Legislative changes The Federal Senate recently passed amendments to the Wine Australia Act, removing the onerous requirement for liquor retailers and wholesalers to keep detailed records of Australian wine sold. The Label Integrity Program (LIP) provisions were introduced in 2010 with the intention of protecting the integrity of Australian wine overseas.
By documenting the quantity of a particular grape variety by vintage and geographic origin and requiring liquor retailers and wholesalers to keep records of sales, the LIP was designed to create a ‘cradle-to-grave’ approach to ensure a wine’s authenticity. However, the proposal was fraught with several issues, not least the fact that barcodes on mainstream wines do not currently distinguish between each vintage. [From The Shout, Mar 22, 2013]
The proposed change to legislation in SA to permit the sale of wines in supermarkets continues to generate vigorous discussion. Submissions on the Wine in Supermarkets Discussion paper are now under consideration by the Sate Government with some groups opposing the change maintaining that ‘allowing wine in supermarkets will effectively hand more control to Coles and Woolworths…’ and encourage vertical integration.
The SA Wine Industry Association has taken a neutral position but however has some concern regarding a possible negative impact on small wineries. [From SA Business Journal, Apr 2, 2013]
BEER & BREWING: Australia – general
Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) This year’s event will take place over three days (May 24 – 26) at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The five by four and a half hour sessions are expected to attract 12,000 – 15,000 people and up to 100 of the best Australian and New Zealand brewers, plus some special international guest breweries, have accepted an invitation to brew original and unique beers just for the festival.
Tasters will be sold along with regular glasses and attendees will also be able to purchase beers from the brewery bars lining the walls of the Exhibition Building. Live entertainment will be a highlight at GABS, which will be themed as a massive European-style beer hall with four bars and hundreds of tables and benches to create a festive and convivial atmosphere. [From Australian Brews News Mar 25, 2013]
New malting barleys Four new varieties have been approved by Barley Australia for malting in Australia, after being accredited by the Malting & Brewing Industry Barley Technical Committee. The new varieties are Grange, Henley, Scope and Westminster. [From E-Malt.comFlash 14a, Apr 4, 2013 & other sources]
BEER & BREWING: Australia – mainstream breweries
CUB The collapse of portion of a heritage-listed brick wall at the old Carlton brewery site in Swanston Street on March 28 caused the death of three pedestrians. CUB’s Carlton plant closed in the late 1980s and the derelict site is currently being developed as apartments by Grocon Pty Ltd. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Mar 29, 2013 & radio news services]
Lion A new beer dispenser, called Tap King, will enable drinkers to enjoy six beers from Lion’s range on draught in home comfort. The beers, available in special 3.2 litre PET bottle refills and priced at between $18.99 and $27.99 each, are XXXX Gold, Tooheys New, Tooheys Extra Dry, Hahn Super Dry, James Boag’s Premium & James Squire Golden Ale. Dispense heads will retail for $32.50. Already some irate publicans maintain that Tap King gives drinkers another reason to stay at home, where they can watch sport, place bets and smoke freely but Lion says the system ‘is designed to give beer drinkers more choice when getting out to the pub isn’t an option and they are enjoying a beer at home … .our research indicates that 69% of all drinking occasions take place in the home and Tap King has been specifically designed for those occasions. [From Australian Brews News, March 28, 2013]
BEER & BREWING: Australia – smaller breweries
National autumn new releases – at least 10 new craft beers were launched in NSW and Vic alone in the first three weeks of March: 4 IPAs, 2 stouts, 2 fruit beers, 1 saison and 1 Kölsch. [From The Crafty Pint, Mar 22, 2013]
It was also the time for craft beer promotions with major retailers listing specialty beer bargains – some with emphasis on stouts and heavy ales as ideal companions for the increased consumption of chocolate at Eastertide.
BEER & BREWING: International
New Zealand Beer drinkers are cutting back consumption in a bid to save money. A new survey of beer consumers showed that nearly half of more than 1,300 people surveyed in the nationwide poll had curbed their drinking. It appears that beer drinkers are feeling the economic pinch in a number of ways; illustrated firstly in reduced consumption, which has been a trend for some time, and secondly, in the choices consumers make when they buy beer.
The survey found that around a third always buy their favourite brands but a larger group – nearly 40% – say they buy whatever is on special. New Zealand is a beer drinking nation and regularly features in the world’s top 20 beer consumption per capita tables, with around 70 litres drunk per person. [From E-Malt.comFlash 12b, Mar 24, 2013]
USA According to growth figures analysed by The Huffington Post, craft beer production could outstrip mainstream beer production by 2030. With some handy Excel-created graphs, the report shows that if the mainstream market continues to decline at its current rate (about 9%) and craft beer grows at its current astronomical rate –15% by volume and 17% by value – then between 2030 and 2050, the two sectors of the market come together. Currently in the USA market, the two big brewers – Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors – control something like 74% of the market, while the craft beer sector is estimated at between 6 and 9%. [From Beer & Brewer, Mar 28, 2013]
CIDER, JUICES, RTDs & SOFT DRINKS
Cider Calls from the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) to tax all ciders at the same rate as RTDs have prompted Cider Australia to say that a change to the way traditional apple and pear ciders are taxed would stop the booming local cider industry in its tracks. Flavoured ciders, with added flavours or colouring, currently attract the same tax rate as RTDs, while traditional apple and pear ciders have the same rate as wine.
Cider Australia’s president James Kendell said ‘We wouldn’t be able to survive. The impact on our business would see the tax rate, by most people’s estimates, triple, and that would need to be passed onto the customer – we couldn’t stay in business incurring that sort of cost increase.’ [From The Shout, Apr 3, 2013]
WINE & SPIRITS
Adelaide going global The tagline ‘Adelaide – the wine capital of Australia’ was adopted by the SA Wine Industry Association when launching a campaign to sell SA wine to the world. The move aims to put the city on a par with international wine centres such as Bordeaux, Florence and San Francisco.
The brand uses a stylized map of Australia with an open door outlining SA, recently promoted as a general state logo, with background images of vineyards and wine glasses. The association has also released a smartphone app to help visitors plan tours to the state’s 18 wine regions which collectively have over 400 cellar door outlets, about 200 of which are within an hour’s drive from the city. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Mar 22, 2013]
Big wine heist Digest 130 (Jan 22-Feb 6) noted that a large quantity – about 56,000 bottles – of premium quality SA wine, worth about $500,000, had ‘gone missing’ in NSW. It seems that police are still looking for wine, which was snatched from outside a Wettenhalls Group warehouse during the Australia Day long week-end in January. Unfortunately, the transport Group had just been placed in receivership and administrators are unable to explain how the wine disappeared. Police consider that the thieves were well equipped with specialist prime movers, fork lifts and adequate storage facilities to handle quantity of wine … in other words, a well planned and possibly opportunistic heist. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Mar 23, 2013]
Changes at Seppeltsfield After nearly 30 years of corporate control, Seppeltsfield Wine Estates – a Barossa Valley icon – has returned to SA family ownership. Warren Randall, a former Seppelt senior wine maker, and his family have acquired 90% of the business, which has been in receivership since early 2013. The business, established by the Seppelt family in 1851, was sold to SA Brewing Holdings in 1985 and subsequently passed to Southcorp and then Fosters before being purchased in 2007 by private investors, including Randall. The new owners hope to restore the ‘same level of entrepreneurship to Seppeltsfield’ shown by the original family. Kilkanoon Wines, having sold its 26% stake in Seppeltsfield, has now invested the proceeds in its own winery and core vineyards, some of which were previously leased. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Mar 27& 29, 2013]
FROM PAST DIGESTS … 5 YEARS AGO
Action by COAG: Uniform national drinking laws, tougher serving policies and warning labels on all alcohol containers were amongst aspects considered at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Adelaide on March 26. State and territory leaders then referred these and other options to the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, which will report to COAG in December 2008. The Council will consider trading hours, responsible service of alcohol and the alcohol content of RTDs as well as pursuing mandatory health warnings on all packaged alcohol. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Mar 27 2008]
Mainstream beer review Reviewing the mainstream beer situation in Australia, Charles McColl points out that it is still a’ state-by-state thing, with each state having a separate, strong identity’. Mainstream beers have well over half the total beer market and are heavily supported by sports sponsorships and aligned promotions. Overall, Foster’s Victoria Bitter is the country’s favourite beer but Carlton Draught (Foster’s) is bucking the flat trend of the mainstream category. Lion Nathan has given national promotion to Tooheys New, which remains No.1 tap beer in NSW, supported by Tooheys Extra Dry and Tooheys Old, both of which are also available nationally.
Elsewhere for LN, Castlemaine XXXX Bitter is king in QLD with XXXX Gold; the latter also has strong support around the nation. West End Draught, top in SA, and Swan Lager and Emu Bitter from WA, whilst strong in their own states are generally considered as regional beers.
Growth of full-strength packaged beers, largely driven by the low-carb segment, is evident in all states but at rates lower than the total packaged category, due to the high growth of premium brands. Low-carb sales now represent 6.1% value of packaged beer; key brands are Pure Blonde, Hahn Super Dry and Carlton Premium Dry. [Nielsen Jan 2008] [From National Liquor News, Apr 2008]