November 2023

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the US Department of Justice’s momentous decision to block the proposed merger between AB-InBev and Mexico’s Grupo Modelo. It would have turned Constellation into an importer, more or less at the mercy of its supplier AB-InBev. When the regulators forced a settlement on AB-InBev and Grupo Modelo, which freed Constellation from its shackles, they hoped that Constellation would engage in head-to-head fighting with AB-InBev over prices, to the benefit of consumers. Well, Constellation has lived up to the trustbusters’ expectations. You could also say they overdelivered. Constellation’s aggressive pricing, coupled with the clever positioning of Modelo Especial as an everyday beer, not only drove the brand to the top; it also altered consumers’ notions of what is an import beer. In fact, Constellation first disrupted and then reshaped the beer categories. I guess few would have expected this to happen in 2013. Not least the regulators.

Diageo’s Black Friday: shares drop after profit warning

United Kingdom – Drinks group Diageo warned that growth in operating profits will slow in the six months to the end of December, as cash-strapped customers in Latin America and the Caribbean are drinking less and trading down. Immediately, its shares dropped 16 percent, wiping some GBP 15 billion (USD 19 billion) from its market capitalisation. In an unscheduled trading update on 10 November, Diageo said it expected sales in this region to fall 20 percent in the group’s first half (until end of December 2023), squeezing profits.

Investors and analysts were taken aback by Diageo’s update. The gloomier outlook comes less than three months after the drinks group had told them that operating profit growth would accelerate in the first half of its current financial year.

Budweiser Budvar collaborates with Mikkeller for a new Czech-style lager

Czech Republic – State-owned Budweiser Budvar entered into three collaborations this year: with craft brewer Brlo from Berlin, Thornbridge from Derbyshire, and most recently with Mikkeller from Copenhagen. The plan was to share the Czechs’ brewing knowledge with selected craft breweries. If, as a side-effect, craft beer aficionados in Budvar’s major export markets would try the original Budweiser Budvar too, they would not mind either. Far from it.