A Global Alcohol Industry

Topics: Drinking culture, Alcoholic beverage, Alcoholism Pages: 16 (5107 words) Published: June 4, 2011


The global alcohol industry: an overview
David H. Jernigan
Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

ABSTRACT Aims To describe the globalized sector of the alcoholic beverage industry, including its size, principal actors and activities. Methods Market research firms and business journalism are the primary sources for information about the global alcohol industry, and are used to profile the size and membership of the three main industry sectors of beer, distilled spirits and wine. Findings Branded alcoholic beverages are approximately 38% of recorded alcohol consumption world-wide. Producers of these beverages tend to be large multi-national corporations reliant on marketing for their survival. Marketing activities include traditional advertising as well as numerous other activities, such as new product development, product placement and the creation and promotion of social responsibility programs, messages and organizations. Conclusions The global alcohol industry is highly concentrated and innovative. There is relatively little public health research evaluating the impact of its many marketing activities. Keywords alcohol, advertising, marketing, globalization, multi-nationals, responsibility.

Correspondence to: David H. Jernigan, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, 2nd Floor, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996, USA. E-mail: djerniga@jhsph.edu Submitted 5 December 2007; initial review completed 25 January 2008; final version accepted 20 October 2008

INTRODUCTION Alcohol can be made from a wide variety of agricultural inputs, and is produced both formally and informally throughout the world. The ‘industry’ producing alcoholic beverages may take many forms, including a single woman or a group of women brewing traditional beer in an African village; a network of industrial breweries created originally by colonial authorities to brew traditional-style beer and then controlled by transnational corporations and/or local governments; national or regional production networks producing beer, spirits or wine and controlled by domestic companies; or complex and globally integrated production, distribution and marketing chains making beer, spirits and/or wine available and coordinated by multi-national corporations [1]. Production, wholesaling and distribution and retailing are all parts of the industry, and no single paper could hope to describe all these disparate activities. This paper will focus on the globalized segment of the alcohol industry, its size, structure, major players and activities.

THE WORLD’S LARGEST ALCOHOL MARKETERS The alcoholic beverage industry includes producers, wholesalers and distributors, point-of-sale operators (whether licensed or not) and hospitality providers such as hotels or cafés that serve alcohol. Its production and distribution arms are allied closely with agriculture, trucking, capital goods manufacturing and packaging industries. Its marketing wing spends heavily in the industries of advertising, sport and entertainment (including films, television and music). Within countries there are varying degrees of vertical integration of alcohol production, distribution and sales, with a general trend towards this fueled by economic liberalization and accompanying regional and global trade agreements. At the same time there are a few cases of national political realities (such as the constitutionally mandated three-tier system in the United States, or the move by South Africa’s principal brewer to spin off its truckers into independent small businesses with the end of apartheid) that occasionally exert pressure in the opposite direction. Addiction, 104 (Suppl. 1), 6–12

© 2009 The Author. Journal compilation © 2009 Society for the Study of Addiction

The global alcohol industry


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