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Mionetto’s Sparkling Success Boosts Category, But Competition Heating Up With Lunetta’s Rise

June 24, 2011

Prosecco has been one of the U.S. wine market’s hottest categories over the past few years, and no marketer has played a larger role in its success than Brooklyn, New York-based Mionetto USA. Mionetto’s Il Prosecco has been the category leader for the past half-decade, and the brand shows no sign of slowing down. After earning an Impact “Hot Brand” award following its 20% advance to 265,000 cases in 2010, the brand’s growth actually accelerated in the early months of 2011.

While Champagne and some other sparkling wine categories were hurt by the economic downturn, Prosecco—and Mionetto—appear to have been helped by it. “Consumers are still looking for value alternatives but don’t want to compromise on quality,” says Enore Ceola, managing director of Mionetto USA. “Prosecco and Mionetto (which retails for around $11 per 750ml) fit the bill perfectly.”

As recently as 2007, around 450,000 cases of Prosecco were sold in the U.S. By 2009, though, as Champagne sales declined amid widespread consumer belt-tightening, Prosecco picked up much of the slack, as sales jumped to roughly 750,000 cases. By the end of 2011, U.S. Prosecco sales will likely be within striking distance of Champagne sales, which reached around 1.3 million cases last year. Interestingly, even after Champagne rebounded in 2010, with U.S. depletions up by 7.5%, Prosecco’s surge continued. “Three years ago, I said the category was going through a revolution and the popularity of Prosecco would bring more consumers to the entire sparkling category, thus benefiting Champagne long term too,” says Ceola. “Now, we’re seeing that come to fruition, as Prosecco, Champagne and Cava are all enjoying solid growth.”

Prosecco’s top sellers may be successfully coexisting with Champagne, but competition in their own category is heating up with the rapid rise of Palm Bay International’s upstart Cavit Lunetta. After Lunetta’s sales more than doubled in 2010 to surpass the 100,000-case threshold, the Palm Bay brand—which is basically priced parallel with Mionetto—appears to be extending its upswing in 2011, and industry observers believe it may soon be challenging Mionetto for category leadership. “The Prosecco category is to me the most exciting thing that’s happened in sparkling wine in the last decade,” Marc Taub, president of Palm Bay, recently told Wine Spectator.

Ceola, though, believes there’s plenty of room for Prosecco’s newer players—but has no intention of relinquishing Mionetto’s position in the category. “I believe the category will reach 2 million cases very quickly, as the entry of major wine players into Prosecco will accelerate its growth,” he says. “Mionetto was the pioneer and will remain the frontrunner in the category. We plan to maintain our edge with innovation and evolution. Our pipeline is full of new Prosecco products that will be released over the next three years, and we’re building a stronger sales and marketing organization that will be supported with social media to start and traditional advertising later in the process. Even if it reaches 2 million cases, Prosecco is still a category where it’s crucial to have an intimate connection with our customers.”

 

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