While the hard seltzer category was non-existent in France a year ago, despite being a hugely growing segment in the US, competition has been intensifying in the French alcoholic sparkling water market this year. Hard seltzers appeared on the market in 2020 and their presence has been growing in French supermarkets in 2021, as the trend seems to be accelerating since this spring, in line with consumer health and wellness trends away from products with high ABV% content.

The market has been welcomed with many new launches during the first half of the year, which has encouraged interest and consumption of this unique beverage category, and growth is expected to continue through the remainder of 2021. According to GlobalData’s most recent Q1 2021 consumer survey in France, 34%* of consumers stated that they opt for alcoholic drinks products that promote high-quality products and ingredients, highlighting a gap in the market for premium alcoholic drinks products.

The first hard seltzer launch in France was in November 2020 from brand Snowmelt. Since then, many brands have made their appearance on the market such as Hïvy, a fresh, exotic hard seltzer available in red fruit or kiwi flavour varieties. Its taste is stated to be quite similar to still fruit drinks and the product comes in a 33cl aluminium bottle. Natz, on the other hand, is an artisanal spiced seltzer packaged in a glass bottle. Florida, another product with a more summery, American feel is claimed to be both sugar and gluten-free.

Plume&Petal marks another launch in this market, with a very light raspberry-lime version. Sporting a slimmer can format, its dainty look resembles a canned cocktail and is positioned to target women in the younger age demographic who would be more likely to opt for lower-calorie, low-alcoholic beverages.

For the time being, however, the category remains very niche and trendy, less calorific, less sweet and with lower alcohol content. Pricewise, the majority of hard seltzers are priced towards the premium end of the range, coming under the umbrella of a craft alcoholic beverage choice.

Across the alcoholic drinks sphere, producers are responding to consumers’ demand for low ABV% and low-calorie beverages.  According to the aforementioned survey, 43% of respondents stated they drink alcohol occasionally, with a further 24% highlighting that they only consume it when socialising. This highlights that the alcoholic sparkling water sub-category has room for growth, as an increasing number of consumers who only drink alcohol occasionally will be attracted by the lightness, variety in flavours and low-sugar content of hard seltzers.

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