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U.S. Wine Consumption Grows for a Record 15th Consecutive Year, but Momentum Slows

Weak economy retards growth, weakens imports

Posted: October 22, 2008

Americans are on pace to drink more wine in 2008 than ever before, but this year's expected growth of 1.5 percent represents the industry's smallest increase since 2001, the last time the U.S. economy was in a recession. Nevertheless, retail sales of wine within the United States will surpass $25 billion for the first time this year, and set an all-time high of 306 million cases purchased, according to the just-released The U.S. Wine Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast, 2008 Edition. The current financial crisis and struggling economy is expected to dampen industry growth, at least in the short term.

The U.S. market surpassed Italy in terms of wine consumption in 2007, and had been on pace to overtake France and become the world's largest wine consumer within five years, according to the report. That may still occur by 2015. But as the economic malaise spreads globally and slumping financial markets shrink consumers' disposable incomes, sales are expected to weaken, particularly in restaurants and bars. Imports, which tend to sell more at restaurants and bars, have outperformed their domestic counterparts every year since 1995, but American wines are now forecast to outpace imports until at least 2015.

While consumption growth has slowed considerably this year, wine has, on average, outperformed beer and distilled spirits for nearly 60 years running, when measured by the growth of servings per person. Americans consumed over 18 billion glasses (5-ounce servings) of wine last year, a five-fold increase since 1950, according to Impact Databank, which is owned by M. Shanken Communications, the parent company of Wine Spectator. The number of wine servings consumed on a per-capita basis last year reached an all-time high, at over 85 servings annually, besting the previous record set in 1982, during the heyday of the white wine cocktail boom.


The annual U.S. Wine Market report analyzes the latest trends in the wine industry. Containing more than 500 tables, graphs and maps, this expanded edition consists of results through 2008, the first look at brand forecasts for 2008, projections by origin and category through 2015, comprehensive charts of varietal and generic wine trends by color and type, and industry financial analysis by brand and category. The report also provides volume data for over 500 brands since 1980, rankings of the top 100 wines by volume and retail sales, the top 25 marketers, the 50 most profitable brands and much, much more.

For more information about The U.S. Wine Market, which is also available on CD, and other Impact Databank reports on distilled spirits, beer and the global drinks market, contact Elisa Trapani at M. Shanken Communications, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10016; by phone at (212) 684-4224, ext. 339; by fax at (212)779-3366; or by e-mail at etrapani@mshanken.com. For a comprehensive table of contents and a detailed listing of tables and charts, or to print an order form, click here.

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