Low Carb and Light Beers Spur Growth of Female Beer Consumption

LONDON -- Women are driving much of the growth in the U.S. beer market, thanks to their interest in low-carb and light beer products, according to new research by independent market analyst Datamonitor here.

The group's report, which examines trends in the $78 billion U.S. beer, cider, and Flavored Alcoholic Beverages (FABs) market, finds that 30 percent of the volume of beer consumed in the U.S. is being guzzled by females. Although 'healthy' beer options aren't solely targeted at them, Datamonitor said these products are fueling this rise.

Following the launch of low-carb beers, the U.S. beer market is beginning to witness a recovery. Valued at $73.1 billion in 2003, the U.S. beer market grew by only 0.1 percent year on year. However, in 2004, value increased by 0.8 percent, reaching $73.8 billion. Datamonitor expects this recovery to continue.

Meanwhile, flavored beers, such as Anheuser-Busch's B-to-the-E, are well poised to take advantage of the rapidly declining popularity of Flavored Alcoholic Beverages (FABs), according to Datamonitor.

"The low-carb trend has benefited players in the beer industry, providing them with a golden opportunity. The new product lines have achieved a large volume of sales globally, but growth in the U.S. in particular has been extraordinary. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population reporting a conscious effort to limit carbohydrate intake in 2003, these alternatives are proving a perfect complement to the rising popularity of all things low-carb," said Nicci Pugh, consumer analyst at Datamonitor.

However, Datamonitor warns that beer manufacturers cannot be complacent, as numerous new products are striving to secure market share and the female dollar. The U.S. beer market overall has suffered in the face of a growing preference for wine, driven by more attractive pricing for the latter and the success of wine manufacturers in targeting young adults, notes Datamonitor. Spirits are another sector to have gained share at the expense of beer.

"The U.S. beer market has overcome challenges, but manufacturers cannot rest on their laurels. Failure to respond to an ever-changing consumer could potentially translate to a loss in market share," concluded Pugh.
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