Molson Coors and Duvel Moortgat sign Canadian distribution deal

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Two historic breweries are coming together in Canada in a new partnership that calls for Molson Coors Beverage Company to import and distribute Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat’s collection of European beers in Canada.

The multi-year deal, which is effective immediately, gives Six Pints Specialty Beer Company — Molson Coors’ Canadian craft beer arm — rights to import beers brewed by six Duvel-owned brands across Canada, with the exception of Quebec. Included in the pact are Duvel, whose flagship Belgian Blonde will be the priority of the partnership, Brasserie D’Achouffe, Liefmans, De Koninck, Maredsous and Vedett.

The partnership comes at a time when Canadians are seeking more import, craft and above-premium options – all qualities satisfied by Belgium’s Duvel portfolio, says Dan Lundberg, Six Pints’ commercial director.

“We want to add to our portfolio in a way that allows us to premiumize our offerings to our customers, enter new spaces and find partners with the same of values as Six Pints’ breweries, which are rooted in quality, craftsmanship and family,” Lundberg says.

With the addition of Duvel, Molson Coors continues its investment in above-premium products and leverages its national network to put the brands in front of Canadians across the country.

While Duvel’s brands already are sold in Ontario, Quebec and parts of western Canada, the deal with Molson Coors “will undoubtedly bring our iconic Belgian brands to the next level in Canada,” says Michel Moortgat, chief executive officer for Duvel.

Moortgat points to Molson Coors’ robust Canadian distribution network and the “knowledge and focus” of the Six Pints team. Duvel’s “high-quality beers deserve to be represented by a professional partner like Six Pints,” he says.

With Duvel, Six Pints introduces a new set of premium Euro brands to a portfolio that already includes some of Canada’s top craft breweries, including Creemore Springs, Granville Island Brewing, Le Trou du Diable and Brasseur de Montreal.

The announcement follows a slew of other agreements Molson Coors has made in the United States with major beverage makers, including a new marketing, manufacturing and distribution arrangement with Coca-Cola’s Topo Chico hard seltzer in the U.S.; a distribution deal with La Colombe Coffee Roasters’ ready-to-drink coffee products in the U.S.; and a joint venture to expand the geographic footprint of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.’s beer in the U.S.

As with Molson Coors’ deal with Yuengling, the partnership began with a relationship. Frederic Landtmeters, president of Molson Coors’ Canadian operation, who is Belgian, and Miguel Van Canneyt, Duvel’s regional export manager, have known each other for years. Their recent conversations sparked further discussions about how Molson Coors’ national network – and importantly its team – could grow Duvel’s brands in Canada.

“We needed to show them that we had the right people to achieve their goals,” says Lundberg. “These are historic breweries that have been around for long time and really focus on quality and the communities they’re part of.”

With that, Canada’s oldest brewery linked up with another historic beermaker with growing international ambitions. Duvel, based in Puurs, Belgium, was founded in 1871 and is sold in 65 countries. It branched out to North America in 1997 as an investor of Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., a craft brand it fully acquired in 2003. Then in 2014, it purchased two large U.S. craft brewers: Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, Calif.

“Duvel naturally fits into the Six Pints portfolio. Six Pints is representing not just local craft, but craftsmanship, in general. Great craft beer doesn’t have to come from a local brewery,” Lundberg says. “What is truly important is the quality of the beer, and Duvel’s incredible European craft beers come with roots as deep as Molson’s.”