Although the first quarter of 2013 saw beer sales fall in the UK and Germany, 2012 was a strong year for beer sales. Stronger economies in emerging markets have helped give consumers a bit more discretionary income and it appears these consumers are not shy about spending that money on drinks, The Drinks Business reported on June, 25.
Last year was a strong year for the big breweries, with Carlos Brito, AB InBev’s chief executive saying: “2012 was an important turning point after three years of very soft markets.”
Although beer sales in Western and Central Europe were not as strong as many would have hoped in 2012, the international brands benefitted by growth in the other major markets including China, the US and Brazil.
Indeed China, the world’s biggest beer market, has a major influence on The Drinks Business’ top 10 global beer brands list, with three Chinese beer brands now featuring as some of the bestselling beers. Chinese beer production now accounts for more than 25% of the beer produced throughout the globe.
It is not just the major players who are benefitting from this beer boom as well, with craft beer sales increasing in the US and UK. In 2012, craft brewers reached 6.5% of the total US beer market, up from 5.7% in 2011 and with an estimated retail dollar value in excess of US$10 billion.
And despite the ongoing tough economic times, the future looks bright for the industry with research company, Technomic, saying it expects the growth trend to continue. Technomic vice president David Henkes said: “Looking at 2012 and beyond, we see continued growth.”
The Drinks Business list of top 10 global beer brands are:
1. Snow Beer
Volume sales: 87.8 mln hl
Brand owner: SABMiller
For the second year running Snow Beer is the best selling beer in the world and this has come around despite the beer largely being sold only in China.
The beer is brewed by CR Snow, which is a joint venture between SABMiller and China Resources Enterprises.
This 3.9% abv brew is described as being “bright, almost transparent in nature, with a tight, pure white foam that clings to the glass, right to the last drop.” Snow beer, which was first produced in 1993, has a “higher carbonation level” and “aromatic notes which can be attributed to Satz hops imported from the Czech Republic.”
In 2011 the value of the Snow beer brand increased by around 350 million yuan to just over 46.3bn yuan, making it one of China’s most valuable brands. Snow beer is also still China’s fastest-growing and most valuable beer brand.
In March 2012 China Resources Snow Breweries invested 370 million yuan in a brewery in the Ningxia region, which aims to give the company a further 20 million litres of beer every year.
Volume sales: 67.9 mln hl
Brand owner: Tsingtao Brewery Company Ltd
The first Tsingtao beer is thought to have been served in 1904 “most likely at a live kung-fu fight”. Tsingtao is China’s second largest brewery and currently claims around 15% of the huge China beer market. But it is also a global brand and is currently the number one Chinese beer in the US and claims to be the “number one consumer product exported from China” and given the amount of products exported from China, that is a massive claim. Tsingtao started exporting in general in 1954 and to the US in 1972.
After being state-owned for a number of years the company was privatised in the early 1990 and in 1993 merged with other breweries in Qingdao, a major city in the Shandong province.
Previously AB InBev held around 27% of the company, but sold 19.9% to Ashai Breweries in January 2009 and then sold its remaining 7% to Chinese businessman Chen Fashu in May 2009.
Volume sales: 47.4 mln hl
Brand owner: AB InBev
Although it is not the biggest selling global beer, Budweiser remains one of the most internationally recognised brands. It is outsold by Bud Light in the US but it is the global reach of Budweiser, which has recently started to sell well in the huge beer markets of Brazil and China, that make it the third best selling beer in the world.
Budweiser is sold in over 85 countries around the world and as a result of this worldwide popularity, Budweiser was ranked as the world’s most valuable beer brand by the 2012 Global BrandZ Report.
In his letter to shareholders in the 2012 AB InBev annual report, chairman of the board Kees Storm said: “While we expect 2013 to be another year of challenge and uncertainty in the global economic environment, we will continue to work for the long-term growth of our business and shareholder value.”
He added: “We will focus on building a vibrant beer industry, expanding our position in the most important markets, strengthening our brands and consumer connections, and generating superior cash flow to be reinvested in growth.”
4. Yanjing Beer
Volume sales: 46.5 mln hl
Brand owner: Beijing Yanjing Beer Group Corporation
Also known as Beijing Beer, this brewery is one of the largest in Asia with 20,000 employees. The company produces a range of mainly pale lagers under the Yanjing Beer brand, with Yanjing beer being the main brand.
Yanjing Beer has a nationwide market share of around 11%, but it is by far the most popular beer in Beijing, with close to 85% market share. Yanjing was the official beer of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Over the last few years Yanjing has worked on developing the brand internationally and in a recent statement the company said: “The Yanjing Beer Group will participate in the international market competition with the faith of developing the national beer industry and striving for a world-famous brand.”
Thanks predominately to its huge sales in China, Yanjing has been one of the best selling beers in the world since the turn of the century and with the company actively looking to strengthen and develop its domestic and international sales it is expected to maintain this position.
5. Bud Light
Volume sales: 43.1 mln hl
Brand owner: AB InBev
Although Bud Light is the most popular beer in the US, it does not have the same global reach as Budweiser, which is why it is currently the fifth best selling beer in the world. It is still a beer which has demonstrated huge growth after it was initially launched as Budweiser Light in 1982.
In recent times, new brands within the Bud Light range have appeared, including Bud Light Platinum, which is triple filtered and is slightly sweeter than the original; Bud Light Lime, which is Bud Light with “a splash of 100% natural lime flavour”; Lime-a-rita, a combination of Bud Light Lime and margarita; Straw-ber-rita, which “brings together strawberry margarita taste with the refreshment of Bud Light Lime” and Bud Light Cheleda, which is a combination of Bud Light with “the refreshing flavour of Clamato, spices and a hint of lime.”
6. Corona Extra
Volume sales: 37.1 mln hl
Brand owner: AB InBev
Corona Extra is the leading beer brand in Mexico, the number one imported beer in the US and the most popular Mexican beer in the world. This Pilsner beer was first produced in 1925 and is now sold in over 170 countries around the world.
In early June 2013 AB InBev finally completed its US$29.1 bln acquisition of the Grupo Modelo, which had been the subject of a long-running tussle with US antitrust regulators. When AB InBev, which already owned half of Grupo Modelo, announced its plans to buy the remaining half in 2012 the US Justice Department raised concerns that the deal would mean the loss of an important competitor in the US beer industry and thereby hurt consumer. But after months of negotiations AB InBev changed the terms of the deal and subsequently settled the Justic Department’s antitrust concerns, allowing the deal to go ahead and giving AB InBev total control over another top 10 best-selling beer.
Volume sales: 35.1 mln hl
Brand owner: Carlsberg Breweries
This is the biggest beer brand in Brazil, with around 30% market share, after it was launched in the country in 1960. Skol was created in 1960 when leading breweries in different countries were licensed to brew Skol International to a standard formula.
The licence for Skol outside of Africa and South America is currently held by Carlsberg who formerly brewed the beer at its brewery in Leeds, before that closed down in 2011.
Skol was originally produced by Caracu in Brazil, which was bought by Brahma in 1980, which later went on to become part of AB InBev.
Unibra holds the licence for brewing and distributing Skol in Africa.
Brazil leads the sales of this global brand, which is found “everywhere in Brazil” and the demand is such that it is served in most restaurants, bars, clubs and retail establishments throughout the country.
Volume sales: 34.1 mln hl
Brand owner: Heineken International
2012 proved to be a successful year for Heineken, with growth in four out of five regions, driving a gain in global market share.
The Heineken brand delivered 5.3% volume growth in the international premium segment with a 7.4% revenue increase to €18.4bn.
The US has been a strong growth area for Heineken, with Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Heineken NV saying: “2012 has been another year of strong progress for Heineken,” he added, “In the US, our portfolio strategy is working, combining a turnaround of the Heineken brand with continued strong growth of the Mexican brand portfolio.”
Van Boxmeer is also hopeful that the beer growth will continue in 2013, he said: “Heineken anticipates continued volume and revenue growth momentum in 2013. The higher growth regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to more than offset volume weakness in European markets affected by continuing economic uncertainty and government-led austerity measures.”
In 2012 Heineken als gained further global exposure when it became the official beer for James Bond.
9. Coors Light
Volume sales: 29.5 mln hl
Brand owner: Molson Coors
Although this is the second-best selling beer in the US, having pushed Budweiser into third place, Coors Light is still only the ninth best selling beer brand globally.
First brewed in 1978, the light in Coors Light refers to the nutritional information rather than alcoholic content. The 4.2% abv beer contains just 5g of carbohydrates in a 355ml bottle, which compares to 10g in a bottle of Budweiser and the 12g of carbohydrates which are found in a similar amount of Guinness.
Coors Light has now grown to a brand which sells more than 25 million barrels worldwide, every year. In spite of an advertising campaign which features Belgian actor Jean Claude van Damme, Coors Light associates itself with a number of sports, particularly in the US as the official beer of Nascar and also an official sponsor of the National Ice Hockey League (NHL).
Coors Light has also positioned itself as a beer that is brewed to be served cold, with “Cold” and “Damme Cold” indicators on the bottle.
Brand owner Molson Coors has also indicated that it has targeted further growth for the brand in Asia, and in particular in China and Japan.
Volume sales: 21.2 mln hl
Brand owner: AB InBev
Brazil is one of the booming beer markets and AB InBev reported its beer revenue per hectolitre grew 9.6% in 2012, thanks largely to Budweiser becoming the largest consumed international beer in the country.
But the premium beer category is developing in Brazil as international brands looks to make the most of this massive and growing market.
Two main brands Brahma and Skol dominate the Brazilian beer market, with Pilsener beer accounting for 98% of the beer consumed in the country.
The Companhia Cervejaria Brahma, was founded in 1888, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the beer was widely available in countries outside of Brazil. It was in that year that InBev decided to take the brand global and introduced it into 15 countries including the UK, US, Canada, Russia, France, Australia and New Zealand.
The brand also uses its advertising well, with a number of celebrities, including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Megan Fox and Gerard Butler, linked to the brand particularly around the time of the Carnival in Rio.