Mexican beer and the pandemic

07/01/2021

Mexico's beer sector is an indispensable area for economic development. However, as of April, all work had to be stopped due to mandatory confinement. This situation would continue until June, when the activity was gradually returned with special protocols.

During the first quarter of the year, production had grown by 7% compared to the same period last year, with a total of 8.3 million hectoliters. However, while Mexico's total production in 2019 had been 124.5 million hectoliters, this year's production is expected to be significantly lower. It could reach, at best, 104 million hectoliters.

The total stop that took place between the months of April and June filled both industry representatives and workers with concern. According to the Mexican Chamber of Brewers, which groups Grupo Modelo and Heineken Mexico, the sector has 55,000 direct employees and 600,000 indirect employees. If the industry were to collapse, it could have terrible consequences on employment rates.

However, according to statements made by Karla Sequeiros, director of the Chamber of Brewers, no layoffs were made despite the bad timing. At present, activity has resumed almost in its entirety, which guarantees the continuity of jobs and gives hope for the future.

One of the federal government's measures to promote social isolation and discourage plans to meet was to decree the Prohibition Act. This was fully implemented in Yucatan, Tabasco, Sinaloa, and Puebla. In 17 other states, it was implemented more laxly, with restrictions by the municipality. Currently, this law is implemented in Mexico City temporarily, in order to discourage meetings during the Christmas and New Year's season.

However, modalities for recreation with alcoholic beverages continued to exist throughout these pandemic months. With the mandatory closure of bars and restaurants, there was an increase in home consumption in those territories not affected by the Dry Law. The most consumed drinks were, of course, beer and tequila.

There was also a strong increase in prepared drinks, called RTDs (ready to drink). This range of drinks includes margaritas, daiquiris, and other classic drinks, which are already prepared in a can or bottle. Compared to the previous year, the increase in consumption of these products was more than 80%.

During these months the way of shopping changed. A large number of Mexicans began to become familiar with the online market, while those who were already using it before the pandemic began to take more advantage of it. In the beverage industry, this favored especially the artisanal beer brands.

This sector had been growing lately, although its figures are still far below the industrial branch. During the months of strictest confinement, artisanal beer became an ideal ally. The main companies developed an effective service of online purchases that managed to bring this product to a huge number of Mexicans.

With the first vaccinations, the real recovery period against the pandemic has begun. From now on, it is expected that the situation will start to improve and that restrictions will become laxer. Thus, bars and restaurants could return to their previous pace.

Mexicans prefer light beer over dark beer

Mexicans have increased their taste for light beer over dark, said research firm Kantar Worldpanel consumption sector. And is that about 23.3 percent of Mexican households prefer this variety of barley-based drink, above 22.9 percent of those who like the dark.

The regular or clear is still the favorite for Mexicans and is that four out of 10 households consume it, only 6 percent of consumers buy prepared beverages.

The importance of light products has impacted the entire sector. Constellation Brands, a producer of alcoholic beverage brands, stated that last year Corona Light was the number one imported light beer in the United States and the most developed in the female segment.

"The production and distribution of Constellation Brands brands in the U.S. are 40 percent of Corona Extra, Modelo Especial with 39 percent and Corona Light and Corona Familiar, with 5 percent each, while the rest correspond to the rest of the portfolio," said the company that has the license to sell the brands of Grupo Modelo in the U.S.

According to this organization, this sector is the most important within the agro-industrial activity in Mexico. Its sale abroad represents about 25 percent of the country's agro-industrial exports, with a value of $4,288 billion dollars in 2018.

That same year the Mexican beer industry produced 120 million hectoliters, assuring Mexico as the fourth largest beer producer in the world, a positive variation of 9 percent compared to 2017. Of these, 40 million hectoliters were for export, mainly to the United States, China, United Kingdom, Australia, and Colombia. Exports grew 19 percent compared to 2017. As for the domestic market, last year 67 percent of Mexican households bought beer 10.6 times, with an approximate consumption of 35.6 liters, according to research firm Kantar.

Four percent of trips to a store involves the purchase of beer, but consumers do not usually buy it alone but to accompany it also buy soft drinks, snacks, bottled water, cookies, and milk. The average expenditure was about one thousand 27 pesos a year, or 2.8 percent of what is spent on food, beverages, dairy, home care, and personal.

Data from the consumer consulting firm Euromonitor revealed that Tecate Light is already the second most consumed brand in the country, with a share of 16.8 percent, placing behind Corona Extra, which has 24.1 percent of the market. Meanwhile, Corona Light has a share of 3.2; Modelo light, 0.7, and Pacífico Light, 0.2 percent.