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Impact Databank: Cognac Reaches Another Milestone In The U.S.

May 10, 2021

After supply constraints slowed growth in the United States to below double-digit rates in the previous two years, Cognac’s momentum resumed in 2020. Case depletions surged by a whopping 28% last year, as Cognac crossed the 8-million-case mark in the U.S. for the first time ever—nearly doubling in size from just five years earlier, according to Impact Databank. Cognac exports worldwide fell 11.6% last year to a total of 14.7 million 9-liter cases shipped, according to the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins & Spiritueux de France—primarily due to the effects of the pandemic. The global Cognac market is led by Hennessy, which accounts for over half of consumption.

The U.S. is by far the world’s largest market for Cognac, representing nearly 55% of bottled exports, and Cognac was the second-fastest-growing spirits category in the U.S. last year, behind only pre-packaged cocktails. Hennessy is also the runaway leader in the U.S., where it exceeded 5 million cases last year for the first time, after an impressive 26% gain. By increasing more than a million cases in 2020 alone, Hennessy became the largest-selling overall brandy in the U.S. for the first time ever and was also the market’s top-selling spirit in retail dollar terms, according to Impact Databank.

In percentage-growth terms, the fastest-growing Cognac in the U.S. last year was Rémy Martin, which soared 50.6% to just under 1.5 million cases, primarily due to its VSOP and 1738 variants. Hennessy and Rémy Martin combined for well over three-quarters of the Cognac market in the U.S. last year. Other fast-growing brands in 2020 included Bacardi’s D’Ussé (+47%) and Beam Suntory’s Courvoisier (+21%).

Cognac demand is expected to continue on its growth trajectory this year—two months ago, the European Union and the U.S. agreed on the mutual suspension of retaliatory tariffs for at least four months, boosting hopes for a permanent resolution regarding trade disputes, which have impacted the wine and spirits sectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Retail dollar sales of Cognac rose 20% the past 12 weeks ending April 18 in IRI channels, due primarily to gains from Rémy Martin VSOP (+45%) and Hennessy VSOP (+27%). In its first quarter of 2021, Moët Hennessy reported a 28% increase in global volume for its flagship Cognac, with a strong rebound in China and continued robust demand in the U.S.—Juan Banaag

U.S.Top 5 Cognac Brands
 (thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Company 2019 2020 Percent
Change1
1 Hennessy Moët Hennessy USA 3,967 5,010 26.3%
2 Rémy Martin Rémy Cointreau USA 984 1,483 50.6%
3 Courvoisier Beam Suntory 585 706 20.8%
4 D’ussé Bacardi USA 372 548 47.1%
5 Salignac Beam Suntory 169 177 4.7%
Total Top Five2 6,077 7,924 30.4%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021

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