consumer packaged goods

Crown Royal, Clorox Go Smoking For Labor Day

Barbecue grilling season ostensibly starts Memorial Day weekend, but this year things will be heating up a bit for Labor Day.

Want the flavor of whiskey smoked onto your fish, meat and vegetables?

Diageo’s Canadian brand Crown Royal is launching a line of chips, chunks, pellets and grilling planks made from “genuine retired” whiskey barrels.

The line will be distributed by Walters Falls Wood Products under a licensing agreement brokered with the distillery by brand extension agency Beanstalk.

The plank product, Beanstalk noted, consists of curved barrel planks hand-picked for size and quality, and then cut in half.

Crown Royal’s smoking wood products will be available online and in specialty stores by late summer 2021.

Prefer spicy barbecue flavors?

The Clorox Company, which recently expanded its Kingsford line beyond charcoal with five woodsy flavors of Hardwood Pellets, will add flavors “with 100% real spices” by Labor Day. They’ll be targeted to “multicultural millennials and other heavy grillers,” Lisah Burham, Clorox’s vice president, investor relations, said during the company's fiscal 2021 earnings call on Tuesday.



As expected, with pandemic-related demand for wipes and disinfectants dropping dramatically versus a year earlier -- even as supply levels rebounded -- Clorox’s overall performance was nothing to rave about.  The company reported a 9% sales decrease for the fiscal fourth quarter, with wipes/disinfectant unit Health and Wellness down 17%, Household Products down 8%, and Lifestyle Products down 3%.

On the plus side, cat litter joined grilling products as another category you might not usually associate with Clorox that experienced double-digit growth both quarterly and annually.

Fresh Step became the top cat litter brand online for the first time, Burham said, due to increased strength in ecommerce.

(Clorox’s ecommerce business has doubled in the past two years, and now represents 13% of all sales, according to chief executive officer Linda Rendle.)

Rendle cited growth in Fresh Step Clean Paws, while Burham touted new Fresh Step Outstretch Litter, said to last 50% longer than regular litter, thanks to patent-pending technology.

Cat litter sales have been boosted by record pet adoptions during the pandemic, Burham added.

Also during the earning call, chief financial officer Kevin Jacobsen said that Clorox’s ad spending during fiscal year 2020 is anticipated to be about 10% of sales.

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