John Casella

John Casella: My three learnings from COVID-19

July 16, 2020
By Alana House

Casella Family Brands Managing Director John Casella has revealed how the company has adapted during COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic on the [yellow tail] brand.

Casella noted in the Drinks Guide 2020-21 edition that while there is a long road ahead, he hopes to see stability and a gradual return to normality for Australia’s liquor industry in the second half of 2020.

“It’s been truly gratifying to see how the winemaking community has come together to support one another and demonstrates just how resilient and resourceful the industry can be,” he said. “I’m confident the wines from the 2020 vintage will be excellent, and I’m sure this vintage will be remembered not only for its wines but for camaraderie and community spirit.

Reflecting on the last few months and the complexities faced in dealing with a significant global challenge, Casella said there are three learnings that have really stayed with him:

• “The health and wellbeing of our staff, their families and our local communities has remained our number one priority.”

• “The need to adapt quickly and tailor our approach to each region,
market and channel.”

• “The importance of having trusted brands with a strong value proposition.”

Regarding his staff, Casella added: “We made the decision early on to close our regional cellar doors and take our sales team off the road to protect the health and wellbeing of our people and the communities in which we operate.”

Yellow Tail wines

Discussing how COVID-19 has impacted Casella’s business, Casella noted: “As the pandemic began to take hold we experienced similar patterns of consumer behaviour as lockdowns created an increased demand of grocery items and alcohol. In particular, [yellow tail] sales in our major markets spiked as a result of the ‘pantry loading’ mentality in March.

“Following the stockpiling that took place, [yellow tail] continues to experience strong global sales due to a significant increase in at-home wine consumption and occasions. Furthermore, under challenging economic circumstances, consumers tend to choose brands that they trust and offer excellent value for money, which is the strong appeal of [yellow tail].”

As for the on-premise, Casella said on-trade consumption ceasing, coupled with a drop in international travel, presented “significant challenges” for the winemaker.

As restrictions have started to ease, he hopes to see a shift in consumer behaviour.

“We are committed to working closely with our on-premise distributors to ensure we support them on the road to recovery,” he said.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked very closely with our trade partners with regular and consistent communication, particularly while our sales reps were unable to make face to face visits. We have adapted to meet the different challenges presented by each channel, from ensuing we are able to support retailers with stock requirements to being commercially lenient and supportive to customers impacted and challenged by the current situation.

“Our key priority moving forward is to continue to focus on our core brands. We know consumers will continue to look for valued and trusted Australian wine brands and we want to provide both our trade partners and wine consumers with reassurance and certainty in uncertain times.”

Have you tried the new Drinks Guide website?

The new-look Drinks Guide website features Casella products plus much more.

Products are listed by category, sub category, brand, variety, ABV plus pack/unit size and also provides you with the ability to search by supplier, category or product.

Visit https://www.drinksguide.com.au/

Read John Casella’s full Drinks Guide article, plus viewpoints from other industry leaders here.

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