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Things are looking up. (By the way).

It turns out that 2001 was actually not so bad for the beverage alcohol industry. According to the just-published Adams Handbook Advance 2002, the earliest report available each year on spirits, wine and beer consumption, each of the three segments reported overall positive growth last year. In calendar year 2001 the control states combined accounted for 24% of all spirits consumption (36.4 million cases) and 22% of all wine consumption (52.2 million cases).

Retailers and wholesalers in the control and open states together with the supplier community were all affected by the volatility of the stock market, the highest unemployment rate in six and a half years and the aftermath of September 11, but in reality, from a business standpoint things could have been much worse. Retail dollar sales for beverage alcohol products reached $127.3 billion in 2002 for a gain of 3.6% and for the first time since 7997, off-premise ($63.7 million) retail spending edged past sales at on-premise ($63.6 million) establishments.

Total distilled spirits consumption grew for the fourth consecutive year, a milestone last achieved more than 20 years ago. Growth in all of the non-whiskey categories, except domestic gin, as well as the still minuscule single malt and Irish whiskey segments contributed to last year's overall volume of 150.6 million 9-liter cases (+1.3%), according to the Handbook Advance. And even among the declining whiskey categories there were major brands with growth, such as Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam, Crown Royal, Black Velvet, Dewar's and Johnnie Walker Black.

Wine consumption, which has been on a steady rise since 1994, was up only slightly last year (+0.8%) to 233 million 9-liter cases. As was also the case with distilled spirits, imports in virtually every category, as well as premium and ultra-premium domestic brands, fared well last year. Table wine, which accounts for the overwhelming majority of all wine consumption was up 1.3% to 206.6 million 9-liter cases, thanks in large part to the 7.4% gain in imported table wine. Surprisingly, the domestic segment lost 253,000 cases last year, the first drop in domestic table wine sales since 1993. Among the biggest losers was the champagne & sparkling wine category, which declined last year to 11.9 million cases, the lowest level in recent memory. This drop came on the heels of a 20.3% plunge in 2000.

And, of course, there were the introductions of highly successful new products like Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi O, which also helped drive industry momentum forward. All told, last year wasn't that bad and this one looks to be even better.


Robert Keane

Editorial Director/Co-Publisher
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Date:Mar 1, 2002
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