Miller Lite Surpasses Budweiser As Second Most Popular American Beer Brand

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There are several interesting stories buried beneath the surface of the recent numbers release from Information Resources Inc. (IRI). Compiling statistics from a data set that includes more than 15,000 grocery and convenience store retailers around the United States, IRI’s releases offer a picture of how the larger industry players, including the biggest craft brewers, are performing at any given time. I’ll write a short piece in the near future about IRI’s 2007 stats on the craft beer industry, but it is the macro numbers that caught my eye.

According to the release, which documents sales in these outlets during 2007, the top 15 beer brands accounted for more than 63-percent of sales in the United States. Of these brands, Bud Light remains the dominant brand, with nearly $1.3 billion in sales in 2007, a 3.2-percent increase. The surprising part came with the revelation of the second best-selling brand (in terms of dollar sales): Miller Lite, which enjoyed more than $670 million in sales, a 3.4-percent increase. Rounding out the top three was the dethroned King of Beers, Budweiser, with $636 million in sales, a 3.7-percent decrease.

Now there are a lot of variables and unknowns (at least for me without access to further numbers) at play here, including volume totals and sales in other channels, but as grocery and convenience stores comprise a significant percentage of total beer sales (IRI’s website suggests that beer sales in package/liquor stores make up only 10-percent of its total sales), this is a big advancement for Miller ‘s rejuvenated Lite brand. It’s also a sign of the continued strength of the light beer segment.

IRI’s numbers for the industry’s largest craft beer players are also almost uniformly excellent (with the exception being A-B’s partner, Redhook).

All data is for the 52-week period ending December 30, 2007.

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