Friday, February 9, 2018

Top Selling Spirit Categories in the United States

        The Spirit Industry report is out and a huge surprise for me is the fact that Rum is #2 in a strong whiskey driven spirits year.  The strong sales of all of the spirit categories is impressive.

1.   Vodka

Volume sales: 71.34m cases
Percentage change: +2.2%
Value sales: US$6.22bn
Percentage change: +3%
The unmoved – and seemingly immovable – spirits leader in the US market is vodka. Growth remained subdued in 2017, but almost 50m cases separate it and its closest volume rival: rum. It’s growth is also all-the-more impressive considering the category continues to face creeping challenges from ‘trendy’ up-and-coming spirits.

2.   Rum

Volume sales: 24.64m cases
Percentage change: -0.4%
Value sales: US$2.32bn
Percentage change: -0.3%
Rum may be the second largest spirits category in the US, but it failed to record volume or value growth in 2017. Some of the largest rum players have struggled to keep up with other spirit types in a move upmarket, and it could be argued that the category has failed to achieve the same boost from the cocktail renaissance as that experience by gin and Bourbon. With American whiskey hot on its heels, might rum slide down the leaderboard in 2018? It remains to be seen.

3.   American Whiskey

Volume sales: 23.15m cases
Percentage change: +6.4%
Value sales: US$3.36bn
Percentage change: +8.1%
Americans’ enthusiasm for their domestic whiskeys – including Bourbon – continued unabated in 2017. The Distilled Spirits Council notes that there was strength across all price points in American whiskey – quite an achievement in this age of pervasive premiumization. The category also added 300,000 cases to sales of its flavored expressions, while rye whiskey proved to be the fastest growing spirit sub-category of 2017, with growth of +16.2% to US$175m, and 900,000 cases.

4.   Canadian Whiskey
Volume sales: 17.54m cases
Percentage change: +2.4%
Value sales: US$1.99bn
Percentage change: +2%
Canadian whisky may not quite be a household name internationally, but it has a dedicated consumer base in the US. The category is tantalizingly close to hitting sales of US$2bn, which it is sure to surpass this year if the current growth trajectory continues.

5.   Tequila and Mezcal

Volume sales: 17.2m cases
Percentage change: +8.5%
Value sales: US$2.7bn
Percentage change: +9.9%
Tequila is one of the hottest categories in the spirits world right now, and the US is its biggest market. The Distilled Spirits Council notes that the fastest rate of growth can be seen at the higher end of the spectrum – which is also evidenced by rampant acquisition activity in recent years. Just last month, Bacardi bought pioneering super-premium PatrĂ³n in a deal that values the company at US$5.1bn.

6.   Cognac and Brandy

Volume sales: 13.72m cases
Percentage change: +5.4%
Value sales: US$2.28bn
Percentage change: +7.5%
Cognac and brandy producers hailed solid gains in 2017, though the rate of growth in the states was slightly slower than the global picture. Last month, trade body the BNIC revealed that Cognac exports reached their ‘highest levels’ in 2017, growing by 11% in volume and 14% in value, largely thanks to rebounds in the emerging markets.

7.   Gin

Volume sales: 9.87m cases
Percentage change: -0.6%
Value sales: US$895m
Percentage change: +2.2%
Talk of the ‘gin boom’ is rife in the international spirits industry, but, surprisingly, the category’s volumes struggled in 2017 – could consumer thirst for the juniper spirit be waning? Super-premium craft players are the most likely cause of a 2.2% value gain, edging gin sales in the States close to the US$1bn mark.

8.   Blended Scotch

Volume sales: 7.17m cases
Percentage change: -3.3%
Value sales: US$1.39bn
Percentage change: +0.4%
Volume sales of blended Scotch whisky took a hit in 2017 – perhaps due to the challenge for consumer mindshare posed by its American and Irish cousins. However, value sales marginally increased, indicating premiumization continues to run through the category.

9.   Irish Whiskey

Volume sales: 4.25m cases

Percentage change: +11.3%
Value sales: US$897m
Percentage change: +12.8%
Irish whiskey is one of the US drinks market’s biggest success story and experienced the fastest rate of growth in terms of both value and volume sales of any spirit category in 2017. Of course, the success of Irish whiskey is inextricably linked to the soaring sales of category leader Jameson, but the sector is also receiving a boost from innovative new super-premium players that are piquing consumer interest.

10.  Single Malt Scotch

Volume sales: 2.11m cases
Percentage change: -1.2%
Value sales: US$771m
Percentage ch ange: +1.1%

It was a mixed picture for single malt Scotch in 2017 – while volumes declined, values increased, indicating consumers are drinking slightly less single malt expressions, but choosing more expensive varieties when they do.