After 13 years of consecutive growth, tequila exports have finally fallen, according to a report from the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). Exports of the Mexican spirit measured in at 401.4 million liters in 2023, signifying an overall decrease of 4.2 percent by volume compared to 2022.
Tequila exports first started seeing substantial growth in 2009, when Mexico was shipping 136.4 million liters per year. Since then, tequila’s popularity took off in key markets like the U.S., accelerating the category’s growth. In 2022, the Mexican spirit seemed unstoppable, surpassing American whiskey in terms of value and becoming the second most valuable category of spirits in the U.S. after vodka.
Still, new export data suggests that the tequila bubble might be bursting. In 2023, the U.S. remained the largest export market for tequila and experienced a decrease of 5 percent in volume compared to the previous year. Following the U.S. in liters of exports is Spain and Germany, which saw decreases of 7.1 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively. The smaller markets of France and the UK, however, did see increases of 16.2 percent and 6.8 percent. The CRT report suggested that the fall in U.S. exports could be attributed to a slowing U.S. economy, competition in market distribution channels, and a higher price of agave.
The premiumization trend continues to take hold of the category, with premium tequila brands made with 100 percent blue agave taking up more and more share. This could explain why the Mexican tequila exports by value actually increased 4.5 percent from January to November of 2023, compared to that same time frame of 2022.
Even though exports dipped in 2023, the report suggests that expert consultants remain positive on tequila’s future in major markets such as the U.S.