Mexico/New Zealand/USA: Heineken to test market hard seltzers

Heineken, which is lagging behind its rivals in the U.S. with the launch of hard seltzer products, has selected Mexico and New Zealand as test markets for its new product Pure Piraña, the company announced today. Further, the Dutch brewer extends the market test of its Mexican product Canijilla to select markets in the US.

Pure Piraña is a mix of carbonated pure mineral water, a dash of natural fruit flavours and contains 5% alcohol. The result is a hard seltzer that is low in carbs, low in sugar, contains fewer than 100 calories per 330ml can and is also vegan-friendly. According to Heineken “Pure Piraña offers an exciting new taste experience for anyone looking for a low-calorie, fruity-but-not-sweet alcoholic drink option.”

Jan Derck van Karnebeek, Chief Commercial Officer at Heineken said: “Innovation is embedded in everything we do at Heineken, which is why we continuously use our expertise to create new and exciting taste experiences for consumers. We are seeing more and more people look for a low-calorie alcoholic alternative and the result is the rapid growth of the Hard Seltzer category. The launch of Pure Piraña offers a way for us to meet customers’ evolving needs and explore a new growth opportunity for our business.”

The product will initially launch in Mexico, one of Heineken’s largest markets, in Grapefruit, Peach and Red Fruit flavours, and in Raspberry and Lime in New Zealand.

Heineken Mexico entered the ready-to-drink (RTD) category in May 2019 with the launch of Canijilla, a product with 130 calories per can and 5% alcohol by volume which is the result of the fermentation of sugars extracted from locally sourced ingredients malt and dextrose.

The product which is “100% inspired by the Mexican culture” comes in two canned varieties Mango Picosito and Lemon Cucumber. The company decided now to test the product also in select U.S. markets for a three-month period.

The hard seltzer market is a fast growing category especially in the United States and has attracted the attention of many beverage companies and foremost breweries.

The market is still dominated by White Claw Hard Seltzer, a brand from The Mark Anthony Group, which pioneered the flavored malt beverage category with the launch of Mike's Hard Lemonade in 1999. The group accounted for 54 percent of the 2019 sales of hard seltzer in the US and aims to capture a 10% share of beer dollar sales in the U.S. “as fast as possible.” (, 14.1.2020)

The second biggest brand is Truly Hard Seltzer, a brand from the Boston Beer Company, which held about 31 percent of the hard seltzer market in the U.S. last year. The company added in January with Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer a second product line which became an instant success and plans with Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer and Truly Extra Hard Seltzer two more line extensions (, 11.9.2020). In addition, Boston Beer has two more products in the hard seltzer category,  Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard Cider.

In recent months nearly all major brewing groups have announced to launch or already launched their own respective hard seltzer brands including AB InBev, with Bon & Viv and its Bud Light Seltzer family of products (, 16.11.2019); Molson Coors with Henry's Hard Sparkling Water, Vizzy Hard Seltzer and the newly announced products Huzzah!, MadVin and Golden Wing (, 10.9.2020); and Constellation Brands which launched Corona Hard Seltzer in spring and is already the 4th most selling hard seltzer brand in the US.

Even smaller brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon have in the meantime launched their own hard seltzer products. Pabst Blue Ribbon Stronger Seltzer was launched in August 2019 and is distinctive from most of its competitors as it arrives at 8-percent ABV.

Even Carlsberg, a brewing group which does not have a significant business in the United States is currently exploring the potential of this new category with two new products in test markets in Norway and Singapore (, 18.8.2020).

Last in line, so far is The Coca-Cola Company. The soft drink giant has selected its Mexican sparkling water Topo Chico for the launch of a hard seltzer beverage in  the United States (, 12.8.2020).

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