Tenth & Blake Aims To Reinvigorate Pilsner Urquell With Repack, Freshness InitiativeJuly 12, 2012
MillerCoors craft and import unit Tenth & Blake is revamping its Pilsner Urquell brand—an effort that includes a repackaging and express refrigerated shipping that will deliver fresher shipments of the Czech-imported beer to the U.S. market.
Pilsner Urquell’s so-called “freshness initiative” grew out of complaints from Czech bars and restaurants in the U.S. that the beer had suffered during its journey from the Czech Republic. “We were following an efficiency model built around fewer shipments in bigger containers,” says Chad Wodskow, U.S. brand manager for Pilsner Urquell. “Now we’re cutting transport time in half, shipping in smaller refrigerated containers, and we’ve created an entirely closed package on our six-packs of bottles and four-packs of cans to keep out light.”
The freshness initiative may cause six-pack and four-pack prices on Pilsner Urquell to rise by about a dollar at retail in some areas, but Wodskow says retailers have been appreciative of the effort and investment in the brand.
On-premise, Tenth & Blake has instituted certain benchmarks as part of the initiative. “We want bar and restaurant operators to present the brand in a Pilsner glass, to be able to finish one keg a week—it doesn’t matter what size—and to frequently clean their taps. If that’s not happening, we’ll take Pilsner Urquell off-tap in those accounts and offer it in cans instead. The cans are our fastest-growing SKU right now,” Wodskow says.
Pilsner Urquell rose steadily from just 500,000 cases in the U.S. in 1995 to more than 1.9 million in 2007. Since then, however, it has declined markedly, falling 10.6% to 1.27 million cases in 2011, according to Impact Databank. Wodskow says volume may slip further in the near term under the freshness initiative because of Tenth & Blake’s plan to limit it to its best accounts, but he added that that the move is necessary for the brand’s long-term health. “We’re in a position now where we’re looking at the five- to 10-year window rather than a one-year target,” he says.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.