Summertime brings its own set of beverage alcohol trends. As the weather warms up and people flock to pools, patios, beaches, backyards, lakeside cabins and outdoor venues, consumer preferences naturally shift. What can we expect for summer 2022?
For answers, we recently chatted with Sean Eckhardt, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Bacardi Limited. Eckhardt dives into the current state of RTDs, and explains which flavors will shine in our sunniest months this year.
Beverage Dynamics: What trends does Bacardi see for this summer?
Sean Eckhardt: I see more growth for white spirits, more tequila and RTDs. Spirits-based RTDs, in particular, should see an influx this summer.
BD: Why have RTDs remained red hot?
SE: People are looking more now at what they’re drinking, and how and when. People like RTDs because they can buy real spirits in a can and consume them where they want, whether that be on a boat, patio, picnic, pool, etcetera.
BD: Are RTDs more of a trend, or longer-term category?
SE: I think from what we’ve seen, the beer category got a head start in RTDs with malt-based beverages, but all these new spirits-based RTDs are getting into the game now. And that’s why I think this is more than just a trend.
There’s a lot of really great products out there now in a can. I don’t think we’ve near seeing the end of the growth trajectory yet for RTDs. There’s so much choice now for consumers. There used to only be several RTDs, but now there’s a myriad of options.
BD: And yet, many RTDs are not quite there in flavor. How can consumers find the best ones?
SE: You have to look at companies, like Bacardi, that have spent a tremendous amount and energy with the consumers and bartenders. We would never put something on the shelf that wasn’t 100% there. This is where the consumers have to trust the brands that they have known for years and years.
The situation reminds me of craft beer from a number of years ago. Suddenly everybody was brewing beer in their garage and putting a label on it. With so many new brands and a lot of noise, consumers need to trust the brands they love. Quality and heritage brands really come to life and shine in the can.
BD: Any issues with the aluminum shortage for RTDs?
SE: From our perspective, we had some issues in the early days, but we don’t have any issues now. There’s still some glass shortages, but most delays now are shipping-related.
BD: What trends do you see for on-premise in summer 2022?
SE: We’re excited to see everybody going back out. All of us were stuck indoors for too long. At Bacardi, we did a lot during the pandemic to help bars and restaurants stay open. Last summer, it was nice to see folks outside again. This summer, with the vaccines more prevalent and more people feeling safe, we want to do everything we can to help our on-premise partners.
For instance: Helping expedite the service times, with staffing still being so difficult. RTDs are the perfect example of that. We see more venues using RTDs and prebatched cocktails, because now you can serve 500, 1,000 people in a relatively expeditious way, while still having quality product. This includes cocktails on tap.
BD: What about flavor trends for this summer?
SE: Again, it all starts with RTDs. And there we have seen a shift towards citrus, tropical and fruity. People are also experimenting more. It’s a byproduct of everyone becoming an at-home bartender during the pandemic. Now they’re more adventurous, and in summer they’re looking to experiment with more fruitiness and citrus.
This interview was edited and condensed for publication.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece The 2022 Spirits Growth Brands Awards — Honoring the Hottest Brands.