Each year our Growth Brands Awards recognize the top products and suppliers in the beverage alcohol business. The April issue of Beverage Dynamics magazine highlighted the fastest-growing and top-selling spirits and wine brands. Now, we honor the 2021 Growth Brands Suppliers of the Year, and Hall of Fame entries.
The Suppliers of the Year are Brown-Forman in spirits, and E & J Gallo Winery in wine. Both companies boast big, diverse portfolios stocked with Growth Brands Awards winners. We will post interview with executives from both companies about this honor in the coming weeks.
As for the 2021 Hall of Fame brands: they must receive at least 15 Growth Brand Awards through the years, in any category. Entering the Hall of Fame this year are Evan Williams and Bacardi on the spirits side, and Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi in wine.
Congrats to all the winners!
Growth Brands Hall of Famers
We have three new entries into our Growth Brands Hall of Fame this year. All have earned at least 15 Growth Brands Awards across any number of years.
One the wine side we congratulate Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.
The Woodbridge Winery was founded by the legendary California winemaker in 1979, when Robert Mondavi acquired a local cooperative of grape growers in the Lodi region. Having grown up in Lodi, Mondavi knew the region was ideal for growing wine grapes from which he could produce quality wines at affordable prices.
Constellation Brands bought the Robert Mondavi Corporation in 2004. This year, Woodbridge took home a Comeback Growth Brand Award for a 4% sales growth in 2020 over 2019. This equated to 8.9 million 9-liter cases sold in the U.S.
The two spirits brands joining our Hall of Fame are Evan Williams and Bacardi.
Evan Williams opened Kentucky’s first commercial distillery in 1783. His namesake bourbon brand is now the flagship of Heaven Hill. Evan Williams won an Established Growth Brand Award in 2021, after increasing U.S. sales 7.7% to 3 million 9-liter cases in 2020.
This past year, Evan Williams introduced new packaging for its family of whiskey products.
“Evan Williams bourbon is a testament to sustained success across the ebbs and flows of the American whiskey category,” says Julie Cole, Evan Williams senior brand manager. “We’re excited to rejuvenate the Evan Williams family packaging to both enhance the consumer experience and modernize the label design. Evan Williams was an entrepreneurial leader in the bourbon movement, and we continue to honor his success through the award-winning Evan Williams bourbon franchise.”
The brand also continued its successful and award-winning American-Made Heroes campaign. This celebrates stories of military veterans, chosen for acts of service at home and abroad. The 2020 Evan Williams American-Made Heroes were selected from more than 6,500 nominations, and are featured on more than 360,000 bottles available nationwide.
Each of the five veterans recognized received a $5,000 donation to the charity of their choice, through the recently launched American-Made Hero Foundation, as well as their picture and story on the side of the label.
Bacardi may be one of the giants in spirits world, with a portfolio of more than 200 brands and labels, but it all started with its eponymous Bacardi rum brand. That product continues to excel, totaling the third-highest sales U.S. numbers among all spirits Growth Brands Awards winners.
Bacardi earned a Comeback Growth Brand Award in 2021 for its 4.3% rise in 2020 over the year prior. The brand saw sales of 6.78 million 9-liter cases in the U.S.
Bacardi rolled out a 100% biodegradable bottle in 2020. Rather than petroleum-based plastics used by the company today, the new, sustainable packaging is made of biopolymer that derives from the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy.
This will replace 80 million plastic bottles — 3,000 tons of plastic — currently produced by Bacardi across its portfolio of brands every year, the company estimates.
Bacardi also tapped into another fast-growing trend in 2020 with further investment and focus on ecommerce.
“During the pandemic, we have seen an increase in our online sales of around 800%,” says Lorran Brown Cosby, Bacardi North America’s VP of Digital Commerce. “That’s growth, activity and engagement. We’ve gotten past a huge hurdle: people wondering whether they can buy spirits online. All of our brands are now seeing triple-digital growth online.”
“Before [the pandemic], we thought that it would take us five, seven or even ten years to generate consumer awareness of our spirits ecommerce,” she adds. “And then it would have taken even more time to convince people to purchase these products online. Now we say, what we were looking to do in three years we have done in three weeks.”
Congratulations to the newest members of our Hall of Fame!
Cheers Magazine Editor Melissa Dowling contributed to this article.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Why Single Barrel Tequila is the Next Retail Trend.