Latest News

2 February

Five-strong investor consortium takes over Accolade Wines

Credit: Just Drinks

Australia’s Accolade Wines has been acquired by a consortium of investors as part of a recapitalisation plan to salvage the company’s “unsustainable balance sheet”. 

The five-strong group, including Bain Capital, will take ownership of Accolade six years after The Carlyle Group bought the business from Champ Private Equity for A$1bn (then-US$768m). 

The move will not have “immediate” impact on operations, jobs, suppliers or customers, the Echo Falls brand owner said. 

It follows a testing few years for Accolade following China’s hefty tariffs on Australian wine and amid the declining consumption of wine worldwide. 

“Like all Australian winemakers, we have been hit by a number of challenging macro-economic and industry headwinds in recent years,” CEO Robert Foye said. 

“With this recapitalisation and the support of our new shareholders, we will be ideally positioned to take advantage of the significant opportunities to meet customer demand and grow sales around the world.”

5 January

China launches anti-dumping investigation into EU over brandy

The Chinese government has launched an investigation into the EU over complaints it has been dumping brandy. 

The probe was launched in response to complaints by the China Liquor Industry Association. 

Last year, Brussels opened an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles, which Beijing described as “a naked protectionist act that will seriously disrupt and distort the global automotive industry and supply chain”. 

The brandy investigation, due to be completed within one year, will investigate allegations of dumping between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023, including EU-origin brandy imported in containers of less than 200 litres. 

Ulrich Adam, director general of SpiritsEurope, said the Belgium-based trade group was confident EU member states had been compliant with Chinese and international regulations. 

Likewise, Pernod Ricard, which sells brands including Martell Cognac and Armenian brandy Ararat, said it was confident its products and commercial practices fully complied with Chinese and international regulations.

8 January

Carrefour pulls PepsiCo products across Europe

Carrefour has delisted PepsiCo products in five European countries amid a dispute over prices. 

The retailer is no longer selling PepsiCo SKUs in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland.  

Carrefour has put up banners in the outlets saying “we no longer sell this brand due to an unacceptable price increase”. 

PepsiCo said: “We’ve been in discussion with Carrefour for many months and we will continue to engage in good faith in order to try to ensure that our products are available.” 

Europe is PepsiCo’s largest geographical market in terms of revenues, taking in brands such as Lay’s and Doritos snacks to 7Up and Pepsi beverages. 

The food inflation seen in Europe last year shone a spotlight on manufacturers’ pricing strategies, notably in France, where government ministers sought to pressure suppliers to cut prices. 

Carrefour, meanwhile, affixed “shrinkflation” signs onto store shelves to point the finger at brands they said were reducing the size of packs but not prices.

30 January

Diageo to maintain premiumisation push despite “pockets of downtrending”

Diageo has defended its premiumisation strategy despite a weak performance in the first half of fiscal 2024. 

At a briefing following the publication of Diageo’s H1 results, CEO Debra Crew said the company “still feels good about premiumisation overall” but acknowledged some consumers have been seeking cheaper products. 

“There are pockets of downtrending and that’s what we’re navigating through,” she said. “Premiumisation is still there but consumers are being smart about how they shop. They’re being very choiceful, so we’re still seeing a lot of normalising activity.”

In the six months ended 31 December, the Guinness maker saw its sales volumes drop 9% and 5% organically. 

Diageo’s net sales sat at $10.96bn, a drop of 1.4% on a reported basis and 0.6% organically. Operating profit was down 11% at $3.32bn, while operating profit before exceptional items declined 5% organically and 7% on a reported basis. 

5 January

Asahi to brew in US following acquisition of Wisconsin facility

Asahi Group Holdings has snapped up US contract beer maker Octopi Brewing. 

The acquisition will allow the Japanese drinks giant to brew its Asahi Super Dry brand in the US. 

Having the Wisconsin production site in its portfolio will help to boost sales in North America, Asahi said in a statement. 

The Octopi site, built in 2014, will also brew for Asahi’s Kozel beer brand. It will also handle “a wider portfolio of brands for distribution and sale in Canada”. 

The facility is used for a range of drink products, including beer, RTDs, coffees, soda drinks and seltzers. 

Victoria Segebarth, managing director for EMEA and the Americas at Asahi, described the deal as “a major step forward in accelerating the growth journey of our global brands, expanding awareness, reach and access across North America through existing and new on and off trade partners”.