Here, just-drinks consolidates the M&A activity in the global drinks industry during June, a quiet month for brewers but a lively one in spirits, with both Brown-Forman and Pernod Ricard making category entrances/reentrances.

  • Beer

Heineken buys into Amsterdam’s Oedipus Brewing

Heineken has acquired a minority stake in Amsterdam brewery Oedipus for an undisclosed fee. The deal adds to Heineken’s craft beer footprint and sees the group invest in a brewery in its home city.

Low-alcohol – Where the beer growth lives – Comment

Historically, the brewing industry has enjoyed the race to the top, in abv terms. Category commentator Stephen Beaumont, however, believes the brewers that have stopped and turned in the opposite direction are best-placed to capitalise on the trend among consumers towards lower-strength brews.

  • Soft Drinks

Coca-Cola Amatil offloads SPC for US$28m

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Coca-Cola Amatil has lined up the divestment of its SPC fruit and vegetable processing unit in Australia to Shepparton Partners Collective. The Australasian group confirmed it will be selling SPC to Shepparton, a joint-venture between Perma Funds Management and The Eights.

PepsiCo forms JV to buy Serbian mineral water firm Knjaz Milos

PepsiCo is to take control of Serbian mineral water producer Knjaz Miloš through a new joint venture. The soft drinks company agreed to buy Knjaz Miloš in partnership with its Czech bottler Karlovarské Minerální Vody (KMV).

  • Soft Drinks/Spirits

AG Barr buys 20% stake in Stryyk-owner Elegantly Spirited for US$1.3m

AG Barr has entered non-alcoholic spirits with the GBP1m (US$1.3m) purchase of a minority holding in Elegantly Spirited, the owner of zero-proof brand Stryyk. The 20% stake gives AG Barr a foothold in the emerging non-alcoholic spirits category and deepens the UK company’s presence outside of its traditional soft drinks domain.

How soft drinks companies can trump the water fountain – Comment

This month, just-drinks’ new soft drinks commentator, Lucy Britner, looks at the next wave of smart drinks dispensers, as soft drinks companies continue to innovate around ever-tightening rules on plastic.

  • Spirits

Asian investor fund Hillhouse Capital snaps up Loch Lomond Group

An Asian private-equity fund that was an early investor in Chinese e-commerce giant has taken majority control of Scotch whisky producer Loch Lomond Group. Hillhouse Capital, which reportedly backed a number of China’s internet giants in their early days, has acquired a controlling stake in Loch Lomond for an undisclosed fee.

Brown-Forman steps into gin with purchase of Fords Gin owner The 86 Co

Brown-Forman has finally entered the gin category with the acquisition of The 86 Co, owner of the Fords Gin range. The move, which group CEO Lawson Whiting hinted at earlier in the month, gives the company a foothold in gin, one of the fastest-growing spirits segments.

Pernod Ricard returns to Kentucky Bourbon with Rabbit Hole Whiskey stake purchase – market data

The US unit of Pernod Ricard has acquired majority control of Rabbit Hole Whiskey, marking the group’s return to the Kentucky Bourbon category after a ten-year hiatus. The purchase, for an undisclosed price, was conducted through Pernod Ricard USA’s New Brand Ventures division.

Mast-Jagermeister invests in festival app Woov

Mast-Jägermeister has backed a Dutch festival app through its incubator unit. The Jägermeister owner said today it has made a “strategic investment” in digital platform Woov, which creates apps for festivals that allow organisers to communicate with festival goers.

Pernod Ricard closes Malfy buy, hands brand to The Gin Hub

Pernod Ricard has completed the acquisition of Malfy and has dropped the gin brand into its The Gin Hub division. The group initially announced its intention to buy Malfy, which takes its name from Italy’s Amalfi coast, from New York-based Biggar & Leith, in mid-April.

Why brown spirits is behind the low- & no-alcohol curve – Comment

With the booming trend of no-abv white ‘spirits’, Neil Ridley wonders whether the dark spirits sector will follow suit and who will be the first to really crack the potentially flavoursome formula.

  • Wine

Casella Family Brands confirms buyer interest, denies sale in progress

Casella Family Brands has admitted to receiving approaches from potential buyers after a newspaper claimed the Yellow Tail owner is seeking a potential sale. The Australian Financial Review said yesterday Casella has hired bankers “to test the appetite of potential buyers”.

Why a sale of Casella Family Brands is no slam-dunk – just-drinks thinks

Against a backdrop of sizeable M&A transactions (and speculation) in the wine category recently, rumours of another deal would suggest a sale would be more likely to proceed than not. There’s something about this week’s reports on Casella Family Brands, however, that doesn’t look quite so simple to me.

  • Off-Premise Channel

Majestic Wine “open to any permutation” of retail offload – CEO

Majestic Wine has said it is open to all options as the UK-based retailer prepares to sell its bricks-and-mortar business to focus on online. CEO Rowan Gormley said that “a broad range of options” are being considered, including an outright sale of the entirety of the Majestic off-premise estate, as well as Majestic’s commercial arm and wine merchant Lay & Wheeler.