Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013

Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is reportedly nearing a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding its plan to purchase the 50% of Grupo Modelo it doesn’t yet own. According to Bloomberg, sources say an agreement could be announced as early as next week, although ABI and the DOJ may need a short extension to the April 9 court deadline for a settlement. The agreement will likely include major revisions to ABI’s proposed $20 million deal, including a sale of the rights to the Modelo portfolio in the U.S. and the group’s Piedras Negras brewery (which produces Modelo’s beer for the U.S. market) to Constellation Brands. Concurrently, the DOJ is also evaluating Constellation’s intentions to increase capacity at the Piedras Negras brewery by roughly 70%, and will likely seek to make that commitment binding.

•Beam Inc. has launched its 2 Gingers Irish whiskey brand in the Chicago market. Previously available in other Illinois regions, the twice-distilled whiskey is also sold in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, priced at around $19.99 a 750-ml. Established by Minnesota-based entrepreneur Kieran Folliard in January 2012, 2 Gingers was acquired by Beam in December for an undisclosed sum. The brand, which is produced at Beam’s Kilbeggan Distilling Co. in Ireland, has quickly risen to become the fifth-largest Irish whiskey brand in the U.S., with sales of around 20,000 cases across 2,100 accounts last year.

Pernod Ricard has introduced its limited edition Absolut Mexico bottle in the U.S. market. The special edition, which contains unflavored Absolut vodka and retails at $19.99 a 750-ml., has been available in Mexico since last year. The Absolut Mexico package was designed by contemporary Mexican artist and tattoist Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, also known as Dr. Lakra. According to Pernod, the design “combines three legendary icons from ancient Mayan culture—Hurakan (Hurricane), Kukulkan (Serpent) and Balam (Jaguar)—and brings them to life on the Absolut bottle through a modern artistic lens that represents Mexico today.”

•Corona Light is getting a new television campaign in the U.S. market. Set to debut online April 1, the “Ditch The Herd” campaign is designed to appeal to Corona Light’s core demographic of 21- to 29-year-old college-educated beer drinkers. The television spots, which begin broadcasting April 15, were directed by Larry Charles and feature a talking sheep encouraging consumers to “switch things up” with Corona Light. Corona Light is handled in the U.S. by Crown Imports.

•Fat Cat Beer Company has launched a new brew, Beale St. Brown Ale. The 4.9%-abv beer combines 2-row Pale, Munich, Victory, Caramel and Chocolate malts and Fuggle hops. It will generally be priced around $12.99-$14.99 for a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans. The company’s portfolio of canned beer also includes Fat Cat Lager, Sultans of Wheat and ShawShank’s Injunction Pale Ale. Fat Cat expects to launch another expression, Confession IPA, in late May. Its beers are currently available in four states, including Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Virginia, with California coming online this month and other markets later this year.

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