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China becomes significant player in RTD category

China is expected to become a major player in the ready-to-drink (RTD) category, growing by a volume CAGR of 6% in the five years to 2027, new research shows.

China becomes significant player in RTD category

The global RTD category is expected to grow by 12% in volume between 2022 and 2027, hitting $40 billion by 2027 across 10 key markets, despite a US decline in hard seltzers marking a slowdown from previous years.

Growth will be driven by the key cocktails and long drinks sub-category and products that sit within the premium-and-above price bracket, according to the latest findings from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

The US remains the largest RTD market, but Japan is expected to add the most volume going forward as the US sees its growth rates drop to +1% volume CAGR, 2022-2027.

Despite the US slowdown, it will remain alongside Japan as the two largest RTD volume markets over the next 5 years, led by the growth of flavoured alcoholic beverages (FABs) in Japan, and cocktails and long drinks, FABs and hard tea in the US.

Flavoured alcoholic beverages are predicted to drive China’s rising significance in the RTD space.

The global RTD category remains highly fragmented, IWSR has said, with different product types tending to dominate different countries, making it hard to pick out one key trend. Hard seltzers still drive RTD success in the US, though to a lesser degree than in previous years. Cocktails and long drinks are essential to success in Australia, Mexico and Germany, while FABs drive sales in Brazil, Japan, China and South Africa.

“Individual markets have local tastes and dynamics, with different categories, flavours and bases trending in different places,” says Susie Goldspink, Head of RTD Insights, IWSR. “This means that a one-size-fits-all approach will not be effective – instead, brand owners need to be agile and tailor their product mix to localised developments.”

These findings are part of the IWSR RTDs Strategic Study 2023, which analyses trends in 10 markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the UK and the US – accounting for 83% of global RTD consumption with a total value of US$33.9bn in 2022.

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