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News Briefs for December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011

•The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has reported global Champagne shipments of 192 million bottles (16 million cases) for the year to date through September. With the fourth quarter and holiday season yet to conclude, shipments are on track to near 2007’s record high of 339 million bottles. (The fourth quarter typically accounts for anywhere from a third to a half of annual Champagne sales.) The strong performance marks Champagne’s continued rebound following the category’s dramatic decline in 2008 and 2009. Last year, global Champagne shipments rose 8.9% to 26.63 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Diageo will roll out new packaging for its Talisker single malt Scotch whisky brand across global markets next year. The packaging will feature a map of the Isle of Skye (home of Talisker), as well as seascape photography by Cailean Maclean and Angus Bremner on the box. Talisker 10-year-old will be first to receive the new packaging in the U.K. The remaining expressions will roll out across the globe throughout the remainder of 2012.

•Acker Merrall & Condit brought in a total of HK$72.75 million ($9.09m) at its latest Hong Kong auction, held December 8 and 10. The two-day event was 92% sold with a total of 800 lots, including rare “superlots” of Romaneé Conti, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Petrus, among others. The top sale was a 55-bottle superlot of Romaneé Conti featuring every vintage from 1952 through 2007, which sold for HK$6,344,000 ($813,333), setting the record for any single wine lot this year, as well as the highest price for any lot of Romaneé Conti ever sold at auction, according to Acker Merrall. The recent sale brings Acker Merrall’s 2011 annual Hong Kong sales total to HK$537 million ($69m).

•P.F. Chang’s China Bistro has reopened its unit in the Irvine Spectrum Center shopping mall in Irvine, California. The entire building was rebuilt to have a new architectural design, and the restaurant has undergone a number of menu and décor changes, which the company will consider rolling out nationally to its other 204 locations if the changes prove successful. The new 8,000-square-foot Irvine unit has a revamped food menu of pan-Asian fare, complemented by already-popular P.F. Chang’s dishes, as well as 90 international wine selections, an extended craft and imported beer list and a new signature cocktail menu.

•Despite increased commodity costs in 2011, the casual-dining segment experienced a modest 1.2% increase in menu prices in 2011 over 2010, according to a recent survey by Intellaprice LLC of 176 casual-dining restaurants nationwide. At the beginning of the year, many restaurant operators said they would be raising menu prices due to increased commodity and fuel costs, yet results from this recent survey show that operators were generally conservative with menu pricing in 2011.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is releasing Draftmark, a home draft system, to retailers and liquor stores in the St. Louis area today, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The draft system is roughly the size of a long 12-pack of cans and dispenses beer (Budweiser, Bass or Shock Top) from one-gallon plastic tubes that are sold separately. Draftmark will be priced around $50 for the base and $14 for each refill (which offer 11 pours of 12 ounces each). ABI has no immediate plans for a wider rollout beyond St. Louis. In other company news, ABI has tapped the McGarryBowen ad agency to handle marketing for its Bud Light brand and Translation Agency to be responsible for marketing of Bud Light line extensions like Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Platinum.

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