Global growth of premium alcohol continues

The premium-and-above spirits market grew by 6.7 million nine-litre cases globally in 2015 over 2014, that’s a 5% uplift according to the recently-released IWSR 2016 database and indicates a continued rise in consumers’ appetite for quality over quantity.

Total spirits sales grew 0.5% globally last year which equated to an additional 14.1m cases. However excluding growth from national spirit brands (dominated by baijiu and soju which accounted for 22.3m cases, up 1.6%), the market actually shrank by 0.5% or 8.2m cases overall with significant declines from vodka (down 8.6m cases or 1.8%), brandy (down 7.3m cases or 3.7%) and flavoured spirits (down 4.3m cases or 2.7%).

Against this, the whisk(e)y market found growth (up 11.4m cases or 3.0%), gin and genever too (up 1.16m cases or 2.2%) and tequila was up 4.2% or by 1.15m cases.

The largest-growth spirits categories in the premium segment were whisk(e)y, gin, vodka, rum and tequila.



The premium-and-above whisk(e)y category added 3.9m cases between 2014 and 2015 (an increase of 7.3%). In comparison, standard whisk(e)y grew by 2.5m cases (up 3.1%).  Value whisk(e)y added 5.9m cases (up 2.6%) but

if one excludes India, the world’s largest whisk(e)y market, value whisk(e)y declined by 2.3m cases.

Premium whiskies grew strongest in the US (up 2.5m cases or 14.6%) but also saw good growth in France (up 169,000 cases or 11.0%), the UK (up 136,000 cases or 7.6%), Canada (up 130,000 cases or 8.5%) and Mexico (up 126,000 cases or 10.0%), according to IWSR.

The premium market for North American whiskies is booming. Total US whiskey was up 1.9m cases (4.8%) in 2015 (1.6m case growth in the premium segment, up 8.5%), total Canadian was up 2.1m cases (8.6%) (up 1.5m cases in the premium segment or 26.2%).

Scotch whisky remained much the same globally in 2015 (down 166,000 cases or 0.2%) while growth of the standard-and-above market fell just shy of the decline in the value segment. The largest growth came from the super-premium (up 193,000 cases or 4.1%) and premium (up 119,000 casres or 0.6%) segments.



The US market is driving growth of premium vodka, rum and tequila while the UK is the key growth market for premium gin where a revival of the ‘G&T’ trend and the ever-growing range of craft gins entering this market continues.

The top markets for super-premium spirits growth are the US (up 3.3% to 435, 000 cases), the UK (up 19.0% to 163,000 cases), Mexico (up 23.1% to 141,000 cases), France (up 14.5% to 64,000 cases) and Duty Free (up 3.7% to 93.1m cases).

The top markets for premium spirits growth are the US (up 8.6% to 3.9m cases), the UK (up 11.6% to 422,000 cases), Canada (up 8.2% to 253,000 cases), France (up 10.7% to 250,000 cases) and Australia (up 11.0% to 176,000 cases).

But the premium segment is not only doing well for spirits.



Premium still light wines saw the largest growth of any category and premium sparkling wine had the third-largest growth behind premium whisk(e)y, reports IWSR.

Total wine consumption overall declined by 3.5m cases or 0.1% whereas the premium-and-above market gained 13.8m cases in 2015 (up 4.7%). Premium still light wine contributed 11.9m cases to this growth (5.3%) with the US posting growth of 4.8m cases (up 8.7%) in the premium still light wine market and China adding 4.1m cases (up 35.5%). Even mature-market UK increased premium still light wine sales by more than 600,000 cases or 2.8%.



In 2015 global beer consumption declined by 0.6% or 122.8m cases following a levelling-off of volumes in 2014. The top three growth markets were Mexico (up 6.3% or 47.0m cases), Vietnam (up 7.3% or by 25.8m cases) and India (up 4.0% or 10.m cases).

The largest declines were in China (down 3.6% or 200m cases), Ukraine (down 15.0% or 41.1m cases) and Brazil (down 1.3% or 19m cases).



IWSR reports that cider continues its strong upward trend as new markets are established and innovation and flavours help drive growth in mature markets, with a 3.1% growth to reach 242.3m cases. The mixed drinks category (FABs, pre-mixed cocktails and long drinks) also remains in growth, adding 1m cases in 2015 (up 0.3%) to reach 383.7m cases.

However the overall picture was not looking so rosy for travel retail in 2015. Spirits overall declined 3.3% to 21.8m cases there, wine declined 2.9% to 7.5m cases and mixed drinks declined 11.4% to dip below 250,000 cases.



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