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This Bud's for You, and Anyone Else Who Will Drink It

Sean Williams
January 12, 2012

This is a sad week for those of you who grew up drinking Budweiser. For the first time in nearly two decades, Molson Coors' (NYSE: TAP  ) Coors Light surpassed Anheuser-Busch InBev's (NYSE: BUD  ) Budweiser for the No. 2 spot in beer consumption in the United States. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, 18.2 million barrels of Coors Light were sold within the U.S. last year, compared to just 17.7 million barrels of Budweiser. Thankfully for the king of beers, Bud Light easily retained the No. 1 spot.

The drop-off in beer volumes really hasn't come as a surprise to anyone. In fact, for Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, the trend has persisted for a while. Sales volume fell by 4.6% in 2011, which was actually an improvement from the 7% drop in 2010 and the 10% plummet in 2009. Since 1988 Budweiser has averaged an annual volume decline of 4.4%.

What's causing the mass exodus? It's a mixture of more health-conscious consumers and the emergence of high-end craft breweries.

A dramatic rise in obesity rates in the United States over the past decade has prompted food and beverage companies to change the way they market to consumers. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) in 2006 added snack wraps to its menu and expanded its already existing salad line in an attempt to give health-conscious consumers more choices. Likewise, healthier food choices were the motive behind PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP