A new wave of Ready to Serve Drinks

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Drinks trends


Made for immediate, convenient consumption, the ready to drink (RTD) category is fuelled by innovation and diversity.

Covering many different drinks and configurations, examples include bottled fruit and vegetable smoothies, ready-made alcohol cocktails in cans, high protein drinks in pouches, dairy-based drinks, plant-based drinks, energy drinks, iced teas and coffees, and many more exciting concepts that satisfy consumer needs for on-the-go refreshment.

After feeling the effects from changes in drinking habits, including the trend for premiumisation and craft, the category is now moving back into growth and, according to CGA, was worth £203 million in the UK on trade last year. Drinks brands and beverage manufacturers such as ourselves are responding with exciting and relevant RTDs focused on the needs of the discerning modern consumer, bringing the category right up to date.

Premium prepared cocktails are bang on-trend

The continued rise in the popularity of cocktails is being supported by a new wave of premium, ready-to-serve offerings across the on trade and the off trade. Shake n Serve, a range of seven classic cocktails in cocktail-shaker shaped packaging, are being used in Village Hotels and bars across the country. As reported by Bar Magazine earlier this year, bars and restaurants such as Jamie’s Italian and Rosa’s Thai Cafe are also adding premium pre-mixed bespoke cocktails to their menus. At Simpsons Beverages, we also offer clients our own range of RTD cocktails straight from the bar gun including classics such as Mojito, Strawberry Daiquiri, On the Beach, Pina Colada and Margarita. Made for the on trade they offer both time and money savings as well as delivering consistent quality cocktails. Or they can be served alone, making delightful mocktails. We also make bespoke ranges of RTD cocktails to order.

Alcopops remain popular with young drinkers

‘Traditional’ RTDs also have a confirmed place in the market. The category experienced a huge boom in the 1990’s with alcopops such as Hooch adorning student venues and festivals. And pubs and bars continue to invest in these products that both sell well and also offer speed of service during peak periods. VK is the number one student RTD, offering seven fruit flavours that is, according to Global Brands, the number one traditional RTD in the UK on trade and the fastest growing traditional RTD in the UK off trade, making it the biggest brand in the category.

RTD Tea and Coffee is on the rise

According to Grand View Research’s Report, the global ready to drink tea and coffee market was valued at 75 billion USD in 2016 and expected to reach 116 billion USD by 2024. The report states that demand is being supported by consumers making healthier choices, as the drinks contain antioxidants and other essential ingredients. And big brands are moving with the times and are extending their ranges with new varieties that appeal to modern consumers.

Coca-Cola’s Honest, a top-selling organic bottled herbal tea in North America, launched in the UK last year with three flavours, Lemon Flavoured Herbal Tea with Honey, Orange and Mango Flavoured Herbal Tea, and Pomegranate and Blueberry Flavoured Herbal Tea. Fuzetea, also owned by Coca-Cola is a fusion of fruit juice, botanicals and tea extracts offering a unique taste that’s low in calories and has ingredients from specially selected farms. Available in over 30 flavour varieties in around 40 markets, Coca Cola have said “It reached that billion-dollar list in only 3 years.” The market is huge and everyone from Starbucks to Pepsico have also given their attention to the category.

Develop your own RTD

The category is immense and it’s clear there’s huge opportunity for continued innovation and growth, here in the UK and globally. As a specialist beverage manufacturer with over 80 years’ experience in new drinks development and production, we offer our clients the opportunity to claim their own unique place in the RTD landscape, wherever they’re based. We can support both the development and manufacturing of your own bespoke drink, or your entire range. Get in touch today, we’d love to hear from you.

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