High-street pub chains are slashing the number of ready-to-drink brands on shelves to concentrate on stocking more profitable lines.
Sales of RTDs have fallen by 11% in the last year to £843.5m, according to AC Nielsen data published in the Morning Adver-tiser's sector report this week.
In a further blow to the market, outlets which traditionally attract younger consumers RTDs' key audience are switching their focus to premium-packaged lagers.
SFI Group, whose outlets include Bar Med and the Slug & Lettuce, said it had already delisted Red Square and VK.
Jason Danciger, SFI's purchasing director, added: "We are at the cutting edge of what consumers want and are quick to react to the market.
"If RTDs were to die tomorrow, the risk to us would be negligible."
Julia Rowlinson, purchasing manager at Mitchells & Butlers, said: "RTDs are no longer a key category for us.
"We are scaling down on our RTD lines to make room for other categories. We have cut a lot of the Bacardi Breezer and Archers Aqua flavours."
Adding to the pressure on suppliers to bring innovation to the category, Yates' Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen said it planned to review brands' performance every six months and cut "flavours that aren't performing".
Ray Weeks, marketing operations manager at TGI Fridays, said: "We have cut space given to RTDs and most lines are now optional stock for our outlets. Smirnoff Ice remains the only must-stock brand."
l RTD report p25-28