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MillerCoors Wants a Piece of the Low Calorie Malt Beverage Market

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Just a few weeks after MillerCoors announced that it was axing its “Two Hats” line of cheap, flavored beers, the alcohol giant is getting back on the horse with the announcement of a new product lineup targeting much of the same market: Cape Line. Described as a new line of flavored, “premium alcohol beverages,” Cape Line seeks to answer the age-old question, “Can you just declare something to be ‘premium’?” The answer, as it turns out, is yes.

According to the MillerCoors blog, this new line of malternative beverages is intended “for consumers who are looking for lower-calorie versions of their favorite beverages without sacrificing taste and flavor,” and in the process “will contain about half the sugar and calories, on average, of leading flavored malt-base beverages.” That means the likes of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Twisted Tea and Lime-A-Ritas, which each pack in the neighborhood of 190 or 200 calories per 12-ounce serving.

Oddly, what this also seems to mean is that the “malternative beverage” market isn’t really the market where Cape Line is meant to be competing. Rather, this is a malternative beverage whose calorie count will put it in the same neighborhood as the “spiked seltzer” market of such brands as White Claw, Truly and Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water, which are all 100 calories or less per 12-oz serving. This is a sensible area to want a piece of the pie, as those three brands are up by “triple digits,” according to MillerCoors, over the last 52 weeks as increasingly popular, health-conscious alcohol selections. However, it must be noted that in releasing Cape Line nationwide in the spring of 2019, MillerCoors will be pretty late to the party, giving brands like Truly all the time in the world to dominate the segment.

Not announced yet are potential flavors for the lineup of beverages, which are simply said to be made with “six ingredients, none of them artificial.” It’s an oddly incomplete way to announce a new lineup of beverages, so we’ll just have to see what the alcohol giants have up their sleeve next spring.

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