American beer sales have followed a downward trend in recent years. After reaching a peak of 219 million barrels in 2008, total U.S. shipments have declined to just 211.7 million barrels in 2013. Yet, the beer industry is by no means dying. While some beer brands have faltered, others have found tremendous success.
Although some of America’s top brewers own some faltering brands, they also own some of the fastest growing ones. Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), for example, produces Bud Ice, Michelob Ultra, and Stella Artois, all of which shipped considerably more barrels last year than they did in 2008. According to data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, American barrel shipments of eight major brands increased by more than 20% between 2008 and 2013. Dos Equis led the beer industry, shipping 116.6% more barrels in 2013 compared to 2008. Modelo Especial, which had the second highest growth rate of barrels shipped over that period, led the industry in nominal terms, shipping nearly 2 million more barrels last year compared to 2008.
According to Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, these beers do not share any single explanatory factor. Advertising, for example, is a major component in the success of a brand. However, just as “a lot of the most heavily advertised brands are at the bottom,” Shepard said, brands with little to no advertising are at the among the fastest growers.
As Shepherd explained, some customers have been moving to wine and spirits, while others have been switching to imported beer, particularly Mexican imports. Shipments of Mexican brands Dos Equis and Modelo Especial more than doubled in the five years through 2013. Modelo Especial in particular reflects the growing “power of the Hispanic market,” Shepard said, as it has run little to no english-language advertising.
Craft beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. While the craft beer category now outsells Budweiser, it remains a relatively niche market. For comparison, the nation’s top-selling brand, Bud Light, shipped 38 million barrels in 2013, accounting for 18% of all beer shipments.
Several of the fastest-growing beers, however, have clearly benefited from their association with craft brewing. Blue Moon, for instance, is marketed as part of MillerCoors’ craft beer category. In addition, “Blue Moon is riding the wave of American consumers seeking more flavorful beers,” Shepard said.
To identify the eight fastest growing beer brands, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights for all brands with more than 1 million barrels shipped in 2008. All of these eight brands reported a 20% or more increase in shipments in the five years through 2013.
These are the fastest growing beer brands in America.