ST. LOUIS ï¿½" In an ambitious effort to win back drinkers, Anheuser-Busch InBev has 19 new products on tap to debut this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Luiz Edmond, president of the companyï¿½ï¿½s North American division, has bet that new smaller craft beers, malt beverages and cider will stem the flow of drinkers to smaller brews or liquor.
Other strategies include increasing the alcohol in light beer, market more with Clydesdale draught horses, and revamp distribution. Anheuserï¿½ï¿½s slice of the U.S. beer market has dropped to 48.9% in 2011.
New products already in stores include Bud Light Platinum. "Platinum, that's a game changer for us," said Edmond. A wheat IPA under the Shock Top label debuted in February. Next month, Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, a malt beverage, will be in stores along with an alcoholic tea-and-lemonade beverage. May brings a cider drink.
Meanwhile, the Brewers Association released 2011 data on U.S. craft brewing that showed craft brewing volume hopped 13%, with a 15% bump in retail sales from 2010 to 2011. Increased retail sales represented 9.1% of the $95.5 billion dollar U.S. beer market.
"While the overall beer market experienced a 1.32 percent volume decrease in 2011, craft brewing saw significant growth, surpassing five percent total market volume share for the first time," said Paul Gatza, director of Brewers Association, in a press release. "Itï¿½ï¿½s becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers."