Americans have been drinking more alcohol over the past two decades but are increasingly laying off the suds. That hasn’t prevented some of the largest beer companies from driving sales higher by taking advantage of consumers’ shift to craft and premium beers that command higher prices. Beer prices have increased over the last several decades, even controlling for inflation, said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association. “If you’re buying more expensive stuff you’re typically buying less,” Watson said.
Constellation Brands, known for Corona and Modelo, said beer sales, which make up two-thirds of revenue, rose 8% in the nine months ended Nov. 30, while wine and spirits sales fell 10%. Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser, has more than doubled it revenue since 2008, when Belgium’s InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch of the U.S. Many of the large companies are now home to well-known craft beer makers. Constellation owns Funky Buddha, for example, and AB Inbev owns Blue Point and Goose Island. Meanwhile, craft breweries continue to open at a healthy pace.