The Drinks List

Carling continues to dominate lager category

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drinks List, Lager, Carling, Carlsberg, Marston's pub company, Beer, lockdown, Coronavirus, Drinks

The top three lager brands have remained the same as last year, with Carling, Fosters and Carlsberg the best-sellers.

Carling has retained its title of best-selling lager in the on-trade, with popular favourites Fosters and Carlsberg also making the top three once more. 

Thanks to the first lockdown and subsequent trading restrictions when pubs reopened in July, the category missed out on its usual summer boom.

While the Drinks List’s top dozen lager brands sold 10,144,183 hectolitres (HL) in volume sales combined last year, in 2020 this figure was just 6,358,309 HL.

With pubs across the country severely restricted this year, it is no surprise that 2020 saw the biggest sales drop the category has ever experienced.

  • All data provided by CGA for the 12 months to 3 October 2020

None of the top dozen lager brands on this year’s list saw their volume and value sales drop by more than 45%. The lowest volume loss was Birra Moretti at 22.5% down on last year, while the biggest loss was Kronenbourg at 44.6%.

Carling sold 1,722,793 HL in 2020 compared to 2,940,465 HL sold the year before.

Fosters sold 1,023,530 HL in comparison to 1,804,297 HL in 2019 while Carlsberg Danish Pilsner sold 574,656 HL this year compared to 969, 730 HL in 2019.

Best-selling-alcohol-brands-2020_wrbm_large (1)

It would seem as though Carlsberg Danish Pilsner was the anomaly, seeing volume sales rise by 4.7% and values up the same percentage.

However, when total sales of both the rebranded Carlsberg Danish Pilsner and original brand Carlsberg are combined it comes to a total of 575,292 HL this year and 969,036 for last year. This translates to an overall volume drop of 40.6%, inline with the other top lagers.

Coors Light and Stella Artois both rose up a rank on the list to fifth and sixth places. 

Peroni Nastro Azzurro dropped two places while Amstel and San Miguel rose a place each. Tenants dropped two.

Here is the list for the lager category in full:

2020 rank

Brand

Volume (HL)

Value (£m)

2019 rank

Up or Down

1.

Carling

1,722,793

989.5

1

Level

2.

Fosters

1,023,530

618.9

2

Level

3.

Carlsberg Danish Pilsner

574,656

321.6

3

Level

4.

Coors Light

463,751

284.1

5

+1

5.

Stella Artois

461,425

320.5

6

+1

6.

Peroni

450,367

441.5

4

-2

7.

Amstel

349,576

257.1

8

+1

8.

San Miguel

326,703

236.6

9

+1

9.

Tennents

308,784

181.5

7

-2

10.

Birra Moretti

280,269

232.1

11

+1

11.

Heineken

212,540

164.8

10

-1

12.

Kronenbourg

183,913

128.2

12

Level

A year in lager

Brewers have been forced to adapt to the ever-changing trading situation for pubs this year amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as changing consumer behaviours.

During the first lockdown at the start of the pandemic, Carlsberg UK launched a new digital platform that enabled pub regulars to buy from and donate to their local.

The Danish brewer's platform Love My Local​ helped pubs with their takeaway offers and also gave customers the option to donate to their beloved taverns.

“Local pubs are at the heart of our communities in the UK and play a huge role, be that socially, culturally or economically,” Carlsberg UK vice-president of on-trade Alistair Gaunt said. “Love My Local​ is our small way of showing support for pubs, bars and restaurants. We’ve developed the site to be totally free to use by any hospitality business and the initial reaction has been positive."

The lager category suffered from a lack of sporting fixtures this year. When Heineken’s on-trade director Stephen Watt spoke to The Morning Advertiser (MA) back in February, he spoke of the company's excitement of sponsoring events which would go on to be cancelled.

“The second focus is we’re sponsoring the Euro Championships this year with Heineken and expecting to deliver the biggest year on the brand," Watt told The MA​.​ "We’ve got the new Bond movie coming out and then we move into the Euros and essential from now until the end of the summer Heineken marketing activity will always be ‘on’."

“This is all going to be backed up in outlet by support such as PoS and other kits because one of the biggest issues pub and bar owners face is how to get people in the pub when the off-trade is cheaper," he had added.

Better beer company

A £780m joint venture between Marston’s Brewing Business and Carlsberg’s UK division completed this month, with former Carlsberg vice-president of craft and speciality Paul Davies named chief executive.

The venture saw the creation of the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company which will unite assets including Carlsberg UK’s Northampton brewery, London Fields Brewery and national distribution centre, as well as Marston’s six national and regional breweries – Marston’s, Banks’s, Wychwood, Jennings, Ringwood and Eagle – plus 11 distribution depots.

Davies said: “This is a significant moment for us as we create a new, better beer company, with a sustainable future in UK brewing. We have a rare opportunity to create a unique beer business that combines more than 300 years of brewing heritage and an unrivalled portfolio of brands, each with authenticity and provenance."

Related topics: Beer, Spirits & Cocktails

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