-196 double lemonBusiness

-196 RTDs fuel explosive sales growth for Beam Suntory

Beam Suntory is celebrating 24% growth versus the pre-pandemic in its 2022 full-year results, with “explosive growth” of -196 RTDs in Australia one of the key highlights.

Ready-to Drink (RTD) brand sales for Beam Suntory grew 16%, driven by performance in Japan, Australia and the United States.

Sales of the On-The-Rocks brand nearly doubled in the US, with -196 RTD and the core Australian brands of Canadian Club & Dry and Jim Beam RTD delivering double digit growth. Double Lemon is number one RTD launch in Australia the past five years.

Net sales overall were up 10.5% year on year for Beam Suntory. Premium brands grew 15% in 2022 and now represent more than half of the company’s full bottle spirits sales for the first time ever.

“The quality of these results is clear and reflects our strategy to premiumise our spirits portfolio, build RTD leadership, and focus on value over volume,” said Albert Baladi, President & CEO of Beam Suntory.

“We delivered these results despite significant challenges including supply chain disruptions, record inflationary pressures, our withdrawal from Russia, and restrictive COVID-19 policies in China.”

Premium brands driving growth

Aside from RTDs, sales growth accelerated up the price ladder for key bourbon brands, as Jim Beam grew at a single digit rate, Maker’s Mark grew 11% and Basil Hayden surged 40%.

Roku, Hibiki, Yamazaki, Bowmore, Knob Creek, Tres Generaciones and Hornitos all delivered double-digit sales gains. 

Baladi told CNBC that the spirits company was starting to see “a little bit of tempering” of the super premium and ultra-super premium categories.

However, he didn’t expect it to have a big impact on sales.

“As consumers cut down on large expenses, they’re likely to want to treat themselves with little daily luxuries,” he said.

Baladi said the company raised prices last year and this year, and some brands even raised their prices twice already in 2022, depending on the market and the strength of the category.

Performance by region

Beam Suntory reported that it delivered strong performance across its three regions “against a backdrop of global headwinds moderating market conditions in the US and Western Europe, a COVID resurgence in Asia, and challenging inflationary pressures globally”. 

• North America sales were up 8% versus 2021 despite softening market conditions in the US, where the company gained share in the Premium+ segment. Canada and Mexico delivered double-digit growth.
• Asia sales were up 13% buoyed by on-premise recovery, focus on premium brands, and successful Highball programs across key markets.
• International sales grew 10% despite the impact of the company’s exit from Russia. Spain, Oceania, India and Global Travel Retail were exceptional standouts with very strong double-digit growth.  

Australian RTD success fuels international expansion

Following the popularity of Double Lemon in Australia, Suntory is aiming to replicate that success in North America.

“Australia is a very important test market for the global strategy,” Makoto Kitaura, a senior general manager at Suntory, told Reuters last year.

“If we have a success in Australia, then other Western countries like the US, the UK may have an interest to try a new brand. And we can see huge growth potential with the US market.”

The global canned cocktail market is now the fastest growing alcoholic drink segment. It saw double-digit sales growth during the pandemic, and Suntory believes global canned cocktail sales will double again from 2020 levels to more than $60 billion in 2030.

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