U.S. Spirits Consumption Grows

July 28/Norwalk, Conn./PRNewswire -- According to the Beverage Information Group's recently released 2009 Liquor Handbook, total distilled spirits consumption rose 2.1% in 2008 to 185.6 million 9-liter cases. This gain marks the eleventh consecutive year of advances for the industry.

A development cited in the 2009 Liquor Handbook is that imported spirits' growth was slower than that of their domestic counterparts for the first time since 2001. This is a direct result of not only consumers trading down, but of the dollar's weak value that has raised prices as well as tightened margins for imported brands. Total imported spirits rose 1.7% to 74.3 million cases compared with slightly faster growth for domestics (+2.5% to 111.3 million). This directly contrasts to the previous trend when the higher-priced imported sector typically outpaced the growth of the domestic segment.

The distilled spirits business remains very healthy, although growth pulled back slightly last year due in part to the recessionary environment. The drivers continue to be the wide array of flavored products in the market coupled with sales that now run the gamut of the price spectrum from above-premium offerings to value-priced offerings, which are outpacing the overall market.

"With consumers tightening their spending, they are frequenting bars and restaurants less, which has lead to a measurable shift to off-premise consumption," says Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. "On-premise sales dropped 3.0% to $35.3 billion, whereas off-premise sales have jumped 9.6% to $27.6 billion."

From the August 3, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition