Walgreens sells its own beer. So does Supervalu, 7-Eleven, Kroger and Costco. Now here comes the Pig.
Following the lead of so many other grocers, a Piggly Wiggly franchisee is trying its hand -- or hoof? -- at private-label brews, launching a lineup called Pig Swig that is hitting about 100 stores in South Carolina and coastal Georgia. But while many of its competitors specialize in cheaper private labels, the Pig is going upscale with its initial offerings. Indeed, Pig Tail Ale and Pig Pen Pilsner is not your average swine swill. Rather, the brews will be marketed as craft-style, with six-packs starting at $6.99, said Christopher Ibsen, director of marketing for Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., the franchisee behind the effort.
"We've watched the growth of the craft-beer category and are encouraged by the results we are seeing there," he said. And true to craft-beer form, the brews are locally sourced, from Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, S.C. "We really go out of our way to partner with local entrepreneurs on all kinds of food products," Mr. Ibsen said. So "to be consistent with that we wanted to partner with a South Carolina-based brewery."
Advertising plays off the Pig, a bit of an iconic figure in the South. Print ads encourage drinkers to "get your swig on." The ale is touted as a way to "put some pink in your cheeks," while the pilsner is promoted as the "toast of the trough."
Grocers have yet to make much of a dent with their own beer labels, as they fight for attention with big brewers that plow big bucks into flashy ad campaigns. Private label only accounts for $23.6 million of the $27.4 billion beer market, according to Nielsen. But it's a growing category, with store brand sales up 41% in the year ending April 2, compared with the 2.3% drop in branded offerings, according to Nielsen.
Among the newer entries is Buck Range Light by Supervalu, which sells for an average of $5.99 for a 12-pack at Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Cub Foods and Farm Fresh stores. Walgreen Co. in January began selling Big Flats 1901, which is supplied by California-based Winery Exchange and sells for $2.99 for a six-pack and $11.49 per case. And 7-Eleven last year began selling Game Day Light and Game Day Ice at some stores, with the suggested retail price debuting as low as $6.99 for a 12-pack.
Piggly Wiggly is not the first retailer to try more premium offerings. Costco began marketing its own crafts in 2008 under its Kirkland Signature label. Kroger also sells its own premium beers, such as Tap Room No. 21 and Port Republic, which launched this month.