February 15/Washington/The Beer Institute -- New Beer Institute data shows that retail beer sales rose more than 2% in 2011, highlighting beer’s continued strength within the alcohol beverage sector.

The growth in retail revenue, especially from restaurants and convenience stores, puts total retail sales at more than $98 billion last year. This latest trend is further confirmation that beer continues to be the preferred alcohol beverage of Americans, and still enjoys the largest share of revenue and volume when compared to wine and hard liquor.

According to market research company Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be attributed to the high-end beer business. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold off-premises was up nearly 3%.

“Beer continues to be the preferred alcohol beverage of Americans,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute, in a press release. “With sales exceeding $98 billion, the beer industry continues to enjoy the largest share of revenue and volume within the alcohol beverage sector when compared to wine and spirits. While many of our core consumers are still impacted by a slow economic recovery, we are pleased to see a bump in last year’s retail sales, driven by high-end premium domestic and imported beers.”

The total on-premise retail dollar sales increased more than 3% to exceed $55 billion in 2011. Off-premise retail sales also saw an uptick last year, growing slightly less than 1% to more than $43 billion.

“We are pleased to see retail sales grew last year. This positive trend is not only good news for brewers and importers, but also for the 900,000 men and women in this country whose jobs at supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, stadiums, and other outlets are supported by beer sales. We look forward to another year of growth, crafting a product so many Americans love and having a positive economic impact in communities across America,” said McClain.

 From the February 15, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.