Latest News

29 March

China lifts tariffs on Australian wine

Credit: Treasury Wine Estates

China has removed the hefty tariffs on wine imports from Australia Beijing imposed four years ago. 

The decision follows months of speculation the tariffs would be lifted after a review announced in November suggested trade tensions were easing between the two nations. 

Accusing Australia of dumping, China imposed temporary tariffs of between 107% and 212% on Australian wine in 2020. 

Worth over A$1bn (US$690m) annually at its peak, the move left some Australian winemakers with full tanks while harvests were underway. 

Treasury Wine Estates CEO Tim Ford said: “The removal of tariffs on Australian wine exports to China is terrific news and is cause for celebration across the Australian wine industry and with our partners and consumers in China.” 

Australia’s wine exports fell in volume and value terms in 2023. Export revenues declined 2% to A$1.9bn. Volumes slid 3% to 607m litres (67m nine-litre cases), Wine Australia data shows.

12 April

France launches parliamentary inquiry into Nestlé water treatment

The Senate in France is launching a parliamentary investigation into Nestlé’s treatment of its mineral water in the country. 

The inquiry will look to assess “the practices of bottled water manufacturers and the responsibilities of the state in the failures to control their activities and the management of associated health risks”. 

The move follows Nestlé’s confirmation of using illegal purification treatments for some of its bottled mineral waters manufactured in France earlier this year. 

In March, France’s national food safety watchdog ANSES revealed it had told the country’s government about its doubts over the quality of Nestlé’s bottled waters in October 2023. 

In February, Le Monde reported that prosecutors in north-eastern France had launched their own inquiry into the Vittel and Perrier water maker’s treatment of its bottled waters.

7 May

Australian Vintage axes CEO Craig Garvin

McGuigan wine maker Australian Vintage has ended the contract of CEO Craig Garvin. 

The company said its board had fired Garvin “for engaging in conduct that, in its view, displayed a lack of judgement and was inconsistent with the values of the company and the high standards expected of its chief executive officer”.  Director Peter Perrin has been named acting CEO.

In February, Australian Vintage said it was in “very early” talks over a potential merger with domestic peer Accolade Wines. 

In the statement announcing Garvin’s departure, Australian Vintage said his exit “should have no impact on the preliminary discussions” between the two companies. It added: “Those discussions are continuing, although there remains no certainty that any transaction will eventuate”. 

According to The Australian ​​​​​​​newspaper, Garvin is considering his legal options.

6 March

Asahi to close Meantime brewery in UK

Asahi Group Holdings is shutting its Meantime brewery in London as the Japanese giant looks to consolidate its production in the UK. 

The brewing of the Meantime and Dark Star brands is being moved from the facility in Greenwich in south-east London to the company’s Fuller’s site in the west of the capital in Chiswick. 

Asahi, which acquired Meantime in 2016, has indicated it plans to create a “standalone” consumer retail experience in Greenwich. The move would include a “continuation” of brewing, the group said in a statement. 

A spokesperson for Asahi said the decision would help the company use the “extensive in-house brewing expertise and capabilities” at Chiswick and create “more efficient, sustainable operations, with a solid foundation for future innovation and investment”. 

In November 2022, Asahi said it would close the Dark Star Brewery in West Sussex, a move that led to the Meantime site taking on the production of the Dark Star range.

17 April

Heineken-backed Nigerian Breweries to halt production at two sites

Nigerian Breweries, in which Heineken owns a majority stake, has set out plans to suspend production at two of its nine plants. 

The Star lager brand owner posted a loss of N106bn ($76.8m) in 2023 and has prepared moves to bear down on costs and shore up its balance sheet. 

In a stock-exchange filing, the publicly listed Nigerian Breweries did not name the two production sites set to see a “temporary suspension” of their output. However, the company said it had invited unions to discuss the plans. 

The brewer is also planning to raise N600bn through a rights issue. Its 2023 loss – which compared to a N13.19bn profit in 2022 – came on the back of rising “operational costs” and exchange-rate volatility. Nigerian Breweries booked foreign-exchange losses of N153bn amid the devaluation of the naira. 

The group is also looking to “optimise” production at its other seven breweries.