According to a new Gallup poll:
As they have for most of the past two decades, Americans who drink alcohol choose beer over wine and liquor as the type of alcohol they imbibe most often. This year, 41% of U.S. drinkers report they typically drink beer; 31% name wine and 23% name liquor.
Wine had gained on beer in recent years, but now has fallen back.
Alcohol is a large piece of the U.S. economy. Some 64% of Americans “have occasion to use alcoholic beverages.”
The winners based on the trend are less large brewers than region and craft companies.
Consider two sets of analysis from Beverage Industry regarding beer sales for 2013:
The beer category, which includes domestic beer, imported beer, craft beer, hard cider and flavored malt beverages, has mostly remained flat or suffered minimal declines in off-premise accounts in recent years, according to market research firms. In 2013, the category increased 0.1 percent in case sales and 3.1 percent in dollar sales, says Andrea Riberi, senior vice president of alcohol beverages with Nielsen, New York.
However, the same analysis points out a different trend for craft brew sales:
These growth trends also can be found in the segment’s overall case and dollar sales. According to Chicago-based IRI, craft beer’s case sales were up approximately 15 percent, while its dollar sales increased 18 percent in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2013, in total U.S. supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, gas and convenience stores, military commissaries, and select club and dollar retail chains.
While beer may be the top category of alcohol consumption in the United States, not all beer is created or consumed equally.
Gallup’s conclusion is that the drinking culture in America continues to be healthy (or not). Being at the top of the category is particularly good in a market in which a rising tide lifts all ships:
Drinking is the norm for about four in 10 Americans. That includes 32% who say they had between one and seven drinks in the past week and another 9% who consumed eight or more drinks. Another 22% appear to drink less routinely, while slightly more than one-third don’t drink at all.
On average, U.S. drinkers consume about four drinks per week. And to the extent they drink, it is more likely to be on the weekend than any day during the week.