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Tito’s leads Union’s vodka sales

Vodka accounted for one-third of all spirits sales across Union bars and restaurants in the US over the 12-month period ending 30 June, with Tito’s Handmade Vodka outselling all other brands.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka dominates on-premise vodka sales at Union venues

Union is a hospitality insights platform that creates reports based on data from more than a thousand US venues across 34 states.

While the vodka category has been ‘largely flat’ according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data cited by Union, the company noted that premium and flavoured varieties of the spirit have kept sales resilient.

Union found that vodka has been steadfast at its high-volume venues, holding steady at over 30% share in the 24-month period ending 30 June 2023.

“Vodka is a year-round sales leader for high-volume bars and restaurants,” said Gary Ross, chief growth officer at Union. “What’s astounding is that vodka sales have held strong in the past two years at Union bars and restaurants, even in the face of fierce competition from whiskey, Tequila, and RTDs (ready-to-drink) — a sign of the unshakable strength that makes it a key player in on-premise beverage programmes.”

The average price of a beverage featuring vodka at Union venues (including shots and cocktails) is US$8.36, up by 20 cents in the last 12-months. This price point makes it a ‘more affordable’ option than Tequila-based drinks, which average at US$10.61, and on par with drinks made with whisky, averaging US$8.41.

Independently owned brand Tito’s dominates on-premise vodka sales at Union venues, with a more than 43% share of all vodka sold. It has increased its share by nearly 1.5 percentage points over the last 12-month period.

However, due to Tito’s being a Texan brand, Union has ranked its national vodka sales excluding Texas to remove regional skew.

Within Texas, Tito’s still reigns supreme, with fellow Texan vodka brand Deep Eddy ranking ‘much higher’ than it does nationally, as the second most popular vodka brand in the state.

Together, the two local brands comprise more than 65% dollar sales share of all vodka sales within Union’s Texas venues.

Meanwhile nationally, Diageo’s Ketel One holds 6.1% share, and Bacardi-owned Grey Goose holds 5.3%. Together with Tito’s, they account for more than half of all vodka sales at Union venues.

“Tito’s shows no sign of losing its number one spot at Union venues anytime soon,” said Ross, “but well-known brands like Ketel One and Grey Goose are in a good position to maintain a healthy share of vodka sold on-premise.”

House vodka brands, which are not identified on a menu, account for 32% of sales share across Union venues.

Meanwhile, of the fastest-growing vodka brands at Union venues, British non-alcoholic brand CleanCo came out on top, having jumped 72 places into the top 50 of all vodka brands sold at Union venues.

Other climbers include White Claw’s new premium vodka, and Finlandia, which earlier this year was sold by Brown-Forman to Coca-Cola’s bottling arm for US$220 million.

Flavoured vodkas

Absolut Watermelon is one of the 10 fastest-growing flavoured vodkas at Union venues

By number of units sold, Union has found that lemon-flavoured vodka is the most popular flavour across its venues.

According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the flavoured vodka segment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% globally through 2030.

Per the report, the demand for high-end flavoured vodkas, especially among the Millennial population, is one of the major factors driving vodka growth across the globe.

Union noted that flavour innovation within the category has been about simplicity, ‘better-for-you’ concepts, and ‘farm-fresh’ flavour trends, with pure expressions and classic combinations ‘resonating broadly’ with its guests.

Ross added: “Several brands, like Deep Eddy, are known by Union guests primarily for their fresh and simple flavours.”

CleanCo also topped the list of the fastest-growing flavoured vodkas list, with its V Apple expression.

It was followed by Stoli Cucumber in second place, and Deep Eddy Grapefruit in third.

Ross noted: “White Claw didn’t make this list but it’s one to watch, especially in regards to its flavour offerings, which have already proved popular in the RTD space.”

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