Summit of the Americas exhibitors share latest news & next steps

By Faye Bartle |

2023 Summit of the Americas exhibitors.

Summit of the Americas exhibitors brought vibrant products showcases to the show floor.

TRBusiness met with exhibitors at the 2023 Summit of the Americas (SOA) in West Palm Beach (16-19 April) to discover the latest news and how the brands are set to grow in duty free and travel retail in 2023 and beyond. 

There were 77 exhibitors at the Summit, representing a 71% increase on 2022, although as Michael Payne, President and CEO of International Association of Airport and Duty Free Stores (IAADFS) pointed out, exhibitor numbers were restricted last year.

Exhibiting companies spanned the breadth of categories, with leading names including Diageo, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Americas and JTI International.

This is in addition to Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Duty Free Global, Nestlé International Travel Retail, Proximo Spirits, Lindt & Sprüngli, GMAX Travel Retail, Choya Umeshu USA and many more creating a buzz on the show floor.

Marlene Hulten, Director of Sales, Fly With Wine.

Marlene Hulten, Director of Sales, FlyWithWine.

FlyWithWine was exhibiting for the second time at SOA.

“Some of the people we met at the show last year are now partners,” said Marlene Hulten, Director of Sales, FlyWithWine.

Its VinGardeValise suitcase is designed especially to protect bottles of wine, making it easier for consumers to bring home wine from their travels.

The company works with CellShop (at border stores and airport locations) and Stellar Partners, among others, to get its luxury wine suitcases into the hands of travelling consumers.

Hinting at more to come, Hulten revealed: “Around six contacts we have met at this show are interested in listing the product.”

Most of the company’s listings in the channel are in the Americas, although there are “opportunities on the cards” in Europe and South Africa, says Hulten.

The company will be heading to the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes in October.

Latin Gin Co-Founder Ivania Sher.

Latin Gin Co-Founder Ivania Sher.

Latin Gin Co-Founder Ivania Sher talked us through the Latin Gin range, which is inspired by the different stages of a love story.

Latin Spice is a ‘passionate’ blend of gin with Calabrian chilli pepper notes; Latin Lover is a ‘romanic’ strawberry and rose flavoured gin; Latin Secco is a classic dry gin rooted in tradition; and Latin Beach has a ‘kiss of circus with each sip’.

The range launched last year and the distinctive Art Deco bottle is said to represent Latin culture.

“We are targeting millennials and Gen Z,” said Sher. “I wanted to make something smooth on the palate that would appeal more to women.

“The juice is made in Italy with all Latin botanicals. I love to travel and discover new countries and culture and I like to take a little bit of the destination back with me.”

Sher views DF&TR as a great fit for the brand, which has a domestic presence in Miami, Texas and Spain.

“My dream is to have the brand at airports, ideally in Miami and in countries in Latin America. The product is beautiful on the outside and on the inside.”

Patrick Lynch, Trade Marketing Manager, Proximo Spirits.

Patrick Lynch, Trade Marketing Manager, Proximo Spirits.

Patrick Lynch, Trade Marketing Manager, Proximo Spirits walked TRBusiness through the company’s growing tequila portfolio, which includes a fantastic selection of super premium and luxury tequila brands.

The company spoke of the ‘explosion’ in consumer demand for tequila, which it attributes to the rise I n popularity of cristalino (a clear tequila that has all the taste and aroma of a barrel-aged variety).

A key launch is the Gran Centenario Cristalino, which is ideal served on the rocks in order to appreciate all the flavours. There is also a cristalino available in the Dobel range (Maestro Dobel 50 Cristalino) and the 1800 Cristalino, we well as the Gran Coramino Reposado Cristalino Tequila by American comedian Kevin Hart.

Lynch explained the company’s retail programme World of Tequila, which showcases its owned brands together at airports along with educational elements, including trained sales representatives, to help inform travelling consumers about the unique characteristics of the different tequilas. One such activation was unveiled at Miami Interantional Airport last year.

Proximo is rolling out its World of Tequila concept outside of the Americas to the rest of the world, where it has just secured a roster of new listings including with Heinemann, World Duty Free, and ARI.

“In June we have our first World of Tequila promotions in Europe: in Frankfurt and Munich,” said Lynch. “There will be a big training push behind that – not just with the promotors, but with the consumer too.

“Further down the line we are doing Heathrow and Dublin – all later this year,” he added.

More highlights in the portfolio, include the Maestro Dobel 50 Cristalino, which is presented in a science beaker style vessel inspired by the tequila making process.

The special edition Aniversario Jose Cuervo, an ultra-aged tequila that celebrates the tradition and history of the brand, has been the company’s top level offering in travel retail over the past year.

Lynch also offered an update on the Bushmills range, which includes two flagship TREX whiskeys, both of which offer great value for the consumer: Black Bush Irish Whiskey 80/20, finished in sherry casks ($US40), and the Aged 10 Years Single Malt with a sherry cask finish (an entry level single malt whiskey priced at US$60).

There’s also the Bushmills 25 (US$900) and 30 Year (US$2,200) Single Malt Irish Whiskies that are new for the SOA show.

Bushmills has elevated its packaging over the last year, bringing a brand new striking and contemporary design to the fore.

James Kfouri, Director of Sales Australia, SE Asia & GTR, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds.

James Kfouri, Director of Sales Australia, SE Asia & GTR, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds.

Wonderful Pistachios referenced the great “quality of buyers” at the show this year.

“It is good to see a cross section [of buyers] from North and Central America and the Caribbean,” said James Kfouri, Director of Sales Australia, SE Asia & GTR, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds. “There’s a lot of quick decision-makers.

“Plus, many new markets are represented, such as Bolivia and Honduras, for example.”

Cruise shops are a growing business for the brand, which returned to SOA this year after a three year break.

“From a business perspective, the Americas has been the fastest growing region for recovery and we hope that Asia will follow.”

John McDonnell, Managing Director International, Tito's Handmade Vodka

John McDonnell, Managing Director International, Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is celebrating a new partnership with Air Canada Airlines for its 50ml format  to buy on board.

John McDonnell, Managing Director International of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, talked about the huge popularity of Tito’s in the US.

Known as an accessibly priced vodka, it is 100% made from corn, naturally gluten-free and known as the vodka for dog lovers.

“For duty free and travel retail, we are focusing on the value proposition with GWPs such as red, white and blue gift bags for special occasions such as the Fourth of July and our ‘ugly sweaters’ for the bottles,” said McDonnell.

Tito’s has a vast footprint in airports and onboard cruise ships in the Americas.

Among its key goals currently is to expand the number of SKUs available in the channel, to give customers the luxury of choice when it comes to its breadth of different size formats.

“For example, we have the 200ml in Dublin duty free and that is one of our key SKUs there and what happened during Covid was that airlines and airports forced us to change our behaviour,” said McDonnell. “They didn’t serve beverage alcohol on the plane, they didn’t have bars open at the airports. So the consumer bought it themselves and took it with them. And that purchasing behaviour has endured.”

Ziad Jabre, Global Head of Travel Retail & Levant Markets, Al Fakher

Ziad Jabre, Regional Director APAC & Global Head of Travel Retail, Al Fakher.

Al Fakher is giving SOA attendees a first look at its new shisha innovation: OOKA.

The stylish and portable device, which has been four years in the making, features a state-of-the-art pod system and heating technology.

In contrast to traditional shishas, OOKA is does not require charcoal and instead uses advanced heat technology, making it extremely convenient for users.

The device takes about five minutes to heat up and then will run for up to three hours. Users just need to fill it up with water, add a pod and it’s ready to use.

Jabre explained how the device (RRP US$400, with the pods priced at US$8) will not be available to buy in travel retail, but the company plans to make it available for consumers on cruise ships and potentially airport lounges and then to retail the pods in the channel. The pods for OOKA are available across Al Fakher, Shisha Kartel and Zodiac.

Bryan Crisfield, CEO, Crislu Corporation.

Bryan Crisfield, CEO, Crislu Corporation.

Crislu was exhibiting at SOA for the first time since 2018 and is back on the show floor targeting growth inflight, on cruise ships and at border stores.

“The Americas, Canada and Latin America are our primary target regions, but we do a lot of business in the Middle East, too,” said Crisfield.

The affordable luxury cubic zirconia jewellery brand has certainly attracted the attention of buyers with Crisfield carrying a folder packed with orders placed over the past few days.

“A number of partners have ordered the display featuring 86 pieces and we advise them on the best selling styles over category to include and can tailor the selection to suit their needs,” he said.

Puerto de Indias

Juan Miguel Perez-Ilzarbe, International Director, and Saul R. Moose, National Sales Director, Puerto de Indias.

“Being here is great exposure for the brand,” said Juan Miguel Perez-Ilzarbe, International Director, Puerto de Indias. “We are a first-time exhibitor so we have made a lot of new contacts.”

Puerto de Indias gin is available at 152 points of sale at airports in Spain and the company is targeting DF&TR listengs in Latin America to layer up on its domestic presence in the region.

“We may have some news to share regarding our presence in Panama following the [SOA] show,” he teased.

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