Alcohol advertising A study initiated by the Cancer Council Australia into television coverage of NRL and AFL football alleges that exposure to alcohol advertising, both scheduled and adventitious via ground displays, is excessive. The Australian Medical Association called for immediate and radical changes to be made and pointed out that television coverage of some sports, such as basketball and netball, did not involve alcohol advertising but cricket and the major football codes relied heavily on support from the alcohol industry. [From various sources]
Beer excise freeze? In a recent submission to the Federal Treasury, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintained that ‘the beer industry is no longer recession proof and it’s time that beer received similar favours to those enjoyed by wine and other beverages.’ CUB asked the Treasurer to follow the lead of the UK Government, which has cut beer excise for the first time in 54 years, saying that tax now makes up 50% of the price of a case of VB. Australia has one of the highest beer excise rates in the world – we pay $32 per litre of pure alcohol compared, for example, with about $3 in Germany, $6 in Canada and $28 in UK. [From Adelaide Advertiser, Apr 22, 2013]
Announcement of the submission brought a statement from Mr Michael Thorn of the Foundation for Alcohol Research, indicating that a significant increase in beer excise is warranted as ‘beer drinkers are sadly responsible for most of the problems we see on our streets from irresponsible drinking and we know that price is the key determinant.’ [From Australian Brews News, Apr 23, 2013]
What a ludicrous response – what about all other forms of alcohol? Little evidence exists to confirm that price is the key determinant for many binge drinkers etc… the arguments are many.
Australian Brews News says it well: ‘Why single out beer? Perhaps it would do Mr Thorn a world of good to pop into any one of the hundreds of bars, restaurants, cocktail joints and brewery bars in Australia to see beer drinkers enjoying their favourite brews responsibly while contributing to the more than 6 billion dollars that tax revenue swipes from beer and other alcohol.
And as to his generalisation about lower beer pricing? Maybe he could climb the bar and ask for a show of hands of those who would happily drink more beer in a session if the tax were relaxed. Would they suddenly become irresponsible for the sake of a few cents and wander off into the night to king-hit some unsuspecting stranger?’
The brewing industry in Australia has for years suffered from high excise rates, plus a seemingly biased system for its automatic indexation, a review of which is long overdue. However, given reports of current problems with Federal and State budgets, I for one am not holding my breath for the Treasurer to look favourably on CUB’s worthy submission…but I hope I am wrong for the sake of all brewers – big and small.
BEER & BREWING: Australia – general
Asahi’s problems The Japanese company Asahi says it paid too much when it bought Independent Distillers from its then private equity owners Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas for NZD 1.5 billion (AUD 1.25 billion), who acquired Independent Distillers in 2006 for AUD 1 billion, outbidding other interested parties such as Brown-Forman, Lion Nathan, Diageo and Asahi.
Asahi now alleges that the forecast earnings of Independent Distillers were ‘inflated’ due to the wrongful inclusion of income and exclusion of expenditure to the value of AUD 35 million and it is seeking compensation from Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas to the order of possibly AUD 415 million. The matter will be decided in the courts in both Australia and New Zealand. [From Brauwelt International Newsletter & other sources]
BEER & BREWING: Australia – mainstream breweries
Coopers NSW is poised to become Coopers largest domestic market as the brewer’s position is consolidated on the east coast. In January beer sales in NSW topped those of home state SA for the first time. Although the result was not repeated in February, March or April, chairman Glenn Cooper said that there was no doubt that NSW would quickly overtake SA on a regular basis. In 2012, Coopers sold a record 688,000hL with SA accounting for 29.6% and NSW 25.6%; the total volume showed a 9.7% increase over the previous year and sales in NSW have increased at or near double digit rates for the past 10 years and are continuing to grow strongly. Total sales for fy 2012/13 are expected to top 700,000hL [From Australian Brews News, May 1, 2013]
A function will be held on May 29 to launch the 3rd edition of Coopers Brewery history book: Jolly Good Ale and Old: Coopers Brewery 1862 – 2012.
At a party in Adelaide on April 30 to launch issue #24 of Beer & Brewer magazine, guest Michael Weldon spoke of the burgeoning art of beer and cider matching – something he has been working on in partnership with Coopers – but the award for the most entertaining speech went to Tim Cooper who declared that beer ‘is a meal in a glass and that young people are far better off drinking it than RTDs as beer is far better for their health.’ Tim declared that the days he didn’t have at least four beers stood out in his mind as they were so rare. [From Beer & Brewer, May 2, 2013]
CUB/Foster’s Sales data from February and March this year indicate that Victoria Bitter (VB) has regained the position of No.1 beer in the country but rival XXXX Gold is the leader on an annual basis. [From The Shout, Apr 29, 2013]
Lion Quarterly beer volumes were down 2.8 % for the quarter ended December 31, 2012 – an improvement on a volume decline of 4.6% While the beer market remained challenging over the period, Lion said that, with volume from new international premium and craft brands now included in its portfolio, volumes increased 14% Corona Extra recorded its strongest performance to date, gaining a share point and growing ahead of the category during the quarter and James Squire and Little Creatures continued to flourish, both increasing volume share. [From Australian Brews News, Apr 27, 2013]
BEER & BREWING: Australia – smaller breweries
Conference The program for the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA) conference on May 22 & 23 in Melbourne is designed to appeal to all members of the craft brewing industry. Peter Aldred, Shawn Sherlock and Brendan Varis are among presenters of technical brewing aspects and the program will also include topics such as selling to the trade, running tourist venues, brewery finances and brand architecture. Little Creatures founders Howard Cearns and Nic Trimboli, PR figure Angie Bradbury and Woolworths Ian Kingham are among presenters dealing with the latter aspects. [From Australian Brews News, April 18 2013]
SA: The next experimental release from McLaren Vale Beer Co will be available in bottles for the first time; until now the one-off brews have been released in kegs only. The most recent in the series, Rhubarb Wit, was an unfiltered Belgian wheat beer with additions of ground coriander seed, dried orange peel and rhubarb. [From The Shout, Apr 29, 2013]
Vic: Craft beer brand Cricketers Arms (the brain-child of Melbourne entrepreneur Paul Scott) has been acquired by Independent Distillers, thus continuing the Asahi subsidiary’s reinvention as a major multi-beverage supplier. Independent Distillers said the brand gives it a ‘highly creditable domestic mainstream craft beer company to further enhance its beer portfolio.’ Cricketers Arms, which has been produced under contract by Mildura Brewery since 2009, is not considered a typical craft beer, with some commentators calling it a ‘session beer’ – a derogatory term sometimes used by craft brewers for non-extreme beers. [From The Shout, Apr 26, 2013 & other sources]
WA: Woolworths will retain its 25% share in Gage Roads Brewing under the terms of a $7.4 million share placement to the retailer and institutional investors. Gage Roads offered a total of 36,950,000 shares at a price of $0.15 per share to raise $5,542,500 and Woolworths will retain its 25% by acquiring 12,481,439 shares for $1,872,216. Gage Roads, now at the midpoint of its four-year growth plan, has already delivered ’most of the capacity increases’ required to triple production capacity to three million cartons per annum by fy 2015. The expansion of the east coast draught beer supply contract with Woolworths majority-owned ALH Group was also announced. [From The Shout, Apr 22, 2013]
WINE & SPIRITS
Barossa Valley sale Delegat’s Group Ltd, the NZ company behind the Oyster Bay wine brand, has purchased the assets of Barossa Valley Estate (BVE) for $24.7 million. The assets include a 5,000 tonne winery and 41 ha vineyard, as well as assigned grape-grower contracts. The acquisition will enable Delegat’s Group to participate in the iconic and globally-recognized Barossa Valley Shiraz market. In February, when BVE went into receivership, likely suitors were thought to include Chinese investors and Woolworths. [From The Shout, Apr 26, 2013]
Seppeltsfield anniversary The gravity flow winery at Seppeltsfield (Barossa Valley, SA) is celebrating 100 vintages, with its 2013 vintage now complete. The winery, designed and built by Oscar Seppelt in 1888, operated for 96 consecutive vintages to 1984. It then became a museum but was resurrected in 2010 with new investment and has now officially completed its centenary vintage. When finished in the late 19th century, the winery was heralded as the largest of its type in the world. In the absence of electricity and modern day pumps, it was built into the hillside on a series of terraces and gravity was utilized to guide the flow of must and wine down through the terraced levels. Seppeltsfield said ‘Today, whilst the winery is now complemented with modern equipment, the principle of harnessing gravity is still used. Only minimal pumping is required to transfer fruit to the fermenters and marc to the presses, resulting in a winemaking style centered around gentle handling.’ [From The Shout, Apr 29, 2013]
FROM PAST DIGESTS … 5 YEARS AGO
India – a market with enormous potential The Indian beer market has gone from just under 6 million hL in 2000 to over 12 million in 2007. The market is dominated by United Breweries (which has an alliance with Scottish & Newcastle) and Shaw Wallace (SAB Miller) and Anheuser-Busch, Asia Pacific Breweries, Carlsberg and InBev have a presence. Strong beer (over 5% abv) accounts for two-thirds of sales with UB’s Kingfisher the leading brand; 96% of beer is bottled – mainly in 650 mL returnable glass bottles – and draught beer sales are negligible. The beer market is expected to grow strongly, along with juices and nectars, still non-alcoholic beverages and wine. PET containers are expected to continue to replace glass. [From Brauwelt International, Apr 2008]
Award winning craft beer At this year’s Sydney Royal Beer Competition, Murray’s Craft Brewing Co (mid-NSW north coast) won a gold medal with their Grand Cru; at 8.8% abv this beer – a hybrid of a Belgian trippel and a strong ale – is thought to be the only example of its kind brewed in Australia. Murray’s also gained two silver medals and a bronze. [From Food Australia, May 2008]