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Snow Overtakes Bud Light As World’s #1

No, not the yellow kind or even pure driven snow, but the Chinese beer Snow has overtaken Bud Light as the world’s best-selling beer, at least according to Plato Logic, a UK-based beer market data company. They’ve just published their latest World Brewer Factfile and Bud Light is apparently no longer the reigning king of beers, at least in terms of beer produced.

But as Jeremiah McWilliams points out in Lager Heads, A-B vigorously disagrees with the rankings, arguing that Snow’s numbers are a total of the brewery’s output, which included 25 line extensions. Budweiser and Bud Light alone easily overtake Snow without even having to resort to Bud Lime numbers. Snow is, of course, owned by rival SAB Miller so pride may have more than a little to do with these rankings.

But as a Reuters story explains it, “Plato lists the top six beer brands as the Snow range of beers followed by the Bud Light range (my emphasis), including Dry and Ice, at 55.6 million hectoliters, Budweiser at 43.4 million.”

And as Williams reminds us, A-B itself separated the Bud and Bud Light brands into two “mega-brands,” each having their own family of brands and considers them now separate and distinct from one another.

From Anheuser-Busch’s website:

As Budweiser begat Bud Light, each brand is in the process of becoming its own powerful, distinct brand family. Budweiser has added Budweiser Select, Budweiser & Clamato Chelada and Budweiser American Ale to its mix, giving adult beer drinkers the variety they want from a brand they trust. Bud Light has added Bud Light & Clamato Chelada and Bud Light Lime in 2008, offering a wider scope of beers and enhancing the Bud Light brand as consumer tastes and needs change.

So I’m not sure they get to have it both ways. All the other brands include line extensions, too, but Budweiser and Bud Light are separated into their own brands expressly because A-B wanted it that way. Only these results have caused them to rethink that strategy, at least for purposes of spinning this story in which they’re seen as no longer being number one, which can’t be good for shareholder and market confidence.

Here are the Top 6, according to the survey:
  1. Snow (range) 61.0
  2. Bud Light (range) 55.6
  3. Budweiser 43.4
  4. Skol (Brazil) 35.4
  5. Corona 32.7
  6. Heineken 29.1

The numbers are in hectoliters.


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