Grupo Modelo Gains Share in U.S. Market as Victoria Beer Cracks Top 20

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Grupo Modelo SAB, the Mexican brewer of Corona beer, is gaining share in the U.S. import market aided by its Victoria brand, which cracked the top 20 of foreign beers in its first year.

Shipments of Modelo brands rose 4.4 percent in the 13 weeks ended July 3 compared with a 1.7 percent increase for all beer imports, Emilio Fullaondo, chief financial officer, said today on a conference call. Case shipments for the U.S. beer industry fell 0.9 percent, he said, citing data from SymphonyIRI Group.

Even amid weak U.S. consumer spending, Victoria surpassed sales of 2 million cases within the first 12 months, Fullaondo said. Modelo, based in Mexico City, first sold the beer in Chicago in June 2010 at a price that tops Corona, the company’s flagship export, he said. Victoria ranks 20th among imports.

“We are very optimistic about the potential for Victoria in the U.S. market as a super-premium import and are working on plans to further expand the distribution,” he said, speaking on an analyst call after the company reported second-quarter earnings.

Modelo, aided by exports, has become the world’s seventh- biggest brewer and the largest seller of U.S. imported beers. Its Corona brand overtook Heineken as the top-selling U.S. import in 1997 and it now has six brands in the top 20, including Modelo Especial and Corona light.

Fullaondo said he hopes Victoria will help boost overall brand sales even as sales of Corona slow from previous years. Modelo started a Corona Beach Getaway marketing campaign as part of “the effort toward maintaining Corona,” he said.

‘Sources of Growth’
“That’s a virtue of having this portfolio,” Fullaondo said. “You have different sources of growth. You’re trying to target different types of consumers.”

Modelo’s brands had sales growth of 4.8 percent during the 13-week period Fullaondo said, citing data from SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based research firm. That compares to 2.5 percent for all beer imports to the U.S. and 1.3 percent for both domestic and imported beers sold there, he said.

The market-share gains are “a combination of a good portfolio of brands and an increased marketing effort,” said Luis Miranda, an analyst with the Mexican unit of Banco Santander SA. “This trend could continue.”

Modelo is selling Victoria, a medium-bodied beer, in 10 states including California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. The company may expand the brand into other states before the end of next year, Fullaondo said.

The beermaker said second-quarter net income fell 1.4 percent to 2.89 billion pesos ($247 million) from 2.93 billion pesos a year earlier after taxes rose 34 percent.