Category Archives: Research

Dept. of Competitive Information

Attention all New York State winemakers. There’s bad news/good news coming from the land of your biggest domestic competitors.

• The bad news (for California): Late freezes and untimely rain negatively impacted California’s wine grape harvest just as vintners had predicted. The 2011 harvest was down 7% to 3.3 million tons. When table grapes are included, the overall tonnage of the California fruit still was down, by 3%.

• The good news (for New York): See above.

According to the preliminary harvest report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reduced supply has meant increased prices for California wines in general.

Napa County had the highest prices for grapes with an average $3,400 per ton, an increase if 5% from 2010. Grapes from Sonoma and Marin counties sold at an average of $2,081 a ton, up 3%.

Factoring in all wine grape-growing regions in California, the average price for red wine grapes went up 12% to $702 a ton, while for white it went up 8% to $541.

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Agriculture, Research


Analysis: Spirits industry bucking world global economic woes

NEW YORK — A weak economy may be wreaking havoc on many industries, but the distilled spirits industry experienced growth in 2011 while taking more market share again from beer.

That was among findings released by Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Peter Cressy at the industry’s annual briefing for Wall Street analysts and reporters on Tuesday. But, he warned, uncertainty about the economic recovery and the impact of new taxes could derail future growth.

Distilled spirits exports exceeded $1 billion for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a projected record $1.34 billion in 2011 (based on 11-month totals). Total spirits exports grew 16.5% over the preceding year, while American whiskey — which constitutes 69% of total exports — grew 13.6%.

An ongoing trend towards open markets and sensible transparent regulations, as well as a focus on communicating the heritage of the products in new markets, contributed to the trade growth. Among significant trade victories in 2011 were the passage of the U.S.- Korea Free Trade Agreement, which will eliminate the 20% tariff on bourbon/Tennessee whiskey upon implementation of the agreement, and the World Trade Organization’s final ruling that the Philippines’ excise tax on distilled spirits is discriminatory and in violation of WTO rules.

“As countries around the world lower tariffs and other barriers, American spirits products are finding new audiences fascinated by the rich heritage and unique character of these great brands,” Cressy said.

He attributed the market share growth to industry innovation and the consumer return to a preference for premium-priced spirits. Other significant factors contributing to the positive outcome, he said, were ongoing national market modernization trends and a willingness by policymakers to hold the line on taxes.

In other points of the report:

  • Federal government data showed that underage drinking and drunk driving fatalities are at historic low levels.
  • Industry suppliers saw year-to-year volume growth of 2.7% to 195.8 million 9-liter cases, and sales growth of approximately 4% to $19.9 billion, reflecting a consumer return to premium products.
  • Vodka, which accounts for 32% of industry volume, was up 5.9% to 63 million 9-liter cases, but in the super premium category, volume rose 12.7% and revenue rose 15.9%, $160 million now totaling $1.16 billion.
  • In the largest whiskey category, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, overall volume was up 3.9% to 16 million 9-liter cases, and revenue was up 3.9% to $2.0 billion. But, again, the largest growth occurred in the super premium category where revenue was up 11.4% for a total of $180 million. “These results show that the hospitality industry is helping drive the national recovery and job creation, but it remains critical that legislators don’t derail future economic growth through higher taxes,” Cressy said.

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Research, Spirits


Study: Draw one, mix one for health

I‘ve been struggling to keep up with the regular stream of studies suggesting wine has all sorts of magical, mystical medicinal properties that will lead to better health, longer life, etc. Now, brews and spirits are getting some extra support.

A two-decade study published in the January issue of The Journal of Studies On Alcohol and Drugs reports on connections between the moderate consumption of all types of alcohol and increased longevity.

It also supports the findings of prior studies that wine has more beneficial effects than any other alcoholic drinks. However, in a twist that always seems to pop up in any study, researchers said that may because the people who choose wine tend to be more naturally healthy anyway. Go figure.

The study of 802 men and women ages 55 to 65. Of that number, 281 “low wine drinkers” consumed less than one-third of their alcohol intake from wine, 176 “high wine drinkers” consumed two-thirds or more as wine, and 345 abstainers. The drinkers had one to two drinks per day, and researchers followed them for 20 years.

Among the findings: Wine drinkers lived longer than abstainers, and high-wine drinkers lived longer than low-wine drinkers.

Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas and lead author of the article, said there may be benefits for older moderate drinkers no matter what kind of alcohol they consume. But, he cautioned, “The study does not encourage initiating wine consumption as a pathway to better health.”

Gotta love those disclaimers. You don’t hear that sort of comment from vitamin manufacturers.

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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Beer, Research, Spirits, Wine


• UB wine-in-markets poll flips Siena’s

BUFFALO — A survey of wine drinkers conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Management has found that 54% say they are opposed to a proposal to allow supermarkets to sell wine.

That survey, released today, is the flip side of a recent Siena Research Institute Poll at Siena College in Albany County that found that 59% of respondents favored the proposal.

By comparison with Siena’s 819-respondent survey, UB surveyed more than 5,000 households.

The survey also was more detailed than Siena’s in how questions were asked. Siena’s question was part of a largert package of legislative initiatives, while UB’s asked numerous questions on the wine sales topic. Some results:

• 54% of respondents said they are opposed to wine sales in supermarkets.

• 42% of those opposing such sales cited “negative impact on small businesses” as their reason.

• 87% of those who favored the proposal did so because of shopping convenience.

• 10% of those in favor cited potential for reduced prices.

According to the co-authors of the study, Jain, Ram Bezawada and Gary Pickering, survey participants included both men (38%) and women (62%) representing all age, income and education groups. Jain and Bezawada are co-directors of the school’s Research Group in Integrated Marketing (RIM). Pickering is a professor of biological sciences and psychology/wine science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Marketing, Research, Wine


• Poll: NYers want wine-in-markets

LOUDONVILLE, NY — Wads of money have been spent, letters to the editor feverishly written, press conferences held, legislators’ arms twisted — all by both camps in the wine-in-supermarkets battle. So, how is it all working out for the latest round of proposed legislation that would allow the same thing 35 other states already permit?

“A strong majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents support passing a law to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. There is support in every region, with strongest support in the downstate suburbs. Younger voters support it more than older voters,” says Steven Greenberg of the Siena Research Institute at Siena College.

The institute bases that conclusion on a telephone poll it conducted June 5-8 among 819 registered New York voters. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 points. It is interesting to note that as time has passed, the percentage of people in favor of selling wines in markets has increased, and the percentage of those opposed has dropped.

Here is the question as posed, with the responses recorded by the institute:

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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Legislation/Regulation, Research


• Younger coffee drinkers are back

Young coffee drinkers are back.

Consumption among U.S. consumers in the 18-to-24 age group has rebounded to 2008-09 levels, with 41% of them drinking a daily cup compared to 31 percent in 2010, according to findings from the 2011 NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends study just released.

The study, commissioned by the National Coffee Association, found the coffee category remains strong, narrowing the already slim lead of soft drinks.

The survey also said 54% of 25- to 39-year-olds drink coffee daily, up from 44% in 2010 and 53% in 2009.

Gourmet coffee continues to be a significant portion of total coffee consumption, indicating that consumers want to maintain coffee quality even as the economy is uncertain. Nearly 90% of coffee consumers said they drank coffee at home in the past day as compared with 24% who said they drank coffee away from home in the past day.

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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Coffees & Teas, Research


• Study: Diet sodas linked to strokes


From the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — It’s far from definitive proof, but new research raises concern about diet soda, finding higher risks for stroke and heart attack among people who drink it everyday versus those who drink no soda at all.

The beverage findings should be “a wakeup call to pay attention to diet sodas,” said Dr. Steven Greenberg. He is a Harvard Medical School neurologist and vice chairman of the International Stroke Conference in California, where the research was presented on Wednesday.

A simple solution, health experts say, is to drink water instead.

Doctors have no chemical or biological explanation for why diet soda may be risky. It could be that people who drink lots of it also fail to exercise, weigh more, drink more alcohol or have other risk factors like high blood pressure and smoking. However, the researchers took these and many other factors into account and didn’t see a change in the trend.

Go here for the full story.

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Non-alcoholic Drinks, Research


• NY largely escapes ’40 Drunkest Cities’ list

It may not be a surprise that Milwaukee, a city with a generations-long brewing history, ranks No. 1 on a list of the 40 heaviest drinking cities in the U.S. But, Fargo, ND, ranking second?

That’s the view of the editors and writers at The Daily Beast, who have just released what they unglamorously call the “40 Drunkest Cities.”

Buffalo is the only New York State community that made the list. New England, despite its stodgy, conservative reputation, placed a half-dozen cities on the list.

“To compile our first annual list of the drunkest cities in America, we looked at three things,” the magazine says, “average alcohol consumption over a month, the highest levels of binge drinking, and the places where large portions of the population suffer the dire health consequences from over-imbibing.

“For the average drinks per month, we turned to Experian Simmons, which provided the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per person in a typical month in more than 200 metropolitan areas. We also used 2009 statistics on the percentage of the adult population for each metro area that are heavy and binge drinkers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Lastly, we calculated the deaths from alcoholic liver disease for each city from the most recent statistics published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.”

Here’s the full 40. You can get all the statistics that put the cities on the list by going here for The Daily Beast slideshow.

1. Milwaukee, WI
2. Fargo, ND
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Austin, TX
5. Reno, NV
6. Burlington, VT
7. Omaha, NE
8. Boston, MA
9. Anchorage, AK
10. San Diego, CA
11. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
12. Denver, CO
13. Providence, RI
14. Sioux City, IA
15. Toledo, OH
16. Hartford, CT
17. Tampa, FL
18. Portland, ME
19. San Antonio, TX
20. Philadelphia, PA
21. Spokane, WA
22. Cleveland, OH
23. Sacramento, CA
24. St. Louis, MO
25. New Orleans, LA
26. Tucson, AZ
27. Buffalo, NY
28. Tallahassee, FL
29. Chicago, IL
30. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
31. Springfield-Holyoke, MA
32. Portland, OR
33. Davenport, IA
34. Phoenix, AZ
35. Cincinnati, OH
36. Las Vegas, NV
37. Baltimore, MD
38. Cedar Rapids, IA
39. Casper, WY
40. Jacksonville, FL

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Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Research


• UBuffalo to study alcohol/aggression link

BUFFALO, NY — Ingesting alcohol can lead to a wide range of feelings and emotions — experiencing joy or sorrow, becoming talkative or pugilistic, breaking into song or reciting poetry … Unfortunately, another reaction can be sexual aggression.

The University at Buffalo today announced a new research study it said will focus on drinking and sexually aggressive behavior. The twist is, it will be done from the male perspective.

Maria Testa, Ph.D, is the lead investigator on the study and a senior research scientist at the university’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

“Rates of sexual victimization and perpetration among college students are disturbingly high nationwide,” Testa said. “Furthermore, men’s alcohol consumption and heavy drinking patterns are present in a large proportion of incidents of sexual victimization and aggression among young college students. In order to learn more about what is happening and why, we will talk to young college men.”

The study is supported by a $2 million award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). More than 1,800 male college freshmen will be recruited to participate across the first five semesters of their college experience. To address the gap in knowledge about alcohol-drinking perpetrators, two innovative methods will be employed. According to Testa:

“In the first, a web-based survey method will examine whether heavy drinking actually predicts sexual aggression. In the second, interactive voice response (IVR) technology will be used to examine whether sexually aggressive behavior occurs during or immediately after drinking. This component will include a sub-sample of approximately 300 young men and use IVR to compile daily reports on drinking and sexual behavior over eight weeks.”

Testa said she suspects the relationship between alcohol use and sexual aggression may be influenced by sex-related alcohol expectancies, hostile masculinity, impersonal sexuality and other beliefs and behaviors. She will be examining these variables for their current and future impact.

Testa, a native of Buffalo, earned her doctorate in social psychology at UB, and has been at the Research Institute on Addictions since 1989. She is an expert on the association between alcohol and physical and sexual aggression and, in particular, on how women’s alcohol use increases their vulnerability to sexual assault.

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Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Campus, Research, Western New York


Why tasteless vodkas actually do taste different

Here’s a bit of information to hang onto as ammunition for your next debate in a friendly neighborhood tavern:

There finally is some scientific evidence that one’s preference in vodkas is based on something more than a pretty bottle and a clever marketing campaign.

An article published in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says vodka differs from simple water-ethanol solutions in ways that could alter the imbiber’s perception of its taste.

By definition, vodka should be colorless, odorless and tasteless. However, it is not always so. The veritable flood of new vodkas hitting the global market in recent years has seen the use of just about any sort of organic matter as its base component, from grains to potatoes to grasses to honey to milk to nuts … and its filtration through precious stones, charcoal, woven grass mats, stainless steel … and on and on. And, that is not even touching on the subject of flavor infusions. And with it all, the price points of what are deemed premium vodkas keeps going up.

The article said researchers used high-tech instruments to analyze the composition of five popular vodka brands. They found that each brand differed in its concentration of ethanol hydrates which may help the drinker perceive this internal structure or structurability of vodka, rather than taste in a traditional sense.

Dale Schaefer’s group at the University of Cincinnati worked with colleagues from Moscow State University in Russia on the topic. According to the ACS, they knew that Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, noted for work on the Periodic Table of the Elements, made a key observation on alcohol solutions in his 1865 doctoral dissertation.

Mendeleev believed that a solution of 40% ethanol and 60% water would develop peculiar clusters of molecules, called hydrates. That solution became the global standard for vodka, which usually is sold as an 80-proof (40% alcohol), beverage.

A century later, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling speculated that the hydrate clusters might consist of an ethanol molecule sequestered by a hydrogen-bonded framework of water molecules.

“We began this discussion with the statement that vodka is a colorless, tasteless water-ethanol solution,” Schaefer said. “So, how do vodka drinkers develop brand preference? Our answer is structure.

“Beverages with low structurability are likely to be perceived as watery, because the fraction of water clusters is higher than in brands with high structurability. Beverages with high structurability, on the other hand, harbor transient cage-like entities where the ethanol molecule is sequestered by surrounding water molecules. At high alcohol content, clusters of alcohol molecules appear. …

“These ethanol clusters undoubtedly stimulate the palate differently from either water or the E•5.3H2O cage structure. Even in the absence of ‘taste’ in the traditional sense, vodka drinkers could express preference for a particular structure.”

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Posted by on August 11, 2010 in Research, Vodka


Poll: Drinking moves from bars to homes

From TIME magazine

When the going gets tough, the tough, um, go drinking. That’s the word from a new Gallup poll showing that 67% of Americans are hitting the bottle, the most since 1985. Another sign of challenging economic times: more and more of those rounds are happening in the kitchen, not at the corner pub.

A new report by Mintel International, a market-research firm, shows that a growing number of Americans are guzzling down wine and spirits at home as opposed to in bars and restaurants, and many are trading down to cheaper brands as they seek fiscally conscious ways to party in a sluggish economy.

[Go here for the full story.]

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Posted by on August 11, 2010 in Research


What you get when reaching for a cold one

From Men’s Health magazine’s Eat This, Not That website:

Beer and wine both have a lot of magical effects on the body, both positive and negative.

On the downside, alcohol can make you sloppy, indiscriminate, and as blabbery as Joe Biden on sodium pentothal. Plus, combining mugs and shots is scientifically proven to increase your risk of mug shots. Just ask Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson.

On the positive side, a lot of research on red wine (and some on beer and white wine) indicates that one drink a day can help protect against stroke, coronary artery disease, dementia, and more. Indeed, some studies suggest that drinking in moderation can actually help deflate a beer belly: In a recent study of 8,000 people, Texas Tech University researchers determined that those who downed a daily drink were 54% less likely to have a weight problem than teetotalers. Between one and two drinks a day results in a 41% risk reduction. But that’s where the trend ends. Consumption of three or more daily drinks increases your risk of obesity, says the study.

And therein lies the rub. If you can limit yourself to one or two a day, then you can get the health benefits without too many extra calories–if you choose wisely. Here’s a rundown of what, exactly, you’re really getting each time you reach for a cold one.

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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Beer, Research


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