Heineken takes over Strongbow distribution from Vermont Hard Cider
The Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC, makers of Woodchuck Hard Cider in Middlebury, recently reached an agreement with Heineken Brouwerijen of the Netherlands to transition importation rights to the Strongbow cider brand in the United States, effective December 31, 2012. Heineken owns Strongbow. Beginning January 1, 2013, Heineken USA will be appointed as the new importer for the brand. Woodchuck is the largest cider brand in the nation. The agreement to distribute Strongbow was to have lasted until 2014, but the two firms agreed to terminate the deal a year earlier for undisclosed terms.
In a statement, Vermont Hard Cider said: "VTHCC has been committed to growing Strongbow cider for the last decade. In that time Strongbow has enjoyed 500 percent growth, received seven consecutive IMPACT Hot Brand Awards, and is now the second largest cider brand in the United States. We are proud of our accomplishments and the momentum we built with Strongbow and wish Heineken USA the best in furthering its success.
"This change in VTHCC’s portfolio and operation will not change our course as the leading hard cider company in the country. No jobs will be lost. The plans for a new $24 million cidery in Middlebury remain intact and are moving forward.
"It has been a year of great growth for the cider category in the United States with increased competition creating greater exposure for all cider producers. VTHCC is now focused 100% on the brands it owns and remains committed to crafting the highest quality hard ciders, just as we have for more than two decades."
Heineken issued a separate statement:: "There is tremendous opportunity to build on the momentum that the Vermont Hard Cider team created over the last nine years. We see this as a pivotal moment to further accelerate Strongbow's growth by supporting the brand with the full weight of Heineken USA's resources and capabilities," said Dolf van den Brink, President and CEO, Heineken USA. "By growing our core and investing in innovation, we will continue to enhance our position as the industry's leading upscale importer."
The cider market is growing more than 30 percent this year in the US and Woodchuck sales are growing about 26 percent. Because of the recent popularity of the beverage, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) have all jumped into the market with their own brands of hard cider. According to The Beer Institute, cider sales grew 10 percent in 2010 and 20 percent in 2011.
About Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC
Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC, located in Middlebury, Vermont, is the leading hard cider producer in the United States, which includes the nation’s number one cider – Woodchuck Hard Cider. Having won 16 IMPACT Hot Brand Awards, Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC is recognized for its superior cider brands. Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC handcrafts and manages all levels of quality control in Middlebury, VT by employing a team of cider makers with over 30 years of combined experience directly in cider making and a team devoted exclusively to producing, marketing, and selling hard cider. More information is available at www.woodchuck.com.