During the heart of summer, it’s hard to resist an ice-cold beer, especially when you consider this summers’ heat. However, while beer is synonymous with summer barbecues, cookouts and generally spending time outdoors with friends and family, this summer I had found myself spending more time indoors enjoying the array of beers that bars and restaurants have to offer.

Another difference I’ve noticed this summer, when it comes to my beer drinking habits, is that by frequenting more bars, I’m more apt to try something new, which includes trying imported beer instead of drinking my usual — Michelob, Coors or Pabst Blue Ribbon. I haven’t quite figured out what my favorite import is yet, but I guess time will tell.

CGA by NielsenIQ’s most recent On Premise Measurement (OPM) research shows growth of import beer in U.S. on-premise across bars and restaurants and reveals which imports prove most popular to American consumers.

In U.S. on-premise, imports now represent more than a fifth (21.9%) of total beer in dollar sales, according to OPM analysis. “This means the import category has grown by plus 1.7 percentage points compared to the same period a year ago (year period ending Q2 2022 versus year period ending Q2 2021),” it states.

Both package and draft formats have contributed to this growth, with import packages gaining 1.3 percentage points, while import draft grew 0.96 percentage points over the last year, it notes.

“As the total beer category continues to stabilize and return to pre-COVID-19 numbers, import beer’s share demonstrates a significant impact on overall sales,” it states. “A read into on-premise total beer shows it is up 0.86 percentage points comparing the most recent 52-week period ending in May versus the same year period ending in May of 2020.

“Mexico, ranked fourth in highest beer-producing countries in the world, represents a significant 67.6% of all import beer sold in the U.S. on-premise market,” it continues. “Mexican imports’ volume growth year-to-date is up significantly compared with the mid-COVID-19 period in 2021, showing plus 106% volume versus the same period last year.” 

Further, CGA by NielsenIQ’s most recent On Premise User Survey (OPUS) reflects the popularity of Mexican imports. 

“Of all import countries of origin, Mexico ranks the most likely to be ordered by respondents, with 53.8% of beer drinkers saying their beer orders come from the country,” it states. “Germany (41%), Belgium (32%), and Ireland (27%) maintained the next most popular spots when it came to consumers’ likelihood of ordering.”

In a statement, Patrick Bannon, CGA client director for Americas, said: “As consumers continue to expand their beer repertoires, it will be intriguing to see if Mexican imports can continue to maintain their lead within the import beer subcategory. Suppliers should also take into consideration the venue in which their import beer offerings are being sold ― with our research demonstrating a clear preference in independent venues for packaged formats when it comes to imports ― while chain venues tend to see more of a balance between the two formats.”

As beer tastes shift during these fall months ahead, it will be interesting to see whether import beer will be able to continue its growth model.