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Flavour innovation boosts vodka sales in US

A recent report by a food and drinks industry analyst has found that vodka is the most popular spirit enjoyed by US consumers, largely thanks to flavour innovation and premiumisation in the category.

Vodka top US spirits sales
Flavour innovation and premiumisation has helped make vodka the top-selling spirit in the US, according to a recent report

According to research by Technomic’s Adult Beverage Resource Group, vodka accounts for 30% of all spirits used in the on-trade, with on and off-premise consumption growing by 6% in 2012.

In particular, researchers have attributed a large part of the category’s success to rapid growth in the flavoured spirits market.

“Many of the trends that drove the spirits market in 2011 continued in 2012, such as premiumisation and consumer interest in exploring different categories,” said Donna Hood Crecca, senior marketing director at Technomic.

“But the real driver was product innovation particularly around flavour. Spirits suppliers came to market with compelling products featuring interesting and sometimes unexpected flavour profiles.

“Consumers were intrigued, especially the all-important millennial consumer group.”

Meanwhile, representatives in the vodka industry in the UK have claimed they are battling a so-called “apathetic” view towards the spirit.

At a recent seminar held in London, part of London Cocktail Week, Leanne Davidson, product training and mixology manager for Bacardi Brown-Forman, said that both bartenders and consumers have “fallen out of love” with the spirit.

“Vodka is the most popular spirit in the world, even if you discounted top-selling brand Smirnoff, it would still sit at number one. However, bartenders and consumers definitely look at vodka from an apathetic viewpoint.”

Davidson added that many consumers and members of the on-trade are increasingly looking towards other botanical or spiced spirits.

And yet, in her presentation, entitled World Without Vodka, Davidson claimed that innovations in the vodka category have paved the way for other spirits.

She added that she believed continued flavour innovation in the vodka category would sustain vodka sales and renew interest in the spirit.

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