A-B Dominating Domestic Super-Premium Segment


Dear Client:

Everybody likes to go around saying that light beer and big beer is dead, but guess what? One of the fastest growing brands in the beer business right now is the lightest of them all: Michelob Ultra. And of the top ten domestic super-premium brands, A-B owns all of them.

For the four weeks to September 4, IRI multi-channel scans show super premiums had the second-best dollar trends (behind imports, up 8%) of any beer subsegment: they were up 6.7%. But super premiums actually had the best volume sales trends for the period, up 6.3% (imports were up 5.5%).

MICH ULTRA THE DARLING. What's particularly crazy about this is how Michelob Ultra is carrying this growth, along with a handful of lesser-growing A-B brands, which dominate this segment: Mich Ultra, BL Lime, BL Platinum, BL Chelada, Landshark, Mich Light, Mich Ultra Lime Cactus, Bud Chelada Picante, and Mich Amber Bock. Of these, only Mich Ultra, BL Chelada, Landshark, Cactus, and Chelada Picante are are up (recall that the Shock Tops and Blue Moons of the world are classified as craft now by IRI).

Michelob Ultra, the biggest of these brands -- it's actually about five times larger than the second largest -- is up 24.7% in dollars YTD to September 4. (Bud Light Lime, below it, is down 8.5%).

Bud Light Chelada is the second largest base volume brand in the top 10 to display growth, up 3.8%. Landshark, further down the list, is up 3.5%. Mich Ultra Lime Cactus is up 38.4%. And Budweiser Chelada Picante is clinging to growth at the bottom of the top 10, up 2.6%. (The extra spice provided by picante apparently makes a world of difference as Budweiser Chelada [no picante] is down 3.2%.)

When you get to the next 10 largest super premium brands, there's a whole lotta red. Killians is down almost 20%. Oculto Lager is down almost 44%. But Bud Light Chelada Extra Lime is up 20%. Below it, Mich Ultra Amber is up 15.6%.


A LITTLE OFF TOPIC, but I found this amusing: Over the weekend I overheard an on-premise operator refer to the casual dining restaurant category as TGIMcChiliBees.

BLUE RIBBON PRODUCTS PLANS $10.5 MILLION EXPANSION. Blue Ribbon Products, a Pabst wholesaler in Joliet, Illinois, has unveiled plans to spend $10.5 million on a new distributorship in the Rock Run Business Park, per The Herald-News. The future distributorship would be 80,000-square-feet, which is twice the size of its existing operation. The wholesaler, which is owned by the Londergon family, is seeking tax incentives from the city to help finance the expansion. Blue Ribbon is "asking for incentives worth about $95,000 from Joliet and a property tax abatement totaling $450,000 from two school districts," according to its attorneys. President of the distributorship, Don Londergon, told the City Council Economic Development Committee that they "want to stay here," and thinks they "would lose a little bit if we were to leave here." But in the end "it comes down to dollars and cents." Don said he's scouted other locations in "Minooka, Morris and New Lenox."

Until tomorrow, Harry

"Age is no guarantee of maturity."
- Lawana Blackwell

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