The United States drank less wine for the first time in 25 years

The love story of the United States with wine is diminishing.

Americans bought less wine last year, the first such drop in a quarter of a century, as millennials opt for alternatives such as hard alcoholic drinks, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beer.

The volume of wine purchased in the US UU. It decreased 0.9% in 2019, the first time it fell since 1994, according to the IWSR industry tracker. The trend was attributed to a generational change as the number of millennials exceeds baby boomers, which boosted a strong demand for wine in the United States.

“Millennials are simply not embracing wine with open arms compared to previous generations,” he said.

Brandy Rand

Director of operations of IWSR for the Americas. “With the increase in low-alcohol and non-alcoholic products and general consumer trends towards health and well-being, wine is in a difficult place.”

Wine sales below $ 10 per bottle have recently constituted most of the category, but have fallen in recent years, offsetting an increase in more expensive bottles. Lower priced wines are more likely to be drunk more quickly instead of stored, a reason why IWRS believes its data shows a decrease in consumption.

In general, US wine sales. UU. By value they increased 1.1% over the previous year to $ 38.3 billion.

The figures highlight how demographic changes and tastes are affecting the alcohol industry. Americans have drunk less alcohol in recent years amid growing concerns about the health and competition of other beverages, such as ready-to-drink tea, sparkling water and coffee. In 2019, the nation drank 0.3% more alcoholic beverages, after two years of annual falls.

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The Wine Institute, a commercial agency in California, said that while consumption has declined in recent years, it expects millennials to start drinking more wine as they age, as do baby boomers. He said his own figures do not align with those of IWSR and show that wine volumes grew last year. IWSR said its data shows consumption and not shipments to distributors, which the Wine Institute measures.

For decades, wine benefited from the theory that drinking in moderation, particularly red wine, was good for the heart. More recently, studies have questioned that finding, suggesting that any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer and that the benefits of drinking are more limited than previously thought.

And baby boomers are drinking less because of lower disposable income, smaller households, which makes wine harder to store, and health concerns, IWSR said.

Many baby boomers, generally considered people born between 1946 and 1964, are loyal to specific brands or categories, and stick primarily to wine or beer, but millennials tend to drink in all categories, said Mrs. Rand of IWSR. Industry tracker data shows a preference of EE. UU. For strong, smoky and sometimes spicy flavors, a trend illustrated by the popularity of mezcal, whose volumes grew 40% last year. The choice of flavor offered by wine, compared to spirits and craft beer, has remained “relatively stagnant,” Rand said.

By 2019, volumes of ready-to-drink products consumed increased 50%, driven by hard seltzers and canned cocktails, according to IWSR. Liquor volumes grew 2.3%, helped by mezcal, tequila, cognac, bourbon and other whiskey. Beer continued to decline, falling 2.3%, as demand continues to decline for large national brands such as Budweiser. Craft beer volumes increased 4.1%, while low and non-alcoholic beer rose 6.6%.

Wine could be affected by US tariffs on European imports. Last year, the United States imposed a 25% tariff on bottled table wines from France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, and has threatened to take further action.

Staci Garcia,

A 47-year-old real estate agent based in Boca Raton, Florida, recently stopped buying wine after noticing that he felt bad after drinking it. “I’m going to stay away from wine while trying to lose weight,” Garcia said. “I don’t miss wine as I thought it would.”

Some large companies are selling mass market wine brands and doubling in high growth areas.

Constellation marks Inc.

– Who owns Robert Mondavi, Prisoner Wine Co. and Ruffino wines – is selling a series of its low-margin wine brands so you can focus more on your premium products. Last year he said that virtually all of the growth came from products priced at $ 11 or more.

Diageo

PLC has also sold most of its wine brands.

Winemakers are also selling more in cans and cartons. Traditional wine bottles do not lend themselves to casual outdoor drinking, or to consumers who want a single glass, a problem given that more Americans live alone than in the past, according to Census Bureau data.

As more people reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic breweries, bars and alternative spirits and are appearing to give so-called curious sober a range of options beyond conspicuous non-consumption. Photo: Adam Falk / The Wall Street Journal

Wine could see a boost in online shopping. IWSR forecasts that online alcohol sales in the US UU. They will increase from $ 3 billion in 2019 to $ 13.4 billion by 2024. So far, sales have been driven by wine, which has fewer state-level restrictions than other drinks. The San Francisco-based online wine retailer Wine.com said its revenue increased by approximately 16% last year and that millennials are approximately one third of its customers.

“The old way of buying wine where you stand in front of a wall in retail without anything but labels, that’s not good enough for this generation,” he said.

Rich Bergsund,

The executive director of Wine.com. The site allows customers to chat with sommeliers and watch videos before buying.

Bergsund said millennial customers spend as much on a bottle as baby boomers, with an average sale price per bottle on the website of $ 30. They currently buy less frequently, which they expect to change over time. “It is a very predictable pattern, spending more on wine as you go through life.”

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at [email protected]

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