When it comes to the beer segment, more consumers are spending their dollars on imported and craft beers. The top imported beer, Corona Extra, a brand of Victor, N.Y.-based Constellation Brands, netted sales of $1.3 billion, up 7.4 percent from last year, while Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams reached sales of $377 million, up 6.2 percent from a year ago, in convenience stores and multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ending May 17, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago. In domestics, Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) Bud Light brand, the No. 1 domestic beer, recorded sales of $6 million, a 1.1 percent increase over last year, IRI data shows.
Although domestic beer has seen a small increase in sales, Jeff Nowicki chief strategy officer with Bump Williams Consulting (BWC), Stratford, Conn., stated in the March issue of Beverage Industry that he expects the growth trend for domestic beer to continue. “[In] 2015, I expect to see a better performance for the category with the outcome to come in around 1.5 to 2 percent volume growth and dollar growth in the 4 to 4.5 percent range,” he said.
He also indicated that craft beer has expanded beyond just being a segment within the beer category for American consumers. “Craft is more than a beer segment; it is a cultural movement in American society,” Nowicki said in the March issue of Beverage Industry.
Yet, he noted that the super-premium segment within domestic has benefited from brands that offer products that touch upon the craft beer style. “Segment leader Michelob Ultra coupled with Redd’s, Blue Moon and Leinenkugel Shandy continued to fuel the growth in this segment as these are the gateway brands into the craft-style segment,” he said.
For instance, the Redd’s brand family, a brand of Chicago-based MillerCoors, generated sales of $307 million and experienced a 41 percent growth, while Redd’s Strawberry Ale grew approximately 36 percent during the 52 weeks ending May 17 in IRI-measured channels.
Danelle Kosmal, vice president of beverage alcohol practice for New York-based Nielsen, noted in Beverage Industry’s March issue that consumers are interested in craft beers because of its many styles and varieties. “Hoppy styles, which primarily are represented by IPAs, but also include Pale Ales, contributed to [the] 45 percent of growth within the craft segment last year,” she said. “In 2014, there were over 200 new hoppy brands introduced, including one that has risen to be the fourth largest brand among IPAs. We’re also beginning to hear more about Session IPAs. While still very small, Session IPAs have seen incredible growth over the last year, up 323 percent in 2014 versus 2013, with 17 new Session IPA brands entering the market.”
Although imported beer sales performed well in 2014, the success can be attributed to a select number of segments, experts said. ”While most segments of imported beer are experiencing declines, Mexican imports continue to grow and are the primary driver of total imports growth over the past several years,” Kosmal said. “In 2014, Mexican import beers were up 11 percent in case volume. German imports also experienced growth, up 2.2 percent versus 2013.”
Modelo Especial, a brand of Constellation Brands, showed strong performance in 2014 with dollar sales increasing approximately 23.6 percent for the 52 weeks ending May 17, in IRI-measured channels.
Dos Equis XX Lager Especial, a Mexican brand of White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA, also posted double-digit growth, increasing dollar sales by 17.7 percent and case sales by 16.1 percent, according to IRI data.
While Belgian beers experienced minimal increases for 2014, Belgian beer Stella Artois Lager, a brand of Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, performed well in 2014, with dollar sales up 14.9 percent and case sales up 14.3 percent, IRI data stated.