Molson Coors moves into premium RTD spirits with Superbird partnership

Dive Brief:

  • Molson Coors Beverage is partnering with Casa Komos Beverage Group to distribute Superbird, a 100% blue agave tequila-based cocktail, the companies said in a statement. The agreement marks Molson Coors’ first entry into the premium ready-to-drink spirits category and its latest move beyond the beer aisle.
  • Using Molson Coors’ distribution network, Superbird will expand nationally, starting with 10 new markets this spring. CKBG first launched Superbird as a ready-to-drink cocktail in 2018.
  • Molson Coors has moved aggressively to expand its reach beyond the signature brews in its namesake into other beers, alcohols and nonalcoholic beverages. Just two weeks ago, Molson Coors signed an exclusive distribution deal to launch ZOA, a nonalcoholic energy drink made with better-for-you, natural ingredients.

Dive Insight:

A little more than a year ago, Molson Coors dropped the word brewing from its name as it struggled with lower U.S. demand for its beers, replacing it with the broader description of “beverages.” Since then, the Chicago-based company — also known for signature brews like Miller and Blue Moon — has grown its portfolio in nearly all facets of the beverage space. This includes everything from beer and other forms of alcohol to better-for-you options that cater to consumers looking for plants, probiotics and other healthier ingredients. 

In alcohol, Molson Coors purchased craft beer maker Atwater Brewery, formed a joint venture to brew and sell Yuengling beer in parts of the country, and agreed to manufacture, market and distribute Topo Chico Hard Seltzer in the U.S. Earlier this month, Truss CBD USA, a joint venture majority owned by Molson Coors and operated with Canadian cannabis producer Hexo, announced the U.S. launch of Veryvell, a line of sparkling, nonalcoholic CBD drinks. Molson Coors also announced in September a suite of nonalcoholic products including a full-flavored seltzer with added probiotics; a plant-based diet soda; and a grain-based milk alternative packed with protein and nutrients.

The latest partnership with CKBG and its Superbird brand gives Molson Coors an immediate presence in the fast-growing premium ready-to-drink spirits category and accelerates its move beyond the beer aisle. Superbird is a canned, carbonated, 5.9% alcohol-by-volume take on a Paloma, and is made with 100% blue agave tequila grown and processed in Mexico.

“We have clearly executed on our promise to evolve our portfolio beyond beer and moving into fast-growing RTD cocktail space with an incredible brand like Superbird only strengthens our position as a true beverage company,” Pete Marino, president of emerging growth at Molson Coors, said in a statement. “CKBG created a delicious, authentic, super-premium brand, and it equips our company and our distributors with another high-quality option.” 

Despite the pandemic-related economic hardships of recent months, the premium trend has continued, with retail sales of premium and super-premium food and beverage brands increasing 1.7% year-over-year for the 26 weeks ending Oct. 4, according to IRI data.

It’s a big reason why companies such as Molson Coors are targeting the premium spirits space. In 2017, Diageo purchased Casamigos for $1 billion, and last year it signed a deal to pay up to $610 million for Aviation American Gin and its parent company Davos Brands. Two years ago, Pernod Ricard acquired the Malfy premium gin brand for an undisclosed sum.

After spending much of the last year adding to its beer and nonalcoholic offerings, it would not be surprising to see Molson Coors add more offerings to its small spirits operations though additional acquisitions and partnerships.

Increasingly, the series of deals, coupled with Molson Coors’ own brands, have given it a portfolio that caters to various trends and drinking occasions. In the morning, a consumer could have an RTD coffee beverage from the La Colombe Coffee Roasters line that Molson Coors is distributing, a ZOA energy drink in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, and one of its beers or Superbird spirit at night. When it comes to alcohol, Molson Coors is well represented there too, with its traditional beers, craft offerings and hard seltzers and ciders.

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