Global alcoholic-drink volume sales declined by 0.7 per cent in 2015, translating to a loss of 1.7 billion litres of volume sales since 2014, according to new research released by Euromonitor International.
China recorded a 3.5 per cent decline and Brazil and eastern Europe showed further weaknesses, falling 2.5 and 4.9 per cent, respectively.
While western Europe and Australasia flatlined, North America’s 2.3 per cent growth provided a shot of optimism in an otherwise sobering global landscape where even the potential of Asia, Middle East and Africa was diluted by currency volatility and commodity price fluctuations.
Euromonitor International Senior Alcoholic Drinks Analyst Spiros Malandrakis says that while terms such as ‘authenticity’ and ‘craftsmanship’ are losing traction, the trajectories of sophistication, moderation, perceived exotic credentials, accessibility and restrained yet grounded aspirational attributes remain the key driving forces fuelling pockets of buoyancy.
“Premium English gin, Irish and Japanese whiskey and dark and non-alcoholic beer are the flag bearers of growth and it’s no coincidence that those also happen to be the segments gaining further momentum with the ever-important Millennial demographic in mature Western markets,” he said.
Beyond those star performers, tequila and bourbon remained solid, while cognac bounced back strongly. Cider performed well, but has softened as Americans move to hard soda drinks. Rum and vodka are among the worst performers, while still, light white and red wine varietals join sparkling wines in returning to healthy levels.
“While initial forecasts suggest a gradual recovery from 2016, performance will remain substandard compared with historical trajectories,” Mr Malandrakis said. “It’s not the industry’s vision that is impaired, but rather the horizon that can be treacherous.”