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Absolut Picks Up Innovation Pace, As Pernod Mulls Acquisitions

March 29, 2013

Pernod Ricard’s Absolut brand has officially unveiled Absolut Craft, a new range of artisanal flavored vodkas designed exclusively for professional bartenders. Created in partnership with master bartender Nick Strangeway, the collection will ultimately feature three expressions, each using “at least 12 macerates, infusions and/or distillates” to create a sophisticated flavor profile.

Absolut Craft’s debut expression is Herbaceous Lemon, made with a blend of lemon verbena, lemon thyme and lemon myrtle. Herbaceous Lemon (41% abv) will be available in select markets this April. Two additional Absolut Craft flavors are slated to roll out later this year.

With cutthroat competition in the vodka category continuing, Absolut has been active on the innovation front of late, with recent entries including the Absolut Hibiskus flavor and Absolut Tune, a sparkling wine/vodka hybrid (the latter hit a snag in recent days when it was voluntarily recalled due to a failure to disclose the inclusion of sulfites on its packaging). This year, Pernod says it will introduce Absolut’s upscale Elyx variant in the U.S.

Absolut returned to positive growth territory in the U.S. last year with a 2.3% advance to reach 4.7 million nine-liter cases, according to Impact Databank, but it remains below its 2007 high-water mark of 5 million cases.

Meanwhile, in other Pernod Ricard news, Alexandre Ricard, who is set to take the reins of the French drinks giant in early 2015, told France’s Les Echos that Pernod will be seeking acquisitions both in the U.S. and emerging markets in the coming years, and will also consider expanding its activities in wine, which currently only accounts for about 5% of the company’s revenue. Ricard, currently Pernod Ricard’s deputy chief executive, is in line to succeed Pierre Pringuet, who will retire as the company’s CEO in 2015. For his part, Pringuet has said in recent months that Pernod will continue to avoid major acquisitions for the foreseeable future, but is open to smaller bolt-on deals in the U.S. and Asia.


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