BEER REMAINED THE nation's favorite alcoholic beverage in 2006, but faced heated competition from wine and spirits. While imports, micro/crafts and ciders showed strong growth in food stores, other segments had flat to declining sales.
Brewers sought to win back market share through a number of initiatives, such as new and overhauled brands; the creation of limited edition and seasonal selections; and the launch of “Here's to Beer,” an industrywide campaign that seeks to elevate beer's image.
There were also efforts like the Brewmaster's Bistro from Anheuser-Busch, a retail cooking demonstration program that includes A-B brands in recipes like Budweiser Select Beer Cheese Soup.
Anheuser-Busch went even further by promoting the health benefits of beer, citing research showing that moderate beer drinkers are 60% less likely to have cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers.
Retailers did their part, too. Several companies, including Dorothy Lane Market and Shop Rite, added beer to their annual food and wine shows in an effort to promote the beverage as a food accompaniment.
Along with the action in alcoholic drinks, there was plenty of activity in non-alcoholic beverages. Much of the news came from non-aseptic energy drinks, a small but booming beverage segment. Companies flooded the market with new brands, sizes and flavors.
While energy drinks are poised for further growth, they came under scrutiny due to concerns about caffeine content.
This prompted at least one scientific study on the caffeine content in the beverages.