The adult beverage industry reported strong growth in 2021, but it was not without its own challenges that stemmed from unprecedented changes in the global economy. Suppliers, brands, wholesalers, retailers and on-premise establishments continued to adapt and overcome the obstacles that evolved from the challenging year that was 2020.
According to the Beverage Information Group’s just-released 2022 Industry Overview, beverage alcohol consumption levels in the U.S. improved in 2021 by an estimated 1.4% versus 2020. The overall performance of the industry was driven by strong growth in distilled spirits (+3.1%) and moderate growth in beer (+1.2%) while the wine category remained fairly flat (-0.4%).
The spirits industry achieved its 24th consecutive year of steady volume growth in 2021 ending the year up 3.1%. Ten of the 12 primary categories posted growth in the past year, with Ready-to-Drinks leading the way. The Ready-to-Drink category has been on the rise for the past few years and 2021 ended with a 20.6% growth. This category capitalized on convenience, quality, and health-minded trends. The only two spirits categories that remained flat were Rum and Gin, posting slight decreases in volume for the year.
Although COVID-19 restrictions were eased in many states as the year progressed, the emergence of variants contributed toward a sustained increase of online alcohol sales via e-commerce platforms such as Drizly and Minibar Delivery.
The wine industry faced many challenges in 2021, from on-premise sales struggling to adapt to continued pandemic disruption, labor shortages that plagued wineries, and supply chain issues that impacted the entire industry. On top of these woes, the wine industry also faced another monumental obstacle: attracting millennial consumers. The culmination of these challenges resulted in a 0.4% decrease in total wine consumption.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine, which saw its highest growth in 2021, benefited from shifts in consumer tastes and trends. The key driver of growth in the sparkling wine category was the rising popularity of prosecco and the ex-plosive growth of rosé.
In 2021, the total Beer category experienced its best year in over a decade, as consumption in-creased by 1.2%. Hard seltzers continued to lead growth, despite a category slowdown as dozens of seltzer brands launched throughout the year oversaturated the market. Craft beer regained some of its lost volume as brewery openings outpaced brewery closures, but the segment remained below 2019 consumption.
About the Industry Overview
The 2022 Industry Overview provides the earliest and most complete data, statistics and analysis in the industry, reporting on preliminary projections of 2021 beverage alcohol sales and consumption.
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