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

News Briefs for April 21, 2020

April 21, 2020

•While Kentucky is largely shut down during the Covid-19 crisis, its government has made life easier for the state’s homebound fans of wine, Bourbon, and beer. On April 8, the state’s legislature passed House Bill 415 and Gov. Andy Beshear allowed it to become law, legalizing direct shipping by wineries, distilleries, and breweries beginning this summer. Wine Spectator has more.

•The Trump administration has announced limited, temporary tariff relief for importers struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic. U.S. importers are now able to defer tariffs owed on goods imported in March or April for 90 days. Importers must demonstrate significant hardship, defined as a full or partial suspension of operations due to a government issued shutdown that has caused gross receipts to drop below 60% of the same period in 2019. Under the order, “an eligible importer need not file additional documentation with CBP to be eligible for this relief but must maintain documentation as part of its books and records establishing that it meets the requirements for relief.” The U.S. imposed 25% tariffs last fall on drinks categories including single malt Scotch and French, Spanish, and German wines.

•Reyes Beer Division’s West Coast arm Harbor Distributing LLC has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of Bay Area Beverage Company, which is based in Richmond, California. Bay Area Beverage’s portfolio includes Coors, Miller, Heineken, Corona, Modelo, Dos Equis, Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Anchor, New Belgium, Guinness, 21st Amendment, Green Flash, Dogfish Head, Pyramid, Duvel, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, among other brands. The company employs 200 people and delivers over 8 million cases annually to more than 3,000 customers. The deal is slated to close on June 12, and Bay Area’s portfolio will be rolled into the Reyes Beer Division operations in Northern California.

•St. Louis, Missouri-based Luxco has announced Vita Frute, a new line of RTD cocktails that come in four flavors. The 5% abv vodka-based drinks are available in Lime Basil, Watermelon, Grapefruit, and Pineapple Coconut, and all have 100 calories per serving. Vita Frute is now available across the U.S. in 4-packs of 12-ounce cans for around $9.

•Breakthru Beverage has named Sean O’Connor as executive vice president for the Florida market, overseeing all operations in the Sunshine State. O’Connor was previously executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage South Carolina. Prior to that he spent 24 years with Brown-Forman in a series of roles, including senior vice president, national sales director for North America. Breakthru’s Florida business had revenues of $890 million last year, according to Shanken’s Impact Newsletter.

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