Beer Monopoly



    International Reports








On our own behalf – The Beer Monopoly on the Forbes List „Best Booze Books of 2017“

We are speechless. Surprised. Humbled. Incredibly grateful. Our book The Beer Monopoly appears on this year`s Forbes List "Best Booze Books". No, no, it`s not the Forbes Rich List. Fat chance of us ever getting on to that one. The list was compiled by Tara Nurin and can be found here >>


Posted April 2018

United Kingdom – Third of craft brewers run taprooms

British craft brewers are reviving the tradition of brewery taprooms as an antidote to the national trend of pub closures and the dominance of Big Brewers.

About a third of small breweries now run a tap bar, according to a report by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), which also highlights a burgeoning micropub scene as brewers take over empty shops on their local high streets. Read on

United Kingdom – AB-InBev buys drinks company Atom Group

Where to announce a transaction these days? On Facebook! On 18 April 2018 AB-InBev’s ZX Ventures acquired the Atom Group, a UK-based e-commerce company and spirits producer and distributor, for an undisclosed sum.

The group is made up of three business units: online retailer Master of Malt; spirits producer Atom Brands; and distributor Maverick Drinks, which is dedicated to craft spirits. Read on

Kenya – Diageo’s East African Breweries now bank on spirits

East African Breweries (EABL), which is majority-owned by drinks company Diageo, will start producing Diageo’s rum brand Captain Morgan locally as part of wider investments in its spirit business in response to growing demand.

The company told media in April 2018 that it has begun investing USD 14 million earmarked for the spirits division. This includes the purchase of a filling line for spirits that will double production at its plant on the outskirts of Nairobi. Read on


Democratic Republic of Congo – Brewers survive in a failed state

It may be strange that in a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been ravaged by wars almost incessantly since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960, brewers continue to thrive. But this is the case. In 2016, the country’s two brewing groups managed to brew an estimated 4.6 million hl beer, according to the Barth Report.

Yet the brewers’ real achievement, is not making beer. It is distributing the beer. As argued The Economist newspaper recently, “Congo is one of the worst-connected, most dysfunctional countries on earth.” Four times the size of France with an estimated 80 million inhabitants, “it has almost no all-weather roads. In large parts of eastern DRC, the state is a fiction and rebels control the roads. Yet there is scarcely a village where it is impossible to get a beer.” Read on



Germany – Free beer for brewery workers in decline

Bavarian brewers are still sticking to the old tradition of the “house drink”. Each brewery employee receives a certain beer allocation per month free of all charges and taxes. The amount is even specified in the industry’s collective agreements. In Bavaria, it has been 36 litres beer per month per person for years, although some brewers are far more generous.

But according to recent data from the State Statistics Office, the free beer is in decline. In 2017, Bavarian brewers only gave away a total of 56,088 hl beer to their employees, which is 5.7 percent less than in the previous year. The decline is particularly evident in a longer-term comparison as ten years ago the volume was more than 82,000 hl. Read on

India – Despite highway ban of alcohol sales it is business as usual again

The Indian Supreme Court’s restrictions last year on the sale of alcohol near state and national highways led to the closure of about a third or about 30,000 of the country’s liquor vendors, causing a drop in demand for beer and spirits.

But the court’s subsequently clarification of its ruling eased the conditions for liquor sales and allowed many outlets to reopen. It is believed that almost 90 percent of outlets have reopened and things are back to normal. Read on



United Kingdom – Sugar tax comes into effect

Sugar may be bad for you, but why is it the soft drinks industry that has to bear the brunt of a crackdown? Two years after it was first mooted, the Government’s sugar tax came into effect on 6 April 2018, forcing drinks companies to pay between GBP 0.18 and GBP 0.24 (USD 0.24 - 0.32) for every litre of sugary drink they produce or import. Fruit juices, milk-based drinks and most alcoholic beverages are exempt, as are small companies manufacturing less than 1 million litres per year.

While the levy is small change compared with the sin taxes charged on alcohol and tobacco, it has the potential to significantly bump up the cost of some drinks, adding around GBP 0.50 to the price of a large bottle of Coke, or GBP 0.08 to that of a can. Soft drinks companies have essentially been left with three choices: change their recipes to include less sugar; put up prices and risk putting off consumers or absorb the tax, which will hit profit margins and alienate investors. Read on

Korea – Coca-Cola cosmetics launched at The Face Shop

Where are the health commissars to warn against hidden sugar in cosmetics? Because the Korean makeup brand The Face Shop has launched a range of Coca-Cola cosmetics in an unusual collaboration with the US soft drink brand.

The makeup range includes cushion compact, powder pact, five cream lip tints, five lipsticks, three gel lip tints, and an eyeshadow palette – all in Coca-Cola pattern packages. Not only do they look a little like Coke products… they even smell like Coca-Cola. And probably taste like it, too. Read on

United Kingdom – BrewDog buys cider maker Hawkes

It never fails to surprise: BrewDog has made an undisclosed investment into London cider maker Hawkes, media reported on 11th April 2018. Dubbed an “urban cider maker” because of its South London location, Hawkes has a portfolio of six products, including the UK’s first co-fermented beer and cider hybrid, Graff, packaged in cans and kegs. It was released in February 2018.

BrewDog said it will offer support from its senior team and resources to help grow the brand both in the UK and internationally. As commented BrewDog: “Cider has a massive opportunity to be so much more than a sweet, fizzy pint of something soulless, or a sickly pink drink with more calories than a Coke. Cider can be as much of a craft beverage as beer and has as bright a future as brewing.” Read on

Korea – AB-InBev’s ZX Ventures takes over local craft brewer

Here they go again. ZX Ventures, a subsidiary of AB-InBev, has acquired the local craft brewer The Hand & Malt Brewing Company. The acquisition was inked on 2 April, according to local media. This should boost AB-InBev’s portfolio of craft breweries to 35 around the world, including those in the United States.

Although ZX Ventures fully took over the company, its founder and president, Bryan Do, will retain his position. Media say the deal was valued at around USD 9 million and has been under consideration for a year. Read on


Japan – New legal definition of beer: it’s anything goes (well almost)

Under the old definition, beer had to be made from water and hops and have a malt content of 67 percent or higher. But on 1 April 2018, when the new law came into effect, that was lowered to 50 percent, marking the first change in 110 years. Furthermore, a wide range of items have been added to the approved list of secondary ingredients, which is currently limited to grains like rice, wheat and corn. The new ingredients include fruits, spices, herbs and flowers. Seaweed, oysters and bonito flakes are also included.

The change in definition gives brewers more flexibility to produce beers with unique tastes and aromas while still calling them “beer”. Under the previous definition, such low-malt beverages were called happoshu (quasi-beer) and were cheaper because they were less heavily taxed. Read on


Russia – Brewers do not expect to benefit from Football World Cup

The prospect of thousands of thirsty soccer fans flocking to Russia for this summer’s World Cup should boost beer sales, yet brewers see little reason to be optimistic. Beer sales in Russia have fallen by around a third over the past decade on the back of rising duties and restrictions on sales and advertising, and brewers do not think this long-term trend can be reversed, even if only once this year. Read on


Austria – Red Bull’s marketing pundit Mateschitz to open a brewery

Global consumption of energy drinks is growing and, guess what, is producing a new crop of billionaires. Red Bull alone has created 12 billionaires, including Austrian marketing guru Dietrich Mateschitz, 73, and the eleven Thai heirs of his late partner, Chaleo Yoovidhya. On the latest Forbes Rich List, published in March 2018, Mr Mateschitz ranked 37th. With an estimated wealth of USD 27 billion (11 April 2018), he must be one of the richest Austrians.

Mr Mateschitz is the co-founder and 49 percent owner of Red Bull, the world's largest energy drink maker. The Salzburg, Austria-based company sold more than 6.3 billion cans and had a revenue of EUR 6.3 billion (USD 7.1 billion) in 2017. He promotes the company through branded assets, including soccer and Formula One teams. Read on


South Africa – Darling becomes Africa’s first carbon neutral brewery

Every little step counts. In an effort to balance its carbon emissions, the South African craft brewer Darling Brew, located in the village of Darling about 70 km north of Cape Town, is aiming to offset a total of 688 tons of CO2 over the next year of production. This will be equivalent to the elimination of the same amount of carbon from the environment as that achieved by growing 17,000 tree seedlings for ten years.

In 2016, Darling Brew released Africa’s first carbon neutral beer, Blood Serpent, with the intention of later extending it across the range. Blood Serpent was seen as a catalyst for greater sustainability efforts within the African brewing industry, especially when it comes to decarbonisation and company buy-in for carbon neutrality. The beer was celebrated by fans and media alike for being a genuine innovation. Read on

USA – Is Goose Island suffering the fate of other legacy craft beer brands?

It is becoming clearer why AB-InBev on 1 January 2018 replaced its North American chief Joao Castro Neves by another Brazilian company veteran, Michel Doukeris: Mr Neves, who was widely seen as a potential successor to CEO Carlos Brito, not only failed to stem the decline of the brewer’s major brands Bud and Budweiser, he was also held responsible for Goose Island’s bruising 2017. According to media, AB-InBev’s major craft beer brand, Goose Island, saw massive sales declines nationally in the off-premise. Read on


USA – Budweiser and Beam to collaborate on limited edition beer

If craft brewers can collaborate, so can the industry’s big players. AB-InBev and drinks company Beam Suntory announced on 3 April 2018 that, through their brands Budweiser and Jim Beam, they will collaborate on a limited-edition “Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager.”

The beer will be released in September this year to celebrate the upcoming 85th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. Prohibition in the US came to an official end on 5 December 1933. Read on

USA – Non-alcoholic beer with THC-infused cannabis to launch in 2018

The man who invented Blue Moon for Coors in 1995 believes he has the magic touch to bring out yet another game-changing beverage. Keith Villa, 55, who retired from Molson Coors in January 2018 after working at the firm for 32 years, plans to market a cannabis-infused non-alcoholic craft beer. Read on

Netherlands – Digital transformation and merger integration lift Heineken’s consulting bill

Heineken ramped up its central consulting spending by more than 20 percent in 2017 to EUR 169 million, says the website consultancy.uk in a report released on 30 March 2018. The brewer has been seeking to reposition itself, as well as pushing for a digital transformation agenda to secure profits in the long-term. Read on

China – Tariff on US wine rises by 15 percent

It’s tit-for-tat. After president Trump introduced tariffs on USD 60 billion worth of Chinese goods, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce retaliated and hiked tariffs on 128 US products, including an additional 15 percent tariff on wine as was reported on 2 April 2018. Read on

United Kingdom – Irish C&C Group and AB-InBev save drinks firm Conviviality

The maker of Magners cider looks to have saved around 2,000 jobs at the collapsed drinks firm Conviviality after a GBP 100 million (USD 140 million) deal to buy the firm’s distribution businesses Matthew Clark and Bibendum. Matthew Clark is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers to the on-trade serving more than 20,000 pubs.

Stephen Glancey, CEO of C&C Group, said on 4 April 2018 his company paid a symbolic GBP 1.00 for Conviviality’s distribution businesses, but paid the failed firm’s banks GBP 102 million – more than half the GBP 180 million debt Conviviality owes to its lenders. AB-InBev has lent C&C some of the money for the deal but Mr Glancey said the brewer has no equity stake in the acquisition or management involvement. He declined to disclose the size of the loan or the terms of its repayment. Read on

USA – Craft beer export growth slows to single digits in 2017

The Brewers Association (BA) reported on 3 April 2018 that exports of US craft beer rose 3.6 percent to 482,309 barrels (564,000 hl) in 2017. The organisation valued those products sold abroad at USD 125.4 million. While this is a record high, it is now the third consecutive year that growth has slowed. Read on

USA – Green Flash latest: Bank pulls plug

The financially troubled Green Flash brewery has been sold to a group of investors following a foreclosure by the company’s principal lender, Comerica Bank, media reported on 2 April 2018. The announcement of the sale comes just a week after Green Flash closed its Virginia Beach brewery 16 months after opening the East Coast operation. As a result of the sale, a new ownership group of investors calling itself WC IPA LLC is taking over, along with a number of top management changes. Read on


USA – Green Flash puts Virginia brewery up for sale and closes a taproom

Shocking news. A combination of too much debt and stalled growth has forced San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing to cease operations at its 100,000 barrel East Coast brewery in Virginia Beach, with the loss of 43 jobs in the process.

The decision to shutter the facility on 24 March 2018 comes one month after the craft brewer confirmed that it was over-leveraged and needed outside investment to keep the business running. Read on



USA – Number of brewery openings and closures rise in 2017

A record number of breweries opened their doors last year, according to a new report from the Brewers Association (BA) published in March 2018. It estimates that 997 breweries opened in 2017, bringing the total number of US breweries to 6,372.

At the same time, the number of breweries that closed last year increased by 70 percent to 165. That’s 2.6 percent of all craft breweries.

The BA’s chief economist, Bart Watson, said he expects both figures to grow as the organisation adjusts its numbers to more accurately reflect the number of small brewing companies currently operating in the US.

Despite the rise in brewery closures – 97 shuttered in 2016 - a staggering 4,256 breweries have opened over the past five years, according to BA data. There are also about 2,500 more in planning, Mr Watson said. Read on

United Kingdom – BrewDog hikes turnover to GBP 112 million in 2017

Scottish craft brewery BrewDog has released its 2017 annual report, which highlighted a 55 percent turnover growth to more than USD 155 million dollars.

According to BrewDog, the brewery has averaged 63 percent annual growth over the last six years while its average annual operating profits have grown by 76 percent during the same period.

Still, when it comes to profits, the actual figure does not impress. Adjusted for currencies, its EBITDA stood at GBP 8.9 million (USD 12.5 million) compared with GBP 6 million in 2016. Read on



USA – Heineken forced to pull commercial after accusations of racism

Advertising people are supposed to know how to communicate. So how come they still appear tone-deaf to blatant forms of racism? Heineken is a case in point. Their probably melanin-free marketing department thought nothing about it when in a recent commercial they decided to visualise the difference between a full-strength and a light beer by drawing an analogy to black people’s skin colour.

Heineken quickly withdrew the ad for its calorie-light beer after the US musician Chance the Rapper called the commercial “terribly racist” on Twitter. In a widely quoted statement, Heineken said on 27 March 2018 that “we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns.” Read on


Netherlands – Heineken pledges to act on new claims of sexual abuse in Africa

The plight of beer girls in Asia and Africa is well-known but according to campaigners very little has been done to protect them from harassment.

On 26 March 2018 Heineken felt compelled to act and effectively do more to protect its sales agents in Africa after the national Dutch newspaper NRC published allegations of widespread sexual abuse in ten countries where Heineken operates.

Around 2,000 women work for the Amsterdam-based multinational firm as “promotional girls” or “beer girls” on the continent as part of a global sales force numbering 15,000 women, according to internal research by Heineken which was already carried out in 2007. Their actual number is unknown as Heineken – and other brewers – usually leave the recruiting of beer girls to sub-contractors.

The women’s work involves going around bars, cafes and restaurants to persuade owners to stock Heineken brands.
Read on

China – Tsingtao hikes profits after cost cuts

Tsingtao Brewery, the country’s number two brewer, on 27 March 2018 posted a 21 percent jump in annual profits, short of forecasts but still the firm’s fastest profit growth since 2010 after it had reined in costs.

The brewer said its 2017 net profit jumped to 1.26 billion yuan (USD 201 million). Its turnover rose only 0.65 percent to 26.28 billion yuan (USD 4.3 billion). Read on


China – CR Beer confirms it is looking for an international beer brand

China Resources Beer is negotiating partnerships with foreign brewers as it hopes to sell more premium beers, according to its CEO Hou Xiaohai. He hopes that a tie-up with an overseas brewer will help China’s major brewer to move upmarket, Mr Hou told an earnings conference on 21 March 2018.

CR Beer, whose leading brand is Snow beer, seeks to acquire premium global brands, the CEO said, while declining to comment on rumours that CR Beer is in talks to buy Dutch brewer Heineken's Chinese business, as was reported earlier. Read on


Belgium – AB-InBev rewards chairman with higher remuneration

Ahead of AB-InBev’s Annual General Meeting on 25 April 2018, the Frenchman Olivier Goudet, who is chairman of AB-InBev, sees his fixed remuneration increase by a quarter, the Flemish newspaper De Tijd reported on 23 March 2018. In addition, he can count on more stock options.

The name of Olivier Goudet may ring a bell to only few, but the man also heads one of the world's most secretive investment funds in the consumer goods sector. He is CEO of JAB Holding Company, which is owned by the German Reimann family and serves as the family’s umbrella for a group of companies, including Reckitt Benckiser, Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Bally.

On the sidelines there are links between JAB and AB-InBev as AB-InBev’s strongman and shareholder Alexandre Van Damme is a Non-Executive Director at D.E Master Blenders, according to Bloomberg data. Read on



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