Coors Light is expected to overtake Budweiser this year, according to SABMiller

Coors Light is expected to overtake Budweiser this year, according to SABMiller

SABMiller expects sales of Coors Light lager to overtake Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser in the US this year, amid signs of improvement in the country's mainstream beer market.

SABMiller's CEO, Graham Mackay, said that Coors Light has been outperforming Budweiser for the last couple of years, albeit in a shrinking market. In 2011, Coors Light is set to overtake A-B InBev's brand in terms of volume market share.

"It looks like Coors Light will do it this year and Miller Lite will probably do it in the next couple of years," Mackay said yesterday (29 March), speaking on the sidelines of the Consumer Analyst Group Europe's (CAGE) annual conference in London. 

"It's one hell of an achievement, if you look at the performance graph," he said. Bud Light remains the US market leader, but Coors Light and Budweiser are neck-and-neck with market shares of 8.5% and 8.7% respectively, according to the Beer Business Daily publication.

Setting aside the intra-brand rivalry, Mackay told analysts that there is greater reason for optimism for the US beer market in general. 

SABMiller's US joint-venture with Molson Coors, MillerCoors, and A-B InBev have suffered volume declines in the US over the last couple of years and the US beer market shrank by around 3% in volume in 2010, but Mackay said: "Our numbers will show that the situation is at least softening, if not improving. Miller Lite and Coors Light are both in growth right now."

He added: "As it starts to look a bit perkier, both us and A-B InBev will be ramping up spend behind our brands." 

In its presentation at CAGE yesterday, SABMiller said that per capita beer consumption in North America is expected to increase by an average 0.4% annually up to 2015.