Beer is big business in America. The combined impact that brewers, distributors, retailers, supply-chain partners, and related industries had on the U.S. economy was more than $350 billion in 2016, according to the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association.
Last year, Americans bought more than 208 million barrels of beer, 1.1% less than the year before. Most of the drop came from declining volumes among major beer brands.
Consumption of legacy beer brands is down because millennial consumers are migrating to wine and mixed drinks. Craft beer makers also are taking market share from big beer makers.
Another factor behind the slide in consumption of major beer brands is the rising demand for beer brands from Mexico like Modelo and Corona. This increased demand reflects the growing Hispanic population in the United States.
Despite declining from a 16.2% market share in 2016 to 15.4% in 2017, Bud Light is still the leading brand. Volume sales of Bud Light slid 5.3% to $5.6 billion in 2017. The market share of all four of the largest selling brands — Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser, and Miller Lite — decreased from the prior year.
Brand winners were Michelob Ultra, Corona Extra, and Modelo Especial. Michelob Ultra had the biggest gain in barrels of beer shipped, at 21.3%, shipping 1.35 million last year. Michelob Ultra shipped a total of 7.7 million beer barrels in 2017 as its market share climbed from 2.9% to 3.6%. Sales of Michelob Ultra grew 23.6% to $1.6 billion last year.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed one-year changes in domestic shipping volume for 26 of the beer industry’s largest brands to identify America’s biggest beer brands from data provided by industry advocacy group Beer Marketer’s Insights.