Mexico’s national drink has seen a surge in sales during the coronavirus pandemic, market research firms report, one of the few bright spots for the Mexican economy as it heads into what will likely be a deep recession.
Nielsen reports tequila sales were up 60% over last year in the four weeks leading up to April 25, and 42% higher in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to trade date company Panjiva, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Unlike the beer industry, which has been shuttered in Mexico after having been deemed a nonessential business, the tequila industry was successful in having the spirit classified as an agricultural product and distilleries have continued to operate.
“Tequila is Mexico’s most important brand and one of the most emblematic industries in our country, supporting 70,000 jobs,” said Rodolfo González, president of the National Tequila Industry Chamber. In 2019, Mexico produced 351.7 million liters with an approximate value of US $1.8 billion, of which 80% was destined for export to the United States, Canada and the European Union.
Tequila has seen a steady rise in popularity in the United States as Americans have learned to embrace the agave-based liquor as a sophisticated spirit to savor, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. Sales grew 36% between 2015 and 2019, according to the IWSR, a London-based firm that tracks global trends in the alcohol industry.
Tequila’s rise to prominence in the U.S. began in the late 80s when John Paul Dejoria, the founder of Paul Mitchell beauty products, began marketing the Patrón brand as a luxury product.
Later, celebrities like George Clooney, Sean Combs and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson helped market the beverage by launching their own brands.
Johnson had planned a red carpet launch party to debut his brand, Teremana, but due to the coronavirus pandemic the launch took place instead on social media. Johnson is the third most followed person in the world on Instagram.
“The perception is that tequila is a healthier choice, that it has a lower glycemic index and gives you less of a hangover,” New York tequila aficionado Crystal Slattery told the Times. “Having a tequila at night has become almost an absolute,” added dentist Joe Zagami whose love affair with the beverage began with a recent trip to Mexico.
The margarita placed seventh this year on Drinks International’s list of the world’s bestselling classic cocktails.
Source: Financial Times (en)