US. Stores Ramp Up Private-Label Beer Offerings

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Supervalu, Walgreens and 7-Eleven are among the contenders who are pushing their own brew brands.
Convenience, grocery and drug store chains are taking on Big Beer with their own lines of private-label brewskies, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Recently, Walgreens began stocking its Big Flats 1901, and in December, Supervalue rolled out its own house brand called Buck Range Light. Costco Wholesale Corp. and 7-Eleven also have launched private-label beers.
Retailers are hoping their lower-priced private-label beers will capture some of the beer market, which has been hard hit because of high unemployment. Store-brand products have risen in recent years, with revenue from that segment jumping 2 percent in 2010, according to Nielsen Co.
In-house beer brands have not faired as well as other private-label products partly because beer is seen as a social beverage and brand names contribute to the social image. Store-brand alcohol drinks comprise under 1 percent of alcohol sales in retail locations that Nielsen tracked in 2010. U.S. beer sales annually generate around $96 billion, according to the Beverage Information Group.
“Based on the economy, we saw an opportunity to offer our customers a high-quality, low-priced beer in a can,” said Michael Siemienas, a Supervalu spokesman.
Walgreens launched its Big Flats 1901 because customers want value “now more than ever,” said Bryan Pugh, vice president of merchandising.
The Winery Exchange Inc crafted both Walgreens, 7-Eleven and Supervalu beers. The increased prices of beers from MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV “have created opportunities” for bargain beers, said Oliver Colvin, senior vice president of operations for Winery Exchange.
7-Eleven’s Game Day Light and Game Day Ice have not sold well in some stores, according to Colvin. “Admittedly, Game Day has had some challenges, particularly in the 12-pack,” he said, adding that a single, 24-ounce can has done well. 7-Eleven countered that “Game Day Light has been a hit with consumers.”
Industry experts caution that building a clientele with new beers can be tough. “I think it’s a hard sell, mainly because nobody has succeeded on the low-end with private-label beer,” said Harry Schuhmacher, who publishes Beer Business Daily.