Molson Coors invests nearly $35 million in hard seltzer canning line, other upgrades in the U.K.

Molson Coors Beverage Co. this week said it is making a $34.6 million (£25 million) investment in its Burton-upon-Trent brewery in the U.K. to add a new hard seltzer canning line and upgrade its beer and cider packaging capabilities.  

The investment in the hard seltzer canning line paves the way for the company to meet expected rapid growth in demand for hard seltzers in the U.K. and Western Europe. It will start packaging Three Fold, the company’s recently released hard seltzer brand, in 330-milliliter sleek cans, and support future beverages in the ready-to-drink and premium beer segments.

The first cans are slated to roll off the new line in spring 2022.

“The hard seltzer and ready-to-drink categories present a huge opportunity for growth,” says Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors in Western Europe. “The RTD category is the fastest growing in alcohol globally and, while it’s early days, we’re seeing strong indications that hard seltzers will prove as popular in Western Europe as they have in the U.S.”

Adding hard seltzer capabilities in the U.K. are part of a broader investment plan to grow Molson Coors’ above-premium hard seltzer business across the globe. The company in May said it was investing $100 million in its Canadian operations to build in-house production capability for hard seltzers, an investment that will more than quadruple capacity. And last year, new canning lines and other equipment were installed in the U.S. to more than quintuple capacity to make hard seltzers and other beverages.

The latest round of upgrades in Burton build on $138.4 million (£100 million) in investments Molson Coors has made into the Burton-upon-Trent headquarters facility over the last decade and “will allow us to scale up at speed and help our customers to rapidly respond to that growing demand from consumers in this quickly emerging category,” Whitehead says.

It also comes in the wake of a $7 million (£5 million) multimedia marketing campaign for Three Fold that launched earlier this month, which represents the biggest brand investment Molson Coors ever has made into a new category in Europe.

Work will begin on the new canning line and upgrades to the beer and cider packaging lines later this year.

“This latest round of investment demonstrates not only our commitment to grow our portfolio but also to our great brewing home and town of Burton,” Whitehead says. In recent years, Molson Coors, which employs more than 1,000 people at the brewery, has spent millions in upgrades aimed at increasing efficiency and lessening the brewery’s environmental footprint.

Projects have included updates to equipment that have allowed the brewery to be self-sufficient in CO2 production, powered with 100% renewable electricity and zero-waste to landfill.

“While we’re committed to opening up new opportunities for growth for our customers by responding to changing consumer tastes beyond beer and cider, our heartlands are in beer and the ongoing investment we’re making in our Burton Brewery will help to further drive efficiencies and meet our sustainability goals,” Whitehead says.