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Posted May 2015

United Kingdom – SABMiller buys craft brewer Meantime

How mean. UK media quipped that the world's number two brewer has got “crafty” with the acquisition of London-based brewery Meantime. The transaction was announced on 15 May 2015.

Meantime was established by brewmaster Alastair Hook in 1999 when he built a brewery in Greenwich, London. The business has since created a successful range of British and international beer styles. Last year, Meantime reportedly increased its beer sales by 58 percent to reach over 60,000 hl, outpacing the UK beer market’s 1 percent growth.

SABMiller, which does not have a brewery in the UK, said the acquisition gave it “an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market” and would complement its Peroni and Pilsner Urquell offerings.

The international brewer also said that it planned to expand Meantime's UK sales and export its beers to European markets.

Meantime’s existing management team, headed by CEO Nick Miller and Mr Hook, will continue to run the business. Mr Miller worked for SABMiller before becoming CEO of Meantime in 2011.

Meantime made a pre-tax profit of GBP 571,644 on GBP 11.5 million sales in 2013, UK media reported. Following the transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.

Irrespective of craft beer’s overall share of the UK beer market (is it 2 percent, 10 percent or maybe 20 percent of the market?), it has been one of the market’s bright spots in recent years. This should not have escaped SABMiller. By acquiring Meantime it is merely following in the steps of Molson Coors, which is the UK’s second largest brewer behind Heineken.

In the UK Molson Coors already has a craft beer portfolio, having purchased Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall in 2011 and Irish brewer Franciscan Well in 2013. Molson Coors also launched the William Worthington microbrewery in 2010.

 

United Kingdom – SABMiller criticises loutish advertising of beer

Who is to blame if women don’t drink beer? Only the brewers themselves. SABMiller’s CEO Alan Clark thinks it is the brewers’ “insulting” and “dismissive” advertising that is putting women off beer. On 13 May 2015 he said it is time to consign the “lager lout, laddish, college frat” image of beer drinking to history and to “modernise” beer.

Ah well. Haven’t women long rolled their eyes at beer marketing material in which women are “either not present at all or entered as a butt of a joke” as Mr Clark put it? So why did Mr Clark’s Eureka moment come now? Was it to deflect attention from the fact that on the same day the world’s number two brewer reported flat full-year profits, hit by the dollar’s strength? Read on

 

Denmark – Carlsberg remains committed to Russia

Carlsberg’s outgoing CEO Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen reiterated that Carlsberg would remain committed to Russia despite current woes. But he would say that, wouldn’t he? There is no buyer willing to take Carlsberg’s Russian business of their hands at this point.

On 12 May 2015 Carlsberg reported a net loss in the three months ended 31 March 2015 of DKK 90 million (USD 13.49 million), compared with a loss of DKK 67 million kroner in the same quarter in 2014. Read on

 

USA - MillerCoors names Gavin Hattersley interim CEO

Looks like it’s a tough job to find a new CEO. MillerCoors has named Molson Coors’ Chief Financial Officer Gavin Hattersley its interim CEO. This was announced on 7 May 2015.

Mr Hattersley will assume this post on 30 June when CEO Tom Long retires. Mr Long told the board a year ago that he would step down. Mr Hattersley, 52, will hold the post for up to six months as the board continues its search for a permanent CEO. Read on

 

Sweden –Founder of Oppigards brewery shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year award

Björn Falkeström’s secret wish was granted. He did not receive the award for Entrepreneur of the Year by the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

But from the original ten nominees, he was shortlisted among the final five. On 11 May 2015 the winner was announced: the award went to the founders of Spotify, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon.

We still think that Björn’s nomination was a big achievement for Sweden’s craft brewers and say “Cheers” to Björn.

 

Myanmar – Carlsberg beat Heineken in opening a brewery

Carlsberg opened its first beer production plant in Myanmar, Asian media reported on 8 May 2015, thus leapfrogging Heineken, which announced its own venture around the same time as Carlsberg did.

The Myanmar Carlsberg brewery, which is a joint venture between Carlsberg and a Burmese company, has an annual capacity of 600,000 hl. It will produce the Carlsberg and Tuborg brands, as well as a new brand called Yoma. Carlsberg holds 51 percent of the joint venture under a 2013 agreement.

The USD 75 million plant is located in Bago, 80 km northeast of the commercial capital Yangon (also known as Rangoon). In 2006 the military government relocated the capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw. Read on

 

USA – Is Blue Moon craft or crafty?

Where do Americans find attorneys prepared to take on such a naff case? The long-standing debate over what is a craft beer has moved from the bar-room to the courtroom, thanks to a legal challenge against the second-largest brewer in the U.S., MillerCoors, the maker of Blue Moon.

In April 2015 a San Diego consumer by the name of Evan Parent filed a lawsuit, arguing that the brewing giant fraudulently promotes Blue Moon as a craft beer and confuses customers by never showing the name “MillerCoors” on labels and packaging. “People are deceived into thinking that Blue Moon is the product of a craft brewery,” Mr Parent's attorney, James Treglio, was quoted as saying.

This lawsuit has since made huge waves in U.S. media.

The lawyer is seeking class-action status for the suit, hoping to persuade thousands, even millions of Californian beer drinkers to join Mr Parent as plaintiffs in the case. Read on

 

USA – Monster’s profit hit by huge termination fees

It’s mad. Just because Monster, an energy drink, shifted its distribution to the Coca-Cola system, the company had to pay a total of USD 206 million in termination fees to its previous distributors. This again proves to show how powerful U.S. distributors are and to what extent the U.S. Three Tier System works in their favour.

The man behind Monster Beverage, formerly known as Hansen Natural Corporation, which is a stock market-listed company with a market capitalisation of USD 23 billion and a turnover of USD 2.4 billion, is the South African-born Rodney Sacks. He took the company over in 1990 and serves as its CEO and Chairman.

Last August, Monster announced that it had entered into a long-term strategic partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, under the terms of which Coke acquired a 17 percent ownership interest in Monster. Coke was to pay Monster USD 2.15 billion in cash and transfer its worldwide energy business to Monster. In exchange, Monster was to transfer its non-energy business to Coke. The deal is to close in the second quarter this year.

At the Beverage Forum 2015 in Chicago in April, Mr Sacks said that he was persuaded to tie up with Coke because of distribution advantages, even though it meant exiting the Anheuser-Busch system. Hence the termination payments. He also expressed the hope that Coke’s bottlers around the world will help Monster in its expansion. He nevertheless also admitted that these bottlers “need to be persuaded to bottle Monster energy drinks”. Read on

 

USA – Sewer brewers: Oregon home-brewers join Pure Water Brew Challenge

If Oregon’s hipster home-brewers can make beers brewed with treated sewage water sound cool, wouldn’t that make other brewers in water-stressed areas around the world more willing to do likewise?

Treated sewage water is the main ingredient in a Portland-area home brewer competition to raise awareness on reusing a vital resource. Various media reported at the end of April 2015 that for the upcoming Pure Water Brew Challenge an Oregon wastewater treatment operator has asked home-brewers to make beers from hops, barley, yeast and treated sewage water.

The point of the contest is not to find Portland’s next trendy craft beer. Rather, it’s an effort to get people talking about how a vital resource can be reused thanks to advanced water-filtration systems. Read on

 

Japan – Can drinking beer improve your looks?

Since it’s official that men are from Mars, where do male brewers come from? I’d say from beyond our solar system. Or why do they continue come up with beers for women that are an insult to our intelligence?

The latest such offering is from Japan’s Suntory, which has launched a beer called Precious which is laced with collagen. The new beer, which supposedly makes you look youthful and more beautiful, contains 5% ABV and 2 g of collagen per 350 ml can. It retails at YPY 210 (USD 1.75).

There is no scientific evidence that collagen, if applied topically, can turn back the clock. And as to drinking it, wouldn’t all silver-haired brewers who in the past fined (clarified) their beers with isinglass - rich in collagen - and consumed it in big quantities in the course of their long lives still look like youthful Dorian Grays (without the painting in a locked room)?

I asked our contributing editor John Harvey who truthfully said that although he consumed a lot of beer last century he does not think that all the isinglass/collagen had an anti-aging effect on his skin.

So Ladies, if you want to drink Precious (it’s only available regionally in Japan), go ahead, but don’t think that it will improve your looks.

Funnily, Precious’ tag line is “Guys can tell if a girl is taking collagen or not.” I’d certainly dispute this claim. If men look at women, research tells me, they don’t study our skin complexion because they are too busy studying other parts of our bodies.

Suntory said there are “findings that Japanese women wanted to take collagen, so we created this regionally-marketed product to meet their needs.”

In the end, while this Precious beer is unlikely to make women look any younger, perhaps a few cans of it will give them the illusion they need?

 

USA – Deal chatter does not go away for AB-InBev

Hear, hear: At the recent high-level Beverage Forum in Chicago (21 to 22 April 2015), organised by the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Wall Street analysts would not rule out a deal for AB-InBev in the near future.

Carlos Laboy, an analyst with the bank HSBC, was actually quite adamant that the world’s number one brewer had to clinch a deal because of “headwinds” in its two major markets, the U.S. and Brazil.

As if to underline his point, HSBC downgraded shares of AB-InBev from an “overweight” rating to a “reduce” rating at the end of March 2015. Read on

 

Belgium – AB-InBev shareholders approve Goudet as next Chairman

The world is a village and we are all connected.” This saying comes to mind on hearing that on 29 April 2015 AB-InBev’s shareholders approved Olivier Goudet, 51, as Chairman, bringing an end to the leadership of Kees Storm whose term on the board expired. Mr Goudet, a Frenchman who has been an AB-InBev independent board member since 2011, will serve for four years.

What got the grapevine buzzing is that since June 2012 Mr Goudet has been partner and CEO of JAB Holding, the investment vehicle of the billionaire Reimann family from Germany, which is in the process of forming the world's largest stand-alone coffee company by combining the coffee business of Mondelez International with D.E Master Blenders 1753.

As CEO of JAB Holding Mr Goudet allegedly pulled the strings in JAB’s 2013 takeover of D.E. Master Blenders. Previously, while serving as Chief Financial Officer of Mars, he played a role in the company's USD 23 billion acquisition of gum maker Wrigley in 2008. Read on

 

USA – Pepsi drops artificial sweetener over consumer concerns

Could it be that real sugar is best after all? PepsiCo on 28 April 2015 announced that it will remove the artificial sweetener aspartame from Diet Pepsi in the U.S., amid consumer concerns that it contributes to the growth of tumours.

Aspartame-free cans of the drink will go on sale from August in America, but not in Europe. However regulators in the U.S. and the UK still insist that aspartame is safe to use in soft drinks. PepsiCo says its decision is a commercial one, responding to consumer preferences. Read on

 

Russia – Heineken turns to kvass

Playing the patriotic card or what? Dutch brewer Heineken will start producing the traditional bread-based drink kvass at four of its Russian breweries as the country's beer market battles a steep downturn, the brewer said on 23 April 2015.

The rationale behind Heineken’s move seems to be: if they don’t drink beer, let them have kvass. Kvass is a fermented slightly alcoholic (under 1.5% ABV) beverage commonly made from black or regular rye bread. The technology for brewing kvass is similar to beer, and so the company did not have to make any additional investments in equipment.

According to Russian media, Heineken hopes that the switch to kvass will help it fill empty capacity in its breweries. The Russian beer market is down roughly 30 percent since 2008 and Heineken’s beer sales plummeted 10 percent in the first quarter this year. Industry-wide, breweries operate at an estimated 60 percent of capacity. Read on

 

Norway – Carlsberg and Brooklyn to build a brewery in Trondheim

Already at the end of last year Carlsberg announced that it would construct a new brewery in Trondheim on the site of the existing Ringnes E.C. Dahls brewery for DKK 110 million kronor (about EUR 15 million), but only on 27 April 2015 it was revealed that this project will be a collaboration between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery from New York.

E.C. Dahls is the second brewery alliance between Carlsberg and Brooklyn after the Nya Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm, which opened last year. The new E.C. Dahls Brewery is scheduled to open in the late summer of 2016. In the official statement by Brooklyn there was no mention of Brooklyn’s financial investment in this venture, though. Read on

 

Netherlands – Heineken's first quarter revenues grew

Heineken, the world's number three brewer, on 22 April 2015 reported stronger than expected revenue growth in the first quarter, boosted by sales of Mexican lagers and drinking over the New Year in Vietnam.

Heineken said consolidated revenue in the three months from January to March grew 2 percent on a like-for-like basis to EUR 4.34 billion. Beer volumes were up 2.2 percent to 39.2 million hl over the same quarter last year. Read on

 

United Kingdom – SABMiller’s fourth quarter sales improve as China rebounds

As if to counter the analysts’ currently divided opinion whether to hold on to SABMiller’s shares or sell them, the world’s second-biggest brewer, reported on 16 April 2015 that lager volumes were up 2 percent on an organic basis in the three months ended 31 March 2015. Soft drinks volume grew 8 percent in the quarter. This increase came on the back of growing consumption in Africa, Latin America and a rebound in China. Read on

 

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