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Interview, Part 2: Mark Anthony Brands CCO David Barnett

May 4, 2023

In the second part of our interview, Mark Anthony Brands chief commercial officer David Barnett discusses the company’s efforts to expand its spirits portfolio, as well as the road ahead for flavored malt beverage stalwarts like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Cayman Jack.

SND: Beyond the new White Claw vodkas and vodka sodas, what is the status of Mark Anthony’s other efforts in spirits?

Barnett: We’re excited about our small but growing portfolio of super-premium craft spirits in the U.S. First, we have a distillery in Wicklow, Ireland called The Glendalough Distillery, where we produce a variety of super-premium spirits including a Wild Botanical & Rose Gin and a line of super premium single malt, single grain, and pot still whiskies. In addition, we have a promising and distinctive super-premium Canadian Whisky in Bearface. Bearface uses a unique aging process, which matures the whisky in repurposed shipping containers in the wild Canadian North. This process transforms the liquid into something entirely new and rare for Canadian whiskies.

SND: Are more additions to the spirits portfolio likely in the near term? If so, what areas of the market are especially attractive?

Barnett: At this time, we don’t have plans to expand into other spirits categories, but we’re always listening to what our customers want and looking for ways to innovate and disrupt categories.

SND: Mike’s Hard Lemonade has been a long-running success in the FMB category, earning multiple Impact “Hot Brand” awards over the years. How is the health of the brand as we speak, and how do you see its trajectory moving forward?

Barnett: Launched 24 years ago, Mike’s Hard Lemonade was born out of innovation and consumer desire for traditional beer category disruption. Over this time, Mike’s has continued to lead the category thanks to that innovative spirit and a great-tasting, full-flavored lemonade. Mike’s is coming off a strong 2022 with 6% growth with two successful innovation launches in Mike’s Hard Freeze and Mike’s Harder Half & Half. In 2023, we’re building on our momentum by extending our leadership in lemonade, reviving fan favorites such as Mike’s Hard Limeade, and releasing new innovations like Mike’s Hard Zero Sugar Lemonade.

SND: Which other brands across the Mark Anthony portfolio are priority areas for the company?

Barnett: Cayman Jack, the clear Margarita leader, is another top priority for us. Cayman Jack is the fifth-largest flavored malt beverage (FMB) brand and one of the fastest growing, with 46% growth in 2022. We believe there is a long runway for growth on Cayman Jack by expanding our core distribution and awareness along with innovation that drives incrementality. More broadly across the entire portfolio, Mark Anthony’s volume, value, and share growth is one of the industry leaders so far in 2023. We’re excited about the upcoming, critical summer selling season and further extending our leadership position within flavored beverage, the engine of growth in the industry.

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