Ireland & the ‘Hard Seltzer Revolution’

The trend for convenience has fuelled the evolution of the global Ready To Drink category of which Hard Seltzers form a now sizeable sub-category, with volume growth outpacing that of other beverage alcohol categories globally, according to market analysts IWSR. And despite five years of triple-digit growth, the category continues to grow in 2021 with Hard Seltzer value growing by $367 million dollars in just 13 weeks. We review the Hard Seltzer phenomenon in Ireland.

Hard seltzer cocktail with orange, rosemary and ice on a table. Summer refreshing beverage, drink on a black table

The global Ready-To-Drink category, which includes Hard Seltzers, has witnessed volume growth that has outpaced that of all other beverage alcohol categories according to market analysts IWSR, the leading source of data and intelligence on the global alcoholic beverage market.

“While there are distinct differences across all countries, it’s clear that Hard Seltzers or Seltzer-like products are growing in popularity as consumers look for sessionable lower-ABV options,” it states, “The portability and single-serve nature of RTDs has proven a key factor of growth, especially during Covid-19. Convenience is a key tenet of go-to-market & channel distribution strategies, especially in countries such as Japan, the US, Mexico and Brazil.

“Between 2019 and 2020, consumers in 10 key RTD markets gained close to two thousand new RTD products,” continues the IWSR report, “Throughout 2021 category evolution will be driven by factors such as innovation in alcohol bases, exploration of new and increasingly local flavours and premium product offerings.

Hard Seltzers are in essence RTD alcoholic sparkling waters, often fruit-infused and thanks to their tendency to be lower calorie and lower ABV, consumers tend to regard them as being a healthier alternative to standard alcohol products in keeping with the post-Covid times.

Thus the brands involved have made hay in the Health and Wellness movement by bringing out low sugar and low alcohol variants that contain natural or organic ingredients.

Recovery opportunities: diversification

The RTD segment was the only category of beverage alcohol to register significant growth during 2020 as consumers embraced its attributes of convenience and portability and appealing product cues such as being low in sugar, calories or carbohydrates.

“In a diverse category, Hard Seltzers were the greatest growth contributors during 2020, mainly driven by rising consumption in the US, where most Hard Seltzers are malt-based, but also by their expansion in international markets off a small base,” according to IWSR which points out that more than 48% of global RTDs are currently FABs, but Hard Seltzers are expected lead the category in volume terms by 2025.

“RTDs are a clear rival to beer, with the two categories’ consumption occasions becoming increasingly interchangeable: when the IWSR asked consumers to name another drink that applied to the RTD consumption occasion, beer was the most popular answer.

Becoming the choice of Millenials has led to over half of US beer-drinkers swapping their suds for a Hard Seltzer there while four in 10 requested its use in a cocktail.

The success of the category has also encouraged a number of drinks producers to launch their own versions with some degree of success.

Hard Seltzers in the US

The Hard Seltzer category continues to experience explosive growth across North America, with total US sales up 57% in the 52 weeks to August the 8th, achieving nearly 140 million nine-litre case sales equivalent.

The category is currently valued at $5 billion in the US, up 41% on the previous year and now accounts for nearly half of all mixed drinks consumption there.

Across the border, Canadian Hard Seltzer sales are equally impressive with sales up 64% to 15.5 million nine-litre case equivalent worth $896 million in the year to August the 8th, up 60% on the previous year.

After delivering triple-digit growth in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, Hard Seltzer continues to deliver strong value growth. Over one-quarter of Americans have started drinking Hard Seltzer with household penetration now at 29%.

In the on-trade Hard Seltzer is now popular enough to be served on draught in US bars and pubs, states IWSR’S comprehensive Hard Seltzer Report. IWSR forecasts that consumer interest in this category will only continue to grow. IWSR forecasts that by 2023 the category will more than triple.

According to IWSR by 2022 Hard Seltzers will outsell both vodka and whisky volumes combined in the US.

Despite five years of triple-digit growth, the category continues to grow in 2021 with Hard Seltzer value growing by $367 million dollars in just 13 weeks, it states.

Ireland & Hard Seltzers

While the US has remained the bedrock of the Hard Seltzer revolution, Hard Seltzers are still a relatively youthful market here but nevertheless now claim to represent 10% of total RTD sales in Ireland.

IWSR’s figures indicate that here in Ireland total sales of RTDs were up 33% last year and they’re forecast to increase at a further Category Annual Growth Rate of 1.1% from now until 2025.

Figures from Nielsen Scantrack put this rise in sales somewhat more steeply. These indicate that off-sales of Hard Seltzer were up 210% in the 52 weeks to the 15th of August to 106,000 nine-litre case equivalents worth some €8.2 million (up 180%).


White Claw’s Summer Pop-Up wave comes to Dublin

White Claw came to town recently with the ‘White Claw Wave of Summer Pop-Up’ promotion which aimed to help consumers discover ‘a wave of pure refreshment’ with White Claw through an immersive experience at Lock 6, Portobello, Dublin 6.

White Claw’s temporary takeover of space at Lock 6 was a moment of total escapism as consumers relaxed and chilled to Summer vibes.

There were opportunities to try White Claw flavours such as Mango, Black Cherry, Natural Lime and Raspberry whilst also featuring an immersive bar experience which educated attendees on Hard Seltzer and facts about White Claw.

Irish DJs performed daily and the Pop-Up also featured a partnership with Chubby Co for merchandise and a can recycle wall collaboration with Every Can Counts. DJ Tara Stewart, I’m Grand Mam podcasters Kevin Twomey and PJ Kirby, Radio Presenter Izzy Healy and artist Neil Patrick Collins formed part of the lineup.

Local artists branded the exteriors with White Claw’s standout ‘Wave of Summer’ mural.

White Claw is best served cold, straight from the can, so non-profit Every Can Counts was on hand, encouraging people to recycle their cans.

Growth of Hard Seltzers

After delivering triple-digit growth in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, Hard Seltzer continues to deliver strong value growth of 48%. The category is now worth $4.9bn and White Claw is the #1 Hard Seltzer brand in the US and the #7 Beer brand for value sales, worth more than Budweiser and Heineken at $2.2bn.

At 19.2%, White Claw is the #2 beer brand for household penetration in America.

In the UK it’s the #1 Hard Seltzer brand as it is in Australia and the Netherlands.

Indeed, White Claw has taken leading market positions in Ireland too: #1 Hard Seltzer and #2 RTD canned brand.



Rockshore launches ‘Hard Seltzer’

Rockshore Hard Seltzer, the latest addition to the Rockshore portfolio, comprises sparkling water with alcohol and natural fruit flavours. It’s available in Watermelon, Raspberry and Lime, with 83 calories per 330ml can of Raspberry and Lime and 86 calories per 330ml can of Watermelon.

The Hard Seltzer launch comes three years after the launch of Rockshore Lager in 2018.

Seltzer now represents 10% of RTD sales in Ireland with accelerated growth in the sector.

“People are actively seeking choice that delivers refreshing taste, so it felt like a perfect fit for Rockshore to introduce more options with the launch of new Rockshore Hard Seltzer,” said Rockshore’s Senior Brand Manager Hannah Todd speaking about the latest innovation.

The launch will be supported by an integrated communications campaign encompassing TV, Digital, PR, Sampling, Media Partnerships and in-store activations.

Loki & Co –  where Low is Key!

Launched in 2017 Loki & Co is Europe’s original ‘Hard Seltzer’.

“When we launched it’s fair to say that we were way ahead of the market” said Stephen Dillon, Founder of RTM Beverages, the Dublin-based drinks innovation company, “We’re delighted that the category has finally taken off and interest has boomed not only in Ireland but also across Europe. We’re currently selling in several export markets and it’s great that we no longer have to explain what Hard Seltzers are! We knew that the RTD market was due a shake-up and that consumers were turning away from overly sugary products and looking for lower calorie options. Hard Seltzers provide a great solution to this consumer demand.”

Loki & Co’s range is made with sparkling Irish natural mineral water carefully blended with natural fruit flavours and a wine base to produce a less sweet and more authentic 4% ABV drink at only 100 calories per 330ml can.

The drink, low in calories, carbohydrates and sugars, is naturally gluten-free and provides exciting refreshment.

Loki & Co is available in three flavours – Apple & Elderflower, Orange & Mango and now Strawberry & Lime.

“Our development won’t stop here” adds Stephen, “as pioneers in the No-Lo and Hard Seltzer categories we’ve plans to continue to expand our range with some great new products and flavours under development.”

For sales enquiries contact: RTM Beverages Ltd (01-9618922) or e-mail:

Alcohol, meet sparkling water!

The world’s top drinks experts have combined alcohol and sparkling water with the unexpected twist of natural flavours including Tangy Lemon Lime, Tropical Mango and Cherry Açai, creating the perfect contradiction – Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is a smooth-tasting alcoholic drink, distinctive for its natural flavours and gentle fizz, which leaves a deliciously clean aftertaste.

Each flavour is gluten-free, has 96 calories, two grams of sugar and 4.7% ABV.

It’s perfect for enjoying at home or with friends.

Weekends = #TopoChicoTime!

Honouring the boldness and charm of its South American roots Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is inspired by the 125 year-old Topo Chico sparkling mineral water brand already popular with mixologists and bartenders in the US and Latin America.

Follow us on social @topochicohs and join the conversation online.

Seven Summits

Seven Summits is Ireland’s first Premium naturally-produced Hard Seltzer. Initially available in three flavours, it’s naturally brewed, providing a unique difference to other Hard Seltzers available today.

Produced in association with the Whitewater Brewing Company Seven Summits draws its inspiration and its pure water from the seven summits of the Mourne Mountains, known widely as an adventure destination and for its natural beauty. Seven Summits draws on this inspiration and offers a unique and refreshing flavour.

Seven Summits is not blended like many Hard Seltzers and is produced in small batches using hand-crafted alcohol with natural flavourings and sparkle added through a natural brewing process.

The result is a Premium Hard Seltzer that’s unique on the island of Ireland and being introduced in three flavours: Wild Berry, Lemon and Mango.




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