If you needed proof that RTDs are a global force to be reckoned with, look no further than 13 brands having surpassed the one million nine-litre-case sales mark. And the biggest selling RTDs brand in the world has been named by The Spirits Business’ The Brand Champions 2023 report … White Claw.
The brand launched the hard seltzer craze in the United States that swept the world during the COVID-19 years. Launched in 2016, it enjoyed huge volume growth until 2022, when sales fell by 4.2% to 59 million cases.
“And yet, its enormous sales are still more than double those of the second-biggest-selling RTD brand, so it’ll probably be a while before it has any need to panic,” The Spirits Business noted.
As for the second biggest selling brand, that went to the juggernaut that is -196ºC Strong Zero, at 21 million cases. While it is mainly consumed in Japan, Double Lemon has been the number one RTD launch in Australia in the past five years.
The premix blend is made from shochu, vodka, soda, and lemon. The name -196 is a reference to the intense production process involved in creating the product. Remember when you witnessed the explosion of liquid nitrogen in science class at school? Beam Suntory uses exactly that technique: a whole lemon frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of (you guessed it) -196°C, then pulverized and soaked in alcohol – creating an extreme lemon drink.
E&J Gallo-owned High Noon range of vodka sodas came in at number three with sales surging by 94.7% last year, from 8.8 million cases in 2021 to 17.2 million in 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing brands of the last 12 months.
Another Aussie favourite landed at number four, Jack Daniel’s RTDs.
“In 2022, this part of the brand’s stable grew by 4.6% to hit 11.3 million cases, thanks in part to the impressive growth of its classic JD & Cola serve, which is well-known and loved around the world,” The Spirits Business said.
“This segment of the brand’s pre-mixed option had a solid 2022, growing by 6.6% to reach 7.4 million cases. However, now that the brand has partnered with Coca Cola, could we be about to see the thunder stolen by this named brand partnership? We’ll find out this time next year.”
IWSR data shows that, globally, RTD value will rise at a CAGR of +7% between 2022 and 2026, outpacing a volume CAGR of +5%. This compares with a volume CAGR of +14%, 2016-2021. The value growth reflects the recent strong performance of premium-plus RTD products across key markets.
IWSR notes that the shift to premium products ends a period of dramatic volume growth for RTDs, particularly for hard seltzers in the US, as volumes stabilise and other segments of the RTD category drive growth. In other markets like Japan and China, flavoured alcohol beverages continue to show positive momentum as well.
“Premium-priced RTDs have grown faster than any other segment over the past two years, albeit on a smaller volume base, with new products increasingly launching at higher prices,” IWSR said.
“This is driven by an increase in spirit-based offerings, higher ABVs and well-known premium brand extensions. RTDs are a clear trade-up from beer, with consumers paying roughly double for the same size serve of an RTD in some markets.”
RTD consumption reaches record high in Australia
New data from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows RTD consumption has continued to increase and is now at a record high in Australia.
Consumption increased from 2,138,000 Australians (10.8%) pre-pandemic up to 4,208,000 (20.8%) in the 12 months to March 2023.