Investing in the World’s Most Popular Drinks
A friend of mine told me they were starting their diet as soon as Halloween was over.
I stifled a laugh.
This is not the time of year for dieting!
After Halloween, it’s only a few weeks until Thanksgiving… then Christmas… then New Year’s… then the Super Bowl… then Valentine’s Day.
The next several months are steeped in gluttony and booze. And your social calendar can quickly fill up with one holiday party after the next.
Every year, I cover the retail prospects of the holiday season. But today I’m going to talk about what really fuels the holiday spirit: alcohol.
A mysterious new drink is trying to break into the U.S… And shares of the producer are already outpacing its rivals this year.
It’s 5:00 Somewhere
Let’s raise a glass to spirit producers!
Last year, spirit sales gained in the U.S.
And that’s despite the fact that total alcohol consumption fell.
The harsh reality is that beer is dying in America…
The younger generations – namely, everyone’s favorite to hate on, the millennials – don’t drink beer.
They drink wines, hard ciders and spirits.
Not to mention the fact that gluten intolerance and sensitivity is on the rise – whether you think it’s real or imagined. Either way, for an estimated 18 million Americans, this issue takes beer off the table.
And then there’s the looming threat of weed. Any federal-level legalization of marijuana is expected to gut U.S. beer sales.
Today, craft breweries are opening at breakneck speed…
But the larger beer industry is struggling. And the marketplace is flooded.
Need more evidence of dramatically changing alcohol tastes? Gin sales in the U.S. rose in 2016. It’s been years since that’s happened.
And British gin exports to the U.S. have increased 553% over the last decade!
We can also see from the first chart that tequila, bourbon and vodka are on tears. And cognac is leading the pack.
This change of tastes has been great for spirit producers…
It’s probably no surprise that cognac producers Rémy Cointreau (OTC: REMYF), LVMH (OTC: LVMUY) and Pernod Ricard (OTC: PDRDY) are up more than 40%.
The laggards here are the enormous beer megalith Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), craft beer big dog Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM) and Canadian-American staple Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP).
But here’s the deal… The largest spirit company in the world is one you’ve never heard of. And its main product is a drink you’ve likely never heard of either…
Liquid Razor Blades Cutting In
The country is the largest supplier of goods to the U.S. and the third-largest supplier of agricultural products.
But there’s one item worth focusing on for this article. It’s the most consumed spirit in the world and one of China’s most storied products.
I think it’s the one spirit investors must keep an eye on.
Baijiu, the national drink of China, was momentarily introduced to Americans in 1972 when Dan Rather covered President Richard Nixon’s trip to China.
The sorghum-based spirit accounts for a third of all spirits consumed globally. But it’s essentially unknown outside of China.
It’s more potent than Japan’s sake or shochu or South Korea’s soju. Sometimes it gets compared to American moonshine. But when asked to describe it, people often recall Dan Rather’s initial description – “liquid razor blades.”
That description hasn’t hurt Chinese baijiu distiller Kweichow Moutai (SHA: 600519)… or kept its shares from soaring…
Earlier this year, Kweichow Moutai surpassed Diageo (NYSE: DEO) as the largest spirit maker in the world.
And it accomplished that by rebranding baijiu, which was formerly known as the drink of diplomats and government officials, as the drink of the younger generation.
Right now, Kweichow Moutai’s business is 95% dependent on China. But it’s trying to expand. And already, several local bars and restaurants near me in D.C. have started offering baijiu cocktails.
The stark reality is that the spirits business is on the rise as beer slowly dies. It’s happening not only here, but around the world.
In the U.S., cognac took the lead. It’s growing in China, too.
But going forward, I believe baijiu is the spirit to watch. Kweichow Moutai and other producers and importers must be on investors’ radars. It’s seeing a revitalization in China, and any expansion overseas could be a boon.
About Matthew Carr
Matthew’s expertise ranges from classic industries such as oil and mining to cutting-edge markets like small cap tech, cannabis, 3D printing and cloud computing. With almost two decades of financial experience under his belt, Matthew’s knack for finding market trends never fails to surprise us, which is why we keep a close eye on his free e-letter, Profit Trends.