Gallo adds soju to spirits portfolio
Spirit of Gallo, the spirits division of wine giant E&J Gallo, has partnered with South Korean conglomerate Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. to distribute soju in the US from next year.
Spirit of Gallo, which has a portfolio containing brands including New Amsterdam Vodka, Camarena Tequila, and RumHaven, has announced that from January 2024 it will expand the distribution of three brands of soju, a distilled alcohol beverage hugely popular in Korea.
These brands are Soonhari (a 12% ABV soju available in flavours including grape, mango and yoghurt), Chum Churum (which is made from tapioca, with the ‘Original’ style coming in at 16.5% ABV, and the ‘Rich’ one at 20% ABV), and Saero (a zero-sugar, 16% ABV spirit).
At present, Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co.’s sojus are mainly available in the US through Asian speciality supermarkets, but this new deal with Spirit of Gallo will see these drinks brought to a wider audience across both the off- and on-trade, with a spokesperson for Gallo revealing the company’s plans to “capitalise on the opportunity accordingly”. Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. itself is the world’s second biggest soju distiller.
Britt West, Spirit of Gallo’s senior vice president and general manager, said of the deal: “The soju category doubled in the US over the past five years, driven by accelerating consumer demand. The newest generation of drinkers has been driving the growth and is turning over the soju category due to its variety, convenience, and accessible price point. We are entering the category at a pivotal moment with the strongest partner, and we look forward to capitalising on this opportunity.”
Kyungdong Kim, president of Lotte Beverage America Corp, added: “We are excited to partner with Spirit of Gallo to leverage their distribution network and go-to-market capabilities to bring soju closer to more consumers and take the category and the Lotte Chilsung brands to new heights.”
Korean food and drink has soared in popularity in the US in recent years, with it estimated last year that there were anywhere between 2,000 and 7,000 Korean restaurants in the country – a significant increase compared to a decade prior, and some reports even reported a staggering 90% rise in interest in Korean cuisine between January 2021 and January 2022. As Americans eat more Korean food when going out, the on-trade demand for soju to drink with it will likely also increase.