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Heineken launches Birra Moretti with a hint of salt

Heineken has introduced Birra Moretti Sale di Mare, which is essentially unfiltered Birra Moretti lager, but “with a hint of sea salt”.

The 4.8% ABV unfiltered lager is rolling out across the grocery, wholesale and convenience stores.

Speaking to the drinks business, Heineken on-trade director Will Rice said: “Birra Moretti is the leading Italian lager brand, having surpassed over £1bn of retail sales in the last year in the on-trade. The launch of Sale di Mare presents an opportunity for pubs to tap into this sales opportunity and further build on their premium continental lager offering.”

Rice went on to explain that “lager is the second most traded up category with one fifth of consumers likely to trade up, and over half of consumers willing to pay more for better quality”.

Describing the launch and the beer giant’s move in this direction, Heineken’s marketing manager Richard Barnes revealed that the move was strategic and “to encourage more beer discovery” and said that “the hint of sea salt, paired with the unfiltered lager, creates a more full-bodied and intriguing flavour profile while providing incredible refreshment”.

Birra Moretti Sale di Mare is being positioned to take advantage of the rise in demand for continental lagers in the UK and Heineken has hinted that the beer is suitable for gastronomy.

Heineken’s category and commercial strategy director Alexander Wilson admitted that “with demand rising for continental lagers in the UK, Birra Moretti Sale di Mare is positioned to help retailers make the most of this trend” and revealed that the beer will be introduced in both single bottles as well as multipacks. Wilson disclosed that Heineken is “launching two trial driving formats that offer accessible price points for shoppers”.

The Dutch beer company also confirmed that the beer is a “medium-bodied premium lager made with a hint of sea salt harvested from Sicily” and noted that “Sale di Mare translates as ‘salt of the sea’”.

Packaging will include a game accessible via QR code which will additionally give consumers the chance to win prizes when buying as well as access food and beer pairing inspiration.

Barnes explained: “Research identified an opportunity to offer curious drinkers seeking more flavourful and interesting taste profiles, with an accessible premium twist, and Birra Moretti Sale di Mare speaks perfectly to this.”

Heineken has confirmed that Birra Moretti Sale di Mare will be available in the off-trade in multipacks containing 330ml bottles retailing at £7 per pack of four. The beer will also be available to buy in single 660ml bottles.

The launch will be supported by a multi-million-pound nationwide marketing campaign, launching on TV in April, as well as giftable packs including glassware.

Inferring that drinkers would continue to trade up and search for “interesting” new beers, Rice told db: “The premiumisation trend isn’t going anywhere, consumers are looking for new tastes and interesting brands to elevate their experience when they are out, and Sale di Mare has been created with these consumers in mind. Sale di Mare combines some of the complexity and intrigue offered by craft and continental lagers, whilst retaining the balance of flavour, taste, and lightness of more accessible, easy-to-drink segments.”

Last spring, Heineken has made a £40 million investment into almost a quarter of its Star Pubs & Bars chain, putting SmartDispense into 100 cellars, a move that placed its beer brands including Lagunitas, Birra Moretti, Heineken, Beavertown, Brixton Brewery and its newest lager acquisition Cruzcampo in a stronger position in the UK.

Last year, Birra Moretti was named as the seventh fastest-growing drinks brands on Instagram, showing and impressive 43% growth. Despite Heineken’s successes, stocks in the Dutch brewer fell by 6.5% this week as it revealed a significant drop in volume sales of its beer, largely due to hiking up its prices.

This month, db queried whether Dutch beer sales had revealed if Europe was falling out of love with lager, with beer sales falling in the Netherlands by 5.6% in 2023. Alongside this, however, in the UK there is speculation that drinkers are looking for more variation from supermarket’s over-saturation of standard IPA styles, which could prove to be an opportunity for brewers offering something different.

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