Slowed consumer traffic at on-premise locations and stagnancy in occasions involving adult beverages translates to flat total alcohol volume in restaurants and bars in 2017, according to the recently released On-Premise Intelligence Report, jointly developed by Technomic and Beverage Marketing Corporation. 

Key report findings include:

  • Adult beverage category dynamics continue to evolve, with spirits outpacing beer in volume growth.
  • Wine is challenged, experiencing its fourth consecutive year of volume decline on-premise in 2017.
  • Year-end dollar sales are expected to increase 2.1 percent, driven primarily by raised drink prices and continued growth of premium products at the bar.
  • The appeal of differentiated and flavorful adult beverages and the importance of supplier support is evident in the roster of fastest-growing brands on-premise, led by Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

“Growth categories remain aged spirits — whiskey, brandy, cognac and aged rum — while vodka volume is down slightly,” says Eric Schmidt, director, alcohol research at Beverage Marketing Corporation. “In beer, imports and craft are gaining share, propelled by Mexican brands and smaller craft labels. We are tracking mixed results from leading domestic table wine brands, while imported sparkling wine continues to find relevance at the bar.”

While volume growth is elusive, drinks remain an important aspect of going out for consumers, according to Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic. “Consumers prioritize adult beverages, with one-third overall and half of those aged 21 to 34 confirming that the drink offering influences their decision of where to go,” she says. “Improving and differentiating the drink experience is key to success.”