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Sake Statistics - How Is The Market Doing?

True Sake In preparation for a radio interview that I was going to do I reached out to a couple sources to get some real time statistics about the overall sake market in the US. One source stepped up big and I owe Katie Berndt Marketing Manager of Vine Connections - - importers of some great sake - a HUGE shout out for collecting a lot of history from compiled USDA reports.

All in all the sake market has been doing superb in the US with double-digit growth rates in 7 of the last 10 years. In the other 3 years the rates were 5.4%, 6.4% increases and 2009 saw a 10.7% decrease.

The value of imported sake has gone from $10.4 million in 2000 to $41.7 million in 2011. This is a far cry from the $6 million that was imported in 1989. 2011 was a record year in terms of the volume of sake imports. We were blessed with 4.2 million liters of sake from Japan. There has been a steady increase in the volume of sake coming over every year except one. In 2000 1.5 million liters were imported, which was down from a previous high in 1990 when 2.6 million liters found their way to our shores and doors.

This is all great news in all categories except one. The one that hurts of course is the price per liter of imported sake. Talk about a punch in the chops! 2011 was also a record year for the cost of sake. The price per liter of imported sake in 2011 was $9.93 up from $6.03 in 2000 and $3.18 in 1992.

2009 was not a good year for sake imports into the US. The overall value of imported sake fell -10.7%. (The first loss since 1994 and the second largest behind a -17.4% in 1992). The volume dropped 17.6% from 4.1 million liters in 2008 to 3.3 million liters in 2009. I was alive at that time I think. But I could not recall why there was such a drastic drop, so I pinged one of my friends who imports sake. I asked Ed Lehrman (Co-founder) also of Vine Connections, and he boiled it down to a simple text: "Recession. High-end restaurants were in the - BLEEP." I guess the good news is that sake has now propagated to more bars and restaurants other than solely "high-end," but it goes to show you that the old adage that people drink in good times and bad may not necessarily be accurate. (Especially if ye ol' company charge card is "down-sized." )

When we sold our first bottle of sake on August 7th 2003 the price per liter of sake imported into the US was $6.64. That year $14.5 million of sake came into the market and that accounted for 2.2 million liters of sake that we had access to. Let's hope that all trends except for price per liter continue to grow.
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