July 20, 2009
just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
U.S. Drinks Conference 2009, Tues./Wed., Oct. 13 and 14 at the Helmsley Park Hotel, New York.
All eyes in the drinks industry turned east last week, with Japan accounting for the bulk of column inches on just-drinks.
Playing support act was Diageo, who announced on Monday that it is realigning its distribution set-up in the country. Within a matter of hours, however, the spotlight shifted across to two of Japan's major domestic players.
The story began with a local report claiming that Suntory and Kirin were holding talks over a possible merger. The story prompted confirmation from the two that they were in discussions, but that it was still early days.
While the situation still has some distance left to run, there's little denying that a merger would create one to watch on a global basis, never mind that this prospective entity would control around 50% of Japan's beer market.
Kirin already holds a stake in, and is looking to buy up complete control of, Australian brewer Lion Nathan. It has also snapped up a healthy stake in Philippines-based San Miguel Brewery.
Suntory, meanwhile, also has Australasian pretensions, having completed the purchase earlier this year of Danone's Frucor drinks division in the region.
These transactions alone suggest that Kirin and Suntory are keen to look beyond their domestic borders, underlined by a steady slide in beer consumption in Japan of late.
To read up on the state of play on the ground, click here for a piece from our man in Japan.
In other news last week, we reported on a rose-tinted view of the future in the US from Beam Global Spirits and Wine, while Pernod Ricard left it late in the week to announce that it expects sales in its full-year to be flat, while profits should reach their expected level.
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
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The confirmation on Monday (13 July) that Japan's two largest drinks companies - Kirin and Suntory - are in discussions on merging their operations may have caught the industry by surprise, but the reasons for the move have quickly become apparent. The implications for the global drinks business are equally clear. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo.
The UK wine trade is facing a “perfect storm” in the first half of 2009. A formidable array of negative factors have conspired to make life far from easy in the market traditionally touted as the most open and dynamic place to do wine business on the globe. This is the rather gloomy backdrop to just-drinks’ third UK off-trade wine industry survey, in which once again we canvassed the views of the key players on the scene – including major suppliers, retail buyers, UK importers, wine producers and generic associations. Normally published for release at the London International Wine Fair, we thought it would make good reading as a management briefing too.
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