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Anheuser-Busch InBev Is Still Struggling With the Hard Seltzer Boom

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos - Feb 27, 2020 at 10:16AM

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The alcoholic beverage giant lost market share in the U.S. this past year.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD -0.74%) on Thursday announced earnings results that management called unsatisfactory due to weak sales and falling market share.

But the alcoholic beverage giant said it was optimistic that it has the right growth strategy in place to deal with shifting consumer tastes around light beers.

Friends drinking at a bar.

Image source: Getty Images.

What happened?

Sales volumes declined 2.5% in the key U.S. market in the fourth quarter, which contributed to just a 1% uptick in global volume for the full year. "Our performance in 2019 was below our expectations," management explained in a press release, "and we are not satisfied with the results."

The company went on to blame booming demand for hard seltzer drinks produced by Boston Beer and others, given InBev's lack of major competing products in that niche. Overall, the conglomerate's U.S. market share fell in both the fourth quarter and the wider 2019 year.

Looking ahead

InBev is optimistic about the recent launch of Bud Light Seltzer, which will join Natural Light Seltzer and Bon & Viv to attack the industry's fastest-growing niche. But it is still too early to tell whether these products can stabilize market share trends in 2020.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Boston Beer. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Boston Beer. The Motley Fool recommends Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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