A nation full of Spirit – a focus on spirits by The Grocer.

27th September 2017

It’s official we’re a nation full of spirit… alcoholic spirit that is! Brits consumed over 280 million litres of the stuff in the last year alone, spending £3.6bn in the process. A recent focus on the UK spirits category within The Grocer discussed the current state of the spirits market within the UK – the major players, the current culture and the future trends. As purveyors of all that’s great and good in a glass, we delve little deeper.

Perhaps our best-renowned export within the UK spirits category is blended Scotch, but in the past year, it’s been knocked off its peaty perch by vodka as the UK’s top spirit. The reason for this? Lots of competition in a very small space, commanding less consumer loyalty as shoppers hunted for promotions on-shelf. As a sub-category dominated by traditional brands the category is crying out for some exciting ‘new news’, to hook the consumer that other categories have done so well in the past year.

The rise of vodka to top spot has in part been helped by younger Brits choosing to mix their own drinks at home. The trend for at home cocktails continues to rise as millennials feel the strain of increased prices, spending more on drinking at home than out-of-home, in bars and clubs.

Can something still be considered a trend after more than five years of trending? Gin would argue the point that it is still the cool spirit of choice, following sales of £88.8m in the past year, with an increase in the value of individual products sold. This is thanks to supermarkets making a considerable investment in stocking gin, and premium gins too with small-batch brands winning shelf space.

Of all the big retailers, ASDA has shown strong performance with value sales up 5.7 percent, while Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s have shown a decline. Waitrose has been a big supporter at the higher end of the market, with spirits being a key strength for them. It’s a strategy offering more choice for the shoppers, in particular with gin where shopper numbers have grown by 57 percent this year and the average price per litre of gin raising by £2.50.

Looking into our crystal ball, rum is anticipated to be the next big trend within the UK spirits category. Awareness of usage and occasion has been a big driving force as consumers are switching from purely cocktail consumption to being enjoyed neat or sipped over ice. In particular certain rum brands such as Mount Gay are flourishing, up £1.6m. Much has been done to improve the image and perception of the sugar cane spirit, creating an emotion of fun and explorative travel.

Whatever happens throughout the year ahead, one thing is certain and that is the UK’s love of the stronger stuff shows no sign of waning. Expect plenty of competition and exciting brand activations to come soon.