Joseph V Micallef, Contributor, December 9, 2022
It’s the holiday season! A time when many individuals and organizations entertain friends, family, employees, and customers. December typically represents the peak month of alcoholic beverage consumption in the US. Given the wide diversity of alcoholic beverages, from low-alcohol seltzers and “alcopops” to beers, wines, and RTDs to overproof spirits, it’s not always apparent exactly how much alcohol, what in industry parlance is called “standard drink equivalence,” you are consuming.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has launched a new public education campaign, the ABCs of ABVs, to promote a broader understanding of standard drink equivalence. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, LD, a nutrition expert and former director of nutrition at WebMD, is serving as spokesperson for the campaign. Recently, I spoke with Kathleen to find out more.
JM: Why is the Distilled Spirits Council launching this campaign now?
KZ: With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to celebrate with family, friends and coworkers. For many adults, that means toasting the season with a glass of beer, wine, or a cocktail. Given the increased consumption of alcohol during this period, now is an ideal time to raise attention to the importance of drinking responsibly and practicing moderation.
JM: Why focus on standard drink equivalence?
KZ: Understanding standard drink equivalence is essential for drinking responsibly and practicing moderation when consuming beverage alcohol. But right now, the overwhelming majority of adult Americans don’t know what constitutes a standard drink.
A national survey earlier this year found that nearly 9 out of 10 adults in the United States (88%) do not understand that a standard drink of beer or wine has the same amount of alcohol as a standard drink of distilled spirits – such as whisky, vodka or rum. This misunderstanding may lead people to incorrectly estimate how many standard drinks are in their beverage. For example, a single can of high-ABV craft beer or ready-to-drink beverage may be equivalent to more than one drink under the standard drink definition.
JM: What exactly is the standard drink definition?
KZ: It comes down to the “alcohol by volume” – or ABV – which is the amount of alcohol in a particular container of alcohol. A standard drink is 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (at 40% ABV), five fluid ounces of wine (at 12% ABV), 12 ounces of regular beer, or a ready-to-drink convenience cocktail (at 5% ABV).
Each of these drinks has the same amount of alcohol in them – 0.6 fluid ounces of ethanol. And research has shown that the effects of ethanol on the body are the same, regardless of whether it is in beer, wine, or distilled spirits products.
Governments (from local to federal), public health authorities, and health and traffic safety experts in the United States widely use this standard drink definition.
JM: How should adults use this information to guide their consumption?
KZ: The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate drinking as consuming up to one standard drink per day for women and up to two standard drinks per day for men for those who drink. That may be a lot less alcohol than people expect. Meanwhile, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks in one sitting for women and five or more drinks on one occasion for men.
JM: Where can consumers get more information on standard drink equivalence?
KZ: The Distilled Spirits Council has a great website, StandardDrinks.org, which has more information on standard drink equivalence.
Since alcoholic beverages come in various types and container sizes, the website includes a helpful, easy-to-use calculator that allows consumers to input the container size and the ABV of their beverage to see how it measures up to one standard drink. Of course, it’s unlikely that consumers will pull up this calculator in the middle of a party. Still, I would encourage drinkers to look up their typical or expected beverages in advance to be better informed before they drink.
Notably, the website also notes that some adults should not consume any alcohol and recommends checking with your healthcare provider to discuss alcohol consumption.
JM: As a nutrition expert, do you have any final words of wisdom for our readers?
KZ: A beer, glass of wine, or cocktail can be part of an enjoyable and balanced lifestyle for most adults. But as Americans celebrate this holiday season, it’s important to remember that moderation is key for those who choose to drink. And it’s not what you drink; what counts is how much alcohol you drink.
So always remember your ABCs of ABVs: “A”lcohol is alcohol, “B”e mindful of alcohol consumption, and “C”onsume in moderation.
Virginia ABC Announces Dates for Its Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant Applications
News Release Contact:Virginia ABC Communications - (804) 213-4413
In an effort to reduce underage and high-risk drinking, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will open its grant application process for the 2023-2024 Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant program on Jan. 1, 2023.
This is the eighth year Virginia ABC is offering grant funding to support the development of alcohol education and prevention programs across the commonwealth.
Since 2013, Virginia ABC has awarded an average of $80,000 each year through its grant program to Virginia organizations working to prevent underage and high-risk drinking. Organizations are eligible to receive up to $10,000 each to support best-practice programs that have a long-lasting impact and encourage partnerships between organizations. Community coalitions, law enforcement, nonprofits, schools, colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and prevention-related groups are encouraged to apply. Proposed projects must address one or more of the following focus areas:
• Underage drinking prevention
• Social providing or social hosting prevention
• High-risk drinking prevention
“We strive to support communities around Virginia to help individuals make informed health and safety decisions to prevent alcohol misuse,” said Director of Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Katie Crumble. “We are inspired by the work of previous grantees and look forward to the innovative ideas this year’s applicants may propose to reach their communities.”
Applications are available online, with a convenient online platform for submission. An application guide is provided to assist with completion and provide more information about the program. This grant application guide and the grant application are located on ABC’s website at www.abc.virginia.gov/education/grants.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2023.
Beer is on pace to lose its leading share of the U.S. alcohol market as spirits surge
October 27, 2022
Beer sales are up, but it hasn't been enough to counter the explosive rise of the spirits category.
Beer has been losing market share to spirits for the last 12 years in the U.S., according to a trade group.
Spirits dominate the share on liquor delivery app Drizly, the company said.
Beer is taking up less of the American booze market as beverage companies flood the market with buzzy new drink categories, including ready-to-drink cocktails.
Even legacy beer companies have expanded outside of their staple beer products with innovations for spirits drinkers.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, has diversified its portfolio to include hard seltzers, canned wine and canned cocktails. Molson Coors dropped the "Brewing Co" from its name in 2019 to reflect a similar expansion into spirits.
This week, Samuel Adams maker Boston Beer debuted Loma Vista Tequila Soda, a ready-to-drink tequila cocktail in both lime and mango flavors. The lineup is launching in a handful of markets, including Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colorado; Wichita, Kansas; and Kansas City.
Boston Beer said its tequila cocktails sit at the crux of "the explosive growth of the RTD beverage segment" and "the rise in popularity of tequila." DISCUS said the top five spirits by revenue growth in 2021 were vodka (4.9%), tequila/mezcal (30.1%), American whiskey (6.7%), Brandy & Cognac (13.1%) and cordials (15.2%).
Last year was the 12th consecutive year spirits have taken away market share from beer in the total U.S. alcoholic beverage market, according to a report earlier this year from the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade organization.
The beer category, which includes hard seltzer, accounted for 42% of the U.S. beverage alcohol market in 2021, while spirits accounted for 41%, according to DISCUS. Wine accounted for 16%. At this trajectory, spirits are pegged to overtake beer in market share in the next few years, even though beer sales have grown.
"Spirits consumers are willing to spend a little extra for a fine spirit because they are choosing to drink better, not more," DISCUS' top spokeswoman, Lisa Hawkins, told CNBC this week.
The downward trend of beer market share has also been reflected on the online ordering and alcohol delivery platform Drizly. Over the past 12 months, beer has accounted for a 14% share, a two percentage point drop from the previous 12 months, according to Liz Paquette, head of consumer insights at Drizly. Spirits accounted for a 45% share, increasing by one percentage point.
"The beer share decline in recent years on Drizly is mostly a result of share shift toward the spirit category, driven by the surge in categories, like tequila and ready-to-drink cocktails," said Paquette.
Paquette added that beer actually accounts for 11% when hard seltzers aren't included.
However, while beer is shrinking in market size, sales are actually up. Wall Street, in turn, likes liquor companies such as Constellation that make premium, higher-priced beer.
"There's pockets of growth," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association. He said beer drinkers are seeking out more premium offerings as well. In 2021, overall beer sales were up 1% year over year - hitting $100.2 billion - and sales of craft beer jumped 8%, according to the association.
Craft beer, said Watson, may be the industry's answer to consumers' increased willingness to spend more on variety, flavor and quality. Craft beer is typically made with higher quality ingredients, which provides consumers with a more flavorful and distinctive tasting beer than mass-produced options.
"Those reaching for craft often want a variety of flavors and to try new things," said Watson, adding that craft brews "really helped beer not lose more market share over the last decade."
The association said the number of operating craft breweries in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2021 of 9,118.
Paquette of Drizy said there are trend changes happening within the beer category - subcategories like light lagers, which contain a low alcohol volumes, and even non-alcoholic beer are showing growth across Drizly, as well.
Still, it looks like cocktail culture is primed to be dominant in the United States.
"Consumers are drawn to products that have a rich heritage and an interesting back story, and that's what spirits have to offer," said Hawkins of DISCUS.
News Release Contact:Virginia ABC Communications - (804) 213-4413
David Alfano Named Chief Administrative Officer at Virginia ABCThe Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) has chosen David Alfano as its Chief Administrative Officer. In this role, Alfano will lead the authority's finance, human resources (HR) and procurement teams and functions.
He brings with him over 25 years of executive leadership in a wide range of financial and accounting functions across various industries including information technology, financial service, telecommunications and commercial real estate.
In 18 years with the Federal Reserve System’s National Information Technology Division, Alfano served as Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer; Vice President, Treasury Service; and Vice President and Controller. He was responsible for establishing organizational strategies and financial oversight for a $900 million operating budget, and he led a division comprised of more than 100 employees with responsibility for financial management, governance, risk and compliance, procurement, vendor management and communication functions.
Alfano also oversaw a technical team that provided IT infrastructure services for United States Treasury business applications supporting online purchasing, collections, payments, accounting and reporting services.
In addition to his prior responsibility over financial management and procurement functions, Alfano was a member of the Federal Reserve National IT Executive Team that partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank HR team in defining HR strategies and processes for a 2,000-employee organization.
“These responsibilities have many elements in common with my new role as Virginia ABC’s Chief Administrative Officer," Alfano said. “Working at the Federal Reserve for 18 years gave me a true appreciation for the value of working for an organization that has a public servant mission, and my work ethic, coupled with my drive for performance excellence, are attributes that align with the values at Virginia ABC.”
“Virginia ABC is invested in its continued growth as a top employer in the commonwealth, dedicated to public safety and responsible sale of alcohol, providing a consistent stream of revenue to the commonwealth,” said Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “David’s outstanding experience in finance, technology and human resources will contribute substantively to the authority’s progress, providing new perspectives and a solid framework to secure ABC’s position as a top retailer, wholesaler and regulator of the sale of distilled spirits.”
Prior to his work at the Federal Reserve, Alfano spent more than 11 years at Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions Group as controller and assistant controller. He led a division that was comprised of over 40 employees and was responsible for all aspects of accounting, financial reporting / analysis, budgeting and internal controls for the $1.2 billion Verizon subsidiary. He started his career in public accounting as an external auditor, prior to serving as an assistant controller for a commercial real estate developer.
Alfano graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.
September 01, 2022
Source - Virginia ABC News Release
Virginia ABC Announces Fiscal Year 2022 RevenueMore than $622 million contributed to the commonwealth
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) released its unaudited draft financial results for fiscal year (FY) 2022 to the Virginia Department of Accounts and the Auditor of Public Accounts showing gross revenue of $1.4 billion, up $60 million over FY 2021. ABC revenues include the sale of distilled spirits, Virginia wines and mixers and the collection of license fees and other miscellaneous revenues which include a one-time net gain on the sale of ABC’s former central office and warehouse facilities in Richmond.
Each year, per the Code of Virginia, Virginia ABC remits earnings to the commonwealth for designated state programs and services. For FY 2022, ABC contributed a total of $622.8 million, an increase of $6.4 million over the previous year. This reflects $243.6 million in profits from retail sales, $294.8 million in taxes (retail) and $84.4 million collected in wine and beer taxes.
“The shifting landscape of a post-pandemic economy and our ability to continue adjusting our response to consumer demand demonstrates the resourcefulness of our ABC teammates, particularly those in retail and distribution,” said Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “Having completed our first year in the new facilities in Hanover County, we are looking forward to greater growth and capacity to meet the changing e-commerce needs of our retail industry in FY 2023 and beyond.”
During FY 2022, ABC store sales increased 3.1%, from $1.3 billion in FY 2021 to $1.4 billion in FY 2022. This growth was driven by sales to licensees, with sales to retail customers declining by 2.4%. Sunday sales declined for the first time since being authorized in FY 2015, from $104.9 million in FY 2021 to $98.9 million in FY 2022 but was 24.5% higher than pre-pandemic Sunday sales of $79.4 million in FY 2019. Commercial property owners and contractors impacted by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions put a damper on ABC’s FY 2022 plans to increase their retail footprint across the commonwealth, resulting in two new stores generating $3.7 million in sales. ABC also oversaw six store expansions/remodels and 10 store relocations to growing market areas, enhancing customer service and accessibility.
While the rate of online orders declined over the course of the year as customers returned to in-person shopping, online ordering remained materially higher than pre-pandemic levels. As expected, following the pandemic, licensees re-opened and restocked their bars and consumers returned to dining out, resulting in FY 2022 sales to restaurant and hospitality businesses exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Licensee sales reached $229.5 million in FY 2022, 43.2% higher than FY 2021 sales of $160.3 million, and 22% higher than pre-pandemic sales of $188.1 million in FY 2019, demonstrating significant post-pandemic recovery and growth in this segment of the commonwealth’s economy.
According to FY 2022 sales, the top five brands purchased in Virginia ABC stores were:
These five brands repeated their FY 2021 standing as the top five brands in Virginia. Of the five top sellers, Tito’s Handmade vodka saw the most impressive leap in sales, from $57.9 million to $66.9 million, a 15.6% increase, followed by Jim Beam from $23.2 million to $24.2 million, a 4.3% increase. Sales of Hennessy VS and Patron Silver fell in FY 2022 due to supply chain disruptions. Hennessy VS sales went from $52.8 million in FY 2021 to $42.5 million in FY 2022, a 19.4% decrease. Patron Silver sales went from $28.9 million in FY 2021 to $28.6 million in FY 2022, a 1% decrease. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Black sales were unchanged at $30.4 million for both years.
Suppliers and Virginia ABC continued to be impacted by supply chain issues in FY 2022 and worked mightily to fully meet the ongoing increased consumer demand level. Greater demand for aged products quickly depleted inventories manufactured years ahead of the pandemic with no ready supply to supplement inventories. Packaging issues, workforce availability, ingredient shortages and shipping bottlenecks are just a few of the challenges that presented additional pressures on performance throughout the supply chain, from manufacturer to retailer.
During FY 2022, Virginia ABC completed projects, made significant institutional changes and invested in its employees to support continued growth. This included:
•The successful move from the Richmond warehouse to a new distribution center in Hanover County, enabling retail operations efficiencies such as automating shipment of our highest volume products and greater shipping volume into the future. During FY 2022, the distribution center set a new production record, shipping over 36,000 cases in a single day.
•The addition of a chief transformation officer to drive sustainable infrastructure changes that build upon ABC’s capabilities to demonstrate higher responsiveness and deeper impact for their customers and community.
•Employee wage and salary increases, and the permanent implementation of pay adjustments instituted at the start of the pandemic. In addition to across-the-board state pay increases, Virginia ABC used its status as an authority to make targeted investments in compensation to remain competitive as the labor market tightened, enabling it to recruit and retain a workforce that is essential to generating revenue for the commonwealth and supporting ABC licensed businesses.
Virginia ABC’s final, audited results will be released in the fall. For more information about ABC’s sales and revenue, visit www.abc.virginia.gov.