Molson Coors Beverage Company has announced a £25million investment in its Burton-upon-Trent brewery that includes a new hard seltzer canning line and upgrades to its beer and cider packaging facilities.

The investment in the new hard seltzer canning line follows the success of the category in the US, which saw retail sales of $2.7billion in the 12 months to June last year and already commands 2.6% market share of all beverage alcohol in the US (Nielsen, total US off-premise sales, 52-week ending June 13, 2020) and means Molson Coors is ready to meet the expected rapid growth in demand for hard seltzers in the UK and Western Europe.

The new canning line will package Molson Coors’ 4% ABV hard seltzer brand Three Fold, sold in three flavours Red Berries, Citrus and Tropical, in 33cl sleek cans, as well as support future innovation in the ready-to-drink category and premium beers.

The investment announcement comes after Molson Coors launched a £5 million multi-media and experiential marketing campaign earlier in June to support the launch of Three Fold – the biggest brand investment the company has ever made into a new category.

Phil Whitehead, Managing Director of Molson Coors Beverage Company in Western Europe, said: “The hard seltzer and ready-to-drink (RTD) categories present a huge opportunity for growth. The RTD category is the fastest growing in alcohol globally and, while it is early days, we’re seeing strong indications that hard seltzers will prove as popular in Western Europe as they have in the US.

“This investment will allow us to scale up at speed and help our customers to rapidly respond to that growing demand from consumers in this quickly emerging category.”

Work to install the new hard seltzer canning line will begin in late 2021 and the first cans are due to be produced from the new line in late spring 2022. Molson Coors will also upgrade its beer and cider packaging lines which will significantly improve efficiencies in its operations. This work will also begin later this year and is expected to be complete by early 2022.

The ongoing modernisation programme has seen Molson Coors invest more than £100 million in its Burton brewery over the past decade, where the company employs more than 1,000 people. As part of this, the brewery has been self-sufficient in CO2 production since 2018, the equivalent of removing more than 2,300 tonnes of emissions from its operations, is zero-waste to landfill and is now powered with 100% renewable electricity, as are all of Molson Coors’ UK operations.

Work began in 2012 on a £75 million project to redevelop the 34-hectare brewery estate, including the introduction of new brewing technology, to improve the site’s capacity, productivity and sustainability. This was followed by a new £28 million canning line opened by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in 2014.

Whitehead continued: “While we’re committed to opening up new opportunities for growth for our customers by responding to changing consumer tastes beyond beer and cider, our heartlands are in beer and the ongoing investment we’re making in our Burton Brewery will help to further drive efficiencies and meet our sustainability goals.

“This latest round of investment demonstrates not only our commitment to grow our portfolio but also to our great brewing home and town of Burton. We’re proud to operate our biggest brewery here in Burton and with this investment we are continuing to cement the town’s role as the home of British brewing and a growing drinks industry.”

Kate Griffiths, MP for Burton-upon-Trent, visited Burton Brewery to hear and see first-hand about the investment programme. She said “This investment by Molson Coors in its Burton brewery is a sign of their commitment to continued innovation here in the great brewing town of Burton. It is great news for the company and our town, coming as it does after a very tough year for the brewing and hospitality sector. 

“I’ve been really impressed with how Molson Coors has supported its staff and customers during the pandemic, so it’s great to see the business now starting to bounce back with this investment in producing a major new product here in Burton.”