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In the past year the beverage industry has faced a global storm of epic proportion. Consumers today have a profound, new appreciation for the importance of health, safety and personal responsibility. For the beverage industry, the year has brought massive disruption and many unforeseen operational challenges. As a result, the beverage industry will be forever changed by the lessons learned in 2020.

Many of the beverage trends that were evident in late 2019 began to accelerate in early 2020, as consumer behavior adapted to making essential choices, often under restrictive conditions. Initially, buying big, trusted brands became the norm. But more recently, beverage shoppers appear to be reverting to some of their pre-COVID habits – interest in health & wellness attributes and willingness to try new products and indulge themselves. Looking ahead, many of these new behaviors are likely to continue well into 2021, as consumers remain mindful of their vulnerability during a pre-vaccine stage.

The beverage alcohol industry’s greatest challenge is the recovery of the on-premise channel, where continued restrictions have been catastrophic. According to Sip Source data, the US on-trade accounted for 18.6% of total spirit sales in February 2020, and is projected to drop further to 9.5% for spirits and 7.5% for wine by December 2020. The on-premise channel faces long-term and potentially permanent damage but these times have opened the doors to other channels such as ecommerce.

In sharp contrast to the struggling on-premise trade, beverage alcohol sales in the off-premise/retail channel have surged in many markets. Further, IWSR predicts that due to the lift in the retail channel, the US is expected to see total beverage alcohol volume growth in 2020 of +2.0%. Looking ahead to 2021, we can expect a very slow recovery of the on-premise channel in the first half of 2021 as many consumers will likely avoid bars, stadiums and large indoor gatherings until they are vaccinated.


Five Key Trends for 2021:

Ultra-Premium now within reach

The long-term trend in the premiumization of spirits has strengthened under COVID-19. As noted by J.P. Morgan, the Super-premium+ segment continues to gain share in the US and now accounts for 46.9% value share through 2020, up from 32.2% share in 2009. Premium-and-above tequila is expected to continue to grow globally, following 15% year-on-year growth between 2015 and 2019. In the US, a recent trade survey by Drizly noted that tequila surpassed ‘longtime growth champ’ bourbon as the top spirit that retailers expect to stock more of in the next one to three years. According to Drizly, this response marked a ‘significant change’ compared to last year when retailers were asked a similar question, and tequila placed 30 points behind bourbon. In third place was vodka, followed by scotch and mezcal. On Drizly’s platform, tequila has grown its share by 22% over the past year, while mezcal’s share has risen by 57%.


RTD Alcohol – not your Dad’s “alco-pop”:

RTD alcohol, led by hard seltzers has seen explosive growth in 2020 and experts agree that this trend will continue to accelerate in 2021. According to IWSR, the RTD alcohol category is the only category in global beverage alcohol to see volume growth in 2020 (+43%) – largely due to the growth in the US market. IWSR projects that the RTD market in the US will be larger in volume than spirits by the start of 2021. Key drivers for 2021 include premiumization and authenticity - including new RTD’s from ultra-premium craft brands, lower ABV options made from all-natural ingredients and innovative packaging coupled with sophisticated social media campaigns. As craft spirits reaches maturity in 2021, consumers can expect to see more collaboration between traditional craft distillers and RTD alcohol brands in an effort to spur further innovation in this fast-growing category. E-commerce has been fulfilling much of the consumer demand for RTD alcohol and these products are expected to represent 20% of total e-commerce value in the US by 2024, according to IWSR.

Low & No-Alcohol goes to Main Street:

What started as Dry January and Sober October has evolved into a growing trend towards more mindful drinking year-round. Last year’s boom in hard seltzers has led to a new wave of innovation in low/no-alc elixirs, botanicals and zero-proof spirits. Increasingly, spirit research confirms that consumers are actively shifting their drinking choices to include low/non-alc options. The category’s growth has not gone unnoticed by retailers – in New York’s Lower East Side a new storefront, Spirited Away offers 80 different alcohol-free spirits, beer, apertifs, and “leisure sodas”. Most of the brands are less than two years old, which suggests we’re likely to see many more developments coming to market in 2021.

E-commerce is the new game-changer

E-commerce has proven to be a game-changer for alcohol in that it reaches well beyond the on-premise and off-premise trade, directly to the consumer. IWSR data estimates that global e-commerce of beverage alcohol in ten core markets is now $24 billion and grew +11% in 2019, and will increase +42% in 2020. These ten markets (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and US) represent 90% of total e-commerce value. Based on annual growth of +80% in 2020, IWSR predicts that the US will overtake China by the end of 2021, to become the largest alcohol e-commerce market in the world. Having a fast and efficient e-commerce capability has become a “must-have” tool for growth and success in beverage alcohol, regardless of the category or business size.  Beyond China and the US, other key markets seeing a rapid increase in alcohol e-commerce are Mexico, the Netherlands and the Philippines.


Craft spirits grows up

The past year has been a roller-coaster ride for most craft spirits companies – from trying to minimize out-of-stocks in the off-premise channel to fighting for survival in the languishing on-premise channel. For many in Spring 2020, producing hand sanitizer was the only option. In 2021, craft spirit companies will be tested further as the industry’s three-tier supply chain looks to rationalize slower moving SKU’s to focus on core brands that deliver repeat sales and acceptable ROIC. A key lesson from 2020 has been the consumer’s willingness to “trade-up” to ultra-premium, especially in “hot” categories such as Tequila & Mezcal, Bourbon, and Cognac. Each of these categories are expected to witness significant growth in 2021.


As a result of the pandemic, the table stakes for success in craft spirits has been raised. In 2021, having a strong equity story, backed by a multi-channel distribution strategy, and a strong social media campaign are critical. Access to working capital may be more expensive and difficult to secure post-COVID. Larger strategic spirit companies will continue to look for craft opportunities in 2021 but standing out amidst the long tail of craft spirits companies will become even harder in the year ahead.


Despite the significant on-premise and foodservice channel challenges, the global spirits industry has proven to be resilient in 2020.  Our view is that 2021 will clearly be a year of transition – back to a “new normal” that will eventually resemble 2019. However, the sector’s recovery in the US will be slow and dependent on two critical variables - the successful execution of Operation Warp Speed, and the public’s readiness to get vaccinated; and the availability of a Coronavirus Relief Plan in early 2021. Contingent on achieving these milestones, we expect the US spirits industry volume will continue to grow in the 2-3% range in 2021.

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TORONTO, December 2, 2020 – Canada’s hospitality industry is struggling. 


Economic lock downs and restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic have devastated bars and restaurants across the country. Some are still operating but on reduced guest capacity, or offer only take-out or delivery. Others have had to shut their doors — for some it’s a temporary measure, for others it is for good. 


Corby Spirit and Wine works with the bartenders and servers from these establishments every day. To help out during this trying time, Corby has published A Toast from Coast to Coast, a beautiful coffee-table book featuring 100 cocktail recipes and stories plucked from bars and restaurants across Canada. 


“So many great restaurants and bars have been forced to shut down, or at least dramatically scale back their business, during the pandemic, resulting in the layoff of thousands of bartenders and hospitality staff,” says Danielle Yoon, a portfolio consultant with Corby Spirit and Wine. “Service staff are important partners, representing Corby’s brands and doing amazing things with them in a cocktail shaker for their guests. This book curates some of their fan-favourites and the most unique taste experiences they have created.” 


The hand-illustrated, hardcover book is more than a time capsule of contemporary Canadian cocktail culture — it is also a lifeline for the country’s bartenders and hospitality staff. Fully 100 per cent of the proceeds of each book sale — every single penny — goes directly to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund and the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association. 


“This book will go a long way towards showcasing the talent within the Canadian hospitality community, and sends the message that we are a community that supports one another in a time of need,” says Jon Gray, co-founder of the Bartenders Benevolent Fund. “We are so grateful to the team at Corby Spirit and Wine for supporting our Emergency Relief Fund efforts, which provides financial aid to struggling hospitality professionals across the county, and for helping to share this initiative so that those who need it most know it’s there.” 


Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been estimated that about two-thirds of the foodservice sector in Canada suffered a layoff or job loss. Organizations like the Bartenders Benevolent Fund and the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association offer emergency assistance to front-of-house hospitality staff who have fallen into serious financial hardship.


“The executive board of the CPBA is excited and grateful to be working with Corby Spirit and Wine and the Bartender Benevolent Fund on the A Toast from Coast to Coast project,” says Trevor Kallies, President of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association. “Not only will the funds raised go directly into the hands of hospitality workers in need, but it also shines a light on an industry that is resilient, passionate and determined. As restaurants and bars struggle to see what's next over these winter months, a project like this will go a long way.”


A Toast from Coast to Coast goes on sale December 4th. It can be purchased online for $40 at


“We’re hoping the industry will soon be back to mixing our favourite drinks behind a bar, but until then this is a great alternative,” says Danielle. “This book offers a reprieve from the everyday while you stay at home, offering great recipes from favourite haunts for you to craft in your own home, with some awesome stories to share while you sip.”

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TORONTO, Dec. 1, 2020 /CNW/ - Corby Spirit and Wine today announced a $100,000 donation to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund in support of service industry professionals impacted by COVID-19 restrictions this holiday season. As the largest corporate donor to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund, the contribution is part of a wider commitment to the service industry made by the Canadian hospitality industry leader, and its partner Pernod Ricard USA across North America.  

Since March, more than 800,000 bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff in Canada have experienced financial hardship from loss of employment, a decrease or complete loss of wages, and temporary lay-offs. To help Canadians get through this period, Corby Spirit and Wine has already undertaken several initiatives in support of affected groups and to protect those on the front lines working to control the spread of the virus. This latest donation acknowledges the continuing responsibility of the wine and spirits industry to help bartenders and others in the industry affected by the pandemic.  

"While we prioritize responsible drinking for the holiday season, this year we are expanding our definition of 'responsibility' to include our duty to support the professionals who need it most. Hospitality and foodservice workers from across Canada are the lifeblood of our industry, and as a spirits and wine leader, it's our duty to support the communities that are most important to us," said Nicolas Krantz, President, Chief Executive Officer of Corby Spirit and Wine. "That's why we're proud to be making today's donation, and to embark on several further initiatives designed to support those in need during what is traditionally the highlight of the hospitality calendar."

The donation to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund will be allocated via the non-profit's COVID-19 Support Fund to hospitality industry professionals facing financial crisis due to the pandemic. Allocated based on need, the fund is open to workers from across Canada and is anticipated to benefit a minimum of 400 bartenders.

"Our community of Canadian bartenders and hospitality workers, many of whom are already struggling with long-term loss of income, are facing a daunting holiday season" said Kelsey Ramage, Toronto-based hospitality industry manager and bartender. "This donation and Corby's continued support are a welcome boost to us at a critical time."  

Corby Spirit and Wine is also working with prominent bartenders from across Canada to create a coffee table book of more than 100 cocktail recipes and stories from Canadian bars and restaurants. All proceeds from the sales of A Toast from Coast to Coast will also go to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund & Canadian Professional Bartenders Association.

In addition, this December, Corby Spirit and Wine will take part in a further range of digital activations across the country, part of its wider efforts to support and give back to the service industry at this time of year.  

The organization encourages consumers to remember their bartenders this holiday season and consider making their own contributions.

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TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2020 /CNW/ - St-Rémy, the world's leading French brandy, is on a mission to recruit a new generation of brandy consumers, to breathe life back into the brandy category, and inspire the 21st century cocktail connoisseur, both behind the bar and at home. How? With its latest expression, St-Rémy Signature.

With roots dating back to 1886, St-Rémy is a true pioneer in the field, and so it is only natural that it leads the charge in rejuvenating the category, adding flair, freshness and style, whilst retaining its dedication to being 100% French from grapes to glass.

St-Rémy hope to recruit a new generation of discerning consumers aged between 30 to 40, who have refined their tastes and attitudes over the years. St-Rémy Signature appeals to them both through its liquid excellence, and its presentation in a minimalist, elegant bottle.

Through aspirational storytelling and innovative production processes, St-Rémy Signature is the perfect balance of tradition and modernity.

The processes used to create St-Rémy Signature have resulted in a drink echoing the lifecycle of its desired consumers. The enthusiasm of youth has been imparted by the first maturation in new oak casks (Quercus Patrea) giving the liquid intense spiced notes and verve. The wisdom of maturity is reflected through the second maturation in traditional casks (Quercus Robur), where the liquid becomes balanced and complex. The result is a smooth, proud and authentic brandy, creating a moment of true harmony.

St-Rémy Signature is luminous, bright and amber in colour with sweet aromas of vanilla, coconut and almond greeting you on the nose. Round and balanced on the palate, the woody notes are enriched with honey, nut and butter flavours.

"St-Rémy Signature is an original creation, says St-Rémy Master Blender, Cécile Roudaut. While respecting French brandy-making traditions, I have added a maturation stage in small virgin oak barrels, which marks its distinction."

St-Rémy Signature provides a unique base for your favourite serves, reimagined: French Old Fashioned, Signature Dry, Signature Rose or a Tin Train. Equally, the liquid is perfect for use in traditional brandy cocktails such as Club, Corpse Reviver No. 1, French Metropolitan and the French Alexander.

St-Rémy Signature (750ml) is available at LCBO, in-store and online, with a suggested retail price of $42.95.

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November 26, 2020 (Vancouver, BC) – At the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF), we believe that “it’s better to give than to receive” – and we hope you feel the same way. From December 1st to 25th, 2020, we’ll be giving away daily a $25 restaurant gift certificate. 

But it comes with a catch: to win, you have to:

  • be prepared to give the certificate away to a deserving person of your choice
  • follow the BC Hospitality Foundation on Instagram

We are giving away 25 gift cards to 25 deserving people!

All you need to do is any ONE of the following:

  • Create a post on Instagram noting what you are thankful for. Tag @BCHospitality and #BCHFpayitforward

Sign up for our newsletter

Then enter the contest by going to #BCHFpayitforward and completing a nomination form. If your name is drawn, we’ll contact you to arrange delivery of the gift certificate. This is a great way to show your appreciation for a coworker or medical practitioner, or to pleasantly surprise a friend or family member who could use a boost during the holiday season. Good luck and thanks for your support!

The BCHF is grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received over the course of 2020, and we’re thrilled to be able to spread some festive cheer with this year-end giveaway. Thanks to Gray Monk Estate WineryRed Rooster Winery, and Sandhill Wines for their amazing generosity!


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