Nielsen: Hard seltzer reached record sales July 4 week

NEW YORK -- During the week of Independence Day, bottles and cans of hard seltzer were clinking in areas where beer would traditionally be.

In fact, hard seltzer had its largest recorded off-premise sales week during the Fourth of July holiday, according to market research from Nielsen. The trendy, fast-growing beverage category reached nearly $1.16 billion.

This milestone builds on hard seltzer’s previous record of reaching $900 million in off-premise sales in a 15-week period that ended on June 13, which notably outpaced wine seltzers and spritzers, according to a report the firm published late last month.

“Hard seltzer gained traction because of its correlation with health and wellness, convenience and an intriguing variety of flavors — and now, consumers can’t get enough,” Nielsen wrote to explain the beverage category’s popularity. “That growth has opened the doors to an even broader array of new and bolder flavor options accompanying the base liquid, and it’s allowing manufacturers to expand the limits of what ‘hard seltzer’ means.”

Currently, there are more than 65 hard seltzer brands in the market versus the 10 hard seltzer brands that were reportedly available in 2018.

Of those brands, the 10 hard seltzer companies that had the highest demand during the Fourth of July week, included White Claw, Truly, Bud Light, Corona, Smirnoff, Vizzy, Natty Light, Bon Viv, Wild Basin and Press.

All of the top performers are owned or part-owned by some of the largest alcohol beverage companies in the country – each of which have specialized in brewing malt beverages like beer. For example, the number one top-selling brand, White Claw, is owned by Mark Anthony Brands International, which also owns Mike’s Hard Lemonade and other ready-to-drink cocktails.

The owner of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, owns three out of the 10 top sellers with its brands Natty Light, Bon Viv and Bud Light Seltzer.

Molson Coors, Constellation Brands, Diageo, Canarchy and the Boston Beer Company have also made the top-selling hard seltzer list for Independence Day.

Nielsen’s report notes that hard seltzer has experienced exponential growth under the coronavirus pandemic. The category spiked 127 percent in a 52-week period that ended on June 13 compared to its previous year.

Hard seltzer consumption is forecasted to triple by 2023, according to IWSR Research – a market insight and analysis firm.