Ready-to-drink (RTD) options must deliver two key credentials: convenience and quality. These three brands are the ones to look out for in 2022.
Consumers have sought two characteristics from drinks during lockdowns: convenience and quality.
With bars and restaurants closed at various points throughout 2021, ready-to-drink (RTD) options have continued to pique consumer interest.
IWSR Drinks Market Analysis expects the sector to increase its market share of the total alcohol sector to 8% by 2025 in 10 key markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the UK and the US. These markets alone make up more than 85% of global RTD volumes.
The forecast, outlined in October’s IWSR RTD Strategic Study, noted RTD volumes have been increasing faster than any other major drinks category since 2018, and are predicted to ‘significantly’ surpass the total alcohol market by 2025. In the five years to 2025, RTDs are forecast to grow at an approximate compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% in the 10 markets previously stated – significantly higher than the approximate 1% CAGR growth for total beverage alcohol during the same period.
When the report was released, Brandy Rand, chief operating officer of the Americas at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, said: “It’s important to note that RTDS aren’t only stealing share from beer, they’re also attracting spirits consumers in markets such as Australia and the UK, and cider drinkers in South Africa. We’re also seeing a significant premiumisation trend in RTDs as more and more new brands enter the space.”
The influx of new RTD offerings has been relentless this year. Pernod Ricard-owned Malibu brought out a range of canned rum-based cocktails in October, and Polish producer Belvedere recently released a canned range of organic vodka sodas exclusively in Australia.
Up-and-coming RTD labels have also made an impact, with bartender-founded canned cocktail company Whitebox securing £350,000 (US$477,370) to fund a production site in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Spiros Malandrakis, head of research – alcoholic drinks, Euromonitor International, says: “The category is always reinventing itself, and that capacity to reinvent itself has been a key driver and as long as that continues, RTDs will continue growing. There’s massive potential in the future.”
However, he is not entirely convinced by the longevity of the hard seltzer craze. The alcoholic sparkling waters have been growing at a rate of knots, with leading US brand White Claw hitting 58.5 million nine-litre cases in 2020 – a 139.7% increase on the previous year – as reported in The Brand Champions 2021.
“Hard seltzers have historically been an American-led trend,” says Malandrakis. “In the past few months, this steady growth it was enjoying seems to have finally dropped to low-single digits. So the hard seltzer craze is not over, it’s just coming into mature territory. It became extremely crowded in the US extremely fast – I think potentially they overdid it, like flavoured vodka did, or like RTDs in the ’90s with Bacardi Breezers. They need to start premiumising better, approximating cocktail-in-can experiences.”
Check out our pick of the RTD brands to watch in 2022 below.
For more category forecasts, take a look at our exploration of Tequila and mezcal, rum, Cognac and brandy, gin, world whisky, Irish whiskey, American whiskey, Scotch whisky, vodka, and liqueur and speciality spirits.
White Claw has reported significant triple-digit volume growth in the past couple of years as it continues to dominate the hard seltzer category. The Mark Anthony Brands-owned range sat in second position in The Brand Champions 2021 report, behind the world’s biggest-selling spirit brand, Jinro. However, another triple-digit growth spurt from White Claw could, dependent on Jinro’s 2021 performance, push the hard seltzer into pole position.
This year, Smirnoff vodka owner Diageo enhanced its presence in the RTD category by buying vodka-based brand Loyal 9 Cocktails from Sons of Liberty Spirits Company. Diageo is clearly taking the rise of RTDs seriously; the company’s North American arm invested US$80 million in expanding its RTD production capacity to more than 25m cases annually. 2022 could be a stellar year for Loyal 9 Cocktails under its new owner – when you have the might of Diageo backing you, almost anything is possible.
Pre-batched specialist World of Zing has gone from strength to strength in 2021. From taking on eight new accounts in May this year – including countryside hotel chain The Pig, Marylebone hotel Treehouse, and restaurant Patty & Bun – to collaborating with Everyman Cinema to mark the release of one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, the James Bond film No Time to Die. If this is a taste of what’s to come, 2022 could be very exciting indeed.