F E AT U R E
How two Canadian companies are
cashing in on the ready-to-drink
canned cocktail craze
By Mark Halsall
Sales of ready-to-drink (RTD) alcohol beverages have really
taken off in recent years – a trend that has more and more
breweries, distilleries and even food companies jumping
into the sector and jostling for space on liquor store shelves.
“Over the last three or four years, the whole category has really
exploded. I think it started with craft beer and people wanting
to try different flavours, and now it’s spilled over to the cocktail
side,” said Steve McVicker, who along with business partner Matt
Larochelle launched a new RTD beverage called Matt & Steve’s
Caesar last year.
“The RTD category has grown so much and there are so many
different SKUs now,” McVicker said. “There are probably a lot of
great RTDs that aren’t getting the shelf space or aren’t even listed,
just because liquor stores don’t have the room. I don’t think they
expected the explosion we’re seeing in this category.”
McVicker believes convenience and improved product
quality are the main factors driving growth in the RTD category,
which includes hard seltzers, flavoured alcohol beverages and
“If you’re going to social events, you can grab six cans of
whatever you like to drink, whether it’s a Caesar or a vodka soda,
instead of committing to a whole bottle of vodka and having to
bring your mix too,” he said.
“I think the quality of the canned cocktails out there is fabu-lous
too. A lot of them are bar quality now, and they’re leaps and
bounds ahead of where they were probably five or 10 years ago.
Plus, people have a lot of great choices. I believe the RTD category
is just going to keep on growing exponentially.”
He thinks the global pandemic has also helped to spur sales
thanks to increased at-home consumption. “The RTD category
was definitely growing significantly before Covid, but I think the
pandemic put a little gas on that fire too,” McVicker said.
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