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Bud Light loses its title as America’s top-selling beer

<i>Justin Sullivan/Getty Images</i><br/>Modelo Especial overtook Bud Light sales in May.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Modelo Especial overtook Bud Light sales in May.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York (CNN) — America’s top-selling beer is no longer American.

Modelo Especial, the Mexican lager brewed near Mexico City by Constellation Brands, became the top-selling beer in May, overthrowing Bud Light from the top spot it has held for more than two decades. The fall from the top further highlighted how much trouble the Anheuser-Busch brand is in following transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s Instagram post showing off a customized Bud Light can.

For four weeks ending on June 3, Modelo captured 8.4% of US retail beer sales, with Bud Light falling to second place with 7.3%, according to NIQ data given to consulting firm Bump Williams. Dollar sales were equally grim for Bud Light during that period, with sales falling 24.4%, while Modelo’s grew 12.2%.

And the trend doesn’t look to turn in Bud’s favor, the firm said.

“Modelo Especial appears to be increasing its sales growth each week as we get deeper into summer,” Williams told CNN. He added that the Modelo Oro, its new low-carb beer, is off to a strong start following its May debut and further bolstering the brand’s sales.

In recent years, drinkers have been switching their beer preference to Mexican beers and spirits, such as tequila and mezcal. Williams said that a number of factors contributed to Modelo becoming the top-selling beer (at least for May), including strong retailer support, great advertising, eye-catching packaging and a “springboard effect” from Cinco de Mayo going into the summer.

Greg Gallagher, vice president of brand marketing for New York-based Constellation, told CNN that Modelo has been “enjoying an incredible run of success” for the past several years and said that it wants to replicate the dominance it has with Hispanic drinkers with more demographics. “Our growth is in maintaining that core but also bringing in non-Hispanic customers, and we’re having incredible success.”

If there’s a bright spot forAnheuser-Busch (BUD) (whose parent company is based in Belgium), it is that the American-made Bud Light remains the top-selling beer on a year-to-date basis. Also, sales fell for other beers in its family, such as Michelob Ultra, Natural Light and Busch Light in the same time period compared to previous weeks.

Over the past several weeks, Bud Light sales declines have hovered around 25% weekly likely due to right-wing media’s barrage of negative headlines following its partnership with Mulvaney and the brand’s tepid response to the controversy that angered LGBTQ+ advocates. A single can bearing her face was provided for a social media post, but some prominent conservative figures attacked the brand and social media posts spewed transphobic comments.

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