Posted November 2018
USA – Pabst vs MillerCoors court case may determine the future of Pabst
Brewers Pabst and MillerCoors are currently seeing each other in court. MillerCoors has been brewing Pabst beers under a 1999 contract, and seems reluctant to renew the contract, which reportedly expires in 2020. Pabst has asked the Wisconsin court to award it USD 400 million in damages and force MillerCoors to renew the contract.
Pabst was ranked fifth-largest brewer in the US in 2017, selling an estimated 5.8 million hl of beer, down from 6.8 million hl in 2008. As Pabst does not own a brewery itself, the case could decide the future of Pabst’s entire portfolio of heritage beer brands, from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Old Milwaukee, Lone Star, Old Style, Colt 45, Natty Bo, Rainier, Schlitz, Olympia, Stroh's, Schaefer, Schmidt’s, Pearl, and Blatz. Read on
China – China investigates Australian barley imports over dumping allegations
A warning? China is to launch an anti-dumping probe into Australian barley imports. Farmers down under suspect the investigation is politically motivated, after Australia signed security and infrastructure deals to counter China’s influence in the Pacific, local media reported on 18 November 2018. China’s Commerce Ministry is looking at barley imports from Australia, covering the period October 2017 to September 2018. Australia is China’s major supplier of barley, which is used to brew beer and in livestock feed. China imported USD 1.28 billion worth of Australian barley in 2017. Read on
Poland – Heineken’s Zywiec buys regional brewer Namyslow
Grupa Zywiec, the number two brewer in Poland, on 14 November 2018 announced signing an agreement with Chicago Poland Investment Group on the purchase of Browar Namyslow, one of the largest regional breweries in Poland, for PLN 500 million (EUR 116 million/USD 132 million). The transaction is pending regulatory approval. Browar Namyslow owns two breweries: in Namyslow, south-western Poland and Braniewo, northern Poland. Among its brands are Namyslow, Braniewo, Zamkowe, a budget beer brand, and Kuflowe.
The beer market in Poland is already rather saturated, with annual beer consumption hovering around 37 million hl (98 litres per capita) since 2012, according to data by the Brewers of Europe, a trade group. As the top three brewers – Kompania Piwowarska/Asahi, Zywiec/Heineken and Carlsberg – control over 80 percent of the market, they find it increasingly difficult to realise notable sales increases organically. Read on
United Kingdom – Duvel Moortgat acquires stake in London Kombucha brewer
Quickly picking up on consumer trends, the privately-owned Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat bought a 60 percent stake in London’s JARR Kombucha, which produces a range of fermented teas. The transaction became public on 22 November 2018, although no financial details were disclosed. JARR was founded in Hackney Wick in 2015. Read on
Ireland – C&C Group to build a new brewery for its Five Lamps unit
Irish drinks group C&C, the maker of Bulmers/Magners cider and Tennent’s lager, will invest in a new brewery in Dublin, to increase capacity for its Five Lamps craft beer label. Eventually, Five Lamps will move to a new brewing site, away from its current inner-city base. Five Lamps was founded in 2012. C&C bought Five Lamps outright last year, after previously owning a majority share of the company. There were 72 craft breweries in Ireland in 2017, up from 15 in 2012. Together, they employed about 500 people. Read on
Ireland – Craft brewers struggle in a market dominated by Big Brewers
Independently-owned craft breweries represented just 2.6 percent of domestic beer consumption in 2017, say The Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland (ICBI), a trade organisation representing independently owned microbreweries across the Republic of Ireland, in a November 2018 report. The Irish beer market is controlled by Diageo/Guinness, Heineken, Molson Coors, and AB-InBev.
Total beer consumption stood at 4.5 million hl, and per capita consumption at 79 litres. Beer consumption per capita decreased 2 percent in 2017. This is in line with an overall trend that people in Ireland are drinking much less, with the average per adult consumption rate falling 23 percent since 2001. Read on
South Korea – AB-InBev denies rumoured sale of Oriental Brewery
If AB-InBev deemed it necessary to officially refute the rumour that it was planning to sell its Korean unit Oriental Brewery (OB), we should remember the old adage: Where there is smoke, there is fire.
In early November 2018, the Korea brewing industry woke up to the news that AB-InBev was seeking to dispose of OB to the local Shinsegae Group. OB produces several of Korea’s most popular beverages, including the OB, Cass and Cafri lager brands. Read on
USA – AB-InBev’s takeover of SABMiller finally approved
The wheels of justice grind slowly. Three years after AB-InBev jumped on rival SABMiller, the acquisition got approved at last. In October 2018, the US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan signed what is called a Modified Final Judgment, which means the Department of Justice, or DoJ (which is in charge of anti-trust issues), and AB-InBev managed to hammer out a consent, albeit with some modifications, which are meant to limit the deal’s impact on the US beer market.
The final judgement was mainly about distribution. Media reported that it will make it more difficult for AB-InBev to buy distributors, break or negotiate contracts with them, retaliate against wholesalers, require reporting about a distributor’s business or give incentives to those beer distributors. The judgment also includes a “Monitoring Trustee”, who will have the authority to investigate complaints against the brewer. Read on
India – AB-InBev turned whistleblower in beer cartel
Guess who reported cartel shenanigans to the authorities? It was AB-InBev. The world’s major brewer initiated an anti-trust probe into beer price-fixing, after telling authorities last year that it had detected an industry cartel. It was the news agency Reuters, which broke the scandal. Allegedly, AB-InBev only found out about the collusion after it bought SABMiller’s Indian subsidiary in 2016. Again, allegedly, SABMiller had been fixing prices for years, along with Denmark’s Carlsberg and India’s United Breweries, which is part-owned by Heineken. Read on
Belgium – AB-InBev’s share price dive: wobble or wipeout?
A rout in AB-InBev’s share price since the beginning of this year has led plenty of commentators to ask if the business model of world’s major brewer, which was based on a sequence of takeovers (“buy and build”), has not run its course. When the Brazilians pulled off InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008, which ultimately became AB-InBev, it seemed like a guaranteed winner. AB-InBev had such success generating value in the global market, it appeared that Big Beer was a logical target, given its enduring power in the market.
As was pointed out in a recent post on Motley Fool, “AB-InBev has consolidated about as much market share as it can globally, adding to its portfolio assets like SABMiller and a number of craft breweries. But the beer giant has lost market share and profitability in the last few years, undercutting the idea that bigger is better in beer.” Read on
China – Heineken and CR Beer Holdings finalise transaction
Heineken and China Resources Beer Holdings (CR Beer) and China Resources Enterprise (CRE) have entered into a long-term partnership to expand their combined market share in the country’s rapidly growing premium beer segment. The transaction was announced in August 2018 and was confirmed on 5 November 2018. Read on
Australia – Kirin in talks with potential buyers for its dairy business
Australia has a world class reputation for high quality, clean and green food products. To Chinese investors this is particularly attractive, as food safety is a perennial concern for consumers amidst scandals related to health concerns in recent years. The growing middle class is willing and able to pay a premium for peace of mind. No surprise, therefore, that Kirin’s sale of its Australian dairy and juice unit has attracted interest from China’s top milk producer as well as Canadian rival Saputo, media said. Read on
Scotland – Craft beer scene booming
Patriotism and craft beer seem to go together well as the tiny country of Scotland boasts lots of craft breweries. According to the BBC, there are 115 breweries across Scotland this year, compared with just 35 in 2010. More than 80 percent are microbreweries. One in three sits either in the Highlands or in Edinburgh.
Money-wise, they are small businesses. Their average turnover was only GBP 271,310 (USD 350,000), which is lower than the average business turnover of GBP 673,000. But 10 percent of craft breweries had sales levels worth over GBP 1 million (BrewDog must be among those), while just over half (52 percent) had turnover levels that were below GBP 100,000 (USD 130,000).
Currently, there are 128 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland, giving the country the largest concentration of whisky producers in the world. Guess what, distilleries north of the border have treacherously gone with the tide. Half of them are now producing gin too. Read on
Australia – Number of craft breweries explodes to nearly 600
Statistically, a new craft beer brewery opens every six days in Australia. The industry has grown by almost 200 percent in the past seven years. Fifty-two new breweries, brewpubs and contract brewers opened in 2018, bringing the number of craft breweries to 585 – a 197 percent increase since 2011, or one brewery for every 41,500 people (aged over 18). Read on
Australia – Cocktail subscription service launched
Not long, and Australians will be the first to have mutated into setteesauruses. Nowadays you can basically shop for everything online without having to get up from your sofa or settee. Having enjoyed the delights of wine clubs for years, it was only a matter of time before someone would treat their countryfolk to a subscription service for cocktails. In October 2018, Cocktail Porter was launched, which claims to be Australia’s first premium online cocktail subscription service to deliver “bartender-designed” cocktail kits directly to customers’ front doors.Read on
Belgium – NGOs say Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle among worst plastic polluters
As the EU lurches towards a ban on plastic drinking straws, anti-pollution campaigners are advocating more far-reaching measures. In October 2018, the umbrella NGO Break Free from Plastic, consisting of about 1,300 groups, including Greenpeace, released a global audit, which identifies Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle as being among a handful of businesses that are contributing most to ocean pollution.
The audit was conducted by NGOs, whose members took it upon themselves to comb beaches and sift through nearly 200,000 pieces of plastic found there. Incidentally, it was soft drink bottles, which were most frequent found by volunteers who conducted clean-up operations from the UK to Vietnam. Of all the brands identified, the teams found that Coca-Cola was the top polluter, with Coke-branded plastic found in 40 of the 42 participating countries. In Europe alone, Coke, Pepsi and Nestle bottles contributed nearly half of this “brand audit” of plastic. Read on
United Kingdom – BrewDog launches craft beer airline
Is BrewDog aiming to become the next Virgin group – the conglomerate that flogs everything from drinks to flowers and airline tickets? As of 2019, BrewDog will be taking to the skies with the launch of its own airline. In fact, the Scottish brewer has only announced a single round trip from London Stanstead to Columbus, Ohio, and only shareholders in BrewDog (they are called Equity Punks) are eligible to buy a ticket.
As BrewDog says in a post (25 October 2018), they have chartered a Boeing 767 that will run its maiden flight on 21 February 2019. The jet will cruise from London to Columbus, giving their Equity Punk passengers a chance to see their US brewery and get “the mother and father of all exclusive tours”.Read on
Belgium – Emerging markets woes: AB-InBev halves its interim dividend
Emerging markets have always spelt “volatility”. There have been ups and downs. This year quite a few emerging markets have stumbled and AB-InBev is bearing the brunt. As was expected by many analysts, AB-InBev felt compelled to cut its dividend on 25 October 2018, as it reported weaker profits and lower volumes in several of its key markets in the third quarter 2018.
The Belgian company halved its dividend, saying its focus was now on paying down debt which still stands at over USD 100 billion, following its pricey takeover of SABMiller in 2015.Read on
Belgium – AB-InBev’s Belgian owners diversify their portfolios
Are we “past beer”? Some investors clearly think that in the brewing industry heady deals are a thing of the past, and seek to put their money elsewhere. Having done nicely out of AB-InBev’s generous dividend pay-outs, two Belgian shareholders of AB-InBev, the families de Spoelberch and de Mévius, have taken to investing their spoils into other industries.
Their investment vehicle, Verlinvest, holds stakes in several dozen companies, many of them belonging to the food and beverage sector, Dutch media report. But Verlinvest also owns stakes in technology and e-commerce firms, both in Europe and in Asia. Since last year it is one of the shareholders in the learning app, Byju’s, an Indian “unicorn” (that is a tech company with a value of more than USD 1 billion).Read on
USA – Constellation Brands to sell off some of its wine brands?
Constellation Brands, the number three brewer in the US, may be looking to offload some of its wine brands for over USD 3 billion, according to industry rumour. While still speculation at this point, such a move would not be surprising, but radical nonetheless. Constellation’s origins are in wine. It was founded as a wine company after World War II. Today it is stock market-listed, yet it continues to be controlled by the Sands family.
Constellation’s review of its wine portfolio underlines the company’s gradual shift to beer and cannabis products that target younger consumers. From its humble beginnings, Constellation has grown to be worth more than USD 40 billion thanks to offering imported Mexican beers (Modelo) and a host of US craft beers. Read on
Germany – Warsteiner Brewery loses Managing Director after only one year
Warsteiner’s revolving doors keep on turning. After only 12 months on the job, Warsteiner’s Managing Director, Alessandra Cama, 51, handed in her resignation and will vacate her post in January 2019. She will be succeeded by Warsteiner’s CFO Christian Gieselmann, 47, who joined the brewer as recently as April this year. His predecessor on the job had lasted for less than a year. Warsteiner is now looking for a new CFO.
Warsteiner Brewery said that Ms Cama’s departure had been planned for a long time. She was to leave as soon as Warsteiner’s major restructuring programme was completed. Funnily, no one in Germany’s chatty brewing industry had been aware of this. Read on