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Volume 25 No. 28
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A-B Exec Balances Light, Craft Beer Sales At U.S. Sports Venues

The head of A-B InBev’s sports marketing portfolio said that despite the rise in recent years for craft brews in the U.S., light beer maintains a “much greater in-venue share” at sports facilities. A-B InBev Head of U.S. Sports Marketing Nick Kelly: “It varies greatly by market, but can be closer to 75%.” Kelly also noted consumption of lighter beers in sports venues has not seen quite the decline that those same beers have seen in the general marketplace, but that craft and imported beer, along with flavored malt beverages, have definitely seen growth among fans. Meanwhile, data provided to SBJ/SBD by industry research group Beer Marketer’s Insights shows that approximately 41% of the beer sold in the U.S. remains American light lager. Bud Light is the No. 1 brand in the U.S. in terms of market share, with 15.4%, while Coors Light is No. 2 (7.7%) followed by Budweiser (6.2%). Kelly also noted that among gameday attendees, NHL fans consume the most beer per person while NFL consumption is greatest on a per game basis.

ART OF THE CRAFTS: A-B’s sales are being helped by the sales of beers made by some of the 10 craft breweries that they have acquired in recent years. Kelly said of A-B’s craft beers: “Venues sales rose from 2013-2017 across all leagues.” One example is Goose Island, which A-B acquired in ’11. U.S. sales of the Chicago-based craft brew are up 153% since the sale. Sales of Seattle-based Elysian Brewing’s Space Dust (‘15) have seen an even bigger lift since A-B bought that brewery in early ‘15. Both beers are being sold at sports venues nationally. Sales of beers made by Long Island-based Blue Point -- acquired by A-B in ’14 -- have also skyrocketed, partially thanks to the sales at Yankee Stadium of its Pinstripe Pilsner. Virginia-based Devil’s Backbone, acquired by A-B in ‘16, last April produced Earned Run Ale, a Nationals co-branded beer offered not just in the southwest DC ballpark, but at retail. Kelly noted sales in April were up 800% over the same month last year.