Anheuser-Busch is to take on the US on-trade distribution for Hansen Natural Corp.'s flagship brand Monster Energy.

The deal, announced today (9 February), deepens the relationship between the two companies. A-B already handles a slew of Hansen brands, including Monster, in the off-trade in select US states. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Hansen chairman and CEO Rodney C. Sacks said the on-premise is a "significant and largely untapped market" for the company.

He added: "This agreement opens a significant new and incremental sales channel for Monster that will play an essential role in continuing the development of the image and personality of our brand and provide extremely important sampling opportunities."

Energy drinks continue to grow in popularity in the US. For the three months to 31 December, sales leapt by 43% in the country, according to ACNielsen. Monster is the second-largest energy drink brand in the US.

"The energy drink segment offers exceptional growth, and deepening our already strong relationship with Hansen will help broaden Anheuser-Busch's participation in this highly profitable category," added August Busch IV, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch.

Mark Swartzberg, an analyst at US bank Stifel Nicolaus, said the deal showed A-B is happy with its relationship with Hansen. He said: "We believe the agreement is significant for Hansen in that it gives the company access to a segment where it has virtually no existing presence for its products, with a distribution network that will allow it to compete with a well-entrenched number-one brand in the segment, Red Bull."

Swartzberg added that the US on-trade accounts for around 26% of energy drinks throughout the country.