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

News Briefs for March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018

•Spanish sparkling wine producer Freixenet has sold a controlling stake to Germany’s Henkell following lengthy negotiations. Under the deal, which remains subject to antitrust approval, Henkell will acquire 50.67% of Freixenet’s shares and enter into an international cooperation agreement with remaining shareholders Jose Ferrer Sala and Jose Luis Bonet Ferrer. The price wasn’t disclosed, but reports out of Spain said the acquisition was worth $270 million. In a joint statement, Henkell and Freixenet said the strategic partnership will allow them to “open up new markets and distribution channels for both companies.” In addition to its namesake Cava brand, which sells around 600,000 cases in the U.S., Freixenet’s portfolio includes Segura Viudas Cava (above a quarter-million cases) as well as California’s Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. Henkell’s U.S. range is led by Prosecco brand Mionetto, which reached 680,000 cases on double-digit growth last year.

•Diageo is set to reintroduce its Tanqueray Malacca gin on a limited basis in the U.S. Known for its spicy profile, with less emphasis on juniper than a traditional gin, Diageo says Malacca is returning due to strong demand from the mixology segment. While the U.S. will see only a limited rollout, Malacca will become part of Tanqueray’s permanent range in Canada, Australia, and travel retail. According to Impact Databank, Tanqueray has been on a steep rise over the past few years, adding roughly 1 million cases to its global total from 2013-2017 to arrive at 3.2 million cases. The brand’s North America net sales were up 8% in Diageo’s fiscal half-year through December.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has released Michelob Ultra in 7-ounce bottles in select markets in the U.S. At 55 calories per bottle, the smaller format is aimed at calorie-conscious drinkers looking for a lighter way to indulge. Michelob Ultra 7-ounce bottles are rolling out this month across Texas, Florida, Arizona, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and California. Though the domestic mainstream beer category continues to soften in the U.S., ABI reported double-digit growth for Michelob Ultra last year. The company also recently extended the brand with Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, an expression made with organic grains.

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