U.S. Alcohol Industry Grew 22.4M Cases In 2016, Double 2015 Growth

Preliminary data from research conducted by the International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR) indicate that total beverage alcohol consumption in the U.S. increased 0.7% in 2016 to reach 3.4 billion nine-liter cases. This represents a gain of 22.4 million cases, double the 11.2 million cases and 0.3% growth American alcohol achieved in 2015.

The IWSR reported such findings in a press release disseminated in advance of the global unveiling of their 2017 US Beverage Alcohol Preview. The IWSR says overall trading up, or premiumization, and consumer thirst for U.S. whiskey, American-made “craft” brands, sparkling wine and Mexican beers continues to drive segments within the beverage alcohol space.


In 2016, the distilled spirits industry achieved its 19th consecutive year of volume growth as it ended the year up by 2.3% at 216.4 million cases, according to IWSR data.


Whiskey continued to outperform the industry, growing 4.4% while the non-whiskey segment underperformed slightly, advancing volumes by 1.5%.

The top five leading brands by volume in order were: Smirnoff, Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, Crown Royal and Captain Morgan. Both Bacardi and Captain Morgan volumes continued year-over-year declines, but growth brands like Fireball and Tito’s rose rapidly.



In 2016, wine achieved its 22nd consecutive year of volume growth as it ended the year up by 1.7% at 357.4 million cases, IWSR found.

Interest in still wine drove the addition of 4.5 million cases on a 1.4% growth rate over the previous year. The category that captured the most consumer attention was sparkling wine, which increased by 8.1%, adding 1.6 million cases last year.

Three of the top five leading brand volumes declined (Franzia, Carlo Rossi and Sutter Home) amid the trend of consumers trading up to more premium-priced ($10+) products, IWSR found.

Beer And Cider

The beer industry had its third consecutive year of volume growth in 2016 reaching 239.4 million hectoliters. Imported beer, specifically from Mexico, is leading the volume growth for the industry.

The craft segment has posted a single-digit increase for the first time in this decade due to the category hitting a maturation point, IWSR believes. “Other domestic offerings struggled to gain consumer interest as each of the remaining categories posted declines.”

Four of the top five brands are domestic beers in decline (Budweiser, Coors Light, Bud Light, Miller Light) while Corona’s growth signifies the Mexican beer trend. The cider category skyrocketed the past three years reaching an all-time high of 2.7 million hectoliters in 2015 only to fall by -11.6% last year.

Mixed Drinks

Defined by the IWSR as malt, spirit or wine-based ready-to-drink products, the mixed drinks category advanced by 7.8% to reach 10.2 million hectoliters in 2016.

The ‘Rita phenomenon is a thing of the past, IWSR believes, as consumers “turn their attention to hard sodas and spiked seltzers in addition to more premium spirit-based prepared cocktail offerings.” Last year, Mike’s Hard Lemonade regained the top spot and continues a positive growth trend.


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