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This week on just-drinks - Here's what we think

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Here's a round-up of just-drinks' latest members-only content and a look at this week's headlines, along with our thoughts.

This years Earth Day fell on Thursday this week

This year's Earth Day fell on Thursday this week

As major drinks brand owners timed their announcements about renewable energy, regenerative agriculture and paper bottles to coincide with Earth Day this Thursday, Ben Cooper reflected on the relationship between sustainability, PR and reputation.

In his latest investor-based take on the drinks industry, former analyst Ian Shackleton takes a look at Kirin's broken promises, a results season where the latest numbers matter less than the future ones and who's currently on top in the Cola Wars.

Members of The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research were generally impressed by a recent analysis of a large number of cases of cataract surgery in the UK; there were reasonable measures of the exposure (alcohol consumption), including the amount and type of beverage consumed and appropriate potentially confounding factors were taken into consideration.

This week, Pernod Ricard announced the results from the first nine months of its fiscal-2021. The numbers, to the end of March, had as their base a 3.9% sales decline from the six months to the end of December. Prior to the announcement, just-drinks looked at the news that was likely to have shaped Pernod's performance in its Q3 reporting period.

This week, Remy Cointreau announced the results from its fiscal-2021. The numbers, to the end of March, had as their base a 1.6% sales decline from the nine months to the end of December. Prior to the announcement, just-drinks looked at the news that was likely to have shaped Remy's performance in its Q4 reporting period.

?In just-drinks' company results coverage:

Heineken's global beer volumes stayed flat in Q1 as the brewer's exposure to the pandemic-hit European on-premise made for a challenging start to the year.

On the face of it, Heineken delivered a disappointing set of first-quarter results this week. In its major market, Europe, beer volumes dropped by 10% as on-premise performance cratered because of the coronavirus lockdown. In the UK, for example, on-premise volumes (and presumably sales, although Heineken doesn't disclose them in Q1 and Q3) dropped to near-zero.

Pernod Ricard is the latest brand owner to have enjoyed a strong sales bounceback in the first three months of 2021, with the group's top-line leaping by almost 20%. The healthy showing in the January to March period - Pernod's fiscal Q3 - may lag Moet Hennessy's +36% sales increase, announced this month, but has returned Pernod to growth for its year to date.

A double-digit rise in sales from the three months to the end of March has managed to pull Remy Cointreau over its full-year finishing line with a near-2% top-line lift. The Remy Martin brand owner reported that sales in the quarter - its fiscal Q4 - were up by just over 15% on the corresponding period a year ago. 

On our news pages this week:

The Global Travel Retail industry has received a boost in Australasia, with passengers arriving from New Zealand into two Australian airports no longer having to go into quarantine. The move, which affects Perth and Sydney airports, comes after Australia and New Zealand announced a Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel scheme, which, after around a year of restrictions, will allow visitors to and residents from both countries to visit without having to spend 14 days in quarantine.

just-drinks thinks: Let us not be under any illusions: The Global Travel Retail channel has a very long way to go to get anywhere near 'normal'. Much to the chagrin of premium beer, spirits & wine brand owners, who have flagged the absence of consumers in airports for the last 12 months, the likelihood of a wider re-opening is still some way off. Even when global travel does return, the likelihood of passengers wanting to hang around looking at retailers' shelves is unlikely. Alcohol brand owners would be wise to look to reviewing the shopper experience in GTR from the ground up: How it was will not predetermine how it will be. [Editor Olly Wehring]

C&C Group's UK on-premise distribution companies, Matthew Clark and Bibendum, have been forced to shut down their computer systems after falling victim to the latest cyberattack on the beverage industry. In a statement this week, C&C said it became aware of a security incident at the two units last Friday, closing down all IT operations in response.

just-drinks thinks: Word reaches me that this attack could have some very damaging consequences. Considering the absence of any on-premise channel to speak off for most of the last year in the UK, could this be the straw that breaks Matthew Clark and Bibendum's backs? We certainly hope not. [Editor Olly Wehring]

Coca-Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins will leave the company once Coca-Cola European Partners acquires the Australasian bottler.

just-drinks thinks: Alison Watkins will surely be remembered as a very good CEO of Coca-Cola Amatil. Granted, the company is about to cease to be, but Watkins was brought in nine years ago to refloat a troubled ship, and she did that through tough decisions in the face of a sometimes hostile quarterly results investor crowd. CCA will disappear into the folds of Coca-Cola European Partners, which came into being only five years ago through a super-merger of European bottlers. To me, the name of the new entity, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, is redolent of the cross-continental superpowers in George Orwell's 1984. But, it also reflects perfectly the increasingly global scope of soft drinks. [Deputy Editor Andy Morton]

UEFA Champions League sponsor Heineken has said it is closely monitoring discussions about a breakaway European soccer 'super league'. The brewer, which has sponsored the Champions League since 1994, told just-drinks today that "as a long-time supporter of UCL, we're following the Super League discussions closely".

just-drinks thinks: In the end, the European Super League lasted about as long as it takes Heineken to brew and pack a batch of its namesake lager - done and dusted in a frantic 48-hour period. But, the idea of an elite soccer tournament for Europe's top teams lingers and could still have significant repercussions for the Champions League, the club competition currently with the most prestige in soccer and which Heineken has, very successfully, sponsored since 1994. The large sums of money Heineken, and other brewers including Anheuser-Busch InBev, invest in soccer face being undermined by any potential change to the status quo - which will make sponsorship contract talks between brewers and the sport over the next few years very interesting indeed. [Deputy Editor Andy Morton]

Heineken is ramping up the footprint of the 'mini' formats for its namesake lager brand in the US. The 7oz (20.7cl) Heineken bottles and 8.5oz cans will expand beyond their current 24 US states this year.

just-drinks thinks: To the untrained eye, the 'mini' format is reserved for train carriages and hotel mini-bars. But, the brains within Heineken's R&D team see an opportunity for the 20cl can market - apparently, it's seen success in sunnier climes, where an extra 13cl of beer can be too much - and too warm. On the other hand, maybe consumers are simply nostalgic for miniatures to remind them of travelling and holidays. [Reporter Rhodri Morgan]

PepsiCo has launched a zero-sugar Gatorade that contains 10g of protein. Gatorade Zero with Protein launched in the US last month and adds to PepsiCo's portfolio of protein products for the Gatorade brand.

just-drinks thinks: 'Contains protein' might be one of the most triggering examples of marketing doublespeak around at the moment. As an essential macronutrient, I can't argue that having more choices of protein sources other than simply meat and fish is a good thing. However, more protein isn't a silver bullet for better health and there may come a time when companies need to reconsider how they brand their products with regards to this, the most-holy of muscle-building ingredients. So tread carefully in the 'Protein product' aisle (or aisles) in your local supermarket as the range of choice grows larger and larger. [Reporter Rhodri Morgan]

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Expert Analysis

Top Trends in Alcoholic Drinks

Top Trends in Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol as a sector is highly mature, with stable categories, but a vast choice of individual products. This maturity, along with the relative conservatism in the category, makes innovation difficult ...

VIEW REPORT

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