Foreign alcohol brands enjoyed record numbers in 2016.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that alcohol imports increased 6% last year in America. The first 11 months of 2016 saw $17 billion in sales for this category. Once the final numbers are in, it’s likely that last year will be a historical high for imports.
Leading the way were Mexican beer, Irish whiskey and French wines.
One might expect the stronger U.S. dollar to be the reason for this boom. But the WSJ reports that it’s more a sign of wholesalers increasing the amounts they import. After all, prices have not declined for many foreign brands. Scotches, Irish whiskeys and Old World wines still fetch top dollar at retail.
Instead it’s more about increasing imports to build a wider, better selection. This allows the ever-curious, brand-disloyal U.S. consumer to explore through an array of bottles and categories. Feeding the curious palate of Americans has been a recipe for success for wholesalers and retailers who offered more foreign brands last year.
Whether the nationalistic agenda of President Trump will support this growth is another question. Trump does seem resolute on helping businesses, however. His willingness to hurt U.S. wholesalers and importers could determine the outcome for imports in 2017.