Spirits Stay on Top for Second Straight Year

While gaining little revenue, the sector outpaced beer and wine sales again.

February 08, 2024

For the second straight year, spirits held a market share over beer and wine in 2023, despite showing little growth, CNBC reported.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) annual economic report, U.S. spirits revenue grew 0.2% last year, reaching $37.7 billion. While gaining little revenue, the sector outpaced beer and wine sales by 0.4% and 26.1%, respectively.

“The spirits sector showed resilience in 2023, navigating through the choppy wake of the pandemic and maintaining our market share lead of the total beverage alcohol market,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS. “The phenomenal sales growth we saw during the pandemic was unprecedented and unpredictable but also unsustainable, and now, the spirits market is recalibrating.”

The top-selling spirit in 2023 continued to be vodka, and the second-highest selling category, tequila and mezcal, gained a further lead on American whiskey. According to the report, tequila and mezcal, blended whiskey and American whiskey are among the fastest-growing spirits categories by revenue.

While some parts of the industry have weakened, like luxury spirits, others have gained momentum, CNBC reported. According to DISCUS, ready-to-drink cocktails were the fastest-growing spirits category in 2023, rising 26.7% to $2.8 billion in revenue.

“Despite the hard seltzer craze we witnessed from 2017 to 2021 which was malt-driven, spirits-based products have actually grown faster, just off a smaller base,” said Marten Lodewijks, head of consulting at IWSR, a drinks market analysis firm“Spirits-based products, including the vodka- and tequila-based hard seltzers that entered the picture later, offer consumers a slightly more premium experience, and that has been key to their success.”

Get more insights on the latest financial, operational, categorical, regional market and consumer trends in convenience this April at the NACS State of the Industry Summit. The Summit offers a first look at data and trends, as well as offer insights from retailers and industry experts on how to capitalize on those trends to optimize your business.