By Amelia Ball and Ian Neubauer

It’s business as usual for the nation’s leading Ready to Drink (RTD) suppliers, following strategic turnarounds from Foster’s Group and Lion Nathan last week.

The two multi-beverage companies caused a media stir last Thursday after announcing they have ceased marketing and producing RTDs with added energy and those containing more than two standard drinks.

Diageo is in the process of limiting its RTD portfolio to a maximum of two standard drinks, while also not exceeding the caffeine levels of a standard soft drink—commitments the company made last year. A Diageo spokesperson confirmed Smirnoff Ice Double Black and Guarana have always been in accord to these caffeine levels.

Pernod Ricard Australia welcomed last week’s announcements, saying the company has been working to reduce its own two SKUs currently above 7 per cent ABV for several months. A spokesperson for the company confirmed Wild Turkey & Cola and Wild Turkey & Dry will soon fall within the two standard drink framework.

SouthTrade International, which launched a higher ABV energy RTD last year, said it would not make any changes to its portfolio until the issues are clearly defined.

Independent Distillers Group, which distributes Pulse, the original energy RTD, said the company is currently seeking advice regarding its product portfolio.

Beam Global Spirits, makers of Jim Beam Long Black, the only SKU in the Maxxium portfolio above two standard drinks, said the company prefers to manage the high alcohol issue through self-imposed pricing mechanisms. Beam Global spirits said this ensures products with higher levels of alcohol are more expensive, therefore limiting access by high-risk drinkers. 

Bacardi Lion managing director Colin Rochester said that while the company’s RTDs, including Bacardi & Cola and Bacardi Breezers, are an important category for the company, Bacardi Lion has remained focused on their premium spirits portfolio.

Brown-Forman and Suntory do not have any RTDs above 7 per cent ABV or in the energy segment.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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