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DISCUS: Supplier Revenues Up 12% In 2021, As Spirits Continue To Steal Share

February 4, 2022

The U.S. spirits category grew 9% by volume to 291.1 million cases with supplier revenue up 12% to $35.8 billion in 2021, according to The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS). The group attributed last year’s growth to a combination of factors, including consumers returning to the on-premise and continuing to trade up in the off-premise. “Spirits are experiencing their fastest growth in two decades,” said Christine LoCascio, DISCUS’ public policy chief. “Over the past 20 years the spirits industry has grown annually by 5.5%, but in the last five years it grew by 7.3%.”

According to DISCUS data, the on-premise saw a 53% gain over 2020. In addition, the off-premise—which saw an 18% bump in 2020 over 2019—continued to grow, though by a much more muted 1% compared to 2020. DISCUS pointed to data from the Census’ Small Business Pulse survey taken between January 10th and 22nd to show that bars and restaurants are still struggling. While 37% of small business owners across all industries said they were back to pre-pandemic levels, only 19% of food and hospitality small business owners said the same.

Turning to consumer trends, LoCascio highlighted spirits-based RTDs and agave spirits as the fastest growing segments, with the former up nearly 56% by volume to 37 million cases and the latter up nearly 21% to 26.8 million cases. In addition, growth in Tequila and mezcal contributed 31% of the $3.8 billion in revenue growth for the entire spirits industry last year, while whiskies pitched in 26% and RTDs added 13%.

Consumer interest in spirits has increased across most price tiers, according to DISCUS, but the growth is concentrated in super-premium priced spirits, with Tequila, mezcal, and whiskies seeing especially strong progress. “Nearly 82% of the spirits sector’s total revenue increase was from the sale of high-end and super-premium spirits brands,” said LoCascio.—Shane English

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