Food

Worldwide Alcohol Consumption Went Down Last Year—Except in the United States

Americans drank 700 million more liters of booze last year than they did in 2014.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, trade bottles of beer to settle a bet on the US-UK World Cup Soccer game during a bilateral meeting before the start of the G20 Summit in Toronto June 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Photo Credit: Pete Souza/Whitehouse.gov

Over the years the United States has racked up a number of notable claims. In 1969, the nation put the first man on the moon. Eight-four years earlier, the first recorded hamburger was sold at a fair in Seymour, Wisconsin. And now, according to a recent MarketWatch report, America can add another bold claim to the list, as the only country in the world to have experienced an increase in alcohol consumption last year.

This factoid was provided courtesy of market research firm Euromonitor International, which first began tracking global alcohol consumption in 2001. Until last year’s global dip—which saw consumption fall from 249.7 billion liters to 248 billion liters—EI has recorded a consistent rise. And though all the other nations in the report went against this trend last year, good ol’ Murrica continued to step up to the plate by drinking 700 million more liters of booze than it did in 2014.

Why, you might (self-consciously) ask?

According to Spiros Malandrakis, EI’s awesomely titled “senior alcoholic drinks analyst,” it may have something to do with craft beer. An increase in sales from this industry together with a generally better performing economy largely contributed to the increase in the United States' consumption, Malandrakis told Marketwatch.

In contrast, other countries’ poorer performing economies were one of the main determining factors that contributed to the dip. In Brazil, which suffered a recession last year, consumption fell from 15.4 to 15 billion liters. China seems to be in the same boat, and in 2009, when America was suffering from its own recession, alcohol consumption similarly dropped in the country.

There’s another, more civilized rationale for the findings. According to Jonny Forsyth, a global drinks analyst at market research firm Mintel, who also spoke with MarketWatch, the dip reflects a growing interest in connoisseurship.

“People want to drink less, but more quality,” said Forsyth, who cited the drop in sales of vodka and rum as representative of the move toward more “complex spirits.” Echoing this observation, Malandrakis noted an increase in more “premium brands” of alcohol such as mezcal, which grew from 263 to 275 million liters in 2015.

With that said, in light of this year’s election cycle and the potential POTUS in store, it’s unlikely that the upward trend in consumption is going to halt in the U.S. anytime soon.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

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