Budweiser Falls Out of Top Three U.S. Beers

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Budweiser used to be the King of Beers but its popularity continues to wane among U.S. buyers. In 2001, Bud was replaced as the top-selling US beer by Bud Light. In 2011, Coors Light knocked it out of second place. And in 2017, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights, the lager has now slipped to fourth place behind Miller Lite.

All four beers have seen their market share diminish as American consumers purchase more wine, liquor, and yes, craft beer. Bud Light saw its sales fall furthest as they shipped 2 million fewer barrels last year. Miller Lite had the smallest decline and shipped a mere 350,000 fewer barrels.

Also in the top ten are Corona Extra, Michelob Ultra, Modelo Especial, Busch Light, and Miller High Life. Measured in overall sales, the only craft beers in the top twenty are the Samuel Adams Seasonal and the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The beer industry contracted slightly by one percent but the macro brews that were hit hardest. Pabst just recently laid off 18% of its staff. It was just a decade ago that the top ten beer brands accounted for 66% of US sales. But their share has now slipped to 50% as the craft beer industry has altered consumers tastes.

But the craft beer industry has felt the sting of sagging sales recently, too. Boston Beer Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the largest craft brewers, made fewer sales. Summit Brewing and Green Flash have had to lay off employees. Magic Hat and Pyramid sales are down 14%. And Smuttynose, the largest brewer in New Hampshire, is on the auction block.

So even as the largest brewers contract, there may be only so much room for the craft beer industry to grow. And it’s quite possible the bubble may pop soon.


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