Alongside our daily news coverage, features and interviews, the Just Drinks news team sifts through the week’s most intriguing data sets to bring you a roundup of the week in numbers.

This week we took a deeper look at Diageo’s sales in North America after the beer and spirits giant announced its first-half results, delved into Australia’s top wine export markets as the country reported another set of declines and picked apart NABCA’s sales data for US spirits in 2023.

Diageo’s North America challenge continues

Diageo’s declining sales in North America continued in its most recent reporting period, the drinks giant’s results this week confirmed.

The Guinness brand owner announced its half-year results – revealing a 2% decline in its North American net sales on an organic basis in the six months to the end of December. Volumes dropped 3% organically.

The company’s organic volume growth in the region has been negative since its full-year 2021-2022 results.

The half-year figure compared to flat organic sales in North America in Diageo’s fiscal year to the end of June and missed analyst forecasts of a 0.7% decrease.

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By GlobalData

Speaking to reporters after the results were published, Diageo CEO Debra Crew said North America’s spirits market was still in the process of resetting after Covid-19.

“Sentiment is improving versus the prior year but consumers are still facing multiple headwinds,” she said.

“Our consumers are resilient but they’re also still cautious and choiceful. Premiumisation continues but there are some pockets of downtrading.

“Fiscal year to date, we’re seeing the spirits industry grow in the low single digits. The path back to industry normalisation in the US will not be linear and will recover more gradually.”

Australia wine exports tumbling

Wine Australia’s export figures for 2023, released this week, did not leave much to shout about for the country’s struggling industry.

Overall exports dropped 2% in value and 3% in volume. The figures were an improvement on those reported in the 2023 third-quarter report but Wine Australia said results were still well below long-term averages.

However, as the trade body pointed out, “the decline in Australia’s exports comes at a time when most wine-producing countries are reporting decreasing sales”.

“The global alcohol market is softening and impacting the entire wine category, especially in mature markets. This trend has been attributed to a combination of global economic tightening resulting in less discretionary spending and consumers being more conscious of their health,” Wine Australia said.

Of the top five export markets by volume, two – the UK and Canada – saw increases. In value terms, the UK and Canada both fell, but Singapore saw a slight increase while Hong Kong rocketed by 74.3%. Hong Kong also saw a 27.5% increase in volumes imported, led by red wines.

Wine Australia market insights manager Peter Bailey described Hong Kong and Singapore as “stand-out destinations for Australian wine in Asia, driving the growth of value to the region”.

Tequila comes in third in US spirits for 2023

Tequila cemented its position in the US spirits market in 2023, coming third to vodka and US whiskey in value terms, data shows.

Tequila’s sales hit $2.33bn, marking a year-on-year increase of 12%, according to figures from the country’s National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). Volumes were up by 9.8% at 6.5 million nine-litre cases.

The NABCA data, which covers 17 states and jurisdictions in the US, showed overall spirits volumes (sold in nine-litre cases) were up 0.4% last year versus 2022 at 61m cases. By value, sales grew 2.9% $13.64bn.

As well as Tequila, ready-to-drink cocktails “drove the growth” of the category, NABCA said. The volumes of cocktails sold grew 19.4% to 3.3m nine-litre cases, contributing to a 22.4% rise in value sales to $293.9m.

By contrast, vodka sales increased 2% to $2.95bn, with volume up 0.4% at 19.4m cases.

Cognac and brandy, meanwhile, reflected a different picture. Volumes fell 8.7% to 2.6m nine-litre cases. Sales value declined by 10.9% to $840m. In December, Cognac/brandy was the worst-performing category, falling by 5.9% in value and 4.5% in volumes.

South African wine exports slide in nine of top ten markets

Of the largest markets for South African wine by volume, only Belgium grew in 2023, data released this week showed.

The country shipped a total of 306.3m litres of wine in 2023, down 16.9% on a year earlier, falling in its largest two markets, the UK and Germany.

Promotional body Wines of South Africa pointed to a reduced harvest and competition at the cheaper end of the market for the declines.

When measured in rands, the value of the exports inched up 0.9% to R10bn ($532m). The depreciation in the rand over the last year means export revenues dropped 11% to $540m.

Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson said: “Quality remains our focus and the consistency that we have seen, along with viticultural improvements, embracing new technologies both in the vineyards and cellars, will allow for the continued upward trajectory in this regard. This is why buyers remain confident in their support of our wines.”