Market momentum - in alc bevs, that is - continued to favor spirits over beer last yr, even tho beer trends improved and shipments up. A coupla chinks in liquor's armor appeared during 2014 ? flavored vodkas losing favor, some pricing challenges admitted by Diageo. But combo of whiskey boom, craft distilling growth, trading up and increasing access meant sprits outperformed beer and grabbed additional share of US alc bev consumption. For 13th straight yr. Spirits gained 0.4 share of alc bev volume, 0.5 share of supplier-level dollars, estimates Distilled Spirits Council of US, the distillers' natl assn. Spirits volume up 2.2%, DISCUS economist David Ozgo estimates, and grabbed 32.9 share of volume, while supplier dollar sales up 4% to $23.1 bil, grabbing another half-share to 35.2. (Wine gain of approx 1% about same as beer trend last yr.)
Long-term trends remain fully in spirits favor. Since 2000, spirits volume up 44%; wine trend virtually the same. But beer shipments in 2014 just 4.2% higher than in 2000. So beer lost approx 7-8 share of absolute alcohol, with spirits getting almost all of it. On supplier $$ basis, DISCUS figures brewers'/importers' sales up 39% to $31.5 bil during same period, barely ahead of 37% inflation. But distillers' dollars doubled to $23.1 bil, vintners sales nearly doubled to $11.2 bil. As we've noted before, share of absolute alcohol consumption in US matters. A lot. Why? One share of supplier alc bev dollars is $650 mil, in one yr, as DISCUS' Dave noted. And a single share of absolute alcohol volume is about 4 mil bbls of beer, in one yr. That's because overall alcohol consumption doesn't change much in US, especially per capita. Total absolute alcohol consumed increased about 20% since 2000, just ahead of 16% growth in adult population. So average per capita consumption up just 3.8%, most of that from shift to higher ABV spirits. Look at it this way: If beer had same share of alcohol in 2014 that it had in 2000, shipments would have been 239 mil bbls instead of 209 mil bbls. That would mean over 400 mil more cases of beer sold last year alone.