Stella and Carlsberg clash over UKs best beer claims
A row has erupted between rivals Carlsberg and Stella Artois over claims that Carlsberg has taken over the Belgian beer as Britain’s best selling lager for the first time in almost two decades.
According to the latest AC Nielsen figures, sales of Stella brands have fallen by almost 1% to 491 milllion pints in supermarkets and off-licenses, while Carlsberg sales have risen by nearly 18% to 495m pints over the year to end of March 2008.
But Inbev, which owns the Stella brand, says the comparison is “unfair” because the Carlsberg sales include Carlsberg Export, Special Brew and the citrus variant Carlsberg Edge. The figures for the Stella brands take into account the 4% ABV Peetermans Artois and Artois Bock, a 6.2% version, which a spokeswoman says were launched “only recently”.
She adds: “It is not a fair comparison. Peetermans was launched in summer 2006 and Bock a year before in 2005.”
Inbev is expected to “meet” with Carlsberg before it decides how to respond.
InBev UK president Stuart McFarlane insists that Stella Artois continues to be UK’s number one premium lager.
He adds: “The latest AC Nielsen Survey shows that when comparing like-for-like, Stella Artois actually exceeds the sales of Carlsberg Export by a factor of three – 16.9% of volume share compared to Carlsberg Export at 4.9%.”
A spokesman for AC Nielsen confirms that “as an individual brand” Stella Artois remains UK’s off-trade number one beer brand with volume sales 10% ahead of its nearest rival and value sales 40% ahead.
Carlsberg was unavailable for comment as Marketing Week went to press.