Molson Coors is putting hard cash behind its hard seltzers—and it’s doing that in Fort Worth.
The company broke ground last week on a new, $65 million variety packing warehouse at its Fort Worth brewery. The facility is part of a long-term plan to invest in “bringing more hard seltzer production in-house,” the company says.
The new, 200,000-square-foot warehouse could allow the brewery to remove third-party vendors for final pack assembly, reducing shipping costs and improving time to market.
“This expansion truly represents the next step toward strengthening our in-house hard seltzer capabilities, as it’s one of many recent investments we made at Fort Worth aimed at growing our above-premium portfolio and transforming the company’s offerings to meet consumers’ changing preferences,” said Jim Crawford, Molson Coors VP and plant manager, in a statement.
‘Repacking up to 1.5 million barrels annually’
With construction slated for completion “later this year,” Molson Coors will use the warehouse to internalize storage, packaging, shipping, and logistics of variety-packed can beverages, while bringing new jobs to the city.
That’s right—it’s a whole warehouse devoted to packing up hard seltzer “variety packs.”
Technology-wise, the warehouse will feature a “state-of-the-art variety pack system” that can package up to six different flavors in 12- or 24-pack configurations—repacking up to 1.5 million barrels annually.
The new warehouse may also be used for future Molson Coors brands yet to be developed, as the company strives to expand its portfolio beyond beer.
Betting the hard seltzer trend will continue
2019 was the year that hard seltzer really took off in the U.S., in a “summer of seltzer” that saw new brands popping up left and right, and sales skyrocketing coast to coast. The country’s biggest brewers joined the party, launching products like Coors Mango Hard Seltzer, Bud Light’s Retro Tie Dye Cherry Limeade Seltzer, Michelob Ultra Spicy Pineapple Organic Seltzer, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s 8% Wild Berry Stronger Seltzer, and more. Competition came on fierce from every direction, including White Claw Surf Wildberry Acai Smash, Mountain Dew Hard Baja Blast, Topo Chico Strawberry Guava Hard Seltzer, and countless more.
As you can see, most every company offers lots of flavor varieties for their hard seltzers, and Molson Coors is no exception. That’s why the company is spending $65 million on a warehouse to mix all its flavors up into variety packs, with a different taste in every can.
It’s only the latest bet by the company. In 2020, Molson Coors invested in capital projects to expand its U.S. hard seltzer production capacity by about 400%. In 2021, it quadrupled its production of hard seltzer in Canada, and invested another $35 million in the U.K. on numerous upgrades, including adding its first hard seltzer canning line.
Hard seltzers took 20 of 25 spots on a 2021 list of bestselling new brands
In January, an article in Forbes showed how “Hard Seltzers Led the Way for Growth in 2021,” citing a Bump Williams Consulting report based on NielsenIQ data. Hard seltzers snagged 20 of the top 25 spots on the year’s bestselling new brands list, including the 16 top spots.
“I see continued growth from seltzers driven by new flavors offerings and expanded availability of variety packs,” Bump Williams told Forbes. “There will be tremendous growth from the entire RTD universe of malt, wine, and spirits-based products, assuming packaging isn’t an issue.”
That view contradicted a flurry of articles in 2021 that seemed to forecast hard seltzer’s demise, with headlines like The hard seltzer craze has come to an end and ‘Stunning collapse’ of hard seltzer sales turn fizzy category flat and Hard seltzer sales slowed dramatically in 2021. Is the industry doomed?
Needless to say, Molson Coors thinks hard seltzer segment is far from doomed. They think the party will only continue, and they’re putting $65 million down on that bet right now in the Panther City.
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