What was in the 3.345 billion cases of alcohol?


Tuesday, 22 January, 2019


What was in the 3.345 billion cases of alcohol?

Even though American consumers drank 3.345 billion cases of alcohol last year, their total beverage alcohol consumption declined for the third consecutive year.

And the reduction in beer consumption was the source of the decline as consumers actually drank more distilled spirits and more wine in 2018. Beer still dominates the US alcohol market but beer consumption was down 1.5% in 2018, according to preliminary figures released by the IWSR.

In total, alcohol volume in the US declined 0.8% last year to 3.345 billion 9 L cases, which is slightly worse than the 0.7% slip in 2017. However, consumption of distilled spirits was up 1.9%, wine up 0.4%, cider up 4.1% and mixed drinks increased a whopping 6.1%.

“Spirits and wine showed slight growth in 2018, but those category increases weren’t as high as previous years. It’s clear that Americans are drinking less overall, which is likely a result of the continued trend toward health and wellness,” said Brandy Rand, IWSR’s US President and global Chief Marketing Officer.

“We’ve also seen for some time now that consumers aren’t necessarily loyal to just one category, which leads to less volume for individual brands. Also, the ageing baby boomer population, the largest group of legal drinking age consumers, is contributing to slowed growth as well.”

Beer market share declines, craft beer rises

As beer volumes have declined, so has the category’s share of the total US alcohol market. In 2018, beer commanded 78.3% of US alcohol volume, down from 78.9% in 2017. Consumer interest in craft beer remains healthy, however, with a 2018 increase of 4.7%, and a continued rise in on-site consumption at domestic breweries.

Mezcal gains

Total spirits in the US reached 230.2 million 9 L cases in 2018, driven by whisky (up 4.1%), tequila (up 8.5%), cognac/Armagnac (up 5.6%) and brandy (up 1.7%). Yet the largest gain was in the fast-growing mezcal category, which saw an increase of 32.4%, albeit from a relatively small base of 261,000 9 L cases.

24th consecutive year of wine growth

In 2018 wine achieved its 24th consecutive year of volume growth in the US, aided by more than 13,000 wineries in the country, a number which increased by almost 1000 in 2018. The still wine segment, which commands 87.3% of the total wine category, was up only 0.2%. Sparkling wine, led by prosecco (11%), increased 4.3%.

Alcoholic seltzers and ciders winning consumers

The mixed drinks category (ready-to-drink, flavoured malt beverages and other premixed cocktails) was the most buoyant segment, up 6.1% in 2018. Rose-flavoured ciders and local craft ciders helped drive 4.1% growth in that category.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/draghicich

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