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Mezcal returns to its positive growth trajectory 

Mezcal’s volume in the US has increased nearly six-fold in the past six years, according to research from Impact Databank.

The category, which enjoyed a 50% surge three years ago, saw export volumes of mezcal to the US advance by just 12.5% in 2020, owing largely to the pandemic closing bars where it has always thrived. However, now, total mezcal shipments have re-accelerated to 625,000 nine-litre cases after another 50% gain, as the on-trade recovers.

As highlighted by ShankenNews, mezcal’s pricing is somewhat skewed heavily toward the super-premium-and-above tier, and an up-spike in consumer interest has garnered interest from many big drinks companies that are now entering the category and seeing its potential.

Five years ago, Bacardi purchased a minority stake in Ilegal and reportedly boosted the brand’s national distribution. In terms if success, by 2021, Ilegal had doubled its volumes in the US to 94,000 cases.

Additionally, Pernod Ricard’s del Maguey label is the second largest-selling mezcal brand in the US, after a 49.5% increase to 79,000 case depletions in 2021, according to the findings.

Other major players with a big presence in the category are: Diageo – with Casamigos, Sombra, Pierde Almas, and Union; Campari – with Montelobos; Proximo – with 400 Conejos and Creyente; and Constellation – with El Silencio.

Beyond the big names, craft players have also reportedly found success in recent years despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Those showing growth include: 3 Badge Beverage Corp’s Bozal which saw a 30% lift in 2021; Samson & Surrey’s Vago which enjoyed a 17% uplift and Blue Ridge’s Zignum  which saw sales spike by 73%.

According to reports, CNI Brands’ Banhez rose 47.5% last year to remain the market’s third largest-selling mezcal, and high double-digit growth is expected for the balance of 2022.

Impact Databank identified how, despite the entire mezcal category in the US still being smaller than many individual Tequila brands, mezcal itself is considered an emerging and dynamic sector.

The findings also illustrated how, currently, the US remains the world’s largest market for mezcal ahead of its domestic market of Mexico and comprises over half of world shipments.

Last year, the only major spirits category to grow faster than mezcal in the US was the pre-packaged RTD cocktails category which has gained many wins from the pandemic provoking a bigger cocktails at home culture.

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