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Retailers See Rapid Expansion For RTD Cocktail Category

June 12, 2020

Spirits-based pre-mixed cocktails—not including wine, cider, or other bases—grew 7.5% to $351 million in the U.S. last year, according to the DISCUS, and the category has received a further boost this year from the on-premise shutdown and resulting surge in off-premise sales. Major spirits labels including Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, and Absolut have all added spirits-based canned cocktails to their ranges in recent weeks.

As the RTD category continues to gain ground, thanks in part to its modern packaging options, some wine and spirits retailers are now dedicating cooler sections with special racking, counter space by registers, and shelving to RTDs. “Customers are looking for convenience, portability, portion control,” says Paige Flori, owner of Boutique Wines, Spirits & Cider in Fishkill, New York. Boutique now carries 32 RTD SKUs, up from 19 last year, and the majority of these offerings are 375-ml. or smaller.

In addition to cocktails, spirits-based seltzers are also expanding their presence. “A few malt-beverage-based seltzers have exploded on the beverage scene, and liquor companies have reacted quickly with spirits-based seltzers,” says Tim Holden, chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). “Almost all of our growth in the RTD category is coming from these products.” Market Watch has more on the burgeoning RTD cocktail segment.—Kevin Barry

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