White Spirits and RTDs - UK - December 2014
“The continued decline in volume sales of bottled RTDs makes a complete overhaul of the segment a necessity for the segment A shift to premium bottle designs coupled with a focus on more adult orientated flavours would be a good starting point.”
– Douglas Faughnan, Senior Food & Drink Analyst
This report looks at the following areas:
- Bottled RTDs need a complete overhaul
- Operators continue to market ‘craft’ spirits, despite little consumer understanding
- The removal of the tax escalator set to boost white spirit volume sales
The white spirits and RTDs market includes some of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the UK, 47% of the adult population drinking vodka in the 12 months to September 2014. Vodka’s high level of usage is evident in that it accounts for 60% of total value sales in the UK at an estimated £2,583 million. The category’s versatility is a key benefit, 34% of adults drink it with a mixer.
Gin continues to grow in popularity, estimated to have seen modest volume growth in 2014 with value sales up by 8% to £834 million. White rum is facing increased competition from dark and golden rums, with values stagnating at £489 million in 2014 and volume sales declining.
The RTD segment continues to be negatively impacted by the poor performance of older style bottled RTDs, which are losing users from the key 18-24 demographic to flavoured cider. Bottled RTDs, despite sharply declining volume sales are still the more popular format, drunk by 30% of adults, 23% drinking RTDs in cans.
- Vodka is a clear, colourless, almost odourless spirit made from the distillation of potatoes, and sometimes from corn, rye, wheat, sugar beet molasses or other agricultural matter. The European Union requires that vodka must have a minimum ABV of 37.5%. Flavoured vodka products such as Smirnoff Blueberry and Absolut Raspberri Vodka which are simple flavoured versions of the base spirits are included in this report.
- Gin predominantly derives its flavour from juniper berries and falls into two distinct categories: Distilled gin is made from re-distilling the neutral spirit of agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals, while compound gin is made by flavouring the neutral spirit with flavourings without re-distilling it and is hence typically considered inferior in quality.
- White rum is produced from sugarcane juice and molasses. Unlike dark rum, it is aged in plain oak casks or stainless steel tanks so the colour remains clear. Bacardi and Malibu are the two most well-known brands in the segment.
- Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of the same name in Mexico. Tequila is most often made at 38-40% ABV but can also be produced at 31-55%. Mezcal is made from the maguey plant, a type of agave plant, although remains decidedly niche in the UK.
- RTDs (Ready-to-Drink) is a trade term used to describe any drink featuring an alcohol and a mixer sold pre-mixed typically either in bottles or cans. They include fruit-, herb-, soda- or water-based, still or carbonated drinks combined with at least one base spirit, and usually have an ABV of 4-6%.
- Not all RTDs are made from white spirits (eg Jack Daniel’s & Coke in a can), although white spirits have traditionally been the base spirit for this category.This report will analyse the whole RTD market, not just those products with white spirits as a base.
Both on- and off-trade sales are included in the market size. Value sales throughout this report are at consumer prices. Market sizes at constant 2014 prices are devised using Mintel’s alcoholic drink deflator.
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