Technomic anticipates modest growth of alcohol sales in bars, restaurants

CHICAGO, Aug. 30, 2016—In evaluating its forecasted growth expectations for beverage alcohol sales at the nation’s bars and restaurants, Technomic continues to see only modest improvements in 2016. This comes from research conducted for Technomic’s Adult Beverage Planning Program, which is a membership-based program delivering suppliers with research on key topics and trends related to the adult beverage on-premise industry, all while allowing the opportunity to network in a collaborative environment.

While the overall restaurant industry has been experiencing stronger momentum, slower traffic at major casual dining chains and an evolving consumer dynamic are resulting in a “new normal” in which consumer drink purchase patterns have changed. For 2016, Technomic expects overall consumer spending on beverage alcohol in the away-from-home channel to grow at a modest 2.3%, with similar expectations for 2017. Total alcohol volume in bars and restaurants is expected to be flat in 2016.

“It’s true that the operating environment is better for many restaurants and bars, but consumer occasions that include an alcohol beverage at these establishments are not growing,” states David Henkes, Senior Principal at Technomic and head of the firm’s beverage practice. “We see a number of underlying factors, including a different consumer mindset, with many consumers drinking less, but higher quality when in a bar or restaurant. There’s also growth in takeout and delivery - both areas that negatively impact the beverage occasion - as well as increased competition from new channels in both retail and foodservice for the alcohol occasion.”

In looking at specific categories of adult beverage in on-premise locations, Henkes notes that beer remains the underachiever, with expected consumer spending growth of 2.0%. “Craft and imports are trending positively, but domestic beer – which still accounts for over half of on-premise beer volume, is remains challenged.” Spending on spirits is expected to grow at a rate of 2.8%, the fastest expansion of all categories due to the popularity of whiskey and craft cocktails and the ongoing premiumization trend. Spending on wine is forecasted to grow at 2.0%.

Henkes cautions that restaurant and bar operators must ensure that the value proposition of their beverage program is aligned with their consumers’ expectations. “We continue to stress to our clients the importance of a strong adult beverage program – it drives customer satisfaction, and is obviously a source of incremental profitability” he notes. “But with consumers still cautious on spending, it’s important to stress the quality and creativity of a beverage program.”

2016 Growth Expectation by On-Premise Segment

On-Premise Segment

Overall Alcohol Consumer Spending Growth 2016

Fine Dining


Casual Dining








All Other


Overall On-Premise


Source: Technomic, Inc.

2016 Growth Expectation by Alcohol Category

Type of Product

Overall Alcohol Growth 2016







Overall On-Premise


Source: Technomic, Inc.

For questions about other factors impacting future on-premise alcohol sales or Technomic's services for adult beverage suppliers, contact David Henkes at 312-506-3927 or dhenkes@technomic.com.

About Technomic
Technomic Inc., a Winsight company, delivers a 360-degree view of the food industry. It impacts growth and profitability for clients by providing consumer-grounded vision and channel-relevant strategic insights. Its services range from major research studies and management consulting solutions to online databases and simple fact-finding assignments. Its clients include food manufacturers and distributors, restaurants and retailers, other foodservice organizations, and various institutions aligned with the food industry. Visit Technomic at technomic.com.

About Winsight, LLC
Winsight LLC is a recognized leader in business-to-business media and information services for the convenience-retailing, foodservice and grocery industries. Winsight has an extensive media portfolio, including five publications: CSP, Restaurant BusinessFoodService DirectorConvenience Store Products, and Winsight Grocery Business. Winsight also offers a suite of digital products, including websites, e-newsletters, webinars, video products, mobile and tablet apps, and custom marketing solutions. In addition to more than 12 major EduNetworking conferences and advisory meetings, Winsight also produces seven exclusive, large-scale executive-level conferences: Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Restaurant Leadership ConferenceOutlook Leadership Conference, Convenience Retailing University, FSTECMenuDirections and Restaurant Directions. In 2015, Winsight acquired Technomic Inc., a provider of primary and secondary market information and advisory services for the food industry. For more information on Winsight and its brands, go to www.winsightmedia.com.

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