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The Unprecedented Year of 2020 Reveals New Growth Opportunities, According to the 2021 Liquor Handbook

The Unprecedented Year of 2020 Reveals New Growth Opportunities, According to the 2021 Liquor Handbook

Minneapolis, Minn., (July 28, 2021) — The year 2020 is seen as a turning point within the beverage alcohol industry. Many on-premise channels were made unavailable when stay-at-home orders went into effect. Brands, wholesalers, and retailers had to change their business models overnight.

According to the Beverage Information Group’s 2021 Liquor Handbook, the consumption of overall spirits increased 4.6% in 2020 and continues to take market share away from the wine and beer categories. The top ten leading distilled spirits brands combined for a 7.7% increase in consumption volume for the overall spirits industry.

At the category level, vodka remains the market leader of consumption with Tito’s Handmade, Smirnoff, and New Amsterdam leading in volume overall. Interestingly, Tito’s grew 17.8% in 2020 compared to the overall vodka category (2.6%). “Tito's Vodka has posted average growth of 41% since 2010—more than doubling in size in the past four years and shows no sign of slowing”, notes Marina Velez, Research Director for the Beverage Information Group. Ms. Velez adds, “With significant double-digit growth in 2020, Tito’s surpasses Smirnoff to become the best-selling spirit in the U.S. The brand has consistently focused on one offering, emphasizing simplicity, authenticity and natural ingredients, which has contributed to the brand’s success”.

The tequila category experienced 9.4% of growth with Jose Cuervo leading in overall volume, advancing by 21.4%. Within the rum category, Malibu realized 24.7% of growth. Fireball continues to retain its market position in the liqueur category by realizing 11.4% of growth, and now controls 24.0% of the liqueur market.

The whiskey category grew by a total of 6.8% with the largest contribution coming from American whiskey. Straight whiskey experienced the most growth with Jim Beam leading in overall volume. However, much of the growth in this category is coming from smaller brands (Woodford Reserve, Ole Smokey, Gentleman Jack, etc.).

The wellness trend — that is penetrating the beverage alcohol industry —is continuing to fan the flames of the growing Ready-to-Drink (RTD) market. Five out of the top ten fastest growing brands of 2020 are from this category. Bacardi Ready-to-Serve experienced a 4x growth in volume and Cutwater more than doubled growth in volume.  The market as a whole grew by a staggering 35.6% and now contributes to 3.7% of the total liquor category.

We are one year from the start of the pandemic and business is starting to boom once again. The on-premise has begun the slow process of recovery as more businesses re-open and people become vaccinated. The shift in consumer behavior towards our ‘new normal’ will drive new growth opportunities within the beverage alcohol space.

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