Younger consumers are more likely to move between categories

Younger consumers are more likely to move between categories

Total alcoholic beverage volumes in the US dipped last year, but companies found value growth as consumers continued to premiumise, a new study has shown.

Beer declines drove the overall 1% volumes drop, to 7.6bn gallons, in 2013, according to Technomic figures released late yesterday (13 March). However, a “modest” sales increase for beer, along with solid jumps for wines and spirits saw overall alcoholic beverage sales in the US climb by 1.7% in value terms, to US$204.2bn.

Technomic said 2013 showed increased competition between wine, spirits and beer as consumers, especially younger LDA ones, increasingly moved between categories.

“The combination of rapidly-changing consumer taste preferences and a sluggish economy is creating ever more intense competition for adult beverage occasions," said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Technomic. “Today's consumers - especially millennials - have a broad drink portfolio that involves spirits, wine and beer, with flavour and occasion as key factors in the what-to-drink decision. Never before has the battle for share of glass been so intense.”

Mainstream domestic and light beer volumes declined by 2.4% and 3.5%, respectively, but craft increased by 9.6% and imported beer found 2% volumes growth, driven by beer brands from Mexico.

In what Technomic said was a “first in decades”, growth in whiskies outperformed non-whiskies. The sector increased its volumes by 2.9% while non-whisk(e)y spirits were up just 0.9% because of a slowdown in vodka. “Brown spirits outperforming white spirits indicates a major shift in the American palate," Crecca said.

The numbers come from Technomic's 2014 State of the Industry Report, which covers the on- and off-trade in the US.

A Technomic report released in October said the US beer sector saw a return to growth in 2012, driven by the continued rise of craft beer and premium products.