Molson Coors Beverage inks distribution deals in UK and Ireland

USA – Molson Coors Beverage has signed exclusive agreements with British hard-seltzer maker Bodega Bay and Miami Cocktail Company to distribute their brands in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Under terms of the Bodega Bay agreement, Molson Coors will distribute its two flavors, Elderflower, Lemon & Mint and Apple, Ginger & Acai Berry, to on- and off-premise accounts across the UK and Ireland.

Bodega Bay is already found in select retailers and the Molson Coors partnership is expected to expand Bodega Bay’s footprint, scaling the growth of the London-based brand, which introduced its hard seltzer last year.

The brand is available at 4% ABV with 73 calories – lower in alcohol than most hard seltzers, and is aimed at “healthy hedonists,” or “health conscious” consumers, Bodega Bay founder, Charlie Markland says.

“Bodega Bay has successfully launched in the U.K. market thanks to its unique brand and truly great tasting liquid – immediately tapping into the big trends towards premium ready-to-drink alcoholic drinks and a desire for low-calorie, naturally flavored options that reflect a more health-conscious lifestyle,” says Jim Shearer, category, insight and innovation director for Molson Coors’ EMEA and APAC operations.

“The growth and opportunity in the hard seltzer category is clear, but we wanted to partner with a brand we felt had the ability, because of the sheer quality of the drink and brand proposition, to become a cornerstone of the category as it grows.”

Markland said that the partnership with Molson Coors is the next step for the company’s growth. “We’re starting in the U.K. and Ireland, but the plan is to scale internationally with Molson Coors, targeting Western Europe markets, Australia, Japan and South Korea,” he revealed.

Molson Coors will also distribute Florida-based Miami Cocktail Company’s ready-to-drink and lower-calorie cocktails in the UK and Ireland. Miami’s cocktails feature natural ingredients, and come in two styles, Organic Spritz and Small Batch Originals.

Organic Spritz will be available in five flavors: Margarita Spritz, Paloma Spritz, Mimosa Spritz, Sangria Spritz and Bellini Spritz, with each 250ml can containing 110 calories, no added sugar and 4% ABV.

The Small Batch Originals are made for sharing, the company says adding that they will be available in 750ml bottles and include Copper Pot Margarita (12% ABV), Sunset Sangria (9% ABV), and Blood Orange Mimosa (8.4% ABV).

While the brands are already available in Harvey Nicholls stores, and will launch in 150 Waitrose locations across the U.K. this summer, the company’s CEO and co-founder, Ross Graham said that the brand hopes to leverage its partnership with Molson Coors to expand into Europe and Australia.

The deal kicks off as the U.K. ready-to-drink category is expanding, growing by 15% in 2019 to £340m (US$463 million), according to Nielsen.

In the US, the hard seltzer segment has also registered significant growth with brands such as White Claw, Truly and Molson Coors’ Vizzy driving triple-digit growth over the last three years to what is predicted to be a US$2.5 billion market by 2021.

Hard seltzers accounted for nearly $1.5 billion in sales from March 7 through May 30 alone, according to Nielsen.

White Claw launched in Britiain earlier this month, the latest entrant in a growing market inspired by the success of hard seltzer in America.

In the last month alone, at least four new brands have been introduced in the U.K., including AB-InBev’s rebranded Mike’s Hard Seltzer and craft giant Brew Dog’s Clean & Press brand. Even global grocer Aldi has thrown its hat in, introducing Nordic Wolf earlier this month.

Molson Coors said that its tie-ups with Bodega Bay and Miami Cocktail Company are the company’s latest moves to gain a foothold in the growing beyond-beer market.

Already in 2020, the company has launched Vizzy, a hard seltzer that contains antioxidant vitamin C from acai berry superfruit; MOVO Wine Spritzers, and Leinenkugel’s Spritzen, which blends beer with splash of seltzer.

In Canada, Molson supported a robust launch of Aquarelle, a vodka-based canned drink. The beverage maker also plans later this year to introduce Coors Seltzer.

The company also noted that Vizzy, which launched nationally in April, has made impressive inroads in the crowded U.S. hard seltzer market.

Of all products released in 2002, Vizzy’s 12-pack variety packs are already the No. 3 new item across the entire beer and malt category, behind only White Claw’s new variety 12-packs and Corona Hard Seltzer variety 12-packs, according to Nielsen.

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