SipSource: 2022 'Worst Performance;' Consumers Slow to Return to On-Premise

A slow return to on-premise outlets wasn't the only challenge identified by Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America's SipSource program.  “Premiumization has definitely slowed in calendar year 2022,” said SipSource Analyst Dale Stratton. “While Tequila and Bourbon over the $50 price point are both +18.8% and +16.8%, respectively, overall spirits priced over $25 category is only up +0.2%.”

After a brief upturn in the 2022 third quarter, ending data places flavored spirits down 5% overall, but flavored whiskey continues to be a category growth driver up 4.1%. “We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on flavored spirits in 2023,” said Stratton.

The wine category continued to struggle in 2022 despite strong growth rates in the over $15 price segment during the holiday season. Wine ended the year down 7.1% but averaged down 3.9% 2019-2022. SipSource Analysts predict growth in the category won’t be easy in 2023 amid significant economic uncertainty and predict that achieving an overall volume loss of -3.9% in 2023 would be seen by many as a successful year.

The port category saw an astronomical +75.4% growth in 2022 that SipSource Analysts attribute directly to the power of social media. “If something defies logic, blame the internet,” said Stratton. “The growth is driven by a single brand that has gained popularity across the Tik-Tok platform.” All growth in the category is coming from the under $6 price segment which is up +134%.

“This is by far the worst performance since we have been reporting on these categories via SipSource,” said Stratton. “That said, there are some clear anomalies that have impacted the single year-on-year trend demonstrating why considering a longer period is important in painting a true picture of the market.”

Twelve-month rolling data places total spirits and wine depletions down 2.9% compared to year end 2021. However, data over a four-year period – averaging massive disruptions from COVID, European land wars, and supply chain interruptions – places total growth rate down only -0.2%, essentially flat with the spirits category up +4.2% in volume and wine down -3.9%.

“The four-year period from 2019-2022 has seen significant swings in depletion trends, generally with a clear root cause. Some events drove a change in channels – like pantry stocking during the beginning of COVID – while others impacted specific product categories or price tiers – like trade tariffs and the advent of the canned cocktail. By looking at the numbers across the total four-year period, we get a clearer picture of what happened in the U.S. alcohol marketplace,” said Stratton.