Minneapolis, Minn. (Nov. 5, 2020) – As consumers continue to reach for cocktails and wine during what used to be beer-drinking occasions, the overall beer category has struggled. Total beer consumption was essentially flat in 2019, at 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2020 Beer Handbook.
Domestic beer fell slightly to 2.3 billion cases, while imports rose 2.2% to just under 500 million cases. Even craft beer’s growth has slowed, with the category managing a 3.3% increase to hit 333 million cases.
Light beer still commands the lion’s share of the overall U.S. beer market with a 41.7% share in 2019. But its share has been slipping; in 2018 light beer had a 42.6% share, which was down from 43.7% in 2017. Volume consumption of light beer fell 3.0%, to 1.16 billion 2.25-gallon cases.
Mexican brands continue to dominate the imports: Seven out of the top-10 leading imported brands are from Mexico. Modelo Especial in 2019 outpaced Corona Extra as the top import, thanks to a 15.1% increase to 127 million cases. Mexican beer brands resonate with U.S. consumers due to their authenticity and cross-demographic appeal.
Just one non-Mexican imported beer posted growth: Italy’s Peroni, which increased 2.5% in 2019 to hit 1.22 million cases. Many imported beers have struggled, as consumers have turned more to craft and local brews, flavored malt beverages, as well as spirits and wine.
Indeed, beer’s brightest spot is flavored malt beverages, which include hard seltzers: The FMB category jumped 37.2% in 2019. Hard seltzer is estimated to now be a $1.75 billion category and expected to double this year.
The two category leaders, Truly and White Claw, both saw growth rates exceeding 100% in 2019. White Claw sales for 2020 were up 275% as of September. Several of the big beer brands have launched hard seltzers in 2020, including Corona, Bud Light and Vizzy from MolsonCoors.
About the 2020 Beer Handbook
The Beverage Information Group’s 2020 Beer Handbook is the most comprehensive source of information on U.S. beer industry sales trends. It includes consumption and projection information by category and by market, tracks leading brands and reports historical data. The publications can be purchased at www.bevinfostore.com or by calling Sherai Falcon at 763-383-4400 ext. 4423.