US sees eighth year of consecutive growth for spirits

The US Distilled Spirits Council has reported on an eighth consecutive year of growth for spirits, with sales up $1 billion (4%) to reach a total of $26.2 billion in 2017, while volumes increased 2.6% to 226 million cases – the equivalent of 5.8m.

Hands clinging alcohol drink glasses

The increase in value reflects consumers’ “ongoing taste for higher-end distilled spirits” across most categories, the council said, with spirits gaining market share of 36.6%.

The trade association also projected a new export record of $1.63 billion of US spirits sold around the globe in 2017, rising 14.3% compared with 2016, with volumes increasing by 5%.

The top five growth markets by dollar value included the United Kingdom, up $55.7 million to $177.9 million or 45.6%; Germany, up $22.6 million to $123.5 million or 22.4%; Brazil, up $18.9 million to $29.1 million or 186.5 percent; France, up $15.7 million to $114.1 million or 16%; and Spain, up $14.5 million to $117.1 million or 14.1%.

“The spirits sector had a banner year in 2017, driven by consumer confidence in the U.S. economy, product innovations that adult consumers want, and a fascination with premiumization across categories,” said council president & CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “The U.S. distilled spirits market is the second most valuable in the world, and we continue to promote consumer-friendly policies that expand responsible access to our products.”

The categories driving the strongest growth included American Whiskey, up 8.1% or $252 million to $3.4 billion; Tequila, up 9.9% or $246 million to $2.7 billion; Cognac, up 13.8% or $200 million to $1.6 billion; and Irish Whiskey, up 12.8% or $114.8 million to $897 million.

Rye whisky also achieved strong growth, rising in volume by 16.2% to 900,000 cases, with a value of $175m, as did Mezcal, which has grown from less than 50,000 cases in 2009 to approximately 360,000 cases in 2017.

Vodka, which represents a third of all volume spirits sales in the US, saw volumes increase by 2.2% and value 3% to $6.2 billion.

“Adult consumers, particularly millennials, continue to gravitate toward high-end and super premium spirits products,” said the council’s chief economist David Ozgo. “Companies are creating excitement in the marketplace with new products and new technologies to interact with spirits customers.”

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