Sparkl hard seltzer set to debut in Morrisons

A British-made hard seltzer is set to join the category and it has already secured a listing in Morrisons.

Sparkl Hard Seltzer is the brainchild of Stephen O’Neill, who is also the managing director of The Wood Brewery in Shropshire.

The brand currently has two variants: Peach & Rose; and Lemon, Ginger & Chilli; with each 4% abv drink boasting just 80 calories per 33cl bottle. Other flavours are set to follow.

The hard seltzer, which has the strapline “water with attitude”, is made using an apple-based alcohol in order to create a gluten-free product.

O’Neill said: “We have done a lot of consumer taste tests and we found the Peach & Rose flavour worked really well, with younger consumers – and women aged 25 to 35 - really liking it in particular.

“In the US, where this market is really thriving, most of the products are in cans but we decided we would put ours into a clear bottle because this would allow consumers to see what it looks like, and it overcomes some of what hard seltzer is about. We chose bottles so that people can see what it is – clear, pure and water (not coloured like most RTDs) - and we hope that this improves shelf standout.

“We may then consider extending into cans further down the line and this is what some of the major players in the US have done. Brands such as Bon & Viv and Truly for example started with bottles and then moved to cans once the brands became established.”

O’Neill explained that in the US it has predominantly been beer drinkers that have switched over to hard seltzers, but it is likely that growth in seltzers in the UK will follow a different path.

“There are a lot of UK drinkers that don’t drink a lot of beer and there is an opportunity there. If we consider the number of people who have been converted to Prosecco and flavoured gin, then it’s possible that hard seltzers could tap into all of these segments, and it could appeal to RTD drinkers as well.

“I think hard seltzers will appeal to a slightly older market than traditional RTDs though, as some of the drinkers in that segment are attracted to colour whereas seltzers are clear and the positioning is more about the lack of carbs, low calories and the fact ours are gluten-free. They have an acquired taste because they are not high in sugar, but people’s palates adapt with age.

“Flavours are also different in the UK because we have a more advanced market in terms of flavours due to flavoured gins, botanicals and other flavoured drinks. Gin hasn’t really taken off in the US and so Europe is now more complex than the US when it comes to flavours and the use of botanicals. The US hard seltzer market tends to be more about single flavours whereas in the UK more exotic and unusual flavour combinations are more on trend.”

Morrisons will roll out Sparkl nationally from the end of March. 

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