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Riding The Sparkling Wine Boom, Cava Quietly Emerges In The U.S. Market

July 20, 2016

While Prosecco has surged and Champagne has enjoyed impressive growth over the past few years, Cava has quietly made solid progress of its own in the U.S. Last year, the Spanish sparkler grew by 8.6% to 1.65 million cases—just 60,000 cases shy of Champagne, though still far behind Prosecco’s more than 4 million cases of U.S. volume. “Consumers see non-Champagne sparkling wine as a superior price-value proposition,” says Tom Burnet, president of Freixenet USA, which controls roughly half of the U.S. market’s Cava sales with its Freixenet flagship brand as well as stablemate Segura Viudas. “As sparkling wine becomes more of an everyday drink, categories like Prosecco and Cava will continue to do well.”

Top-selling Cava brand Freixenet has made strong gains over the past two years, while Segura Viudas has become a major player in its own right, surpassing the 250,000-case threshold on double-digit growth in 2015. Progress has continued into 2016, with Segura Viudas up by around 20% in Nielsen channels and Freixenet up 9%.

“We’ve been much more active in marketing to Millennials over the past few years,” says Burnet. “That includes focusing less on traditional marketing and more on experiential marketing.” With the Freixenet brand, the company has tapped into marketing support for Halloween festivities—in New York in 2014 and New Orleans last year. Additionally, Burnet says a key focus has been promoting mixability—marketing Freixenet as a cocktail component both for on- and off-premise consumption.

CIV USA’s Jaume Serra Cristalino and Opera Prima are also among Cava’s leading brands, giving CIV USA a category share of more than 30%. Meanwhile, Codorníu, a force in the global Cava market, lacks a major presence in the U.S.—where it’s handled by Codorníu subsidiary Aveníu Brands—but it’s also showing promise. “We’re outpacing the category in the U.S. with Anna de Codorníu (the brand’s flagship offering), but we don’t really focus specifically on the Cava segment,” says Javier Pagés, CEO of Grupo Codorníu. “We view our competitors as the best sparkling wines, from across Champagne, Prosecco, the domestic segment and Cava.” —Peter Zwiebach

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