4 November | Wine

A collection of wine company leaders issued a stark warning of the potential effect on the wine industry from climate change.

An open letter from the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) said that the climate emergency is “by far the most severe threat that we face as grape growers and wine producers”. The group, which includes Constellation Brands, New Zealand’s Yealands Wine Group and Jackson Family Wines, published the note to coincide with the COP26 climate conference in Scotland.

“Without rapid and decisive emissions reductions, our future will be defined by almost unimaginable levels of disruption – with devastating consequences for wine-producing regions,” the group said. “We firmly believe that IWCA membership is the most effective way of accelerating an individual winery’s decarbonisation efforts and the decarbonisation of the broader wine industry.”

The group also said that the industry had for too long treated sustainability efforts as “a PR or communications exercise” and that now must be the “decade of action” for wine growers.

4 november | Deal

Roust Group agrees US$1bn Central European Distribution Corporation offload

Russian Standard brand owner Roust Group is to sell its Polish vodka subsidiary, Central European Distribution Corporation, for PLN3.89bn (US$1bn).

The divestment, to Polish food group Maspex, will end Roust’s seven-year ownership of CEDC, which is the largest vodka producer in Poland as well as a major spirits distributor. The subsidiary has a 47% share of the country’s vodka market and owns the Żubrówka and Soplica brands.

Roust acquired CEDC in mid-2013 after bailing the company out of spiralling debts. The Russia-based company said it has expanded CEDC in the interim to reach annual sales of around 19m nine-litre cases.

Roust will remain the distributor of CEDC brands across “key” international markets while CEDC will continue to distribute the Russian Standard and Gancia brands in Poland.

11 November | DEAL

Amber Beverage Group moves into Irish whiskey with Walsh Whiskey buy

Amber Beverage Group, part of Stolichnaya vodka owner Stoli Group, has acquired Irish whiskey distiller Walsh Whiskey.

The purchase is Amber’s first in the category. Walsh owns The Irishman whiskey, which has joined brands including Moskovskaya Vodka and KAH Tequila in Amber’s portfolio.

“We are delighted to embark on a new phase of growth as part of Amber Beverage Group,” said Walsh. “Given the underlying strengths of our brands and of the long-term trajectory of Irish whiskey, this is a logical next step for us, providing a means of scaling up the business so that a greater number of consumers have the opportunity to participate in the search for the perfect drop of whiskey.”

Financial details were not disclosed.

5 November | Legal

PepsiCo told to stand down Mtn Dew Rise Energy in legal ruling

A US judge ordered PepsiCo to halt all sales and marketing for Mtn Dew Rise in a legal battle that could threaten the future of the Lebron James-fronted energy drink.

New York district judge Lorna Schofield granted a preliminary injunction to coffee company Rise Brewing Co that prohibits the selling and promotion of Mtn Dew Rise. Rise Brewing launched a civil suit against PepsiCo in June alleging Mtn Dew Rise infringes on its trademark.

The ruling states that PepsiCo is restrained from all activity with the Mtn Dew Rise Energy trademark. The judge set no time frame for the injunction.

In an emergency response, PepsiCo’s lawyers filed for an 11-week delay on the ruling to allow the company to “transition away from Mtn Dew Energy Rise with minimised costs and disruption”.

PepsiCo did not respond to a Just Drinks request for comment, while Rise Brewing’s attorney Holly Saporito of Alston & Bird said the company was “thrilled with the court’s well-reasoned and just decision”.

25 October | Environmental

PlantBottle “ready for commercial scale” – The Coca-Cola Co

A prototype bottle made from plant-based plastic is ready to be scaled up for commercial use, The Coca-Cola Co said.

A limited run of the bottle, which excluding the cap and label is made from elements derived from corn sugar and sugarcane, has already been produced, the group said, adding that the technology behind the bottle is “ready for commercial scale”. The announcement comes more than a decade since Coca-Cola released the first PlantBottle in an attempt to create more organic packaging.

“We have been working with technology partners for many years to develop the right technologies to create a bottle with 100% plant-based content – aiming for the lowest possible carbon footprint,” said chief technical & innovation officer, Nancy Quan. “It’s exciting that we have reached a point where these technologies exist and can be scaled by participants in the value chain.”

28 October | Soft Drinks

Anheuser-Busch InBev enters energy drinks category in India with Budweiser Beats

Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched a Budweiser-branded non-alcoholic energy drink in India.

Budweiser Beats contains caffeine and B-vitamins and is described as the “first amongst differentiated non-alcohol and low-alcohol offerings” to be released in the country. The new brand is available via Amazon, Grofers, Big Basket, Swiggy Instamart and selected off-premise locations at an SRP of INR90 (US$1.20) per 25cl can.

A-B InBev already sells Budweiser 0.0 non-alcoholic beer in India, however Beats is the first energy drink to be released under the Budweiser brand.

“We are thrilled to introduce the first energy drink from Budweiser globally in India and we are confident that with Budweiser Beats, we will be able to further complement the evolving lifestyles of our consumers in the country,” said India & South East Asia president Kartikeya Sharma.

Third-quarter Results

Anheuser-Busch InBev sales leap as global brands drive recovery

Anheuser-Busch InBev shone in the third quarter as premium beer growth helped the Budweiser owner surge past pre-pandemic levels. Sales in the three months to the end of September were up 7.9% on the year prior. The jump took the brewer 8.4% ahead of sales in Q3 2019, before COVID-19 disrupted the global beverage market.

Pernod Ricard sales jump ahead of 2019 as on-premise, GTR re-emerges

Pernod Ricard delivered a strong fiscal-first-quarter performance that saw sales jump well ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Revenue climbed 10% on the same period in 2019. The sales were 20% up on last year, when disruption from the coronavirus heavily affected the on-premise and Global Travel Retail sales channels.

Carlsberg upbeat on “better-than-expected” quarter

Carlsberg expressed surprise at its performance in the third quarter of 2021, with sales continuing to bounce back on the year-prior. The brewer reported a 7% top-line lift, building on the 9.6% increase in the first half of the year. While recognising the wider “uncertainty” in the current economic climate, Carlsberg said the quarterly showing was “better than expected”.

The Coca-Cola Co revises 2021 forecasts upwards as solid Q3 underlines recovery

The Coca-Cola Co slightly increased its full-year expectations after a strong quarterly performance. The company expects sales to be ahead by 13% to 14% in calendar-2021 on the back of a continued recovery for the out-of-home channel, which was heavily impacted by COVID. The forecast is up from the 12%-to-14% full-year sales growth estimate Coca-Cola announced in Q2 results.

Growth slows for Moet Hennessy but double-digits remain

Moet Hennessy reported a double-digit lift in sales, albeit at a less spectacular rate of growth than earlier this year. The LVMH-owned wine and spirits group said that three-month sales were up 10% on the corresponding period a year ago. The performance came in below the +36% and +55% rates posted in Q1 and Q2 this year, respectively.

Summertime aperitifs and “revenge conviviality” boost Campari Group

Campari Group saw its 2021 sales growth move towards less lucrative territory, although strength remains impressive against the pre-pandemic period. The Aperol brand owner, which boasted a 37% top-line leap from the first half of this year, reported a third-quarter lift in sales of almost 13%. Compared to the same three months in 2019, sales were up by just over 27%.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners raises 2021 hopes after flatter quarterly sales

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners raised its full-year sales guidance for 2021, despite posting a flat top-line in the third quarter. Following a near-12% sales lift in Q2, the European and Australasian bottler saw pro-forma sales in the three months inch up by 0.5%. The pro-forma basis follows Coca-Cola European Partners’ purchase of Coca-Cola Amatil earlier this year.

Supply chain challenges pull on Concha y Toro

Concha y Toro has been hit by the global supply chain crisis with export sales dragging the group’s quarterly performance into the red. One year on from 2020’s near-30% leap in Q3 sales, the Chile-headquartered wine giant reported a 3% decrease in the same period this year. A healthy domestic showing - sales in Chile were up 25% – was more than offset by weaker shipments “in a challenging context for exports”.

In brief

Honest Tea launches new caffeinated RTD Honest Yerba Mate

Honest Tea, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company, has expanded its bottled beverage portfolio with the launch of Honest Yerba Mate.

Cocktail brand buzzbox opens new production facility in California, US

Buzzbox, a ready to drink (RTD) cocktail brand, has opened its newly redesigned production facility in Coachella Valley, US. The new 65,000ft² facility will feature packaging equipment for spirit-based RTD cocktails.

Guinness adds new Baltimore-brewed beer to portfolio

Diageo’s brand Guinness has expanded its portfolio with the release of Baltimore-brewed Salt & Lime Ale beer across select cities in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

KKR invests in Chinese dairy company Adopt A Cow

Investment firm KKR has invested in Chinese direct-to-consumer dairy company Adopt A Cow through a new funding round. The funding round was co-led by KKR and DCP Capital.

Diageo acquires spirits-based RTD brand Loyal 9 Cocktails

British beverage alcohol company Diageo has announced the acquisition of Loyal 9 Cocktails from Sons of Liberty Spirits Company, for an undisclosed sum.