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Spirits volume growth slower than total alcohol

The volume growth of spirits slowed in 2018 as vodka experienced its sixth consecutive year of decline, according to new data from market research provider Euromonitor.

Spirits volume continued to grow in 2018, but at a slower rate

In the 2018 calendar year, total global alcohol volume consumption grew by 1.6% to 253.9 billion litres, compared to 250bn litres in 2017. In terms of spirits, volume grew by 1.1% to 21.7bn litres, while growth in 2017 was +1.3% to 21.5bn litres.

The spirits category was hit by vodka’s sixth consecutive year of decline, according to Spiros Malandrakis, head of alcoholic drinks research at Euromonitor. In 2018, the category registered a marginal volume drop of 0.5%.

“Vodka appears to be still languishing in a state of perma-limbo with volume sales essentially flat or posting minor overall declines while remaining in negative territory for the sixth consecutive year,” said Malandrakis.

“Despite the fact that the juggernaut that is Tito’s continues motoring on, it remains a white knight in the sea of gloom and overwhelming, cyclical maturity, otherwise engulfing this most ubiquitous of white spirits.”

However, the spirits sector was boosted by a number of strong performers in 2018, notably Tequila (+7% by volume) and English gin (+9%).

According to Malandrakis, both categories “continue [to capitalise] on their artisanal credentials, uninhibited embrace of premiumisation undercurrents and the flurry of innovation fuelling their momentum”.

Irish whiskey, meanwhile, “retains its enviable trajectory” and posted volume growth of 9% in 2018.

Bourbon was “another star performer” in the alcoholic drinks market last year and reported a 5% volume lift, despite the international trade spat that has embroiled the category in a web of retaliatory tariffs.

Beer volume was up 1.3% in the year, despite “fierce” competition for mindshare in the key US market. Meanwhile, white wine volume “flatlined” and red wine volume slumped by more than 1%.

While these figures refer to volume sales, value sales for spirits are more heartening and are forecast to hit US$366bn in 2022, according to a joint report from Vinexpo and the IWSR. This would mark a 14.9% increase from 2017.

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