Cheers - VB back as nation's No.1 beer
Victorian pride has been salvaged. Latest brewing industry figures show that VB has regained its crown as Australia's biggest-selling beer, knocking off Queensland interloper XXXX Gold, which took the No. 1 position in May last year after decades of dominance by VB.
Latest Nielsen figures show that VB has a 12.2 per cent market share of the off-premise beer market against 11.9 per cent for XXXX Gold.
VB overtook XXXX Gold some time between December and February as the nation's most popular beer. It follows the beer's relaunch late last year under new owner SABMiller, which returned VB's alcohol content to 4.9 per cent from 4.6 per cent and launched a new advertising campaign.
These changes to VB's alcohol content and marketing have helped turn sales around. In the three months to Christmas, VB sales by volume rose 2 per cent.
It's been a long road back to growth for the famous beer. VB had a national market share of 25 per cent in 2000 but that had declined every month for the following 10 years.
Nielsen figures show that VB's percentage of the total beer market hit 11.7 per cent in the quarter to February, just edging out XXXX Gold at 11.6 per cent.
In May last year, to the shock of Victorian drinkers, XXXX Gold officially became the nation's biggest-selling beer. At the time, XXXX's mid-strength brew commanded 12.4 per cent of beer consumed in Australia. VB was on 12.3 per cent.
XXXX Gold is owned by Lion, part of Japanese conglomerate Kirin.
Foster's owned VB before it was itself swallowed by London-based global brewing company SABMiller more than a year ago.
A spokeswoman for Lion said the latest Nielsen figures were based on only one month's sales.
"We don't manage our business on a month-to-month basis - XXXX Gold remains the largest beer on an annualised basis and we continue to be pleased with its growth," the spokeswoman said.
"XXXX Gold has steadily grown share year on year for 10 years, and we remain committed to our long-term investment strategy."
Earlier this month it was revealed that Foster's would axe Victoria Pale Lager, which was sold in an embossed VB stubby-shaped green bottle, becoming the first label to be discontinued since the brewer was taken over by SABMiller.
The decision by SABMiller to dump Victoria Pale Lager was done in part to focus more on its core beer brands, such as VB, and help return it to its historic growth rates.