At-Home Drinkers Continue to Propel the Fastest-Growing Category in North America

Besides working from home, exercising in our spare bedrooms and tuning kitchen tables into classrooms, there’s another prominent trend that emerged from 2020.

It should probably come as no surprise to most of us that’s we’ve been drinking a lot more at home than we have in the past. No kidding.

After bars and venues shut down last year, spirits group Diageo said that sales of ready-to-drink beverages rose 26% in North America in the second half of 2020, the fastest-growing category in North America for the company during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now Diageo (DEO) plans to spend $80 million to install two new lines at a plant in Illinois, to boost production of fast-growing ready-to-drink beverages.

The new facility at its existing Plainfield, Illinois bottling complex will make more than 25 million cases of ready-to-drink beverages every year, including Smirnoff seltzers and spirits-based cocktails from Crown Royal and Ketel One Botanicals.

Competition has been white-hot for hard seltzers over the past year or two, as liquor companies move to take advantage of a category where sales have doubled every year since 2016 in the United States.

Earlier this year, Diageo said it would buy the maker of hard seltzer brand Lone River Ranch Water, while rival Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced a more than $1 billion investment in its U.S. manufacturing facilities to increase production of hard seltzers.

But what happens as businesses reopen? We will flock back to bars or are we content with our newfound, low-sugar, low-calorie drinks at home?

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