The Curious Case of the Cactus Bar in Vilnius
The US consumes most of what Mexico produces, but global markets are demanding a share of tequila.
BusinessWeek reports that Mexico’s distillers are primed to conquer the Chinese market, now that China’s government has ended restrictions that blocked imports of the purest and best tequila, blue agave.
Tequila is an appellation of origin (AO) – named for the town of Tequila and reserved for spirits distilled from agave in the Jalisco area of Mexico. It was the country’s first and in 1978 it was internationally registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for protection under the Lisbon Agreement. Mexico has also registered Mezcal.
Tequila currently reaches more than 100 country markets, but the lion’s share goes to the US.
We went to the trade data to get the latest break-out of tequila’s export markets … and came away with an unexpected result.
We looked first at our Mexican export data for 2012 and found that the US was the destination for 76% by value of all tequila exports, with the next-ranked destinations accounting for around 2% each. No surprise: This is roughly the way the global market for tequila has broken since 2008.
Then we narrowed our inquiry to this year’s first-quarter trade. Our 1Q13 data shows the US share dropping to 66% and Lithuania (Lithuania?) vaulting to second place with 11% share. Last year, the US share of tequila exports was 72%, while Lithuania claimed 0.02% for the first quarter.
Mexico shipped a mere US$43,081 (FOB value) to Lithuania in 1Q12 compared to US$25,439,680 in 1Q13 – that’s a 58,950.81% increase.
So what’s happening in Lithuania?
The spike in imports could be a blip or an early indicator. Tequila does seem to be making a splash in Lithuania – and the Baltics in general. Vilnius is home to the Cactus Bar, a bar dedicated to tequila. Pabo Latino, also in the capital city, features a tequila cocktail menu. Note, too, that Tequila is the name of a Lithuanian rock band (and, yes, they do a cover of Tequila). Still, it’s unlikely that all the tequila Lithuania imported in 1Q13 will be for domestic consumption, some will be bound for Latvia, Estonia, and other fellow members of the EU.
Our EU data supplies another indication of tequila’s rising popularity in the Old World: EU imports of tequila surpassed Mexican beer for the first time in first-quarter 2013.
Date posted: June 27, 2013