Innovation is at last appearing in the stagnant beer and cider category, according to the head of alcohol buying at Tesco, who criticised in strong terms the lack of activity last year.
Mark Murphy, BWS category director, said that standard lager was enjoying a resurgence and interesting sub-categories had emerged in the past year.
“There has been a lot of work done in the on-trade in chilled and super-cooled lagers by brands such as Foster’s, Carling and Carlsberg, and this has spread to the off-trade, making it a much more buoyant category this year,” he said. “While bottled lager has struggled, areas such as wheat beer show potential, as do innovations such as Brahma and Kronenbourg Blanc, which has an unusual taste and is easy to drink.”
In November last year, Murphy reflected it could well have been the poorest year on record for innovation and called for new energy to be injected into the alcohol category. It sparked complaints from some suppliers that punishing discounting from retailers was draining innovation from the sector.
A year on, Murphy said he was pleased by developments such as Strongbow Sirrus in cider, which he said had been one of the most exciting categories. “It should have happened years ago. I’m sure many producers will have seen the growth at the premium end of cider so it is inevitable we will see more NPD next year.”
Murphy also predicted that the big growth area for 2006 would be in internet wine ordering and the continued growth of premium vodkas.
“Internet wine has been really strong this year and Tesco’s Wine Club has been going from strength to strength.”
Sonya Hook