U.S. Beverage Market Declines

An historic sales slump appears to be hitting the $100 billion United States brewing industry. According to the Beer Institute, industry shipments are down 4%, and SymphonyIRI reports that sales for 11 of the biggest brands fell in the four weeks to May 16. In fact, in this period, only four of the top 30 –Keystone Light, Modelo Especial, Yuengling and Pabst Blue Ribbon – posted gains.

It all boils down, it would seem, to people simply drinking less beer at present. A big factor behind this trend appears to be the ongoing effects of the recession. High unemployment rates, in particular, mean many people are cutting back.

The trend is typified by the Brewing Big Two: Sales of Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light, the largest U.S. brand, are down 5.3% year to date – and, don’t forget, this is compared to 2009, which was the first negative year in the brand’s 28-year history. MillerCoors, the No. 2 U.S. brewer, is experiencing declines too, with Coors Light and Miller Lite down 0.5% and 7.5% respectively.

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