COMERCAM, which is the government entity in Mexico that regulates mezcal production and certification, publishes a limited set of data on the mezcal market every year. The information comes with a bit of a time delay. For example, the 2011 data was just published at the end of 2012. This is clearly not ideal as the market is experiencing fairly rapid growth. So while 2011 data is interesting, I suspect that 2012 saw substantial growth in mezcal exports, and therefore just having 2011 data leaves me a bit wanting.
Further, the data that COMERCAM puts out varies from year-to-year. For example, last year their data for 2010 had export volumes for mezcal that was 55% alcohol by volume (ABV), 45% and 38%. So they had 3 different export categories for the percentage of alcohol. This year’s data only has export data for 38% alcohol by volume. But I kept last year’s PowerPoint so I can do some extrapolation with their data (of course, this will be imprecise but hopefully directionally correct). Also, I sent an email to every single person on the COMERCAM website asking for help. No response yet, but I am hopeful!
For now, I will work with what I have. So this post is an analysis of the mezcal market as it was in 2011. Read on mezcal lover.
So this will focus on the 38% ABV category since that is all the 2011 report has. But even this begs the following question: Why 38%? I mean virtually all of the main stream releases by the popular brands are 40% ABV. Yes, there are many special bottlings where the ABV is above 40%, but these are not the core products of the popular brands. So who bottles and exports at 38%? No one comes to mind. So I am going to use 38% as a proxy for the 40% category which we all typically see. But it bugs me. Also, I translate the numbers into the number of 9 Liter cases, which is the industry standard.
How have mezcal exports grown over the past few years (38% ABV):
- 2009 Exports 414,608 Liters, which is equal to 46,067 9L cases
- 2010 Exports 610,685 Liters, which is equal to 67,853 9L cases
- 2011 Exports 647,989 Liters, which is equal to 71,998 9L cases
The percentage increases are +47%% from 2009 to 2010 and only 6% 2010 to 2011. Those are their numbers but they sure seem odd to me. I actually would have guessed the other way around. We all know mezcal imports have grown substantially in the past few years, and this data backs that up even if the timing of the growth seems a bit off.
Then COMERCAM takes this 647,989 Liters and breaks it down by the category of export. Categories include: joven, joven with worm, reposado, anejo, etc. The leading categories of 2011 were:
- Joven with worm 55% 358,634 Liters
- Joven 26% 170,194
- Reposado 7% 45,538
- Reposado with worm 5% 29,491
- Repo with scorpion 3% 19,271
- Anejo 2% 9,422
Sadly, the worm still dominates. Monte Alban is clearly the category leader (sad as that may be) so I assume they dominate the “joven with worm” category, though there are no brand by brand statistics in the data).
The categories are very interesting when you compare these numbers to 2010. In 2010, the data was:
- Joven with worm 71% 434,855 Liters
- Joven 14% 88,158
- Reposado 9% 52,586
- Reposado with worm 2% 9,398
- Repo with scorpion 2% 10,394
- Anejo 2% 11,993
What does this tell us? The worm is on the way out and the premium brands are rising! In broad strokes, I assume that anything without the worm is a premium product (“with Scorpion” is most certainly the Scorpion brand, which is a premium), so the premium numbers look like this:
- 2010 Premium Mezcal Exports: 167,788 Liters
- 2011 Premium Mezcal Exports 234,181 Liters
The growth rate is a substantial +40%. That makes sense. And importantly, the volume of “joven with worm” actually fell by 18%. People are starting to figure it out.
Next, let’s take a look at where the exports are going. COMERCAM lists the top 10 countries of export.
By year, percentages are: 2011 2010
- U.S. 50% 41%
- Chile 10% 5%
- Mexico Airports 9% 5%
- Australia 7% 4%
- France 5% 1%
- Mezcal PhD 22% 18%
- Spain 4% 5%
- Turkey 3% NA
- Russia 1% NA
- England 1% 1%
- Argentina 1% NA
Here again, I wonder about the data. The top 10 countries were worth 90% of the volume in 2011, but a somewhat different top 10 was worth only about 65% of the total in 2010. They only report the top 10, but the 2010 data suggest far greater dispersion in terms of the number of countries – the skew just seems unlikely. But the U.S. growth rate was 30% in terms of total exports (including premium and non-premium categories), so that data seems consistent to me.
And another thing: they consider Mexican Airports to be an “export, which is fine, and that number grew 98% in 2011! Those reasonably high end liquor stores at the airports that are selling booze to departing Americans are selling a lot more mezcal – a good sign for sure of market demand. Do you have any to go cups?
Those are the highlights of the 2011 report. If I hear back from anyone at COMERCAM, I may update this post. Or if anyone out there has any information for me, please let me know. In the meantime, drink mezcal!