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Premium spirit push to defy drink concerns - report

By Neil Merrett , 17-Nov-2008

Despite growing awareness and concern over the health impacts of alcohol consumption, global consumers are expected to flock towards premium and super premium spirit varieties in the future, says a new report.

Research group Global Industry Analysts (GIA) says that global sales volumes of spirits will reach 25.3 billion litres by 2015. Interest in lower alcohol content drinks and growing media concern over negative impacts from consumption are to be key drivers in the market.

The report also expects markets in Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific to undergo continued aggressive expansion from distilled spirits makers as a result of high saturation in areas like the US, Western Europe and Japan.

Despite these changing attitudes and market focuses for the spirits segment, GIA believes a continued push by manufacturers towards premiumisation will take place across the globe despite health concerns over drinking.

Global push

Rising consumption in certain emerging markets will be central to this potential growth, but the report cites some potential challenges for continued international expansion.

“Preference for alcoholic beverages generally tends to vary from region to region,” stated the report. “Loyalty towards long-established regional industries is high in several markets, despite the growing influence of globalisation and multinational brand leaders.”

The report cited indigenous traditions and patriotic protection of local brands as a significant influence on national consumption patterns and a possible stumbling block for product expansion.

Nonetheless, the report states that the continued urbanisation of many developing markets was benefiting the push of multinational spirits brands into new countries.

“This led to consumers having greater access to brands through rapidly developing on-trade and off-trade establishments, as well as greater affordability due to increasing disposable income levels,” stated the group.

According to the report, the value of the global spirits market by 2012 will be $315bn (€249bn).

While no figures were available on the current size of the market, the report suggests that Europe holds the largest value share, accounting for 34 per cent of the segment’s global income.

In terms of the share of actual sales volumes, Global Industry Analysts said that Asia Pacific markets were now accounting for 47 per cent of the global market.

“The dominance reflects widespread popularity of local spirits, especially rice-based spirits such as baijiu in China and soju in South Korea,” stated the report. “Asia Pacific is forecast to emerge as the fastest growing region in terms of value as well as volume growth.”

Variety

In terms of drink varieties, sales of brown spirits such as whisky, dark rum and brandy are expected to reach $100bn by 2010, driven primarily by whisky. The white spirits segment, which includes vodka, gin and white rum, will be at $80bn by 2010, the group said.

On-trade sales will account for most of the growth, the report claims.