Prepackaged fruity mixed drinks, commonly known as coolers or alcopops, are back but this time with reduced sugar in order to broaden their appeal. International spirits maker Pernod Ricard hopes that reducing both the sugar levels and the alcohol content of the ready to drink spirits can rescue the unique products after years of decline.
The French alcoholic beverage company is the latest in the beverage industry to take a stand against sugar, as the global drinks giant attempts to increase sales by reducing the amount of sweetness in its products.
The company plans to make its Absolut brand of vodka the flagship of this health initiative. The Absolut Botanik line of “ready to drink” spirits will also contain less sugar and alcohol.
By making its products healthier, the company hopes to achieve growth in the “ready to drink” category of spirits, a niche that has been in decline in recent years after global tax increases and backlash over sugar content.
Pernod Ricard became the parent company of Absolut Vodka, when it acquired Swedish company V&S Group in 2008. The company is also the manufacturer of Jacob’s Creek Wine.
Pernod Ricard managing director Julien Hemard said, “Our aim is to turn around category performance from decline to growth.”
While “ready to drink” spirits have been in decline, products that are lower in both sugar and alcohol are maintaining pace. With this trend, Pernod Ricard is hopeful that reduced-sugar Alcopops and its Absolut Botanik line will be able to drive growth within the lower-alcohol category of spirits.
Reports have been showing a shift in consumer attitudes towards sugar and increasing rates of diabetes and obesity. Customers no longer desire products that are high in sugar and perceived as unhealthy.
Coca-Cola is another example of a company taking initiative against the change in preferences by consumers. The soft drink company is attempting to appeal to more health-oriented consumers with its Coke Life beverage.
The category of “ready to drink” spirits maintains some negative social stigma due to its popularity with younger drinkers. Products in the category, such as alcoholic popsicles, are widely seen as being targeted towards a younger crowd.
Pernod Ricard believes that with less sugar and alcohol the drinks will be be perceived by the public as less juvenile and thus appeal to a broader market.