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 March 2019

USA – MillerCoors and AB-InBev head to court over corn syrup ad

There has to be an end to the corn-syrup-in-beer affair. But it is doubtful that a court ruling will provide it. On 21 March 2019 MillerCoors escalated its spat with AB-InBev’s unit Anheuser-Busch by filing a lawsuit in Wisconsin’s federal court. The brewer is seeking injunctive relief for what it calls “a false and misleading advertising campaign targeting Miller Lite and Coors Light.” Read on

Australia – Lion buys into local gin distiller Four Pillars

Are spirits the new beer? After AB-InBev snapped up a US distillery, Australia’s number two brewer, Lion, did not want to be left on the side-lines. The Kirin-owned brewer has bought a 50 percent stake in gin distiller Four Pillars. The transaction was announced on 22 March 2019, though financial details were not disclosed. Read on

United Kingdom – AB InBev UK becomes Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I

Ask people if they have heard of AB-InBev and most likely you will draw a blank. This has irked AB-InBev for a while, which is why it has taken the step to boost the company’s profile by changing its name to Budweiser Brewing Group in the UK and Ireland. AB-InBev hopes that by using the “power and recognition of the Budweiser brand” it will create a more well-known corporate identity for itself, much in the way Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever flashes its corporate logo in ads for its individual brands. Read on

United Kingdom – BrewDog makes staff wear t-shirts with negative reviews

BrewDog’s staff must share the founders’ profound sense of irony if they can be persuaded to wear t-shirts at work with slogans taken from negative reviews. James Watt twittered on 22 March 2019: “Some new t-shirts for our staff highlighting some of the more interesting things people say about us :)”

The t-shirts display negative comments left by customers about BrewDog’s pubs online. One reads: “BrewDog bars are hipster cretin hangouts. I only force myself to go for the vegan burger.” Another: “Have not tried their beer because I could not bring myself to say any of the names out loud.” Read on

USA – Dogfish Head releases beer that can process film

There are more than a dozen household uses for beer (excluding drinking it). Now craft brewer Dogfish Head has discovered another one. You can also use certain beers to develop film. The Delaware brewer has announced that it has produced a gose, a sour German-style beer, in cooperation with Kodak. Called SuperEight, the gose features eight main ingredients. If in a pinch, punters can use it to process Kodak’s Super 8 motion picture film. As Dogfish’s founder, Sam Calagione had learnt, heightened levels of acidity and Vitamin C in some beers could also be used as a processing agent for some films. Read on

USA – New Belgium to contract-brew Island Coastal Lager

With plenty of capacity to spare after a drop in sales, the craft brewer New Belgium has signed a contract to brew and distribute an east coast start-up lager brand, first launched in 2017. Island Coastal Lager, a self-styled easy-drinking lager at 4.5 percent ABV, was brought to market in South Carolina in October 2017. Read on

USA – New Glarus keeps rank 16th among US craft brewers in 2018

Wisconsin’s craft brewer New Glarus maintained its rank as the 16th largest craft brewer in the US last year, according to the Brewers Association’s ranking released on 12 March 2019. What makes New Glarus’ achievement stick out is that it decided to only sell its beer in its home state, pejoratively called a “flyover” country, as most Americans only view Wisconsin (population 5.7 million people) from the air and never visit it in person. What is more, its largest city, Milwaukee, has been home to Miller Brewing since the 19th century. Read on

Poland – Brewers hope for continued beer market growth

Carlsberg Polska, the local unit of Danish brewer Carlsberg, hopes that 2019 will be another bumper year for brewers, with beer sales (by value) nudging up 2 percent to 3 percent. At 40 million hl, Poland is the European Union’s third-largest beer market, behind Germany and the United Kingdom (for the time being). Read on

Germany – AB-InBev cancels sale of breweries Diebels and Hasseröder

A change of mind? AB-InBev has called off the sale of two of its breweries – Diebels and Hasseröder. All discussions with interested parties have been terminated, AB-InBev announced on 20 March 2019. “Our strategy for Germany has evolved. Therefore, Hasseröder and Diebels will play a newly defined role in our portfolio in the future,” Florian Harms, AB-InBev’s German chief, said. However, details about the new strategy were not disclosed. Read on


USA – San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery votes to unionise

The workers at Anchor Brewery voted overwhelmingly to unionise on 13 March 2019, with 36 of the 52 eligible employees casting ballots to join the International Longshore & Warehouse Union. Local media say that the effort to organise started a year ago because many at Anchor were fed up with their pay and benefits.

Workers have been up against management, backed by the owner, Japan’s brewer Sapporo, which has been trying to discourage the union vote. Read on

USA – Online beer sales still hampered by antiquated laws

ZX Ventures, AB-InBev’s global innovation unit, is working across North America to “elevate the beer category online”, which still only represents less than 1 percent of the US food retail sales in 2017. According to data provided by ZX Ventures in March 2019, only 6 percent of the adult beer-purchasing population (aged 21+) has bought beer online in the past. More than a quarter of American consumers (28 percent) do not even know they can buy beer online. This shows “an awareness gap in states where online purchasing is legal for adults of legal age.” Read on

USA – Farewell to Bridgeport Brewing Company

It is a pity. Portland’s longest-running craft brewery, BridgePort, has closed for good. After ceasing production at its brewery in February, its pub was shuttered on 10 March 2019. The brewery is Portland’s oldest, having opened in 1984, shortly before Widmer’s, when craft brewing was still called micro brewing and no one could foresee that craft beer would eventually revolutionise the industry. Read on

Thailand – Heineken and Bavaria promote non-alcoholic beer brands

Two Dutch beer brands – Heineken and Bavaria – are actively promoting non-alcoholic beers to capture growth amid a stagnating beer market as consumers become more health-conscious. In early March 2019, the two brewers announced plans to promote their non-alcoholic brands – Heineken 0.0 and Bavaria 0.0 – in Thailand’s USD 7.7 billion beer market. Read on

Australia – Coopers maltings benefit from craft boom

Adelaide’s Coopers Brewery is willing to shrink its golf course to make room for an expansion of its malting plant. Of course, the golf course has always been a joke – or Coopers’ tongue-in-cheek terminology for the vacant piece of land around its brewery, which has been earmarked for potential expansions. Read on

Ireland – Diageo re-enters cider market with Rockshore launch

Third time lucky? Competition among cider brands is set to intensify, as Diageo has launched a new brand to challenge C&C’s Bulmers and Heineken’s Orchard Thieves. Diageo, which owns the Guinness brand, has tried to challenge the cider duopoly of C&C and Heineken in Ireland twice before, but those attempts – including Hudson Blue and Cashel’s – were not crowned with success. Read on


USA – Big food brands are flagging: a lesson for Warren Buffett and 3G

The Age of Disruption is upon us, and has taken many industry captains by surprise, including Jorge Lemann, one of the founders of Brazilian private equity firm 3G and a major shareholder of AB-InBev. He already admitted in 2018 that he could not have imagined that big brands could go out of fashion with consumers so quickly. Read on


Mexico – FEMSA’s convenience chain Oxxo ends exclusivity deal with Heineken

The Mexican Coke bottler and retailer FEMSA will start selling AB-InBev’s beers, including Corona and Pacifico, at its Oxxo stores, FEMSA announced on 26 February 2019. The agreement will take effect in April for certain Mexican markets to spread to all stores by the end of 2022. Founded in 1977, Oxxo is Mexico’s largest chain of convenience stores with about 17,000 outlets. It is also rapidly expanding, adding roughly 1,000 outlets each year. Although independent Mom and Pop corner stores vastly outnumber the chains, approximately eleven million people make a purchase at an Oxxo Store each day, the company boasts. Read on

USA – AB-InBev acquires San Diego’s drinks company Cutwater Spirits

What do you call a career that weathers two company sales in short succession? The answer is: lucrative. Cutwater Spirits, an upstart distillery from San Diego, has sold itself to AB-InBev for an undisclosed sum. The transaction, which is AB-InBev’s first in the distilling industry, was disclosed on 20 February 2019.

The brand began incubating at craft brewer Ballast Point in 2008, when the head brewer Yuseff Cherney started playing around with gins, rums, whiskeys, and vodkas for a hobby. After Ballast Point abandoned its USD 170 million IPO and instead sold itself to Constellation Brands for USD 1 billion in 2016, Mr Cherney was adamant that the drinks side of the business was not to go to Constellation. Read on


USA – MillerCoors withdraws from industry beer campaign over corn syrup row

In response to AB-InBev’s Super Bowl ad, which rubbished its rival for its use of corn syrup, MillerCoors has pulled out of a meeting with AB-InBev, Constellation Brands and Heineken, scheduled for March 2019. During the meeting, the three brewers were to decide on generic beer campaigns in support of the overall beer category, the Wall Street Journal reported. Read on


USA – Constellation Brands to trim its wine portfolio

Constellation Brands seeks to “optimise” its wine and spirits portfolio. The alcohol firm became the number three brewer in the US, thanks to brewing Mexico’s Modelo brands for sale in the United States. Given buoyant growth in beer sales, Constellation’s wine and spirits portfolio is expected to contribute only 36 percent to group sales in the current financial year, compared with 64 percent for beer. Wine and spirits’ contribution to profits (EBIT) will be 29 percent. Missing from Constellation’s accounts is its interest in cannabis producer Canopy Growth, which will only be included in its financial year 2021. Read on


Germany – Beer cartel: Carlsberg’s fine could quadruple to EUR 250 million

In early 2014, Germany’s cartel office fined eleven breweries, trade associations and several executives the staggering sum of EUR 338 million (USD 385 million) for collusion between 2006 and 2008. Both Radeberger, Germany’s major brewing group, and the German unit of Carlsberg, as well as two Cologne breweries, objected to the fines and decided to have the matter settled in court.

The Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf court split the cases in two, which meant that Radeberger and Carlsberg were to face trial first. But before the trial began in December 2018, Radeberger abandoned its lawsuit and accepted the original fine of EUR 160 million (USD 182 million). Apparently, Radeberger thought the risk too high that the court might issue an even higher penalty, which is within the discretion of the court in cartel trials. Read on


Germany – The heatwave of 2018: brewers advantaged, vintners impeded

The summer that was took up German beer consumption by only 0.5 percent to reach 94 million hl beer. This was not enough to compensate the losses accrued in 2017, when beer sales dropped 2.4 million hl over the previous year. Moreover, if you were to divide the additional 458,000 hl beer sold last year by 72 million Germans of legal drinking age, you will see that the six months of summer only added about one pint of beer per person. Read on


Germany – Brewers to introduce voluntary calorific labelling

As part of a joint initiative to increase the transparency of beer labelling, the German Brewers’ Association (DBB) and the Association of Private Breweries in Germany have advised their members to label all beers and beer mixes on a voluntary basis with their calorific value. The new labelling “should be gradually implemented by breweries from 2019”, the two organisations announced. They hope that other alcohol industries members, such as vintners and distillers, will follow suit. Read on


Germany – New strategy for AB-InBev

AB-InBev greeted 2019 with the launch of a new strategy. Instead of pushing beer volumes, they are now to seek profit growth. This swing in focus will entail a serious trimming of its investments in marketing. If they had not told German trade media about their plans, observers would not have noticed. Read on

Germany – Brewers seek to hike deposit on two-way beer bottles

It is a confusing system. Why do retailer charge a deposit EUR 0.25 (USD 0.28) for beverage containers that can be returned for recycling, whereas beer bottles that are returned to be refilled only command a deposit of EUR 0.08? The explanation is to do with who determines the deposit. Read on


France – Pernod Ricard in a fine mess

After Elliott Management announced it had spent about USD 1 billion to build a stake of more than 2.5 percent in drinks company Pernod Ricard at the end of 2018, the New York-based hedge fund called for improvements to Pernod Ricard’s margins and governance, which it claimed needed more outside influence. Read on


USA – Boston Beer hikes revenues to nearly USD 1 billion

Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams beer, increased annual turnover slightly to USD 995 million in 2018, the company reported on 20 February 2019. It benefitted from a good fourth quarter, which registered a turnover of USD 225 million compared with USD 162 million in the fourth quarter 2017. Its profits (EBIT) for the full year were USD 117 million. Read on


USA – Black Friday for Kraft Heinz

When was the last time a large consumer stock lost nearly 30 percent of its value in merely one day? On Friday, 22 February 2019, Kraft Heinz’s share saw about 28 percent of its value wiped out. That is a record of sorts. The previous day Kraft Heinz had reported that it had to write down the value of its brands by about USD 16 billion and that the firm was being investigated by the powerful US financial regulator SEC over - allegedly - dodgy accounting. Read on


Belgium – AB-InBev issues robust outlook for 2019 turnover and profits

Phew. After Kraft Heinz’s huge writedown, financial markets fretted that AB-InBev might have a bad surprise of its own in the making. This fear proved unfounded. AB-InBev’s financial year 2018 may have been tough but the outlook for 2019 is good. Read on


Brazil – Heineken and Coke bottlers to conclude arbitration this year

In Heineken’s FY2018 conference call, a fair deal of analysts’ questions revolved around Brazil. In 2017, Heineken bought the struggling Brazil business of Japan’s Kirin for about USD 590 million. It thus became the number two brewer in Latin America’s most populous country (209 million people) with a combined market share of perhaps 20 percent. This put Heineken ahead of Petropolis with 13 percent and behind AmBev with 64 percent. Craft brewers’ market share was only 3 percent. Read on

Belgium – Insiders buy AB-InBev’s shares during 2018 slump

AB-InBev’s stock may have fallen nearly 40 percent during 2018, but its biggest shareholders – tobacco firm Altria, Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, the three Brazilian founders of 3G Capital and a group of Belgian families who hold over half the shares – continue to support the company. They backed the difficult decision last year to cut the dividend in half, AB-InBev’s CEO Mr Brito recently told The Financial Times. Read on



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