Cheerwine inks deal with distributor to continue march through all 50 states

  • Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 2:10 p.m.

SALISBURY — Cheerwine, based in Salisbury, has announced a new distribution deal with Buffalo Rock Co., the largest independent, single-shareholder-owned Pepsi bottler in the country.

The move is an important step toward Cheerwine’s goal of being available in all 50 states by its 100th anniversary in 2017, the company said.

Starting June 16, the partnership will expose Cheerwine to more than 6.5 million new customers in Alabama, western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. Cheerwine will be made in Buffalo Rock’s state-of-the-art production facility in Birmingham, Ala., and shipped to its 14 distribution centers, which serve more than 15,000 retailers across the Deep South.

“We’re excited to bring the one-of-a-kind taste of Cheerwine to our retail partners and the millions of people in the communities we serve,” Warren Austin, Buffalo Rock vice president of customer development, sales and service, said in a news release. “Cheerwine is a very successful soft drink brand with an incredibly passionate fan base in the Carolinas and other parts of the South. We expect it to be successful with consumers in Alabama, Georgia and northwest Florida.”

The Buffalo Rock deal complements Cheerwine’s existing distribution agreements with several other Pepsi bottlers in the South, including Pepsi Beverages Co., part of parent company PepsiCo. It also comes on the heels of the brand’s expansion into the Pacific Northwest in late 2013, which includes agreements with Pepsi Beverages Co. and 13 independent Pepsi bottlers in the region.

“We strongly believe this new relationship has all the ingredients to be a match made in heaven: one of the nation’s leading independent bottlers joining forces with one of America’s most beloved independent soft drink brands, all taking shape in the South,” said Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Cheerwine. “This partnership gives our brand a foothold in a part of the country where there is solid demand for Cheerwine.”

Barbitta said the two independent entities share value and a common spirit.

Buffalo Rock is expected to offer Cheerwine in a variety of packages, including 12-pack cans, 20-ounce and two-liter bottles, and iconic 12-ounce glass bottles featuring real cane sugar, the “original” Cheerwine created in 1917.

Launched in 1917 by L.D. Peeler, Cheerwine is owned and distributed by the Carolina Beverage Corp. and Cheerwine Bottling Co. in Salisbury. The 97-year-old company is privately owned and managed by the same founding family, five generations of whom have worked there.

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