That's according to National Beer Wholesalers Association Beer Purchasers Index. Results for September showed the total beer index at 45.5 and the "at risk" inventory at 50.
The September data marks a shift to a lower "at-risk" inventory measure compared to September 2021 and August 2022, indicating distributors are carefully managing inventories heading into the fourth quarter, NBWA said. Continued inflationary pressures and a slowing economy bring the industry to a fourth month of pause after five months of positive ordering trends in 2022.
The only beer segment in expansion territory was imports with a reading of 61 in September, slightly lower than the year-earlier reading of 65.
Perhaps reflecting the impact of inflation on household budgets, the below-premium segment was at 47, which was significantly higher than the year-earlier reading of 29. September was the fourth month in which below-premium was the only segment to see an increase.
Also perhaps reflecting inflation's impact on family budgets, the craft index plunged to 26 from 44 a year earlier.
Premium lights index posted a reading of 47, down from 50 a year earlier, and the premium regular segment was at 36, below the September 2021 level of 41. The FMB/seltzer segment continues to contract, falling to 24 from 40 a year earlier, and cider remains below fell to 24 from 34 in September 2021.
An index reading above 50 signals expansion; a reading below 50 signals contraction.