If you were to ask Bret Williams a year ago whether he would ever sell Vermont Hard Cider Co., the answer would have been, “No.” When the president and chief executive officer of the Middlebury, Vt.-based company originally purchased the Woodchuck hard cider brand and facility in 2003, it was not about developing a big company or brand; it was about saving jobs.
From the heart of Brooklyn, N.Y., the home of Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, comes RealBeanz, a ready-to-drink gourmet iced coffee company brimming with New York pride. The self-described “up-and-coming” brand plays off of the classic, artsy Brooklyn vibe to showcase its borough spirit and connect with its “kind of young, kind of hip, and kind of fresh” consumers in the 18- to 35-year-old demographic group, says Jenna Burke, director of public relations and social media for RealBeanz.
Although the vodka sub-category remains the No. 1 segment in terms of volume sales, whiskey has become so popular that it is beginning to take over as the No. 1 spirit on a dollar sales basis, according to Bump Williams Consulting’s monthly wine and spirits report, which cites Chicago-based SymphonyIRI data.
Within the last five years, global launches of carbonated drinks have grown significantly, according to a December 2012 report by the Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights titled “Carving New Niches for Carbonates.”
Vermont Hard Cider Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Bret Williams estimates that when he joined the Middlebury, Vt.-based company in 1996 as its first sales associate that the company shipped approximately 300,000 cases a year. In 2012, the company shipped 3 million cases of its Woodchuck Hard Cider brand, he says.
Among the pumping bass, neon lighting and professional dancers at this year’s nightclub-themed National Distributors Conference for HEINEKEN USA, White Plains, N.Y., a subsidiary of Amsterdam-based Heineken International B.V., the company announced that, for the first time in five years, Heineken Lager is back in the black.
“It can be intimidating to walk down that wine aisle,” says Danny Brager, vice president of beverage alcohol for Nielsen, New York. “There are so many items, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate down the aisle because you just see this sea of bottles.”
The old saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” It’s not too hard to apply that saying to the U.S. beer market as analysts recognize the role different tiers and segments play in the category’s efforts to bring its case and dollar sales positioning back to pre-recession levels.