Light beers show first decline in 30 years - BIG

Light beers show first decline in 30 years - BIG

Beer sales fell by 2% in volume in the US in 2009, with imported brands given a particularly rough ride, according to the Beverage Information Group (BIG).

Volumes dropped for the third consecutive year, to 2.877bn cases, said the BIG following its release of the 2010 Beer Handbook late last week. The figures confirm evidence from industry heavyweights Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

There were signs that consumers in the US looked closer to home as the country struggled to shake off its economic hangover. Volume sales of imported beers fell by 7% to 359.6m 2.25-gallon cases in 2009, while craft beer sales rose by 7%.

However, the BIG said that the majoriy of the decline in demand came in the light beers category. "The beer industry's downturn can be directly attributed to the decline in the light beer segment," it said. "Light beer, which accounts for a 52.8% share of the US beer market, posted its first negative year since its beginning 30 years ago."

The BIG added: "The beer industry's future remains tentative with slow growth expected over the next five years as the country recovers from a struggling economy."