. Meijer continues to partner with local craft brewers to expand their distribution. In fact, Michigan craft beer sales account for 31 percent of the retailer's craft beer sales and 10 percent of the retailer's total beer sales.
"Being in the same room with this group of craft ‘brewlebrities’ – knowing their histories and the how far they've come is truly amazing," said Shannon Long, producer and co-host of Pure Brews America, who moderated the roundtable discussion. "I think what makes them great is that they are focused on their core and not the next hot thing. They don't need to follow a trend because they are the trend. "
Meijer operates 230 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.