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Interview, Part 1: John Barrett, Chief Commercial Officer, Pernod Ricard USA

December 7, 2021

Pernod Ricard recently hit a major milestone in the U.S. spirits market, with its annual sales topping $2 billion for the first time.With the holiday selling season moving into high gear, Shanken News Daily executive editor Daniel Marsteller caught up with Pernod Ricard USA chief commercial officer John Barrett for an update on the company’s progress.

SND: What spirits categories are especially ripe for growth this holiday season?

Barrett: We expect strong growth from some of our premium products, like Tequilas and American whiskies, which are frequently given as gifts, and RTDs, which continue to outpace the total category growth. Tequila was the most popular spirit in 2020 and it’s still one of the fastest growing spirits segments, expected to outgrow the mainstream spirits category in the next five years. Whiskey is the spirit most frequently given as a gift and American whiskies, in particular, are booming.

SND: How is the on-premise environment faring in comparison with the off-premise currently?

Barrett: In the beginning, Covid significantly slowed down the on-premise in the U.S. market, a channel where we overindex. In comparison to last year, we’re anticipating an increase in on-premise alcohol consumption this holiday season. Many dining and bar restrictions have been lifted as more individuals become vaccinated. Additionally, many consumers are planning to gather again with family and friends to celebrate convivial moments after a holiday season apart in 2020. While a resurgence of Covid infections could impact our outlook, today we’re confident that on-premise will be much stronger this holiday season than last.

SND: How are you approaching the growth opportunities in both channels?

Barrett: Both remain important to our strategy. For on-premise, we’re driving growth by supporting bars, restaurants, and consumers through ensuring availability of our core brands with holiday driven campaigns to get consumers excited again about the return to their favorite bars and restaurants. For off-premise, we continue to see opportunities for growth in convenient, consumer-ready products like ready-to-drink cocktails. Consumers are continuing to drive premiumization as they enhance their world of at-home mixology.

Pernod Ricard USA—Key Spirits Brands
Brand Origin/Type Total 2020
Depletions1
2021 YTD2
Percent Change
In Control States
Jameson Irish Whiskey 3,580 15.6%
Absolut Imported Vodka 3,161 -0.7%
Malibu Imported Rum 2,734 10.0%
Kahlúa Imported Liqueur 920 2.5%
The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch 470 9.8%
Beefeater Gin 433 -2.9%
Olmeca Altos Tequila 358 -19.0%
Chivas Regal Blended Scotch 256 7.4%
Martell Cognac 174 34.8%
Avión Tequila 137 0.2%
Jefferson’s Bourbon 122 30.7%
Total Key Brands3 12,346 5.7%
Total Pernod Ricard USA 15,648 3.2%
1 Thousands of 9-liter cases.
2 Year-to-date through October.
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: NABCA and IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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