Despite an election cycle that drove folks to drink on all sides of the political spectrum, Americans actually consumed less alcohol in 2016. Alcohol industry tracker and database IWSR reported that Americans consumed less alcoholic beverages in 2016 than they did the year before – the first slip in sales since 2011.
In a report released June 1, IWSR showed volume slipped to 3.39 billion nine-liter cases of alcohol, a drop of 3.5 million cases. The biggest losses came from lower demand for beer; volume for domestic beer dropped 1.5 percent, and would have been down as much as 2.8 percent if not for the better-performing craft beer market, though it, too, is facing market pressures.
It wasn’t all bad for beer, though: imports of Mexican beers like Corona, Dos Equis and Tecate were up 6 percent in 2016. Though the overall beverage industry saw sales sliding, that’s largely due to the poor-performing, $108 billion beer industry; other subcategories saw growth in 2016.
Wine volume sales were up 1.1 percent, seeing special growth in the ‘premium’ category of bottles $10 or more. Distilled spirits fared pretty well in 2016, too. Vodka was up 2.3 percent; Canadian whisky was up 2.4 percent; and bourbon whisky was up a solid 6.4 percent. Irish whisky, brandy and cognac and gin grew also grew slightly. The only spirit that slipped in 2016, in fact, was rum.
The strongest-performing spirit this year was tequila, which grew an impressive 7.4 percent; taken along with the growth in the Mexican beer category, it seems like more and more Americans’ toasting tastes are trending south of the border.