Beer lovers have long mocked Budweiser for its bland taste but it seems the ‘King of Beers’ is growing in popularity in the UK, with sales up £49.2m, or 14.9pc, this year.
The beer is so favoured by British shoppers that it is the fastest-growing product of 2017, according to research giant Nielsen’s annual analysis of till sales at supermarkets and convenience stores.
It’s a different story in the brewer’s home nation where 14.4 million barrels of Budweiser were sold last year, less than one-third of the volume at the beer’s peak in 1988.
Adam Leyland, editor of trade magazine The Grocer, who analysed Nielsen’s data, said that Bud’s success in the UK had been brought about by some supermarkets reducing their range of mainstream competitor beers to accommodate more craft versions, while Budweiser’s limited edition cans flew off the shelves, “not least through its Prohibition Brew, which has made a very credible play in the growing 0pc alcohol beer market”, he said.
Also proving popular with shoppers this year is energy drink Monster, with sales up £31.3m, and Millennial-favourite avocados, which have recorded an uptick in sales of £29.8m.
Mr Leyland said Brits – especially the middle classes – “couldn’t get enough” of avocados, thanks to its super-food qualities: the fruit is high in fibre, oleic acid, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium.
Alpro, a Belgian company that markets soy-based food and drink products, has seen sales increase by £22.3m (14pc) in the UK this year. Its surge in popularity can be put down to a rise in health-conscious and “clean-eating” shoppers keen to move towards a more dairy-free and meat-free diet.
Nielsen also found that fresh fruit and ‘free-from’ foods were the fastest-growing grocery categories of the year, alongside spirits and sparkling wine.
Shoppers in the UK spent £176.4m more on fresh fruit this year than they did in 2016, while sales of spirits rose £152.3m and sales of free-from products, such as items without gluten or dairy, increased by £146.6m.
Britain’s thirst for Prosecco and Cava also helped boost sparkling wine sales by an extra £80.3m, while bottled water and ale & stout – which became a bigger market than instant coffee – also feature in the top 10 list of fastest-growing grocery categories this year.
Ian Mansley, Nielsen’s head of grocery analytics, said: “Despite rising prices, shoppers still want to treat themselves with good quality and healthier food, but also indulge and enjoy oneself by drinking and dining more at home, particularly if households look to cut costs by not going out as much.”
Mr Mansley points out that the increasing popularity of “big nights in” is illustrated by chilled ready meals being the fifth fastest-growing sector.
He predicts that next year British consumers will “continue to economise but not compromise”.
Recent data by Kantar Wordpanel shows that despite grocery inflation standing at 3.6pc – the highest level since 2013 – shoppers have been splurging on food and alcohol in the run-up to Christmas.
The ‘Big Four’ of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons saw collective growth of 1.9pc during the 12 weeks to December 3, making this the ninth consecutive period of increasing sales for the UK’s largest food retailers.