The alcoholic beverage sector has been no stranger to innovation in the past year, with functionality, premiumisation, convenience and sustainability driving trends in this category.
From cocktails to wine, spirits and beer, the World Beverage Innovation Awards team takes a look at four trends set to make a splash in the alcohol industry in 2021.
Ready to drink (RTD) beverages are pre-packaged drinks sold in single-serve form. Alcoholic RTDs have surged in popularity because of their convenient on-the-go format, particularly as pubs and bars have been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
According to Kenneth Research, the global alcoholic RTD market is growing at a rate of 3%, and is expected to reach approximately $32 billion by the end of 2024.
In recent years, RTD alcohol manufacturers have stepped away from sugary sweet alcopops and canned beers, towards more sophisticated flavour profiles in the form of premium canned cocktails and hard seltzers.
The canned cocktail category grew by 43% in global consumption last year, according to ISWR – the perfect solution for consumers who were unable to visit drinking establishments and order cocktails made by professional bartenders. Some key innovations in this category include Diageo’s Smirnoff Passion Fruit Martini and Gordon’s Pink Martini Cocktail, alongside Jack Daniel’s whiskey-based RTD cocktails.
The hard seltzer RTD category also witnessed phenomenal growth this past year, with an expected CAGR of 16.2% from 2020-2027, according to ISWR. With consumers becoming more health-conscious, particularly after rising health concerns due to Covid-19, hard seltzers offer a low-calorie healthier drinking option. Michelob’s organic hard seltzers, Coca-Cola’s Topo Chico and Molson Coors Vizzy range are a few of many hard seltzer innovations released this past year.
The wine category has not escaped the health and wellness trend, and we have seen the release of more natural/organic wines, as well as low-alcohol offerings.
The organic sparkling wine category has seen impressive growth, with a forecasted CAGR of 8.2% between 2021-2023, according to IWSR. Last year, Biagio Cru introduced their Organic Rosé All Day Spritz, available in both bottled and canned formats. IWSR predicts that by 2022, 10% of all wine sold in the UK will be made organically.
Beverage companies are also capitalising on consumer desire to reduce their alcohol consumption. According to ISWR, the low- and no-alcohol category is expected to grow 34% by 2024 as many follow the ‘less and better’ approach. Last year Molson Coors launched Movo, a new line of canned wine spritzers, made from wine, sparkling water, fruit juice and natural flavours, with just 100 calories and no added sugar.
Responding to consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly alcohol options, brewers are finding new ways to embrace sustainability in the creation of their products.
In August 2020, Heieneken revealed that all Heineken beer sold in the Dutch market had been brewed using 100% green energy. This achievement was made possible through scaling up biogas, wind and solar energy and marked a step towards Heineken Netherlands’ goal to be fully circular by 2030, with breweries that are completely climate neutral.
Other big brewers have since followed suit. Earlier this year Molson Coors signed a ten-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with RWE, which saw all of its UK operations powered by renewable electricity. With the deal, Molson Coors claimed it became the first major UK brewer to produce all of its beers and ciders using 100% green electricity.
This deal came just after another sustainable move by Molson Coors, which launched a new glass beer bottle following a trial that cut the carbon impact of its bottle production by up to 90%.
We have also seen many brewers making important swaps to recyclable packaging, such as Heineken’s sustainable Green Grip aimed at eliminating plastic from millions of cans. The Green Grip, alongside the removal of shrink wrapping on consumer packs, will eliminate over 517 tonnes of plastic annually – the equivalent of 94 million plastic bags.
As part of wider sustainability goals, some brewers have gone beyond packaging and renewable energy by opting for locally sourced ingredients to reduce emissions. For instance, in October 2020 Budweiser UK announced that the barley used for its UK-produced beers is now 100% sourced from British farms.
“Local communities are the lifeblood of this country, so we’re absolutely committed to supporting them, creating more efficient supply chains, and brewing the UK’s most sustainable beers,” said Paula Lindenberg, president of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I.
After the ginassaince of 2019 and the rise of rum in 2020, tequila has shot into the spirits category for 2021. The global tequila market is projected to grow from $9.89 billion in 2021 to $14.70 billion in 2028, at a CAGR of 5.8% from 2021-2028, according to Fortune Business Insights.
Going hand-in-hand with premiumisation trends, handcrafted ultra-premium tequila products are at the forefront of innovation in this category. In 2020 Cazcabel Tequila unveiled a new coconut flavoured tequila, with the aim of hopping on recent flavoured spirits and premiumisation trends.
Celebrity endorsements of tequila products have also led to further growth in this category. At the end of last year, recording artist Travis Scott founded a new brand of agave spiked seltzers, called Cacti, adding to innovations in the RTD alcohol space.
Canned tequila cocktail innovations provide convenient and cost-effective variants that are boosting the popularity of the spirit even further. One example is beverage brand Onda, which recently raised $5 million in Series A financing to expand the distribution of its sparkling tequila beverages. In 2020, Diageo’s net sales of tequila grew 31% driven by strong double-digit growth of Don Julio and Casamigos in US Spirits and Don Julio in Latin America and the Caribbean. With sales for big alcohol industry names like Diageo being boosted by tequila sales, there is no doubt innovation and market growth in the tequila industry will continue to grow.
The World Beverage Innovation Awards 2021 includes the categories ‘best alcohol drink’, ‘best premium/adult drink’, ‘best RTD beverage’ and more. Enter your innovative beverage products now for your chance to win.
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