News, Notes & Trends

ALBERTSONS Debuts New Wine Brands
at Grocery and Drugstores Across U.S .

In a resounding statement about the increasing importance of quality wine to mainstream U.S. consumers, Albertsons has launched three new award-winning lines of wine to be sold at its Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Sav-on Drugs and Osco Drug stores, where legal. The new brands range in price from $7 to $18 suggested retail and have won silver and gold medals at several international wine competitions.

Q Family ShotIn announcing the launch, Larry Johnson, chairman and ceo of the Boise, ID-based chain of 2,300 retail food and drugstores in 31 states across the U.S., said, “We have become more discerning in selecting products and brands that we believe our customers will enjoy…. These brands represent some of the most innovative concepts in the wine industry today and will position Albertsons as a leader in the quality wines category.”

The Origin label includes a collection of six varietals from different countries, ranging in price from $6.99 to $14.99. They include Origin 2003 Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand; 2002 Chianti and 2002 Pinot Grigio, from Italy; 2002 Malbec, from Argentina; and 2002 Shiraz and 2002 Chardonnay, from Australia. The bottles are consumer-friendly in that they each carry a flavor profile badge on the front, such as “Fruity,” “Spicy” or “Crisp.” And they also have a Wine Style Guide on the back label, which identifies a range (for example, from soft to full-bodied or from dry to sweet) and where that particular wine fits within that range.

Jenna Peak Coastal wines are identified as providing “A true sense of California” and include 2000 Coastal California Chardonnay, 2000 Coastal California Cabernet Sauvignon and 2000 Coastal California Merlot, ranging in suggested retail price from $7.99 to $10.99. These wines also feature a Wine Style Guide on the back label.

Finally, Q Sonoma County Wines are produced from “small lots,” said Mitch Oddo, vice president, liquor merchandising/procurement. “The premium wine segment in Albertsons is showing very positive growth, and we are especially proud to introduce these high-quality Sonoma County wines into this growing category.” The Q label includes 2000 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2000 Sonoma County Merlot and 2000 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. They range in price from $13.99 to $17.99.


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The National Association of Convenience Stores Show, held recently in Chicago, afforded Beverage Dynamics publisher Charles Forman (right) the opportunity to talk about the beer business with Bill Laufer, vice president, convenience channel and trade relations, national retail sales, Anheuser-Busch.

WOF Logo_ white type in art

CORRECTION

In the 19th Annual Beverage Dynamics Advertising & Promotion Awards, published in the November/December 2003 issue of Beverage Dynamics, Wines of France tied for Third Place in the PR Campaign category. We inadvertently printed the wrong image in announcing their award. This image is the correct representation of that winning PR campaign.


C-STORE Industry Sales Up

Statistics released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) at its annual show in Chicago revealed that while overall industry sales showed an increase in 2002 of 2.7 % to $290.6 billion, industry profits tumbled 24.3% from the previous year. The decline was driven primarily by higher wages and increasing costs for insurance and rents.

CONVENIENCE STORE INDUSTRY

Top 10 Product Categories *
As a percentage of in-store sales

2001 2002
1. Cigarettes 38.7% 36.0%
2. Foodservice 11.4% 12.3%
3. Packaged Beverages
(non-alcoholic)
11.7% 12.2%
4. Beer 9.9% 11.0%
5. General Merchandise 3.6% 4.0%
6. Candy 3.4% 3.9%
7. Fluid Milk Products 3.0% 2.8%
8. Other Tobacco 2.7% 2.7%
9. Salty Snacks 2.3% 2.7%
10. Packaged Sweet Snacks 1.8% 1.8%

*Not including sale of motor fuels,
which are now sold in an estimated 80% of c-stores.
Source: NACS 2003 State of the Industry

Most product categories grew their share of in-store sales, with the fourth-ranked beer category jumping to an 11% share of c-store overall sales. Non-alcoholic beverages, ranked just above beer, also increased their share, to 12.2%. Beer sales are expected to grow by 3.0% in 2004. NACS research shows that consumers indicated they “most often” purchase beer at convenience stores 23.1% of the time, trailing supermarket/grocery stores (40.2%) and liquor stores (24.9%).

Absolut.LevelAbsolut Introduces LEVEL Superpremium Vodka

Beginning in March, The Absolut Spirits Company is rolling out a new superpremium vodka called Level. The 80 proof spirit is produced in Sweden using a combination of distillation techniques, a first for vodka, the company says. This production process includes both continuous and batch distillation. In continuous distillation, the vodka is distilled hundreds of times for smoothness, the company says. It then undergoes batch-by-batch distillation in pot stills.

“The innovative combination of distillation methods delivers a unique product with exceptional taste,” said Carl Horton, president and chief executive officer, The Absolut Spirits Company.

Level will be sold initially in 50 ml, 750 ml and 1 liter bottles at superpremium price points, the company says. The tall, slim frosted bottled features a small, metallic silhouette of the Absolut bottle.

Meanwhile, Danzka, another imported vodka introduced by The Absolut Spirits Company last August, launched its first national advertising campaign last month. The new Danish product includes a standard 80 proof vodka, as well as offerings in Citron and Grapefruit flavors. It is packaged in an aluminum bottle, which motivated the “Made To Chill” theme of the ad campaign.


BUSINESS BRIEFS

Hine Cognac, known best for vintage cognacs as well as Hine Rare VSOP and Antique, joins the Todhunter/Cruzan portfolio, and operators can expect wider distribution and support of the cognac based exclusively on Grande and Petite Champagne-grown grapes… Increasing its substantial Alexander Valley holdings, Rodney Strong Vineyards has purchased 516 acres, referred to as “Rockaway Vineyard” from Bill Hambrecht of Healdsburg, CA. The acquisition includes 125 acres of hillside vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Syrah… Casa Noble Tequila, the ultra-premium line of tequilas, has signed with St. Helena-based Wilson Daniels, Ltd., an international marketing and importing company of fine wines and spirits, to distribute its products in the U.S. and Canada… Patrick Kenny, chairman and ceo, announced the creation of Drinks Americas, based in Wilton, CT. The company specializes in marketing and distributing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages associated with icon entertainers, sports figures, celebrities and destinations. The current portfolio includes Willie Nelson’s Old Whiskey River Bourbon and Bourbon Cream, Roy Yamaguchi’s Y Sake, among several others… Beringer Blass Wine Estates (BBWE) has formed a new division called World Wine Estates; it has concurrently reached agreement with Prestige Wine Imports, of New York, to sell and represent brands under the World Wine Estates umbrella, which is beginning with the launch of a new BBWE brand from Australia called Kangaroo Ridge ($5 to $7 suggested retail)… Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins, has acquired Florida-based Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits, the U.S. affiliate of the French Group Marie Brizard et Roger International.

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