Gin recorded value growth of 14.5% last year to become the biggest growth driver in the spirits category, according to new figures from IRI.
The gin segment is now worth £420 million a year to supermarkets in the UK alone, with sales reaching their peak in the 12 weeks to 31 December, when gin was up more than 18% on the same period the year before.
A corresponding rise in sales of tonic water suggests that consumers still prefer a traditional gin and tonic, rather than combining the spirit with other mixers. In 2016, sales of tonic water reached £98 million – up 12% over the previous year – compared to a rise of just 5.2% for other mixers.
A resurgence in gin is being driven by an explosion of new premium and craft offerings, as FoodBev discovered last year.
“Gin is the spirit of choice right now and we don’t see this changing any time soon,” said Martin Wood, head of strategic insight for retail for IRI. “According to our data, gin was the strongest contributor, both in spirits and in the beers, wines and spirits category overall. Beers, wines and spirits grew by 1.5% during 2016, which might not seem a lot, but with total food and drink sales showing overall value decline, it is a vital growth driver and worth a staggering £12.3 billion in total. Christmas was a ‘bonanza’ this year for retailers, with booze sales of £3.7 billion, 3% growth over the same period the previous year, with gin a major contributor and often bought as gifts.”
In addition to gin, other spirits like vodka, whisky and brandy have ‘held their own’ in the past year, IRI added. Whisky remains the favourite spirit of choice but grew by just 0.4% in 2016 to £1 billion, while vodka and cognac/brandy also grew by 0.4% – to £784 million and £230 million respectively. Supermarkets also saw strong sales growth of 8% from dark rum products, which are popular for cocktails.
“Gin was perceived as a bit old-fashioned a few years ago,” Wood continued. “But with the growth in craft gins and premium varieties, supermarkets have been keen to invest in market trends and to stock new gin lines and premium brands.”
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