Global alcohol consumption to fall 8% this year

The alcohol industry has shown “greater resilience” this year than originally forecast, although total sales are still expected to be 8% down on last year, according to new figures.

Research group IWSR has revised predictions it made on the impact of coronavirus on the global alcohol market earlier this year. In May, it said there would be a  double-digit decline in consumption due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and that it would take until at least 2024 for the industry to recover to pre-crisis levels.

However, the fall has been reduced to 8% globally due to economic rebounds seen in markets such as China, and has also partly been aided by many businesses pivoting away from on-trade sales and towards e-commerce and retail distribution.

IWSR reviewed beverage alcohol consumption in 19 key global markets including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UK, US, and the global travel retail channel.

Mark Meek, CEO of IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, said the projected figures are “encouraging” for the sector, and suggested that sales could return to pre-Covid levels earlier than 2024.

“Excluding national spirits such as baijiu and shochu, total beverage alcohol in the 19 focus countries will recover to 2019 levels by 2024. We may see that recover even faster now, given the recent news on encouraging vaccine trials,” he said.

Out of all markets reviewed, only the US and Canada are expected to show volume growth this year, both at over 2%. Meanwhile, alcohol sales in China, where economic recovery has outperformed the rest of the world in the wake of the pandemic, are expected to return to normal levels by next year, IWSR said.

Several markets, including Russia, Australia, Japan and Germany, are expected to see volume sales decline, but this will be less than 5%.

Nevertheless India and South Africa, which saw substantial bans on alcohol sales during the pandemic, will experience some of the greatest volume losses this year.

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