Coca-Cola to Enter U.S. Hard Seltzer Market

The Topo Chico-branded alcoholic brew will roll out first in select Latin America cities this year.

August 03, 2020

ATLANTA—The Coca-Cola Co. plans to enter the hard seltzer market in Latin America and the U.S. with its first alcoholic drink under the Topo Chico sparkling mineral water brand, which it acquired in 2017.

The beverage giant will release its first hard seltzer—Topo Chico Tangy Lemon Lime—in select Latin America cities later this year, followed by a U.S. launch in 2021, Coca-Cola said in a statement posted on its website.

“The Coca-Cola Company is committed to exploring new products in dynamic beverage categories, including hard seltzer,” the company said. “Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is an experimental drink inspired by Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, which has been popular with many mixologists… We will share more details closer to launch.”

On the company’s second-quarter earnings call on July 21, CEO James Quincey said, “We are shifting to prioritizing fewer but bigger and stronger brands across various consumer needs,” while also focusing on “nurturing and growing smaller, more enduring propositions and exiting ‘zombie’ brands.’” Quincey cited Coca-Cola’s decision to discontinue Odwalla smoothies and juices in North America and reinvest in brands like Minute Maid, Simply and Topo Chico.

Hard seltzer is a fast-rising segment, with Americans shelling out $3 billion on the fizzy alcoholic beverages in the 52 weeks ended July 11, up 241% from a year earlier, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing data from Bump Williams Consulting Co.

Hard seltzers have been driving the better-for-you trend in the malt beverage category for the past few years, and that’s expected to continue in 2020, according to NACS Magazine. (NACS currently characterizes all hard seltzers, regardless of their alcoholic beverage base, as flavored malt beverages within the beer category.) Read more about hard seltzer trends in “Drink Up” in the May 2020 issue of NACS Magazine.

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