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Fernet-Branca Makes Inroads As Consumers Explore Bitter Taste Profiles

December 23, 2019

Earlier this year, Italy’s Fratelli Branca, known for its flagship amaro brand Fernet-Branca, launched wholly owned import company Branca USA to take control of its route to market. The shift comes during a period growth for Fernet-Branca driven by rising consumer interest in complex, bitter taste profiles. After a 7% increase to 76,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank, Fernet-Branca has seen its U.S. progress continue this year despite the transition, according to family member and U.S. managing director Edoardo Branca.

“People are becoming more open to trying bitters,” Branca tells SND. “We’re here to introduce them to what an authentic amaro should be.” While Fernet-Branca is still emerging in the U.S., it’s a large brand globally, with volume of nearly 5 million cases, and Branca sees ample upside for the future.

Since launching New York City-based Branca USA in February, the company has built a team of 27 employees—including all 12 portfolio managers from previous importer Infinium Spirits—and looked to cement its relationships with its distributors, which include top players like Southern Glazer’s, RNDC, Breakthru, and Young’s.

“We needed to speak with all our distributors and tell them that we’re going to keep the same deals,” Branca says, adding that the transition was worth the challenges that came with it due to the benefit of being able to represent Fernet-Branca under the family name in the most important spirits market in the world.

While Branca USA is focused on continuing to build its namesake brand, the company has also been active on the innovation front lately. Last month, the portfolio expanded with the launch of Stravecchio Branca brandy. The brandy is distilled from Trebbiano grapes and aged for over four years in oak casks. Before bottling, it’s finished in the “botte madre,” Branca’s roughly 85,000-liter barrel, for six months. Stravecchio Branca is now in national distribution, retailing at around $40 a 1-liter bottle. —Shane English

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