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Stella Artois Cidre To Hit Shelves Next Week

May 7, 2013

Anheuser-Busch InBev is launching Stella Artois Cidre in the U.S. market, with the brand hitting retail shelves in 26 states on May 13. The cider is the first U.S. line extension for Stella Artois beer, which has been distributed in the market since 1999. “It’s an opportunity for us to come in and reshape the category, and to differentiate from the U.S. style of sweeter ciders, and instead bring in the crisp, European style, which is more dry,” says Rick Oleshak, director of Stella Artois for the U.S. market.

Oleshak says Stella Artois Cidre, at 4.5 percent alcohol-by-volume, is primarily targeting white wine drinkers. “We’ve done some research, and it looks like nearly three-quarters of the volume would come from the wine space, as well as high-end spirits,” as opposed to craft or imported beer, he says. “It’s a play for both males and females,” Oleshak adds. “It’s 25-34 year olds, more affluent and with higher education.”

Stella Artois Cidre, which has been available in the U.K. for two years, will be sold in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles at retail, with a suggested price of $7.49. A 24-ounce bottle for the on-premise is expected to sell for about $5.99, Oleshak says. A-B is suggesting that the cider be served in a white wine glass. A draft component is planned for later this year.

The Stella Artois line extension is Anheuser-Busch’s second major play in the burgeoning cider market in the U.S. In May 2012, the company launched Michelob Ultra Light Cider, a low-calorie entrant. Oleshak says the two brands have different target consumers. “Michelob Ultra Cider is for consumers in the U.S. who want something a little bit lighter, a little bit refreshing, and actually the sweet palate plays in there,” he says. “Whereas ours is more of a European, dry-type cider. They’re different tastes and have different brand positioning. We believe there is room for both of us.”

Competition is heating up in the cider category, with a slew of new brand launches over the past year, all hoping to grab a slice of a growing pie. The top 10 cider brands in the United States jumped 62.6 percent to 9.58 million 2.25-gallon case depletions in 2012, according to Impact Databank. Most major brands, especially domestic entrants, had double-digit increases.

The launch of Stella Artois Cidre next week will be followed by an outdoor, print and digital campaign running July through September. A national launch is planned for the first quarter of 2014. Stella Artois Cidre is fermented in Baldwinsville, New York, using apples picked from wine-growing regions in North and South America.

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