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Wines Above $15 Drive Retail Gains, But Overall Volumes Slip On Tough Comps

August 24, 2021

Tough comparisons against last year’s pandemic-driven surge are weighing on the drinks industry’s retail growth, with spirits, wine, and beer all seeing a slowdown. Spirits eked out a 1% volume gain for the four weeks ending August 8 in IRI channels, but declined in the past 12-week period. Wine and beer volumes (excluding seltzer, cider, and flavored malt beverages) have remained comparatively soft during the summer selling season.

Of the 100 largest-selling spirits in IRI channels, only 18 registered gains the past 12 weeks, and all major categories lost volume, except for spirits-based seltzers, led by E.&J. Gallo’s High Noon Sun Sips. Tito’s vodka continues to lead all spirits in the U.S. by volume, but in retail dollar terms Hennessy Cognac outsold all other brands last year at $2.4 billion, according to Impact Databank.

Table wine volumes fell 11.5% in the calendar year-to-date period ending August 8 in IRI channels, but Australia’s 19 Crimes and California’s Meiomi led premium-plus brands to further gains. Table wines priced at least $15 a 750-ml. rose 7.5% year-to-date off-premise, while those under $15 stumbled 12.6% by volume. Sparkling brands (+6.2% year-to-date) continue to outperform table wines in IRI channels, led by Champagne (+35%) and Prosecco (+14.5%). Gallo’s La Marca Prosecco is now the market’s largest-selling sparkling wine overall, according to Impact Databank.

Double-digit gains have endured for malt-based seltzers, but they’ve decelerated significantly as the White Claw family of brands declined 2.3% in the calendar year-to-date ending August 8 in IRI channels. The Truly line of seltzers continues to grow at a fast pace (+42.7%) but faces stiff competition from new entrants by Anheuser-Busch InBev (Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer) and Molson Coors (Top Chico). Led by Heineken 0.0, the fastest-growing beer category year-to-date is the non-alcoholic segment (non-alcoholic’s growth was +27%.)—Juan Banaag

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