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As breweries introduce ubiquitous fall flavors to their ciders and pumpkin beer lineups, Bud Light is rolling out three new hard seltzer varieties as it continues to challenge rivals like White Claw and Truly.
Bud Light Seltzer, which launched in January, is rolling out grapefruit, cranberry and pineapple flavors as part of its “remix variety pack” backed by the star power of spokesperson DJ Khaled. The new cans join flavors like black cherry, strawberry, lemon-lime and mango, each of which contains 5% ABV and 100 calories.
And while the brand is known for its beer, the seltzer segment has been its “largest and most successful” innovation in its 38-year history, Bud Light’s VP of marketing, Andy Goeler, told FOX Business Thursday.
The launch comes at a time when more Americans are drinking canned beverages from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, following restaurant shutdowns and capacity caps at indoor dining areas abd bars in some states. This has also resulted in a nationwide aluminum can shortage.
Anheuser-Busch, the parent of Bud Light, says the Bud Light Seltzer product launch wasn’t fully impacted by the beverage-industry can shortage. Breweries, however, like Molson Coors, Brooklyn Brewery and Karl Strauss have reportedly moved production away from the smaller brands in response to the shortage to make sure they have enough cans available to keep their biggest brands from running out of stock.
U.S. retail sales of aluminum drink cans from beer to soda surged close to 24% by volume in March, according to research firm IRI as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“We’ve been looking at the aluminum situation since last year, and while we’re not immune to impact from the shortage, we’ve been working to maintain supply continuity as best we can,” a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, said in a statement.
Demand doesn't seem to be fizzling out any time soon. While COVID-19 hit just two months into the Bud Light Seltzer launch, the category has proven to be the most resilient in the alcoholic beverage industry. Nielsen data shows hard seltzer drove more than $100 million in retail off-premise dollar sales in mid-June, with more restaurants closed for indoor dining as a result of the pandemic and more consumers drinking at home. And the segment’s overall sales are up 123% year-over-year for the week ending Aug. 15, according to Nielsen.
Indeed, the hard seltzer category went from niche to saturated in just a few years. In 2018, there were just 10 hard seltzer brands on the market, and that number more than doubled to 26 a year later, according to Nielsen data. Now, there are more than 65 brands vying for shelf space and consumer loyalty.
While the low-calorie light sip appeals to warmer summer months, newer hard seltzer brands are emerging on the market with autumn flavors. VIVE Hard Seltzer recently launched a limited-edition pumpkin spice flavor in Kroger for $9.99 per six-pack.