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Summertime marks the start of warmer outdoor occasions and social gatherings – the perfect moments to enjoy a crisp, cold beer with friends and family.

This presents a great opportunity for retailers to stock up on popular items and capitalise on the demand for summer beers and lagers.

Since July 2021, BBQ occasions have grown by a significant 26% over two years, likely driven by the boom in at-home occasions which came as a result of the pandemic restrictions (Kantar).

“This year, we believe BBQ occasions will be more prominent than ever as the warm weather approaches and the Women’s World Cup holidays entice consumers to gather with friends and families,” comments Sunny Mirpuri, Director for Wholesale & Convenience, Budweiser Brewing Group.

Currently, the beer and cider category is a stand out winner and continues to experience growth in the Off-Trade, currently worth £5.95bn (Nielsen).

Beer has long played a key role in the BBQ occasion, last year the total value of beer during the summer months (May to September 2022) was £2.5bn (Nielsen).

During that same period, Budweiser Brewing Group saw the World Beer category grow +2.3ppt of share of Total Beer and NABLAB +0.5ppt of share World Beer over indexing + 2ppt of share (Nielsen).

This indicates the importance of wholesalers stocking the right range of beers to capitalise this year.

“In the Off-Trade, the premium and super-premium category now equates to 61.7% of total beer value (Kantar) and we expect this growth to continue,” adds Mirpuri. “In fact, we’re forecasting that 70% of total beer consumption will be in the premium or super-premium category by 2025 (BBG).”

Whilst shoppers are attempting to make savings across large expenditures, such as household bills and eating out, smaller ‘treat’ purchases such as alcohol are one area that consumers are happy to trade up. Retailers will have to rely more heavily on brands and products that consumers already know and love and need to be prepared for this demand.

As the world’s number one beer (Nielsen), Corona is a must-stock premium options for summer occasions such as BBQs. Corona continues to show strong performance, with sales growing by 55% since 2019 (Nielsen).

Success of the brand in the wholesale channel has been driven by its 12pk 330ml bottles, which grew +20.1% vs 2020 in value (Nielsen).

“Meanwhile, Stella Artois has its own place on the picnic bench this summer too,” says Mirpuri. “It is designed to be consumed with food, making it a great option at BBQs. Stella Artois is now enjoyed by shoppers more often with food than as a standalone drink (Nielsen) which is why retailers must ensure to stock it this summer.”

Food and beer pairings are also a great way for wholesalers to maximise sales. 63% of at-home beer consumption takes place with food, compared to just 58% for total alcohol (Kantar), presenting an £85m sales opportunity for the off-trade during the BBQ season (Kantar). Burgers are consumed during almost 20% of summer outdoor occasions (Kantar), and best enjoyed alongside an ice-cold beer, such as Budweiser.

Another category that is seeing huge growth is the no-and-low category. We are seeing more and more beer drinkers look to moderate their alcohol consumption without eliminating it entirely. The no-and-low alcohol category has been going from strength to strength in recent years – now worth £125m across the Off-Trade.

Beer continues to dominate the no-and-low category with a value share of 1.8% of the total beer category (Nielsen).

One in ten beer drinkers now regularly opt for an alcohol-free alternative, a figure which has grown by 16% year-on-year (Kantar).

“As friends and families get together for BBQs, retailers need to offer for a wide range of drinking preferences for summer socialising,” Mirpuri continues. “Corona Cero, Budweiser Zero and Stella Artois Alcohol-Free, have seen double digit growth since launching (Kantar), making them a great choice for customers looking to provide their shoppers with alcohol-free alternatives of their favourite beers.”

Seltzers are another growing drink category retailers need to consider this summer. Consumers continue to favour refreshing easy-to drink options in warmer weather, so Corona Tropical provides a refreshing option. Containing 96 calories per can and 4.5% ABV in three flavours: Guava & Lime, Raspberry & Lemon, and Grapefruit & Lemongrass, Corona Tropical is a great option for those looking to maintain a balanced lifestyle while enjoying their BBQ. Corona Tropical singles are available in wholesale 12x330ml or in an 8-pack formats.

Stella Artois Unfiltered is the newest addition to the Stella Artois family, available in 330ml bottle packs and our 330ml can packs.

Calli O’Brien, Head of Marketing at Aston Manor Cider, comments: “Many consumers continue to value convenience and focus on their drink experience at home. We expect consumers to continue this focus on convenience and, for many, this means buying chilled cider straight from the fridge to enjoy at home, so retailers can stock options to support them in this.”

Larger multi-packs are also important and ensure retailers can help consumers keep their supply stocked up to enjoy with friends and family during BBQ season. Product packs such as the pint cans in Crumpton Oak‘s four-pack, are a popular option to enable consumers to keep their supply stocked up with hygienic single-serve options.

“When it comes to their drink experience at home, we can see this continuing as a focus for summer get-togethers and BBQs,” adds O’Brien. “From trying new flavours of loved cider such as Crumpton Oaks through to branching out from wine into perry with our ‘new look’ Chardolini, consumers welcome the chance to try something new.”

Award-winning British cider brand, Crumpton Oaks, launched a four-pack pint can to broaden the brand’s consumer base, attract new shoppers to the category, and reinforce its quality and value proposition.

Crumpton Oaks offers great value to shoppers. Aston Manor’s state-of-the-art production facilities means shoppers can get their hands on award-winning, great quality cider that doesn’t cost the earth.

A third of shoppers only ever buy cider in cans so it is important that retailers offer cans in different formats. Crumpton Oaks’ new 4-pack offers shoppers award-winning taste with unbeatable value.

“Aston Manor’s ethos is all around affordability,” says O’Brien. “We are here for shoppers, helping them to save with our affordable cider, allowing them to focus their spend on what really matters. Our range provides shoppers with an affordable solution, without trading down on quality, so they can be assured they are not compromising when needing to spend a little less cash on cider but looking to enjoy a BBQ or summer event with friends and family.”

Jonathan Nixon, commercial director, Thatchers Cider, comments: “We’re supporting our family of ciders throughout 2023 as drinkers enjoy the refreshing nature of cider across many different social occasions. With two top 5 apple ciders in our family, Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Haze, and our fruit ciders Thatchers Blood Orange and Thatchers Cloudy Lemon, we’ve a best-selling range that will be front of mind with shoppers this year.”

Thatchers Cider continues to outperform the cider market. It has grown more volume than all other top 10 cider makers combined in the last 3 years (IRI).

Premium ciders retain their popularity with shoppers, with Thatchers, the UK’s #2 cider maker, continuing to outperform the cider market. Demonstrating the popularity of Thatchers brands, and consumer love for these premium ciders, 1 in 7 ciders sold in the UK off trade is from Thatchers.

“As a brand we’re seeing premiumisation above all other trends, driving both value and volume,” adds Nixon.

Thatchers Gold has more shoppers than any other apple cider (Kantar) and with the largest value growth of any cider in the last three years, is #1 for growth (IRI).

When it comes to pack-size, Thatchers Gold is the best-selling premium mainstream cider 4-Pack with more shoppers than any other 4-pack branded cider in major mults (IRI).

In fact, across the top selling 4-packs in the major mults, three are from Thatchers, being Gold, Haze and Blood Orange.

And in mid pack, Thatchers Gold is the best performing apple cider 10 pack by value across the off trade (IRI).

Alongside Gold as a Top 5 apple cider is Thatchers Haze. It’s the UK’s #1 cloudy apple cider (IRI) and has 60% share of the cloudy apple cider segment (IRI).

“Within fruit, and launched last year, Thatchers Blood Orange, continues to perform fantastically well, and we’re delighted it attracted more shoppers than any other innovation within the BWS category, making it the most successful BWS launch of the year (Kantar),” says Nixon.

Leaping into the top 4 fruit ciders in the UK, Thatchers Blood Orange added more value to the category in 2022 than all other new cider launches combined (IRI).

“The move towards premiumisation – drinking less but better – has been one of the stand-out trends to hold firm over the last few years,” Nixon continues. “As shoppers continue to feel the cost-of-living crisis bite this spring and summer, they will be looking to get extra value for money from their purchases. By stocking premium ciders from the Thatchers range your customers will be assured that they’re taking home great tasting, exciting and innovative ciders.”

“We’re all aware of the ‘drinking less but better’ trend which has seen a continual increase in demand for better quality and authentic beer and lager options, which is in turn driving increased value in-store,” says John Price, Head of Marketing at KBE Drinks. “That’s why premium world lagers like Kingsfisher and Sagres are a great option for convenience and grocery retailers to stock, as they are bang on trend and can typically be charged at a minimum of 30% more than other more mainstream options. It’s also worth considering that many consumers nowadays are looking for beer and lager brands they can enjoy with food, so this is another potential opportunity for retailers to exploit by cross-merchandising. I think everyone knows how well-suited Kingfisher is to a curry, but there are other brands in the KBE portfolio that are perfectly aligned to different cuisines.”

No and low alcohol beers are continuing to grow in popularity so grocery retailers should grasp this opportunity and ensure they are catering for the increasing number of consumers who are looking for moderation.

One such option could be our Sagres 0.0% which comes in packs of 24 x 330ml cans or bottles and is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. It’s warm and golden in colour and comes with a taste profile which is mild and fruity with a slightly bitter edge.

“It’s pretty obvious that the cost-of-living crisis and the resulting search for value will impact on some consumers’ spending habits and having less disposable income in their pockets may well mean less visits to pubs and restaurants and potentially more eating and drinking at home, which should present an opportunity for grocery retailers’ to exploit,” adds Price.

“As craft continues its journey into the mainstream, we think the middle ground is being ignored,” says Price. “There are currently lots of entry-level products competing in the easy-drinking craft territory for new craft drinkers and then there are lots of high ABV ales with very bitter taste profiles which are more suited for the craft aficionados, but it feels like there’s a gap for craft beers with an interesting taste profile which are both balanced and sessionable.”

Towards the end of 2021, KBE Drinks teamed up with New Zealand-based Yeastie Boys Brewing Company as their exclusive UK distributor. They have made such a big impact on the UK craft scene, with a portfolio that includes the Gunnamatta Earl Gray IPA which fits the bill perfectly as a credible ‘middle ground’ option. Other popular Yeastie Boys beers in the range include Bigmouth, which is a 4.4% light and easy drinking straw gold ale, bursting with juicy sun kissed South Pacific hops, and Superfresh, which is a 4.6% clean and thirst-quenching Helles lager.

“When it comes to ranging, I would say make sure you are following trends and stocking a combination of both mainstream and premium world lager brands,” suggests Price. “Whilst in terms of pack formats, don’t just think about smaller sizes as it makes sense to cater for those customers who may be looking to save money, enjoy a ‘big night in’ or are perhaps attending an outdoor event, so ensure you keep a sensible range of larger pack formats to meet their needs.”

Tim Dunlop, Brand Director at Hammonds, comments: “The summer months are a prime opportunity for gatherings in the garden, BBQs, pizza parties and fire pit drinks evenings. Drinks are a key component of a successful gathering and cocktails at home is a trend that we see continuing – following its popularity during pandemic times.”

Consumers want products that are ready-to-drink, portable and convenient while still meeting their flavour and taste expectations.

“BuzzBallz Cocktails ticks all these boxes, offers something unique and innovative to consumers, and brings excitement to drinking occasions,” adds Dunlop. “They are a different, no-mess solution with a strong visual appeal and unique round shape that is perfect for posting on social media. The colours and the round format really drive interest and impulse purchase. Plus, BuzzBallz are one of the few top quality, bar-strength cocktail options in the RTD and premixed cocktail market.”

They are fun, different and retailers can sell them chilled in the container, making them highly versatile for consumers looking for contemporary cocktails they can prepare with speed and ease during a BBQ or summer party.

“There are huge opportunities for stores to drive drinks sales in the run up to the summer season,” says Dunlop. “To maximise sales, retailers should stock a range of contemporary, eye-catching premixed drinks options, highlighting abvs, price points and quality, to demonstrate the breadth of options available.”

Pre-mixed cocktails are expected to increase share of the RTD market so BuzzBallz Cocktails present a significant opportunity for the retail sector.

“RTDs are a fast-growing category, yet the market is crying out for more innovation and excitement and BuzzBallz Cocktails is the coming together of indisputable fun and quality,” Dunlop continues. “We’ve created a real buzz in the USA and we know the UK has every potential to follow in its footsteps, with the right brand proposition and quality credentials.”

Summer 2023 will be key as there will be so many opportunities to tap into once the good weather kicks in. We’ve also got sporting events such as the Women’s World Cup, and the men’s Rugby World Cup which will bring people together and the round ball shape really ties in to the sporting theme.

Tom Smith, Marketing Director – Europe, at Accolade Wines, comments: “Now in its second decade as the UK’s number one wine brand, Hardys is now worth £295m (Nielsen), delivering £37m more in value to the category than its number two competitor (Nielsen).”

Jam Shed witnessed phenomenal success on the launch of its first Shiraz SKU in 2017. The brand is now worth £57.5m (Nielsen).

Last year, Mud House unveiled its new ‘Taste the Adventure’ marketing campaign as it looked to increase its share of the market.

Echo Falls, the UK’s number one fruits wine brand (Nielsen), launched a fresh summer flavour to its popular Fruit Fusions portfolio – Echo Falls Orchard Fruits.



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