Europe sees biggest jump in wines and spirits sales in 2012

Shaun Weston5 Aug 2013

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Global travel retail liquor sales continued their strong growth in 2012, with spirits again outpacing wines. Wine and spirits sales reached 29.1 million cases in 2012, up 4% from 2011, according to the IWSR Duty Free/Travel Retail Summary Report 2013.

Spirits sales grew 5.2% between 2011 and 2012 to 21.4 million cases. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2007 is 4.7% despite the market's sharp fall in 2009. Overall wine sales were fairly stable, with growth of just under 1% in 2012. Vermouth and fortified wines declined, while still light and sparkling wines (including Champagne) drove growth.

There was growth for all major regions: Europe saw the biggest jump in wines and spirits sales – an increase of 431,000 cases. Strong growth in travel to Central and Eastern Europe offset slower growth in travel to Western and Southern European destinations. However, volumes declined in the region's biggest market, the Nordic countries.

Africa & the Middle-East was the fastest-growing region in percentage terms, rising by 13.7%. North Africa's tourism market recovered well in 2012 after 2011's downturn due to civil unrest. Travel to sub-Saharan African countries continues to grow. In the Middle East, the Gulf duty free market continued its rapid expansion.

Asia-Pacific also remains strong and enjoyed a 4.2% increase in volumes in 2012, as intra-regional travel continues to grow. A decline in sales in the Americas' biggest duty free market, Brazil, meant slower growth in Latin America, while sales in the more mature North American market rose by 1.9%.

Scotch remains the largest spirits category in travel retail and the largest-growing category, adding 472,700 cases in 2012; this growth is mainly due to the top brands. Market leader Johnnie Walker added 310,000 cases in 2012. The total whisk(e)y category performed well globally last year, with US and Canadian whiskey both growing by 9%, Irish whiskey by 8%, Scotch by 7% and other whisky by 5%.

Vodka is the second-largest category and the second-largest growing. There was double-digit growth in Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European markets, plus Spain and Latin America. Strong growth in Germany and the British Isles helped the vodka category continue its rapid expansion.