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Travel retail: has gin reached its peak?

Gin has played a significant role in the recovery of spirits in global travel retail (GTR) in recent years, although there are signs this may be starting to wane.

gin in travel retail

*This feature was originally published in the September 2023 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

IWSR Drinks Market Analysis reports a rise of 112% in volume between 2021 and 2022, far exceeding the 67% increase in total spirits. But the IWSR predicts gin’s volumes will rise by just 5% (compound annual growth rate for 2022-2027), behind an expected 9% increase for total spirits.

William Ovens, travel retail director for Ian Macleod Distillers, which has Edinburgh Gin in its portfolio, is starting to see this. “There has been a rationalisation in the gin category, and this has favoured the more established, scale brands,” he says. But he says the category still has plenty going for it. “There are some lovely innovations and new flavours being launched by various spirits companies, and London Dry as a subcategory seems to be very much on the up.”

Paul Hunnisett, Aer Rianta International’s global head of category for liquor, tobacco and confectionery, agrees the category may have reached its peak. “Gin has performed well across all our locations, although the growth has slowed down compared with the boom of the years before Covid.” He believes that innovation is necessary. “New flavours are important to keep the category interesting.”

Local products are in a particularly good position, he adds. “They all do very well because locals support local products, and tourists are looking for a memento of their trip, and these products offer that sense of place. We will continue to work with local suppliers to leverage opportunities for these local brands, but there is still an important role for the big brands in this category too.”

Diageo’s recent focus has been on its alcohol-free offering from Tanqueray, Flor de Sevilla 0.0%. “It has been our exciting activation this summer, activated across European airports, and it has been great to see the reception for it,” says Nicolas Wyckaert, Diageo head of white spirits, GTR, who adds that there’s more to come from the brand’s full-strength expressions later in the year too.

Find an overview of the whole spirits travel retail market here.

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