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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

America's beverage consumption

Looking at trends is always interesting. What do we drink?

The big winner for liquids consumed by Americans is bottled water. Though that's getting some push back now because of all the empty plastic bottles created by this craze.

Other winners: Liquor and wine. In the liquor market the premium ones have fueled the growth while sales of the cheap stuff is in decline. The makers of liquor had to do something as sales were at an all time low in the mid-1990s (except for the Prohibition years). Are you old enough to remember when whiskey pretty much meant Canadian Club or Segram's Seven and tequila meant José Cuervo?

Beer sales peaked around 1980 and have been declining since. However, the craft beer market continues to climb with double-digit growth. It's still only about 6% of the market, but there are about 2,000 breweries in the U.S. now.

Sure is nice to have all these choices
from Russian River Brewery

Per the Beverage Information Group 90% of purchased liquids is made up of soda, bottled water, coffee,  milk, and beer.

Premium wine sales are expected to continue to grow. The trend towards cheaper wine at the beginning of the recession is turning around as under $10 wine sales are declining while over $10 sales are increasing. Many California wineries want to raise prices as inventories are low after several years of smaller than average crop sizes plus increasing costs for grapes. Most are still afraid to raise prices in the face of a continuing recession, but they won't hold off forever.

Overall the average American drinks less than two gallons of wine per year, but consumes 40 gallons of soft drinks and 25 gallons of coffee! I suppose 12 ounces of coffee every morning is better than 12 ounces of Chardonnay, huh? But that's a lot of soda. The other interesting stat is even though Americans rank low on the list of wine consumed per capita at less than two gallons per person, 90% of the wine consumed is by 20% of the people. This means us winos are in the minority, but at least we're holding up our end! The other thing that "holds us back" in consumption is the U.S. has a large percentage of non-drinking adults, almost 40%.

For better or worse, more people drink now than a decade or two ago, but they aren't drinking more, they're drinking better. For instance, maybe a couple IPAs from a local microbrewery instead of a six-pack of Coors Lite. Last time I had a Coors? Many years ago at a pool party. The last time I had a microbrew? A couple days ago. Maybe more telling is I've never seen my kids (yes, they're over 21) drink a cheap American beer. Or maybe they just won't around me knowing they'll be scorned.  :)