Bud brewer adding Natural Light Seltzer in bid for college crowd: report

The brewer behind beers like Budweiser is planning to add a low-cost option to the surging hard seltzer market.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is launching Natural Light Seltzer this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. Like the beer it shares branding with, Natty Light’s 6 percent ABV seltzer will be priced about 20 percent lower than most brands.

That will save drinkers about $1 per 12-pack, according to the report. While most hard seltzers are sold in slim cans, Natural Light Seltzer will be available in 12-ounce and 25-ounce tallboy cans.

Natural Light Seltzer will be sold in peach-mango and black cherry-lime flavors, according to the report. It has 133 calories per 12-ounce serving. The brand also launched a strawberry lemonade beer called Naturdays earlier this year.

Credit: Anheuser-Busch

The company is targeting college-age drinkers who already buy cheaper beers like Natty Light, according to the report. Other alcoholic seltzer brands like White Claw are also popular with that crowd, but come at a higher price point.

This isn’t AB InBev’s first foray into the hard seltzer market. In 2016 the company launched SpikedSpeltzer, which has since been reformulated and rebranded as Bon & Viv.

The market for alcoholic seltzer appears to be growing, even as beer sales slow. In 2015, hard sodas including seltzers had $116 million in sales. So far this year, retail store sales of hard seltzer have hit $515 million, the Journal reported. As of last month, popular brands White Claw and Truly had seen respective year-to-date jumps of 70 percent and 50 percent in volume, Yahoo Finance reported.

Macquarie Capital analyst Caroline Levy told Yahoo Finance the demand for alcoholic seltzers will grow as higher-calorie beer falls out of favor.

“Hard seltzers will continue to take share from: 1) wine & spirits (especially vodka/soda, as hard seltzer in cans is more convenient), 2) non-beer drinkers who don’t like the taste/calories in beer, and 3) domestic light beers, plus Corona Premier/Michelob Ultra drinkers,” she said.