Along with the rest of the U.S. economy, the beverage alcohol industry is growing at a healthy pace. In 1998, all segments of the industry — wine, beer and spirits — showed volume and dollar increases, according to the Adams Handbook Advance 1999.

Total retail dollars from the sale of wine, beer and distilled spirits surged 4.5% in 1998, from more than $103 billion in 1997 to more than $108 billion last year. Wine retail sales grew almost 6% to about $14.5 billion; spirits generated sales of about $34 billion, gaining 1.6%; and beer sales were almost $60 billion, up approximately 6.1%.

Overall, total spirits consumption increased 1.8% in 1998, reaching a total of 141.2 million 9-liter cases. Most of the growth was concentrated among the non- whiskeys, though Irish whiskey (+6.5%), single malt Scotch (+ 5.1%) and straight American whiskey (+ 0.8%) showed increases. The top performers included tequila (+10.1%), rum (+7%) brandy & cognac (+3.1%), vodka (+2.3%), prepared cocktails (+5.1%) and cordials and liqueurs (+2.3%).

Once again, wine consumption continued to grow, with an overall increase of 3.5% in 1998. Most impressive was the table wine performance( 86.7% of the U.S. wine market), which had an estimated 4.7% increase last year. Significantly, many of the top performers in this group were premium varietal wines, which have shown dramatic growth over the past few years.

Although identifying consumption trends is helpful, actual brand activity is what generates profits. Thus, the rationale behind “Growth Brands,” an annual report which uses the latest industry results to highlight those brands that have demonstrated noteworthy growth over the past few years. See the individual tables for specific criteria.


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