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Prosecco’s Current Growth Just Scratching The Surface, Says Mionetto USA’s Ceola

The Prosecco category, now at more than 1 million cases in the U.S. and growing at around 35% annually, has been one of the hottest segments of the wine market, but leading Prosecco player Mionetto USA believes the best is yet to come. Mionetto, an Impact “Hot Brand,” rose 21% to 320,000 cases last year. For 2012, it’s on pace to finish the year up around 28%, Mionetto USA managing director Enore Ceola tells Shanken News Daily.

“We’re just starting to scratch the surface of potential Prosecco consumers in the U.S.,” Ceola says. “Our core consumers are women from 40-50 years old. The younger drinkers are more experimental in their choices, but as they make more money we see them consistently trading up to Prosecco from cheaper Cava brands.”

With the category expanding briskly, Mionetto’s competitors within Prosecco are proliferating. In addition to Impact “Hot Prospects” Lunetta (Palm Bay) and La Marca (E&J Gallo), newcomers like Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ Enza and Aveníu Brands’ Piccini are also now aiming to take share.

Along with serious players, there’s also been a host of “average-quality” Proseccos entering the market, hoping to cash in on the boom, Ceola asserts, which could have negative consequences for the category. But the fact that some retailers have been scaling down their Prosecco SKUs could help in this regard. “I’ve had retailers in major cities tell me they’re focusing on six key Proseccos this year, whereas last year they carried 10,” Ceola says. Mionetto currently sells about 60% of its volume off-premise, with national and regional chains—both on- and off-premise—becoming an increasingly important part of the mix.

As the category continues to develop, Mionetto plans to continue refining and expanding its offering, while boosting visibility via a higher marketing spend. “We’ve grown our marketing budget each year, and we’ll continue to do that. But the priority is to make sure the increase is sustainable over the long term and not a one-year phenomenon,” Ceola says.

Tweaks to the brand of late have included a packaging upgrade on Mionetto’s Brut variant ($12.99-$14.99 a bottle), which will be followed by a similar effort on the Il Prosecco label (around $10) next year. Mionetto also rolled out a premixed Prosecco cocktail, Spritz, this year, which is currently in 15 states and will go national next spring. Ceola adds that the group is now seeing good growth on its ultra-premium Brut Prestige (around $20), especially in major urban markets.

“We’ve been basically alone in building the Prosecco category for the past 10 years,” Ceola says. “Now there’s more competition, but that’s a good thing. It will be interesting to see how the consumer shift among brands plays out.”