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News Briefs for February 21, 2013

February 21, 2013

•U.S. wine exports were up 2.6% last year, to a record $1.43 billion in winery revenues, according to the Wine Institute. Shipments also rose, reaching 112.2 million cases. California continues to account for around 90% of exports. The European Union’s 27-member countries consumed $485 million worth of California wines last year, up 1.7%. Canada (+14% to $434 million), Hong Kong (-30% to $115m), Japan (+6% to $111m), China (+18% to $74m), Vietnam (+22% to $27m), Mexico (+4% to $20m) and South Korea (+26% to $16m) also continue to be important export destinations for California producers. The Wine Institute says growth is being spurred by its global campaign touting California as an “aspirational place,” which is reaching 25 countries.

•As we tweeted shortly after yesterday’s announcement, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), Crown Imports and the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) have agreed to delay court proceedings related to the DOJ’s challenge of ABI’s proposed takeover of Grupo Modelo until March 19. ABI and Crown said in twin statements that the delay would allow them to discuss with the DOJ proposed revisions to the original transaction, perhaps avoiding a court fight. ABI and Crown say the changes to the deal, which were proposed February 14 and effectively grant Crown full control over production and sales of Modelo brands for the U.S. market, should satisfy the DOJ’s concerns about ABI gaining an anticompetitive influence in the U.S. through its $20.1 billion play for the 50% of Modelo it doesn’t already own.

•Rémy Cointreau’s Mount Gay rum is set to launch a new Black Barrel extension to the U.S. market to celebrate the brand’s 310th anniversary. The new marque will be available in select markets beginning in April, priced at $29.99. It’s made with a higher proportion of double distillates than other Mount Gay rums and is finished in charred Bourbon barrels, giving it notes of pepper, spice and wood. Concurrently, Mount Gay will roll out new packaging across the entire portfolio, beginning with the Black Barrel release. The brand’s range of Barbados-made rums also includes 1703 Old Cask Selection, Extra Old, Eclipse and Eclipse Silver.

•Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. has promoted four executives, effective immediately. James F. Mazany has been promoted from COO of Joe’s Crab Shack to president of the brand; James W. Kuhn has been promoted from COO of Brick House Tavern + Tap to president of the brand; Michael J. Dixon, who was named CFO of Ignite in January, has taken on the additional role of president of the company (former president Raymond A. Blanchette remains CEO); and Edward J. McGraw has been promoted from senior vice president of development for Ignite to chief development officer of the company. Ignite Restaurant Group is the owner of the 130-unit Joe’s Crab Shack and 15-unit Brick House Tavern + Tap chains, and the company is currently in the process of acquiring the 210-unit Romano’s Macaroni Grill chain from Golden Gate Capital in a deal worth $55 million, as Shanken News Daily reported on February 7.


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