The distilled spirits, wine and beer industries continued to adapt to consumers’ changing attitudes towards beverage alcohol. Industry-wide premiumization kept pace with consumer interest in high-quality products. And Millennials continued to drive expansion and migrate toward brands with heritage, authenticity and quality.
Distilled spirits achieved its 20th consecutive year of steady volume growth, up about 2%. The wine category advanced 2.2%, while beer managed to reverse its string of negative annual performances with negligible growth of 0.1%, according to the Beverage Information Group’s Handbook Advance 2017.
American whiskey remained a hot category. It achieved 5.3% growth, as consumers continue to buy brown spirits of all varieties. Imported whiskey rode the wave of its American cousins, with Irish whiskey surging 17.8% to surpass 3 million cases.
Of non-whiskey categories, tequila increased the most at 5.0%. Vodka, which represents 33% of all distilled spirits, managed a meager 1% growth. Rum and gin reported decreases of 1%.
The wine category saw strong growth, increasing in overall market share by 2.2% to 339.3 million 9-liter cases, valued at $60 billion. The advance was led by a 7.8% upsurge in consumption of sparkling wines, and a 1.8% growth in table wines. Millennials, which comprise nearly half of all wine drinkers, are willing to try higher-priced table wines while demonstrating increased desire for experimentation.
Beer’s share of the beverage alcohol market posted a mere 0.1% increase, suspending declines posted in recent years. Advances in the craft, imported, super premium/premium and FMB categories offset declines in the remaining categories. The light beer category, which commands the largest share with 1.24 billion 2.25-gallon cases sold, continued its decline, losing 3.9% — its largest annual decline.