Light beers victim of US craft success

14th July, 2014 by Neal Baker

As craft ales and ciders go from strength to strength in the US market, big-brewers’ brands of light beers are facing a 10-year-low in sales according to new market research.

Cold snap: Brands like Bud Light are suffering

Left out in the cold: Brands like Bud Light are suffering badly

A report by Impact Databank shows that since its peak in 2008, light beer has lost 8.3 million barrels from the US market – a decline of 8% – as consumers increasingly turn to more niche alternatives.

The overall U.S. beer market in 2013 mirrored this downward trend, with a total slip of 1.5% to 195m barrels according to the report.

But it is the light beer segment – led by giant brands like Bud Light and Coors Light – that has particularly suffered, falling 3.5% to 98.4m barrels.

The sector is projected to lose a further 4.9m barrels through 2015, reaching a 10-year low. Meanwhile, wine and spirits are forecast to capitalise with steady volume and share growth.

It is thought that the continuing tough economic conditions for young male drinkers – an important demographic for the light brew – is playing a key role in these figures, according to reports by Shanken News Daily.

Miller lite suffered worst of the big-three light brands

Miller lite suffered worst of the big-three light brands

Last year marked the fifth consecutive year of decline for segment leader Bud Light, as it dropped by 3.1% to 37.6m barrels, with a further loss of 1.5m barrels expected by 2015.

David Almeida, vice president of sales at Anheuser-Busch – the American arm of Bud-brewer AB InBev – told Bloomberg: “We’ve seen shifts in the marketplace over the past decade, yet we’re well-positioned to respond to consumer trends.”

He also pointed to innovation in the Bud Light brand, including such new drinks as the Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita, as well as “significant marketing support and a new creative campaign” to help improve the prospects for the company’s signature light beer.

Meanwhile, after eight consecutive years of gains, the U.S. market’s number-two domestic beer brand, Coors Light, slid by 1.5% to 17.8m barrels last year.

Miller Lite suffered the worst year of the big-three light beer brands, posting a 5.9% slide to 13.7m barrels.

It hit a 13.9% share of the light beer sector – nowhere near its golden year of 1980, when it reportedly accounted for nearly two-thirds of the light beer segment, prior to the introduction of Bud Light the following year.

2 Responses to “Light beers victim of US craft success”

  1. staff says:

    Article does not support headline. Cant assume light beer declines are due to craft success. Most likely former light beer drinks are more likely to turn to wine and spirits than craftbeer

  2. Terry Collmann says:

    “Most likely former light beer drinks are more likely to turn to wine and spirits than craftbeer”

    While you’re right in saying the article doesn’t support the head, there is no evidence to support your assertion. The most likely explanation is that as the age cohort that is mostly lite beer drinkers leaves the market – by dying – it’s not being replaced by new lite beer drinkers in the age cohort that is turning 21.

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