It's Groundhog Day for the UK drinks sector as the Government mulls yet another rise in duty tax on beer, wine and spirits. Concern is growing that ministers may slap another 5% on excise tax, which would mean a 30% increase (including inflation) for beer and wine and around 25% for spirits over the last two years.
Friends of mine were shocked to hear at the weekend that more than half of the money they pay for a bottle of wine at retail can go straight to the Government's coffers.
Their surprise is another example of why the trade must do more to highlight this issue with consumers. The prospect of another duty hike also reinforces the need for merchants, suppliers and producers to work out how to pass more costs down the chain to retailers and, ultimately, to shoppers.
Conversely, Majestic Wine picked today to report strong trading for the year to the end of March, boosted by its decision to lower its minimum purchase amount from 12 bottles to six. There is, then, clearly life in the UK wine sector yet.
In the news last week, we saw Carlsberg increasing its presence in China by upping its stake in Chongqing Brewery. We took a closer look at Carlsberg's strategy in Asia, where the company's quiet progress has been somewhat overshadowed by the bun fight developing in Latin America.
The Coca-Cola Co and Dr Pepper Snapple Group dominated soft drinks last week after announcing that they had agreed a licensing deal for Dr Pepper Snapple drinks.
Meanwhile, the World Cup is well under way in South Africa. Pubs and bars may have to move quickly to take advantage of England's presence at the tournament, if Saturday's dismal showing is anything to go by. Whichever team you're supporting, best of luck.
Until next time...