Pre-mix cocktails boost RTD sector

11 June, 2010

New Nielsen stats show the RTD sector is firmly back in growth – but vodka seems to have hit a plateau after years of explosive sales increases.

The figures, for the year to April 17, show the off-trade RTD market is now worth £206 million – still way off the £400 million peak it hit earlier in the decade, but 3% up on last year as on-trade sales declined.

Vodka sales rose 5% but volumes were flat and the total market declined 1%. The category is worth £889 million in the take-home sector, comfortably ahead of its nearest rival, blended Scotch, which saw sales of £799 million over the period, up 3% on the previous year.

Vanessa Pearson, spirits and RTDs buyer at Sainsbury’s, said: “Traditional RTDs are seeing a general decline in the marketplace. The category is being supported by the growth of pre-mix cocktails which are in double-digit growth.

“These products build on bar-call drinks and are very convenient for customers to deliver both the right serve and proportions, and for on-the-go purchases at train stations and outside events.”?Debs Carter, marketing director for Beverage Brands’ WKD, which claims a 30% value share of the RTD market in the off-trade, agreed that “a lot of the growth has come from drinks such as Jim Beam & Cola in a can, and also Crabbie’s ginger beer”.

But she said established major brands were also seeing sales success. “Clearly when we do well – and we have been doing well – then the category does well,” she added.

“In the past six months, Smirnoff Ice has also had a good run, which is great news. A vibrant category is a good category for us.”?Carter said figures for the year to May showed RTD value had increased further – to 5%.

Pearson dismissed the suggestion that the vodka boom was over. She said: “This is certainly not a trend we are experiencing.” She added that if the vodka category was experiencing overall decline, it could be linked to consumers switching spending from the on-trade to the off-trade, where prices are lower.




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Lifting the spirits

I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be “gin”. At Nielsen, we define the Christmas period as the 12 weeks to December 30 and in that time gin sales were £199.4 million, which means they increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. There’s no sign the bubble is about to burst either. Growth at Christmas 2016 was £22.4 million, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times in a year. The spirit added more value to
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