By Ian Neubauer

Breweries and distributors are experimenting with Mexican-style beer in a bid to bridge the divide between RTDs and full-strength beers.

Mexican, or chelada, beers incorporate light lagers with salt and lime to offset the natural bitterness of beer. The category is generally marketed as a thirst-quencher for the hot summer months and targeted at 18 to 24 year-old consumers.

“Flavoured beer is a massive trend globally. It’s a good proposition for 18 to 24 year-olds and takes cues from the ready-to-drink market which is so popular right now,” said Foster’s brand communications manger, mainstream beers, Dan Holland. “We are always trying to look at new things and new markets. It’s a learning process,” he said.

Foster’s kicked off this learning process with the December launch of Carlton Dry Fusion, a Mexican-style low-carb beer with 4.2 per cent ABV. Holland said it was too early to gauge the success of the product in Australia. “Suffice to say, the response from consumers has been good,” hesaid.

Pacific Beverages has also entered the fray with the November launch of Miller Chill. Pacific Beverages is a joint venture between Coca-Cola Amatil and SABMiller to sell and distribute imported premium beer in Australia.

Pacific Beverages said Miller Chill had shown excellent first quarter trading results exceeding shipment forecasts, mirroring results in the US. Over two million cases have been sold there last year, with more than 50 per cent of sales attributed to non-beer drinkers.

“Today’s consumer is increasingly well-travelled, cash rich, global and informed – meaning demand for international, differentiated, and meaningful brands has increased,” said Pacific Beverages marketing director Andrew Walker. “Miller Chill is a good example of the action being taken by the trade to meet this consumer demand [and] we look forward to the brand’s success in 2008.”

The Shout Team

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