Retailers were hesitant when the alcoholic seltzer category first launched in Australia last year, but sales have hit their stride in the past few months.
Following in the footsteps of the craft beer revolution and the ginaissance, it’s shaping up to be a seltzer summer.
Seltzer is alcohol-infused sparkling water with a hint of fruit flavour. The secret behind its success is the freshness of flavour and the lightness of the drink – most seltzers contain less than 100 calories, and are sugar and gluten-free.
There were initial fears that since “seltzer” isn’t a household term for beverages in Australia, it could prove an impediment to purchase when shelves are already crowded with premix options.
However, Nielsen says the phenomenal growth of seltzers overseas affords opportunities not to be missed. In the US, total alcoholic seltzer sales for the 52-week period ended June 13, 2020 were $2.7 billion, and their dollar share of total beer/FMB/cider has now exceeded 10%.
Globally, the seltzer market size is expected to reach $US14.5 billion in value by 2027.
Lion launched the first locally produced seltzer into the market in October, called Quincy, with CUB and Asahi bringing out Actual and Good Tides and earlier this year, joining an avalanche of independent brands.
Endeavour Drinks reports seltzer sales tripled in BWS during the first week of spring. And searches on the Dan Murphy’s website have been up 57% in the last two weeks.
BWS has more than doubled its range in anticipation of surging demand in the warmer months. Endeavour Group’s Pinnacle Drinks has also produced its own lines of seltzers, including Saintly, Rainbird and Liberty Coast.
“We’ve seen close to $2 million worth of sales being generated over the last 20 weeks with our current seltzer range,” BWS Premix Category Manager Henry Gordon said.
“Our customers have demonstrated that they are making their drink choices based on values, lifestyle and occasion.”
In the last 12 months, Dan Murphy’s has seen on average 350 website searches a week for seltzers, which is why the drinks retailer is now focusing on having the widest range of seltzers in the country.
“Overseas, we have seen seltzers convert beer, wine and spirits drinkers, so it appeals to a wide range of drinks lovers,” said Dan Murphy’s Premix Category Manager Andrew McCrae. “We have seen nimble Aussie producers and brewers pivoting to make seltzers, so there are some fantastic locally-made products for drinks lovers to try.”
Last summer in the US, fans of American seltzer brand White Claw hijacked Miley Cyrus’ #hotgirlsummer with #whiteclawsummer, making seltzers (or ‘hard seltzers’ as they are called in the US) the official drink of the season, which also piqued interest among Australian customers for seltzers.
“We saw a spike in seltzer searches last September, which coincided with the end of the US seltzer summer,” McCrae said.
White Claw is the world’s biggest seltzer brand, with sales of $1,641,617,500 in the past year, up 245.8%.
The first shipment of White Claw landed on Australian shores this week and is due on shelves on October 12.
It’s being imported by Lion Australia, with Managing Director James Brindley noting: “We all need a little bit of excitement after what has been a tough 2020.
“Since we made the announcement mid-year, we have watched the anticipation and demand for White Claw grow locally, and never before have we seen such unprompted and organic enthusiasm for a product.