The RTD category has not yet recovered from the impact of increased excise duties in 2002, which has lead to increased prices and a reduction in alcoholic content of a number of leading brands.

However, this has not stopped producers launching new brands and variants. Coors Brewers has added a Pear and Grape variant to its leading still RTD Reef range replacing the Lemon and Lime flavour introduced in June 2002. Coors has decided to never have more than five flavours in the Reef range (Blackcurrant and Raspberry replaced Pineapple & Citrus earlier this year).

Bacardi-Martini has launched the latest addition to the Bacardi Breezer range, Diet Lemon, into the on-trade. The variant, which was introduced into the off-trade earlier this year, contains only 100 calories and half the sugar level of the regular style..

Marks & Spencer have also added two further ranges to its RTD portfolio with the launch of Vodka N. Ice and Vodka INC (both 5.0% abv/27.5cl). The Vodka N. Ice range is carbonated with five variants - Black Cherry, Cranberry, Orange Passionfruit & Lime and Pineapple & Grapefruit - and retails at £1.49. The Vodka INC range is still (20% fruit juice), has three variants - Apple & Kiwi, Orange & Mango and Raspberry & Guava - and retails at £1.59.

The Threshers group, who launched Imperial Ice (lemon) in February, has also recently added to the range introducing Blackcurrant and Orange variants.

©Pat Brazzier P.A.S.H. Beverage Research