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Spirits-Based RTDs, Part 1: Top Sellers Are Doubling In Size This Year

November 28, 2022

Spirits-based RTDs are a white-hot category in the U.S. Last year, the leading brands—representing more than 25 million cases in total—nearly doubled in size, marking two years in a row of nearly 100% growth for the category’s leaders. This rapid ascent comes from a combination of established leading brands seeing tremendous growth, as well as a rush of new brands (and brand offshoots) into the market. This year Impact Databank projects the category to approach the 40-million-case threshold.

“The category is very healthy and continues to grow, a clear indication from the marketplace that the proposition is here to stay,” said Britt West, senior vice president and general manager for Spirit of Gallo, maker of High Noon. “Consumer behavior was already shifting before the pandemic but has likely only accelerated as a result of it, so we need to move swiftly to keep up.”

Gallo’s High Noon Sun Sips remains the spirits-based RTD category’s leader and juggernaut, more than doubling in size in 2021 to just under 9 million cases. This year, its volume has again doubled in control states, with no slowdown in sight. West pointed to High Noon’s Peach extension as a popular newer flavor, as well as to the brand’s limited-time-offering variety packs like the Tailgate and Pool packs, which pair two existing flavors with two new ones.

Cutwater Spirits, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Beyond Beer portfolio, is also soaring, with volume nearing 2 million cases last year and rising at a triple-digit rate in control states in 2022. “The last two years have brought incredible growth to our team, brand, and portfolio,” said Yuseff Cherney, co-founder and master distiller. “We’ve continued to introduce new products like our canned Ranch Water, Pineapple Margarita, along with the extension of our Mojito line.” Fellow ABI brand Devils Backbone was at 1 million cases a year ago, and is growing even faster than Cutwater in NABCA channels year-to-date. So too is Monaco, from Atomic Brands, which is rising from a 2021 base of 1.9 million cases.

Top spirits marketers like Diageo, Bacardi, and Beam Suntory are also tapping growth in RTDs. Diageo-owned Crown Royal is up more than 100% in control states this year after selling just short of 1 million cases of RTDs last year. Beam Suntory’s On The Rocks ready-to-serve brand, meanwhile, could make a run at 1 million cases this year as it also continues to roughly double in size year-on-year. We’ll have more on the burgeoning spirits-based RTD market in part two of this feature.—Shane English

Leading Spirits-Based RTD Brands In The U.S.
Brand Company Total1
2021
Depletions
2022 YTD2
Percent Change
in Control States
High Noon
Sun Sips Seltzer
Spirit of Gallo 8,835 103.5%
Jose Cuervo Margaritas Proximo Spirits 3,020 -7.6%
Cutwater Cutwater Spirits (ABI) 1,975 112.6%
Monaco Atomic Brands 1,910 133.1%
1800 Ultimate Margarita Proximo Spirits 1,245 -15.8%
Devils Backbone Devils Backbone
Distilling (ABI)
1,050 156.6%
Crown Royal RTDs Diageo North America 975 113.3%
Bacardi RTDs Bacardi USA 871 -12.4%
Buzzballz Southern Champion 510 2.3%
On The Rocks Beam Suntory 416 124.7%
Total Leading Brands 7,278 28.5%
1 Thousands of 9-liter cases.
2 Year-to-date through September.
Source: NABCA and IMPACT DATABANK © 2022
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