- Molson Coors will begin distributing La Colombe Coffee Roasters' ready-to-drink coffee products into drug and convenience channels in 2021, the companies said in a statement.
- As part of the deal, the partnership includes extensions of all existing RTD coffee product lines and future RTD products that are developed. Molson Coors also will have access to any new products the coffee roaster may develop.
- The announcement by Molson Coors to distribute La Colombe is the latest in a series of transactions to help the beer giant diversify its product offerings. In mid-September, Molson Coors formed a joint venture with Yuengling to brew and sell its beers.
It was just about a year ago when Molson Coors Brewing said it was changing its name to Molson Coors Beverage Company as part of its broader effort to expand beyond its namesake beer offerings. At the time, the company said the new name was intended "to better reflect its strategic intent to expand beyond beer and into other growth adjacencies."
The company's intent several months ago has now become a reality. It announced last November a partnership and investment in L.A. Libations, the incubator that has worked as an accelerator for Body Armor sports drinks and Core Nutrition before they were picked up by Coca-Cola and Keurig Dr Pepper, respectively. Molson Coors recently rolled out a suite of nonalcoholic offerings from the investment, including a full-flavored seltzer with added probiotics; a 100% plant-based, diet soda without calories, sugar and artificial ingredients; and a grain-based milk alternative packed with proteins and nutrients.
Molson Coors followed that up a few weeks later through its deal with America's oldest brewery when it announced the joint venture deal with Yuengling to expand the beer's reach to the western United States. And just earlier this week, the company was named the exclusive manufacturer, marketer and distributor of Coca-Cola's Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.
Now, the manufacturer of Coors Light, Miller Lite and Blue Moon is turning to coffee with La Colombe, a fast-growing maker of RTD drinks. The two beverage makers are no stranger to each other after Molson Coors announced last December it was testing La Colombe cold brew with the addition of an alcoholic malt in Denver, Boston and Tampa/Fort Myers in Florida. What's interesting is that in the case of family-owned Yuengling and La Colombe, Molson Coors signed distribution deals rather than purchasing the whole company or taking a stake in them.
Even though Molson Coors remains committed to its iconic beers through product innovations and new offerings, the company has little choice but to look for new ways of growing — that means looking beyond its brews to categories that are increasingly relevant with consumer.
For Molson Coors, the distribution deal allows it to participate in the fast-growing RTD coffee segment. The U.S. market for RTD coffee is worth $4.6 billion, and it is expected to grow by two-thirds during the next five years, Molson Coors said, citing market data.
With beer sales slumping at Molson Coors and across the industry as a whole, the deal with La Colombe will enable it to tap into some of that growth to rejuvenate its own sales simply by using its own established distribution network. La Colombe could benefit from that network to enter more retailers much faster than it would have otherwise done on its own.
"There's still huge demand for the Miller Lites and the Coors Lights so we're still investing and in fact doubling down on those brands, but we also want to make sure that we have a wider portfolio so we can meet the consumer trends," Marty Maloney, a Molson Coors spokesman, said earlier this year.
There is little debate that Molson Coors has made a serious effort to do just that, especially with its own product rollouts and the recent partnership announcements. The real measure of its success will be to see whether these initiatives help the company grow sales and improve their bottom line in a meaningful way in the long term.