NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Distilled Spirits Council today reported at its annual economic briefing record spirits sales and volumes in addition to continued market share gains versus beer in 2017. Supplier sales were up 4 percent, rising $1 billion to a total of $26.2 billion, while volumes rose 2.6 percent to 226 million cases, up 5.8 million cases from the prior year. These results reflect adult consumers’ ongoing taste for higher-end distilled spirits products across most categories.
Spirits gained market share versus beer with sales rising seven-tenths of a point to 36.6 percent of the total beverage alcohol market. It is the eighth straight year of market share gains, where each point of market share is worth $720 million in supplier sales revenue.
“The spirits sector had a banner year in 2017, driven by consumer confidence in the U.S. economy, product innovations that adult consumers want, and a fascination with premiumization across categories,” said Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “The U.S. distilled spirits market is the second most valuable in the world, and we continue to promote consumer-friendly policies that expand responsible access to our products.”
On the international front, the association projected a new export record of $1.63 billion of U.S. spirits sold around the globe in 2017, rising 14.3 percent over the prior year. Consumer tastes for premium American spirits and favorable exchange rates drove global sales, especially to markets where U.S. spirits enjoy duty-free access. Volumes were up 5 percent.
“American spirits, particularly whiskeys, are the toast of the global cocktail scene,” said Council Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio. “International adult consumers are exploring more expensive U.S. spirits driven by their fascination with American whiskey’s heritage, as well as its mixability and versatility in cocktails.”
Council Chief Economist David Ozgo pointed to the strongest growth in high-end premium products.
Key drivers of growth included American Whiskey, up 8.1 percent or $252 million to $3.4 billion; Tequila, up 9.9 percent or $246 million to $2.7 billion; Cognac, up 13.8 percent or $200 million to $1.6 billion; and Irish Whiskey, up 12.8 percent or $114.8 million to $897 million.
Ozgo noted the strength of Rye Whiskey, which was up 16.2 percent by volume to 900,000 cases, now worth $175 million to suppliers, and the emergence of Mezcal, which has grown from less than 50,000 cases in 2009 to approximately 360,000 cases in 2017. Other noteworthy points were the sales strength of super premium Blended Scotch, up 13 percent; super premium Gin, up 12.9 percent; and super premium Rum, up 8.3 percent.
“Adult consumers, particularly millennials, continue to gravitate toward high-end and super premium spirits products,” said Ozgo. “Companies are creating excitement in the marketplace with new products and new technologies to interact with spirits customers.”