January 22, 2015 / 6:57 PM / 3 years ago

Whisky and bourbon to bring cheer to spirits market

PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The growing popularity of cocktails will drive consumption of brown spirits such as whisky and bourbon to rise more than other types of alcohol by end 2018, the head of international wine trade show Vinexpo said.

White spirits would remain the most popular drinks but their expansion is expected to either slow or weaken by 2018, a study by the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) for Vinexpo, showed.

Whisky and bourbon are smaller markets, but consumption is expected to rise 8.8 percent and 19.3 percent respectively from 2014 to the end of 2018, compared with the previous five years.

"The consumption trend in the next five years will focus on whiskys and bourbons, as they have been able to bring a lot of innovation to their offer," Deglise Guillaume told Reuters.

Consumption of baiju, a white spirit distilled from sorghum, wheat or rice, will rise by 3 percent and vodka by 0.5 percent.

Baiju, mainly drunk in China, accounts for more than a third of global spirits sales with 1.2 billion 9-litre cases sold last year. Whisky and bourbon are much smaller markets, with 89 million and 38 million cases sold respectively in 2014.

Sales of France's cognac and armagnac should rise 12.7 percent, helped by the U.S. market, which remains its first client by volume.

Global consumption of wine is expected to grow by 3.7 percent in the five years to 2018, up from a rise of 2.7 percent in 2009-2013, Vinexpo said.

The United States is expected to deepen its position - gained in 2013 - as leading consumer ahead of France.

U.S. wine consumption was seen jumping more than 11 percent by 2018 while sales would fall nearly 3 percent in France.

"The U.S. is driving growth in global consumption," Vinexpo said. "In 2013, it was the only one of the top 10 wine-drinking countries to show growth from the previous year."

France is still the world's top wine producer. It regained its seat in 2014, trumping main competitor Italy where producers had suffered a poor harvest, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said in October. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Pascale Denis; editing by Susan Thomas)

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