RTD (ready-to-drink) beverages are as diverse as the convenience stores selling them.

It’s only natural for the newest, shiniest thing to get most of the attention. So it’s not surprising that Foodservice concepts, eye-catching exterior designs, and paradigm shifts like delivery and mobile ordering get the industry spotlight most of the time. It’s exciting stuff.

Not quite as visible, but noteworthy in its own right, is the explosion of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages vying for space on the c-store shelf. Also known as packaged beverages, these drinks have become popular enough to warrant a category of their own.

It isn’t that the concept of liquid refreshments sold in a container is revolutionary. Canned beverages have been around since 1938. Drinks sold in paper cartons have been around even longer. Both have been mainstays of the c-store industry for years because such packaging is, well . . . convenient. Just pop the tab or open the lid and sip.

It wasn’t until the era of COVID protocols, however, that the RTD boom really got going, as this article from Convenience Store Decisions explains. The trend then quickly gained traction with Generation Z and Millennial consumers, creating a dynamic that fueled a diversity of options, creating more interest than ever in packaged drinks.

Sure alcohol is part of the mix, but so are coffee drinks, energy drinks, health-oriented selections like Kombucha, and a growing number of hybrids combining two or more beverage types. This overview of the market segment from Beverage Industry News provides details on the major sub-categories that can be found within RTDs.

Here’s further information on and examples of this new breed of packaged beverages:

Changing beverage types and adding new item categories make it more important than ever to know with which items are selling and which aren’t; what’s making a robust profit and what’s not. SSCS has been providing inventory management solutions to the industry for over 40 years. Our software can help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and what you need to do next with your inventory mix. If you’d like to find out how our software can help you maximize the potential of the new RTDs, please give us a call at 800-972-7727.