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Low-alcohol canned wine RTDs set to boom in 2022

Canned wine has made huge strides over the last couple of years, but this trend could pivot towards wine-based low-alcohol spritzers and cocktails as we head into the new year, Eloise Feilden reports.

Low-alcohol canned wine RTDs set to boom in 2022

Drinks researcher Wine Intelligence has released its 2022 industry predictions, and low-alcohol canned wine RTDs have featured as one of the key upcoming markets to blossom in the next 12 months.

Canned wine has been on the up over the last few years, but innovation is predicted to come from new subcategories which hit two growing trends from the 2020s: portable, single serve formats, and low-alcohol formulation. This will turn traditional wine in cans into wine-based sparkling mixers and cocktails.

One brand already branching into this category is UK-based Sherry brand Xeco. Its new range of sparkling Sherry spritzers hit the shelves this year, but has been in the making since the brand launched in bottle form in 2016.

“Within a few months of launching we had resolved that we wanted at some stage to put it in a can. But of course, it’s taken us the best part of four years to actually launch it,” Beanie Geraedts-Espey, co-founder and managing director of Xeco, told db.

In early 2016 they set out to create a new brand with a contemporary spin on a timeworn product, encouraging a new generation of drinkers to give Sherry a second look.

“No one was really giving Sherry a facelift. The only way we were going to bring new interest to new consumers was if we talked about it in a different way,” Geraedts-Espey added.

“We wanted to be a serious wine brand with serious wine credentials, but to think candidly more like a gin, where it was more about the serve and the occasion. Not being too fixated on food and wine pairings, but much more about the versatility of Sherry, both as a food loving wine, but also as a cocktail ingredient,” she said.

This was where the canned spritzers came in. Inspired by the kind of mixed drinks commonly seen at festivals in the south of Spain, the brand’s latest step pairs a ‘Monti’ Sherry with Sicilian orange, rosemary and aromatic bitters, and Fino Sherry with flavours of prickly pear, sun-ripened fig and cardamom.

The continued growth of RTDs, especially in the US, remains on course to grow substantially in 2022, according to forecasts from the IWSR.

More astute RTD manufacturers are looking for ways to premiumise their offering, which is currently focused largely around spirits-based beverages, using premium branded whiskies, rums and gins to drive consumer demand up the price ladder.

At the same time, the wine category is struggling to get younger consumers interested. Combining the two categories into a lower alcohol canned offering could be the solution to both problems.

Independent UK wine and spirits company Kingsland Drinks launched brand Vin Crowd two years ago. Now, as RTD drinks continue to grow in popularity, the wine and gin-based canned cocktail is making waves.

“Younger drinks consumers are repertoire drinkers and are less loyal to one category or product, therefore like to try new things,” said Charles Overin, head of marketing, brand and insights at Kingsland Drinks . “The wine category is currently struggling to recruit this younger consumer, losing sales to spirits and RTDs, two categories that understand the needs of this younger consumer and are creating innovative products, which tap into these groups.”

“Vin Crowd has been created to bring these consumers back into the wine category, giving them interesting flavours, which are refreshing and look great. The canned format is perfect for on the go occasions, whether for heading to a friend’s house to start the night out, picnicking in the park, or jumping on a train,” Overin added.

Canned wine growth is a global trend, particularly driven in America. In a recent report by Grand View Research the global canned wines market size was valued at USD 211.4 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2% from 2021 to 2028 to reach USD 571.8 million.

Vin Crowd has utilised gin’s popularity to tap into the tastes of younger drinkers and draw them into wine.

Overin explained: “In order to recruit younger consumers into the category you need to look at what they are drinking elsewhere. Wine has lost a lot of consumers to the spirits category, especially gin, so creating a product that combines wine and gin in an RTD cocktail is providing them with an easy route into wine.

These younger consumers tend to be hesitant to the wine category as they often don’t understand it and, as flavour and taste is so important to them, they don’t identify with many products within the wine category which provide flavours they enjoy.”

While wine spritzers saw a boom in 2019, the lack of events and social activities in the last few years as a result of the pandemic meant wine RTDs stalled. But as we move into 2022, there is hope for the category as festivals and outdoor events open up and more retailers cotton on to the growing consumer interest in low-alcohol canned wine spritzers.

Thanks to advances in technology and a movement towards drinking less but better, boxed wine is having a comeback, and it could be here to stay. Read more on boxed wine here.

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