New releases

Coca-Cola Australia enters the alcohol market

Coca-Cola Australia has celebrated the first day of spring by launching Topo Chico Hard Seltzer. The new beverage blends sparkling water with alcohol and a splash of natural flavour.

It marks the company’s entry into the alcohol market in Australia.

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is inspired by Topo Chico mineral water, a brand with a rich heritage that began in Monterey, Mexico, and will be available in three unique, refreshing, and exotic flavours: Tangy Lemon Lime, Pineapple Twist, and Strawberry Guava. 

Coca-Cola Australia enters alcohol market

Robert Priest, Coca-Cola South Pacific Vice President, said Topo Chico will appeal to drinkers who are looking for something new and refreshing to enjoy at entertaining occasions this summer, whether that be virtual or in person. 

“We are excited to be entering the hard seltzer category, which has seen incredible growth over the last 12 months,” he said. 

“We have a fantastic product in Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, which is backed by fans in Latin America and Europe and we’re confident Australians will love the light, refreshing taste.”

Coca-Cola Australia said the launch was part of the company’s strategy to develop a diverse portfolio of brands that respond to different consumer expectations and needs, including at-home entertaining, virtual catch-ups or going out with friends.

“At Coca-Cola, we’re developing a beverage portfolio that keeps up with the experiences our consumers want. With the warmer months fast approaching, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer’s flavours of fiesta are for Australians looking to kick back and enjoy themselves for a summer characterised by balmy afternoons, friends, family, barbecues, and most of all, fun,” said Priest. 

The cult of Topo Chico

Topo Chico is hugely popular in the US and Mexico. It is beloved due to its turbo-charged effervescence – you can leave a bottle of Topo Chico open all night and it will still be fizzy the next morning.

Coca-Cola cannily acquired the US rights to Topo Chico in 2017 for $220 million. Last year, it launched the Topo Chico hard seltzer brand, which went from concept to commercialisation in less than six months during the onset of COVID-19. 

Topo Chico is also a traditional ingredient in a booming Texan cocktail called Ranch Water. Ranch Water is the tequila version of a highball. It’s traditionally made by mixing a bottle of Topo Chico with a splash of tequila and a squeeze of lime. Cowboys drink it to cool down after a hard day of cattle wrangling.

Coca-Cola CEO on Topo Chico’s global prospects

Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey discussed the business’ entry into the hard seltzer category in July. He revealed that Top Chico was available in 17 markets worldwide and on track to be in 28 markets by the end of the year.

Coca-Cola Amatil – now Coca-Cola Europacific Partners – has been successfully involved in the alcohol category for many years. It has a distribution deal with Beam Suntory that includes Canadian Club and Jim Beam, and also sells a range of beers and ciders including Blue Moon, Coors and Rekorderlig, in addition to producing its own alcohol brands including Feral Brewing Co.

However, it’s a relatively new market for the Coca-Cola Company globally. Previously, it was widely believed that the world’s largest beverage company was against producing alcoholic drinks. Priest told the Australian Financial Review: “The position has changed and as a company we’re looking for opportunities to grow.

“As we look at categories to enter we’ve seen the alcohol category, especially in hard seltzer, an area we’d like to play in, and we think we have a right to play in based on what we’re good at, which is making drinks that are tasty and delicious.”

Quincy said: “We are still very much in the learning phase. It’s not a category we are familiar with, particularly with the alcohol. It’s got a number of important characteristics and regulatory characteristics and business characteristics that we need to learn about.

“So we have not got to a stage of concluding anything more strategic or coming to the point of view that there is a bigger vision for us out there in the flavoured alcoholic beverage space. We want to learn and understand more before we decide anything one direction or the other.

“Retail customers, we understand they are very bullish, lots of display activity and activity. So we are looking to see that continue to expand. Of course, we are conscious that the overall hard seltzer category has come down in terms of its overall growth rates in the US. That’s not ultimately that big of a surprise to us, because it is a category that has been predominantly an at-home channel category, much less bars and restaurants category.

“And so as people have gone back out, clearly, some of those occasions have moved from at-home to away-from-home. So it’s not too surprising that some of the strong tailwinds the category got in the lockdowns have lessened.

But we still think it’s very interesting. It’s got some long-term potential in the US It’s very on-trend for a lot of consumers. And so we are continuing to look at that and push on that and invest to see where we can go.”

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will be available in Australia from September in 355ml cans, each containing 4.7% alcohol by volume (ABV), under 104 calories per can and are gluten free with no artificial sweeteners. You’ll find it in packs of four from select Dan Murphy’s, BWS and independent liquor stores. 

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