Anheuser-Busch beer sales are down. Its non-alcoholic options are on the rise

Hannah Wyman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Business News

ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch InBev's beer sales dropped by $1.5 billion in North America last year, but its nonalcoholic beer sales are exceeding expectations, a shift experts credit to consumers becoming more health-conscious and beverage choices expanding.

The company's no-alcohol beer portfolio, which includes Budweiser Zero, Stella Artois 0.0, O'Doul's and Busch NA, saw revenue growth "in the high teens," according to A-B's annual report.

It comes at a good time for the company. Consumers appear to be moving away from alcoholic beverages, according to a report on store-bought alcohol by market research firm Circana. Surveyed consumers' preference for beer and hard cider shrank from 16% in 2020 to 13.5% in 2023. Wine dropped about 3% in preference, while the spirits/cocktails/coolers category decreased by 1%.

Customers are increasingly favoring soft drinks and sports/energy drinks, the report found.

But the shrinking preference for alcohol does not point to abstinence, said Scott Scanlon, Circana's executive vice president of alcoholic beverages. Instead, consumers are less likely to overindulge — especially after drinking more during the pandemic — or are reevaluating their consumption, he said.

"While I think health and wellness is not a fad, I don't think mocktails will be as big a category as beer," Scanlon said. "People will just moderate instead of shifting to mocktails."


According to Global Market Insights, the nonalcoholic wine and beer market is estimated to grow annually 7% between 2023 and 2032 and is set to surpass $30 billion by 2025. Data from NielsenIQ found that nonalcoholic beer took up more than 85% of nonalcoholic sales between August 2021 and August 2022.

Nonalcoholic beers are also being produced by local craft brewers, who are feeling the pinch of lower beer sales, too. Production for craft beer was down in 2023, with increased competition from other types of alcoholic beverages, according to the Brewers Association.

St. Louis craft brewer Schlafly has responded to the market trends by ensuring its pubs have robust nonalcoholic offerings, said Dan Jameson, head of brewpub operation. Schlafly debuted its own nonalcoholic pale ale for "dry January," the trend where people kick off the new year by giving up alcohol.

"We have to look at everything and make sure we're doing things today that respond to the needs of the marketplace just as any business would," Jameson said. Customers are asking for the nonalcoholic brews, he said.


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