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Why Brown-Forman isn’t worried about seltzer

Brown-Forman recently launched Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Seltzer in Australia, but it remains cautious about expansion in the segment and has revealed isn’t concerned about losing market share to the category.

The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Seltzer mixes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey with sparkling water and a twist of natural fruit flavours. The two flavours take their cue from classic cocktails: Zesty Lemon inspired by The Whiskey Sour and Blood Orange inspired by The Old Fashioned.

CEO Lawson Whiting said during an analysts’ call: “RTDs have been a huge business for Brown-Forman for a long time. It’s a very big business for us, something in the range of about 18 million cases or so outside of the US, compared to only around three inside. So very, very different.”

Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails

He noted that sales of its Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails were strong, while seltzer growth has slowed in the US.

Country Cocktails skyrocketed 92.1% to 2.7million cases in 2020. The range offers eight flavours: Black Jack Cola, Cherry Limeade, Berry Punch, Downhome Punch, Lynchburg Lemonade, Watermelon Punch, Southern Peach and Southern Citrus.

“As much as you’ve seen a slowdown on the seltzer world, we have not seen a material slowdown in Country Cocktails,” Whiting said.

“As far as seltzer is taking share or impacting the spirits business, I mean, we’ve been trying to look at that for a while, and I give the same answer I have given before. The seltzer occasion and the whiskey drinker, for the large part, are not the same occasion and many, many, many ways and it’s not even really the same consumer.

“And so we, we just don’t think we’ve seen much in the way of an impact or loss share to the seltzers. And if you really just looked at the numbers, I mean, American whiskey is doing as well as it ever has, in total, as a category.

“I just don’t see that the seltzers have really taken many shares at that. It feels like the seltzers are coming at vodka and tonic, maybe, or gin and tonic, and maybe putting a little dent in that business. But for us, that’s a very small part of our overall portfolio.”

Brown-Forman reported financial results for its first quarter of fiscal 2022 this week, with net sales of $906 million, increasing 20% compared to the same prior-year period. Jack Daniel’s family of brands net sales grew 20%. In Australia, sales were up 4% for the first quarter.

“Brown-Forman delivered a strong start to fiscal 2022,” Whiting said. “These results were driven by the strength of our portfolio, which benefited from the re-opening of the on-premise, sustained at-home consumption, and continued premiumization trends.

“While we are optimistic the operating environment will continue to improve, we are closely monitoring the potential volatility associated with the evolving pandemic and continued supply chain disruptions. Backed by the strength of our brands and our people, we are confident in our ability to manage our business for the long term.” 

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Categories: Business