Between 2019 and 2021, 50 percent of all ready-to-drink (RTD) launches had bases of vodka and tequila, an indicator of how the premiumization of both these categories may influence the surging RTD market in the coming years.

According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis (IWSR), 90 percent of RTD volume in the United States consists of malt-based drinks, such as hard seltzers. Despite that majority, RTD drinks made with spirits — primarily sold as canned cocktails — are poised to take over more of the market share.

“By 2025, spirit-based RTDs are expected to see annual volume growth of 33 percent in the US, and many producers and distributors are leveraging the opportunity,” Brandy Rand, chief operating officer of the Americas at IWSR, told the Spirits Business. “Some are exploring the spirit-based RTD space for the first time, and others are expanding their existing portfolios.”

The IWSR stated that more consumers view spirits-based RTDs as being higher quality relative to their malt counterparts, hinting at the recurring trend of premiumization in the spirits market. The IWSR also noted that there is growing potential in the whiskey RTD market despite the fact that only 3 percent of all spirits-based RTDs are currently made with whiskey. The IWSR forecasts that it will have a compound annual growth rate of 84 percent in volume between 2020 and 2025.

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