European Alcohol Sales Enjoy A Boost As Drinkers Embrace New Categories: IRI

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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European Alcohol Sales Enjoy A Boost As Drinkers Embrace New Categories: IRI

New data from IRI indicates that European consumers are becoming more experimental when it comes to their choice of alcoholic tipple, with categories such as craft beers and gin on the rise in several European markets.

The data, which was revealed as part of IRI's Top Categories 2017 report, analysed the top selling categories across six European markets: UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

In almost all markets, both spirits and beer sales were up (€MAT value change IRI, p/e October 2017), driven by premiumisation and the move towards more craft-style products.

Total sector value grew by 2.6% across all countries studied, with the alcohol category now worth €62 billion in said countries.

Country By Country

In the UK, spirits sales were up 5.7%, with beer sales up 5.5%, while in Germany, spirits sales saw a rise of 2.3%, however beer sales were down marginally, by 0.5%.


In France, spirits sales saw a modest increase of 2%, while beer sales rose by 8.2%, with a similar pattern seen in Italy, where beer sales increased by 8.1%, compared to a 0.8% increase for spirits.

In Spain, spirits sales rose by 4.1% and beer sales rose by 4.7%, while in the Netherlands, spirits sales were up 2.7%, and beer sales were up 3.5%.

The marginal decline in beer sales in Germany, the only market that saw a drop in either category, resulted from a decline in sales of traditional Pilsner lager, which overshadowed growth from Radlers and Hell-style lagers from Munich.

Gin Growth

Gin was one of the strongest performers behind the growth of the Spirits category, posting double digit growth in Germany (+39%), Italy (+10%) France (+17%) and the UK (+24%) year-on-year.


“It’s no surprise that the likes of Gin are proving very popular in many countries driven by an increasing number of small and niche batch distillers, celebrity culture and enhanced in-store exposure via displays during key seasonal events," commented Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI.

"Spirits in general are seeing good growth across most markets. Notably the move towards premiumisation, flavour innovations and an increased appetite for beers and ciders with crafty credentials provide a huge opportunity for brands in this category.”

Another strong performer was Rum, which saw sales rise by 12% in France.

UK Focus

In the UK in particular, Alcohol was the biggest selling category, accounting for £16.1 billion (€18.2 billion) worth of value sales, IRI said.


Sparkling wine was the fastest-moving sub-category in the UK with +10% growth.

“Reduced levels of trade promotions, coupled with shallower price cuts, have played a part in bolstering topline macro category performances in the UK, Alcohol included,” commented Abotorabi.

“It’s no surprise that we’ve seen strong growth in this category, and particularly in Beer, where brands are moving towards premiumisation, delivering innovation via new flavours, and offering beers and ciders with crafty credentials. [...] But price increases have hit home with UK consumers who are being much more selective in what they buy and where they shop.”

© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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