Spirits Sales Outpaced Beer For First Time In 2022



The dollar market share of spirits exceeded that of beer for the first time in 2022, while wine’s extreme minority position remained where it was more than two decades ago, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

Suppliers’ sales of spirits gained share of the total U.S. beverage alcohol market for the 13th straight year—reaching 42.1%, compared to 41.9% for beer.

Wine remained stuck at 16%—the same as in 2000, according to DISCUS.

The main drivers of spirits growth have been premiumization in the American whiskey and tequila categories, ready-to-drink cocktails and “ongoing on-premise recovery” since the beginning of the pandemic.

Off-premise spirits volume declined 44% from 2019 to 2020, then increased 54% in 2021 and 12% last year.



“Despite the tough economy, consumers continued to enjoy premium spirits and fine cocktails in 2022,” DISCUS president and CEO Chris Swonger noted in a report accompanying the release of the organization’s Annual Economic Briefing.

“Year after year, the spirits sector has slowly gained market share by staying focused on our consumers, delivering innovative, high-end products and advocating to level the playing field for spirits, beer and wine products in the marketplace and legislative arena.”

Overall spirits suppliers’ sales rose 5.1% last year to $37.6 billion while volume increased 4.8% to 305 million nine-litre cases.

Leaders in dollar sales growth were tequila/mezcal (+17.2%) followed by American whiskey at plus 17.2%. The biggest decliners were brandy and cognac (-12.3%), cordials (-2.6%) and vodka (-0.3%).

Spirits-based, ready-to-drink beverages enjoyed the biggest volume gain of 37.4% followed by tequila/mezcal (+11.5%).

DISCUS did not provide reasons why wine remains stuck at less than 20% of the spirits market.

As previously reported, baby boomers still lead all age cohorts when it comes to wine drinking, while consumers younger than 50 drink it but “more often drink across categories,” according to a recent report by Silicon Valley Bank.

“But a sizable number of alcohol consumers under 50 fall into the category of consumers who imbibe but have chosen not to drink wine.”

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