Last updateSun, 19 May 2024 8pm

Trending: RTD finally mainstream

By Jürgen Deibel
RTD (short for “ready-to-drink”) are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that are ready to be consumed. These are cocktails or long drinks, which were already placed on the market at the end of the 19th century for the first time. As early as 2002 trade journalists wrote: “A new generation of alcoholic beverages breaks the boundaries between indoors and out, between out and about and taking a break. Mixed drinks in a bottle called “ready to drink” free consumers from old conventions: you don’t have to behave but can move freely because the beverage can be taken along with you everywhere. Those out and about with an RTD in their hand do not run the risk of committing a stylistic faux pas because the bottle has become an integral part of urban young adults’ “going-out” look.

In 2024 they finally became mainstream: Ready-to-drink beverages featured prominently at ProWein 2024 with its new branded world ProSpirits in Düsseldorf and were presented by many exhibitors in one way or the other.
More than any other alcoholic beverage, RTD drinks have a reputation for tasting good. Alcohol (be it wines or spirits) in combination with various soft drinks such as Ginger Ale, Bitter Lemon, Tonic, syrup or fruit juice enables product developers to come up with ever new flavour combinations to match current trends and combine them with consumers’ needs. The often even colourful RTD beverages can therefore perfectly satisfy our desire for ever new and exciting taste experiences, which is now so widespread in our experience-focused society.
But what is the benefit of RTD beverages? US market research company Mintel has studied this and already wrote a number of years ago that the biggest sales driver here was obviously their taste: 64% like RTD beverages because of their favourite taste, 42% because they like to try out new flavours, 39% prefer a specific type of alcohol, and 38% make use of bargain sales at supermarkets. 36% prefer RTD beverages because of their low prices, while 31% prefer to buy them because of a known brand. This has hardly changed until today.
Just as exciting are the occasions when consumers opt for these handy RTDs: 54% wish to have these drinks ready to drink at any time without any fuss, 50% want to consume them in the company of others, 49% at home, 43% at outdoor events, 42% in summer and 24% simply to indulge. Bottom line: RTD holds great potential!
RTD at ProWein / ProSpirits 2024
Alongside the no-&-low alcohol products already presented as a trend last year, RTD is in focus this year. Classics in this category like Rum or Whisky & Coke or Gin & Tonic are widely available on the market. And they could also be found at ProWein 2024 with its brand world ProSpirits – at the stand of Bimmerle from the Swabian city of Achern (Hall 5, A18) or the classic Pitú Caipirinha (also alcohol-free) at semper idem Underberg AG (Hall 5, A02), to name but two examples.
Rum-based cocktails (e.g. punches) and Rhum Arrange featured in the ranges of Rhum Damoiseau from Guadeloupe (Hall 5, D25) or from Mauritius. Proving a special eye-catcher there was the “Sundowner” based on rum from Mauritius, which perfectly harmonized with the sunset after a long day at the trade fair (Hall 5, F43).
RTD are not only produced on the basis of spirits. This category also includes products based on wine. These – just like the non-alcoholic RTDs – are becoming more and more popular. Wine-based, low-alcohol RTDs were offered by amongst others Cherubino Valsangiacomo with a selection of Aigua de Valencia, Un Abrazo Perfecto or Sangria Vittore (Hall 11, I80-39).
Traditional cocktail classics as mixed by a professional bartender were in focus at Ardent Batch (Veritable Vins & Domaines KG) in Hall 9, D70. Aviation, Cosmopolitan or Negroni (white and red), Espresso Martini or Old Fashioned set every cocktail lover’s heart racing. High-quality cocktail classics such as Mai Tai and Manhattan were also found at the Alccov SAS stand (Hall 7, D18) presenting the range of the French manufacturer Le Barteleur. These RTD versions enable both retail and food service to offer their shoppers and customers high-end cocktails and long drinks.
Artificial Intelligence meets Ready-to-drink
In cooperation with trend and packaging design agency WIN Creating Images, winery Katlenburger Kellerei GmbH & Co. KG (Hall 4, C05) used AI to launch Europe’s first 100% AI-generated ready-to-drink cocktail. From the recipe and the naming to packaging design and communication materials every element of this extraordinary RTD cocktail was generated by AI and introduced to the trade audience at ProWein 2024 for the first time.
The future of the RTD segment
The Ready-to-Drink category (RTD) is expected to grow by 12% between 2022 and 2027 reaching sales of USD 40 billion by 2027 on 10 key markets. This growth will be driven by the most important sub-category cocktails and long drinks as well as by products in the premium-price segment and above. (Source: IWSR RTDs Strategic Study 2023).
ProWein 2024 with its brand world ProSpirits provided a multi-faceted overview of RTD and proved a focal port of call for retail, food service and the bar community.


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