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Wine Growth Tapers Off-Premise, But Spirits And FMBs Maintain Double-Digit Pace

December 18, 2020

For the first time since the pandemic severely affected the drinks industry nine months ago, the wine market rose by less than double-digits in Nielsen channels, increasing just 5.9% in volume terms in the four weeks ending November 28, which included the Thanksgiving holiday. That amounts to barely half of wine’s 52-week growth rate of 11.6%. Upscale brands continue to outperform the overall industry, however, as bottled table wines priced above $20 a 750-ml. combined for a 21% gain the past four weeks in Nielsen channels, compared to a 4% decline for brands priced below $8 per bottle. Sparkling labels (+18.7%) outperformed table wines (+3.4%) the past four weeks, driven primarily by Prosecco (+33%).

Upscale spirits also outpaced the liquor sector overall as ultra-premium brands (priced at an average of $38.71 a 750-ml. in Nielsen channels) rose 27% in volume terms the past four weeks, compared to 12.5% for the total spirits market. Impressive off-premise growth among the major categories was registered by pre-mixed cocktails (+66% in volume terms), Cognac (+24.6%), Tequila (+23.5%), and flavored whiskies (+21%). The fastest-growing brand in IRI channels during the four weeks ending November 29 was New Amsterdam Pink Whitney vodka (+198% in dollar terms), which is expected to reach 800,000 nine-liter cases overall in the U.S. market by year-end, according to Impact Databank.

Mark Anthony’s White Claw leads all seltzer brands by a wide margin, as it registered dollar sales of $1.85 billion (+142%) in IRI channels for the year-to-date period ending November 29, more than doubling second-ranked Truly, from Boston Beer. Mark Anthony is already the 4th-largest malt beverage company off-premise, behind only Anheuser-Busch, Molson Coors, and Constellation Brands.

White Claw quadrupled its category-leading volume to a total of 47.7 million cases overall last year, according to Impact Databank, and is projected to outsell all but the seven largest-selling beer brands in the U.S. by the end of this year. In addition, spirits-based seltzer brands, such as High Noon Sun Sips, and wine-based labels, such as Barefoot Hard Seltzer, are also heating up in retail channels. High Noon is projected to reach 3 million cases overall in the U.S. market by year-end, according to Impact Databank.—Juan Banaag

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