Modelo Especial is now “the number one” beer in America, its U.S. distributor has said, after sales data showed it outsold longtime industry leader Bud Light in recent weeks.
Modelo Especial store sales topped $333 million in the four weeks ending May 28, a 15.6 percent rise on the same period last year, compared with Bud Light’s $297 million, a 22.8 percent fall, according to Circana/IRI data figures obtained by Newsweek via Constellation Brands, the Mexican beer’s U.S. distributor.
Separate NielsenIQ sales data obtained by Newsweek via industry consultancy firm Bumps Williams Consulting showed Modelo Especial’s sales were about $341.9 million in the week ending May 27, compared with Bud Light sales of about $298.6 million.
Bill Newlands, the chief executive officer of Constellation, said the four-week jump had happened “quicker than we had anticipated.”
“We thought that would take a little longer,” he added. “We’ve been very fortunate that, that’s gone a little quicker than we had anticipated. But what a great position to be in on the beer side.”
Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Bud Light, have been approached for comment.
Longer-term trends show Bud Light remains the top-selling beer brand in America this year so far, according to NielsenIQ.
Its data showed Bud Light sales value represented 9.1 percent of the total market in 2023, compared to Modelo Especial’s 8 percent—representing a gap of several hundred million dollars.
AB Inbev, the brewer’s parent company, has fully owned the makers of Modelo Especial, Grupo Modelo, since 2013; however to seal that deal, U.S. regulators forced AB Inbev to sell Modelo’s U.S. business in a bid to preserve competition in the American beer market.
Bud Light’s sales have been down for several weeks amid conservatives calling for a boycott of the brand for collaborating with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The latest industry figures, obtained by Newsweek via Bumps Williams Consulting, showed Bud Light suffered a 23.9 percent drop in sales value and a 27.8 percent tumble in volume year-on-year in the week ending May 27. That decline was overall much less steep than the one reported by the company in the previous week, when, according to BWC, it lost 25.7 percent in sales and 29.5 percent in volume.
Former Anheuser-Busch executive Anson Frericks last month suggested that the weekly release of Bud Light sales data by trade publications was encouraging those calling for a boycott of the beer.
In an op-ed for Fox News, Frericks said boycotters were “witnessing their success in real time,” and that his former employer “cannot force the media storm to die down by starving it of data.”
In response to the latest four-week figures, Constellation’s vice president, Maggie Bowman, told Newsweek via email on Tuesday that Modelo had “consistent and accelerated growth” since her company acquired the rights.
She said Modelo Especial was the second-fastest growing beer brand in 2022, citing Circana/IRI data, praising “runway for growth” thanks in part to increased distribution.
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