Through an exclusive partnership, Chicago-based Molson Coors Beverage Co. will distribute La Colombe Coffee Roasters' ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products in the drug and convenience channels through its distribution network in 2021. La Colombe plans to fully transition its distribution for all channels to the Molson Coors network over time.

The deal is the latest in a string of moves Molson Coors has made to expand its business beyond the beer aisle since redefining itself as Molson Coors Beverage Co. in late 2019.

"This is one more way we're innovating beyond our traditional product lines to deliver what consumers want," said Pete Marino, president of emerging growth at Molson Coors. "It's a mutually beneficial partnership for all; La Colombe will enhance its reach through our established distribution network, our distributors will benefit from access to another fast-growing, high-demand product they can offer their retailer customers, and Molson Coors adds an above-premium offering to the top of our non-alcohol roster of brands."

Consumer demand for specialty and RTD coffee products continues to grow. The U.S. market for RTD coffee is worth $4.6 billion, and it is expected to grow by two-thirds over the next five years, according to an analysis based on IRI and Spins data along with blended data from investor, Mintel and Euromonitor reports.

"When two great companies come together, something really special can come out of it," said Todd Carmichael, chief executive officer and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, in a statement. "This partnership has been years in the making. We will combine our product innovation and growing brand with the strength and breadth of Molson Coors' extensive distribution network and powerful retailer relationships. For us, this is an exciting recipe to deliver beautiful coffees to more people across the country."

The partnership with Molson Coors will more than double La Colombe's retail footprint in drug and convenience stores, the latter of which ranks as the top channel for RTD coffee, accounting for some 41 percent of total retail sales, based Nielsen data.

Molson Coors plans to begin distributing La Colombe's Draft Latte and Brazilian Cold Brew products beginning in January 2021. The partnership is inclusive of extensions of all existing RTD coffee product lines and future RTD products. Molson Coors also will have access to any new, innovative products the coffee roaster may develop.

RTD coffee is just one area in which Molson Coors is focusing in the non-alcohol beverage category. The company recently unveiled a new slate of non-alcohol products made in collaboration with beverage creator and incubator L.A. Libations, and moved into alcohol-free, cannabis-infused beverages through its joint venture with the HEXO Corp. in Canada and Colorado.