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Cream Liqueurs Eye Turnaround, As Baileys Returns To Growth

December 30, 2016

Cream liqueurs were collectively down 1.5% to about 3.2 million nine-liter cases in the U.S. market last year, according to Impact Databank, out of a total liqueurs category that fell 2% to 18.8 million cases. However, in the year-to-date through October, the category saw a turnaround in control states, rising 2.7%, and market leader Baileys is on track to post positive growth for the first time in several years.

After years of declines, Baileys is projected to grow 2% in 2016 to 1.3 million cases, according to Impact Databank. New extensions, such as this fall’s Pumpkin Spice ($25) and test trials of a dairy- and gluten-free Almande expression ($21) this summer, have helped to fuel the rebound. The Diageo brand’s portfolio also includes Salted Caramel, Vanilla Cinnamon, Chocolate Cherry and Espresso Crème flavors in addition to the core Original Irish Cream.

The U.S. market’s second-leading cream liqueur, RumChata, has been slowing after a period of meteoric growth. Marketed by Agave Loco Brands, RumChata rose from 17,000 cases in 2010 to more than half a million cases just four years later. Commanding a 16.3% share of the cream liqueurs segment, the brand has found success with tie-ins to flavored whiskies like Fireball and more recently Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire. Lately, though, growth has been tougher to achieve, and RumChata is projected to rise just 1% to 530,000 cases for 2016.

Other leading cream liqueur brands are likewise looking for newfound momentum. Campari America’s Carolans, ranked third, was down 3.9% to 366,000 cases last year, while E.&J. Cask & Cream fell 13.5% to 320,000 cases. On the positive side, Luxco’s St. Brendan’s, ranked fifth, grew 6% to above 150,000 cases.

Despite the uncertain climate, a number of smaller brands are eyeing expansion within the category. California’s Infinium Spirits has expanded Kerrygold Irish Cream liqueur ($25) to 36 states, with 20 states added just this year. Meanwhile, in August Chicago’s SomPriya Fine Spirits partnered with L&B USA to boost distribution of its Somrus cream liqueur brand ($25), a blend of almond, pistachio, rose, dairy cream and rum with spices such as cardamom and saffron. And this fall, Tennessee’s Sugarlands Distilling launched an Appalachian Sippin’ Creams range that includes Dark Chocolate Coffee Cream and Butter Pecan (both $25). —Kimberly Tharel

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