As I bide my time while we all wait for this societal fog to lift, it provides an opportunity to be reflective on our industry. There's a lot on my mind these days but the health of the beer industry is always on the forefront.
Before this crisis reared its ugly head, we were continuously bombarded with reports of the death of the beer industry. I'm about to throw this concept out the window and ask some questions that we should all be posing. It's true... the beer industry is in the midst of change and it's also true that beer has lost share of throat to almost every other beverage alcohol but it is a small cut not the catastrophe that some are portraying. We all need to figure out a way to give beer it's rightful place back at the table instead of running for the hills.
RTD (Ready to Drink) is purportedly single handily killing the beer industry. I would disagree! It is causing some damage but we need to look at the overall impact and why this is happening. This sector has become the darling of the industry - we just have to look at the success of Nütrl (now owned by Labatt) and the tidal wave of interest with White Claw. Why are these brands so hot? It is clearly not about the liquid. These drinks have virtually no flavour and are in reality just soda water with flavour additions. So what could it be? Fantastic branding is the first and most likely, of great value. The second is the so-called health factors. With zero carbohydrates, a lot of drinkers are switching believing it is more important in their healthy choices. However, these drinks and all alcohol beverages have calories. Third, an a possible underlying issue, is the cost. At $2.95 a can at retail, these drinks are an interesting alternative to beer. Not all beer mind you! In a lot of discussions recently, I've found an interesting bit of information - a lot of guys who may have previously taken beer into the post game festivities are now switching over to RTD's - less flavour, just as much alcohol, lower carbs and the same money or less - that's pretty enticing to someone who is not concerned with variety or flavour.
Calories What are calories? Calories are the amount of energy in food. Nutrients that provide calories are carbohydrates, fat and protein. Your body uses the energy from calories to do all of your daily activities. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat.
Many people are surprised to learn that the need for carbohydrates is so high – it's about half of your daily calories! Since carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and brain, they are an important component of a healthy diet. If you've tried a low-carb diet and felt lethargic or your thinking felt a little 'fuzzy', you've felt the effects of low carbohydrate intake.
Nütrl - 100 calories / 341ml / 5% ABV
Mike's - 220 calories / 341 ml / 5% ABV
Smirnoff Ice - 220 calories / 341 ml / 5% ABV
White Claw - 100 calories / 341ml / 5% ABV
Unbridled growth? I'm getting really tired of companies and reporters using statistics without showing the whole picture. We keep hearing about massive growth rates of RTD's but any growth when you are tiny seems huge. Here's are some chart to show the real picture.
Yes, there has been really positive growth in the RTD sector and it is now almost identical to the spirits sector. The real question is whether any of this growth is sustainable over the longer period of time. While we're at it, does the benefit of lower carbohydrates compensate for the loss of the all of the healthy aspects of beer like anti-oxidants, flavenoids, minerals, vitamins etc.?
Personally, I drink alcohol for the unique flavours. This is especially true of beer for me. I just don't get the fascination with these hard sodas (by the way, a Seltzer is just soda water with a fancy name). I grabbed one of these the other day to actually discover the miracle of Seltzer. For me - there was nothing that would drive me to purchase another one, ever. no colour, tons of bubles (almost uncomfortable), no foam, very little flavour or aroma.
Let's collectively raise a glass of beer during these very difficult time and tell RTD's to bugger off!