America’s best-selling beer is no longer American.
Modelo Especial, the Mexican lager brewed near Mexico City by Constellation Brands, became the best-selling beer in May, knocking Bud Light from the top spot it has held for more than two decades. The fall from the top further highlighted how much trouble the Anheuser-Busch brand is having following transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney̵[ads1]7;s Instagram post showing off a custom Bud Light can.
In the four weeks ending June 3, Modelo took 8.4% of U.S. retail beer sales, while Bud Light fell to second place with 7.3%, according to NIQ data provided to consulting firm Bump Williams. Dollar sales were similarly dismal for Bud Light during this period, with sales falling 24.4%, while Modelo’s grew 12.2%.
And the trend doesn’t appear to be turning in Bud’s favor, the firm said.
“The Modelo Especial seems to be increasing sales growth every week as we get deeper into the summer,” Williams told CNN. He added that Modelo Oro, its new low-carb beer, is off to a strong start after debuting in May and is further boosting the brand’s sales.
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Modelo Especial took over Bud Light sales in May.
In recent years, drinkers have switched their beer preference to Mexican beers and spirits, such as tequila and mezcal. Williams said a number of factors contributed to Modelo becoming the best-selling beer (at least for May), including strong retailer support, great advertising, eye-catching packaging and a “springboard effect” from Cinco de Mayo going into summer.
Greg Gallagher, vice president of brand marketing for New York-based Constellation, told CNN that Modelo has “enjoyed incredible success” in recent years and said it wants to replicate the dominance it has with Hispanic drinkers of multiple demographics. “Our growth is maintaining that core, but also bringing in non-Hispanic customers, and we’re having incredible success.”
If there is one bright spot for Anheuser-Busch (BUD) (whose parent company is based in Belgium), it is that the American-made Bud Light is still the best-selling beer on an annual basis. Sales also fell for other beers in the family, such as Michelob Ultra, Natural Light and Busch Light in the same time period compared to previous weeks.
In recent weeks, Bud Light’s sales decline has hovered around 25% weekly, likely due to right-wing media’s flurry of negative headlines following its partnership with Mulvaney and the brand’s tepid response to the controversy that angered LGBTQ+ advocates. A single box bearing her face was given to a social media post, but some prominent conservative figures attacked the brand and social media posts spewed transphobic comments.