IRI: Beer Sales Up 3.5 Percent Through Mid-July

Year-to-date beer category dollar sales are up 3.5 percent, to nearly $19.5 billion, in off-premise retailers tracked by market research firm IRI.

According to the Chicago-based firm, three segments — imports (+5.9), flavored malt beverages (+27.7 percent) and domestic super premiums (+12.6 percent) — have achieved nine-figure sales growth through July 14 in its multi-outlet and convenience store universe. In fact, dollar sales of FMBs, including popular hard seltzers, have nearly reached $1.9 billion this year.

Category-wide trends were even stronger during the four weeks ending July 14, due to the important July 4 holiday. In that time, sales grew 5.7 percent, to more than $3.4 billion, and volume sales increased 2.3 percent. In that four-week period, FMB sales increased 38.2 percent.

Portfolio-wide dollar sales for Mark Anthony Brands, which makes the top-selling hard seltzer brand, White Claw, grew 57.2 percent, to more than $624 million. Those numbers accelerated over the last four weeks, growing 70.5 percent, with more than $152 million in dollar sales.

Through mid-July, dollar sales of White Claw’s variety pack increased 267.5 percent, while sales of its Black Cherry flavor increased nearly 269 percent. Those two offerings alone have accounted for more than $214 million in off-premise retail sales this year. Over the last four weeks, both brands grew sales more than 200 percent.

Two other White Claw flavors — Mango and Ruby Grapefruit — cracked IRI’s list of top 100 brands, with sales of $22.7 million and $19.7 million, respectively, this year.

Meanwhile, dollar sales of White Claw’s top-competitor, Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer, are also accelerating. Through July 14, sales of Truly’s Berry mixed pack are up 334.4 percent, while sales of its variety pack are up 76.6 percent. Those two products alone have accounted for more than $100 million in off-premise retail sales. Over the last four weeks, sales of those packs are up 191.2 percent and 49.3 percent, respectively.

The growth of Truly and Twisted Tea (+14.7 percent year-to-date) products have helped boost Boston Beer Company’s sales 21.7 percent, to more than $576 million, through July 14. Those products have helped off-set declines in Boston Beer’s core beer business.

Sales for Samuel Adams Boston Lager (-11.2 percent), seasonal products (-1.5 percent) and Sam ‘76 lager (-17.2 percent) have lagged in 2019, according to IRI. However, over the last four weeks, Sam Adams’ reformulated Summer Ale has helped the company’s seasonal program rebound, increasing sales 6 percent.

Additionally, portfolio-wide dollar sales of offerings from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which completed a merger with Boston Beer on July 3, are up 4.8 percent, to more than $26.5 million, year-to-date.

Year-to-date dollar sales of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer variety packs are up 88.5 percent year-to-date and 49.6 percent over the last four weeks.

Craft beer dollar sales are up 2.9 percent, to more than $2.2 billion, through mid-July. Over the last four weeks, craft dollar sales grew 2.1 percent. Although the overall craft segment is growing slowly, the top five craft brands are each in decline, including MillerCoors’ Blue Moon Belgian White (-0.3 percent), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (-5.6 percent), Leinenkugel’s Shandy (-12.1 percent), Shiner Bock (-3.6 percent) and Lagunitas IPA (-0.3 percent).

Other lagging flagships include New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (-10.3 percent); Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (-4.7 percent); A-B’s Shock Top Belgian White (-18.6 percent) and Goose Island IPA (-6 percent); Stone Brewing IPA (-7.1 percent); and Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed IPA (-3.2 percent).

Bucking those trends is Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA, which is up 12.3 percent year-to-date, and is now the sixth best-selling craft brand.

Other brands growing double digits include A-B’s Elysian Space Dust IPA (+25.8 percent), Firestone Walker 805 Blonde (+16.3 percent), New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA (+32 percent), Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (+49 percent), Craft Brew Alliance’s Kona Big Wave Golden Ale (+19 percent) and Blue Moon Mango Wheat (+15.6 percent). Just one top 25 craft beer brand — Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA — is growing triple digits (+122.8 percent) so far this year.

Nevertheless, sales of the two top-selling beers in the U.S., Bud Light and Coors Light, continue to decline. Year-to-date, Bud Light dollar sales are down 5.4 percent, which amounts to a decline of more than $155 million, in 2019. Coors Light dollar sales are down 2.3 percent, a decline of more than $27 million.

A-B’s Budweiser brand has also fallen out of the top-five-selling brands as sales have dipped 4.5 percent, a decline of more than $45 million.

Offsetting some of those losses is Michelob Ultra, which is up nearly 16 percent through mid-July, with sales of more than $1.1 billion. Michelob Ultra line extension Pure Gold, which has grown dollar sales 182.6 percent this year, also doesn’t appear to be chipping into the main brand’s sales.

For MillerCoors, Miller Lite sales are up 1.3 percent year-to-date.

Constellation Brands’ Modelo Especial brand has grown sales nearly 20 percent, up more than $172 million year-to-date. Corona Extra sales are also up 1.1 percent, while line extensions Corona Familiar (+12.5 percent) and Corona Premier (+48.8 percent) both increased dollar sales.

Anheuser-Busch dollar sales are up 0.3 percent, to nearly $8 billion, in off-premise retailers this year. Meanwhile, sales of the second-largest beer company, MillerCoors, are down 1.9 percent, to nearly $4 billion. And Constellation Brands dollar sales are up 10.7 percent, to more than $2.6 billion.

Several top 25 beer companies are growing double digits, including Diageo (+14.5 percent), Founders (+14.3 percent), the Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective (+29 percent), Firestone Walker (+22.7 percent) and Artisanal Brewing Ventures (15.5 percent).

Nevertheless, several other companies are in decline halfway through 2019, including Heineken USA (-2.6 percent), Pabst Brewing (-8.1 percent), D.G. Yuengling & Son (-3 percent), Four Loko-maker Phusion Projects (-5.8 percent), Shiner Bock maker Gambrinus (-6.6 percent), Craft Brew Alliance (-3.3 percent), Stone Brewing (-2.3 percent) and Deschutes (-0.4 percent).

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