6 april 2020

Heineken to resume operations in Malaysia amid coronavirus outbreak

The Malaysian Government has granted approval for Heineken to resume limited operations with minimal workers during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Following the approval, Heineken Malaysia will now resume its operations and ensure the continued supply of its products to retail outlets that are allowed to operate during the MCO period.

The outlets include supermarkets, provision shops and convenience stores, among others.

On 24 March, the company temporarily suspended its operations in line with the MCO imposed by the government to curb the Covid-19 outbreak.

Heineken Malaysia said in a press statement that it will ensure full compliance with the government’s requirements and guidelines during the MCO period.

To ensure the safety of its workers, the company has implemented measures such as temperature screening, social distancing, and made workforce segregation mandatory.

The employees are required to wear masks at all times. Only essential staff, which is 10% of the company’s total workforce, will work to ensure continuous and uninterrupted supply of its products in the market.

All other non-essential workers of the company will continue to operate from home.

Reuters said that the government’s move to let Heineken resume operations during month-long curbs on travel and non-essential business drew anger from opposition lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has recorded 3,662 coronavirus infections with 61 deaths. The country has ranked highest amongst Asian countries for the Covid-19 patient rate.

The first phase of the MOC was implemented from 18 to 31 March. The second phase, which started on 1 April, will extend until 14 April.


2 april 2020

Unilever acquires Horlicks brands rights from GSK

Unilever has completed the acquisition of Horlicks brands rights from GSK in India and other primary Asian markets.

This is part of Unilever’s agreement signed in 2018 to acquire the Health Food Drinks portfolio (GSK HFD) of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in India, Bangladesh and 20 other markets in Asia.

In India’s Health Food Drinks segment, GSK HFD leads with brands such as Horlicks and Boost. Horlicks is a sweet malted milk hot drink powder.

The 2018 agreement included three parts, all-equity merger of Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) with GSK Consumer Healthcare India (GSK CH India), purchase of 82% stake in GSK Bangladesh and some commercial operations and assets outside India.

HUL chairman and managing director Sanjiv Mehta said: “Brands such as Horlicks and Boost are iconic, and we are excited to have them in the Hindustan Unilever fold.

“The merger gives us a unique opportunity to live our purpose and serve India where nutrition-related challenges form the largest causes of disease, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency, and aligns well with the government’s ambitious Swasth Bharat and Poshan Abhiyan programmes.

“I am delighted to welcome the 3,500-strong Nutrition Team to the HUL family. Both organisations have common values coming from a lineage of respected parent companies and a shared heritage of building iconic trusted brands.”

The acquisition is reported to be in line with HUL’s strategy to build a sustainable and profitable Foods and Refreshment business in India.

Mehta added: “In the current context, the focus of the company has been to ensure that all our people remain safe and we do our best to keep supply lines running for essential products. In these difficult times, we are joining hands with the government in the fight against Covid-19.’’


1 april 2020

Pernod Ricard warns of volumes hit from Martell production safety measures

Pernod Ricard's Cognac unit, Martell, will have to rely on existing stocks as coronavirus safety measures impact production.

The division said today it has cut production at its Lignères bottling plant from five lines to one to allow employees to adhere to social distancing rules.

A company spokesperson told just-drinks the situation will affect volumes but that stock from before the Covid-19 outbreak will compensate.

"Maintaining a flow of activity, even limited, is important for our overall value chain, and to support our suppliers," the spokesperson said.

Elsewhere in the Martell supply chain, vineyard teams are still working and keeping "the appropriate" social distance. "Key" eaux-de-vie tastings are also ongoing under strict sanitary conditions.

"[Eaux-de-vie tastings are] critical to maintaining the economic stability of our partners who provide us with their eaux-de-vie," said Pernod. "Winegrowers are being invited to leave their samples in a sanitised box, each bottle is then cleaned and tasted by three people from the cellar master team with a distance of two-to-three metres between them."

Other measures also include staff working from home and the closure of Martell's Cognac visitor centre and shop. 

In Pernod's H1 results announced in February, Martell grew its global sales by 4%. However, the coronavirus has impacted Pernod's full-year outlook, especially in Martell's key China market.

Last week, Pernod CEO Alex Ricard said the company had "very limited business" in China in February and March, with a slow recovery expected from April.


1 april 2020

Diageo's East African Breweries to boost Serengeti Breweries control

Diageo's Kenyan beer unit, East African Breweries Ltd (EABL), is to up its stake in Serengeti Breweries by 30%.

The purchase, which requires regulatory approval prior to completion, will increase EABL's holding in Serengeti to 85%. EABL initially took a 51% stake in the Tanzanian brewer in 2010 as well as a 4% holding before the most recent increase.

The announcement was made last week in a filing to the Nairobi Securities Exchange. EABL is also listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and the Uganda Securities Exchange.

To complete its majority purchase of Serengeti in 2010, East African Breweries agreed to offload its 20% holding in then-SABMiller-controlled Tanzania Breweries. By 2011, Diageo had offloaded all of its share in Tanzania Breweries. The Tanzanian market-leader in volume terms is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

According to GlobalData figures for 2018, Tanzania Breweries controls 80% of the country's beer market by volume. Serengeti is second with a 15% share. The leading brand is Tanzania Breweries' Safari lager, which in 2018 sold about 800,000 hectolitres.


31 march 2020

Diageo pauses India manufacturing as coronavirus impacts global production

Diageo has shut down manufacturing sites in India as it overhauls working conditions across its global production footprint in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company's Indian unit, United Spirits, last week moved to comply with Government orders to halt all manufacturing in the country. The order - which covers companies in India including carmakers, consumer electronic firms and others - lasts until 14 April.

Meanwhile, a Diageo spokesperson told just-drinks the Johnnie Walker owner has changed its ways of working across all sites to ensure staff can operate safely. 

"We have stringent safety protocols in place across all sites, including heightened sanitation measures, restriction of movement to and from our sites and all employees who can work from home are doing so," the spokesperson said. "We have fundamentally changed the way we work to ensure our strict social distancing measures are fully enforced."

The comments follow a call from a UK trade union for Diageo to halt production at its Scottish plants "in light of workplace safety concerns and rising levels of stress".

Unite voiced safety concerns at Diageo's Scottish sites, including the communal use of workplace canteens and toilets with up to 200 workers based at some plants. Diageo has a number of distilleries and bottling plants in Scotland including Leven, Cameronbridge and Shieldhall. The plants handle brands including Johnnie Walker, as well as Smirnoff vodka and Gordon's gin.

Responding to Unite, Diageo said: "We would never ask any employee to work in an environment that we believe is not safe for them to do so, nor would we operate any site unless it is responsible and appropriate to do so. On Friday, we again met with Bob Macgregor from Unite and we have asked him to share as a matter of urgency any and all examples where he believes our strict safety protocols, which go beyond government guidelines, are not being adhered to so if proven can be resolved immediately."

The company said it is complying with the latest guidance set out by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Last week, UK trade body the Wine & Spirit Trade Association said UK bottling plants and distilleries can remain open under current Government guidelines.


 31 march 2020

Tinley’s cannabis beverage bottling facility clears key inspection

Tinley Beverage Company’s 20,000 sq-ft (6 sq-km) cannabis beverage bottling and distribution facility in Long Beach, California, US, has passed its electrical inspections.

Last November, the company announced that it completed the buildout of its specialised cannabis bottling facility.

Tinley noted that the local utilities have now completed the installation of the transformer and electrical systems at the facility.

In addition, state-level relevant regulatory bodies specified that the company’s new facility satisfied all the requirements for receipt of a cannabis manufacturing licence.

However, satisfactory municipal approvals from the City of Long Beach are still pending.

Additionally, the beverage company noted that it is nearing the decommissioning of its Phase 2 bottling facility in expectation of operationalising Phase 3.

Last September, Tinley announced the completion of its Phase 3 permanent bottling facility in Long Beach, California.


30 march 2020

Altia announces temporary job cuts

Finnish wine & spirits company Altia is to temporarily lay off staff because of the coronavirus.

The state-owned company said today it will enter negotiations with employees next month. It said the actions are "necessary... to limit the coronavirus pandemic".

Details on how many staff will be affected were not disclosed, but Altia said operations in both Finland and abroad will be impacted. "The possible lay-offs would be temporary," the company said in a statement.

"Our working environment has changed radically, and we must react accordingly," said CEO Pekka Tennilä. "The adjustments are necessary in order to maintain our operational capability in the short and long term. With the co-operation negotiations, we try to find the best solution for all Altia employees under these exceptional circumstances."

According to Altia, the biggest impact of the coronavirus so far has been on the Global Travel Retail and on-premise channels.

It said the overall impact and duration of the coronavirus emergency is hard to predict but that the company is entering negotiations with staff early to allow for a "timely reaction" under the changing circumstances.


30 march 2020

Molson Coors unveils measures to support employees

Molson Coors Beverage Company has unveiled initiatives in order to support and protect its employees amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

As part of its initiatives, the company has indefinitely extended its work from home recommendation for employees and contractors involved in non-business-critical activities in North America.

It has also created a new voluntary paid leave programme for the whole of next month and can be availed by employees who are required to work on-site.

The company’s new thank you pay incentive is for brewery and Molson Coors distribution employees. It is available for both hourly and salaried employees who have to perform their work on site.

The new paid leave policy has been formed for those employees who have contracted the virus or are under forced self-quarantine.

Molson Coors president and CEO Gavin Hattersley said: “These are challenging times for the world and our company, and our priority is to ensure the safety of our people and the stability of our business.

“I’m proud of how resilient our people have been during this time, including the people who brew, package and ship our quality beers and keep our breweries and business running. I can’t thank them enough.

“I am also proud of how our teams are stepping up to take care of our communities who need our help more than ever.”

Additionally, the company has withdrawn its financial outlook for 2020 and beyond that was announced on 12 February.

Molson Coors has also donated $1m to the US Bartenders Guild, a non-profit organisation that supports bartenders and service industry professionals.

It also started producing hand sanitiser across its multiple breweries in order to meet the growing need for the product.

Earlier this month, Pernod Ricard USA said it will produce and donate hand sanitiser to help the US contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.