Wine Growth Resuming, At Least For Domestics


After a recession-driven 3.2% decline last year, total U.S. wine sales should grow by 2.1% this year, driven mostly by domestic and value-priced wines, according to new research from Mintel.

The wine market grew by 20% between 2004 and 2009 -- although on an inflation-adjusted basis, that translates to just 4%.

Also, table wines' share of household consumption declined between 2004 and 2009, even as consumption of beer -- still the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage -- increased. And despite pricing by volume that is generally higher than wine's, distilled spirits are consumed by 45% of adults, versus wine's 35%.

However, Mintel confirms that domestic wines have proven to be somewhat recession-proof. And thanks in large part to prices that are still on average 35% lower than imports, domestics dominate the market more heavily than ever -- accounting for nearly 75% of wine sales by volume last year. (Roughly one-quarter of wine drinkers surveyed report changing their wine-drinking behavior to save money.)



Domestics' dollar sales in food/drug/mass outlets (FDMx) grew 37.5% between 2004 and 2008 (partially driven by price increases), and their volume sales grew 10.5%.

Meanwhile, imports saw volume dip 1.8% in 2008, after seeing growth of 18% between 2004 and 2007. Imports' 28.2% total FDMx dollar sales growth between 2004 and 2008 was driven to a large extent by value-priced "critter" brands that attracted new, Millennial customers to the import genre.

"Despite the recent decline, the future of the wine market looks bright, at least for moderately priced segments," summed up Mintel senior food and drink analyst Sarah Theodore.

Mintel identifies several promising areas of growth for wine, including:

  • Millennials. Adults who are currently 21 to 32 are a particularly important consumer base to develop because they are presently the least likely age group to consume wine, and will represent one-quarter of the population by 2014.
  • Men. Wine consumption continues to be highest among women (wine comes in a close second to distilled spirits among women, and has a three-percentage-point advantage over beer). However, men tend to spend more per bottle when they consume wine, and those who are wine drinkers tend to have a higher drinking frequency than women. Reaching males between the ages of 21 and 34 is particularly important in order to create the loyalty that should persist as that group ages, notes Mintel.
  • Hispanics and other ethnic groups that currently have among the lowest rates of wine consumption.
  • Innovation. Mintel points to Black Box Wines as a brand that is demonstrating that Americans are ready to put aside their perception that all boxed wines are of poor quality, and embrace box packaging for its cost and environmental advantages. Other environmentally friendly and/or convenient packaging innovations (such as screw caps and on-the-go options) are also helping to drive growth, as are unique/nontraditional labels, celebrity wines and artisan, fruit and organic/fair trade wines.

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