just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
In This Issue...
Fans of the film Airplane will sympathise with me after the week we’ve just had here at just-drinks. Much as it looked like “the wrong day to quit smoking/drinking/sniffing glue”, last week looked like the wrong week to introduce my fresh-faced, eager-to-impress news editor to the glory that is the drinks industry.
Believe me, she doesn’t know what’s hit her.
Top story last week went to the staggering EUR273.8m (US$372.2m) fine meted out by the European Commission to Heineken, Grolsch and Bavaria, for their parts in an alleged cartel in Holland.
Whilst it certainly appears to be the case that the Commission is using the fine as a warning to corporate Europe that free trade is the be-all and end-all, the extent of the final bill still appears draconian.
In June 2005, the Coca-Cola Company escaped a fine altogether when it had restrictions placed on its sales practices by the European Commission. All it faced instead was the threat that if it violated the agreement, it could face fines of up to 10% of global sales.
And at the beginning of this year, a legal battle between the EU and Groupe Danone finally came to an end, with the French company being hit with a EUR42.4m fine. Danone was fined for teaming up, through its Belgian unit Alken-Maes, with Interbrew - now InBev - to control beer sales in Belgium.
So, you can understand the incredulity of the brewers caught up in this row. Two brewers not known for public outbursts of emotion, Grolsch and Heineken, said respectively they were “stunned” and found the fine “excessive and unjustified”.
And the three brewers must be seething at InBev, who got off with only a slapped wrist in return for blowing the whistle on the whole matter.
No-one likes a tell-tale, as mother used to say.
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
Bringing together the great and the good of the world’s whisky distillers, The World Whisky Conference – which ran this week in Glasgow – saw just-drinks out in force. Chris Brook-Carter looks back at the two-day event, which saw both fur and sparks fly.
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