Fever-Tree Drinks has reported another year of strong growth in Australia, with sales up by 88% in 2020 despite COVID-19 disruptions.
The premium mixer brand said its growth has been underpinned by the continued strong performance of spirits and the rising popularity of at-home mixology.
Drinks Digest spoke to Andy Gaunt, General Manager, Fever-Tree Australia and New Zealand about the rise of gin and tonics in Australia, with the tonic category up 36% in grocery during 2020.
“Australia is a very exciting market for Fever-Tree, and I am so proud of how the brand and the team has performed over the last 12 months,” Gaunt said.
“Our sustained growth across retail, with sales increasing by over 100% in 2020, is a testament to the growing brand awareness and the accelerating trend towards premiumisation across the mixer category.
“We remain the undisputed number one premium tonic brand in Australia and, as more Australians discover the benefits of premium long mixed drinks, we see great growth potential in the market. Earlier in the year, during periods of lockdown, we saw consumers selecting high quality products to make cocktails at home and this has continued as restrictions have eased. We are well positioned for the next 12 months, and I look forward to seeing more and more Australians enjoy Fever-
Tree products in 2021.”
Fever-Tree is now the No.1 mixer in liquor stores, which Gaunt attributes to keeping a keen eye on local tastes and introducing innovations such as 500ml bottles to leading retailers, as well as the company’s focus on lighter mixers.
“We’ve always believed that as more and more consumers of quality spirits realise that if the majority of their drink is actually the mixer, they will start to demand quality mixers,” Gaunt noted.
“While we go to great lengths to source the best ingredients to make the best quality product we can, we’ve worked equally hard to ensure Australian consumers have choice on shelf. It is satisfying to see that when they have a choice, they are choosing Fever-Tree, but we’ve lots more to do with our mission to elevate the taste of long mixed spirit drinks!”
G&Ts may be stealing the limelight, but Gaunt said the growing interest in healthier, lighter options means we will see many more tonic combinations grow in popularity in 2021.
“There is a very scientific reason why tonic and gin are such a wonderful partnership,” Gaunt explained, “to do with the molecular structures of quinine – the key ingredient of tonic – and juniper – the key ingredient in gin – and the way the interact to create a new flavour. However the crisp, clean, dry and bitter citrus balance of a quality tonic makes it a perfect mixer for many spirits. Watch out for tequila and tonic, whisky and tonic, and the growing presence of low-alcohol aperitif drinks topped up with lighter style tonics, plus interest in options of alcohol-free spirits that are enlivened with a quality tonic water.”
Gaunt also noted that certain tonics work better with different spirits.
“Lighter and fragrant tonics, such as our Mediterranean Tonic using rosemary and lemon thyme from the South of France and a lower level of quinine, or Elderflower Tonic with a fruitier flavour, pair not only with different styles of gins but an array of spirits,” he explained.
“You’d be surprised at how well Mediterranean Tonic pairs with whiskies, especially Scotch. Equally the herbaceous flavours of 100% agave tequila are well complimented with a citrus forward tonic, of course the growing interest in fruit and wine based gins are fantastic with a Lemon Tonic (basically a bitter lemon), and something like Campari Tonic is refreshing, dry and a perfect low-alcohol drink to start an evening.”
As for his personal favourite tonic drink, he said it’s hard to beat the simplicity and impact of a well-made G&T, with lots of ice and an appropriate garnish, served in a red wine glass or gin goblet.
What’s ahead for Fever-Tree in Australia?
Fever-Tree says gingers are growing and present an exciting opportunity for further premiumisation. Sales of ginger ale increased by 13% in Australia in 2020; with sales of premium products increasing by 111%.
“In 2021 we’ll be ensuring that all the fantastic whiskies and rums, or spritzes, vodkas and tequilas that we love to drink long and mixed have the best possible mixer partners, in the way that more and more G&T drinkers are becoming familiar with the importance and choice of tonic,” Gaunt said. “After all, if ¾ of your whisky and dry ginger ale is the ginger ale, for example, wouldn’t you want a ginger ale that lets the quality whisky that has been painstakingly crafted and matured in casks for many years shine rather than be masked?
“As well as our growing range of tonics in different flavours and new convenient formats, for example our fantastic 8 x 150ml can fridge pack, you’ll see more of our range of premium Ginger Ales to pair with different styles of whisky and rum, and our naturally flavoured sodas, such as our Italian Blood Orange Soda perfect as a spritz style drink or our Pink Grapefruit Soda with tequilas and our Lime & Yuzu Soda for the ultimate vodka lime & soda.”
Gaunt concluded that Fever-Tree was thrilled to see the hospitality industry getting back on its feet in Australia after a difficult 12 months.
“The hospitality industry has been obviously hugely impacted, and while the drinks industry has always been a tight community, it has been fantastic to see how people have come together to help support the on-trade with a variety of programs and initiatives,” he said.
“We’ve all got a lot more to do even if we are fortunate that the on-premise is functioning, not only to ensure that consumers get back out and spend in venues, but also to recognise the on-going impact on hospitality workers who have been so affected. This will pull us all together more closely to ensure we rally and provide as much industry support to the hospitality sector.
“Humans are social creatures and the conviviality of gatherings in common places has been inherent in our DNA for thousands of years – pubs, bars, hotels etc are today’s social gathering places, and they play such a key role in community and culture. Adapting to the new normal and supporting growth will need us to be an even more collaborative industry as a result.”