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Off-Premise Update: Spirits, FMBs Maintain Growth Amid Tough Comps

October 26, 2021

Faced with tough comparisons against last year’s pandemic-driven surge, alcoholic beverage off-premise dollars continued to decelerate in IRI channels in the 52-week period ending October 3. Beer and wine retail sales have declined in both volume and value terms compared to the same point last year, but spirits continue to post modest increases.

Compared to two years ago—before the pandemic—all beverage alcohol categories have registered impressive gains in IRI channels. Hard seltzer and other flavored malt beverages continue to siphon share from the beer and wine sectors, while spirits continue to do well also, primarily due to pre-mixed cocktails. Last year, pre-mixed cocktails surged 62% overall in volume terms, to an equivalent of 15.3 million 9-liter cases—according to Impact Databank—led by E.&J. Gallo’s High Noon Sun Sips.

Total wine volume declined 10% in the year-to-date ending October 3 in IRI channels. However, premiumization persists as dollar values fell less than 5%. Table wine slipped 7.3% in value terms year-to-date, but above-premium brands 19 Crimes and Meiomi bucked the trend with double-digit gains. Upscale bubbly continues to drive sparkling wine dollars, due primarily to double-digit gains from Champagne and Prosecco. 2020’s off-premise surge allowed the total wine category to increase its overall volumes for the 27th consecutive year, but this year the total market is projected to suffer its first decline since 1993, according to Impact Databank.

Beer continues to fall in IRI channels, declining 6% by volume year-to-date, while hard seltzer has decelerated somewhat but is still posting strong double-digit gains. Boston Beer’s Truly seltzer stayed on fire year-to-date (+36%), while top-selling brand White Claw from Mark Anthony fell 5%, as more new entries from both big brewers and craft players saturate the market. While beer’s struggles continue, flavored malt beverage volume (including seltzer) surpassed spirits for the first time ever last year—according to Impact Databank—and even with decreased momentum, FMBs are also projected to surpass wine by year-end.—Juan Banaag

Beverage Alcohol Retail Sales in IRI Channels
(billions of dollars)
52 Weeks Ending Percent Change1
Category 10/6/2019 10/4/2020 10/3/2021 2019-2020 2020-2021
Beer $33.67 $36.39 $36.30 11.4% -0.2%
Wine $13.28 $15.02 $14.79 13.1% -1.5%
Spirits $6.10 $7.80 $8.00 27.9% 2.5%
FMBs2 $3.69 $6.43 $7.65 74.0% 19.0%
Hard Cider $0.45 $0.49 $0.49 9.2% 0.2%
Total3 $56.19 $66.13 $67.23 17.7% 1.7%
1 Based on unrounded data
2 Includes malt-based seltzer and other flavored malt beverages
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to roundingSource: IRI and IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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