Hoping to tap the fast-growing Hispanic market, Anheuser-Busch is importing its first Mexican lager to the United States.
The subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, said Wednesday that starting next month, it will sell Montejo lager in bars, restaurants and grocery stores in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The move comes as the Hispanic population and the market for Hispanic foods continues to grow in the U.S.
Nearly 55 percent of all imported lagers in the U.S. are from Mexico, with notable brands including Corona, Modelo, Tecate and Dos Equis, according to market researcher Euromonitor International, which valued the Mexican import market at $1.84 billion in 2012.
Hispanics make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population today, and Hispanic flavors and ingredients increasingly are flavoring the American culinary experience.
Hispanic foods and beverages were an $8 billion market in 2012, according to consumer research firm Packaged Facts.
By 2017, that number could reach $11 billion.
“There’s obviously a growing consumer demand and preference for Mexican beers in the U.S.,” said Ryan Garcia, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of regional marketing.
That’s because of demographics, of course, but also price — Mexican beers tend to be cheaper because import costs are lower.
It also helps that Mexican beers — generally characterized by a light, crisp body and mild taste — have “an aura of vacation and relaxation” that appeals to U.S. consumers, Euromonitor said.
Montejo was first launched in southeastern Mexico in 1960 as an anniversary brand for a brewery on the Yucatan peninsula that dated back to the early 1900s. It will be the first time it’s available outside of Mexico.
The company doesn’t yet have plans to expand beyond the Southwestern U.S., where most sales of Mexican imports occur.
The launch will be coupled with an extensive marketing campaign, including using iconic Volkswagen taxis from Mexico City — nicknamed a “Vocho” — to deliver samples.