- Beer imports are benefiting from their premium positioning and a price point that typically is cheaper than craft beers, according to Beverage Industry.
- Among all beers, imported brews performed the best in 2016 with volume up 6.8% and dollar sales up 9.1%. Mexican imports were at the top of the list, posting growth of 10.9% in volume and 13.8% in dollar sales.
- Brian Sudano, managing partner with New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation, attributes the strong performance of Mexican beer brands to several factors, including better marketing, brand positioning and demographics.
The beer market has been rapidly consolidating in recent years as big players in the industry fight for scale and growth around the world. Following the merger last year between AB InBev and SABMiller, the two giants control about a third of the beer in the world. The big players are also struggling to find ways to combat the explosion of craft breweries, which increased by nearly 700 in the United States since the middle of 2014.
In the United States, however, beer imports are a strong source of growth that provide a respite for the industry. According to the Beer Institute, a trade group representing both domestic brewers and beer importers, domestic beer shipments in January 2017 increased by 2.0 percent versus a year ago. Imported beer volume surged 9.9 percent in January, with Mexican imports rising by 8.3 percent.
Analysts expect the beer market to remain a source of growth for the industry. “[I]mported beer with the combination of premium, variety of brands/experiences and authenticity will lead the beer market,” Sudano said.
With Hispanics making up a growing percentage of the U.S. population, it's not a surprise that of the 10 fastest growing beers in the United States, four are Mexican imports. For beer operations in the United States, the promising sales figures tied to imports and the shift in population demographics could prompt them to invest more in those operations that produce beers from Mexico like Dos Equis, Modelo and Corona. In addition, the price point and taste could be especially attractive for many beer lovers — slightly cheaper than a craft beer and with more taste than some mass-produced U.S. beers.
For now, beer connoisseurs clearly have a presence for one south of the border, but it doesn't take much to change consumer preferences for their favorite suds — or to shift their thirst altogether to more wines and hard liquors.