US consumers in higher spirits in 2010 - DISCUS

US consumers in higher spirits in 2010 - DISCUS

Spirits sales in the US have shown signs of recovery in 2010, with value growth marginally ahead of volume, the US Distilled Spirits Council has said.

Sales of spirits rose by 2% in volume to 190m cases for the 12 months of calendar 2010, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) said today (24 January). Value sales also increased, by 2.3% to US$19.1bn.

The figures indicate that price promotions were less vigorous during the important holiday periods and that consumers have reversed a trend towards trading down, albeit tentatively. In 2009, spirits sales rose by 1% in volume and were flat against 2008 in value terms.

"In 2010, the industry improved its performance over the previous year, but this recovery remains fragile, and we are not yet out of the woods," said DISCUS' chief executive, Peter Cressy.

The US on-trade remains particularly tough, Cressy noted. “Consumers did begin to trade back up to premium spirits products, but the hospitality industry is still far from its average pre-recession performance," he said.

He added that tax and regulation would "continue to be a challenge" in 2011 and warned authorities against jeopardising an industry recovery by increasing these "burdens".

There were promising signs in several spirits categories in 2010. In vodka, which accounts for nearly a third of US spirits sales by volume, sales rose by 6% to 59m nine-litre cases in 2010. In the super-premium segment, value sales rose by 14%, but this still lagged the momentum of volume sales, which rose by 18%.

In brown spirits, whisk(e)y sales rose by 8% in value to $1.1bn for the year. Irish whiskey, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey were particularly strong, while super-premium Cognac also rose by 10% to $315m for the year.

Outside of the US, exports of US-made spirits are expected to push the 2008 record of $1.1bn, said DISCUS.

For the full set of figures, click here.