PHL imports, consumption of distilled spirits seen returning to pre-pandemic levels by 2023

PHILIPPINE imports and consumption of distilled spirits are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels as pandemic restrictions ease, the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) said in a report.

“Prospects for growth are exceptionally bright due to the country’s young, fast growing, and highly urbanized population, the strong presence of premium US brands, and the proliferation of social media,” GAIN said.

In 2021, GAIN found that the Philippines imported larger volumes of distilled spirits relative to 2019 levels despite COVID-19 restrictions.

The report attributed the strong imports to the decline in the average price of preferred products, as many consumers opted for low-alcohol by volume (ABV) drinks such as soju and cocktail mixes.

In 2022, distilled spirits imports are expected to increase 20% to $143 million, equivalent to 87 million liters. This year’s levels are beginning to approach the totals from the last pre-pandemic year, 2019, when imports of distilled spirits hit $153 million or 103 million liters.

“On the other hand, a growing number of bars and pubs have come to life, attracting ‘revenge’ partygoers eager to spend on booze,” the report said, adding that businesses are also starting to re-open, boosting the sales of distilled spirits, potentially raising the price due to demand.

The report added that sales of US distilled spirits are expected to climb 15% to $5.3 million in 2022.

The report said that the top countries exporting distilled spirits to the Philippines are Spain (brandy); South Korea (soju); the UK (whisky); Singapore (whiskey and cognac); the US (whiskey); France (cognac); Japan (sake); and Mexico (tequila). — Ashley Erika O. Jose