First came hard lemonades. Then beverage manufacturers added alcohol to seltzers, and now the fermented malt beverages (FMBs), or hard seltzers, segment of the alcohol category is bubbling over, both in sales and flavor selection.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) State of the Industry Report of 2020 revealed the FMB subcategory grew 70% in 2019, and according to NielsenIQ data, reported by the Thrillist website, seltzers banked more than $4 billion in 2020. Additional research in Datassential’s Future of Drink report indicates 40% of adults drank a hard seltzer in the past month.
Indeed, the carbonated alcohol beverages have gained fans across most adult age groups and various demographics, in part because of an ever-expanding menu of flavors. However, some flavors sell better than others.
Black Cherry: According to The Spirits Business website, black cherry continues to hold tight to the No. 1 flavor, with more than a quarter of the market share.
Mango: This fruit leads among all tropical flavors.
Lime: While lemon kickstarted the FMB segment, its frequent partner lime has taken the lead recently.
Grapefruit: Although this citrus fruit still squeezes out a top position among flavors, The Spirits Business reports it’s lost some favor with drinkers compared with previous years.
Pineapple: Another tropical taste makes it into the top 10 picks.
Watermelon: This summer fruit has become a year-round seller.
Strawberry: Another fruity taste that’s sweet with sippers.
Raspberry: Berry flavors always seem to produce profits.
Punch: Who doesn’t like a good punch of flavor?
Of course, variety packs appeal to buyers who want to experiment, have multiple favorites or simply prefer to mix up flavor options.
While these many be the most popular flavors now, the FMB segment continues to evolve. For example, some analysts noted producers are hoping to build on the good-for-you trend by producing seltzers with superfruits or turning kombuchas hard.
And, as more producers try to capture market share (from celebrities to wineries, fast-food restaurants to craft breweries, to even The Hallmark Channel), there’s bound to be a slew of new flavors c-stores can use to attract customers excited to taste test their way through the FMB segment.