A new report published by Bord Bia examines the growing hard seltzer market, which has exploded in North America in recent years.

One of the most notable trends in the US drinks market in recent years has been the sharp growth in hard seltzers, or spiked sparkling water with various flavours. The hard seltzer industry in the US was valued at $550m in mid-2019 but continued growth is anticipated and projections are for it to reach a value of $2.5bn by 2021.

A number of brands have launched in Ireland in recent months, including market leader White Claw as well as Smirnoff and Kopparberg branded hard seltzers.

Flavoured sparkling waters have been a strong growth category in the US for the past 5 years with brands such as Lacroix offering a wide range of sparkling waters with natural fruit essences as a healthier alternative to traditional sugary soft-drinks.

Hard seltzers are a very recent phenomenon, however they tap into the same appetite for healthy and ‘natural’ alternatives.  The growth has been fuelled almost entirely by White Claw, owned by Mark Anthony Brands.  Other key players include Anheuser-Busch InBev (Bon Viv! brand and Bud Light Hard Seltzer), Boston Beer Co (Truly), and Diageo (Smirnoff).

By the end of June 2019 White Claw had sold $212.1m in the US, up from $196.7m for the full year in 2018 and accounted for half of all hard seltzer sales in the market.

The Bord Bia report predicts challenges in reaching similar success in the Irish market.

The RTD (ready to drink) category in Ireland hasn’t shown a particularly strong performance in recent years, and is often still associated with low quality alcopops from the mid 90s.  It remains to be seen if a new generation of drinkers will be attracted by the health-conscious image portrayed by incoming brands such as White Claw.

The report a skeptical of the category’s ability to grow in Ireland like it has in the US, however still marks it as one to watch.  For more information, click here.

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