The beer industry posted its third consecutive year of increased volume in 2008 climbing 0.5%.  However, the landscape of the industry changed dramatically and results for the first half of 2009 have not been as positive as originally forecast. The growth of the distilled spirits and wine industries continues to take market share away from beer industry, albeit at a slower rate in 2008 than previously.Consumer Spending logo

According to the Beverage Information Group’s recently released 2009 Beer Handbook light beers’ popularity hasn’t waned. In fact, it has grown to become the largest beer segment controlling more than half of the beer market. Consumers continue to consume more light/low-carbohydrate beer offerings. Last year’s successful launch of Bud Light Lime helped the Light beer segment gain 2.1%.

Ice and popular segments have also gained volume. These categories benefited from consumers trading down in the recessionary environment with ice gaining 4.0% and popular beers seeing its first upturn in more than 20 years with a 0.3% gain to 232.6 million cases. Another direct result of trading down can be seen in the decline of imported beer, which lost 5.4% to 386.1 million cases in 2008.

“Lights have gained ground continuously since their arrival almost 30 years ago and show no signs of slowing down,” says Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group based in Norwalk, Connecticut. “Light is forecast to grow 2.0% on an annual compound growth rate over the next five years.” The popular beer segment is also expected to continue its positive momentum, while imports, predicted to lose volume in 2009, will slowly recover over the next five years as the economy emerges from the recession.

Source:  “2009 Beer Handbook,” compiled by the Beverage Information Group, September 21, 2009.  Website: www.beveragehandbooks.com.