February 2, 2009
just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
With the global rum market experiencing growth over the past ten years, this new research from just-drinks and The IWSR provides a complete insight and analysis into the sector.
The recommendation by the UK's chief medical officer last week that children under the age of 15 should never be given alcohol has highlighted a major conundrum facing the drinks industry over here.
Obviously, we are somewhat hamstrung when it comes to saying anything to counter the CMO's opinion. Indeed, as the European Spirits Organisation, CEPS, told me last week: “The European spirits industry sharply condemns any misuse of its products - this especially includes consumption by minors”.
And yet, here in the UK, 'binge drinking' hits the headlines almost daily.
Is this advise really the best way forward to quell the scourge of binge drinking? In southern Europe, for example, many youngsters are introduced to a tipple by their parents virtually at birth. And they don't seem to be throwing up in gutters and getting into fights on buses every Friday night when they hit legal drinking age.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so do drop me a line, whatever your opinion.
On the features front last week, we ran the fruits of my meeting with the head of Constellation Europe, Troy Christensen. In fact, our features output last week was dominated by wine, with Chris Losh casting his beady eye over the state of play for Australia's wine producers. Not the most upbeat prognosis, I'm sure you'll agree.
In the news cycle last week, Fortune Brands, owner of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, dominated the headlines. Spirits sales and profits at the company struggled in 2008, dropping particularly sharply in the final quarter, as the group fell victim to the dreaded economic downturn. However, the slip does not appear to have dented either confidence or investment plans for Beam's sales and marketing team, but there is still no news on who will replace Tom Flocco as Beam CEO.
Back in the UK, a bad situation became even worse for brewers last week as official industry figures charted an 8% decline in beer sales during the final quarter of 2008. Some groups, including Greene King and Fuller, Smith & Turner provided relatively positive results, but that was not enough to draw the spotlight away from the news that 39 pubs in the country are closing down every week.
It was also another tough week for cider in the UK, after investment broker Goldman Sachs downgraded Magners owner C&C group from buy to sell.
The UK's economic position looks almost rosy compared to Ireland, however. This has begun to tell on the industry, with Britvic, which bought C&C Group's soft drinks division in 2007, announcing a spate of job cuts in the country last week.
In Australia, meanwhile, there was more gloom for Foster's. Speculation is mounting that the firm will report yet more write-down charges on its beleaguered wine division, when it posts its half-year results later this month.
That, or a divestment or two? Or three? Or four?
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
It is now more than a year and a half since Troy Christensen took the helm at Constellation Europe, the European division of the world’s biggest wine company. Given the current state of the European market, and the UK in particular, to call this a tough assignment would be something of an understatement. In this month’s just-drinks interview, Christensen spoke with Olly Wehring about how Constellation is addressing the most trying of market conditions.
The beginning of a new year once again sees the publication of the Euromonitor International industry outlook from just-drinks, which takes stock of the current state of play in the spirits, beer, wine and soft drinks sectors and looks ahead to what promises to be an exciting and busy year across all four categories. The expected activity in our industry, however, will play out against a background of economic gloom, which looks set to contaminate all areas of all businesses.
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