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News Briefs For November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011

•Skyy vodka creator Maurice Kanbar is relaunching his Blue Angel vodka with a new look and a campaign centered around promoting U.S.-distilled Blue Angel as the perfect Martini vodka, beginning in the brand’s native San Francisco. Blue Angel’s relaunch is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Martini, which according to Kanbar, made its debut at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel in 1862. Ultra-premium Blue Angel was originally rolled out in 2009.

•New York’s Acker Merrall & Condit brought in a total of $14.5 million at its recent two-day Hong Kong wine sale, resulting in the highest-selling wine auction this year. Led by a high-profile collection of Burgundies from American collector Don Stott, the 98%-sold auction set 145 world records. Top sales included a case of 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache sold for HK$536,800 ($68,821), a case of 1985 La Tache for HK$390,400 ($50,247) and six bottles of Domaine Roumier Musigny 1978 for HK$463,600 ($59,669). Acker Merrall’s fourth and final Hong Kong auction of the year will be held December 9-10.

•Wines from Spain—a promotional division of New York City’s Trade Commission of Spain—and the Consejo Regulador DO of Rias Baixas have launched a new $2-million Rias Baixas Albariño wine campaign in the U.S. Running through 2013, the initiative will promote Spain’s Rias Baixas region and its flagship Albariño grape through media relations, sampling programs, advertising and education targeting the media, wine trade and consumers. Last year, 1.9 million liters of Albariño were exported from Spain to the U.S. (up 259% from 2004), making it the wine’s leading international market, according to Wines from Spain.

•With annual exports currently valued at NZ$1.1 billion ($877m), New Zealand’s wine industry is aiming to double that figure by 2020, by focusing on North America and China in particular. New Zealand wine exports to the U.S. grew 23.3% to 2.57 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank. The New Zealand Winegrowers trade group says top U.S. markets such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington will be key targets in the coming years. New Zealand also hopes to benefit from growth in China spurred by a recent China-New Zealand free-trade agreement.

Whole Foods Market Inc. reported net income of $75.5 million in its fiscal fourth quarter ended September 25, while sales rose 12% to $2.4 billion. For the entire fiscal year of 2011, Whole Foods posted net income of $342.6 million, compared with $245.8 million in fiscal 2010. Revenue was $10.1 billion in 2011, compared with $9 billion in 2010. Many analysts expected Whole Foods to be hit hard by the economy this year, but the chain has maintained momentum by cutting costs, slowing expansion and offering more lower-priced options to consumers.

•Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the restaurant industry experienced job growth during October, with a total of 12,800 restaurant jobs added during the 31-day period. In the 12 months ended October 31, 2011, restaurant employment rose 1.7%, compared with 1.1% over the same period a year earlier. The best growth was seen in bars and taverns, which added jobs at a rate of 4.8%, followed by food catering services at 3.2%, coffee and ice cream shops at 2.6%, quick-service restaurants at 2.5% and full-service restaurants at 1.4%. The October gain followed strong employment growth in September (18,300 jobs added) and August (21,700 jobs added).


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