What is the world coming to?

After seven years of consistent gains, the U.S. beer market contracted 0.3% in 2003 to 2.8 billion 2.25-galloncases, according to the latest Adams Beer Handbook published by Adams Beverage Group.

“Beer consumption clearly took a hit from the focus on low-carbohydrate diets,” said Tiziana Mohorovic, spokesperson for Adams Beverage Group. “Increased competition from spirits and wine products also took its toll.”

Spirits and wine consumption have not only benefited from ongoing new product launches and from the cocktail culture sweeping the country, but also from glamorous advertising campaigns and increased availability. More states are doing away with blue laws, thereby permitting spirits and wine sales on Sunday and in more retail channels. Both distilled spirits and wine consumption continued their upward climb in 2003.

With the booming popularity of the Atkins Diet and its trendy South Beach offshoot, America became obsessed with carbohydrates in 2003.

“Beer was quickly stigmatized as a big source of carbohydrate, whereas spirits and wine are carbohydrate free,” said Mohorovic.

Lights — the largest beer segment approaching a 50% share of market –climbed 3.6% and was the only domestic segment of the beer business to post again in case sales last year. More than two-thirds of light’s gain was attributable to Michelob Ultra and Rock Green Light — two new low-carbohydrate offerings. Several established lights took a hit in 2003. Bud Light recorded its lowest rate of growth ever last year, and Michelob Light fell double-digits after six years of growth.

“Not only has everything low-carbohydrate negatively affected the entire beer market, but new low-carbohydrate brews also appear to be cannibalizing established light beer brands,” said Mohorovic.

No beer category was spared from carbohydrate mania last year. Imports recorded their slowest growth rate in more than a decade and flavored malt beverages fell 7.9% in 2003 after two consecutive years of robust growth.

The Adams Beer Handbook 2004 contains beer consumption by category, state and metro market. Brand data, retail sales, consumer demographics, and industry statistics are included. The cost of the publication is $595. The Adams Beverage Group serves all aspects of the beverage alcohol industry through Cheers, Beverage Dynamics and State Ways magazines, Adams Beverage Handbooks and Adams Business Research.

From the Drunk Report.

About Ron

I am the father of two wonderful boys, and the husband of one wonderful wife.
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