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Bud Light no longer top-selling US beer amid trans partnership boycott

A bartender pours a free 7-ounce beer at The Patio by Mama's Pretzels at SeaWorld Orlando, Florida. (Sarah Espedido/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)
June 14, 2023

Bud Light is no longer America’s most popular beer amid shifts in consumer preference as part of an extended boycott of the brand.

Modelo Especial took Bud Light’s place as the top-selling beer in the United States during the month of May. According to the Wall Street Journal, Modelo Especial comprised 8.4% of U.S. retail-store beer sales during the four weeks of May, while Bud Light comprised only 7.3% of retail-store beer sales, based on an analysis of Nielsen data performed by Bump Williams, a consulting firm.

Bud Light has been targeted by conservatives in an ongoing boycott since April, when Bud Light partnered with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, by sending a personalized beer can to Mulvaney to celebrate a year of transitioning. The boycott was initiated after Mulvaney posted an image on Instagram of the personalized Bud Light can.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Bud Light’s sales were down roughly 24% in the week ending on June 3 compared to the same time last year. Other Anheuser-Busch brands, such as Budweiser and Michelob Ultra, have also experienced reduced sales throughout the boycott.

READ MORE: Bud Light in-store sales plummet 26% due to ongoing boycott over transgender partnership

The majority of Anheuser-Busch distributors are independently owned. Reports have indicated that some Anheuser-Busch distributors are considering layoffs, while other distributors have been able to offset the loss of Bud Light distribution by carrying Constellation brands of beer, such as Modelo.

One Anheuser-Busch distributor that does not distribute Modelo said, “Our year is screwed.”

While Bud Light’s total sales for the first five months of 2023 remain higher than any other beer company and Anheuser-Busch continues to be the largest brewer in the United States, Bud Light distributors have suggested that Bud Light’s reputation as America’s most popular beer may be permanent.

“Unless Bud Light starts to experience a serious course correction in terms of performance, which can only come from consumers finding their way back into the brand family, then that firm grip on the No. 1 rank by year-end loosens a bit more every week,” Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting, said.