US spirits sales back to pre-recession levels, DISCUS

US spirits sales back to pre-recession levels, DISCUS

US spirits sales rose faster in both volumes and value in 2011, thanks to resurgent demand for premium drinks, according to new figures from the US Distilled Spirits Council.

Spirits sales for the calendar year rose by around 4% to US$19.9bn in the country, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) said late yesterday (30 January). Volume sales increased by 2.7% to 195.8m nine-litre cases, putting the industry on a pre-recessionary footing, the trade body said.

Its full-year figures are preliminary and have been calculated based on the 11 months to the end of November. Barring an unexpected slide towards the end of the holiday season, the US spirits industry increased sales faster than in 2010

The performance was largely due to more consumers shifting out of value spirits and back into premium and luxury spirits in the US. Domestic spirits sales continued to claw market share from beer during the year, DISCUS said. "It is a credit to the companies’ commitment to innovation, and successful modernisation trends, that we have experienced nearly five points of revenue market share growth over the past decade," said DISCUS' president and CEO, Peter Cressy.  

Domestic progress, amid tough economic conditions, was almost outshone by record exports, which rose by a projected 16.5% to $1.34bn, again based on 11-month figures. American whiskey, including Bourbon, accounted for the majority of those exports.

Cressy highlighted the US free trade agreement with South Korea and the country's recent victory over the Philippines at the World Trade Organisation as reasons for further optimism on exports. “As countries around the world lower tariffs and other barriers, American spirits products are finding new audiences," he said.

Despite the improved growth trajectory in the US, Cressy again warned that taxes could yet derail the industry's recovery. "These results show that the hospitality industry is helping drive the national recovery and job creation, but it remains critical that legislators don’t derail future economic growth through higher taxes," he said.

For the full DISCUS presentation and figures, click here.