Crush's Full-Court Press

Orange CSD sees new life following distribution deal
PLANO, Texas -- What a difference a distribution deal can make. One year ago, the Crush carbonated-soft-drink (CSD) line was languishing in Dr Pepper Snapple Group's portfolio. Today, the line accounts for three of the five-percentage-point increase the company has seen in sales of its CSD portfolio over the past quarter.

"Crush was basically not available in most of the U.S.," Mark Docherty, vice president of national accounts for the Plano, Texas-based company, told CSP Daily News. "Now, Crush is in about 85% of the U.S. market."

The spark was two distribution [image-nocss] deals struck with Pepsi Bottling Group in August and PepsiAmericas Inc. in September; deals with many smaller Pepsi bottlers soon followed.

"Pepsi Bottlers for many years have been searching for an answer in the flavor category, specifically fruit flavors, and a couple of the lead bottlers had an appetite to go with a trademark that already had consumer equity," Docherty said.

Indeed, Docherty noted that "Crush has a history of being a 60-million-case brand in the United States 20 years ago. For a variety of reasonslicensing conflicts and other challengesthe brand received little focus over that period of time."

Not anymore. In an earnings call with investors in May, Dr Pepper Snapple Group president and CEO Larry Young noted, "Expanded distribution of Crush across the U.S. contributed three points of growth. This business has more than tripled in size, and we're thrilled to report that Crush has become the No. 2 orange CSD."

He added that he expects Crush, along with the company's Venom energy drink, to provide additional opportunities for growth in the near future as more advertising and marketing is done.

"It's been a very successful launch thus far, and we're looking forward to the summer season," said Docherty.

The initial distribution deals include Orange Crush, Diet Orange Crush, Grape Crush and Strawberry Crush. But Docherty noted, "It's probably 60% orange business."

It's unclear how the deal will evolve in the wake of PepsiCo's bid to purchase both Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas. While the buyout effort is progressing slowlyboth distributors oppose the dealit is unclear how the deal will affect distribution of Crush.

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