Light beer sales, on the rise ever since Miller Lite was introduced in 1972, will surpass regular beer sales by next year, according to new research.
While brewers debate the staying power of low-carbohydrate diets that have spurred interest in low-carb beers, increased consumption sales of beers lower in calories is a well established trend.
Beers that are low in calories or carbohydrates last year accounted for 45% of the U.S. beer market, according to the report by Mintel International Group, which puts the value of those sales at $40 billion.
Drinkers of beers including Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light consumed an average 5.7 beers in the past month, while consumers of regular beer drank five beers, Mintel reported. “Regular beers have faced challenges with the rise in popularity of low-carb diets, particularly since 2000,” Mintel said. It expects demand for light and low-carbohydrate beers to help expand the U.S. beer market by 14% within four years.
With the trend toward light beers well established, the jury is still out on beer labeled “low carb.”
“The low-carb phenomenon is important and Anheuser-Busch has had a lot of success on that with Michelob Ultra, but the low- carb impact on overall shipments may be starting to peak,” Mark Swartzberg, a beverage analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. in New York.