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Did not see this coming—alcohol consumption, and especially beer consumption is dropping—not just here in the US, but around the globe. While some of the decline is due to consumers shifting to higher priced drinks, like more wine and less beer as world income rises, all categories seem to be dropping.
Keep in mind this is while population continues to climb, so the per person rate is declining even faster.
Beverage industry experts aren't sure what is causing this decline. So, I'd say it's time for some non-experts—like me—to offer opinions.
The first possibility is choice frustration. You sample a new wine, craft beer or microdistillery bourbon at dinner with friends. What are the chances you'll ever find that bottle in your local retailer - or even remember the name? At some point, it's just easier to drink water.
A second cause could be that somebody finally had the guts to say, "This light beer tastes like dishwater." Whereupon all his or her friends chime in "Thank you, I thought it was just me." Remember folks, light beer is neither one.
Finally, I have been speaking to farm groups for over two decades. Only rarely in the beginning was alcohol served. Now farm organizations have embraced wineries and distilleries as legitimate agriculture, and the social hour is almost always a feature of member meetings. This matters because my rule of thumb is when farmers latch on to a cultural trend, it's about over.
I am not talking about the moral or health issues of alcohol consumption, just wondering about what this unexpected shift might mean. Perhaps, the changes we are seeing in everything from marriage rates to car ownership and now alcohol consumption, means drawing straight lines from past data might not be the best way to plan for the future.
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