This week on just-drinks - Here's what we think - Just Drinks
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This week on just-drinks – Here’s what we think

30 Apr 2021 (Last Updated May 10th, 2021 11:00)

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

In February, Molson Coors Beverage Co released its full-year results for 2020. The now-multi-category group posted an 8.7% dip in sales from the year, driven by a near-30% top-line tumble in Europe. Here, just-drinks picks apart Molson Coors’ numbers over the last five years and considers the trends that are set to shape the future for the company and the categories Molson Coors operates in.

Everybody’s at it! Indeed, if you’re in spirits and you haven’t got a premix on your roster, you likely soon will. This month, category commentator Richard Woodard considers the why’s.

just-drinks’ beer commentator has been talking to those on the front line. In his latest monthly column, Stephen Beaumont hears from a raft of on-premise operators on how they see brewers supporting them, post-lockdown.

Earlier this week, Liberium analyst Joachim Klement highlighted new research that shows credit card spending spikes in the wake of traumatic events such as a terrorist attack. Does this, wondered Klement, suggest that businesses are set for a post-COVID sales boost? Some might argue that the evidence for this is already available, especially in spirits

Earlier this month, just-drinks analysed Anheuser-Busch InBev’s performance trends over the last five years. In this excerpt from the report, we consider what’s currently top of inbox for CEO Carlos Brito.

Over the past two years, Ocean Spray has launched a raft of innovations in the US including CarryOn CBD and coffee “hybrid” Ocean Spray Brew. Now, the US cooperative’s focus is on Europe as it releases Ocean Spray Sparkling Pink Cranberry in France and the UK, a new product that will not be available in its domestic market. This week, just-drinks spoke to Ocean Spray Europe MD Caroline Bethell about her plans for the European market, whether a CBD Ocean Spray will launch on the continent and why consumers are getting used to less sweetness in their soft drinks.

In just-drinks’ brand owner results coverage:

Carlsberg announced its results from the first three months of 2021 this week. The numbers were the first set to follow 2020’s full-year sales decline of 8.4%. We took a look at the news that was likely to have shaped Carlsberg’s performance in the three months to the end of March.

Carlsberg has signalled a healthier start to 2021, with the group’s top-line approaching a 4% lift in the first quarter. Almost three months after reporting an 8.4% sales slide from 2020, the brewer set the scene this week for a more normal year ahead.

just-drinks thinks: Remember New Year’s Eve a few months back? That feeling of relief that the awfulness of 2020 was over and that 2021 would be cleaner, safer, better? Didn’t last long, did it! For Carlsberg, however, this year looks set to match those New Year expectation levels. As for me, I’ll take solace from my prediction exactly one year ago today: “As COVID-19 has made its deadly way across the world,” I wrote on 30 April 2020, “Carlsberg looks to be in better shape than its peers.” [Editor Olly Wehring]

Molson Coors Beverage Co announced its results from the first quarter of 2021 this week. The numbers were the first to follow 2020’s full-year sales decline of 8.7%. We took a look at the news that was likely to have shaped the group’s performance in the three months to the end of March.

Molson Coors Beverage Co has struck an upbeat chord for the current year, despite seeing its sales fall by double digits in the first quarter of 2021. The group confirmed this week that sales in the three months to the end of March came in 11.1% down on the corresponding period a year earlier.

just-drinks thinks: While Molson Coors has focused its efforts on category diversification, one thing the group hasn’t got to grips with quite as well is its geographical coverage. The recent reduction of the number of reporting regions from three to two is evidence in itself of Molson Coors’ limited worldwide presence – evidence added to by February’s divestment of operations in India. Should the long-running speculation of a Europe offload be realised, then the North American company could only be playing at home sometime soon. [Editor Olly Wehring]

Coca-Cola FEMSA has built on its strong finish to 2020 with a mid-single-digit sales lift from the first quarter of 2021. The company, which operates in ten Latin American markets, saw its top-line climb 5.4% in the three months to the end of March, an improvement on the 1.9% lift recorded in last year’s final quarter. 

Another quarter, another outstanding set of results for Cuervo, with the Mexico-based spirits group seeing its Q1 sales leap by over a third. The Jose Cuervo brand owner posted a near-38% top-line increase from the three months to the end of March, building on 2020’s +19.4% sales rise.

In our data centre:

Bacardi has released another Instagram video for Bombay Sapphire gin in an ongoing collaboration with US television educator Bill Nye.

Halewood Artisanal Spirits has expanded the European footprint for its Samuel Gelston’s Irish whiskey brand.

And, on our news pages:

Sazerac’s Buffalo Trace Bourbon distillery has launched a limited-edition product that is distilled like whiskey but uses the same ingredients as Chinese white spirit baijiu. The “baijiu-style” spirit is distilled using sorghum and peas, which are the bases for a number of traditional baijiu brands.

just-drinks thinks: Baijiu is one of the world’s largest spirits categories so it’s no surprise when non-Chinese companies try to muscle in with a baijiu-related launch. Of course, it hardly ever works out. The baijiu consumption occasion is so specific that other spirits categories don’t get a look-in. Buffalo Trace’s play, however, seems borne more from a spirit of invention than a serious attempt at enticing baijiu consumers. For that, brand owner Sazerac should be applauded. [Deputy editor Andy Morton]

PepsiCo has overhauled Rockstar, a year after buying the energy drinks brand for US$3.85bn. Packaging for the Rockstar range, which PepsiCo acquired in April last year, will switch to metallic gold and black colours in the refresh.

just-drinks thinks: PepsiCo’s repackaging of Rockstar Energy Drinks signals just where the company wants to take the brand that it bought a year ago. Gone are the bright neon colours, replaced by a more mature black and gold that suggests PepsiCo wants its major play in energy drinks to grow up a little. Is this to help differentiate Rockstar from The Coca-Cola Co-backed rival Monster Beverage Corp? The energy category just got even more interesting. [Deputy editor Andy Morton]

Asahi Group has replaced Heineken as the beer sponsor of the Rugby World Cup after signing an agreement for the 2023 tournament in France. The Japanese company said that core lager Asahi Super Dry will be the new ‘official beer partner’ of the competition, which is held every four years.

just-drinks thinks: Asahi Group looked to have scored a major coup over Heineken by securing ‘official beer’ status for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The victory diminishes somewhat when you account for the tournament being held in France, where marketing rules around alcohol mean beer cannot be advertised inside stadiums. A few years ago, I went to a major rugby league final in Lyon, where a Heineken employee described in detail everything the company wasn’t allowed to do with its sponsorship of the event. Perhaps Heineken thought an entire tournament of that wasn’t worth the bother. [Deputy editor Andy Morton]

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