The ice beer trend is cooling off.
Consumers may be losing their tastes for ice beer brands. While the ice beer category’s share of total held steady at 3.6% for 2011, according to the Beverage Information Group, consumption of ice beer slipped 1.2% to 99.1 million cases for last year.
Ice beers, which have a lower water and higher alcohol content, came to prominence in the U.S. in the 1990s. But the proliferation of new craft beers, microbrews and even ciders may be reducing the demand for ice beer brands.
The 2012 Established Growth Brands offers further evidence that interest in ice beer is waning. For instance, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Ice increased just 0.8% from 2010 to 2012, or by 100,000 cases. Bud Ice’s annual compound growth rate from 2007 to 2011 was 8.1%.
The company’s Natural Ice brand fared slightly better, with a 1.2% year-over-year growth rate. That’s an improvement over the 0.5% growth it saw between 2009 and 2010. (Natural Ice is the number-three Established Growth Brand, behind Coors Light and Michelob Ultra, reaching 47.7 million cases sold in 2011.)
Meanwhile, MillerCoors’ Keystone Ice sold 5.4 million cases last year, up 1.9% from 5,300 cases in 2010. But that’s a slowdown when you consider that Keystone Ice had posted a 9.2% annual compound growth rate for the past five years.