Survey Reveals the Challenges in the Beverage Alcohol Industry



Every industry has its own unique challenges when it comes to the labor market.

But thanks to big data, we are able to identify these issues quickly.

According to a survey by "Wine Opinions" that was commissioned by SevenFifty and "SevenFifty Daily," the beverage alcohol industry has an especially wide gender pay gap.

"The survey revealed that men within the respondent pool make about $13,000 more per year than women or roughly 26 percent more. In an age where Americans are speaking out about pay parity to a degree never before seen, progress on this front remains especially slow within the industry," writes "SevenFifty Daily."

The industry is made of about 47 percent women and this could detour women from staying in this industry.

Not to mention, there is a lot of competition in the labor market today. This has made it especially difficult for restaurants and beverage companies to hire and retain staff.

So this problem needs to be addressed.

“It is a business imperative to close the gender pay gap, not only to retain good talent and recruit the best, but also to increase employee satisfaction," said Deborah Brenner, founder and CEO of Women of the Vine & Spirits (WOTVS.)

Although the beverage industry employs millions of minorities, there's still a lack of diversity in senior leadership and executive roles, most of these roles are held by white men.

“Companies that win in tomorrow’s economy must have a workforce that looks like their customer base,” said Barkley Stuart, the new chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA.) “And they must recognize that a diverse workforce has been proven to benefit not only employee engagement but it also directly contributes to greater success and profitability."

Besides the gender pay gap and racial discrimination, 25 percent of the 3,200 total respondents of the survey said that they are "way overstressed" at their jobs. This is likely because of the many changes in the industry making employees' to-do lists much longer.

“First, there is huge consolidation going on in the alcohol industry at all levels—producer, importer, wholesaler, and retailer. And consolidations result in employee cutbacks as part of the cost-cutting savings promised to investors," said Robert Tobiassen, president of the National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI).

Find out some of the other findings from the survey at "SevenFifty Daily" now.

This survey reveals that is time for the industry to change how it hires. In May, we spoke to Agricole Hospitality brands to see how they manage hiring and staff, what key attributes they are looking for in candidates, and how they retain staff. Listen to the episode of The Barron Report below to learn more.

The Booming Business of Coffee and Tea

The Booming Business of Coffee and Tea

On this Special Podcast recorded at, brought to you by Kabbage, we get to discuss the massive growth and new innovation in the beverage scene. In this episode, Host Yareli Quintana leads the discussion about the creative process of developing an artisan beverage, the nuances of sourcing, and personalizing experiences to gain customer loyalty.

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Coca-Cola Makes Push to Increase Digital Impulse Buys

Coca-Cola Makes Push to Increase Digital Impulse Buys

Grocery stores and restaurants aren’t the only ones embracing online ordering, Coca-Cola has launched an e-commerce initiative to make it easier for their customers to enjoy their beverages. 

“A big piece of the business is going online, whether that is brick and mortar or whether it’s pure players like Amazon, so not being online means your brands are not being as relevant,” said John Carroll, general manager and vice president of e-commerce for Coca-Cola North America, to “Food Dive.” "We’re following the consumer and where they’re going."

Online orders only account for 2% of grocery sales, according to Kantar Retail. But with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and more grocery chains partnering with Instacart, this number is bound to spike. 

Because of a large percentage of Coca-Cola’s sales are from impulse buys, the brand is experimenting with ways to promote these actions digitally like by offering its beverages as pairings with meal kits and as a last-minute add-ons to voice-ordering systems. 

“And when a consumer uses a storage locker, the individual can be asked if he wants to buy a drink to go along with the purchase as he gets closer to picking up the order. The beverage can be added within two minutes,” writes “Food Dive.” 

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PepsiCo Introduces New Premium Water to the Market

Lifewtr labels | P epsiCo

Lifewtr labels | PepsiCo

The soda giant has announced via press release and at the Beverage Digest Future Smarts Conference in New York yesterday that it will be debuting its new premium water brand called Lifewtr in February.

The water will be a direct competitor to Coca-cola's Smartwater.

So what makes this water different than the many bottled waters on the market? 

Well, like Smartwater, it is "pH balanced with electrolytes added for taste," according to yesterday's press release.

But how is PepsiCo differentiating its new water product from others? With artist-driven marketing. 

It's packaging will feature different rotating designs by emerging artists. Multiple times during the year, the labels will feature a new series of three designs. The artists will be from all industries including fine arts, fashion, design, photography and others.

"Our Lifewtr artists will turn the traditional bottle label into a unique masterpiece that speaks to the creativity -- and source of creation -- linked to the brand's core," said Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo's global beverage group, in the press release. "Lifewtr is a huge priority for us and an exciting global big bet, and we've worked hard to make a premium bottled water experience that combines the right mix of a clean, pure taste with eye-catching packaging and an authentic connection to the consumer."

The first artists featured will be muralist MOMO, artists Craig & Karl and another artist Jason Woodside. 

The water will be available in two sizes. The 700ml will be priced at $2.06 and the 1L will be priced at $2.70. 

PepsiCo is already in the bottled water business with SoBo Lifewater, which is a flavored beverage. To not confuse consumers, the beverage mogul plans to rebrand and relaunch SoBe Lifewater without the Lifewater name. 

Do you think this bottled water brand will be successful in the already saturated market? And what will Coca-cola's next move be to try to get ahead of the competition? Read more

Can Sake Transcend Beyond Japanese Concepts?

Before there was craft beer, hand-crafted cocktails and aged bourbon­– there was sake. Sake originated from Japan and has been around for 2,000 years, but it took a while for the beverage to reach the US shores.

In the 1990s, America experienced somewhat of a sake boom when premium grade sake, often served chilled started to be offered more at restaurants. Hot sake was no longer the only option.

Prior to sake, another beloved Japanese tradition started to gain momentum in the US around the 1970s–Sushi. And these sushi concepts, often served sake. While sushi in the US has been heavily” Americanized,” sake has yet to fully transcend beyond Japanese restaurants.

But, the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami and the Sake Export Association are on a mission to introduce the beloved Japanese beverage to the non-Japanese market. Together the two organizations set up an event to introduce 10 sake breweries to local vendors, distributors and operators in the Miami area.

How it’s Made

This Japanese “rice wine” is unlike the wine made from grapes that Americans all love and know. Although the beverage shares several of the properties of wine, like that it is smooth bodied and aromatic, it isn’t technically a wine at all. A wine is defined as alcohol fermented from sugars in a fruit.

The way that sake is processed is much more similar to the brewing process of beer. The rice starch is converted into sugars and that sugar is then converted to alcohol by yeast. This production process is different than how any other alcoholic beverage is made, making sake in a category of its own.

The Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is higher than both beer and wine. Undiluted sake is as high as 18-20 %, but it is diluted by water before being bottled and sold.

Sake grade levels are determined by the percentage the rice is milled before the start of the brewing process. There are six commonly accepted sake categories. But the most premium grades are those above futsuu-shu, these three classifications are unmai-shu, junmai ginjo-shu, junmai daiginjo-shu. Daiginjo sakes are the best quality due to having the lowest rice milling rate.

Does Sake Belong in your Restaurant?

Americans will often have their first sip of sake at a Japanese steakhouse or sushi house, but this doesn’t mean this is where the beverage belongs.

For example, margaritas are no longer offered at just Mexican joints, even though it is a traditional beverage of Mexico. Cinco de Mayo would never be complete without this zesty cocktail, but American steakhouses across the country feature margaritas on their cocktail menus.

The Japanese saying: Nihonshu wa ryori wo erabanai translates to "Sake doesn’t fight with food.” But, keep in mind when developing pairings that the beverage is much subtler with lower acidity and has higher concentrations of amino acids than wine.

Umami (translated as a "pleasant savory taste") is a category of taste in food. It is a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides. This fifth basic taste plays an important role in pairing sake with food.

Like wine, it depends on the flavor of the sake to make an appropriate pairing. Here are some basic tips.

  • Food that is too spicy or rich will often over power sake.

  • A dryer sake pairs well with salty dishes.

  • Leafy green salads (which don’t pair well with wine) are often an excellent sake pairing.

  • Sweet sake pairs well with tart or acidic food like a salmon.

  • Earthy, rich, heavy sake pairs well with grilled or stewed meat, especially pork.

  • Textured sake pairs well with light textured foods like tofo and raw oysters.

There are so many different sakes to play with. “One thing that people don’t think about when it comes to sake is that there are a hundred different varieties of rice out there, not just one and hundred different varieties of yeast out there, not just one– and the combination of those leads to a huge range of sake and flavor profiles out there,” said John Gauntner, while leading the sake tasting event by the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami and the Sake Export.

Sustainable and Healthy

For the health-conscious consumer, sake is appealing due to the several health benefits. It’s made with only rice, wine, yeast and koji. So it’s a cleaner beverage, making it a great beverage option to those with dietary restrictions. It’s 80% water.

Since it’s only made with four ingredients, it is also more sustainable than other alcoholic beverages.

Not to mention, the amino acids in the beverage help to prevent cancer, the ferulic acids prevent skin aging and it has been scientifically proven to prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and allergies.  

The Previous Challenges in Attracting Consumers

Changing the perception of consumers who think sake is only a complimentary beverage to be had with sushi, isn’t going to be easy. This will only change when the beverage starts to be more available at restaurants.

But first it has to be more available at stores and that’s where the distributors come in. In order to corner the American restaurant market, distributors need to be reaching out more to the restaurant operators. There also should be more of an effort in advertising.

The other issue is that sake tends to be much more expensive, but also served in smaller portions than a glass of wine. This often causes consumers to order another beverage that is much more cost effective.

Ultimately, sake has a ton of potential in the American market– especially with the Consulate General of Japan in Miami and the other organizations making an effort to introduce the beverage to the non-japanese industry.