The new version of Somersby was first launched in the UK last year

The new version of Somersby was first launched in the UK last year

Carlsberg is on the look-out for a new distributor for its Somersby cider brand in the US after “mutually” agreeing to end its relationship with current distributor Crown Imports.

The Constellation Brands-owned distributor took on the brand on a trial basis last year prior to buying out its JV partner in Crown, Grupo Modelo.  “Due to Crown’s strategic priorities, both parties have agreed that Somersby requires a partner who can allocate more focus to the growing cider market,” a Carlsberg spokesperson told just-drinks today (4 October).

Constellation, which announced its half-year results yesterday, took full control of Crown Imports in June.  Anheuser-Busch InBev was forced to divest the business to satisfy regulators in its US$20.1bn capture of Grupo Modelo.

A Constellation spokesperson told just-drinks: “Crown’s business model has changed significantly since the ABI/Modelo/Constellation deal, becoming far more complex since the initial agreement with Carlsberg.

“To introduce a new brand in the cider category takes considerable time, effort and focus, and Crown is focused on growing our current portfolio ... to realise our long-term goal of capturing a 20% dollar share of the overall US beer market.”

The US cider sector is still seeing significant growth, with shipments up 87% for the year-to-date to June 2013

Carlsberg has yet to choose a new importer, the Constellation spokesperson said.

The Somerby brand was first launched in Denmark and Norway in 2008. But Carlsberg introduced a re-formulated version of the product in the UK last year.