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CHICAGO -- After more than a year of anticipation, Coors Light surpassed Budweiser in sales to become the No. 2-selling beer in the United States during 2011, according to media reports. This positions the brand behind Bud Light, which remains comfortably in the top spot.
The change seems to stem from consumers' desires for lighter beer, as Miller Lite and Natural Light beers make up the rest of the top five, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. Sales of Coors Light have grown slowly yet steadily, increasing by 0.8 percent to 18.3 million barrels in 2011, while sales for the full-calorie Budweiser declined 4.6 percent to 17.7 million barrels. These figures include Puerto Rico and exports.
"Dethroning the King is a great accomplishment so early in the history of MillerCoors," a MillerCoors spokesman told the Chicago Tribune. "We will be appropriately celebrating this achievement with our employees and distributors who have worked so hard to deliver an impressive seven consecutive years of growth on Coors Light and then getting back to work to deliver an 8th consecutive year of growth."
This marks the first time since 1993 that Anheuser-Busch has not held both of the top two positions. However, Coors Light's lead may not be a large one; SymphonyIRI data that excludes Walmart, liquor stores and club stores still gives Budweiser the edge.
"We're committed to -- and on track with -- our strategy to stabilize Budweiser," said an Anheuser-Busch spokesman, who noted that its 2011 sales figures will not be available until its early March earnings report.