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Industry sluggishness hits import category.

Industry Sluggishness Hits Import Category

With imported beer market gone flat, competition intensifies and brand extensions launched.

Sluggishness which abounds in the domestic beer industry has now found its way into the imported malt beverage category, the segment which had accounted for much of the beer business's overall growth this decade. The import market falloff, which first revealed itself in 1987 but became much more evident last year, could very well continue into the 1990s, beer importers and wholesalers, fear.

In fact, following the 0.4-percent decline in imported beer sales last year, through the first quarter of 1989 total sales of the beers are down nearly six percent. At best, industry officials and analysts predict, imported beer sales will strengthen to eke out a small gain this year.

With the stagnancy of the import market has come even more intense brand competition. The battle for market share appears now to rest within the import category itself, rather than the overall market, much like the war among domestic brands. And also akin to conditions in the domestic segment, product extensions are being launched while brand marketing and advertising become increasingly important. Some importers foresee a shakeout.

Corona decline

Corona Extra, the second-largest selling import in the U.S., fell further behind the leader Heineken in 1988 as the Mexican beer's sales slipped six percent to 1.6 million barrels from 1.7 million barrels in 1987. Heineken's sales last year increased three percent to 2.3 million barrels from 2.2 million in the year-earlier period.

In an effort to regain lost ground, Barton Beers, Ltd. and Gambrinus Importing Co., importers of Corona, recently introduced Corona Light. The new entry contains 105 calories per 12-oz. serving. Other efforts to revive the beer include the availability of Corona in 12-packs, as well as new television advertising. The new spots, a continuation of the "What You See is What You Get" campaign, reportedly will run about $6 million.

On a positive note, however, Cerveceria Modelo, the brewer of Corona, earlier this year won a court battle prohibiting a California company from selling tequila and triple sec under the Corona name. During the trial, Modelo successfully demonstrated that "Corona" has become a well-recognized trademark.

Another top-selling import, Beck's, also received a new advertising slant as a $9 million campaign was launched for Beck's and Dribeck's Light this spring. According to Dribeck Importers, the 10-and 30-second Beck's commercials are aimed at markets where a total of 90 percent of import beer volume is sold. The spots for Dribeck's Light, which is marketed in 36 states, meanwhile, are airing in major East Coast markets.

German-brewed St. Pauli Girl is now imported and marketed by Associated Importers, a division of Hiram Walker Inc., following the exit of Carlton Importers. Hiram Walker is a subsidiary of Allied Lyons PLC. Leo Begleiter, a former All Brand Importers executive, was appointed president of Associated. Like Corona and Beck's, a new ad campaign has been introduced for St. Pauli Girl. The "Meet the Right Girl" campaign reportedly cost the importer $5 million.

While not yet impacting the import market here, two Canadian brewers early this year announced their intentions to merge, thus creating the largest brewing company in Canada and the sixth largest in North America. If approved by the Canadian government, the combined Molson Cos. Ltd. and Carling O'Keefe Breweries of Canada Ltd. will hold a 53-percent market share in Canada. The new Molson Breweries, owned in part by Australia's Elders IXL, will target the U.S. import market for increased sales, merger proponents say. If the merger is approved, however, the fate of Molson's and O'Keefe's U.S. importing arms, Martlet Importing Co. and Century Importers, Inc., respectively, will come under question.

Dry beers

Of the imported brands introduced to U.S. consumers in the last year, dry beers have garnered the most attention, and according to the importers of those brands, unprecedented sales ` achievements. The national rollout of Anheuser-Busch, Inc.'s Michelob Dry and soon-to-follow Bud Dry, as well as dry offerings from G. Heileman and Pabst Brewing Cos., have certainly aided the image and acceptance of the foreign-brewed dry brands.

The potential of the dry beer category in the U.S. is enormous, given that in Japan, the dry category reportedly represents 40 percent of the total beer market. Sales of the beer there were 107 million cases in 1988, versus 19 million cases in 1987. Whether the segment will truly prosper longterm in the U.S., however, still remains uncertain and too early to call.

Japanese dry beers now available in the U.S. include Kirin Dry, Sapporo Draft Dry, and Asahi Dry. Marketed nationally by Kirin USA/Martlet Importing Co., Kirin Dry is packaged in 12-, 16-, and 21.4-oz. bottles. Asahi Dry, imported by Asahi Breweries U.S.A., is available in the same package sizes. Sapporo Draft Dry is handled by Sapporo U.S.A. while Suntory Dry is marketed in 15 states by Suntory International.

Dry beers produced in Europe and now available in the U.S. include Grolsch Dry Draft and Holsten Dry. Grolsch Dry, imported by Grolsch Importers, is unpasteurized and contains five percent alcohol by volume. Holsten Dry, meanwhile, is produced at Germany's Holsten Brewery, Hamburg.

Canada has also gone dry and now both Molson Special Dry and Labatt's Canadian Dry are marketed in the U.S. Imported by Martlet Importing Co., Molson Special Dry has been launched in East Coast markets. The brand is packaged in 12-oz. bottles. Labatt's Canadian Dry, meanwhile, was introduced into Michigan and New York last month. Labatt Importers, Inc., importer, has reported.

New brands launched

Other new imports introduced in the last 12 months include John Courage Amber Lager, produced by Great Britain's Courage Ltd., a member of the Elders IXL Brewing Group, and imported by Century Importers. Guinness Gold, a lager from Ireland, has also been introduced in East Coast markets by Guinness Import Co.

Barton Beers, Ltd. now imports Peroni Beer, reportedly the number-one selling beer in Italy.

Beers from Israel are presently trying to make their mark on the U.S. beer import category. St. Killian Importing Co. now handles Gold Star, a lager, and Malt Star, a non-alcoholic beer, both brewed by Israel's National Brewery Ltd. And Tempo Beer Industries, Ltd. recently introduced Maccabee from Israel. Available in major import markets, Maccabee is packaged in 12-oz. bottles.

New from France are Rene la France Sparklers, "malt beverage-based juices" that contain more than six percent alcohol by volume. Imported by H&D Importers, Inc., the sparklers are packaged in four-packs of 12-oz. bottles, with the containers resembling champagne bottles. According to the importer, the sparklers are targeted mostly toward women.

Imports by country

Specifically, import sales from the Netherlands declined 10 percent in the first three months of 1989. This follows a 3.5-percent increase in 1988 sales and a 14-percent decline in sales in 1987. The Dutch, however, still hold the lead in exporting to the U.S., with 2.6 million barrels in 1988 and 570,000 barrels in the first quarter of 1989.

With a shipments increase of 19 percent to 531,000 barrels in the first quarter of this year, Canada is close on the heels of the Netherlands as the top beer import subcategory. Canada, which has overtaken Mexico to retain the number-two seat, had a 2.1-percent increase in shipments in 1988 to 2.1 million barrels, maintaining the pace it set in 1987 with a 1.8-percent gain.

Shipments from Mexico continue to decline, plummeting 25 percent in the first quarter of 1989 to 351,380 barrels. The third-largest beer exporter to the U.S., Mexico had a shipments decline of 11.6 percent in 1988 to 2.2 million barrels, following its tremendous year in 1987, a period with a 65-percent increase in sales.

Although its shipments were down nine percent in the first quarter of this year, Germany remains the fourth-largest beer exporter to the U.S. Last year, German imports posted a 3.8-percent increase in sales, following a 14-percent decline in the previous year.

Beer imports from the U.K., meanwhile, were up 18 percent in the first three months of 1989, boosting the country to number five from number six among exporting nations. In 1988, sales of British-brewed beers in the U.S. were up 10 percent while in 1987, sales of the products increased 17 percent. Irish imports are growing too as beer imports from Ireland grew 34 percent in the first quarter of 1989. Ireland is now the sixth-largest import category, compared to eighth-largest in 1988.

Despite the introduction of several new dry beer products, which are popular in their native land, Japan shipped two percent less beer to the U.S. in the first quarter of 1989. The drop follows a virtually flat sales performance in 1988 and a seven-percent increase in shipments in 1987.

With a 30-percent shipments drop in the first quarter of this year, the Australian beer category in the U.S. has fallen to an eighth-place ranking from fifth place in 1988. In 1988, however, Aussie imports were up 18 percent, which followed a 74-percent zoom in shipments in 1987.

The following are summaries of the recent performace of imported beer brands and import companies.

How does All Brand spell success?

Solid marketing programs and an aggressive sales force, according to the Hartford, CT-based import company. Those factors, the firm reported, combined to give All Brand Importers another successful year in 1988.

Last year and the first quarter of 1989 have been times of growth and prosperity, the company, importer of several beers from around the world, said. By the end of 1988, the firm continued, four of All Brand's products were among the 15 most popular beer imports in the U.S.: Mossehead, Dos Equis, Foster's and Sol. Specifically, the importer says, Foster's Lager from Australia grew 20 percent while Mexico's Sol was up 40 percent.

"The success of our brands has been largely due to what we bring to the marketplace," John J. Kucich, All Brand chairman and chief executive officer, stated. "Each one of our brands is more than a flavor-of-the-month or a brand of the week. Each one is a leader in its country of origin."

The largest and most expensive advertising campaign in the brands' history was launched recently for Moosehead and Moosehead Light, imported from Canada. The "Reach for the Moose" campaign includes spot television and radio ads, national print ads in USA Today, and outdoor signs.

"This aggressive new multi-million dollar national advertising program, to be supported by a substantial trade effort and point-of-purchase activity, signals our intent to significantly increase our distribution, volume, and market share throughout the U.S. market," Bob Mutschler, Moosehead brand director, said. "It is our main objective to convey to the trade, and particularly our distributor network, that Moosehead will be supported with a considerable amount of dollars."

Last year a Moosehead wall trophy won the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute's gold award for excellence in merchandising. The item is a three-and-a-half-feet wide by four-feet-long replica of a moose.

Another of Moosehead's strategies recently was the featured placement of the brand in the Disney movie, "Three Fugitives," starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short. In the movie, the two stars steal a Moosehead delivery van and drive it throughout the picture.

Foster's, meanwhile, saw a sales increase of 23 percent in 1988, All Brand reported, and the entire Australian imported beer category increased 18 percent over 1987 sales.

"With the continued interest in Australia and the consumer motivation from the award-winning Paul Hogan advertising and merchandising," Steve Hauser, Foster's brand director, stated, "1989 will again bring on double digit increases" for the brand.

This summer, All Brand revealed, Foster's will continue its U.S. events schedule with another Australian Rules Football match and sponsorship of the Phoenix Grand Prix Formula One Race as part of the brand's worldwide Formula One racing sponsorship. Additionally, the importer said, Paul Hogan will continue as spokesperson for the Foster's brand in the U.S., Canada and England.

All Brand's non-alcoholic malt beverage, Clausthaler, has seen a dramatic sales increase recently, the company said, attributing it to increased consumer acceptance and strong distribution gains in major markets. Specifically, Kucich said, Clausthaler's volume was up 45 percent in 1988 over year-earlier sales. A new advertising campaign, including full-page ads in USA Today, was launched for Clausthaler late last year.

In 1988, All Brand was appointed to market and sell Sol, Dos Equis and Superior in western states. According to All Brand, Sol beer from Mexico broke into the ranks of the top 15 imports recently. Meanwhile, Dos Equis' presence at non-Mexican meal occasions is being encouraged, the importer said.

Finally, All Brand reported, the firm is working to expand the consumer base of each of its brands. "We recognize the market is tougher with increased competition from within and outside of the imported beer arena," Kucich said. "But our strength always has been our ability to offer the market the world's highest quality beers from the world's finest brewers."

German dry beer offered

Holsten Dry Beer from Germany was recently introduced into the U.S., Holsten Import Corp., Greenwich, CT, reports. Available in both bottles and cans, the beer has actually been produced for German consumers since 1954.

According to Klaus Von Mueller, executive vice president, Holsten Import, the brand is "extra dry in taste with a distinctive German flavor." The beer, he continued, is less sweet than popular U.S. beers. "Pure refreshment and enjoyment without a strong aftertaste," Von Mueller characterized Holsten Dry.

With the introduction, he reported, the company has expanded its sales territories. Promotional support includes point-of-sale materials, a consumer rebate/sweepstakes program, and sales incentives.

Growth reported at Thames America Trading

Beer sales at Thames America Trading Co., the importer of Fuller's beer from England, increased 70 percent in 1988, the San Rafael, CA firm said. Brands which showed particularly strong sales increases were E.S.B. and Taunton Export Blackthorn Cider.

Jeffrey House, Thames America president, reported that the cider was recently introduced in six-packs of 12-oz. bottles. Additionally, Maes Pils and Grimbergen Abbey Ales from Belgium were introduced in West Coast markets, House said. Maes Pils will be priced at $18.95 retail per case.

Plans for 1989 include the launching of Fuller's beers in bottles and on tap in the Tampa, FL area through Moudy Distributing of Tampa. Other new distributors named recently include World Class Wines of Eden Prairie, MN, Griesedieck Imports, St. Louis, MO, and Metro Distributors, Kansas City.

The Fuller's line will be further extended, the importer noted, and a Christmas Ale is planned.

Fischer Beverages to introduce Belgian beers

Fischer Beverages International, Waltham, MA, will introduce several Belgium beers in 1989, the beer import company has reported.

Krieker, a cherry-flavored lager; Septante 5, a dark beer; and Septante 6, a wiesse beer, will be launched. Septante 5 and Septante 6 are brewed at Lille in the north of France, close to the Belgian border. According to Fischer Beverages, the beers represent the tradition of French/Flemish brewing and are bottom-fermented.

The importer, which handles LaBelle Strasbourgeoise beer, recently introduced Fischer Amber and Fischer Bitter. The Amber is described as having a malty, full-bodied taste. The Bitter, meanwhile, is produced with a higher hop content than most beers.

According to Fischer Beverages, marketing support includes point-of-sale materials and incentive programs. New p-o-s will be available in the fall, the importer stated.

Martlet has busy year

The last year has been a hectic one for Martlet Importing Co. and, according to the North Hills, NY company, the frantic pace is still continuing.

U.S. sales of Molson beer, the nation's third-largest-selling import, were up seven percent in 1988, Martlet reported. Other recent developments for the Molson line include the introduction here of Molson Dry, the unveiling of new packaging for all Molson brands, a new national advertising campaign for Molson Golden and Molson Light and the sponsorship of a variety of sporting events. Martlet also imports Kirin and Steinlager beers.

"We've worked aggressively to increase sales by coordinated efforts, including the introduction of new packaging, a variety of exciting promotions and more focused advertising to increase our visibility," Peter Fearon, president, Martlet Importing Co., said. "The seven-percent increase in sales we experienced was excellent, given the essentially flat market.

"For 1989, we're looking to top our 1988 sales," Fearon continued, "outperform the industry as a whole and lead the growth in the imported beer market for the second year in a row."

One attempt at further growth was the introduction this spring of Molson Special Dry in select markets. The brand, with a "drier, less sweet taste than regular beer," is available in six-packs of 12-oz. bottles. Initial markets are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and New Hampshire.

Molson Special Dry is being targeted "to an upscale segment of the mainstream market," Martlet reported. Marketing support includes outdoor advertising and radio.

The company's marketing strategies, it says, are to be attributed for at least some of Molson's U.S. success. Most of Martlet's marketing budget is earmarked for advertising, including television and radio commercials. Promotional and sponsorship events, such as the Molson United States Life Saving Championships and Molson Ski Challenges, are also prominent, Martlet stated.

A new advertising campaign for Molson Golden and Molson Light was also introduced this spring. The campaign, which uses the tagline, "It's a breeze going down," evokes Molson's heritage through shots of Canadian landscape, while also focusing on the theme of good friends and good times, the importer said. Fifteen and 30-second spots showcase the Molson drinker, Martlet reported, "a sociable, confident, outgoing type who communicates that Molson means good friends, good times and good beer." The commercials also feature blues music created for the brand by Ry Cooder.

According to Martlet, the national ads will break this summer during sports broadcasts, specifically NBC baseball and preseason football. Cable spots on the USA Network during the coverage of the U.S. Open will follow, as will spot television and radio executions in major markets, the importer noted.

New graphics to "establish a Molson family franchise look" were additionally introduced recently for the Molson brands. Richer colors, a more unified design and updated lettering combine to strengthen the overall look, Martlet reported. Foil-wrapped bottlenecks are also featured.

"Our marketing, advertising and sales strategies will support this concept," Fearon stated, "by reflecting the Molson brands as one entity--a collective group of family--as opposed to extending separate efforts for each individual brand."

Last year Martlet announced the sponsorship of the Molson's Men's Doubles Tennis Classic, an amateur doubles tournament held in over 500 tennis clubs nationwide. The tournament allows winning amateur teams to progress to the Lipton International Player's Championship next March, where they will compete in the Molson's Men's Doubles Classic Finals to determine the best amateur doubles team in the U.S.

Last winter Molson sponsored its third Molson Ski Challenge, a one-day ski race in ski resorts throughout the country. An average of 200 competitors registered for the event at each location, Martlet reported.

Another dry beer marketed by Martlet, Kirin Dry, sold over 300,000 cases in 1988, its first year, the importer stated. Expectations are for an even better year in 1989. Kirin Dry is a non-pasteurized beer which uses Kirin Brewery's advanced cold-filtration system, a process that stabilizes the beer without heating.

Japan's Kirin Dry, Kirin Lager, Kirin Light and Kirin Draft are distributed and marketed by Martlet while import and sales are directed by Kirin USA, Inc. Kirin beer for the U.S. market is brewed under the supervision of Kirin at Molson breweries in Montreal and Vancouver.

Martlet's New Zealand import, Steinlager Beer, last year became involved in a three-year agreement to sponsor U.S.A. Rugby. The sponsorship involves U.S.A. Rugby Union's five national championship events, 12 territorial championships and 96 local club championship matches. U.S.A. Rugby is affiliated with over 100,000 active players, Martlet stated.

Steinlager continues its involvement in sailor Peter Blake's quest to win the world's most challenging races while breaking a host of long-standing speed records. According to the importer, the Steinlager Challenge is a six-year commitment in which New Zealand Breweries has invested approximately $12.6 million for the creation of three sailing ships.

The champion of last year's Round-Australia '88, Blake has now cast his sights at winning the Whitbread Round-the-World race. Additionally, Blake is determined to break speed records such as the 80-day mark for a round-the-world sail, Martlet said.

Nordik Wolf Light receiving promo and ad support

Strong promotional and advertising support are planned for Nordik Wolf Light, Vintner Import Co., importer of the beer, has reported, including a consumer ad campaign which debuts in major markets this summer.

According to the Carson, CA-based firm, radio commercials and billboards proclaiming the European import "the only light with imported bite" will begin in major markets, such as Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego.

The 30-second radio spots, to air on top-rated stations, are humorous "slice of life" situations entitled "Ski Patrol," "Blind Date," "Aerobics," and "Hot Chili." The commercials will be supported with point-of-purchase materials, Vintner, a division of Simon Levi Co., Ltd., reported.

In addition, "Wolf Pack" nights for on-sale accounts are planned. The events utilize T-shirts, caps, bottle openers, posters and table tents.

Other support for Sweden's Nordik Wolf includes the recent sponsorship of the Adoption Guild Charity Tennis Tournament in southern California. The amateur tennis tourney attracted 1,400 attendees, the importer reported.

"With selective sponsorships of sports activities, we hope to expand the Nordik Wolf Light brand awareness in the imported beer market," Eric Wing, executive vice president, Vintner, stated. "Corporate sponsorships will be an important weapon to gain more cooler space on the shelves of America."

Wholesalers recently appointed to distribute Nordik Wolf in California include Cavagnaro/El Ray Distributing, Napa, CA; Davenport Distributing, South Lake Tahoe; Premium Distributing, San Francisco; Sterling Beverage Co., Modesto; and Quality Beer Distributors, Tustin. New distributors in the Midwest include Gorski Distributing, Lemont, IL; Fox River Distributing, Aurora, IL; and O&W Inc., Ann Arbor, MI.

Vintner also imports Hurlimann products from Germany. Wholesalers recently named to handle Hurlimann in California include A&D Distributing, South San Francisco; Affiliated Beverage, Salinas; Consumers Distributing, San Francisco; and Thornton Distributing, Sonora.

Wurzburger support expanded, importer says

Promotional and advertising support for the Wurzburger beer line from Germany has been greatly increased in the past year, St. Killian Importing Co., importer of the brands, has reported. The support has paid off, the company also said, as Wurzburger beer sales thus far in 1989 exceed the entire 1988 figure and are well ahead of forecasted sales.

According to the Kingston, MA import company, St. Killian has stepped up efforts to increase distributor and retailer Wurzburger "awareness" through trade publication advertising and a new distributor newsletter. Consumer advertising has also been used in selected markets.

New distributors for the Wurzburger beer line have been appointed in previously uncovered markets, Hank Hague, president, St. Killian, stated. "St. Killian's thrust in 1989 has been to expand outwardly from key markets so that ultimately an effective contiguous distributor network is created coast to coast," Hague said.

Wurzburger's Julius Echter Weissbier, a top-fermented, bottle-conditioned wheat beer, is packaged in four-packs of 16-oz. bottles. The brand is produced from 70-percent wheat malt and 30-percent barley malt. Because of the nature of the product, the wheat malt and yeast remain in the bottle. Special instructions on how to pour the weissbier, therefore, are on the side panel of the Julius Echter four-pack.

Other Wurzburger brands handled by St. Killian are Hefe-Weissbier, Octoberfest, Holiday Beer, May Bok, and Wurzburger Hofbrau Light, Dark and Non-Alcoholic.

In addition to the print ads, point-of-sale support includes table tents and coasters, the importer said.

Keystone importing Port Royal Export Pilsner

Keystone Imports, Inc., Keystone Heights, FL, now imports Port Royal Export, a pilsner from Honduras. The beer is produced from German-grown Hallertau hops, Washington State barely and Artesian spring water. The beer is shipped slightly refrigerated, Keystone reported.

Brand support includes "Port Royal Party Nights" at key on-premise accounts. The promotions feature T-shirt-, hat- and visor-giveaways. Additional support, the importer stated, include the sponsorship of sailing regattas, such as the Jacksonville Mug Race.

Number-one slot still eyed by Corona Extra

While acknowledging that sales of Corona Extra have softened in the last year, importers of the Mexican beer say they are now more confident than ever that the brand will someday be the best-selling imported beer in the U.S.

Calling the Corona sales decline a "stabilization," rather than a softening, executives at Gambrinus Importing Co., Inc., San Antonio, and Barton Beers, Ltd., Chicago, point out that it was Corona Extra which accounted for the import category's impressive growth in 1987.

"Although the spectacular growth of the eighties is behind us, Corona is the number-two import in the U.S., close to the leading brand and well ahead of the rest," Carlos Alvarez, president, Gambrinus, said. His firm imports the brand for the eastern half of the U.S.

"Corona earned this distinction over a period of five years, has held it for three, and with sound marketing will solidify its position and post increases for years to come," he continued. "Our sights are still set on becoming number one nationally. It should be pointed out, however, that Corona is the top import in most western states."

Advertising and promotional support for the brand, which is produced by Cerveceria Modelo, Mexico City, includes an award-winning television campaign and special seasonal promotions. One Corona TV commercial was selected by Advertising Age as the best television spot of 1988 in the beer and wine category.

Corona Extra's annual "Cinco de Corona" promotion, which capitalizes on the May 5th Mexican holiday, or Cinco de Mayo, has become an "established success in California and Texas," Gambrinus reports. The importer is now attempting to bring the promo, which also features a special contest for distributors, to that same status in eastern markets.

Another annual promotion, "Feliz Navidad," was launched during the holidays last year, Gambrinus reported. Like the "Cinco de Corona" promo, "Feliz Navidad" is supported by special creative advertising and network TV spots.

Additional ad support in radio is geared to the young adult market, the importer said. This spring, a new radio series called "Return of the Longnecks," was tested in Austin and San Antonio. The work of Howell Boyd Advertising, San Antonio, Gambrinus' agency for regional advertising, the radio series is being rolled out to key markets.

Further Corona ad support includes outdoor, print and point-of-sale materials, Gambrinus said.

Early this year Gambrinus and Barton announced that Corona Extra would be available in 12-packs in select markets. "The completion of Corona's national expansion has finally provided the opportunity for the brand to be more aggressive from a packaging standpoint, and we are confident that the 12-pack will be a strong volume contributor in 1989," Michael J. Mazzoni, executive vice president/general manager, Barton Beers, stated.

Recently, Corona Light was introduced. And, according to Ron Christesson, Gambrinus marketing manager, the company's "objective is to make Corona Light the largest-selling imported light beer in the U.S.

"As yet, no import light has carved out a really significant place for itself in the U.S. market," Christesson stated. "The import light subcategory is underdeveloped, compared to its domestic counterpart."

The introduction of Corona Light, Gambrinus says, indicates that the company is commited to future growth in the import category. "One fact everybody recognizes is that future market-share and volume increases must come from the competition," Alvarez stated. "This is as true for imports as it is for domestics. In fact, a good portion of Corona's growth came from domestic volume. You'll see more lights, more dries, new drafts, and lots of longnecks," he promised.

"Last year's levelling of sales stabilized the brand," Alvarez continued. "Because Corona in the U.S. was such an unpredictable skyrocket for seven years, industry skeptics insisted it was a fad. We're proud to find ourselves with a mature brand with obvious staying power. Now we can concentrate on applying professional marketing to making Corona number one."

Support for the new brand includes television spots in select markets, using the theme, "The Final Evolution of Light," Barton reported. Additionally, outdoor billboards, point-of-sale materials and trade advertising are planned.

Separately, Barton last fall introduced Peroni Beer from Italy. Brewed by Birra Peroni Industriale, S.P.A., the brand is designed to accompany Italian food, the importer said.

Tsingtao Beer, imported from China by Monarch Import Co., but marketed by Barton, saw a 13-percent increase in shipments to the U.S. in 1988, the Chicago-based import company reported. According to Barton, the brand had sales of 1.1 million cases last year.

Tsingtao, which is available in 12- and 21.6-oz. bottles and in 12-oz. cans, is supported by a "Take Out Chinese" advertising campaign. Billboards, transit poster ads and p-o-s materials are used. And in 1988, the brand was tied-in with Chun King foods and the videocasette release of the Academy Award winning film, "The Last Emperor."

Mamba expanded as sales continue to grow

In the last year, Mamba, a malt liquor from Cote D'Ivoire on the western coast of central Africa, has been expanded into the Chicago, Denver and Louisiana markets, Highland Distributing Co., importer, announced. Mamba had previously been sold only in Texas.

With increased distributor inquiries, Houston-based Highland said, The Vance Co., San Francisco, has been appointed to handle further expansion. Joe Vance, president, is currently developing a major distribution network to include California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona in the west. According to the import company, Vance also plans to establish distribution in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia by 1990.

Mamba, which contains more than four-percent alcohol by weight, is packaged in large, 1-pint 6.3-oz. bottles, 12 to a case. The bottles feature a gold label with a crocodile design. Special deposit label packaging is available to satisfy specific state requirements, Highland reported.

Recently, a merchandising program was introduced for major on-premise Mamba accounts, the importer stated. Under the program, authentic African tribal masks encircled in neon are available, as are Mamba vests, T-shirts, scarfs and jackets. While most promotions have been handled with word-of-mouth, according to Highland, some enterprising distributors have featured Mamba clothing as part of special point-of-sale displays in off-premise accounts, or as part of special "Mamba Night" programs on premise. Mamba additionally sponsored the National Croquet Championships, the importer said.

The brand was given special recognition in W magazine's "what's hot" list as the next "in" beer.

Records set at Century Importers in 1988

Century Importers made 1988 a record-breaking year, in spite of the slowdown in imported beers, the Baltimore-based company has reported. By keeping up the pressure on its Canadian brands and introducing Kronenbourg and John Courage from overseas, Century was able to post a substantial 29-percent gain overall last year.

Bob Wilson, president of Century, attributed the record to aggressive promotions, attractive new packaging, notable advertising for the leading brands, and a hard-working distributor network.

"We acknowledged that our Old Vienna brand is widely known as OV and finally reflected that familiar name in our striking new blue, red, gold and white packaging," Wilson said. "That familiarity was enhanced by extensive radio and outdoor advertising in our markets of strength."

O'Keefe Premium Canadian Biere is now decked out in bright new colors, too. "We adapted the packaging used in Canada and came out with a brilliant red, gold and white look that is a standout at retail," Wilson noted. "Then we changed our radio advertising theme to declare that when you're celebrating life's little victories, you should call for O'Keefe." The humorous spots, sung in a bar, announce that "It's more than OK, it's O'Keefe."

Calgary Amber Lager has had its share of success as well, Century reported, as the brand won an independent taste test against other major Canadian brands. In addition, the Hollywood Radio and Television Society gave its 1988 International Broadcasting Award for the best 60-second musical radio commercial to the Calgary "Stop Suckin' a Lime" spot.

Century last year launched John Courage Amber Lager from England after thorough consumer research on product preference and packaging, the importer said. "The distinctive, longnecked amber bottle and traditional label have received an excellent response to match the expected acceptance of the lighter, smoother product itself," Century stated.

Kronenbourg, imported from France, has "responded very nicely" to an extensive radio and newspaper campaign in major East Coast markets. According to Century, promotional plans are now set to make July "Kronenbourg Month" in the U.S., in association with the bicentennial of the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. Heavy radio, magazine and outdoor buys have been made to promote the idea that "The best of times deserves the best of beers...Kronenbourg," Century reported. Additional support includes T-shirts, umbrellas, mugs and case stackers.

"We have momentum," Wilson declared, "and have a new record in sight for the fiscal year. That sets the stage for our continued expansion into new areas such as Georgia, northern California, Hawaii and Florida. It looks like 1989 will be, in fact, another competitive but very successful year for Century."

Sapporo sales up in 1988

Sapporo Beer achieved a seven-percent increase in sales last year, according to Sapporo U.S.A., Inc., continuing the beer's steady five-year sales incline. And, according to the New York import company, Sapporo beer is now recognized as a brand to be enjoyed beyond Japanese restaurants.

Sales of the Japanese beer in the American general market have doubled in the past four years, Sapporo said, as many fashionable and trendy non-Japanese restaurants and bars with young and affluent clientele serve Sapporo beer.

In connection with the sales boost, Sapporo has stepped-up the promotion of its flagship brand, Sapporo Draft. A new "Sapporo Draft Beer Wearables Catalogue," which lists more than 25 promotional items such as jackets, shirts, sweaters and caps, is now available. These wearables, Sapporo said, are used by distributors for promotions and incentives. Additional point-of-sale materials, such as neons, mirrors, table tents, case talkers, posters and banners, are also distributed.

Media brand support for Sapporo includes billboards in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas markets. Radio and magazine ads, the importer said, have been concentrated regionally for targeted markets on the West and East Coasts.

According to Sapporo, the neck label of the brand's 12-oz. bottle and six-pack carrier were recently redesigned for greater visibility.

Sapporo Draft Dry, introduced last year, is a malt liquor containing five-percent alcohol by volume and slightly less sugar and more carbonation than regular beers. Packaged in three sizes, 21.4-, 16-, and 12-oz. bottles, Sapporo is promoted as "an Authentic Dry Beer." Support includes billboards, radio, print, and point-of-sale materials such as table tents, case talkers, posters and danglers.

Also last year, Sapporo U.S.A. named Yukio "Ron" Himuro president of the company. The company reports that Himuro is spearheading an effort to push Sapporo into the top 10 imported beers in the U.S.

Carlsberg sales on the rise

Calling it the "fastest growing European-brewed beer in America," Anheuser-Busch, Inc. reports that Carlsberg beer experienced a 40-percent increase in sales here in 1988. "Keys to the brand's success," A-B said, are commitment to quality, extensive marketing experience and expanded distribution."

Carlsberg, which has been imported by the number-one brewer since 1985, and Carlsberg Light, introduced in 1987, are supported with radio and outdoor advertising campaigns, in addition to print ads created for both consumer and trade publications. Carlsberg's humorous radio campaign, which carries the tag line, "I told you not to touch my Carlsberg," appeals to upscale, contemporary adults, A-B stated. The spots position Carlsberg as a "special" beer that the characters in the commercials don't want to share.

Additionally, the brewer reported, Denmark's Carlsberg Brewery has secured signage at European sports events that are broadcast in the U.S. Carlsberg and A-B recently reached an agreement to be sole beer sponsors of the 1990 World Cup (Soccer) in Italy.

Carlsberg and A-B's third import, Elephant Malt Liquor, are currently available in 39 states. Carlsberg Light sells in 35 states.

This year sales promotion activity for Carlsberg includes glassware and T-shirt offers, and a Carlsberg Light poster promotion. In addition, the "Elephant Polo Club," an on- and off-premise promo, features a specially-logoed ping pong ball which players attempt to blow through goals at either end of the playing table.

According to A-B, major Carlsberg markets in the U.S. are supported by at least one Carlsberg representative from Copenhagen who works with local wholesalers.

Despite odds, Jamaican beer sales up, RJ says

Combined shipments of Red Stripe Beer and Dragon Stout increased more than 25 percent in 1988, RJ Imports, Ltd. has reported, despite the overall slow import category and the impact of a major hurricane on the island of Jamaica last year, which seriously curtailed shipments late in the period.

"What is amazing to me," says Meyer Moussa, executive vice president of the Rosemont, IL import company, "is that the interest in Red Stripe and Dragon Stout is not being driven by a heavy investment in advertising and promotions. The brands have a natural consumer appeal based upon their taste and quality and the authenticity in the packaging and imagery, which are uniquely Jamaican."

The promotional support which is available includes "Red Stripe Reggae Nights," which, RJ reports, are in great demand in young adult and college bars across the country. These parties incorporate promotional items such as T-shirts, pennants, banners, posters and buttons. In addition, according to the import company, Red Stripe sponsors major reggae music acts in large-scale venues.

In 1989 and in conjunction with Consolidated Pacific Brands, RJ Imports will sponsor a consumer sweepstakes in selected West Coast markets. The sweepstakes offer, which will coincide with a contest for distributor sales personnel and retailers, will award two trips to Jamaica to the grand winners and limited edition T-shirts to other winners.

Like 1988, the year 1989 has brought some misfortune to RJ Imports. The discovery of a large quantity of marijuana in containers aboard a Sea-Land vessel arriving in Miami from Kingston, Jamaica, resulted in the distruption of service and shipments from the island. In January, 1989, no containers of Red Stripe or Dragon Stout were shipped to the U.S.

But, according to RJ, the crisis has begun to ease, "hopefully in time for Red Strip and Dragon Stout to capture some of the thirsty summer beer market."

The beer supply should continue uninterrupted, the importer stated, particularly with the expansion planned at Desnoes & Geddes Ltd., the brewer and bottler of the brands. A $10-million brewery expansion will provide an additional 13.5 million cases of brewing capacity at the Kingston plant, RJ reported. The project is expected to be completed next spring.

"We are in the process of developing a number of new ideas which we are testing on a small-scale this year," Michael Lumsden, assistant director of marketing and finance, RJ Imports, revealed. These include a Jamaican Spring Break promotion which was conducted in Florida and Jamaica this spring. Additional promotions and joint sponsorships which focus on the Jamaican theme, are being studied.

Caribe kicks off 1989 marketing program

Following an incredible 18,000-percent increase in import volume from the Caribbean island of Trinidad in 1988, the isle's Caribe Beer is now set to continue that growth with an aggresive marketing program.

Caribe will kick off its 1989 consumer promotion calendar with a Caribe beach towel offer. Designed to further extend consumer awareness of Caribe and generate increased trial of the brand, the promotion features the offering of an oversized 100-percent cotton velour beach towel. Supported by point-of-purchase materials such as a three-way display/header card, shelf talker/cooler card, and tear pad order forms, the promotion was devised by Brenard Advertising & Promotion, New York.

According to Domaine Cellars, Inc., the Houston-based importer of the brand, "Caribe's early, dramatic sales performance can be attributed primarily to the brand's impactful graphics, clear bottle packaging and superior taste."

Taft Symonds, chairman, Domaine Cellars, said, "We've had exceptional response to Caribe's dramatic seven-color logo so we decided to combine our graphics with the highest quality beach towel available."

Caribe, which is known as the "getaway beer," will continue its consumer-promotion program in September with the "Caribe Getaway Caribbean Vacation" sweepstakes, the importer said, which gives consumers the chance to win one of four Caribbean vacations, including a cruise, yacht trip, scuba-diving trip or resort vacation. Like the towel offer, the sweepstakes is supported with p-o-s materials.

MBI to launch Belgian beer brands

Manneken-Brussel Imports, Inc., Austin, TX, will introduce this year Forbidden Fruit beer from the DeKluis Brewery in Hoegaarden, Belgium, the importer has reported. The brew is a claret-colored, all-malt strong ale containing a spicing of coriander with challenger and styrian hops.

In addition, MBI said, traditional lambic ales from the Timmermans Brewery in Itterbeek will soon be introduced. The Timmermans beers will be available in five flavors: gueuze, cherry (kriek), raspberry, black currant and peach. According to the importer, the beers will be packaged in 375-ml. champagne bottles with a cork and crown cap.

Currently imported by MBI, the Hoegaarden products will soon be available in brown 11.2-oz. bottles in four-packs. The label for Hoegaarden White will be changed to match the label in use in Europe, the importer stated.

New promotional support for Duvel beer, MBI said, includes neon and lighted signs. A new mirror point-of-sale display will also be available soon. Meanwhile, Chimay ales, packaged in 750-ml. bottles, will be supported with an iceless chiller and electric clock. New gold-rimmed glasses for Grande Reserve are also available, the importer said.

`Meet the Right Girl' campaign for St. Pauli Girl

A $5-million advertising campaign for St. Pauli Girl was unveiled this spring, with the invitation, "Meet the Right Girl--St. Pauli Girl." The German beer is imported by Associated Importers Co., New York.

The national cable TV campaign, with local TV and radio placement in key import markets, is airing in 30- and 15-second lengths. Asking the question, "Want to meet the right girl?" the spots reveal that the right girl is St. Pauli Girl.

The campaign also includes print ads in national magazines, Associated stated, such as Playboy, Omni, Gentleman's Quarterly and Inside Sports. Appearing in full-page and one-third page executions, the magazine ads will run through the fall, Associated reported.

"St. Pauli Girl is a quality German beer that projects a less than serious image that our target audience identifies with," Leo Begleiter, Associated president, said, adding that the brand is targeted at the upscale, single, college-educated male.

Also in conjunction with the new ad campaign, Associated is sponsoring a national promotion to uncover the best opening conversation line. Off-premise, St. Pauli Girl is offering a full-color case stacker card with entry pads and window-announcement poster. An independent sweepstakes group will decide the winner, who will be awarded a trip for two to Germany, including a visit to the St. Pauli Girl brewery.

On-premise, Associated said, adaptations for instant local "meet the right girl" promotional nights will be sponsored. Point-of-sale support includes table tents and posters.

This spring, the company instituted the nation-wide vote sweepstakes to name the "next embodiment of the brand's label," or the next living St. Pauli Girl. The promotion, which featured an off-premise poster depicting the three candidates, permitted consumers to mark ballots with their choices. In conjunction, participating on-premise establishments were able to select their own local St. Pauli Girl winner, Associated said.

An oversized poster of the promotion's winner will be released in September, just prior to Oktoberfest.

Double Diamond Ale, meanwhile, imported from Great Britain by Associated, is presently being supported with a limited-edition pitcher collection. The promotion features eight historic two-liter pitchers, replicas of 18th Century ale pitchers. The offering is supported with case cards and table tents, the importer noted.

And John Bull beer, also imported from England by Associated, is offering its version of an old English pub game, called "spoof." The promo, the importer said, encompasses on- and off-premise variations through which consumers can order their own "spoof" sets.

Guinness Gold sales exceeding projections

The introduction of Guinness Gold in select markets in the Northeast last summer has resulted in sales in excess of original projections, Guinness Import Co., Stamford, CT, has reported. Guinness Gold is a golden lager, the first beer of this type ever produced in the 230-year history of the Guinness brewery.

According to the importer, sales of the beer in the first quarter of 1989 were 43 percent ahead of projections. The brand's success is expected to continue throughout the year, Guinness stated, adding that Guinness Gold has been expanded steadily throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

Also in the last year, Guinness revamped the packaging for Harp lager. Bottles and cartons now feature a brighter gold metallic finish with bolder print. The brand's traditional colors, blue, red and gold, now include a light blue hue to enhance the design, GIC reported.

On-going promotions for the Guinness stout and Harp brands include the September-slated "Halfway to St. Patrick's Day" and "Miss St. Patrick's Day" promos. The former encourages consumers across the country to run for the title of "Miss St. Patrick's Day." Last year, Guinness said, over 3,000 women mailed their photos to GIC. Point-of-sale support includes party brochures, table tents, rebates, and posters.

The St. Patrick's Day contest, meanwhile, allows consumers to phone in their vote for the new Miss St. Patrick's Day. This year, GIC reported, over 125,000 votes were accepted. Promotional support included bottle neckers, table tents and posters, as well as a full-page, four-color ad in USA Today. During the voting, 500 consumers were randomly selected to receive Guinness or Harp T-shirts. The 1989 Miss St. Patrick's Day received $50,000 in cash, travel and wardrobe and will make personal appearances throughout the country until March, 1990, GIC said.

A sweepstakes offering for Bass Ale this spring invited consumers, through rebate certificates, trivia-contest coasters and entry forms to compete for a grand prize trip for two to England. Consumers could also instantly win ceramic bottle openers in the shape of the Bass tap handle, the importer stated. Other support included rugby shirts and high-value rebates ($2 and $8).

Kaliber, GIC's non-alcoholic offering, has been supported with three major promos, the importer has said. The "Kaliber Sports Workout" tie-in with Wilson Sporting Goods this summer offers consumers a $5 cash rebate or free Wilson sports equipment with each case of Kaliber purchased. Choices include golf balls, footballs, baseballs, basketballs or tennis balls. A scratch game card provides for instant winners while $1-off coupons are appearing in newspaper ads in selected markets.

The "Kaliber Let the Good Times Roll" promo, meanwhile, was a sweepstakes and rebate offering during the holidays. Coupons, redeemable at point-of-purchase, and rebates available on- and off-premise, served as entry forms. The grandprize winners of the sweepstakes received a trip for two to one of the "greatest parties of the year," GIC said, including Mardi Gras, the Calgary Stampede and the Monterey Jazz Festival.

"Kaliber's Courtside Tennis" promo offered consumers a free courtside igloo cooler with the purchase of a case of Kaliber, or a package of Wilson tennis balls with the purchase of a six-pack. Rebates were also available.

Support for Guinness Gold, the importer states, includes print, radio and outdoor ads in major Northeast cities. Television commercials are planned for the second half of 1989, the importer said, adding that further brand support included the "Guinness Gold Pub Tour" sweepstakes. The trivia contest, backed with p-o-s displays, awarded a grand-prize pub tour through Ireland or England.

Germany's Warsteiner beer now in half-liter bottles

Warsteiner beer from Germany is now available in half-liter bottles in select U.S. markets, Warsteiner Importers Agency, has reported, adding that national distribution of the package should be accomplished by early 1990.

According to Diane Hankins Fall, president of the Aurora, CO-based import firm, the new bottle arrived in California this spring and has met with consumer acceptance. The bottle is also being test marketed in Chicago, Colorado and major Midwestern markets, Warsteiner said.

"The Warsteiner half-liter bottle has been a European tradition and a great seller for a long time," Fall said. "Based on initial orders, it will be a big mover in the U.S." The bottle, she added, is the most popular size in Germany, but has only recently gained a foothold in the U.S.

The half-liter bottles come packaged 20 to a case with the "mother carton" a plastic disposable box. Some stores on the East Coast have been using the "Euro-Kasten" boxes as beer carriers for their customers to use while shopping, Fall reported. Additionally, she said, California distributors have found the package to make for an attractive floor display.

Warsteiner is produced by the Warsteiner brewery located in Warstein in the Sauerland region of Germany. According to the importer, Warsteiner will produce close to three million hectoliters of beer in 1989, making it the largest privately-owned brewery in that country. A $150-million expansion of the brewery is underway which will double the present size within four years. Expansion of the brewing room, storage and fermentation cellars and shipping department are planned. The brewery will also construct its own reservoir to ensure a reliable supply of water.

New Asahi Super Dry marketed aggressively

Japan's popular Asahi Super Dry, the brand which created that country's dry beer phenomenon, is being aggressively marketed in the U.S., Asahi Breweries, Ltd. has reported. Promotional support includes television commercials and print ads.

Featuring the catchword, "karakuchi," the Japanese combination of dry and taste, the ads will help Asahi Super Dry achieve an 80-percent increase in sales in 1989 compared to sales last year, the import company stated. The TV spots depict the beer with an assortment of Japanese dishes while the billboard and magazine ads state, "Karakuchi...The Only Word for the Taste of Asahi Super Dry."

Asahi Super Dry is packaged in 12- and 21.4-oz. bottles and in aluminum cans, Asahi noted.

Beer from Israel unveiled

Maccabee Beer from Israel was introduced into five top U.S. imported beer markets by Tempo Beer Industries, Ltd., New York City. The markets are New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.

According to Matt Cohen, managing director, Tempo Beer, the marketing of Maccabee will involve positioning it as the "new surprise." Major support for distributors will include on-and off-premise promotions, as well as television and local advertising. Point-of-sale merchandise is available, he said, such as T-shirts, counter cards, case stackers, mirrors and illuminated signs.

TV commercials targeting late night viewers is planned for later this summer. The spots, Tempo reported, will run on rotation consecutively through the end of the year.

Dry light introduced

Seattle-based Zele Brewing Co. recently announced the introduction of Zele Dry Light Beer. The brand is produced under contract in Canada.

Initially launched in eight states, Zele Dry Light is packaged in six-packs of 12-oz. bottles. Suggested retail price is $4.99 to $5.99 a six-pack. A 12-oz. serving of the brand contains 99 calories.

"While light beer drinkers are aware of dry beer," said Michael L. Imeson, Zele president, "they haven't wanted to revert to a beer with higher calories. Now they have a choice."

According to Zele, the beer is being introduced this month in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Steady sales for Pacifico

Pacifico Clara Beer, imported from Mexico by Consolidated Pacific Brands, Santa Fe Springs, CA, is continuing its steady, solid sales increase, the importer said. Since the brand's introduction in the U.S. in 1985, CPB stated, Pacifico has averaged an annual sales growth rate of 50 percent.

And in the first quarter of 1989, the importer said, "continued growth in sales...are particularly gratifiying because it is driven by growth in market share, rather than by market expansion."

Brewed and bottled in Mazatlan, Pacifico is marketed in the states of: California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Recent appointments at CPB include the naming of Leonard Moreno to the position of vice president, national sales. Wally Gibson, meanwhile, has been appointed northern California regional manager.

CPB is a food and beverage importer and distributor, specializing in products from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The company is a wholly-owned unit of Bradshaw, Inc., and was merged with Ezra Webb Imports, Inc. in 1987.

New Merchant du Vin brands marketed

Two line extensions have recently been introduced at Merchant du Vin Corp., the Seattle-based specialty beer importer.

According to Charles Finkel, founder of the company, Samuel Smith Pure-Brewed Lager Beer is being launched through his firm and associates at Merchant du Vin-East, Lenox, MA. The beer joins Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Celebrate Oatmeal Stout, Famous Taddy Porter and Imperial Stout, all brewed by Yorkshire, England's oldest brewery, Samuel Smith.

Packaged in six-pack containers, the lager is brewed from malted barley, whole hop flowers, Tadcaster water and brewers yeast. Sam Smith Lager has a light golden color, Finkel reported, crisp hop and yeast aroma and pale malt taste.

And new from Belgium, according to Merchant du Vin, is Lindeman's Peche, a product of the Lindeman's farm brewery in Vlezenbeek. The beer is produced from wild yeast, traditional wheat and malted barley, and peaches.

Like the other lambics imported by Merchant du Vin, Krieken and Framboise, Lindeman's Peche is packaged in 12-oz. champagne bottles, complete with a cork and crown seal. Suggested retail price is approximately $5.00 per bottle.

Finkel has described the new beer as surprisingly "fruity, yet dry and deliciously refreshing."

Labatt continues growth expansion

Labatt Importers, Inc., the Darien, CT-based importer of Labatt's Blue, Labatt's Blue Light, Labatt's 50 Canadian Ale, and Schooner Beer has announced a 13-percent sales gain for 1988. Continued long-term investment is planned for 1989, the company reported.

"Labatt's sales gain of 13 percent was an excellent achievement in light of a flat imported beer category and a Canadian import category that was up two percent," John O'Connell, vice president of sales, Labatt Importers, stated. "An increased investment in Labatt's, changes in sales and marketing strategies and a stronger wholesaler commitment have been the keys to the accelerating growth over the past four years."

In the last year, the Labatt's brand sold in the U.S. has been marketed as "Labatt's Blue," the call name for the beer in Canada. The new name has opened up many marketing opportunities, the importer said, and promotional-support items have been redesigned to incorporate the "Blue" name.

In 1989, new TV and radio commercials featuring the "Blue Heaven" theme were released for national viewing on CNN cable network. This fall, the company reported, Labatt's Blue will begin a major advertising program with Cineplex Odeon. Additional support for the brand included its sponsorship of an "Indy" car, driven by John Jones, the 1988 C.A.R.T. Rookie of the Year.

Recently Labatt introduced Labatt's Canadian Dry, a brand "designed to appeal to those beer drinkers who have discovered the dry beer market and are looking for the taste and quality inherent in a Canadian import." Advertising and promotional materials feature the theme line, "Canada's Easy Drinking Dry."

Also recently, the importer announced that Sibra Products, subsidiary of Sibra Beverages International, has assumed the marketing and administrative responsibilities for Moussy non-alcoholic malt beverage. Labatt is now concentrating on the selling of the Swiss-brewed brand.

Canadian brands earn own brewery

Distribution of Algonquin Special Reserve Ale and Algonquin Canadian Light could be expanded with the construction of the Northern Algonquin Brewing Co. brewery in Formosa, Ontario, Canada. The new brewery, located on the original site of the old Formosa Springs Brewery, is scheduled to begin production this month and have an annual capacity of 30,000 hectoliters, the company reported.

Previously, the two Canadian imports were produced under contract.

In the U.S., the brands are marketed in 12 northeastern and midwestern states. Recent expansions include Chicago's McCormick Place and Arlington Racetrack.

Support for Algonquin Special Reserve and Canadian Light here includes dealer incentives and point-of-sale items such as table tents, coasters, T-shirts, caps and cooler bags.

Franks Distributing, Denver, is import agent.

Polar beer in expansion state, importer says

Polar Beer from Venezuela has been expanded throughout the State of Florida and is now available in the New Jersey market, Polar Trading Co., U.S. importer has announced.

According to the Miami-based import firm, Polar was recently expanded into Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orlando, Cocoa, Panama City, Ocala, Auburndale, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Holiday, Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Gainesville, FL.

Meanwhile, four New Jersey distributors have been named to handle the import, packaged in 12- and eight-oz. bottles and eight-oz. cans, there. The wholesalers are Peerless Beverage, Union; Kohler Distributing, Hawthorne; ShorePoint Distributing, Freehold; and Kramer Beverage, Pleasantville.

PHOTO : RJ Imports personnel includes (from left to right): Meyer Moussa, executive vice

PHOTO : president; Janelle Marcuccilli, secretary; Michael Lumsden, assistant finance and

PHOTO : marketing director; Marilyn Kotecki, office manager; and Gary Thompson, administrative

PHOTO : sales.

PHOTO : Caribe p-o-s merchandise.

PHOTO : Double Diamond offering two-liter pitchers.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Business Journals, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Import Update; beer
Author:Finnegan, Terri
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jul 10, 1989
Words:9626
Previous Article:Guinness and Harp get jump on St. Patrick's Day.
Next Article:Back to the basics for St. Pauli Girl.
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