The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring
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LIWSF - Not again?
23 May 2006 14:40
I know, I know. But I promise this will be the last mention of the LIWSF for a while...
Those of you who attended the show last week and called round to our stand to check your emails may remember a prize draw with a year's free membership to just-drinks.com up for grabs.
Heartiest congratulations, then, to Garry Cummins from Bidgeebong Wines Australia Limited. Our subscriptions team will be contacting you shortly, Garry.
Now, let’s all get back to work, shall we?
The Week That Was
23 May 2006 11:36
Well, that’s that – at least for another year. The London International Wine and Spirit Fair drew to a close last week, and we here at just-drinks were both glad and sad to see the back of it. Glad because we’d spent the three days hairing around like bluebottles (my legs still ache three days later), yet sad that the opportunity to meet up with the great and the good of the wine and spirits industries, all under one roof, is over for another 12 months. Keep your eyes peeled for stacks of content from the fair in the coming days and weeks – we have some treats for you, believe me.
Now, I know that for many of you out there, our coverage of the Wine and Spirits Fair might not have been of much relevance. Those in soft drinks, water and beer will be quite happy, I’m sure, that we’ll now stop banging on about the event. It seems, though, that some of you have been busying yourselves in the meantime.
The announcement late last week that Anheuser-Busch bought the iconic US beer brand Rolling Rock from InBev woke us with a start after the rigours of the fair. At US$82m, the acquisition certainly wasn’t cheap, and is of concern to some as well. As one analyst said last week, with Budweiser’s market share likely to shrink in the double digits this year, does A-B need another full-calorie domestic brand in a state of secular decline?
The rising popularity of craft and imported beers suggests to many that the US brewer should be swimming with the tide, and not against it.
Coming to you live from LIWSF III
17 May 2006 14:23
Midway through day two (of three) here at ExCel, and the lack of hangovers on the floor is really quite refreshing – if those ‘drink responsibly’ tags can work on drinks executives… One ugly moment last night at the nearest bar, however, when someone had to be manhandled outside by two bouncers, however, suggests that the message hasn’t got through to everyone.
The good news is that the air conditioning has kicked in after yesterday’s sweat-fest. Apparently the main unit was hit by a lorry prior to the show – a lorry with Bordeaux number plates, I’ll wager.
Today’s highlights for us include a chat with the general manager of Argentina’s largest wine producer, Grupo Peñaflor. Jorge Arpi’s optimistic comments are in keeping with his compadres whom I met last month (did I mention I went to Argentina in April?). As for his frank comments on the global consolidation that, so far, has passed his home country by, well, you’ll just have to wait for my management briefing in July.
Meanwhile, I’ve stayed off the booze and plumped for what one attendee has described as “the Champagne of sparkling water” from Voss – a brutal plug, I know, but a man’s got to drink something.
Coming to you live from LIWSF II
16 May 2006 16:55
As day one here draws to a close, a brief window during which to sit down and reflect has opened. The fair looks and feels bigger than ever this year, and the crowds have been streaming round the hall for most of the day. A few gripes, however, have reached my ears as I’ve been doing the rounds.
For a start, it’s boiling in here - and it’s not even a warm day outside. So, here I am, dressed in my fineries, and – how can I put this – glowing a tad. It’s not just me, however, who’s suffering. One wine maker has told me that they’re having to store their red wines in the fridge. All the more frustrating, however, is that the air conditioning outlets are clear for all to see if they just look up.
Another grumble is the size of the spirits section this year, which, let’s be honest, is never that huge anyway. One journalist said it looks like it’s been bolted on to the rest of the show as a mere afterthought.
Then there are the usual travel issues (miles from anywhere) that rear their head. And don’t get me started on the wireless Internet that is so jam-packed that I can’t get online.
But on the bright side, the girl promoting Brazil’s generic wine stand is hugely impressive, and not for reasons you might imagine. Any 18-year-old not wearing a suit at a trade fair is going to stand out – least of all if they’re wearing a Brazilian football kit and playing keepy-uppy with a football as they do the rounds.
More tomorrow, but for now, I’m loosening the tie and tasting the wares.
Coming to you live from LIWSF
16 May 2006 13:48
Greetings from day one of three here at ExCel in London. The show has got off to a great start, with a terrific atmosphere throughout, and we’ve got the ideal viewpoint – upstairs at the press centre. The throngs are swarming and the wine is flowing, and we can see it all.
So far, we’ve attended a seminar looking at promoting French wine to consumers, we’ve had a one-to-one chat with Foster’s Wine Estates’ MD, Jamie Odell, and I'm about to talk to the CEO of Constellation Europe, Jon Moramarco.
Among the many familiar faces I’ve bumped into so far today has been John McLaren, the head of the California Wine Institute here in the UK. John is counting down the days until California overtakes France as the most popular wine region in the UK. “I’ve got the Champagne ready,” he tells me, adding that he thinks the overtaking manoeuvre is set to take place in the first quarter of next year.
“I’m not sure to celebrate with Champagne or Californian sparkling wine,” he tells me.
A pleasant dilemma, then, John.
The World Cup - something for the lady?
12 May 2006 18:08
As any drinks company trying to sell its products to men will know, the football (alright Americans, soccer) World Cup is just around the corner.
But wait - surely by going football crazy, some of you are neglecting half of your target market? Well, Maxxium UK believes it has that base covered as well.
The company has unveiled a range of Footballer’s Wives cocktails, created by its mixologist Wayne Collins. The cocktails are presumably designed to help the female population not feel neglected during the tournament.
Victoria Beckham - wife of England captain David - is ‘celebrated’ as it were, with Victoria’s Golden Bols, a mix of Bols melon liqueur, vodka and orange juice.
Cheryl Tweedy - fiancee of England’s Ashley Cole and member of pop group Girls Aloud - gets Tweedy’s Tipple: Swirls Aloud, a mix of Bols Crème de Cacao white liqueur, Bols Grenadine syrup, Silver tequila, cream and milk.
Finally, Colleen McLoughlin - girlfriend of England’s saviour (who goes into the tournament injured), Wayne Rooney - has Colleen’s Fruity Couture - Crème de Cacao white liqueur and Galliano mixed with milk and cream.
I’ll wager that all of these cocktails have ice that, like most English football fans’ hopes come July, is crushed...
I thank you.
The glory days of a pint at lunch - RIP?
12 May 2006 17:29
Now, some of our readers will remember with fondness the halcyon days when a beer or two at lunchtime wasn't just a well-earned treat, it was almost compulsory. I, sadly, missed the boat on the lunchtime-drinking-becoming-half-a-day-in-the-pub times of journalism. But I'm told that it was great.
A survey from law firm Browne Jacobson, meanwhile, has found that 57% of businesses in the UK now actually ban drinking during the working day.
This reminds me of the story we wrote last year about the Danish brewery workers who went on strike when management limited when and where they could drink the product they made.
I'm very interested to know, therefore, how this works out at other alcoholic drinks companies. Are you allowed a drink? Are you even encouraged to have a drink? Or is it strictly hands off until after five?
Do let me know.
LIWSF - Start your engines
11 May 2006 14:00
I presume that, like me, you have received your visitor badge for next week’s London International Wine & Spirit Fair.
Here, then, follows a list of what else to bring: passport, toothbrush, business cards. You may want to bring a suit as well (don’t want to look underdressed). And maybe some Red Bull, because it’s going to be a long three days.
And we here at just-drinks are raring to go. Not only will we be out in force at the event, we’ll also be filing stories as and when we get them around ExCel – Live from the Fair, if you will.
The good news for you all is that ExCel has wireless Internet access. The bad news is that it’s not that cheap. The better news, then, is that just-drinks is offering all visitors to the fair free Internet access, at its Executive Internet Centre at stand G10. Check your emails, surf the Web or check the latest sports news – for free.
After the popularity of the service last year, we’ve increased the number of stations at the show. With six free Internet stations and a research desk managed by the just-drinks team, the stand is guaranteed to be a useful resource for anyone at the show.
So, we wish you a relaxing weekend, and look forward to welcoming you to London next week. Here’s to a successful few days.
A-B and Miller - will the bickering never stop?
05 May 2006 13:37
There are a few things guaranteed in life: death, taxes – and the odd spat between Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing, are certainly among them.
This week, Miller dismissed the ‘Here’s to Beer’ campaign – an industry-wide initiative led by A-B to promote the beer category as a whole – as only serving the interests of the Budweiser brewer. A-B had tried to garner industry support for the campaign, but has been left to handle the effort on its own as rival brewers opt to focus on their own brands.
Yesterday (4 May), St. Louis hit back, arguing that ‘Here’s to Beer’ had won industry-wide backing, pointing out that wholesalers and retailers around the country were supporting the campaign. Moreover, Bob Lachky, the A-B executive in charge of the campaign, was quick to point out that rival wholesalers were putting their weight behind the initiative and insisted the marketing drive did not need the endorsement of other brewers.
The campaign is a personal crusade for Lachky, the man behind many of A-B’s marketing successes in the past. He is adamant that ‘Here’s to Beer’ is working, with the domestic beer category up during the early part of this year and beer beginning to win back share of throat against wine and spirits in some US states.
A-B has been less bullish, however, about last week’s revelations in the Wall Street Journal that the brewer had changed the recipes to Budweiser and Bud Light in recent years. The WSJ – the second most read paper in the US – quoted A-B chairman August A. Busch as saying that he ordered more hops to be added to the beers. This admission comes after A-B had repeatedly denied Miller’s claims that it had changed the recipe for Budweiser and Bud Light.
Naturally, Miller was delighted at A-B’s ‘confession’ and the giddiness in Milwaukee must have reached record highs last week, as Miller sent a plane flying over A-B’s St. Louis HQ with a banner that read: “Sire, sire, pants on fire” (No, I didn’t get it either).
It was a stunt that left A-B employees scratching their heads in bewilderment but maybe Miller shouldn’t be so hasty in revelling in others’ discomfort. A-B saw domestic volumes rise 4.6% during the first quarter of the year, the first signs of a turnaround from last year’s disappointing performance. Meanwhile, Miller’s parent, SABMiller, revealed in a trading update last month that Miller sales-to-retailers were down 1% for the year to 31 March.
SABMiller reveals its full financial figures for the year on 18 May – only then will we really discover if it has been left with egg on its face.
Beer before wine, feel fine - wine before beer?
03 May 2006 16:21
My three-week adventure in Argentina came to an end last week, and no sooner do I get back than our friends in the brewing industry, who may have felt somewhat neglected during my wine exploits, give me something to write (home?) about.
The race to snap up Foster’s Asian brewing interests appeared to take an interesting turn last week, with Asia Pacific Breweries mooted to be the new front-runner. Industry sources told just-drinks that, while Scottish & Newcastle and SABMiller were the original favourites, APB seems prepared to stump up more cash for the assets.
In the US, meanwhile, the continuing backbiting between Anheuser-Busch and Miller saw the latter pull “I told you so” poses, with A-B admitting that it had changed the recipes of Budweiser and Bud Light, despite its dismissal of Miller’s claims late last year as “just another marketing ploy”.
And with Molson Coors set to announce its figures early this week, it looks like the brewers are set to hog the limelight for a little while longer.
Looming on the horizon, and itching to steal a share of the limelight, meanwhile, is the London International Wine & Spirit Fair. The event, which has become the seminal meeting point for the world’s wine companies, returns this month, and just-drinks has all the bases covered – not only will we be there in person, with our own stand where you can come and say hello and check your emails, but we’re also launching a preview diary today. Every day between now and 16 May, we’ll be running a page highlighting who’s doing what, when and where at ExCel.
To let us, and all our subscribers, know what your plans for the LIWSF are, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll put you in our diary.