Miller Lite Sinks – Blue Moon Rises

MillerCoors shipments declined 2.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, a drop that was driven by a startling 7.5% in Miller Lite sales over the same period. The previously red-hot Coors Light posted only a 1% gain in the quarter, a significant slowdown.

MillerCoors’ flagship brand has struggled in recent years, generally posting incremental losses or tiny gains. Shipments were relatively flat during the first half of 2008, but they fell 3.6% in the third quarter, and that deficit doubled in the fourth quarter, a sign that the brand is in freefall.

The quarter is believed to be Miller Lite’s worst since at least the early 1990s, and it “almost certainly” is the worst quarterly drop of shipments by a premium-light-beer brand in this decade, said Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights. Miller Lite is MillerCoors’ largest brand — for now, at least. It shipped 18.4 million barrels in 2007, compared with Coors Light’s 17.3 million. Together the two brands account for 56% of MillerCoors’ volume.

Any good news/ Yes, you guessed it. MillerCoors’ import and craft portfolio grew, with volumes up 1.6 percent, backed by double-digit growth in sales volumes for the Blue Moon brand.