Carlsberg San Miguel Fresca to launch in UK

Carlsberg San Miguel Fresca to launch in UK

Carlsberg is seeking to use the rising popularity of its San Miguel brand in the UK to launch what looks like the next-generation Corona Extra.

San Miguel Fresca will hit the UK on-trade in February, thanks to a brewing collaboration between Carlsberg and Mahou-San Miguel. It's a 4.4% abv lager that is best served chilled with a wedge of lime squeezed into the bottle neck. 

While Grupo Modelo's Corona Extra is not mentioned specifically, there are clear similarities. At 4.6% abv, Corona Extra sells around 5m cases per year in the UK and is perhaps best-known for its lime wedge garnish.

Limes in general are all the rage these days. In North America, we already have Bud Light Lime and Molson Coors Sublime.  

In the UK, today's announcement by Carlsberg is an attempt to marry the successful Corona concept with the San Miguel brand, which has emerged as one of the fastest growers in a shrinking UK beer market under Carlsberg's stewardship. 

At the same time, Fresca represents another attempt to make beer less masculine and so perhaps broaden the category to women. Not that I'm saying women only want lower-strength, fruity lagers.

The launch also highlights a widespread trend since the onset of recession in the UK, which is for many consumers to continue spending their dwindling real-terms wage on high-end lager in bars. The overall market figures suggest that beer and pubs are doomed, but this is not so.          

Carlsberg UK's director of customer marketing, David Scott, said: "We are serious about this beer and we are serious about investing in the on-trade with robust and substantial support." 

The group declined to release specific pricing details when contacted by just-drinks. But, the brewer said that its consumer research shows that people will "trade up" from San Miguel original to Fresca, denoting a higher price-point for the latter - and hence, better profit margins.

The Fresca launch will be supported with a GBP6m (US$9.4m) advertising campaign, just in-time for the run-up to spring and summer. Let battle commence.