The beer industry in Mexico isn’t quite a duopoly, but it’s darn close. Ninety-eight percent of the market is controlled by just two main powers, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA (now owned by Heineken). Grupo Modelo, who is owned by Ambev, has 57% market share and is best known for their global successes Corona and Modelo. GM also owns other successful lines such as Pacífico and Victoria. FEMSA, or “Heineken México”, controls 41% of the market with beers such as Dos Equis, Indio, Tecate, and Sol.
Mexico has historically consumed almost exclusively Pilsner beers, with the exception of a few dark brews here and there. Corona is the best-selling Mexican beer domestically, as well as being the best-selling non-domestic beer in both the United States and United Kingdom. While it is no threat to Corona’s throne, Craft Beer in Mexico has rapidly gained popularity in the past 10 years. Recently, it has maintained a growth rate between 50 and 60%, and is expected to reach 1% market share by 2016.
The main problem was that the corporate giants could offer restaurants and bars what small micro-breweries could not: lucrative exclusivity contracts. Up until 2013, when the FCC issued a ruling to limit the power of these contracts, GM and FEMSA often paid establishments to sell only their beer. Without any means of distribution, craft breweries struggled. As a result, many of Mexico’s craft beers were exported to the US where they were better able to compete. Mexicans looking to expand their palates have fondly welcomed the change, as evidenced by the massive gain in popularity.