Off-premise sales of Modelo Especial surpassed Bud Light last month, according to Newsweek. The Mexican beer brand, distributed in the U.S. by Constellation Brands, hit $333 million in retail sales to secure the top-selling spot in the beer category.
Bud Light had long occupied the No. 1 position for U.S. beer sales. But following a boycott by conservative drinkers beginning in early April, the Anheuser-Busch brand saw continuing (and significant) drops in retail sales. The company began buying back unsold cases in late May after distributors reported transphobic attacks on employees selling and transporting the beer.
Newsweek’s reporting is based on Circana/IRI sales data from the past month, which were obtained through Constellation. In May, Modelo Especial recorded a 15.6 percent increase in sales year-over-year. Bud Light hit $247 million that same month, reflecting a 22.8 percent decrease from 2022. Separate data from industry-focused Bumps Williams Consulting records May sales for Modelo Especial at $341.9 million in sales and Bud Light at $298.6 million.
Constellation CEO Bill Newlands told Newsweek that the change happened more quickly than leadership expected.
“We thought that would take a little longer,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate that it’s gone a little quicker than we had anticipated. But what a great position to be in on the beer side.”
Modelo Especial is brewed in Mexico and imported stateside. Anheuser-Busch Inbev owned Grupo Modelo up until 2013, when Constellation acquired the U.S. arm of Modelo’s parent company for $4.75 million. The corporation now owns Grupo Modelo brands including Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Pacifico, and Victoria.