Research has shown that beer is still a must-stock for wholesalers in 2022. In fact, it is currently the fastest growing category within BWS (Nielsen) in the UK which demonstrates its ongoing popularity.

When considering which beers to stock, brands play an important role for consumers when they are choosing which beers to buy, as customers typically stick to ones they know and trust (Kantar).

People naturally gravitate more towards products they know and rely on them for great quality and taste – which helps to drive a higher rate of sale.

“Guinness is an iconic, high-quality and trusted beer choice,” comments Lauren Priestley – Head of Category Development Off Trade at Diageo. “Guinness Draught in a Can is available in 4pack, 10pack and 15pack formats and is currently the no.1 selling stout in convenience (Nielsen). Wholesalers that provide a variety of different formats and products within the Guinness portfolio will reap the benefits of doing so.”

“Brands also play an important role for consumers when they are choosing which spirits to buy,” adds Priestly. With this in mind, we suggest that wholesalers stock popular spirits such as Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold (40% ABV), Johnnie Walker Red Label (40% ABV), Gordon’s London Dry (38% ABV) and Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin (37.5% ABV) – which was the most successful new spirits product development in Great Britain in the last decade.”

People are looking for quality drinks they can enjoy at home and gin forms the base of many popular mixed drinks, such as G&Ts and Spritz serves. Innovation of variants in the category has been a focus for some time, with many brands producing new products in line with growing trends. Diageo has launched new variants including Gordon’s White Peach Distilled Gin (37.5% ABV), as well as Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon Distilled Gin (37.5% ABV) and Tanqueray Blackcurrant Royale (41.3% ABV). For wholesalers, leveraging trending flavour profiles will be key to helping to drive sales.

Rum and rum-based spirits remain relevant, currently experiencing a growth of +7% vs YA (Nielsen). Rum-based spirits are great all-year-round options, but are also particularly popular during the warmer months of the year – forming the base of serves that are often synonymous with summer.

“Whilst it’s important to maintain classic staples such as white rum and spiced variants, wholesalers can also help retailers to inspire their customers to explore the wider category,” says Priestley. “Captain Morgan is the number one driver of growth in rum-based spirit flavour innovations, therefore stocking the likes of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold (40% ABV), alongside innovations such as Captain Morgan Tiki (25% ABV) and the more recently launched Captain Morgan Sliced Apple (25% ABV) will be key.”

Craig Chapman, Head of Brand at Amber Bev, comments: “We all know that the cost of living is increasing, so naturally shoppers will be looking at their spending habits and where to cut down. That’s where wholesalers can step in. It’s not necessarily about value in absolute terms, but more about offering value for money or added value. As wallets get squeezed, consumers may go out less, but they still want an experience, and to drink premium, well-made drinks in the comfort of their own homes. I’d suggest that wholesalers should tap into this consumer desire for quality products and offer a variety of premium-flavoured spirits, like Puerto De Indias strawberry gin for example, that can be stretched further.”

Funkin Cocktails Marketing Director, Ben Anderson, comments: “With the cocktail market now worth £10m MAT, +27% (Nielsen) in impulse, 2022 will provide a wide range of occasions for consumers to enjoy these in an RTD format, such as outdoor drinking and eating events in Spring and Summer. Creating cross merchandising opportunities in Impulse channels will allow consumers to make the natural link between the food and drink categories and treat themselves to both for occasions that combine cocktail drinking and snacking.”

Funkin Cocktails’ Pina Colada’s are perfect for sipping on alongside Caribbean food at a BBQ in the summer, the brand’s Passion Fruit Martini is great paired with desserts like ice cream and sorbet for a night in with friends, and Strawberry Daquiri can be enjoyed with salads and snacks at a picnic in the sun.

“Retailers should make sure they’re allocating enough space to the most popular Funkin Cocktails SKUs to ensure displays look polished and have pride of place, and to avoid having to continually re-merchandise whilst managing consumer demands,” adds Anderson. “Similarly, stocking popular spirits brands will ensure that those purchasing Funkin Cocktails’ Shaker SKU will be able to pick up everything they need to create a refreshing and exciting beverage in one easy, stress-free trip.”

The booming RTD market is currently worth a staggering £508m and is continuing to grow at 14% YOY (Nielsen) as consumers make the most of beverages that combine ease and taste. RTD cocktails are massively contributing to this growth with the subcategory experiencing an equally strong 44% (Nielsen) growth in the Off Trade.

The popularity of RTDs and Cocktails in the Off Trade is largely reflective of a trend for consumers to have more premium food and drink experiences at home and it’s important to ensure these experiences are accessible at a range of price points. Funkin Cocktails is one of the brands leading the charge when it comes to accessibility and this is reflected by the brand’s mission to make great tasting cocktails available to all. Creating beverage options that are convenient, perfect for drinking on the go, premium quality and affordable has led to an incredible growth of 134% in value sales (Nielsen) in the past year, an increase that shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

The past two years of restrictions has seen an undeniable shift in consumer drinking trends, and an increased interest in entertaining at home is a large part of this. As consumers continue to look for high-quality drinks to enjoy without leaving the house, Funkin Cocktails has continued to grow its portfolio of RTDs with a range of options that are made from quality ingredients and guarantee a premium serve for minimum cost and effort. Funkin Cocktails’ Price Marked Packs, including Passion Fruit Martini, Strawberry Daquiri and Pina Colada variants, have experienced rapid success since launch in May 2021 and as a result Funkin Cocktails is now the #1 cocktail brand in the market (Nielsen). The brand has also seen a staggering 113% growth YoY across the whole Off Trade channel for its bottles (Nielsen) and 24% growth for the shaker packs (Nielsen).

Funkin Cocktails is on a mission to show that pre-mixed cocktails aren’t all cheap artificial liquids and that the same great taste, standard and texture of cocktails crafted at the bar can be achieved at home. “Consumers tend to gravitate towards classic cocktails for at home consumption, despite this, it can be easy to be drawn to the latest trend of flavours with exotic names and ingredients in the RTD space; but it’s important to keep in mind that these niche offerings can often polarise opinion and confuse shoppers,” says Anderson. “Consumers like to be able to trust the products they pick up in the convenience sector and know that they are getting good value for their money. Stocking Cocktail flavours that are familiar to consumers from bars and restaurants will ensure that retailers are keeping up with the latest trends whilst offering something for everyone.”

In fact, UK cocktail drinkers have specific favourites when it comes to which beverages, they choose for drinking, and specific occasions they’re likely to purchase them for, such as for a treat/reward (33%), to wind down or chill out (31%) and to catch up with a group of friends (27%, CGA).

John Price, Head of Marketing at KBE Drinks, comments: “We’d always recommend wholesalers offering their customers a range of packaging formats for their beers, as at this time of year often larger format packs particularly come into play as consumers may be hosting a BBQ or attending another kind of outdoor event in the sunshine.”

Of course, people usually think about pairing wine with food, but KBE Drinks has a number of premium beer and cider brands in its portfolio that specifically match food. Kingfisher, for example, has a crisp, clean and unfailingly refreshing finish, with a deft balance of light bitterness and citrus which makes for a perfect partnership with the heat and spice of even the richest curry. Although it is brewed to complement strong flavours in Asian cuisine, it also makes an ideal companion for a plethora of other dishes from the world over and is highly sessionable, with consumers enjoying it both at home and in wet-led outlets.

Peacock cider was first launched back in 2016 and was specifically crafted to partner the exotic flavours of Asian cuisine, and since then has gone on to be embraced by many of the UK’s most influential Asian restaurant groups. Initially launched in ‘Classic Apple’ and ‘Mango and Lime’ flavours, more recently KBE has introduced a ‘Lychee and Lime’ variant which is the UK’s first Lychee flavoured cider and refreshes the pallet after even the spiciest of Asian dishes. But it’s not just Asian cuisine which matches with beer. Since 1912 Ichnusa has been synonymous with Sardinia and is the island’s leading beer. This authentic golden lager has a hoppy but moderately bitter taste and pairs perfectly with Italian cuisine.

“Whilst perhaps not yet at the same level as beer, premium ciders are also becoming increasingly popular with drinkers looking for more crafted brands with an interesting backstory, which they can enjoy either alone or with food,” adds Price. “There is currently a plethora of apple ciders and fruit ciders built around berries and dark fruits available to consumers, so we’ve tried to think a bit differently with our Peacock brand, and really push the envelope when it comes to flavour.”

Initially launched back in 2016 in ‘Classic Apple’ and ‘Mango and Lime’ flavours, more recently KBE has introduced a ‘Lychee and Lime’ variant for Peacock which is the UK’s first Lychee flavoured cider and perfect for someone looking for something a bit different.

“We know the no and low alcohol beers are continuing to grow in popularity so ensure you have some credible options in your chiller,” suggests Price. “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.”

The rise in popularity of premium world beers and ciders is well known by now and should be very much on the agenda of any convenience retailer. Craft also continues its journey into the mainstream; however, we think the middle ground is being ignored. 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.

Last year KBE teamed up with the guys from the award-winning 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. It has just launched in Asda in a new 440ml can format with tasting notes describing it as ‘Boldly floral, much like your granny’s bedroom!’ 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.

Continental Wine & Food Ltd (CWF), a leading alcoholic drinks manufacturer and importer based in West Yorkshire produce a number of successful British Wine brands including The Straw Hat and Silver Bay Point. The new product development builds on the trendy ready-to-drink premixed cocktail brand, Paradise Bay Cocktail Co. Last year, CWF launched Paradise Bay Cocktail Co with three cocktail flavours – Strawberry Daiquiri, Pina Colada and Mojito. A range of lightly sparkling, ready to drink cocktails with 4% ABV. The 70cl bottle format makes this flavourful range perfect for sharing.

“CWF are excited to announce the extension of the range with a brand-new Blue Lagoon cocktail flavour,” says Caitlin Barker, Marketing Assistant at Continental Wine and Food Ltd. “Be transported to the tropics with this vibrant blue cocktail as it joins the range, adding to Paradise Bay Cocktail Co’s striking on shelf presence. The 70cl bottle format makes this cocktail ideal for sharing, particularly in the summer months with upcoming BBQs, picnics and events.”

Paradise Bay Cocktail Co. is a range of lightly sparkling ready to drink premixed cocktails made with natural flavours, inspired by some of the UK’s favourite cocktails. Developed with quality, convenience and value as key principles the full range is available now in 6 x 70cl case sizes, with an SSP of £2.99/70cl. ‘


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