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This monthly summary highlights some of the most interesting product launches in May, with a focus on the direction the alcoholic drinks industry is taking in terms of innovative developments.
Is the wine industry finally waking up and smelling more than just the rosé? Accessibility, casual character, reaching out to new audiences and simplicity were the phrases of the day at this year’s London International Wine Fair. It was not the first time and it will surely not be the last. Delegates and attendees largely agreed, rallied against the infamous navel gazing haunting the wine trade and gleefully carried on discussing the subtle nuances of soil, terroir and bespoke crystal decanters. Still light rosé wine in the UK had after all successfully capitalised on such pesky minor issues as actually witnessing some growth. Why go any further?
Nevertheless, and as surprising as this might sound, it appears that some new product launches are now attempting to do just that. The ever illusive accessibility issue is being addressed head on rather than from an academic standpoint. From lower ABV offerings to the booming interest in Moscato and from RTD spritzer cocktails to novelty frozen wine in pouches, a flurry of launches that are unashamedly taking risks are heading for off-trade licensees just in time for the summer. They are light, convenient and tend not to follow the rules.
The product’s timing appears to be perfect. Phusion Projects launched Moskato Life to take advantage of the popularity of Moscato wines among younger drinkers in the US. The malt-based drink comes in Moscato and rosé flavours and is sweet and lightly carbonated. Phusion explicitly acknowledged the rise in popularity of Moscato wine and its recent recognition in the hip-hop and urban community. Traditionally an after-dinner wine, Moscato has recently taken up residency as a more mainstream drink among the under 40 crowd. Costing US$6.99 per 75cl bottle and with an ABV of merely 6%, the product will then also appear in selected markets across the world.
Spritz cocktails have been the talk of the town across a growing number of hip metropolitan areas around the globe over the last couple of years. iSpritz is an RTD spritz from Riondo USA. Launched in 12 states across the US, its basic ingredients faithfully follow the prosecco and aperol recipe that underscored the cocktail’s success. Convenient and ideal for home consumption, this will be one to watch.
This wine-based RTD comes in Blackberry Merlot, White Pear Pinot Grigio and Strawberry White Zinfandel flavours, while the company claims that they are the first ready-to-drink frozen wine cocktails using real varietal wine. Costing US$1.99 per 30cl pouch, they could prove extremely relevant to the summer festival season as well as to the ever elusive millennial demographic.
Launched in the UK, the Sparkling Collection range includes Hardys Peach Bellini, Hardys Strawberry Bellini, Banrock Station Infusions Summer Berries and Stone’s Ginger Punch. Outlets including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and One Stop will stock the new line, which all come in 25cl cans. Irreverence in a can, just in time for the belated UK spring and Diamond Jubilee outdoor celebrations.
…it might be time to turn to yoghurt. Cream-based liqueurs have largely turned sour. According to Euromonitor International, the category’s global volume CAGR over 2006-2011 was essentially flat as flavoured launches, Diageo’s almighty marketing machine, the launch of Qream in the US or even its celebrity endorsement by Pharrell Williams failed to turn the dairy tide. Nevertheless, and as maturity, stagnation and saturation curdle the category in Western markets, a shift to a yoghurt-based offering could allow it to move into yet untapped markets. China was first on the list of targets, which more than makes sense. Yoghurt sales in the country posted a booming 15% total value CAGR over 2006-2011. Now it is the UK’s turn.
Distributor Maxxium UK is launching what it claims is the “first natural yoghurt liqueur” in the UK market. The company says it can be served chilled on its own or as an ingredient in cocktails. The product has been recently launched in China, Russia, Ireland and Bulgaria.