The $100 billion U.S. brewing industry is staggering into the summer, drunk on the profit of yesteryear’s strong economy. Sales of 11 of the biggest brands fell recently, and only four of the top 30 — Keystone Light, Modelo Especial, Yuengling and Pabst Blue Ribbon — posted gains.
So, sales from big beer titans Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite all declined. Maybe Drinkability®™ didn’t have so much Profitability®™ after all.
So what’s up with the decline? According to the Beer Institute (which sounds made up, and I wish I had been the one to make it up) people are simply drinking less beer. Industry shipments are down 4%, and the key finger points at the recession. Unemployment is high among the 21 to 35-year-old men and Hispanics, who are the primary targets of beer companies. In many cases, they say, we are opting for cheaper brews regularly, and splurging for craft-style beers on special occasions. I can attest to that last hypothesis, that’s what’s happening at home for me… drink cheap tasty beers while mowing the lawn and have a nice flavorful beer with dinner. But no, I’m not drinking less. Ask my bartender.
Let’s look to the increase in sales of Yuengling and Pabst for more insight. If you asked The Belly, we’d still like to think that Americans are a bit tired of spending their reduced salaries and hard earned pay on South African Breweries (SAB Miller), Canadian-owned MolsonCoors, and Belgian-bought Anheuser-Busch InBev… we’d rather put the majority of our scratch back into the pockets of American-owned Yuengling and American virtual brewer Pabst (which was just very recently sold). And it’s not bank-breaking scratch either… the Blue Ribbon cans may have a blue collar taste, but they come with a blue collar price (even though the price of a six-pack is up from a year ago in my hood). And Yuengling is the cheapest 24-pack of top-shelf beer around.
Read the full AdAge article for a more precise evaluation of the situation… complete with what Budmillors will be doing to win back your loyalty: new Bud Light slogans like “Here We Go!”; a new “vortex bottle” that will make your Miller Lite finally unlock hidden flavors (who new it was the bottle holding Lite beer back); and a Coors Light 12-pack with a “window” so you can see if your color-changing bottles are cold.
Good luck Big Beer. You’re going to need it.