Have Two Years Of Covid Permanently Changed The Alcohol Industry?

Apr 01, 2022
Washington, D.C.
Beer, Wine and Spirits Data Powered by WSWA’s SipSource Presented in Highly Attended Webinar

WASHINGTON, D.C., 04/01/2022 – Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) presented a live webinar to answer the question: “Have Two Years of COVID Permanently Changed the Alcohol Industry?” WSWA’s SipSource analysts and industry veterans, Danny Brager and Dale Stratton, were joined by the Vice President of Research at Beer Institute, Danelle Kosmal. With all three segments of the alcohol industry present, the webinar provided a deep dive into SipSource, Beer Institute, and other industry member’s data and surveys.


“The turnout for this webinar clearly shows the value our industry places on data to make business decisions during unprecedented disruptions and significant market changes,” said WSWA Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications & Marketing Michael Bilello who moderated the event. “Beer, wine and spirits, while different in many ways, experienced similar trends during the pandemic –especially with the consumer shift from on- to off-premise sales. Reliable data coupled with expert analysis is vitally important to understanding consumer behaviors across all tiers of the industry and we’re dedicated to continuing these important and engaging conversations.”


The key takeaways from the webinar included:


  • Data remains messy but should normalize in calendar year 2022.
  • The on-premise market for beer is recovering, with its share in 2021 up to 13.1% from 8.9% in 2020.
  • The on-premise is recovering, but not yet fully recovered compared to pre-COVID share levels - for all three categories 
  • COVID significantly accelerated beverage alcohol e-commerce. This is a growth channel that will likely continue to expand, albeit at lower levels than in 2020. 
  • It is more important than ever to understand and react to changing consumer, market, and category dynamics.  
  • It's critical for companies to recognize and adapt to rapid changes in the demographics of the U.S. population, especially increases in its multi-cultural make-up.
  • While inflation is rising (in February 2022 CPI was up 7.9%), CPI for Beverage Alcohol categories are consistently running at levels below that - beer +3.7%, with wine and spirits both at +1.9%
  • Supply chain pressures are and will continue to exert inflationary pressures on beverage alcohol to varying degrees, and all that is occurring among a broader inflationary environment.
  • The relative trends for beer, wine, and spirits will remain as they are for calendar year 2022.
  • In 2021, brewers shipped an estimated 208 million barrels, the highest volume in the past decade.
  • Ready to drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages are permeating each of beer, wine, and spirits to varying degrees, and represent a significant segment within adult beverages, but with lots of changing dynamics within. 


Typically, WSWA webinars focus only on wine and spirits. Having Kosmal as a guest brought the important inclusion of beer to the conversation and enhanced attendees understanding of the beverage alcohol industry as a whole.


“We continue to see incredible innovation in the beer space, with new products entering the marketplace every day and explosive growth in non-alcoholic beers,” said Kosmal. “While trends indicate that there will be a longer-term shift of alcohol consumption at home, bars and restaurants are on the path back to recovery and we will continue to watch as those trends develop.”


While it’s impossible to predict the future, the panelists agreed that many of the positive changes and consumer habits that developed since March of 2020 are here to stay—such as local, licensed delivery and accompanying ecommerce platforms.


“The last two years have significantly impacted consumer preferences for where, what, and how they interact with the Beverage Alcohol category. Many of these changes have become ingrained and will continue to drive their behavior in the coming years,” said Stratton.


Brager added, “While we are contending with a great deal of uncertainty right now, keeping a regular fact-based pulse on market trends across multiple channels helps to successfully prepare for and adjust to shifting winds.”


All 650 registrants received a full recording of the webinar, a copy of the slide deck and key takeaways from the expert panel. To view the webinar and the resources, click here.


Members of the media who have follow up questions, please contact Michael Bilello at Michael@wswa.org.


If you are interested in subscribing to SipSource or would like to learn more, please contact Nicole Anderson at Nicole@wswa.org.


About Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America 

WSWA is the national trade association representing the distribution tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.   


To learn more, please visit www.wswa.org or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter


About WSWA’s SipSource

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s (WSWA’s) SipSource is the ONLY source for aggregated distributor depletion data, built from unique items sold to individual stores. Since wholesalers distribute to all types of retailers, SipSource has unrivaled channel segmentation. It also covers the largest volume of bona fide alcohol sales and does not need to rely on estimates, samples or projections. WSWA’s SipSource uses an industry leading platform: VIP’s iDIG to deliver timely, transparent and trusted data. In addition to the reporting tool, subscribers have access to quarterly and annual reports that leverage powerful collaboration with industry leaders and provide high-level insights into the wine and spirits marketplace.