The agave spirits industry has been growing fast in the UK market, as per the records of the industry.
From the export perspective, the market has been long dominated by a handful of brands, but with the evidence from the producers and the industry data, it can be gathered that the consumers are growing the demand for artisanal and 100% agave spirits which are breaking through onto the international markets because of their heritage, craftsmanship, and the protected status. More consumers are looking to “drink better” and moving towards more premium brands.
From the CRT (Consejo Regulador del Tequila) data it is seen that 2020 had a record year of producing 374 million liters of tequila, which is estimated to be valued at $2 billion. Out of that almost 174 litres were exported to the UK, making it the 8th highest export market.
David Russell, the Head of Commercial for one of our distribution partners said he has witnessed the growth in the popularity of agave spirits amongst the Brits. And the cocktail-based releases over the past few years have also seen an increase in demand, which in the end is going to open a bigger market for craft brands in the coming years.
David said “previously, tequila and mezcal were tagged as a drink that was meant to be taken as shots. They were stereotyped and are considered as student’s drinks, but now as the market is opening to premium and ultra-premium categories of agave spirits, and with celebrities backing up the launches, the future looks bright. Due to their uniqueness and the culture associated with them, these agave spirits create a huge appeal for the consumers”.
The next stop for agave spirits is to convert short-term growth in the market and bring excitement with innovation. The crowd has had enough of cheap flavoured spirits and now they are looking for something more authentic and premium. With the lockdown in place, people have been taking more interest in making cocktails with spirits that are more authentically crafted.
“Despite the USA being the largest consumer of agave spirits, in the world, the UK is not falling behind either. With the proper knowledge and guidance, the agave market would get a boost just like the USA market”, says David.
In recent years there has been a growth in the on and off-trade which has drawn the attention of avid drinkers in the UK market. Consumer events like Tequila & Mezcal fest, London Mezcal week, and the fast-growing demand for ready-to-drink category cocktails have put agave spirits in the market in a more accessible form.
Considering the category strength, reposados and añejos of premium and ultra-premium grades are looking towards a bright future in the market. Blancos are also having a good demand, but not like the other two categories. In London alone, venues, for example, The Pink Chihuahua, Del 74, and Corazon are promoting Tequila and mezcal-based beverages and introducing customers with lesser-realized agave spirits. The expanding fame of Mexican cooking in the UK has additionally assisted with pushing this change in the trade forward.
The geographical distance between the two countries has led to lesser understanding between the consumers in the UK and the Tequila and Mezcal producers in Mexico. This is a long-overdue process, where both of them need to be brought closer by the proper introduction of quality craft spirits and educating the people about the spirits. British consumers like to learn more about their drinks and answering their questions properly would bring in more appreciation and demand of craft agave spirits.
“Progress is being made, however, a lot more needs be done to engage with the end consumer across all channels so they can settle on making wise decisions on which drinks to try”.
Also talking about the other categories of agave spirits, David said “the growth in educating the consumer about the different types of agave spirits can be beneficial for building a path for more agave spirits, such as racillia, bacarnora, and sotol, to get a strong market in the UK”.
The challenge at hand for the producers in Mexico is to get the right distributor, retailer channel who would equally invest their effort to represent the brands’ authenticity. Bringing in the diversity of categories and engage with the right consumer section.
So, to all agave spirit producers, we say, “let the world take a sip”. Let UK take a sip and fall in love with your craft, authenticity, flavour, and story.