Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Nice buzz: Mexico’s growing alcoholic beverage success worldwide

I remember a time not so long ago when foreigners were skeptical of alcoholic beverages made in Mexico, but today, they are taking the world by storm – from handcrafted mezcal, to bestselling Modelo beer to award-winning Baja California wines.

Let’s start with Mexican beer. About ten years ago, I started seeing Corona beer at hot spots in cities around the world. Corona – via its outstanding marketing – created a “coolness” surrounding their product. Which other beer transported you to a hammock on a beautiful sandy beach? Corona’s branding propelled it to the top spot in the import beer market globally. In the process, Corona introduced many people around the world to Mexico in a very positive way – via its renowned beaches.

Corona has been one of Mexico’s best-selling beers globally. (igorgolovniov/Depositphotos)

Since then, many other Mexican beers have done extremely well. Modelo is now the top- selling beer in the United States, Sol and Pacífico are widely available around the globe, and many Mexican microbrews (like Allende beer and Tulum beer) are growing in popularity.

Tequila is another runaway success story. In the past, many outside of Mexico associated tequila with poor quality, cheap plastic bottles and bad hangovers. But today, tequila is the top-selling spirit globally. The world has fallen in love with margaritas and it seems every celebrity has their own tequila brand: George Clooney, Michael Jordan, The Rock, and Kendall Jenner, just to name a few.

Mezcal is the next frontier. Until recently, mezcal was relatively unknown. It too suffered from an initial perception of poor quality. I remember years ago, touring my first mezcal plant, the guide told us that the locals in the mountains drank mezcal to stay warm at night – not exactly a great marketing pitch! Today, mezcal is quickly following the growth path of tequila, though it is a more artisanal product than tequila, is often priced as a premium product, and is attracting its own flock of celebrities.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer recently launched his own mezcal brand, for example, and talks at length about his passion for the spirit. Mezcal aficionados everywhere are popping up and raving about the variety and complexity of different strains of agave.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul
The two stars of Breaking Bad enjoying their own mezcal. (Dos Hombres/Instagram)

Mexican wine is a very exciting segment to follow that I believe is poised for significant growth. Throughout my global travels and fine dining experiences, I can say that I essentially never saw a Mexican wine on a menu. Until recently, the industry had pretty neatly divided up the vast majority of the wine world as: Old World (Europe), New world (Argentina/Chile), and Others (Australia / New Zealand). Mexico wasn’t on the map.  However, little by little, Mexico’s Baja California peninsula quietly began to win some prestigious awards and start to get the attention of the wine world.

Entrepreneurs in Mexico’s Bajío region quietly began making significant investments in vineyards throughout Guanajuato and Querétaro – just in the past decade alone, the amount of vineyards around San Miguel de Allende has gone from three to 23. Even states like Coahuila and San Luis Potosí started seeing growth in the segment. Today, Mexican wines are winning awards at top wine events and appearing on menus around the world. I believe that we are in the very early innings still of what will happen in this market.

So what does all of this mean? We see how in a short period of time the Mexican alcoholic beverage market has completely transformed. This Mexican industry has gone from being perceived as a bad joke, to the envy of the world. I think it’s a great example of the transformation – and there are others that I will write about – that “brand Mexico” is having on a global stage. In my opinion, it couldn’t be a more exciting time to be an investor or entrepreneur in the country. Mexico is increasingly cool on the world stage, and in part we have tequila and beer to thank for that.

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