Ready-to-drink beverage sales surge in N.S. as beer sales drop
HALIFAX -- The popularity of ready-to-drink mixes, such as vodka sodas, is on the rise in Nova Scotia, and local producers say they can hardly keep up with the demand.
“We’re going as fast as we possibly can,” says Riley Giffen of the Stewiacke-based Coldstream Clear Distillery, where 30,000 cans of vodka peach iced tea were being packaged on Wednesday for distribution at NSLC stores across the province.
Pre-mixed beverages only hit store shelves two years ago and now, ready-to-drink products is the fastest-growing category at the NSLC, with sales increasing by 120.3 per cent.
“We now carry products from six producers, we carry nine products, so this is obviously in its infancy at the moment, and obviously they’re producing very popular products for our customers to be supporting them the way they are,” says Beverley Ware, spokesperson for the NSLC.
“We had one 1,200-litre tank -- that’s what we started with -- and right now we’re at capacity of about 25,000 litres, so about 25 times the production capacity just in the last two years,” says Giffen.
The same can’t be said for beer.
A new study from Dalhousie University says demand for beer dropped by 4 per cent in 2019 -- the largest reduction since prohibition.
With the demand for ready-to-drink products on the rise, some major beer producers are turning their attention to the popular beverages.
“Just this week we announced that we bought the company that makes Nütrl -- a vodka-soda company known primarily for its vodka sodas -- and that’s just an example of how we’re evolving,” says Wade Keller of Labatt Brewing Co.
While there has been a drop in sales over the years, beer is still the top seller at the NSLC. What has changed, however, is the type of brew people are choosing.
“So, Michelob Ultra is the number-one growing brand in Canada, and it’s mostly because people are making a lifestyle choice,” says Keller. “It’s low-carb, and so people are moving into that.”
It’s also one of the reasons why the owners at Coldstream Clear believe their products are seeing such strong growth.
With six ready-to-drink products already on the market, they’re always brainstorming new beverage ideas.
“We’ve learned a lot about the good things out there and the things that can be improved upon, and so that’s what has really driven everything for our direction,” says Giffen.