MillerCoors Getting into the Wine and Hard Coffee Biz

Dear Client:

MillerCoors’ chief Gavin Hattersley wasn’t blowing smoke when he said they plan to move faster and take more risks in 2019 and beyond.

Case in point: In addition to their imminent Cape Line launch, MillerCoors will “launch at least four other new items” in the next six months, MillerCoors VP of innovation Sofia Colucci told the audience.

She offered up a sneak peek at a couple.

First up was MOVO wine spritzers. Yep, you read correctly, MillerCoors is giving the wine business a go. Apparently, the brewer decided they wanted to test out canned wines late last year, so they got to it.

“Using a new innovation model, we’ve quickly developed a differentiated, great tasting better-for-you wine sprizter, with a lower ABV, so it’s taxed and licensed more like a cider,” Sofia said.

Now, within four month’s time, they have a “pretty cool brand” in MOVO. They’re currently testing the line in Ann Arbor, Michigan with O&W, and will add another test ground in Vancouver Washington with Craig Stein in a few weeks.

Another “interesting opportunity” they’re experimenting with? Hard coffee.

Sofia said they had “initially” planned to produce a hard coffee themselves. But then late last year they came across La Colombe, a premium coffee brand growing triple digits with national retail presence, and opted to partner with them on a line instead. They’re set to roll out the hard coffee this summer in three markets: Boston with Burke Distributing, Denver with Coors Distributing Company, and Tampa with JJ Taylor.

The wine spritzers and hard coffee were the only ones we got a peek at during MCDC, but Sofia assured the crowd that “there’s a lot more coming.”

MILLER 64’s NEW LOOK RECEIVES LOTS OF OOHS AND AHHS. Another new piece of info from Sofia? Miller 64 is getting a package refresh, including slim can packaging. The sleek new look generated a very warm reception from the crowd, one of those ‘ohhh wow’ reactions that turned into thunderous applause. Safe to say wholesalers liked what they saw.

START SPREADING THE NEWS: FIFCO USA IS IN THE BLACK, UP 3.4% YTD

Earlier this week we shared some trends from the latest set of IRI data that indicated that FIFCO USA’s dollars were down high single digits for the 52-week period to February 24, and down low single digits YTD. We have since learned that these trends are not truly reflective of FIFCO USA’s performance.

Indeed, FIFCO USA tells BBD that their dollars are actually up 0.6% for the 52-weeks ending February 24, and up a healthy 3.4% YTD through February 24.

How’s that? Apparently, IRI does not currently include all FMB items in its beer database, BBD understands. Turns out one of the malt-based products they report in the wine database instead of beer, is FIFCO USA’s most productive brand – Seagram’s. So that explains the discrepancy in the trends coming from IRI and the numbers coming straight from FIFCO USA.

FIFCO USA tells BBD that they’re working with IRI to bring Seagram’s into the beer database, and expects this move to occur “with the next database restatement, which is scheduled for late summer/early fall.”

R.H. BARRINGER NOW LARGEST NORTH CAROLINA WHOLESALER, POST JEFFRY’S PURCHASE

Last year we broke news that giant, 17-million case A-B distributor, R.A. Jeffreys, would be sold to three suitors: R.H. Barringer of Greensboro, Rocky Mount’s Carolina Eagle, and Adams Beverages. Now the Triangle Business Journal is reporting R.H. Barringer’s purchase of the R.A. Jeffreys distribution center in Raleigh for $13 million.

“By buying the Raleigh portion of the company, Barringer becomes the state’s largest wholesaler,” story says.

It further pegs Jeffreys total sale price to Barringer, Adams and Carolina Eagle at “north of $350 million.”

CANS STILL CAN: BEER INSTITUTE REPORTS CANS UP 1.6 SHARE IN Q32018, DOUBLE THEIR SHARE GROWTH YTD

Despite Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ announcement of aluminum tariffs on Mexico, the EU and Canada last year, the Beer Institute reports that U.S. aluminum can volumes were up 0.4% YTD to Q3 2018.

That third quarter in particular saw robust can trends: the package’s share was up about 1.6 share points during the quarter – twice its share growth trends year-to-date.

Domestic (that’s U.S.-made) cans gained 1.5 share points during the quarter, the BI said, partly due to seltzers’ growing popularity, which is almost always packaged in cans. Another driver: the “continued shift into chain off-premise outlets where cans are most popular.”

But glass is still the top growing imported beer receptacle. “Imports packaged in glass were up 6.4% during the third quarter and are now up 3.1% year-to-date,” per BI.

Meanwhile, on premise, draft continues to gain share, from whence about 7 in 10 beers were sold on-premise through Q3, up 1.1 share points.

Until Monday,

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan

“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”

  • Ray Bradbury
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