In 2012, the US maintained its position as the world’s top wine consumer as table wine consumption grew for the 19th consecutive year, according to the Beverage Information Group. An estimated 295 million cases of table wine were consumed, up 2.8% from the prior year. According to the Wine Market Council’s 2012 Consumer Tracking Study, the growth was driven by increased consumption by core wine drinkers (individuals who consume wine at least once per week), as well as an increase in the number of wine drinkers, resulting from Millennials’ (19–36 year olds) tendency to adopt wine drinking at an earlier age than members of older generations. An estimated 100 million US adults drink wine at least every two to three months.
Although per capita table wine consumption has grown impressively (the 2012 level of 3.08 gallons is almost triple the 1970 amount), it is low compared with consumption in other countries leaving room for significant growth. According to John Gillespie, President of the Wine Market Council, “When you look at the UK, Canada and Australia, countries that are culturally similar to the US, per capita wine consumption is in the four to five gallon range. Similar consumption levels in the US are entirely possible.” Millennials are expected to continue to drive growth given the large size of the generation (70 million) and their inclination to drink wine at a broad variety of occasions that have not traditionally been “wine occasions,” such as ball games, concerts and when consuming takeout. Additionally, the study found that Millennials tend to drink more wine per occasion compared with Gen Xers (37-48 year olds) and Baby Boomers (49-67 year olds). The Council also found that compared with Baby Boomers and the Swing/WWII generations (67+ year olds), a larger proportion of the wine that Millennials and Gen Xers drink is imported.
To gain deeper insight into trends, the Wine Market Council studies wine consumption patterns by generation, gender and frequency of use. The Council defines core wine drinkers as individuals who consume wine at least once per week and marginal wine drinkers as individuals who consume wine less than once per week, but at least once every two to three months. The 2012 survey found that core wine drinkers, who make up 57% of the wine drinking population, represent 25% of the US adult population and consume 93% of all table wine by volume. The largest group of core wine drinkers is Baby Boomers (40%), followed by Millenials (28%), Gen Xers (20%), and members of the Swing/WWII generations (12%). 51% of core wine drinkers are female and 49% are male.
“In 1994, when the Wine Market Council conducted our first Consumer Tracking Survey, only 34% of wine drinkers were core wine drinkers. In 2012, 57% of wine drinkers were core wine drinkers,” noted Mr. Gillespie. “That is a phenomenal change over a 20-year period and points to the cultural adoption of wine in the US.” It is clear that US wine consumption has come a long way and has a very bright future ahead. Cheers!