New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) show an increased demand for spirits education in the U.S., the company says.
As a global provider of wines and spirits qualifications, the WSET also reported a record 94,822 candidates globally in the academic year finishing July 31, 2018 — an increase of +11% on last year.
The number of WSET candidates in the U.S. rose by +12% to 14,204. The WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits qualification saw the highest growth in the U.S., with candidate numbers up +82% from last year.
Registrations for the Diploma in Wines and Spirits, WSET’s highest qualification, were also up +39% following the opening of two new diploma centers in the U.S.
Consumers’ appetite for spirits has boosted demand for spirits education. Euromonitor has reported double digit growth in the volume of spirits sold in the U.S. over the last five years (+12.7%), with vodka, whisky and rum dominating sales.
WSET’s U.S. team has worked with Approved Program Providers (APPs) to make spirits qualifications more readily available across the country to meet demand, the company says.
Markets on the Move
The continued growth in China ranks the country first with the highest total number of WSET candidates. The region brought in +9% more candidates over the last academic year, totaling 21,986 overall. The UK remained strong with a total of 19,460 candidates, while the U.S. followed close behind.
Top 10 WSET markets for the academic year 2017/18 (growth from previous year):
1. China* (+9%)
2. UK (+0%)
3. USA (+24%)
4. Canada (+5%)
5. Australia (+18%)
6. France (+17%)
7. UAE (+40%)
8. Switzerland (-1%)
9. Brazil (+75%)
10. Netherlands (+6%)
*Includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan
Over the next academic year, the WSET education and awards teams will carry out the final stages of preparation ahead of the launch of new and enhanced qualifications in August 2019, completing the separation of WSET’s qualifications into three distinct subject-matter streams: wine, spirits, and sake.
The Level 3 Award in Spirits will undergo an intensive pilot program, while materials will be finalized for the Level 2 Award in Wines and the new flagship Diploma in Wines.
Further details about these courses will be announced in Spring 2019.
The new academic year will also see the Level 1 Award in Wines and Level 1 Award in Spirits both become available via online study, in addition to the existing classroom course offering.