Report: Six Companies Produce Over Half the World’s Beer

A new chart from Statista shows how little choice you may have in choosing your brew

Illustration picture shows the inauguration of the new filling line for cans at the Hoegaarden brewery of Anheuser-Busch InBev group, in Hoegaarden, Wednesday 12 February 2020. Hoegaarden is part of AB InBev, the world's largest brewer.
Hoegaarden is part of AB InBev, the world's largest brewer of beer.

Over half of the world’s beer is made by just six companies, according to a sobering new report by the market/consumer data firm Statista.

In the report “The Beer Industry and the Illusion of Choice,” data journalist Felix Richter notes that “over the past two decades, companies such as Anheuser Busch InBev, Heineken or Carlsberg have consolidated hundreds of beer brands under their roofs, creating an illusion of choice for consumers around the world.” As well, four of the five most valuable beer brands globally are owned by AB InBev. Overall, the top six beer companies actually control closer to 60% of the market.

The Beer Industry and the Illusion of Choice, a chart by market data firm Statista. Six companies control over half the world's beer consumption
You may not be aware your beer is likely owned by one of six companies.

But what about craft beer, you ask. While the numbers seem impressive —  the 8,764 operating craft breweries in the U.S. produced 23 million barrels of beer in 2020, according to the Brewers Association — AB InBev actually produced nearly seventeen times that, according to BarthHaas. As we noted before, craft beer only makes up 12.3% of market share in the U.S.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a beverage from AB InBev, Heineken or any major brewer. But their reach might be wide enough that you might think your beer is a bit more special than it really is. As Richter notes: “You could easily go to a bar, try five different beers from five different countries, nay continents, without realizing that AB InBev was your exclusive beer provider for the evening.”

So enjoy your brew, but ask questions and read the label — and then maybe do some quick internet research — if you’re truly interested in supporting a smaller brewery.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.