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Vodka sales increase in fine dining

Heightened competition among fine dining venues in the US could present opportunities for spirits brands, according to research from CGA by NIQ.

According to the data, fine dining establishments had a 7.6% share of all spirits sales by value in the 12 months until the end of February 2024, a 0.3% year-on-year decline, a consequence of the closure of these venues. But, there is potential for vodka in particular to seize the opportunity.

There are few better ways to kick off any gourmet meal than with a vodka Martini, easy on the vermouth, and it seems that much of the American public agrees.

Sales of vodka in fine dining restaurants increased by 0.8% during the period, growth that came as a consequence of the popularity ultra-premium brands (the likes of Belvedere and Grey Goose) – overall, vodka now makes up almost a third (29.2%) of all spirits sales in the channel.

Precisely why vodka is doing so well is not entirely clear, though one possible explanation is that the high-end brands are gaining an increased profile – Belvedere left the general public stirred and shaken with its bold ad campaign starring Bond actor Daniel Craig. Marketing moves such as these do succeed in raising brand awareness.

There is also the arrival of other premium vodkas on the scene, such as Altamura, which is made with wheat from Puglia and has a growing presence in the US.

Other spirits have also seen growth, with whiskey and gin gaining shares, but this has come at the expense of Tequila and rum, both spirits that are certainly trendy (thanks to celebrity endorsements), but perhaps do not necessarily fit with a fine dining setting.

Beer is also very much under the radar in the channel, with just 2.9% of the total value of beer sales being through fine dining – a 0.3% year-on-year decline. 30.9% of these sales are of ‘craft beer’, a 3.9% year-on-year drop.

“While the fine dining channel in the US has contracted, it still provides excellent opportunities for spirits and beer brands, especially at the premium end of the categories,” suggested CGA by NIQ’s VP of North America, Matthew Compton.

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