High-end drinks are still the story

Wholesalers believe premium products will continue to trend this year

‘PREMIUM’ has become a watchword in the on-trade in recent years, as operators look to differentiate their outlets from the competition and customers seek out products with more provenance and interesting flavours.
It’s a trend that’s likely to continue throughout 2017, according to wholesalers, who have predicted another strong year for products including premium wines and spirits and craft beers.
“Consumers will be looking for new, premium and interesting drinks right across the core on-trade drinks categories,” said Tony Holmes, sales director for retail and foodservice at Bestway Wholesale.
“That includes beer and cider, wine, spirits and in particular cocktails, as well as soft drinks.”

There is a growing take up of bourbon, tequila and rum.

He added that younger on-trade customers, in particular, are “continually looking for new brands and novel serves”.
Premium spirits will continue to play an important role in cocktail serves, said Holmes, and he encouraged licensees to review their ranges regularly.
“With the cocktail culture still very much in growth, and CGA reporting that one in three on-trade outlets now serve cocktails, operators will need to refresh their offer regularly to keep customers,” he said.
“While gin is still very much in growth, there is growing consumer take-up of spirits categories such as bourbon, tequila and rum, creating opportunities for pubs and bars to expand their range and offer more premium brands and serves.”
On the wine side, wholesaler Inverarity Morton expects to see a trend for “quirky white varietals” and sparkling wines such as cava and cremant continue through 2017.
“Our 2017 wine portfolio reflects this, with new listings of Carignan, Negroamaro, Corvina, Cabernet Franc,” said wine buyer Toby Sigouin.
“This is all driven by the consumer demand for approachable wines that offer something out of the norm.”
Beer is another category that could be set for an eventful year in 2017, according to Graham Baird, sales director at Belhaven.
“Beer lies at the heart of the pub experience and, as a brewery as well as a supplier, we expect an exciting year ahead,” said Baird.

Consumers will be looking for new, interesting drinks.

“Drinkers’ expectations of the range of beer styles on offer have shifted dramatically over the last few years and the majority of pub-goers now expect to be faced with a much wider choice on the bar.”
And he reckoned, as licensees gear up for events including the 6 Nations, that there will be a “greater focus on doing the simple things well, with the trade driving up standards in drinks, quality and service throughout 2017 to keep attracting and retaining customers”.
Trends could change in the course of the year, of course, and so wholesalers encouraged licensees to stay in touch with them throughout 2017.
“The best advice I could give would be to seek advice wherever you need it from your wholesaler and don’t be afraid to ask,” said Inverarity Morton commercial director, Ian Cumming.
“Most good wholesalers are delighted to have lots of contact with their customers, and to talk about ways to help their customers make more money through innovation and premiumisation.”
Baird, at Belhaven, added: “We would like to think that we are seen not only as a supplier but also as a sounding board for ideas.”