Gallo brings Korean soju brands to US

E&J Gallo’s spirits arm has partnered with Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co to distribute its Korean soju brands in the States next year.

Spirit of Gallo, which claims to be the third-largest spirits supplier in the US by volume, will distribute Korean soju brands Soonhari, Chum Churum and Saero from January 2024.

The brands have limited availability in the US and are sold primarily in Asian speciality stores. The partnership with Gallo will bring the brands to all other channels.

“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,” added Kyungdong Kim, president of Lotte Beverage America Corp.

Spirit of Gallo said soju is the leading spirits category in the world by volume and has become increasingly popular in the US with multicultural drinkers.

Britt West, senior vice-president and general manager for Spirit of Gallo, added: “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.”

After Jinro (the world’s biggest-selling spirit), Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co is the second-biggest soju maker worldwide and claims to be the first to make soju with mineral-rich alkaline water.

Soonhari, which means ‘smooth’ in Korean, is a flavoured soju brand. The 12% ABV range of flavours includes grape, apple, citron, peach, strawberry, yoghurt and apple-mango.

Chum Churum, which translates to ‘like the first time’ in Korean, is available in two non-flavoured variants: Original (16.5% ABV) and Rich (20% ABV).

Zero-sugar Saero (meaning ‘new’ in Korean) is also unflavoured and bottled at 16% ABV.

Each brand comes in 375ml glass bottles.

Lotte Chilsung Beverage, part of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, exports to more than 70 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Chum Churum rose by 36.7% to reach 26 million nine-litre cases in 2022, according to The Brand Champions 2023 report.

Earlier this year, we spoke to spirits producers about their plans to drive sales in South Korea.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers