Anora, the birth of a wine and spirits giant
By IIsabelle Escande – Photographs courtesy of the estates, posted on 30 October 2023
You may not have heard of Anora yet, but since 2021 the company has become the new leader in beverage alcohol across the Nordic countries. Specialising in the production, import, export and distribution of wines and spirits, it is on track to become a global sales powerhouse. Its rapid growth compels admiration, as do its innovative, high-performance initiatives including the creation of some mould-breaking brands.
But first a look at the company’s origins. Anora may well be young, but it did not appear out of nowhere. Far from it. It stems from the merger of two companies, one Finnish, Altia – a well-established producer and marketer of alcoholic drinks in Nordic markets and the Baltic countries –the other Arcus, the largest wine importer and spirits producer in Norway. Anora, which is known for its import and distribution activities, also owns a broad-ranging portfolio of brands, some of which have a long-standing history. Linie, the group’s oldest firm, is a case in point – its story dates back to 1805 and it produces an aquavit which is matured in the sea and has become an icon.
But Linie is not the only brand to boast time-honoured traditions. If you are a spirits enthusiast, names like Koskenkorva and O.P. Anderson will be familiar to you. Well-established companies like these sit comfortably alongside more recent brands within the Scandinavian group. They have also carved out a name for themselves as innovative, disruptive stable mates which bring a new perspective to the world of wines and spirits. Although they have a strong following in the markets of Northern Europe, they are also gradually gaining traction internationally.
The Koskenkorva distillery in Finland.
Sustainability has always been a linchpin of the company's growth strategy.
One such example is Chill Out. It cannot be classed as a newcomer as it’s been around for 20 years in the Swedish market, but it has drawn attention for its novel packaging. Its recycled PET bottles and 100% recyclable boxes epitomise its relaxed, consumer-centric approach to wine. The packaging is practical, light and easy to carry and it is designed to make consumers’ lives simpler. In fact, the brand has just launched a 1.5-litre bag-in-box of organic Zinfandel from Italy, shares Anna Bastin Löwgren, Chill Out’s brand owner. The format breaks with the customary 3-litre box tradition and is designed to offer a more appropriate solution for households.
Chill Out’s boxes are easy to dismantle and can be sorted easily - @Danger Österlin
Alternatives to glass bottles
The formats are not only convenient, they are also sustainable. That’s because Chill Out believes that an environmentally-friendly policy is a central tenet that should not just be applied to producing the contents. Tetra packaging, which is particularly popular in Finland where it is growing, “produces fewer CO2 emissions than other types of packaging”, explains Bastin Löwgren. “Chill Out will never produce heavy glass bottles. It simply is not our ethos”.
Glass bottles are indeed heavy and very energy-intensive – to produce, transport and recycle – which makes them the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the wine industry. By way of comparison, a 3-litre bag-in-box has a carbon footprint six times lower than a 75 cl bottle.
Chill Out has therefore developed alternatives to reduce the carbon footprint of its containers, and goes to great lengths to do so. For example, the plastic handles on its boxes and the taps are now made from transparent plastic because black plastic cannot be recycled. The pouches have been made lighter and produced with no metal parts in order to facilitate recycling. And the PET bottles are all made from 100% recycled plastic. “This is unique”, stresses Bastin Löwgren. “We are very proud of our innovative containers”.
Anna Bastin Löwgren, brand owner at Chill Out.
“Let’s drink better”
This sustainable approach is probably the common denominator between all the brands in the Anora portfolio. In fact, the group’s motto is “Let’s drink better”, comments Bastin Löwgren. And sustainability is at the core of its policy. “It is one of our priorities. We are investing a lot of money and time to produce better, more flavourful and environmentally-friendly products”.
Anora has developed alternative approaches to glass packaging - @Danger Österlin
Everything has been adapted so that Anora’s own production, based on the circular economy, can become carbon neutral by 2030, with no offsets. Thirty percent of their grain-based spirits will be grown using regenerative farming techniques. Regenerative farming aims to restore health in the soils by promoting biodiversity, among other aspects, so that they can capture more carbon naturally – and thereby help mitigate climate change – and be less prone to erosion. Obviously, water management is one of the group’s major concerns. In fact, it protects underground water areas the size of 1,500 football pitches.
This sense of responsibility within the group predictably also involves social aspects. It belongs to The United Nations Global Compact, the largest global initiative for sustainability, which is a platform of collective actions fostering fairer and more inclusive companies. Anora advocates transparency and respect for human rights at every level of production. It also promotes diversity and equality, with 40% of board positions occupied by women. Through this, Anora demonstrates how its commitment goes way beyond the environment alone. In fact, it has developed a broad range of alcohol-free or low alcohol products, both in the wine and spirits categories. In 2022 alone, 26 NOLO products were launched by the group.
A successful business model
Anora has always placed sustainability at the core of its strategy, as both a driver of growth and value creation. In fact, it offers tangible proof of the success of this business model, generating revenue of 703 million euros in 2022 with a staff of 1,200. Its portfolio continues to expand – in 2022, it took over Globus Wine, Denmark’s leading wine company. By acquiring new brands and diversifying its listings, it has strengthened its presence in the Nordic markets.
Travel retail is also an important sales channel for the group as it helps grow the company’s global reputation.
Obviously, the story doesn’t end here. To promote growth, the company also focuses on its iconic brands, its constant innovations, on creating digital channels and on its distribution business. It has just signed an agreement with AB InBev to market some of its famous beers – Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser – in the on-trade in Finland and Norway. The move underscores the group’s determination not to just focus on the off-trade. The on-trade is also an area where Anora seems intent on becoming a major player, particularly in international markets. It already exports to over 30 countries. The aim is “to introduce the world to the finest products from the Nordic countries and to introduce the Nordic countries to the world’s finest products”. There is no denying that Anora is gearing up to become one of the world’s leading players.
Anora distributes renowned brands like Louis Roederer Champagnes, Jack Daniels and Fernet Branca.
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