Foster's Group New Zealand is to take over the distribution, sales and marketing of Appletiser in New Zealand. The deal is effective from 1 February 2004.

Appletiser, and its sister brands Grapetiser White and Grapetiser Red, will become the first non-alcoholic beverages in Foster's Group NZ's growing portfolio, which already includes beer, wines, spirits and cider.

"We're very excited to welcome Appletiser into the Foster's Group NZ family and in doing so expand our offering into a new area of the beverage market," said Foster's Group NZ vice president Andrew Bonner. "Appletiser is an internationally successful premium brand and we have big plans for it in the New Zealand market."

Foster's said it will work to consolidate the current distribution of Appletiser, Grapetiser White and Grapetiser Red before implementing a marketing strategy to raise the products' profiles and drive sales.

"The distribution agreement between ourselves and Appletiser marks an important new step for Foster's Group NZ. Many of Appletiser's current retailers will be new Foster's customers and our top priority is managing the transfer from the previous supplier and minimising any disturbance to customers," said Bonner.

"From there our goal is to raise Appletisers' profile and cement its position as the premium non-alcoholic alternative by communicating in a number of innovative, interactive ways with women aged 18-39," he added.

Appletiser (which was previously marketed under the brand name Appletise) has been in New Zealand for 20 years. It was previously distributed by CCA.