Off-site sales of hard seltzer soared in 2019, even outpacing vodka in total volume sold. But the seltzer wave wasn’t just limited to stores: new data also shows skyrocketing sales in bars and restaurants.
As cited by The Drinks Business, a new report by research firm Nielsen CGA shows that on-site hard seltzer sales reached $1.2 billion in 2019, an increase of over 470 percent from 2018’s sales of $210 million. Nielsen’s data further shows that restaurants and bars sold hard seltzers to 7.5 million new drinkers in 2019.
Much of the growth came at the expense of beer, with 52 percent surveyed having chosen to opt for seltzer instead. Even more surprising, hard seltzer has surpassed pale ale in weekly on-site sales. Still, Nielsen sees an opportunity for synergy between the seltzer and spirits categories: 33 percent of surveyed hard seltzer consumers said they were open to mixing seltzer a spirit. Of that third, 69 percent said they’d pair it with vodka, 53 percent with rum, 52 percent with tequila, and 45 percent with liqueurs and cordials.
Combined with 2019’s off-site sales figures, hard seltzer as a category reached a total of $2.7 billion in sales last year, exceeding both Business Insider’s conservative estimates, and White Claw’s own optimistic ones.
While this is undoubtedly good news for the major players in the category, their dominance is not assured. “[W]ith suppliers all wanting a piece of the action, competition is going to get intense very fast,” Matthew Crompton, Nielsen’s client solutions director said.
What might help seltzer-craving bar and restaurant patrons choose a favorite?
Hard seltzer on tap. According to Crompton, “having a solid draft offering may end up being the differentiator in winning in the on-premise [market].”