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Impact Databank: Imported Beer Posts Fourth Straight Year Of Growth In U.S.

June 6, 2014

While the ongoing struggles of mainstream brews led the total U.S. beer market to decline 1.5% to 2.7 billion (2.25-gallon) cases last year, the imported beer segment enjoyed its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2013. Imported beer grew 2% to 400 million cases in the U.S. last year—up from 392 million cases in 2012—and continues to work back to its high-water mark of just under 410 million cases, achieved in 2007. Imports now hold a collective 14.8% share of the U.S. beer category, according to the U.S. Beer Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast.

Mexican beers continue to be the growth engine for the import segment. Top Mexican brand Corona Extra, marketed by Crown Imports, rose 2.4% to 103.1 million cases last year to become the fifth-largest beer brand in the U.S. overall, overtaking Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Natural Light. Corona Extra, which comprises one-quarter of the imported beer market, has stayed on the upswing four years running, and offshoot Corona Light is also in growth, up 1% to 14.3 million cases in 2013. Crown Imports’ other key Mexican brand, Modelo Especial, continued its 20-year run as an Impact “Hot Brand” last year with 18% growth to 50.9 million cases. Since 2010, Modelo Especial has grown by 63% in the U.S. market.

Another Mexican brand, Heineken USA’s Dos Equis Lager, also earned 2013 Hot Brand honors, with 17% growth to 16.2 million cases. Dos Equis Lager now owns the number-five spot among imported beers in the U.S., and has replaced Tecate as Heineken USA’s second-largest brand, behind its namesake Dutch lager. Tecate, which declined 3% to 15.6 million cases last year, depends more on Hispanic drinkers than Dos Equis or Corona, and has suffered from high unemployment within that demographic. Tecate Light, however, continued to prosper in 2013, growing 16% to 2.3 million cases to win a Hot Brand award.

One non-Mexican import that continues to see impressive U.S. growth is Stella Artois, which reached 22.1 million cases on a 12% advance in 2013. The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Belgian import has grown 64.7% since 2010. Among other European brews, the Heineken brand declined 1.6 million cases last year to 55.1 million cases, and has lost more than 14 million cases since its peak in 2007. Meanwhile, Diageo’s Guinness was up 1% in the U.S. in 2013 to 14.3 million cases.

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