“In many ways, 2019 was perhaps the last ‘normal’ year for the drinks industry”, says IWSR CEO, Mark Meek.

Though global beverage alcohol volume increased slightly in 2019, reversing declines from the year prior, it will be five years before the global industry rebounds from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, according to comprehensive new research from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Total global alcohol consumption, led by increases in beer and ready-to-drink products, grew by +0.1% in volume and +3.6% in value in 2019, but losses due to the near complete shutdown of bars and restaurants globally has had a marked impact on the sector during the course of this year and the losses have not been offset by upticks in liquor retail and ecommerce.

IWSR expects this to lead to double-digit declines in 2020, which will take until 2024 to reach 2019 pre-Covid-19 levels with the UK and US’s volume levels predicted to only return after 2024.

Global travel retail, severely affected by widespread travel restrictions, will see a particularly harsh decline in 2020 but is expected to reach pre-crisis levels by 2024.

“While we’re still assessing the full impact of the current Covid-19 situation, it’s very clear that the pandemic is set to cause a deeper and more long-lasting after-effect to the global drinks industry than anything we’ve experienced before. Even the downturn following the 2008 financial crisis was less severe than what we are seeing now,” says Meek.
Hard seltzers and other RTD beverages have seen an upward trend in the market as they grow in popularity in the US and abroad followed closely by beer which is expected to recover before wine and spirits.

“Like many other industries, it’s incredible how a few months of lockdown will result in several years of recovery, but beverage alcohol has proven to be remarkably resilient in previous downturns, and this should be no different. A strong focus on innovation, premiumisation, and new routes to market such as ecommerce, are all factors which will help contribute to the industry’s rebound and future growth”, adds Meek.

Non-alcoholic beer consumption is up (+15.2% in volume, vs. 2018). “Though the beer category has taken a hit in 2020, the outlook for continued growth of non-alcoholic beer remains positive, with a forecasted +8.1% CAGR 2019-2024”. Beer is expected to reach 2019 volumes by 2024, rebounding better than wine and spirits. 
“The long-term global decreases in wine consumption continued in 2019, posting a -1.1% volume
decline” (though value was slightly up, at +0.6%). With consumers shifting to year-round consumption, sparkling wine is forecasted to rebound stronger than still wine by 2024.
whisky and gin will likely rebound fastest to pre-Covid-19 levels. Vodka volumes are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until after 2024.
RTD and hard seltzers
The US saw a 200% percent volume growth. For the third consecutive year, ready-to-drink (RTD) products in 2019 were the fastest growing beverage alcohol category, up +19.6% in volume and +18.8% in value.