Spirits are continuing to outpace other categories in the US

Spirits are continuing to outpace other categories in the US

Nearly half of the volume growth for spirits in the US last year came from flavoured products, according to new figures.

The study, released by the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) yesterday (6 February), shows that 46% of growth came from flavours such as orange, cherry and coffee. However, traditional, non-flavoured spirits still accounted for 73% of US volumes in 2012, the figures reveals.

Around 220 different “expressions” to traditional spirits are now on the US market, DISCUS said.

Overall US spirit sales rose by 3% by volume in 2012 to 202m cases, while sales increased by 4.5% to US$21.3bn. The distilled spirits industry grew its market share of sales for the third year in a row to 34.3%, taking share from both beer and wine. 

DISCUS flagged the ongoing premiumisation trend in spirits, as the “super premium” ($30+) and “high end” ($18-$30) segments outperformed the “value” and “premium segments” in the US. “Super premium” volumes rose by 9%, while “high-end” volumes saw a 5% lift.

“The premiumisation trend continues to captivate consumers here in the US and around the globe,” said DISCUS' president & CEO, Peter Cressy.

Meanwhile, exports for US spirits producers are forecast to hit a “record” $1.5bn for 2012, the survey found, ahead of wine ($1.28bn) and beer ($447m). Free trade agreements in Korea, Colombia and Panama and Russia boosted exports, DISCUS said.

American whiskeys accounted for nearly 70% of exports, producing “solid gains” in most developed markets and growing “rapidly” in emerging markets, the trade body said.

However, at a presentation in New York yesterday (6 February), Cressy suggested India was more of a struggle for producers. “It's dominated by the local folks,” he said. “We will keep plugging away at India, but it's a hard market to penetrate.” 

Meanwhile, Cressy said the industry's efforts to tackle under-age drinking are paying off with consumption amongst minors down “considerably”. Cressy said: “That's a sea change. I'm very pleased to say it's the same situation for drunk-driving accidents.”

On the emergence of craft distillers, DISCUS noted that the market has doubled from around 90 companies in 2010 to 180 in 2012. However, their sales currently represent less than 1% of the overall market in the US.