Alcohol plays a major role in the fabric of American society. From college parties to work happy hours and bar hopping with friends, many aspects of modern social life and recreation revolve around alcohol. While drinking in moderation is not necessarily a bad thing—no alcohol is always the healthier choice—trends in 2022 indicate that many Americans over-imbibe, and in some cases to dangerous extremes.
Even so, alcohol continues to be a staple in many people’s lives, but how and in what ways? The following alcohol beverage trends and statistics help to answer these questions and shed light on the public health dimensions of alcohol use in this country and worldwide.
Alcohol Consumer Trends
Beer and wine are always popular, but cocktails are enjoying a heyday nationwide. This is particularly true in the ready-to-drink space. Many companies are trying their hand at pre-made cocktails that can be purchased and consumed as-is. This can include complex drinks that are challenging to make or drinks that do not have common ingredients. However, there are concerns that this market is reaching saturation, and the use of aluminum cans may limit what is possible, though some companies use glass or boxes.
Experts also see a rise in big, bold flavors in cocktails. Many higher-end bars and restaurants are branching out into unique tastes, like watermelon, cherry, and spices like five spice and nutmeg. In addition, it’s likely the COVID-19-inspired increase in drinking will continue. As much of the country continues to live in a place of restriction and mandates, drinking shows no sign of slowing down as a common way to cope with stress. Generally, those who have made drinking a habit during the pandemic are continuing this behavior.
Alcohol Retailers’ Expectations
Along with bars and restaurants, retailers play a large role in the landscape of alcohol consumption—and what they stock matters. In 2022, many alcohol retailers are planning to increase their stock in craft beer specifically. This isn’t necessarily surprising; despite the rise in cocktails in the restaurant and bar space, many drinkers find it easiest and most enjoyable to stock beer in the home.
This has happened in spite of the rise in consumption of spiked seltzers, which have secured great popularity in the canned and bottled retail beverage space for several years. A popular alternative for those who are not big beer fans or want something lighter and refreshing, seltzer is still popular (even if beer is, and has long been, king).
In liquor-related trends, vodka may be dethroned. Around 80 percent of retailers expect to stock more tequila in 2022, to the point that it will be virtually as popular as bourbon. Locally made and organic products are likely to see a spike as well.
The United States is far from the only country with high rates of alcohol intake, though it is among the top five in the world for over-imbibing. Per a 2021 survey, America ranks number four on the list of countries who get drunk the most; Australia is number one on the list, followed by Denmark, Finland, and, following the US, the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, there is zero crossover with the countries that feel the most regret over heavy drinking. Ireland, Poland, New Zealand, Romania, and Spain reach the top five in that category. The US ranks fifteenth.
In addition to frequency of getting drunk, the survey also considered how many days per year country citizens reported drinking alcohol. France came in number one in this category at 132 days a year, followed by New Zealand at 120 and and the Netherlands at 112. The global average is 101 days a year; the US actually comes in lower here, with the average American drinking 83 times per year, or a little less than twice a week.
Concerns About Alcohol Intake
Partying with friends seems well and good at the time, but many people find themselves concerned about alcohol intake—their own and in those around them. The negative effects of alcohol, from liver damage to heart damage to poor sleep, are well-known.
Some people either live in denial or truly do not believe their usage patterns are harmful, but others take a more cautious approach. One study by Wine Intelligence, as reported by the publication The Drinks Business, found that 39 percent of wine drinkers actively monitor their alcohol consumption, particularly those in younger age groups. For those worried about drinking too much or too often, it is not uncommon to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages during a night, or to take nights off periodically, even with friends. In the U.S., wine trends for 2022 indicate that around 30 percent of wine drinkers seek out bottles with lower ABVs to enjoy a fun drink, without the risk of getting too drunk too quickly.
The study notes, however, that while this kind of moderation is evident in millennials, it is harder to trace among Gen Z’ers. Because much of the Gen Z population is still under the legal drinking age, and because the pandemic has changed certain socialization trends, it may take time to chart and identify Gen Z’ers’ approach to imbibing.
Statistics About Alcohol-Related Deaths
While some people find a stiff drink to be a great way to end a long day, there is still no way around the reality that alcohol can be dangerous. Every year, alcohol poisoning and poor choices made under the influence of alcohol, like driving drunk, prove fatal. In Britain, one study determined that alcohol-related deaths rose almost 19 percent in 2020 as a result of pandemic drinking habits. Most deaths were driven by long-term drinking, like alcohol-related liver failure, and were most common in those ages 40 to 60.
These kinds of patterns are visible outside the UK, too. In Iowa, research noted a similar rise; in 2020, alcohol-related deaths rose 26 percent. This rise is assumed to be correlated to periods of lockdown, job loss and financial stress, and grief over the loss of loved ones. Those who used to be moderate drinkers increased the frequency and quantity of their drinking, while those who were already heavy drinkers became even heavier drinkers.
While it is too soon to say for 2022, experts hope reductions in pandemic-related lockdowns and a stabilization of the economy will lead to healthier alcohol use.
Drinking safely and in moderation can be an enjoyable way to pass the time with friends, regardless of personal alcohol preference and wine consumer trends. However, it is possible to go overboard, which can lead to health problems and fatalities. For those who have an alcohol problem, seeking treatment as soon as possible is always the best course. To learn more about alcohol treatment and other programs for people with substance addictions, contact FHE Health today.