White Claw blamed for drop in wine consumption (Photo: White Claw)
27 February 2020

Hard Seltzers may have led to drop in US wine consumption

USA | There is hard evidence that hard seltzer has altered the brewing industry, maybe irreparably so. Boston Beer, which remains a leading craft brewer despite the protracted decline of its flagship Samuel Adams brand, now produces more “other beverages” than it does beer.

Yet is hard seltzer also changing the wine industry? For the first time in 25 years, wine sales dropped in 2019. According to research firm IWSR, wine volumes fell 0.9 percent. Although the decline did not affect all segments – sparkling wine grew 4 percent – industry observers still think that hard seltzer is stealing sales in this category too.

Win over women

The website fool.com has an explanation: some women have switched from wine to hard seltzers. “With the trajectory seltzer has been on, it means seltzer is pulling more drinkers from wine than beer.”

IWSR estimates that hard seltzers’ share of the US alcohol market jumped threefold in volume, from 0.8 percent in 2018 to 2.5 percent in 2019. Hard seltzers sold 82.5 million 9-litre cases, worth approximately USD 3.4 billion at retail value.

The hard seltzer category is still small compared to wine, which in the US is estimated to be a USD 70 billion market at retail value, according to Wines & Vines Analytics. The US wine market has grown consistently for the past 30 years, and has more than doubled in size since the turn of the century. However, the new data suggest that this long period of growth may be coming to an end.

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