Asahi launches sugar-free hard seltzer in Australia

Drinks giant Asahi of Japan has launched a vodka-based, sugar-free canned seltzer in Australia in what is thought to be one of the first for the country.

Called Good Tides, a hard or ‘spiked’ seltzer from Asahi Premium Beverages, features sparkling water with triple-distilled vodka and a hint of flavouring. The drink, which contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners and has only 85 calories per can, has been introduced to meet a rising demand for low-calorie alcoholic beverages.

The seltzer comes in four packs of 330ml cans with lemon & lime and raspberry flavours and is available from BWS, Dan Murphy’s and other independent outlets in Australia.

“The ready-to-drink [RTD] category is moving beyond traditional, reduced sugar options,” said Virginia Woodger, group marketing manager at Asahi Premium Beverages. “We hope that by introducing Australia’s first completely sugar-free, vodka-based hard seltzer, we’re able to provide consumers with the enjoyable, easy drinking option that we know is currently missing from shelves.”

Asahi expects the hard seltzer category to grow rapidly in popularity in Australia, as it has done in the US. Many of the larger brewers are fighting to retain market share in the alcoholic beverage market as consumers move away from beer to lighter, lower-calorie drinks such as hard seltzers and malt drinks.

As a result, they have begun making their own seltzers and RTD products, and have purchased smaller brands to lever their way into the market. Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) has its own Bon & Viv brand of hard waters and recently bought RTD cocktail maker Cutwater Spirits.

In 2016, Asahi acquired the Netherlands-based Grolsch Brewery and Peroni Brewery in Italy, together with and the UK’s craft Meantime Brewery and Miller Brands UK from A-B InBev for €2.3 billion (US$2.5bn).

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard of France has unveiled a new canned range of fruit-flavoured malt beverages under the Malibu brand as the wine and spirits specialist taps into the growing RTD hard waters and cocktails market. The 5% ABV cocktails come in slim 12oz (355ml) cans and sold in packs of four in the US.