Bob Kunze-Concewitz said the US vodka market remained difficult

Bob Kunze-Concewitz said the US vodka market remained difficult

Beam Inc's buyout of Pinnacle will not affect the US vodka market in the short term because the brand's flavour line is already too deep, according to the head of Gruppo Campari.

In a conference call earlier today (15 May), CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz said he feels that Beam's new US$650m acquistion won't have much of an impact on the overall category. Beam bought Pinnacle Vodka from White Rock Distilleries last month.

“How many new flavours can you launch in a year?” Kunze-Concewitz said. “I think they are pretty much at the ceiling there. I would be very surprised if they increased the rate of new flavour launches.”

Earlier today, Campari, which owns Skyy Vodka, posted healthy first-quarter results, boosted by a strong US performance for Skyy. Group sales in the three months to the end of March rose 3.4% compared to a year earlier.

However, in the conference call after the results release, Kunze-Concewitz said the crowded US vodka sector remained difficult.

“Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately I need to tell you that the tunnel is very long,” he said. “Thinking about pricing in the core US market, it remains very competitive and we don't see any change there. 

“On the other hand, the infusions continue to perform quite nicely. So, nothing has changed in the competitive arena and nothing has changed on our strategy.”

Kunze-Concewitz outlined plans for a summer TV advertising campaign for Skyy in the US, the first such campaign for the brand.

He also said the company expected to turn around disappointing Campari Soda sales by focusing on the brand's 80th birthday this year.

“We're feel a little bit better about it,” he said.

Campari Soda posted a 6.3% sales decline in the first three months to the end of March.