Export Development Program News – January 2024

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USDA Funding Update

The Brewers Association (BA) Export Development Program (EDP) is excited about a new funding source recently announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). The USDA is encouraging market diversification with RAPP, and the EDP is actively compiling an application with the various regional areas of emphasis in mind. RAPP will complement existing Market Access Program (MAP) funding, which the EDP currently uses to fund its robust slate of activities around the world. The EDP looks forward to the new opportunities that RAPP funding will facilitate, and to the positive impact it will have on U.S. craft beer exports. Stay tuned for more information related to RAPP, which is tentatively set to begin in June of 2024.

The EDP has also received its 2024 MAP funding announcement. The 2024 MAP allocation of $883,050 is slightly lower than 2023, reflecting an overall reduced funding pool for all applicants. MAP money will still allow EDP to fund a diverse slate of market development activities in target markets around the world. Coupled with RAPP funding, the EDP expects to utilize its MAP allocation to expand its programming in both new and existing target markets, to the benefit of craft beer exporters.

EDP Returns to Tokyo for Another American Craft Beer Experience

tokyo american craft beer experience attendees holding sign

The EDP is now looking back on another successful year of its American Craft Beer Experience Festival (ACBE), which was held in Tokyo, Japan from November 10-12, 2023. Japan is a key export destination for American craft brewers, and the EDP traveled with a delegation of U.S. brewery representatives to spread awareness for American craft and stimulate export growth. In total, 40 American craft breweries were represented, either through their importers or at the BA’s new-to-market booth. Despite some chilly weather, the event achieved record attendance, with over 5,000 beer lovers at an outdoor venue located on Tokyo Bay. ACBE Tokyo is executed in collaboration with a committee of six importers and has helped to foster a robust network of trade members actively working with the BA to elevate the volume of quality American craft beer shipped to Japan.

To support and amplify the festival objectives, the BA invested in a social media campaign to engage Japanese craft beer drinkers. During the campaign, USCraftBeer.jp served as the foundation for telling the story of American craft beer, the brewers that make it, and the people who inspire it. The most popular feature was the directory of breweries and their beers available in the Japanese market. From discovering the history of a brewery’s origins to learning a beer’s style metrics and where to buy it in Japan, the campaign website supplied Japanese consumers with an outlet to familiarize themselves with their favorite brands.

As the EDP reflects on the success of the 2023 ACBE, plans are already underway for the 2024 edition. It is also worth noting that our commitment to the Japanese market extends beyond the festival, encompassing social media marketing, coverage of member entry fees in the Japan International Beer Cup, and a domestic trade mission inviting importers to attend the Great American Beer Festival®.

Read more about the 2023 ACBE.

American Craft Beers Medal at Japan International Beer Competition

man judging beer

Beyond ACBE, the EDP’s market development efforts in Japan were bolstered by a strong showing at the Japan International Beer Competition. EDP resources covered member participation in the competition, providing for up to three entries per company and an air-freighted consolidated shipment. In all, American brewers won 36 medals in the 2023 competition, including 14 gold, 12 silver, and ten bronze. This surpassed the medal count from 2022. In addition to the prestige of winning a medal, entry into the competition can create new business opportunities, with one brewer within the recent ACBE delegation noting that their medal from last year was a direct pathway to gaining representation in the market in 2023.

View the 2023 Japan International Beer Competition winners.

European Beer Star and Brussels Beer Challenge: Two Strong Showings for U.S. Craft Beer

Last Fall, esteemed American Craft Beer Ambassador to Europe, Lotte Peplow, traveled to both Belgium and Germany to participate in judging the Brussels Beer Challenge and European Beer Star, respectively. She was also pleased to note that American participation in both competitions was strong, with several EDP members taking home medals. American craft breweries won 33 medals in Belgium, taking home nine Gold, eleven silver, and thirteen Bronze.

At the European Beer Star, EDP members won 24 medals in total, including nine gold, eight silver, and eight bronze. Both competitions offer valuable networking opportunities as well, and Lotte took home a wealth of new insights on market trends, stylistic preferences, legislative or economic hurdles, and logistical opportunities. Lotte’s presence at the competition also helps to elevate American craft beer among a diverse and talented group of international judges, and the craft beer industries in their home markets.

View the 2023 award winners.

How American Craft Beer Changed the World: A U.S. and U.K. Collaboration Brewing Project

In August 2023, the EDP embarked on a trade mission to the United Kingdom (U.K.) to heighten awareness and grow sales opportunities for American craft brewers. Anchored by a presence at the London Craft Beer Festival, the trade mission was complemented by a series of promotional activities including a cross-continental collaboration brewing project. Seven brewers from the U.S. were paired with counterparts in London with one prompt: create a beer influenced by the American craft beer industry. The endeavor was captured by the award-winning YouTube group, The Craft Beer Channel, and released as a two-part series which is now available for viewing.

American Craft Beer Experience Launched in Mexico City

In October 2023 the EDP debuted a first-of-its-kind event in Mexico City designed to stimulate exports of U.S. craft. Taking its cues from ACBE Tokyo, American Craft Beer Experience Mexico City featured three active Mexican importers hosting bar, retail, restaurant, and grocery buyers to sample U.S. craft beers in the hopes of creating new business and expanded listings. Mexico is an important market for exporters of U.S. craft, though economic difficulties and slow acceptance of craft beer into regular consumption have proved challenging in the past. For these reasons, along with limited market progress from prior participation in larger festivals, the EDP sought a more direct approach to support U.S. brands already in the market.

The event was well received, and the EDP is already examining avenues for expanding it next year. Potential options include shipping new-to-market beers, a consumer component, or educational seminars. As the EDP looks to create more impactful programming with ACBE Mexico City, it will engage with broader communities of trade and consumers, making the argument.

EDP Support Channels the Holiday Spirit with Craft Beer Advent Calendar

In addition to a host of in-person events throughout Europe, the EDP has begun to support some highly successful retail activations. The latest iteration took place in December in the Netherlands, where the EDP supported an advent calendar featuring 24 American craft breweries. With more than 2,500 cases sold, the promotion spread awareness for excellent U.S. craft beers to a dedicated enthusiast audience and beyond, linking American craft to holiday traditions and celebrations. The advent calendar also deepened the relationship with a key importer, and the supplemental social media push expanded the reach of the promotion throughout Europe. The EDP will look to continue this type of promotion in the future, incorporating U.S. craft beer into the selections and traditions of European consumers.

Join the EDP for Seminars and Engage with a European Importer Delegation at CBC Las Vegas

Looking ahead to the 2024 Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America® (CBC®) in Las Vegas, the EDP will host another round of informative export seminars, along with an importer delegation from Europe. Importers from the Dominican Republic will deliver a presentation on the Caribbean market, speakers from the U.K. will participate in a panel discussion on the British market, and a speaker from Korea will provide a market presentation.

Outside of the seminar track, the EDP will host a delegation of buyers from a variety of European markets looking to expand their listings of U.S. craft beer. EDP member breweries attending CBC will have the opportunity to participate in meetings with the importer delegation from Europe. Early Bird registration is open now through February 26—be sure to register soon to attend EDP seminars and interact with the European importer delegation!

Upcoming EDP Events

The EDP continues to raise awareness internationally and build export opportunities for American craft brewers. Please refer to the list below of events and marketing activities open for registration, as well as the EDP member resources page:

  • Beer and Food Attraction in Rimini, Italy (Feb.18–20): The EDP is pleased to be returning to Beer and Food Attraction, Europe’s premier craft beer, food, and beverage show. The event attracts importers and other key craft beer industry members from around Europe and beyond. Trade mission travel applications conclude on Jan. 5, with beer due at either West or East Coast consolidation points by Jan. 18.
  • Korean International Beer Expo in Seoul, South Korea (April 11–13): The EDP looks forward to its return to the Korean International Beer Expo (KIBEX) in Seoul, South Korea. In conjunction with the USDA in Korea, the EDP will organize booth space to exhibit member beer already in the market and meet with importers for breweries seeking market representation. Trade mission travel applications conclude on Feb. 9, with beer due at the West Coast consolidation point by March 8.
  • Australian International Beer Awards (Registration Jan. 30–March 8, Judging May 2024): Entry fees for up to three beers and a consolidated airfreight shipment to Australia for all EDP members will be covered by the program.
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