Bow Down to Beer

Results from a recent Gallup Poll reveal that the American consumer’s preference for beer over wine has increased to a double-digit margin, eradicating a brief trend that, in 2005, saw wine atop the list. According to the poll, beer is now chosen 47 percent of the time, and wine 31 percent.

The annual Consumption Habits poll (1,016 telephone interviews conducted July 10 – 13, with a margin of error of plus and minus 3 percentage points), shows that in combined data from Gallup’s 2004 and 2005 Consumption surveys, drinkers between the ages of 30 and 49 were about as likely to prefer wine as beer. Now, drinkers in this age bracket have shifted back to beer, with an average of 47 percent in the combined 2007-2008 data saying they most often drink beer. Drinking preferences among adults ages 21-29 have remained stable in recent years, with the majority showing a wide preference for beer.

“This poll shows what we’ve always known—that trends will come and go but beer is here to stay,” said Bob Lachky, executive vice president, Global Industry and Creative Development for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and leader of “Here’s To Beer,” a two-year-old campaign that toasts Americans’ appreciation for beer. It was launched to help consumers develop a deeper appreciation for beer while providing tools for retailers and distributors to grow their beer business.

“More Americans are learning—or re-learning—how to appreciate the wide variety of beer styles available and how easy it is to pair beer with all types of food, which is also attracting new adult consumers to the beer category,” said Lachky.

Though wine may be taking a back seat to beer in the U.S., it seems to be doing just fine against spirits and hard liquor. According to a statement from Brown-Forman in the United Kingdom, “America is on track to become the world’s biggest consumer of wines,” imbibing 25 percent of the world’s supply, while many hard liquor producers struggle.

Fortune Brands (Jim Beam, Canadian Club) saw profits drop 41 percent; meanwhile, UST (maker of Skoal chewing tobacco) saw its wine sales (Stag’s Leap, Conn Creek) jump 25 percent and profits rise 30 percent. Constellation Brands, the world’s biggest wine company by volume, saw its profits rise by an amazing 50 percent, thanks in large part to its Clos du Bois and Wild Horse labels.

So what does this all tell us? Beer is back, representing the largest segment in the alcohol beverage category in volume and dollar sales, and accounting for 56 percent of all alcohol beverage servings. Bow down.