Standard spirits to be a thing of the past

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

End of an era: house pours are upgrading
End of an era: house pours are upgrading

Related tags: Gin

A decline in standard spirits sales is to continue, as experts predict the category will fall to premium and super-premium soon.

In as few as three years premium spirits sales will considerably outweigh those of the standard brands familiar in pubs for decades, claimed Pernod Ricard UK (PRUK) directors.

The ideal cocktail mix:

PRUK asked consumers how many cocktails they expected to see on menus in three types of outlet.

  • Pubs: 8
  • Restaurants: 10
  • Bars: 12

Sales of premium spirits are already rising faster than standard with the former up 2.5% compared with the latter's, which are down 1%. Total spirits sales are up 0.5%, PRUK data showed.

Cocktails are the main driver of premium spirits sales, which have grown by 33% in two years to £500m, according to PRUK off-trade channel director Chris Shead at the company’s annual Christmas launch in London this month (August).

‘Trend for cocktails

“From our perspective, the major messages are that premium is in long term growth and the trends (for cocktails) are here for a long time,” said Shead.

Another, although well known, reason for the dramatic uptick in the sales of premium and super-premium is down to more educated and discerning consumers, who are drinking more cocktails, said PRUK on-trade channel director Mark Harris.

Total sales of premium spirits already account for 50% of the market, but will grow further and overtake standard, he claimed.

“We see premium becoming the ‘standard’ pour and the standards declining further.”

Cocktails worth £499m

Trend watch:

Sloe gin is set to become more popular this Christmas, according to PRUK’s Harris, who said: “Sloe gin is of interest to consumers more around Christmas.
“It’s interesting because it’s been around forever and it’s going to be in growth in the coming years.”

Cocktails are now stocked in around a third (37,000) of all on-trade outlets, account for 6.6% of total spirits sales and are worth £499m, he added.

“Modern consumers drink less, but better and are looking for really authentic brand stories,” he explained.

“They are looking for connection points and (this has been driven) by the movement in the craft beer market and it has moved up through spirits.”

Although cocktail sales are rising and have helped boost the uptake of premium spirits, just 9.2m people drink cocktails, compared with 20.8m consumers who imbibe spirits, he added.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails, Spirits

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