Higher-priced options driving adult beverage sales, study finds

The discounting evident on the food side of the restaurant business has not spread to the bar, according to a new report from Technomic. The researcher found that higher-priced spirits and beers are driving an increase in the on-premise sales of adult beverages, even as volume declines.

"Two seemingly opposing trends are at play," says Eric Schmidt, Technomic’s direct of research and expert on alcoholic beverage trends. "The slow economy and a level of uncertainty have some consumers reducing their visits to or spending in restaurants and bars, while at the same time their interest in more complex flavor experiences is prompting them to continue exploring expensive products."

Among those more complex and costlier products, he says, are craft beers, single malt Scotch and imported vodka.

Technomic expects restaurants and bars to sell slightly less beer, wine and spirits this year than they did in 2012, when volume hit 1.9 billion gallons. But it forecasts higher sales than the $97.3 billion that went into cash registers last year.

The research and consulting firm cites Irish whiskey as the alcoholic beverage generating the fastest growth in sales, followed by craft beer and imported vodka.

The information is contained in Technomic’s just-released BarTAB Report, an ongoing gauge of adult beverage sales within restaurants and bars.

Fastest-growing Adult Beverages in Restaurants and Bars

CategoryVolume % Change
Irish Wiskey21.6%
Craft Beer13.0
Imported Vodka5.7
Single Malt Scotch4.1
Straight American Whiskey2.7
Imported Beer2.7
Imported Sparkling Wine1.4
Domestic Table Wine1.2

Spirits and wine in 000s of 9-liter cases; beer in 000s of 2.25-gallon case; 2012 on-premise volumes

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