Bud Light dethroned as top-selling beer by Modelo, as boycott cuts into sales

Bud Light has been dethroned by Modelo Especial as the best-selling beer in the U.S., following a boycott of Bud Light that began in April in response to its partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Modelo Especial accounted for 8.4% of U.S. beer sales in the four weeks ending June 3, according to beer-industry tracker Bump Williams Consulting, which analyzed Nielsen data for the figures. For Bud Light, that figure stood at 7.3%.

The figures were reported earlier in the day by the Wall Street Journal.

Bud Light sales plunged roughly 24% year over year for the week ended June 3, though Bud Light is still the top-selling beer overall through the first five months of the year.

“Bud Light retains the title — but Modelo Especial is making a run for the title for calendar 2023,” Bump Williams, the consulting company’s president and chief executive, said in an email.

Other observers of industry sales have also, in recent days, noted Modelo’s usurping of Bud Light at the top. Last week, CBS News, citing data from Circana, reported that Modelo Especial was the nation’s best-seller, by dollar amount, in May.

Fueled by anti-trans sentiment that LGBTQ+ advocacy groups say has been coordinated, the boycott has led to a sharp drop in Bud Light sales in recent weeks. Those sales declines have generally been above 20%. Sales of other beers owned by Bud Light’s parent, Anheuser-Busch InBev
also suffered in the process.

Modelo is owned by Constellation Brands Inc.

in the U.S., but is part of AB InBev elsewhere in the world.

Analysts at BofA, in a note last week, said the boycott had lasted long enough to boost sales of Molson Coors Beverage Co.
one of AB InBev’s main rivals.

“It’s difficult to determine the duration of the boycott, but it has already lasted longer than industry executives anticipated and appears likely to impact the July 4th holiday,” BofA analysts said in a research note.

Prior to the boycott, demand for Bud Light and other light beers had begun to wane, amid a decade-plus-long rise of alternatives like craft beer and seltzer.

Shares of AB InBev closed up 0.9% on Tuesday. Shares have fallen about 7% over the past month, but are still up 9% over the past 12 months.

Constellation shares are up 9% over the past month, and have risen about 7% over the past year.

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