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The hard seltzer category still has room to triple its volumes in the US, according to Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands, as the group prepares to launch a Corona-branded variant in the fast-growing category.

Mark Anthonys White Claw is the current leader in the US hard seltzer category

Mark Anthony's White Claw is the current leader in the US hard seltzer category

Hard seltzer growth exploded in the country last year, with Mark Anthony Brands' White Claw leading the charge. According to Constellation, US hard seltzer volumes in 2019 came in at around 60m nine-litre cases.

Speaking to analysts after the release of third-quarter and year-to date results yesterday, Newlands said the category can still grow two-to-three-fold to as much as 180m cases as big-name brands prepare to enter the market. Constellation's Corona and Anheuser-Busch InBev's Bud Light Seltzer are both set to roll out this year.

Newlands said he expects Constellation to take a "significant share" of the expanded volumes through the Corona launch.

"The [hard seltzer] category appears to continue to have real strength," the CEO continued. "There is a lot of growth potential in it ... probably two-to-three times where it sits today, which creates a tremendous opportunity for those of us who are going to play in the category."

Newlands released further information on Corona Seltzer, which will be available in the US from March. Four flavours will be launched - Tropical Lime, Mango, Cherry and Blackberry Lime - and the group will sink US$40m into a marketing drive.

In October, Newlands said hard seltzer had caught the beer industry by surprise with its "aggressive growth".

The next 12 months are expected to see further growth for hard seltzers in the US, as well as in Europe, where brewers are starting to roll them out. Meanwhile, in the US, supply for leading brand White Claw is reportedly struggling to keep pace with demand. In a BrewBound report in November, Mark Anthony founder & CEO Anthony von Mandl said his company plans to spend US$385m to boost production facilities for White Clawin response to recent performance.

"We could sell and ship today 20m cases we don't have, out the door," von Mandl told Beer Marketer's Insights, BrewBound reported.

Why hard seltzer's US success won't translate to Western Europe - Click here for a just-drinks focus


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