Technomic Reveals Adult Beverage Industry Growth Drivers

Special State of the Industry report finds flavor and innovation propel the industry, changing the dynamics between spirits, wine and beer

Feb 26, 2013, 11:15 ET from Technomic

CHICAGO, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With sales approaching a record $200 billion, the adult beverage industry continued on its growth path in 2012 despite a challenging economic environment. The trends in spirits, wine and beer prove yet again that Americans are embracing adult beverages as appropriate accompaniments to food and socializing. Total adult beverage volume grew 1 percent to 7.7 million gallons, while dollars increased 3.6 percent to reach $199.8 billion, according to Technomic's recently-released Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: 2013 State of the Industry report.

"Many factors drove the industry in 2012, but the real driver was and continues to be flavor," observes Eric Schmidt, Director of Research at Technomic. "In every category and segment of spirits, wine and beer, flavor is what attracts consumers and keeps them coming back. The impact is that the lines are blurring somewhat between the categories, making the industry more competitive than ever. This trend will intensify throughout 2013, and product innovation around flavor will continue to play an important role."

The other significant trend revealed in the study is that beer volume expanded, following several years of decline. "It may be surprising, in light of the slow economic recovery, that the growth in beer occurred in the more expensive segments. Again, product innovation and flavor provided the momentum," says Schmidt. Additional trends highlighted in the State of the Industry report include:

Spirits experienced the highest volume growth rate (3.2 percent). Fast-track spirits categories include American whiskey, Irish whiskey, vodka, tequila and cordials and liqueurs. Imported spirits volume growth outpaced domestic spirits.

Wine's momentum slowed slightly; the industry achieved a 2.8 percent gain to account for 10.5 percent of the total adult beverage market volume. An explosion of new wine offerings in a range of varietals and styles designed to appeal to consumers seeking sweeter flavor profiles was on trend, with red blends, sweet reds, sangrias and Moscato remaining popular, while wines infused with fruit, chocolate and other flavors also gained attention. Wine introductions comprised the majority of the new adult beverage products coming to market in 2012.

The largest adult beverage category, beer, moved into positive territory with a 0.7 percent volume increase. The major domestic categories stabilized somewhat, while craft, imports, flavored malt beverage and cider each posted gains. As in wine, the proliferation of new products excited consumers, but also challenged distributors and operators.

Restaurants, bars and other on-premise locations contributed to the industry's overall growth. On-premise dollar growth slightly outpaced off-premise expansion (3.9 vs. 3.4 percent), driven by a combination of increased spending in the channel, consumers trading up in some categories and operators raising prices. 

"We anticipate many of these trends continuing in 2013, and expect consumers to seek out new flavor experiences, experiment with new products and explore the various segments of the industry," says Donna Hood Crecca, Senior Director at Technomic. "The entry of more Millennials –- who value authenticity and experience in their food and beverage choices -- into the legal drinking age population will influence adult beverage on-premise and at retail, as will this year's economic situation."

The 2013 State of the Industry report includes a first look at total 2012 adult beverage metrics, as well as spirits, wine and beer information including category trends, on- and off-premise information, leading brands, new product introductions, import/export trends and projections for 2013 performance. To request a copy of the Executive Summary, contact Donna Hood Crecca

Technomic will dive into the specific adult beverage categories in its upcoming Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) reports: SpiritsTAB will be released in April, WineTAB in May and BeerTAB in June. A unique report will examine the growing and increasingly important Hispanic adult beverage consumer. Special TAB Report: Hispanic Consumer Insights will be published in July. Technomic's in-depth study of the on-premise channel, BarTAB, will be available in the fall. The entire adult beverage database is available online via Technomic's DRINK tool, the adult beverage industry's only searchable online resource.

To purchase or learn more about State of the Industry, WineTAB, SpiritsTAB, BeerTAB and BarTAB, as well as other industry reports and services for adult beverage suppliers, please visit Technomic or contact one of the individuals listed below.


Press Inquiries: Donna Hood Crecca, 631-265-3839, or

Purchasing Details: Bart Henyan, 312-506-3832, or

About Technomic

Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.



SOURCE Technomic