LCBO 'Top 10' Trends for Summer 2013

TORONTO, June 7, 2013 /CNW/ - With summer entertaining and weekend get-togethers top of mind for many, LCBO is advising its customers what's hot for occasions of every kind this season.  Low-calorie, ready-to-drink beverages, wines and spirits continue to be popular and the significant growth of Ontario craft beers and ciders remains unstoppable.

"Summer represents more than 30 per cent of LCBO sales, with each long weekend from Victoria Day to Labour Day bringing in better than two per cent of total annual sales," says Nancy Cardinal, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "Our knowledgeable store staff has great ideas to help customers with summer entertaining and special occasions."

Historical data shows that sunny weather leads to greater sales of beer and coolers - especially when tied to a long weekend - but if it's too cold or rainy, sales soften slightly. Regardless of weather, this year's Top 10 list for summer is the go-to guide to what's trendy.

"Our customers are always looking for fresh, new products to make entertaining seasonal and inspirational," says Shari Mogk-Edwards, Vice President, Products, Sales and Merchandising. "Long- standing favourites remain popular this summer but the Top 10 List is also packed with new products and varietals that will satisfy people looking to try something new."

LCBO's Top 10 for summer 2013:

  1. SPIRITS: The spirits category does about 40 per cent of its business in the summer months. This year, tequila and gin are the trend-setters. Over the last few years, tequila sales have shown average growth of about nine per cent, being driven by the increasing number of deluxe and ultra-deluxe products coming into the Ontario market. These new high-quality items are perfect for sipping, or for mixing in super-premium cocktails. Gin is the ultimate 'flavoured vodka' crafted by infusing a neutral spirit with a unique blend of herbs and spices. So far this year, LCBO gin sales are up almost seven per cent, which account for increased customer demand for more complex spirits and vodka drinkers experimenting with new flavours. Both gin and tequila typically see almost half of their annual sales during the summer months. Flavoured vodkas continue to be popular, with cherry re-emerging as a favourite trend.  Sales of this part of the product portfolio are currently up 11.5 per cent and LCBO has created the seasonal encore program with products from the Sweet Shop. Caramel, red liquorice, glazed donut and whipped cream vodkas (to name a few) are popular for refreshing cocktails this summer.
  2. BEER & CIDER: The big story in beer this summer is India Pale Ale (IPA).  First brewed in the early 19th century in England from pale malt, this brew was shipped around the world to Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and eventually India.  It has since evolved into an iconic and highly sought-after style. LCBO has seen a 60 per cent increase in net sales of IPA beer over the last year and has added seven new craft IPAs from the U.S. and British Columbia. Cider continues to be a popular choice in many global markets, with strong sales at LCBO through the winter months. Last year, net cider sales increased by 60.4 per cent, and while the Ontario market is still dominated by Strongbow, new products including flavoured ciders, are making their debut this summer from Britain, the U.S. and Ontario.
  3. EUROPEAN WINES: Hot weather means high demand for Italian whites - Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Prosecco - and better than 30 per cent of sales in these categories occur in summer. Lighter reds like Beaujolais from France and Tempranillo from Spain are also popular and will continue to be so in the coming months. These wines are perfect with appetizers, cheese or pizza and should be chilled for about 20 minutes to bring out their soft fruitiness.
  4. NEW WORLD WINES: Blended wines from California lead the charge in the New World category this summer. Increasingly appealing because of their round, easy-drinking style, blends typically offer more flavour complexity and texture than single varietals and work well with many different food pairings. California Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the popular Sangria will be available in 500mL Tetra Pak format this summer- perfect for cottage, camping, or picnicking.  Known for exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand makes exceptionally food-friendly red wines that will pair perfectly with summer barbeque. Look for new red varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet-Merlot launching in the New Zealand section this summer.
  5. VINTAGES: From Europe, Spanish and Italian whites are in demand and, with the Toronto International Film Festival around the corner in early September, luxury Champagne is also expected to be a popular indulgence. Affordable 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux will also continue to be must-haves.  New World Pinot Noir from California, Oregon and Chile is growing in popularity, with sales up about 11 per cent this year. A typically lighter style, this varietal is well-suited to many foods and can be served slightly chilled. Product selection in the $18-$22 range has also been enhanced from reputable wineries in Australia, the U.S., Chile and New Zealand.  On the spirits side, the trend toward small-batch, artisan spirits continues with especially strong sales of bourbon helping to increase VINTAGES whisky sales by about 25 per cent this year.
  6. ONTARIO WINES: Thirty per cent of Ontario wine sales are generated in the summer months and local varietals to watch are Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir. Ontario Chardonnay in VINTAGES continues to be the driver of premium white wine sales, accounting for 18.5 per cent market share and growing at 17.1 per cent. Red and white blends are also gaining popularity and combined account for 29 per cent of total growth of Ontario wines. Ontario Rosés are a perfect complement to dinner on the grill, and this year's seasonal promotion has seen an increase in sales of more than 15 per cent over last year.
  7. READY-TO-DRINK: Summer is the perfect time of year for ready-to-drink beverages, so not surprisingly almost 60 per cent of the annual sales in this category happen during this time. While traditional coolers are still very popular, more and more customers are looking for natural, lighter-tasting and less sweet flavour profiles.  Spiced-rum and vodka iced tea coolers are the trendy choices in this area, and pre-mixed, single-serve pouches that can be frozen are also expected to be hot this season. Sales of new packaging formats, like environmentally friendly cans and PET bottles, have increased 26 per cent over last year, mainly because coolers and one-pour drinks in cans are attractive alternatives to beer.
  8. LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL: The trend toward buying local continues with one Ontario success story after another. Whether its Ontario VQA wines, craft beers, spirits, or homegrown cider, the local experience is one that customers repeatedly return to in summer. Nearly 47 per cent of Ontario VQA Rosé sales happen in summer, and with VQA Destination Boutiques scheduled to open in the next few months at select LCBO stores, customers will have hundreds of new, unique and rare VQA products to choose from.
  9. CALORIE-REDUCED PRODUCTS: The trend toward light and low-calorie options continues and large brands have taken notice.  Smirnoff and Skinnygirl are launching new vodka options this season, along with newcomer Voli Vodka from France. 'Light' beer is a perennial favorite for summer, as are longstanding, ready-to-drink favorites such as Smirnoff Ice Light and Skinnygirl One Pour Cocktails. Emerging flavour trends in this category are melon, cherry and blood orange. Calorie-reduced products continue to be a trend in the WINES category, particularly with women between the ages of 25 and 35.  As part of the Summer Rosé program, LCBO will introduce its first low-calorie Rosé - Lindeman's Early Harvest Low Calorie Rosé. Ontario-grown Skinnygrape Chardonnay became an instant favorite since its launch in April, with sales now outpacing its closest U.S. competitor.
  10. ONTARIO CRAFT BEER: With almost 200 Ontario craft beers (OCB) available this summer, the trend toward locally produced product continues with gusto. OCBs have seen phenomenal sales growth of 575 per cent since 2006. New brewmasters are driving change and responding to customer demand by experimenting with bigger and bolder styles and flavours. New products launched this summer include Saw Dust City Brewing Co., Junction Craft Brewing, Mad & Noisy Brewing Co., Hogtown Brewers, Big Rig Brewing Co., and Niagara Oast House Brewers.

SOURCE: LCBO

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather MacGregor, LCBO Media Relations Co-ordinator
Tel: 416 864-6772; Cell: 416 587-3729; E-mail: heather.macgregor@lcbo.com

Sally Ritchie, LCBO Senior Communications Consultant  
Tel. 416 864-6875; Cell: 647 339-5428; E-mail: sally.ritchie@lcbo.com

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