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📰 Beverage: June 2023 Interesting Reads
News from CircleUp, Aplós, Chamberlain Coffee, Selva Ventures, Served, Brown‑Forman, Diddy vs. Diageo, Whitebox Cocktails
M&A: Corby (Pernod Ricard Canada) acquires 90% stake in Ace Beverage Group, Classic Beverage to acquire Scout Distribution, CircleUp acquired by Brightflow AI, DuClaw Brewing acquired by River Horse Brewing
Funding: AF Drinks (Convivialité Ventures), Aplós ($5.5M Series A), Chamberlain Coffee ($7M Series A-2), Green Light Distribution (SixSibs Capital), PartnerSlate Raises $4M, Ohanafy Raises $2.8M, Selva Ventures $34M Fund II
Product: BeatBox Beverages Hard Tea, Served (Canned Cocktails), Peroni Stile Capri Light Beer, SAYSO packaging redesign
Data: Five Trends Impacting Global BevAlc Growth (IWSR). The Brand Champions 2023 report, Modelo edges Bud Light for selling beer in U.S.
Events: Bar Convent Brooklyn (6/13-14)
Other: Brown‑Forman ($200M Casa Herradura Distillery), Diddy vs. Diageo, Whitebox Cocktails £450,000 Seedrs
Link Only: Carlsberg Marston (CMBC) puts Ringwood Brewery up for sale; Marston’s acquired the company for £19.2M in 2007. Sierra Nevada CEO Jeff White Retires, Founder Ken Grossman Steps in as Interim CEO. New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer to Depart, Diageo CEO Sir Ivan Menezes dies following short illness. Southern Glazer’s President Sheldon Stein retires. Pressed Juicery appoints former CEO of Eureka! Restaurant Group, Justin Nedelman as new CEO.
🥃 Bud Light no longer America’s top selling beer [Newsweek]
Constellation Brands has claimed Mexican lager Modelo Especial is now the number one selling beer in the US, overtaking Bud Light, according to reports.
Newsweek said Modelo Especial sales topped $333M in the four weeks to ending May 28th, which is a 15.6% rise across the same period from last year. Bud Light sales were $297M, a (22.8%) decline over the same period
NielsenIQ sales data revealed Modelo Especial’s sales were around $341.9M compared to Bud Light’s $298.6M in a similar four week period
A Jefferies’ survey found that a majority (65%) of distributors surveyed expect the Bud Light downturn to last at least another 6 months, while 32% believe it could be permanent
Goldman Sachs analyst Bonnie Herzog found that most respondents are “pessimistic about the potential for a full recovery” of Bud Light’s “brand equity and market share.” Those who do see the potential for a turnaround say it could take three to five years.
🥃 Pernod Ricard’s Canadian affiliate Corby to acquire majority stake in Ace Beverage Group Canadian RTD market leader [PR]
Pernod Ricard’s Corby Spirit and Wine (Corby) is to acquire a 90% stake in Ace Beverage Group (ABG), the largest independent player of the fast-growing Canadian ready-to-drink (RTD) market, at an Enterprise Value of CAD$165M.
Corby will have a path to full ownership of ABG through a series of two call options on the remaining shares, exercisable in 2025 and 2028
Established in 2020, through the merger of Cottage Springs (founded 2013) and Ace Hill (founded 2015), Ace Beverage Group has become a Canadian RTD leader
Its flagship brand Cottage Springs is the leading RTD brand in Ontario, with bestselling products that include Cottage Springs Vodka Soda, Vodka Water and Tequila Soda. ABG also boasts a rich and diversified portfolio of other brands such as, Ace Hill, Cabana Coast and Liberty Village.
🥃 Aplós raises $5.5M Series A led by McCarthy Capital. [Food Dive]
Aplós launched in 2020 as a mixologist-crafted, non-alcoholic spirit infused with sustainable, organically-grown broad-spectrum hemp. It was designed to be an alcohol alternative without the calories and hangover, the company said.
Global sales of no- and low-alcohol category value topped $11B in 2022, according to IWSR
The nonalcoholic beverage category is expected to grow by 27.6% among 21- to 24-year-olds by 2025, according to IWSR research cited by Molson Coors
🥃 Chamberlain Coffee Closes $7M Funding Round led by existing Blazar Capital, United Talent Agency and Chamberlain herself [BevNet]
The round also brings new investors to the company’s cap table, including growth equity firm Volition Capital, Electric Feel Ventures, PLTFRM founder Noah Bremen, and beverage incubator L.A. Libations, the latter of which had previously worked with the brand to help establish its retail business last year.
Chamberlain Coffee started in D2C through the company’s website and Amazon, however, started moving into retail with Sprouts, and in April, across 4,000 Walmart stores and will be launching in additional retailers this year
This $7M round closed in April follows a $7M Series A that closed in August 2022. The Company plans to use the funds for new products and improving supply chain
🥃 AF Drinks raises from Convivialité Ventures [Forbes]
In its home country New Zealand, AF Drinks offers 11 SKUs — Palomas, apero dpritzes, Cuba Libres and more; all zero-proof iterations of regular-proof classics — at 300 different grocery liquor outlets.
Though the brand only launched in December of 2020, AF now commands 35% of market share within the New Zealand non-alcoholic spirits and ready-to-drink (RTD) category. You can even sip AF Drinks products on Air New Zealand flights.
After two years in New Zealand, the brand expanded to the United States last February with four SKUs: a zero-proof, zero-sugar vodka spritz, apero spritz, Paloma, and Cuba Libre. AF Drinks is known as Free AF in the US market.
💻 PartnerSlate Raises $4M in Funding [PR]
PartnerSlate is a San Francisco, CA-based online marketplace connecting food & beverage brands and contract manufacturers.
CPG brands that list in the marketplace get matched to nearly 6,000 co-mans in PartnerSlate’s database
PartnerSlate has already connected over $1 billion dollars worth of food and beverage projects to co-mans in 2023
💻 Ohanafy Raises $2.8M in Seed Funding [PR]
Ohanafy, a Wilmington, NC-based company which specialises in craft beverage management software, raised $2.8M in Seed funding, led by Cape Fear Ventures.
Ohanafy’s platform covers all aspects of brewery management, from raw material procurement to sales and distribution
🥃 Sweden’s Norrbottens Destilleri raises £700,000 [The Spirits Business]
The company also launched a modern interpretation of a aquavit, with notes of caraway and dill, with a kick of batak pepper and sun-dried citrus.
The brand was awarded three Gold medals in the The Gin Masters 2022
Green Light Distribution raises from SixSibs Capital [BevNet]
Green Light Distribution, a leading distributor of small and mid-sized wine and craft spirits brands, announced a new minority growth equity investment led by SixSibs Capital, a Milwaukee-based family-owned private investment company.
WIth 60 salespeople and five locations with 240,000 square feet of warehouse space across Texas, Green Light offers its supplier partners state-wide coverage, including more than 4,000 retail outlets and premium distribution services
Green Light expects sales of $250M in 2023
🥃 Jinro, the world’s biggest spirit brand, surpassed 100M cases in 2022 [The Spirits Business]
The Korean soju brand increased by 6.8% to 100.9m nine-litre cases, marking its fifth consecutive year of growth.
Korea’s soju market is very competitive and limited in size, but even under such difficult circumstances, we have maintained our position as the number-one brand through the brand power accumulated over 100 years and differentiated marketing and sales activities.
The company will also look to launch new products to “strengthen” its portfolio in the mid to long term. While Jinro’s popularity has attracted competitors, they are not worried.
🥃 Sierra Tequila joins low-ABV trend [The Spirits Business]
Owned by Hamburg‐based spirits company Borco‐Marken‐ Import Matthiesen, Sierra Tequila de México has developed a loyal following in markets around the world, including Germany and the UK. It is available in more than 91 countries, from Australia to Thailand and Chile.
Since its launch in 1981, the Mexican brand has become known for its iconic sombrero and for being the market leader in Europe. Sierra is also one of the fastest‐growing brands in the spirits sector.
The company said it has a brand awareness of 53%, citing YouGov’s Brand Index data for 2022.
🥃 Beam Suntory debuts Ardray blended Scotch [The Spirits Business]
Laphroaig owner Beam Suntory has released a new blended Scotch that combines malt and grain whiskies from the Highlands, Lowlands and Islands, called Ardray.
Beam Suntory owns the Bowmore, Laphroaig, Auchentoshan, and Ardmore Scotch distilleries. The company said it drew liquid from a ‘handful’ of its Scotch distilleries, as well as whisky from its partner, Scottish spirits firm Edrington, owner of The Macallan, Glenrothes and Highland Park.
🥃 Loverboy Launches Limoncello Spritz [BrewBound]
Unlike drinking Limoncello straight, Loverboy’s Spritz is entirely approachable – gently sweet and zesty, never syrupy. Like the rest of the Loverboy Spritz lineup, the new flavor is gluten free, made with zero added sugar and just 110 calories per can.
🥃 Served launches “bar-quality” canned cocktails. [The Spirits Business]
Served’s ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail range is composed of three of the UK’s ‘most popular’ flavours: Mojito, Passion Fruit Martini, and Piña Colada.
All of the cocktails are presented at 8% ABV and have have been created to ‘bridge the gap’ between inferior quality, low-ABV canned cocktails and ‘less sessionable’ 10% ABV-and-above offerings
Served has chosen to naturally sweeten its cocktails with real fruit instead of sugar, giving them an ‘authentic and refreshing’ flavour profile in a category that it says has previously been dominated by ‘sickly sweet, artificial tasting’ products
The UK RTD category has grown 47.5% in five years and was worth £866M ($1.1B) in 2022, according to the UK White Spirits and RTDs Market Report 2023 by Mintel
🥃 SAYSO Unveils New Sustainable Packaging And New Cocktails [BevNet]
SAYSO has replaced its current box packaging with pouches made from post-consumer recycled materials.
As a result of this packaging redesign, consumers will enjoy a lower price point of $16 for eight cocktail tea bags, down from the previous price of $24
SAYSO offers an all-natural alternative using only the freshest, granulated ingredients including dehydrated fruits and herbs dried at peak flavor
Since July 2022, monthly sales have grown 600% or 38% on average
🧃 BeatBox Beverages ParTEAs Harder with Nationwide Hard Tea Launch [PR]
As the alcoholic tea space grows BeatBox brings its unique take with its Hard Tea: 11.1% ABV, non-carbonated, resealable and recyclable packaging, and low sugar.
BeatBox Hard Tea was the #1 highest velocity item for the company over the last 4 weeks in test markets. With chains like Circle K, Stater Bros. Markets, GoPuff, Kroger, ampm, and more participating in the test, results have secured additional chain distribution with national partners like QuikTrip, Casey's, Kum & Go, GPM, and countless regional retailers.
More than 55,000 accounts buying in the last 90 days
Mela partners with Stone Distributing Co. [BevNet]
Mela (11 employees) has partnered with independent California distributor Stone Distributing Co., making it one of the first non-alcoholic beverage brands in the DSD house’s portfolio of beer, hard kombucha and spirits brands.
Products are sold in single-serve 16.9 oz. cans in about 3,000 stores total across 10 states, including 1,500 accounts in California, and 12-packs of 11.15 oz. cans are available online direct-to-consumer and through Amazon
Citing SPINS data for the 24-weeks ending March 26, 2023, the brand said it has grown sales by 33.4% in natural, 23.3% in conventional and 62.6% in convenience stores
Ready-to-Serve (RTS) Grew 105% to $298M in Last 52W Sales [BevNet]
The reach towards RTS is part of the evolution of ready-to-drink products, with spirits-based RTDs and soft drink crossovers the latest in the category evolution kicked-off by rapid growth from hard seltzers
While RTD growth was at 7% over the last 52 weeks in off-premise channels ending May 13, the premium plus ready-to-serve segment grew 105%, representing $298M in sales
Plaato provides fermentation solutions in large-scale fermentation monitoring [Forbes]
The company was established in 2015 in Oslo by founders Pål Ingebrigtsen and Michael Kononsky, after realizing the existence of a hiccup in the craft beer sector: the impossibility to monitor a process happening behind steel walls.
The Plaato's proofed tech allows real-time fermentation insights now available to breweries, cideries, and distilleries around the world
The Plaato's low-cost plug-and-play fermentation sensor links to the SaaS platform that offers remote monitoring and data analysis
Plaato is currently serving over 250 small or medium sized breweries, cideries and distilleries across 32 countries, including Australia, the U.K. and Canada
India, Mexico and Brazil take over from the US and China as volume growth drivers; US and China remain key to the industry’s value growth
Premiumization in whisky will be a key growth driver for the overall spirits category; the premium plus whisky segment contributed most growth to the whisky category in the U.S last year, and will continue on an upward trend (4%)
Consumer awareness of tequila and mezcal is projected to boost agave alternatives as well (raicilla, bacanora, and sotol) collectively increased by nearly 40% in the U.S. in 2022, and will continue to climb
After years of double-digit numbers, RTD growth has slowed, declining sharply in the U.S. Globally, RTDs grew 2% by volume in 2022, compared to historical growth of 20% annually from 2018 to 2021
Globally, the no-alcohol category grew 8% in 2022, and will continue at 7% growth annually until 2027
Outside the U.S. beer’s outlook is positive with global beer volumes growing 3% in 2022, buoyed by strong performance in India, Vietnam, Mexico, and China
🥃 Bushmills sales pass 1M cases for first time [The Spirits Business]
The Proximo Spirits-owned Bushmills Irish whiskey reported a 9.7% rise in volume sales in 2022 to reach 1.0M nine-litre cases, up from 0.9M.
The growth marks the first time Bushmills has featured in The Brand Champions, an annual report into the world’s biggest-selling spirits
Earlier this year, Bushmills opened its £37M ($46M) Causeway Distillery, which more than doubled its production capacity
Other new entries to The Brand Champions 2023 report include: Belaya Beriozka, a vodka brand owned by Alcohol Siberian Group, grew 43.5% to 1.3M cases. United Spirits also had two brands make it: Indian brand Antiquity Whisky, grew 51.4% to 1.1M cases; and Black Dog Scotch whisky, which grew 51.4% growth to 1.1M cases. Radico Khaitan’s Morpheus Brandy saw 45.5% growth to 1.1M. Bacardi’s Cazadores Tequila grew 32.5% to 1.0M.
🍺 Asahi invests £17.3M ($20M) in lighter beer push for Stile Capri [DrinksRetailing]
The lager, which is 4.2% abv and contains lemon zest, is the brand’s first extension since 1963, the company said. The push will feature four 30-second TV ads.
Aiming to target 25- to 45-year-olds who want a “more informal beer choice”, this is new territory for Peroni Nastro Azzurro and the first time the brand has entered the lighter lager market space
According to Asahi, the Peroni brand’s research shows that consumers are seeking lower abv beverages, as part of wider health trends
🥃 Brown‑Forman Invests $200M in Casa Herradura Distillery [PR]
Casa Herradura has been hand harvesting, producing, and estate bottling fine tequilas from the small town of Amatitán, Jalisco, since 1870. Brown‑Forman acquired Casa Herradura in 2007.
“The world’s growing taste for premium tequila is driving double-digit net sales growth (based on reported net sales growth for the nine months ended January 31, 2023) of our Herradura and el Jimador brands. We believe strong consumer interest in tequila will continue and we’re expanding our production capacity to meet this demand.This strategic investment will improve our production efficiencies and increase our competitiveness.” said Lawson Whiting, President and CEO, Brown‑Forman Corporation
The first phase will expand the water recycling and treatment plant, followed by the expansion of capacity for distilling, bottling, maturation, and processing. It builds upon Casa Herradura’s commitment to environmental sustainability
Tequila is the fastest growing spirits category globally by value with the majority of the growth driven by the super premium+ price segment. The U.S. market accounts for 32 million 9L cases and $12B in retail value (IWSR 2022)
Brown-Forman’s recent M&A activity has been targeted at premium brands, including the purchase of the Diplomático Rum family of brands, which hold top placements for super and ultra premium rums, and Gin Mare, the world’s #1 ultra-premium gin. Its portfolio growth is still driven by its major whiskeys, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve, as well as its RTDs offerings. [BevNet]
Brown-Forman reported 8% organic growth in FY 2023, fueled by its major whiskey brands Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve, as well as the launch of Jack & Coke RTD cocktail
🥃 Diddy is suing Diageo over his vodka and tequila brands [CNBC]
Sean “Diddy” Combs is suing multinational spirits giant Diageo for alleged racial discrimination in the handling of his Ciroc (vodka) and DeLeon( tequila) brands, which Combs claims the company typecast as “Black brands.”
Diddy claimed Diageo also “sabotaged” his DeLeon brand tequila with shoddy packaging that “made the product look cheap,” while showing other celebrity brands, such as Casamigos tequila, more attention and resources
Diageo acquired Clooney’s Casamigos in 2017 for $1 billion. It’s the top-selling U.S. tequila brand, representing 12.6% of tequila sales in U.S. retail stores, according to data from Nielsen and consulting firm Bump Williams
Combs Wines and Spirits entered an equal partnership with Diageo in 2007 for the marketing and promotion of Ciroc. Following the success of the partnership, Diageo co-purchased the DeLeon tequila brand with Combs’ company in 2013
🥃 Whitebox Cocktails seeks £450,000 on Seedrs [The Spirits Business]
The Seedrs crowdfunding campaign will launch on Tuesday 13 June. Whitebox Cocktails has a valuation of £7m ($8.7M). The funds will help to further grow London and Edinburgh-based Whitebox Cocktails, which has experienced ‘rapid growth’ in the UK.
In 2022, Whitebox Cocktails grew its UK distribution from 60 to more than 700 independent outlets. The brand has recently launched in Selfridges, and is stocked at independent retailers including Shop Cuvée, Clapton Craft and Yield
Available in Denmark, France and Ireland, Whitebox recently secured a US distribution partner, achieving 400% sales growth in the first 6 months
In November 2021, Whitebox secured £350,000 ($477,370) to fund a production site in Edinburgh
💻 CircleUp Acquired by Brightflow AI [PR]
The acquisition will combine CircleUp's data and machine learning capabilities with the Brightflow AI financial intelligence toolkit to create a comprehensive solution for consumer companies that need help growing their businesses.
Despite tracking over 1.6 million brands and 16 million attributes, some brands previously told NOSH it was difficult to gain sustained value from Helio given its price point and limited data set
The remaining unknown for CircleUp is the future of its venture arm, CircleUp Growth Partners. Though portfolio companies had been told the book of business had been acquired by another firm, with the core investment team moving over as well, the specific acquirer has yet to be disclosed
🚚 Classic Beverage to Acquire Around 1M Cases From Scout Distribution in San Diego [BrewBound]
The San Diego deal between Scout and Classic follows a September transaction that saw Scout and Classic merge beverage-alcohol portfolios in the greater Los Angeles area under the Scout Distribution LA banner.
Newport Cove Investment Holdings, the parent company of Classic Beverage, became an equity partner in Scout Distribution’s parent, Ocotillo Holdings
The addition of Scout’s San Diego portfolio will increase its volume to more than a million cases from brands such as Harland Brewing, Latitude 33 Brewing, Nova Brazil Hard Kombucha, Thorn Brewing, 2 Towns Cider, Eppig Brewing, Abnormal Beer Company, and Fall Brewing, among others
Earlier this year, Classic Beverage added several non-alcoholic brands to its portfolio from Congo Brands (Prime Hydration and Energy brands and Alani Nu)
🍻 DuClaw Brewing (Baltimore, MD) Acquired by River Horse Brewing (Ewing, NJ) [BrewBound]
At its peak in 2021, DuClaw produced 30,201 barrels of beer annually, River Horse Brewing’s production peaked in 2017, with an estimated 10,473 barrels.
DuClaw is available in 24 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Canada
DuClaw distributes its beers in 23 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Canada
River Horse will be expanding capacity at its Ewing facility “in order to meet the demands of DuClaw’s national distribution footprint”
💰 Selva Ventures closes $34M Fund II for Emerging Health & Wellness Consumer Brands [PR]
Launched in 2019 with a $10M Fund I, Selva Ventures has invested in leading better-for-you brands including MUD\WTR (coffee alternative), Native Pet (pet supplements), Mid-Day Squares (functional chocolate) and Cake (sexual wellness). The firm focuses on Seed and Series A startups with proven early momentum, and supports their traction with capital and resources across finance, operations and retail partnerships.
The firm has received backing from Unilever Ventures, PagsGroup and Obelysk, highlighting an investor base that includes a number of investors across the consumer products and professional sports industries
As Selva Ventures expands its capital base, it is diversifying its areas of focus, with a particular emphasis on the beauty and personal care sector
More details on the fund from The Consumer VC Podcast