Constellation Brands Takes Minority Stake in Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer

Making good on its promise to invest $100 million by 2028 in businesses founded or led by women, Constellation Brands today announced a minority investment in Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer through its Focus on Female Founders program.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Constellation has a wonderful tradition of supporting woman-owned beverage ventures and their success in building high-end, high-margin brands is a perfect fit for PRESS Premium Alcohol Seltzer’s premium positioning,” Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer co-founder Amy Walberg said in a statement. “This minority investment will allow us to more broadly tell our compelling brand story and accelerate pace in reaching our goals as an independent brand.”

Walberg co-founded the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company with Jim Sorenson in 2015. She will remain as the CEO and “principal decision-maker for Press,” Constellation added in the release.

The investment in Press gives Constellation Brands another position in the fast-growing hard seltzer market with a brand that has distribution in 41 states, with a goal of adding seven more by the end of February. Constellation will roll out a Corona-branded hard seltzer in the first quarter, backed by a $40 million marketing investment. Off-premise hard seltzer dollar sales in 2019 topped $1.5 billion, according to Nielsen.

“As an independent, woman-led and co-owned brand made of natural ingredients, this quality premium seltzer fits Constellation’s Focus on Female Founders program and the company’s overall high-end strategy,” Constellation said in a press release.

Press’ 4% ABV, gluten-removed hard seltzers are available in five flavors: Blackberry Hibiscus, Grapefruit Cardamom, Pomegranate Ginger and Lime Lemongrass. The company also released a Blood Orange Chili rotational offering this year. Each 12 oz. serving is 110 calories and five grams of sugar.

In 2019, Press sold about 475,000 cases of hard seltzer, and the company is targeting 1 million cases sold in 2020, a spokesperson told Brewbound.

Constellation Brands announced the Focus on Female Founders program in December 2018, with investments in Texas-based cocktail maker Austin Cocktails and Vivify Beverages, which makes the Bravazzi hard Italian soda and Itz Spritz hard spritzer brands. Constellation Ventures has since invested in Montanya Distillers and Durham Distillery and re-invested in Catoctin Creek.

In addition to capital, the companies in the program will receive access to Constellation’s wholesalers and retail partners as well as leverage its staff’s expertise.

In a one-year wrap up post, Constellation Ventures vice president Jen Evans explained what the beer, wine and spirits giant is looking for in potential partners.

“Overall, we’re looking to invest in categories that we believe represent the future of beverage alcohol and adjacent categories,” she wrote. “Within those high growth areas, we’re looking for brands that are poised to outpace the competition. We’re looking for strong, well-positioned brands, with exceptional quality and high margins. We’re looking for a strong proof of concept – we like to see brands that have been in market long enough to prove that they can sustain and grow consumer demand. We’re also looking for high performing management teams with a passion for building their brand.”

Evans added that Constellation offers consumer and competitive insights, as well as advice on packaging, distribution, brand position and market strategies.

“We’ve grown the overall Constellation Ventures portfolio’s net sales by 65% in the first half of our fiscal year,” she added.

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