In the mid-2000s the Hunter Valley was home to some of Australia’s most successful volume brands, from Tyrrell’s Long Flat to Mount Pleasant’s Elizabeth. The region’s winemakers were raking in orders from around the world and enjoying huge growth as a result, but they were not particularly happy.
After witnessing the advent of baobab gin, hop gin, cocoa gin, gin with ants in it, nettle gin and seaweed gin, you could be forgiven for thinking the flavour conveyor belt had run out of options. You would be wrong.
Over in Ireland a 300-strong group of independent off-licence owners has aligned itself with the health lobby in a bid to prevent supermarkets wiping them out.
Surely “no/low-alcohol drinks” would be at the front of the queue if ever a category were in need of a sexier name. But this compilation of drinks – which includes lower or alcohol- free variants of cider, beer, wine and even spirits – has attracted considerably more interest lately.
It’s the time of year when Halloween paraphernalia masks the fact that retailers are already in full Christmas mode, yet we know that the pumpkins on shelf will soon magically transform into festive delights.
People are now discovering and making innovative ciders all around the world and here in Britain fans are keen to reinstate this country’s position as one of the leaders of the category. This year annual cider sales rose to a three year high, topping the £1 billion mark for the first time since 2014.
“What’s the difference between an English wine merchant and a terrorist?” says Australian Vintage’s award-winning winemaker, Peter Hall. “You can negotiate with a terrorist.”
In the uncertain political and economic times created by Brexit, Chile looks like a wine- supplying country that could bring a bit of reassurance and calm to the market.
In the heart of cava country a once-loved grape variety that nearly went the way of the dodo is enjoying a remarkable renaissance. Sumoll, known locally as the Pinot Noir of the Mediterranean due to its thin skin and diva-like antics on the
Brexit dominated discussions at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association's annual conference, which took place 12 September. At the event key speakers were brought together to discuss implications for the drinks trade:
A focus on local ales, craft beer and mini-kegs has seen Morrisons’ beer category outperform the market and post 4.5% year-on- year sales growth. DRN travelled to Yorkshire to meet the buyers, John Morris and James French, and get the lowdown on the success the retailer has enjoyed after a sweeping range review.
Plastic has conquered the world. From manufacturing to retail, its presence is felt in virtually every stage of the supply chain. The soft drinks industry has been particularly quick on the uptake, with plastic bottles the pack solution of choice for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Celebrating the record of the business community on gender equality can be a trying endeavour as women are still massively under-represented in boardrooms. Female chief execs run just 7% of FTSE 100 companies and that percentage drops for the FTSE 250. Women account for a quarter of seats on FTSE 100 boards, but the increase has mainly been among non-executives who do not have their fingers on the buttons that matter. The notion that middle-aged, rich, white men run the show is impossible to ignore, and the issue has tongues wagging again after the BBC published details of its highest earners and revealed that two-thirds of top earners are male.
South Africa secured a resounding victory when DRN recently polled 200 independent merchants in a bid to find which countries’ wines are performing best in the sector. It finished ahead of Italy, Argentina and Spain as the country growing sales in the strongest fashion and it is easy to see why. Quality has improved drastically in recent years. Classics from well-established regions are winning plaudits, a dynamic new wave of winemakers is pushing boundaries and producing intriguing offerings and at the very top end scores from critics speak for themselves.
On the surface it looks as though cider is struggling, with sales down 3% in the past year (Nielsen, year to January 2015), but scratch away a little bit an you will find plenty of reason for encouragement. While mainstream brands like Stella Artois Cidre and Magners are tanking, arguably the two most important sectors of the market are thriving. Fruit cider is going great guns, with sales up 11%. This is crucial because fruit cider is a hotbed of innovation that has been incredibly successful at winning over young adults and the term “cider” a lot more friendly for millions of consumers.
What was once regarded as a small sub-category of wine can now be seen as a thriving category in its own right. Retailers are still a little unsure about where these products should sit in BWS, but many are seeing strong sales and have been willing to experiment with merchandising, and this is one of the subjects we examine in detail in this supplement.
It sometimes seems like the whole brewing industry has gone daft for craft. The redrawn landscape of the British brewing industry has led many of the more established family-owned producers to rethink their approaches to the market.
The UK cocktail culture is booming, according to industry experts, and a wider range of on-trade outlets than ever are upping their game with exotic mixed drinks. The challenge for retailers is to replicate this in the off-trade, according to Hi-Spirits managing director Dan Bolton.
Finding German wines on retailers’ shelves used to be like playing Where’s Wally? But while you still need an eagle eye, this is clearly changing. Across market sectors, a shift is happening, quietly but convincingly.
Britain is veering towards a situation where guidelines will state that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, a leading commentator has warned.
A surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn among Canterbury’s students saw the city’s parliamentary constituency fall to Labour in June’s general election for the the first time in a century.
Step aside niche beers and artisan gin – we are about to see a raft of craft ciders vying for shelf space, according to two cider experts.
The UK gin category has enjoyed astronomical growth in the past few years, driven by innovative brands that have pushed the boundaries around taste, price and serve. One of its biggest success stories is Brockmans, which caused a stir when it was launched in 2009.
Abruzzo is a spectacular region full of picture- perfect villages and Roman remains nestled amid dramatic, mountainous scenery, but it remains something of a hidden gem for tourists. The resulting lack of foreign influence means it offers a window to an Italian lifestyle that has not changed for centuries.
Virtual reality is changing the world, from reducing errors made during surgery to bringing schoolbooks to life and enabling us to browse shops from the comfort of our own homes. It is an exciting bandwagon full of tech firms, rollercoaster designers, casino operators, neurosurgeons and Hollywood execs.
In 1973 New Zealand was selling almost 100% of its dairy products to the UK and had been doing so for a century. Then it received a call to say the market was closed because Britain had joined the EU, and it had to embark on the long and strenuous process of forging new trade deals with countries across the world.
By all accounts 2017 is set to be a fi ne year for South African winemakers and consumers. When it comes to South Africa’s export markets, the UK remains number on the list as the trade and consumers embrace the energy and style of an industry that also offers keen pricing to give Cape wine a competitive edge over many other nations targeting the UK trade.
Brands need provenance to survive in the modern cider category: those that can demonstrate a strong back- story and sense of place are thriving and those that cannot are falling by the wayside. British consumers are becoming more discerning about the products they are purchasing and are looking for genuine imports and local, independent producers, and that is a strong factor in Kopparberg’s success. It might not be a brand many in the UK immediately associate with heritage and provenance, but it has a back- story to rival any drinks brand on the market.
Denis O’Flynn was the managing director at Pernod Ricard UK and chairman of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. Here he discusses how to motivate a workforce within an already successful business to spur them on to greater heights.
Craft beer in America is still buzzing. The number of breweries is increasing at a rate of more than two a day and the movement now accounts for 12.3% of the national beer market. It’s a remarkable success story, given that it has grown from nothing in less than 40 years.
For more information about recruitment advertising online or within Drinks Retailing News magazine please contact:
Erica Stuart on 01293 558 132