The beverage business blog from James Wilmore
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Murray - made in Scotland from girders
12 Sep 2012 16:20
Irn-Bru makers AG Barr enjoyed some great free PR after Andy Murray's epic win at the US Open this week.
The mighty Scotsman was snapped drinking a bottle of Scotland's most famous soft drink following his five-set defeat of Novak Djokovic. And the Daily Record even reported he turned down other drinks later, in favour of more Irn-Bru.
Murray is famously proud of his homeland, so it's perhaps no surprise he used the opportunity to promote one its most recognisable brands.
I wonder whether execs at Barr's potential future partners, Britvic, enjoyed a wry smile at the coverage too?
(Incidentally, Britvic used to sponsor Murray through its Robinsons brand.)
The off-trade: the elephant in the room again?
31 Aug 2012 17:26
As is so often the case in the UK, the off-trade appears to be the elephant in the room when it comes to tackling concerns around alcohol.
From tomorrow, a new self-regulatory code governing irresponsible promotions in Northern Ireland comes into force. I'm assured the code covers the off-trade, as well as the on-trade. But a glance at the code document suggests otherwise.
Interestingly, the Pubs of Ulster trade group is backing the code, so they must acknowledge there is a problem to be addressed in the on-trade.
Publicans in England and Wales have for a long time pointed the finger at the major supermarkets as being the real culprits when it comes to alcohol-related issues, due to their deep discounting.
Perhaps Northern Ireland's licensees are holding out for minimum pricing to address the problem of cut-price off-trade deals?
Monday - just-drinks will be closed
24 Aug 2012 17:39
A quick note, to let readers know that just-drinks will be closed on Monday (27 August), due to a Bank Holiday here in the UK.
Normal service will be resumed on Tuesday.
Four more beers!
17 Aug 2012 17:28
Beer, it appears, is playing a leading role in this year's US presidential election campaign.
Barack Obama was recently caught on camera (see video below) at the 'Bud Tent', during the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Ever the cool customer, Obama was not caught out by one wag asking him to buy a round. It then prompted calls of "four more beers!" But the good old president put his hand in his pocket.
Meanwhile, presidential VP candidate, Paul Ryan, seems to be more a Miller man, after it was reported he told a crowd in Milwaukee suburb, Waukesha: "My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little Spotted Cow, Leine's, and some Miller."
Does that mean Mitt Romney is a craft beer drinker?
How to understand the Euro crisis.... through beer
15 Aug 2012 17:05
Ever wanted to understand the Eurozone financial crisis... but in a (kind of) fun way?
Well, now you can thanks to some number boffins. Described by Business Insider as "the world's best economics website" FRED has charted the crisis by beer inflation. In a nutshell, the price of beer has mirrored each countries' economic fortunes. Germany has stayed sober, while Greece is off the scale, you get the idea...
Barley wine... is it fine?
08 Aug 2012 13:43
Barley wine. I have to admit, it's a beer style I'm not that familiar with, despite originating from the ancient Greeks, but yesterday in London I got the chance to sup a sample. It wasn't just any old barley wine though. It was the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) newly-crowned Champion Beer of Britain 2012.
The brew in question was 'No.9 Barley Wine', from Cumbria-based brewery Coniston. Coming in at an abv of 8.5%, which is actually on the weaker side for this style, a third of a pint was plenty. The judges at the Great British Beer Festival said it was "reminiscent of a fine Cognac". It was certainly full-bodied, but perhaps a bit on the sweet side for me.
It was also CAMRA's Champion Winter Beer of Britain, which perhaps tells its own story.
Who knows, it may spark a resurgence in barley wines? Or, it may not.
But, in this Olympic year, it's fitting that CAMRA has again chosen a non-mainstream English beer style as its champion. Perhaps, it's also a two-fingered salute to the mass-produced brews the organisation rails against.
After all, we here in the UK love an underdog.
Olympic goodwill spreads, but not for Heineken
30 Jul 2012 17:30
Olympic fever has well and truly arrived here in the UK. Even our normally cynical national newspapers displayed a clean sweep of positive coverage on day one.
But one company probably hoping this goodwill extends to the coporate sponsors is Heineken. The Dutch brewer has had a rough ride in the build-up. First it was the target of negative coverage for the price of a pint that Olympic spectators will face at events.
And more recently, it's come in for stick from Lib Dem MP, Greg Mulholland, for being a "mass produced non-British beer", when beer is the UK's national drink.
The choice of Heineken as the official Olympic beer is "a wholly inappropriate decision based purely on the size of Heineken's cheque book", Mulholland argued in a parliamentary motion tabled earlier this month.
Only 13 MPs have bothered to sign the motion. But the point was made and the story was even picked up by US media. The brewer probably wasn't too amused by the reaction on Twitter either.
Another strand to this story is that Heineken will be serving some good-old British ale at Lord's. It just won't be shouting about the fact. John's Smith's will be displayed as "ale", while Strongow will appear as "cider", at the home of English cricket's bars.
All other packaged drinks will be dispensed into a generic London 2012 glass, a Heineken spokesperson has told me.
I, for one, am a bit sad that Britain's wonderful brewers will not be getting a look in at Olympic venues. It seems particularly ironic when the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is holding its annual beerathon - the Great British Beer Festival - in London during the games.
I guess that Bath Ales' Gem will taste extra special at home, as I watch the action unfold.
Selling alcohol is "legitimate", MPs conclude. Phew!
19 Jul 2012 16:11
Drinks producers in the UK won't have had much to cheer in today's MP-led report on alcohol. But they can breathe a sigh of relief in one respect.
Among their conclusions, MPs noted: "The business of supplying alcoholic products is an entirely legitimate business."
An obvious point. But lest we forget, for a 13-year period last century in the 'Land of the Free', it was anything but a "legitimate business", as this short video neatly reminds us.
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Fake Plastic Bags - a mystery for Coca-Cola
13 Jul 2012 15:45
Why would somebody go to so much trouble to film an elaborate video about Coca-Cola launching branded plastic bags for its flagship drink?
just-drinks got a worldwide scoop earlier this week, after the video was exposed as a fake. Coca-Cola HQ told us it had no connection to the video and that it had no plans to lauch the branded plastic bags in the shape of its iconic glass bottle.
The unofficial video had already fooled plenty of media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which was forced to take down the story from its website.
Coca-Cola told me it had no knowledge of who made, or posted, the video.
So, who could be behind this elaborate hoax? I have two - purely specualtive - theories. One is that Coca-Cola was toying with the idea of launching branded plastic bags and an ad agency that may have pitched for the campaign decided to make the video anyway.
My other theory is that it's the work of a guerilla environmental group. You'll notice in the video, it's mentioned the bags will be bio-degradable. This element was even picked up on by people tweeting about the supposed launch. Perhaps, inspired by the work of The Yes Men, these filmakers are hoping to somehow force Coca-Cola into launching these bio-degradable plastic bags, through consumer demand?
WSTA's loss is BSDA's gain with Partington appointment
10 Jul 2012 16:05
It's taken a while, six months in fact, but the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has finally found a new boss. And I think the wait will be worth its while.
Gavin Partington, who began his career as a political broadcast journalist, is a vastly experienced corporate communications bod, who knows how the Westminster machine works, and, equally important, how to present an argument.
Anyone who has heard him on BBC Radio 4's Today programme defend the drinks industry over the threat of minimum pricing on numerous occasions, will know he is not easily flustered - even in the face of a thorny issue ... and John Humphrys.
It also helps that he's an affable and approachable chap.
But, he'll need all these qualities in his role as the BSDA's director general. One issue that will regularly crop up in Partington's inbox will, of course, be the soft drinks industry's role in tackling obesity. Sorting out the "problems" around alcohol is still a big focus for the UK government, but obesity is almost of equal importance.
After four years at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), it's a shame Partington never made it to the top job. Perhaps he tired of fighting the good fight over minimum pricing, as the political argument has all but been lost.
Meanwhile, the WSTA's new boss, Miles Beale, a newcomer to the drinks industry, will have to cope without the hand-holding of Partington.
To me, it appears that the WSTA's loss is the BSDA's gain.