information, call Gary A. Hemphill (212) 688-7640
BEER MARKET STRUGGLES TO GROW IN 2004,
REPORTS BEVERAGE MARKETING CORPORATION
Beer Remain a Strong Segment
York, NY, 17 May 2005: Slight to nonexistent growth rates and
declining per capita consumption have characterized the U.S. beer
industry lately. More often than not during the last decade, when
beer volume growth has occurred, it has usually been at less than
1.0% annually; 2004 marked the fifth year in a row of such tepid growth,
according to recently published data from Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Even imports, which had been one of the most vibrant segments of the
market, performed weakly in 2004. Light beer was the sole bright spot
in the business, and Miller Lite’s resurrection was one of the
most significant recent developments.
2004, U.S. beer volume increased by about 1 million barrels, from
198.3 million in 2003 to 199.3 million. In 2004, U.S. brewers shipped
175.5 million barrels of beer for domestic consumption. An additional
23.8 million barrels were imported. However, the imported segment
did not display the vigor that characterized it just a few years ago.
Imported volume increased by just 2.0% in 2003 and by only 1.2% in
2004. As recently as 2000, imported beer volume increased at double-digit
rates. Nevertheless, imports did account for nearly 12% of beer volume
in the U.S. in 2004.
the last few years, moves in average intake have tended to be decreases.
The decreases have been on the order of one or two tenths of a gallon
from one year to the next, but these losses have become a steadily
recurring phenomenon. In 1996, per capita beer consumption stood at
22.0 gallons. By 2004, it was 21.6. Average intake slipped by one
gallon since 1991 and by two gallons since 1981.
The Major Players
three leading brewers – Anheuser-Busch (A-B), Miller and Coors
– accounted for nearly 81% of the U.S. market in 2004. A-B alone
brewed about half the beer consumed in the United States. A-B’s
output surpassed the 100 million-barrel mark in 2002 and continued
to grow. However, its 0.4% growth in 2004 was slower than the overall
a major turnaround, the Miller Brewing unit of SABMiller not only
achieved growth in 2004; it was the best-performing brewer among the
top three. Miller, which had been in decline for several years, increased
its shipments by 1.7%.
volume growth accelerated throughout the second half of the 1990s,
but its streak stopped in 2001, when volume dipped by 1.9%. A smaller
decrease followed in 2002. In 2003, when its key brand declined, the
company’s volume also declined. In 2004, volume loss for Coors
Light was more severe than in the previous year, but growth by some
of its smaller brands moderated its volume contraction somewhat. In
2005, the planned merger of Coors with Canada’s Molson to create
Molson Coors was finalized.
beers have emerged as the powerhouse for the big three brewers. In
2001, Bud Light surpassed Budweiser to become A-B’s biggest
brand, and thus the number-one beer label in the U.S. In 1999, Bud
Light made up 30.3% of company volume in the United States, compared
to 36.9% for Budweiser. By 2004, Light’s company share reached
39.0%, while Bud’s portion had been reduced to 28.5%.
Ultra’s exceptional performance in its first full year on the
market may have affected other light brands, including Bud Light.
Ultra, which in essence is a light beer, immediately became the biggest
member of the Michelob family, surpassing Michelob Light, which declined
after several years of uninterrupted growth. In 2004, Ultra’s
growth slowed, but it remained the fastest-growing major domestic
beer brand, picking up more than 1 million barrels – more than
the beer market as a whole gained.
began touting Miller Lite’s carb content after Ultra caught
fire. Lite volume followed a flat 2000 with accelerating shrinkage
in 2001 in 2002. But in 2003, Miller’s biggest brand enlarged
by 4.0%. In 2004, the brand rocketed upward by 9.6%, thereby giving
the brewer its first positive year since 1999. Coors Light declined
for the second consecutive year in 2004. However, it remains the brewer’s
than half of the 10 leading domestic brands, and four of the top five,
were light beers in 2004. The 10 biggest domestic brands accounted
for 68.0% of total U.S. beer volume. The leading lights accounted
for 45.1% of that volume, leaving about 22.9% for the leading regular
beers. Bud Light’s share reached 20.2% in 2004, while the erstwhile
market leader, Budweiser, saw its share slide to 14.7%. Miller Lite’s
revival boosted its share to 8.9% in 2004. Coors Light, with a share
of 7.2%, was the Colorado brewer’s sole representative among
the top 10 in 2004, while Miller had two additional brands on the
list: High Life and MGD, the eighth and ninth largest brands, respectively.
Until recently, Miller had another brand among the top-10 –
Milwaukee’s Best – but Michelob Ultra snared the tenth
spot in 2003 and retained it in 2004. Thus, A-B increased its dominance,
with six of the 10 top-selling brands. In addition to the top two
– Bud Light and Budweiser – it had Natural Light, Busch
and Busch Light Draft, the respective fifth, sixth and seventh biggest
beer brands in the U.S., as well as Ultra.
in New York, Beverage Marketing Corporation is the leading research,
consulting and financial services firm dedicated to the global beverage
industry. It publishes detailed reports on the major beverage categories.
It covers beer in its Selected
Beverage Category Topline Report, the 2005 edition of which
has just been published, as well as in the forthcoming editions of
in the U.S., Imported
Beer in the U.S., Specialty
Beer & Microbreweries Markets in the U.S. and Global
Beer Report: A Worldview. For details on all Beverage Marketing
reports, visit http://www.beveragemarketing.com/reportcatalog.html.
To order reports, or for more information about products and services,
contact Charlene Harvey (formerly Salito) at (212) 688-7640 ext. 1962.