Beverage Consumption

April 8/Food Weekly Focus -- Overall consumption of distilled spirits, wine and beer rose in 2008; however, the rate of growth in each category was less than recent years, according to data in the Handbook Advance 2009 published by The Beverage Information Group. Last year's growth came from atypical segments within each beverage alcohol category, which is a direct result of the U.S. economic downturn.

The trend toward consumers trading up to premium brands, a key factor to growth in all three beverage alcohol segments over the past several years, was markedly slower last year. The growth spots in 2008 came from the off-premise consumption of value-priced spirits, beer and wine. Categories to take the largest hit in 2008 were imported beer and wine. Beer imports went from growing 12% in 2006 to 2.8% in 2007 to a 1.2% decline last year.

Among the domestic categories, Lights remain a bright spot. In 2008, the category grew another 2.2% and now represents 51.8% of the entire beer market.

Wine imports posted an aggregate decline of 1.7% in 2008 due to the effects of the recessionary environment, the weak value of the U.S. dollar and the grape surplus in Australia. While overall wine imports decreased, there were pockets of positive momentum among smaller importing countries like Argentina, Chile and New Zealand.

From the April 13, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition