July 11, 2022
In 2021, the spirits industry experienced strong growth in sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). The gradual reopening of post-pandemic bars and restaurants, as well as consumer enthusiasm for purchasing high-end spirits, has helped boost sales.
Spirits sales are on the rise.
For the 12th consecutive year, spirits sales gained market share over beer and wine, increasing 1.7 percentage points to 41.3 percent of the total alcoholic beverage market.
Key categories driving sales included vodka, which grew 4.9% in revenue; and tequila and mezcal, which jumped a whopping 30.1% to $5.2 billion (98% of that figure represents tequila sales).
Consumers bought more expensive liquor, especially tequila.
It was found that consumers particularly sought out high-end tequila, whether for sipping or for making cocktails. In 2021, super premium tequila sales increased 41.6 percent, and high-end premium sales increased 33.8 percent.
Ready-to-drink cocktails stole market share from beers and sodas.
Sales of spirit-based ready-to-drink cocktails jumped 42.3% to $1.6 billion in 2021, outpacing even the growth of tequila and mezcal.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are evolving.
While the spirits sector has held up well, the economic impacts of the pandemic on the hospitality sector remain problematic.
Bars, restaurants, and other drinking venues continue to be an important sales channel for spirits. Spirits sales volumes at these establishments, which account for about 20 percent of the U.S. market, increased by 53 percent in 2021, likely due to closures and restrictions.
Supply chain disruptions and decreased tourism are hurting craft distilleries.
Many distilleries continue to face major challenges related to supply chain disruptions, including difficulty sourcing glass bottles, corks and labels.
However, the recent upturn in tourism throughout the country will help small distilleries, which rely heavily on tasting room sales, to recover. These tasting rooms can account for 30-50% of some distilleries' sales.