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Off-Premise Update: Seltzer Maintains Torrid Pace, Wine And Spirits Premiumization Continues

October 23, 2020

As summer officially drew to a close last month, the hard seltzer category continued to sizzle, as volumes surged 187% in volume terms during its peak selling season of the 26 weeks ending October 3 in Nielsen channels. That compares to 82% growth for flavored malt beverages (which include coolers but exclude seltzer and hard soda), +26% for spirits, +21% for wine, and just +7.5% for beer. All those growth rates are significantly higher than corresponding rates during the same period last year, but off-premise gains have been inflated in 2020 because of stocking up due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the sharp on-premise downturn. Still, it’s worth noting that beer, wine, and spirits growth rates in dollar terms during the most recent 26-week period were all markedly higher than their respective volume gains.

Mark Anthony’s White Claw still leads all seltzer brands by a wide margin, registering dollar sales of $1.57 billion (+167%) from volume of 45.2 million cases (+159%) in IRI channels for the year-to-date ending October 4. That growth more than doubled second-ranked Truly from Boston Beer. Mark Anthony is already the 4th-largest malt beverage company in IRI channels, behind only Anheuser-Busch, Molson Coors, and Constellation. White Claw quadrupled its category-leading volume to a total of 47.7 million cases overall last year, according to Impact Databank, and is projected to outsell all but the seven largest-selling beer brands in the U.S. by the end of this year. In addition, spirits-based seltzer brands, such as High Noon Sun Sips, and wine-based labels, such as Barefoot Hard Seltzer (both from E.&J. Gallo), are also heating up in retail channels.

Tito’s vodka remains the largest-selling spirits brand in IRI channels, followed by Jack Daniel’s Black Tennessee whiskey in value terms. But among the 25 largest-selling spirits off-premise, the fastest-growing brands in dollar terms in the 12-week period ending October 4 were Patrón (+45%), Hennessy VS (+39%), Bulleit Bourbon (+39%), Hornitos (+37%), Baileys (+33%), and Malibu (+31%). Eighty-six of the top 100 brands in IRI channels advanced the past 12 weeks in dollar terms, 63 of them at double- or triple-digit rates. Tito’s has grown 36% in IRI channels over the past 40 weeks and is expected to become the market’s largest-selling spirit overall in both volume and value before year-end, according to Impact Databank.

In the wine sector, Gallo-owned Barefoot continues to lead all brands in IRI channels by both volume and value, but the fastest-growing labels year-to-date among the top 10 were Delicato’s Bota Box (+53% in dollar terms) and Deutsch’s Josh Cellars (+45%). Bottled table wine priced at least $20 per 750-ml. was the fastest-growing segment (+30% year-to-date), while labels priced below $8 grew just 2.5% by volume. Off-premise, sparkling brands (+28%) doubled table wine’s growth (+14%) year-to-date in IRI channels, primarily due to Gallo’s La Marca and other Prosecco brands. La Marca is projected to be the largest-selling sparkling brand by volume by year-end, according to Impact Databank, while Moët Hennessy’s Veuve Clicquot leads all sparkling wines in value terms, including the on-premise.—Juan Banaag

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