According to the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, retail sales of alcoholic beverages totaled approximately $115.9 billion in 2003, up from $102.4 billion in 2000. Beer sales make up the greatest proportion of retail sales of alcoholic beverages, distilled spirits (gin, scotch, vodka, etc.) make up the second-greatest proportion, and wine is third.
Distilled Spirits Sales and Consumption
In 2004 the distilled spirits industry saw its seventh consecutive year of growth, with total consumption climbing 4.1% to just under 165.7 million nine-liter cases. Per capita consumption stood at 1.32 gallons in 2003 (the most recent year available). This figure was down from two gallons in the late 1970s, but up slightly from the 1.2 gallons consumed per person per year in 1997-1998.
Beer Sales and Consumption
The beer industry reached 197.2 million barrels in 2002, up 0.7% from 2001. It was also the seventh year of growth for the industry, according to alcoholic beverage analysts Adams Beverage Group (Modern Brewery Age, March 10, 2003). According to the Economic Research Service, per capita consumption fell almost steadily through the 1980s and early 1990s. Beer consumption was 24.6 gallons per person in 1981 and 21.6 gallons per person in 2003, a figure that remained relatively constant during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although per capita consumption fell between 1981 and 2003, gross consumption rose as the population rose. International brands have played a significant role in the industry's growth. The import sector has grown steadily over the last fifteen or so years, according to the Beer Institute.
There were an estimated eighteen hundred domestic brewers in the United States in 2001, seven times the number in 1990, according to the Beer Institute. Microbreweries and brewpubs account for this increase. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the top brewer in the country, controlled 51.6% of industry production in 2002, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation. Miller Brewing Company was next (19.7%), followed by Adolph Coors (11.5%), Modelo (4.2%), and Pabst Brewing (4.0%).
Wine Sales and Consumption
Statistics gathered by the Wine Institute show that wine sales in the United States grew 4%, to 668 million gallons in 2004. A total of 595 million gallons of wine were sold in the United States in 2002, for a retail sales value of $21.1 billion, up from $19.8 billion in 2001. Nonetheless, the Economic Research Service notes that per capita consumption of wine was at its peak of 2.4 gallons a year in the mid-1980s before beginning a slow decline to 1.7 gallons per capita in the early to mid-1990s. The per capita consumption rate in 2003 was 2.2 gallons per person, having risen close to that peak consumption.
The California wine industry accounted for 64% of U.S. production in 2004, according to the Wine Institute. Red wines held a 40.5% market share in 2004, white wines a 40.4% share, and blush wines a 19.1% share. Chardonnay was the leading varietal wine (a wine produced from a single variety of grape) followed by Merlot.