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    Two-thirds of Top Beers are High-end: Study

    :Consumers continue to 'trade up' to premium brews, according to a new study from IRI, and the next step should be shelf space allocation.

    Revealing an ongoing consumer taste for high-end beer, the No. 1 brew featured in the "Top 30 Beer Brand Performers in 2007," from Chicago-based consumer, shopper, and retail market intelligence and insights provider IRI was super premium Blue Moon Belgian White Ale from Molson Coors Brewing.

    Although old favorites Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light made the list, super premium beers made a particularly strong showing, copping most of the spots.

    "The historic trend of consumers trading up and paying a premium price for their favorite brands continued in 2007," said Bump Williams, general manager, IRI Beer, Wine and Spirits Practice. "In fact, 20 of the top 30 beer performers are high-end brands that include 13 imports and seven craft brands. Brewers, distributors, and retailers are doing a phenomenal job of meeting the ever-changing tastes of consumer demands with their new product innovations. The key now is getting the proper amount of shelf space and distribution in the right stores across multiple trade channels to support these power brands."

    Among the high-end beers appearing on the list are Heineken Premium Light Lager, Stella Artois Lager, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Guinness Draught. Craft beers that made the cut included Samuel Adams Boston Lager, New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Shiner Bock. Strong domestic brands were Busch Light, Keystone Light, Yuengling Traditional Lager, and Steel Reserve High Gravity Lager.

    The Top 30 Beer Brand Performers ranking highlights the brands that experienced significant year-over-year growth across total U.S. supermarkets in 2007. As well as looking at volume and dollar sales, IRI said it examined pricing, share growth, and incremental volume and dollar contribution.

    Providing forward-looking insight on key brands to keep an eye on in the year ahead, IRI also unveiled its Top 15 New Beer Brands in 2007: Miller Chill, Bacardi Silver Mojito, Landshark Lager, Bud Light Chelada, Smirnoff Ice Pomegranate Fusion, Mike's Hard Light Cranberry Lemonade, Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus, CM Parrot Bay Pineapple Colada, Budweiser Chelada, Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit, Mike's Cocktail Crantini, Alaskan IPA, Mike's Cocktail Lemon Drop, Zima Pineapple Citrus, and Kokanee Gold.

    "It's all about flavor in 2007," observed Williams. "From pomegranate and cranberry to pineapple and orange grapefruit, these new flavor product innovations are definitely hitting the right note with consumers."

    For the Top 30 Beer Brand Performers ranking, IRI analyzed volume growth, share of segment trends, everyday base pricing, and incremental sales growth in 2007 vs. 2006 to determine the brands with the strongest performance in the beer industry.

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