Consumers continue to look for beer, wine and other adult beverages at c-stores, and that is not expected to change in 2019.
“We think 2019 will continue to see an expansion for wine in the convenience channel, particularly in higher-price tiers, as consumers continue to trade up to higher quality wines,” said Eric Schmidt, director of alcohol research for Beverage Marketing Corp.
For the bigger beer segment, Schmidt and his colleagues are seeing a shift taking place among the younger, more health-conscious segment of the market.
“They seek lower-alcohol, simple beers and lower-calorie hard seltzers that are prevalent in the channel,” Schmidt said.“We’re also seeing a shift toward alternative packaging like canned wines, which are perfectly suited for convenience.”
This past January, Bud Light courted the more health-conscious segment of the market by becoming the first U.S. beer to feature a comprehensive on-pack serving facts and ingredient label for products that hit store shelves in February. Besides listing the ingredients, its packaging includes serving size, calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates, sugars and protein.
Of the top 10 merchandise categories in the convenience store channel, beer ranks third with per store/per month sales of $16,901, with gross profit dollars of $3,853 in 2017, according to National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) State of Industry report.
Meghann Eaton, category manager for VERC Enterprises Inc. in Duxbury, Mass., reported that 2018 was a good year for beer and wine across the c-store chain.
“Even though the biggest piece of the beer pie — domestics — was slightly down, we saw great growth in rotating local craft (10%), malted beverages, the seltzer families (17%), and imports (12%) with Corona, Heineken and Modelo.” Wine’s growth at VERC was a result of what Eaton called the boom in rosé, with 44% of sales, and the growth in whites, now 14%.
VERC’s leading brand in beer is Budweiser, but the brand with the highest growth is White Claw seltzers. The chain’s leading wine brand is Sutter Home, while the brand with the most growth was from Cupcake Vineyards.
For beer, Eaton expects to see domestic growth level off, craft continue to grow and overall growth in all segments. “Since beer cost keeps rising, they are making craft retails look more appealing, and not so shocking.”
Beyond 2019, futurist and trends forecaster Barry Minkin predicted beer will decline for middle-class, blue-collar Americans. “Health trends will also negatively impact sales. Growing Hispanic immigrants will, however, provide moderate growth for Mexican beers.”