Forbes: US liquor imports have fallen off the table. In the second quarter of 2020, the US brought in about $1.8 billion in liquor from abroad, down from $2.5 billion in 2019, a fall of nearly 30%. The decline has been most acute for whiskey imports, which are down by almost 50%, with cognac and brandies seeing a similar dive.
The import reduction is due to three main factors, according to spirits industry veteran Adam Levy. One, bars and restaurants across the US are either closed or seeing fewer customers due to Covid-19. This reduces demand for all types of liquors, but particularly high-end liquors used for cocktails. In-store liquor sales are up, but that hasn’t made up for lost sales outside the home.
Two, the Trump administration slapped a 25% tariff on Scotch and Irish whiskeys and other European-made liquors in October 2019. These tariffs were retaliation for subsidies that the US government claims the European Union gives the airplane manufacturer Airbus, which the US government says disadvantage US-based manufacturer Boeing. The tariffs make importing these liquors more expensive, reducing demand.
Finally, Levy believes the rising quality and variety of US-made liquors, particularly bourbons, have made less Americans less likely to look to foreign liquor brands. Put together, these three factors are a perfect cocktail for imports falling off a cliff. (Yes, U.S. bourbons are great!)
Vodka and gin imports may have been less impacted because they are used in drinks people know how to make at home. It’s easy to make a vodka soda or gin and tonic for a small party, but not that many people are going to serve their friends a Manhattan, said Levy. (I never thought of that)
With bars and most restaurants closed, the alcohol consumption pattern becomes problematic. Drink at home? Yes. Drink with friends? No. Drink more often? Probably. Spend more on alcoholic beverages? Yes. Celebrate the simple things in life? Yes.
The Forbes writer created a drinking game to help pass the time.
- Drink if Trump is late to his own press conference;
- Drink every time Trump refers to the coronavirus as the “invisible enemy;”
- Drink whenever Trump calls a reporter “fake news;”
- Is Dr. Anthony Fauci missing from the briefing? Take another drink
I would be constantly inebriated if I took a drink every time he lies!!! So, I better not play this game.