Beer Monopoly



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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 March 2018

China – China Resources Beer rumoured to buy Heineken’s local business

China Resources Beer is negotiating with Heineken to acquire its China business, which could be worth more than USD1 billion, media report. As CR Beer seeks new growth from high-end brands, observers are not surprised by this potential deal. However, many believe the valuation will be the key factor and the synergy effect is still under observation. Read on

Argentina – AB-InBev will divest brands to CCU for anti-trust approval

It seems that things move very slowly in Argentina. Almost two and a half years after the AB-InBev/SABMiller deal, Argentina’s production ministry said on 14 March 2018 it had approved a proposal from AB-InBev to divest seven of its brands in the country as a condition for its takeover of SABMiller.

SABMiller bought the struggling brewer Casa Isenbeck from Germany’s Warsteiner in 2010 for allegedly USD 43 million. Casa Isenbeck, with brands like Isenbeck, Diosa and Warsteiner, had a market share of 3 percent then. The business fell to AB-InBev, following its takeover of SABMiller in 2015, which was met with conditions by anti-trust bodies around the world. Read on


South Africa – SAB was efficient but AB-InBev hopes to do better

South Africa was one of the star performers in AB-InBev’s global empire in 2017, where the local unit lifted margins by an impressive 600 basis points, enabling the company to report a 21.1 percent hike in EBITDA on a beer revenue increase of just 6 percent, even as the brewer had to deal with the effects of a crippling drought at its Newlands brewery in Cape Town.

The substantial margin improvement in South Africa was achieved off a sales volume increase of merely 0.9 percent during the 12 months of 2017. In the last quarter to end-December volumes dropped 1.8 percent. Read on


USA – Molson Coors sees legalised pot as risk to its business

Molson Coors, headquartered in Denver and Montreal, became the latest publicly traded company to mention the growing legal marijuana industry in its annual financial report. The latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission indicates that the brewer is closely monitoring the impact of legal cannabis sales on its customers’ pocket money and, eventually, on sales for its beer

Molson Coors is the number two brewer in both Canada and the United States. Canada will legalise recreational cannabis this September. In the US, pot is legal in several states already, including California and Colorado, where Coors is based. Read on

Australia – Coopers Brewery introduces Session Ale

They are not bowing to the craft beer boom, just expanding their portfolio. Australia’s oldest family owned and run brewery, Coopers, has launched its popular new beer, Session Ale, in cans and bottles across Australia. In March 2018. The summer-style ale was introduced in kegs to the on-premise late last year. By January it had become Coopers’ second largest selling keg beer (after Original Pale Ale and ahead of Sparkling Ale and Mild Ale).

The 4.2 percent ABV Session Ale, the first addition to the permanent Coopers portfolio for 14 years, is brewed with Galaxy and Melba hops. It is lighter in alcohol but higher in IBUs than Coopers’ Pale Ale.

Spain – Mahou San Miguel’s new brew hub to boost domestic craft beer sales

As craft beer consumption is rising, the country’s major brewers are investing in craft breweries to capitalise on that growth. In 2017 there were over 480 companies, almost twice the number there were in 2015. Craft beer production is still low (only 145,000 hl in 2016 out of total beer consumption of 34.4 million hl), reports say.

Having bought stakes in US craft brewers Founders and Avery, Spain’s number one brewer Mahou San Miguel has announced plans to set up a collaborative brew hub in Spain where domestic and international brewers can come together to share ideas and develop new beers. It is slated to cost EUR 11 million (USD 13.5 million). Read on


Australia – AB-InBev turns Cascade Brewery into its craft beer hub

So they have given the Cascade Brewery a new lease on life. After an AUD10.3 million (USD 8 million) upgrade, supported by a AUD 1 million contribution from the local government, AB-InBev’s Tasmanian brewery will increase its production capacity by 65 percent to probably over 350,000 hl and become the brewer’s Australian craft beer hub.

Founded in Hobart in 1824, Cascade is Australia’s oldest operating brewery and famous for its landmark façade.

Already, AB-InBev’s local unit CUB is brewing the Goose Island brand at Cascade, plus all the Cascade brands, although the volumes of the latter have diminished dramatically over the years. Read on


Italy – Duvel Moortgat hikes stake in Birrificio del Ducato to 70 percent

It was to be expected that Belgium’s brewer Duvel Moortgat would increase its investment in Italy’s craft brewer Birrificio del Ducato to a majority stake – which they did in February 2018.

Since the privately-owned brewer of Duvel first bought into the company in 2016, the Italian craft brewer has increased its output from 5,000 hl beer to 9,000 hl per year and installed a new bottling line. Birrificio del Ducato was founded in 2007. With its majority stake in the business, Duvel hopes to bring Birrificio del Ducato’s craft beers to an international audience. Read on


USA – Brewers fear job losses over introduction of aluminium tariff

Within hours of President Trump announcing a plan to put a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminium, the Big Brewers in the US through their lobby group, the Beer Institute, responded, saying that the tariff could cost the beer industry 20,000 jobs.

I saw a report earlier today upwards of 140,000 jobs could be lost in this country. We think the estimate for beer is about 20,000, that’s brewers, brewery workers, waitresses, bartenders [and] truck drivers,” Jim McGreevy, CEO of the Beer Institute told media on 2 March 2018. Read on


United Kingdom – BrewDog and Diageo draw scorn over Women’s Day stunts

Thursday last week – 8 March – was International Women’s Day. To support women and their campaigns towards their fair share of the world, Diageo and BrewDog each launched one of their popular products in women-friendly packaging. Diageo brought out a special edition of its Johnny Walker Scotch, calling it Jane Walker, while Scottish craft brewer BrewDog released a satirical pink-branded “beer for girls”, which is basically a variation of BrewDog's Punk IPA with a pink label.

Whereas BrewDog hoped to draw attention to the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market, especially in the brewing industry, Diageo’s Jane Walker exactly fell into this category. Read on


USA – Craft beer slowdown sends down prices for specialty hops

Hop growers and traders are used to extreme business cycles but the latest sharp decline in demand seems to have caught some unawares. As wrote the Financial Times (FT) in February 2018, a sharp slowdown in US craft beer sales growth has sent the speciality hop market from boom to bust.

The fall comes as growers both in the US, the wRead onorld’s leading hop producer and exporter, and elsewhere have increased their planting areas to cope with rising demand. Read on


Canada – Liquor stores branch out into cannabis stores

Brewers will face serious competition from cannabis once sales of recreational cannabis become legal. While the global medical marijuana market is steadily increasing in size, the recreational marijuana market in Canada is about to explode.

The government initially targeted July 2018 as the date for allowing recreational marijuana, but it now looks as if sales will begin in September. Regardless, the market will soon open, and it could easily top CAD 5 billion (USD 4 billion) annually. For comparison, revenue from beer manufacturing in Canada was estimated at over USD 7 billion in 2017. Read on


Canada – Campus rules on alcohol and pot need to be rewritten

Good grief, the implications of legalising pot are mind-blowing. For example, when the new academic year begins in September, cannabis will be as legal as alcohol. This means that across Canada, universities have been trying to write new rules to reflect that.

As it is with alcohol sales, the legal age for possessing and buying pot will depend on the province and varies between 18 and 19 years. Hence students will be allowed to buy and consume it. The legal age to purchase alcohol is 21 across the US, as it is for cannabis in the nine states and Washington, DC, which have already legalised marijuana for recreational use. Read on


Canada – Brunswick Bierworks hires La Trappe brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels

With great fanfare, Toronto’s Brunswick Bierworks announced the arrival of Lodewijk Swinkels as brewmaster and head of operations on 7 March 2018.

Mr Swinkels comes from beer royalty. Related to the Swinkels family, which owns the Dutch brewer Bavaria and ranked second in The Netherlands behind Heineken, he is a seventh generation brewer. For the past 14 years he has been the brewmaster at the Dutch De Koningshoeven Brewery (La Trappe), which is also controlled by the Swinkels. He has won numerous international brewing awards and established La Trappe's world-renowned barrel aging programme.

Brunswick Bierworks introduced a new concept to the brewing industry in Ontario with their partner brewing that is open to concept brewers (aka virtual brewers), as well as Canadian and international breweries. In other words, it is a contract brewer that is helping its partners produce high-quality beers for the Ontario market, which is Canada’s largest. Read on


Ireland – C&C pulls US distribution deal with brewer Pabst for ciders

Don’t bet on cider’s golden future in the US. As consumers switch to alcoholic sodas, cider sales continue to decline. After registering buoyant growth between 2011 and 2015, when volume sales quintupled from 500,000 hl to 2.5 million hl, 2016 proved a turning point. Volumes dropped 12 percent. The trend has continued in 2017, although figures are not out yet. In the first half of 2017, cider sales declined 9.7 percent, according to market research firm IRI. Read on


Italy – Craft brewers make BeerAttraction fair in Rimini their showcase

Thanks to Italy’s vibrant craft beer sector, the country has a beer trade show again. BeerAttraction’s predecessor Pianeta Birra, which was also held in Rimini, died several years ago, after the country’s Big Brewers pulled their support.

In its fourth year, BeerAttraction, which was held from 17 to 20 February 2018, seems to have firmly established itself. On show were Italian and international beer brands which were joined by food manufacturers in the fair’s special Food Attraction section. Read on


USA – Staff reductions at New Belgium

2018 could be a year of reckoning for many US craft brewers and New Belgium may not be the only one to let staff go. The seventh-largest US craft brewer (according to Beer Marketers Insights’ ranking) confirmed on 27 February 2018 that it has cut 28 jobs, accounting for around 4 percent of its workforce, at its breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina.

The redundancies are not based on a lack of business, the company stressed, but on an overambitious expansion plan begun in 2013 which is now proving unsustainable.

It said in a statement: “These changes were not driven by a decline in our business. … However, beginning in 2013, we expanded our staff to support a brewery about 40 percent larger than New Belgium is today, and we haven’t yet achieved our goals in the face of changing dynamics in craft brewing.”

Based on previous growth rates, the company had anticipated in 2013 that expanded distribution into all US states and additional capacity at its new Asheville brewery would lead to an increase in beer sales to the tune of about 1.3 million barrels. However, media report that New Belgium only produced 955,000 barrels (1.1 million hl) beer in 2017, down from 958,000 barrels in 2016. Read on


Germany – Brewer Radeberger to pay EUR 160 million fine for collusion

Allegedly the owners of Germany’s largest brewing group Radeberger finally saw sense and will accept a fine of EUR 160 million (USD 195 million), which was slapped on the brewer in 2014 for taking part in the German beer cartel between 2006 and 2008.

Radeberger Group is part of the Oetker Group, the privately-owned conglomerate which spreads from pizza to beer. Beer and non-alcoholic beverages contributed EUR 1.9 billion (USD 2 billion) to group turnover of EUR 11.7 billion in 2016. Oetker does not disclose profits.

However, insiders suspect that the fine equals at least three times Radeberger’s annual profits. In other words, the fine will hurt badly. Read on


Belgium – AB-InBev’s profits up on Brazil recovery and SABMiller savings

Thanks to Brazil rebounding after two tumultuous years in the region and the integration of SABMiller proceeding well, AB-InBev reported on 1 March 2018 that revenue increased 5.1 percent in 2017 to USD 56.4 billion (EUR 46.3 billion) while profits (EBITDA) rose 13.4 percent to USD 22.1 billion (EUR 18.1 billion). AB-InBev’s EBITDA margin stood at 39.1 percent in 2017.

Combined revenues of the company’s three global beer brands – Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona Extra – grew 9.8 percent year on year, with a 17.8 percent increase in the fourth quarter.

Total volumes saw an increase of 0.2 percent, with beer volumes up 0.6 percent and non-beer volumes down 3.1 percent. Read on


USA – Boston Beer saw sales decline again in 2017

That’s painful. Boston Beer reported a shipment decline of 6.2 percent in 2017, driven by shrinking sales of its Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard brands.

In an earnings report, released on 21 February 2018, the country’s sixth-largest beer company, which makes Samuel Adams beer, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Twisted Tea, and Truly Spiked & Sparkling seltzers among other products, said it shipped about 3.8 million barrels (4.5 million hl) of product in 2017, compared with 4 million barrels in 2016. Boston Beer does not disclose sales per category.

It may be small consolation to Boston Beer that other major craft brewers registered sales declines in 2017 too. As says Beer Marketers Insights, Sierra Nevada had to stomach a volume drop of 5 percent, while Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes saw declines steepen late in the year, ending with volumes down 8 percent and 10 percent respectively. Read on


USA – Craft beer exports could face slower growth

Looks like selling US craft beer abroad has become more of a challenge. And it’s not because of unfavourable currency swings. As anyone will know who follows Brauwelt’s newsletter, there is more competition from local craft brewers in many of the markets that US brewers are exporting into.

Growth rates have slowed down in recent years. After achieving a 36 percent hike in 2014 (over 2013) and another two-digit boost (16 percent) in 2015, the increase in US craft beer exports slowed to a mere 4.4 percent in 2016, totalling 465,617 barrels beer (544,000 hl) or USD 121 million. 2017 figures will be released by the Brewers Association (BA) soon.

While many US craft brewers have benefitted from participating in the BA’s export programme, a sizeable amount of beer export volumes must be attributed to just one brewery: Brooklyn. Read on

USA – Beer sales down 2.2 percent in 2017

The beer industry trade group, Beer Institute (BI), recently reported that US brewers lost ground to the tune of 3.8 million fewer barrels (4.5 million hl) in 2017. They only shipped 170 million barrels (199 million hl) beer, as opposed to almost 174 million barrels in 2016.

According to the BI, the 2.2 percent drop in beer shipments in 2017 represents the largest annual domestic beer volume decrease in 63 years. It is believed some of the losses can be attributed to consumers switching to imported beers, but evidence for that has to wait for beer import reports to come out later. Others blame the growth in wine and spirits consumption for the decline in beer sales.


USA – Will AB-InBev buy out Craft Brew Alliance?

The US rumour mill is working overtime that AB-InBev could buy out the listed craft brewer Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) from Portland, Oregon, with brands like Kona, Widmer Brothers and Redhook. AB-InBev already controls a 31.5 percent stake in the craft brewer, thanks to the old Anheuser-Busch having made an initial investment in Redhook in 1994 and in Widmer in 1998. Today the two are so enmeshed in each other’s affairs, analysts say, that it’s probably time the Big Brewer just took over the craft beer maker, lock, stock and barrel. Read on



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