Desperados tequila beer

Sales of Desperados have increased 475% year on year

Spirit beers such as Desperados have been tipped to become a £200m category in the next three years.

Desperados owner Heineken made the claim this week as it revealed sales of its tequila beer had grown 475% year on year from £5m to more than £20m [IRI 52 w/e 18 August 2013]. Its success had driven a 262% increase in total sales of spirit beers - known as ‘speers’ - to £26m.

Speers suppliers said the products had attracted interest from consumers aged 18 to 25 and from trade buyers who saw them as adding excitement and value to the lager category.

“Desperados is a brand shoppers actively seek out and, as such, is not reliant on promotions to drive rate of sale,” said Heineken off-trade sales director Martin Porter.

Mark Hopper, innovation head at SHS Drinks which owns rum-flavoured Cuvana and bourbon-flavoured Dead Crow beers, agreed the category could grow to £200m. However, he added: “The most important issue is retaining the value and the premium status of the category rather than growing the size.”

Global Brands, owner of the Amigos tequila beer, said new opportunities for the beer industry lay in spirits other than tequila. This year, it launched bourbon-flavoured beer Buddy’s, generating “a great deal” of trade interest.

Heineken brought UK distribution of Desperados in house last year and has invested heavily to increase distribution from 3.4% of off-trade outlets in April 2012 to about 75% today.

Next year, it is backing the brand with a £6m push and a six-pack for the grocery channel. The six-pack accounted for 20% of sales in France, claimed the brewer, adding that it did not currently plan to introduce Desperados variants available overseas - such as Desperados Red with Guarana - to the UK.