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As The On-Premise Recovers, Mezcal Resumes Upward Trajectory

April 11, 2022

After a 50% surge three years ago, export volumes of mezcal to the U.S. advanced by just 12.5% in 2020, as growth slowed significantly due to the pandemic’s crippling effect on the on-premise sector—where Mezcal had derived much of its previous momentum. Last year, however, total Mezcal shipments accelerated to 625,000 nine-liter cases after another 50% gain, as the on-premise continues to recover from the pandemic. Mezcal’s volume in the U.S. has now increased nearly six-fold in the past six years, according to Impact Databank.

Mezcal’s pricing is skewed heavily toward the super-premium-and-above tier, and growing consumer interest has led many major industry players into the category. Five years ago, Bacardi purchased a minority stake in Ilegal, as it pushed the brand toward national distribution—in 2021 Ilegal doubled its volume in the U.S. to 94,000 cases. Pernod Ricard’s del Maguey label is the second largest-selling Mezcal brand in the U.S., after a 49.5% increase to 79,000 case depletions in 2021, according to Impact Databank. Del Maguey’s extensive range spans from $37-$200 a 750-ml.

Other major players with a sizable presence in the Mezcal category include Diageo (with Casamigos, Sombra, Pierde Almas, and Union), Campari (Montelobos), Proximo (400 Conejos and Creyente) and Constellation (El Silencio). Beyond the big names, craft players have also found success in recent years, in spite of the pandemic—including 3 Badge Beverage Corp’s Bozal (+30% in 2021), Samson & Surrey’s Vago (+17%), and Blue Ridge’s Zignum (+73%). CNI Brands’ Banhez rose 47.5% last year to remain the market’s third largest-selling Mezcal, and high double-digit growth is expected for the balance of 2022.

While the entire Mezcal category in the U.S. is still smaller than many individual Tequila brands, Mezcal is emerging as a dynamic growth area, and opportunities abound for a wide range of players. The U.S. remains the world’s largest market for Mezcal—ahead of the home market of Mexico—and now comprises over half of world shipments, according to Impact Databank. In 2021, the only major spirits category to grow faster than Mezcal in the U.S. was the red-hot pre-packaged RTD cocktails segment.

 

Leading Mezcal Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of 9-liter cases)
Brand Marketer 2020 2021 Percent
Change1
Ilegal Ilegal Mezcal 47 94 99.5%
Del Maguey Pernod Ricard USA 53 79 49.5%
Banhez CNI Brands 38 55 47.5%
Casamigos Diageo North America 24 39 66.5%
Montelobos Campari America 9 15 66.7%
400 Conejos Proximo Spirits 5 13 154.1%
Total Leading Brands2 175 295 68.2%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2022
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