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Surging Flavors Propel E&J Brandy To Best Performance In Years

March 1, 2017

E&J brandy has been among the U.S. market’s top 10 spirits brands for years and the largest-selling brandy, but it’s been sliding over recent years as rivals like Constellation’s Paul Masson have gained a larger share of the category.

E&J (around $10 a 750-ml.) lost its spot in the top 10 spirits rankings last year, as hard-charging portfoliomate New Amsterdam Vodka continued its remarkable rise with a 15% advance to 5 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Even so, E&J is enjoying its best performance in over a decade, largely because of innovation activity. In 2015, the brand was extended with two flavor entries: Peach and Apple.

Those new offerings, retailing at around the same price as the parent brand, are both 30%-abv, compared to the core offering’s 40%-abv content. Both Peach and Apple got off to a promising start last year, selling 100,000 and 40,000 cases, respectively. That trend continued in 2016, as Apple surged to 360,000 cases while Peach jumped to 210,000 cases.

The two extensions accounted for around 15% of E&J’s volume last year, and essentially all of its growth, as the core offering lost ground. The flavors offset that decline, propelling E&J brandy to a 7.5% advance to 3.9 million cases, according to Impact Databank estimates. While many of its competitors from other categories are higher-priced, E&J enjoyed such impressive progress that it had the fifth-highest dollar growth among spirits brands in control states through the first 11 months of 2016, according to NABCA.

Meanwhile, Paul Masson (around $11 a 750-ml.) has quietly put together an impressive run of its own. The Constellation brand saw its annual volume rise by roughly 40% from 2010 to 2015, and with solid progress occurring again last year, it finished 2016 north of the 2-million-case threshold.

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