Survey: Wine Catching Up to Beer

As the craft beer industry keeps growing, the domestic beer industry continues to show ominous signs. Gallup, a global analytics provider, doesn’t separate the two industries in its latest statistical breakdown, but with all of the numbers pointing toward craft’s ascension, these numbers seem especially ominous for big brewers.

Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted from July 10 to 14, underscored the long-term movement away from beer consumption. Of those Americans polled who said they drink alcohol, 36 percent said they drink beer most often, compared to 35 percent who drink wine most often. That 1 percent difference represents a drop of 20 percentage points since 1992. Meanwhile, 23 percent of American say that liquor is their preferred beverage.

The changing preferences of young adult drinkers seems to be a significant factor in the drastic percentage shift. In the early 1990s, 71 percent of adults under 30 years old said that they drink beer most often. That number has decreased to 41 percent.

The Gallup numbers also note that, by race, non-whites have veered away from beer more than whites. Since the early 1990s, 53 percent of non-whites and 47 percent of whites said that beer was their preferred drink. That number has decreased to 34 percent for non-whites and 38 percent for whites.

In the early 1990s, when Gallup first began surveying American drinkers on their preferred beverage, woman preferred wine the most (43 percent), but beer wasn’t too far behind (29 percent). The divide between the two has grown, as wine has increased to 52 percent, while beer has decreased to 20 percent. Meanwhile, 53 percent of men currently prefer beer, compared to 64 percent in the early 1990s.

Other findings from the Consumption Poll:

  • 35 percent of Americans report having had a drink in the past 24 hours and another 29 percent say that they’ve had a drink in the past week. Americans also report that the frequency of drinking has increased since the 1990s.
  • Drinkers of all segments report an average consumption of 3.8 beverages per week. That number was closer to five drinks in 2003, 2007 and 2009.
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