Spirits, Wine & Beer in a Battle for Consumer Dollars

CHICAGO – Beer sales declines, continued premiumization and price inflation across the industry have caused dollar increases and volume declines in alcoholic beverages, according to Technomic Inc.'s newly released Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: 2014 State of the Industry. Per-capita consumption, volume and dollars rose for spirits and wine, but beer declined in per-capita consumption and volume while achieving a modest dollar gain.

The fast-evolving dynamics within each industry are prompting increased competition between the three for consumer occasions and dollars, according to Technomic.

"The market slowed overall in 2013 and shifting dynamics is the story in spirits, wine and beer," stated Technomic's Director of Research Eric Schmidt. "These trends will continue in 2014, which promises to be a challenging but exciting year for the adult beverage industry."

In 2013, total adult beverage volume decreased 0.9 percent to 7.6 billion gallons. At the same time, dollars grew 1.7 percent to $204.2 billion.

"The combination of rapidly changing consumer taste preferences and a sluggish economy is creating even more intense competition for adult beverage occasions," stated Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Technomic. "And today's consumers -- especially Millennials -- have a broad drink portfolio that involves spirits, wine and beer, with flavor and occasion as key factors in the what-to-drink decision. Never before has the battle for share of glass been so intense."

Recent trends covered in the report include:

  • Mainstream domestic and light beer declined by 2.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, while craft and imported beer saw positive growth. Mexican imports contributed significant momentum to imported beer's 2-percent growth. Following several years of double-digit growth, craft beer increased 9.6 percent. "Beer industry dynamics continue to evolve, with flavor-seeking consumers migrating to products, styles and categories that deliver more complex or unique experiences," Crecca said.
  • Wine growth slowed as domestic table wine dominated the market. The wine industry saw its slowest volume increase in four years at 1.6 percent, but its share of total adult beverage rose slightly to 10.9 percent.
  • For the first time in decades, whiskey segments outperformed non-whiskey spirits as a group, at 2.9-percent growth compared to just 0.7 percent, respectively.


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