Too Big To Fail.. in the beer market?

An article titled “8 beers Americans no longer drink” published on September 9th by 24/7 Wall St. (and republished by opens as such:

Some of America’s most famous beers have lost a tremendous amount of their national sales over the last five years.

Rest assured friends, these are not beers that the craft beer community is worried about not being around.

However, as consumers of the American culture, these are beers that we all have been exposed to. The article highlights the enormous sales decreases of America’s most popular beer brands over the past five years.

Say NO to Bud!

As you can probably imagine, the likes of Budweiser, MGD and Michelob can be quickly found sprinkled throughout the list. The article attributes the large sales decreases (in most cases over a 50% decrease, with Michelob reaching an astounding 72% drop in five years) to the popularity of light beer, imports, and .. wait for it .. craft beer!

Although the brewing companies responsible for these eight products are threefold (Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company, and Pabst Brewing Company), combined these companies hold a staggering 60-70% of the American beer market share.

Combined with the article, these types of figures make my mind start wondering in all kinds of directions – but it instantly started harping on the words: “Too Big to Fail“.

Does “Too Big To Fail” exist in the beer world? Would a company like Anheuser-Busch, who owns 50% of the US market share, ever be allowed to fail (naturally or through regulation)?

Certainly not. Afterall, the beer market is not “the market”. However, one can always wonder what it would be like to walk into your local bar, order your favorite craft draft, and listen as the guy that just ordered a “Bud” is politely made aware that the bar no longer serves Budweiser “because the company invested poorly and went out of business”.

We still have a long way to go to contemplate the possibilities of that scenario.

But here’s the good news: In 2009 and 2010, growth of the craft brewing industry was 10.3% and 12% respectively.

It is exciting to hear that macro brewery sales are being impacted by a movement supported by amazingly creative and genuine people. People who put product above all else by bending traditional rules, trying new ideas, and reviving old ones that were long lost with the sands of time.

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