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Beam Suntory Battles Tough Conditions In First Half

July 30, 2020

Beam Suntory saw sales dip 3% in the first half of 2020, as the company encountered Covid-related headwinds in a number of global markets. The decline came after a robust year in 2019, when Beam Suntory’s global sales topped $4.6 billion, and volume neared 62 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

U.S. sales slipped by 3% in the first half, as the off-premise surge failed to fully offset the broad shutdown of the on-premise. Still, Beam Suntory president and CEO Albert Baladi tells SND that the company has seen its portfolio perform better than anticipated since the earliest days of the pandemic. “We’re far away from where we want it to be,” he says. “But the spirits industry has once again proven to be resilient against recession, and within that context we’ve done well, relatively speaking.”

Despite the pandemic, Beam Suntory small-batch Bourbons Basil Hayden’s and Knob Creek were up double-digits globally in the first half, as were Toki Japanese whisky, Roku gin, and Haku vodka. “We launched Roku gin in the U.S. about a year ago, and it’s done incredibly well,” Baladi notes. Flagship Bourbon label Jim Beam, meanwhile, advanced by low single-digits, as Beam Suntory’s overall business continued to grow in markets like Japan, Germany, the U.K., Canada, and Russia in the first half.

Baladi added that the company has continued to see premiumization in the U.S. in recent months, evidenced by the strong performance of its higher-priced whiskies. But he warned that in addition to Covid, the ongoing tariff battle between the U.S. and E.U. is presenting challenges on both sides of the Atlantic. “Exports of American whiskey have declined by about one-third since the E.U. tariffs were imposed in 2018,” he noted. “and it continues to be a drag on our results.”—Daniel Marsteller

Beam Suntory’s Key Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Calendar Year Percent
Brand Origin/Type 2018 2019 Change1
Jim Beam2 Bourbon 5,277 5,729 8.6%
Maker’s Mark3 Bourbon 1,758 1,901 8.1%
Hornitos Tequila 1,002 1,027 2.6%
Courvoisier Cognac 533 585 9.8%
Knob Creek4 Bourbon 444 508 14.5%
Basil Hayden’s4 Bourbon 253 320 26.3%
Total Key Brands5 9,266 10,070 8.7%
1 based on unrounded data
2 includes flavors
3 includes Maker’s 46
4 includes rye
5 addition of columns may not agree due to roundingSource: IMPACT DATABANK © 2020
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