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Ratebeer News for March 16, 2006

Beer News from Around the World
Brewers/Industry March 16, 2006      
Written by RateBeer

Santa Rosa, CALIFORNIA -

After trying the Chinese beer market with mediocre results, Heineken is now focusing on Russia. Heineken mentionned in an article that the higher cost of the beer and its bitter taste are the reason of their lack of success in China. They are now buying their sixth brewery in Russian and have high hopes for this expanding market.

Speaking of Russia, breweries owned by Baltic Beverage Holdings, a joint-venture between Scottish & Newcastle and Carlsberg, voted for a proposition of a merger. The consolidation involve four breweries, Baltika Brewries, Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo. The president of Baltika Breweries, Anton Artemiev, is very happy about the shareholders decision, he declared the following : “This merger enables us to strengthen our position as the leader in the highly competitive domestic market and gives us an extended platform for international expansion.”

As the Christ turned water into wine, a Norwegian bar employee turned water into beer, almost. A Kristiansud resident, Haldis Gundersen, decided to wash dishes but to her disbelief not water but beer came out of the faucet. She believed at first that it was a great miracle but the beer revealed itself to be flat and undrinkable. Meanwhile, at the downstairs bar water began to come out of beer taps. A further investigation revealed that the water supply and the bar’s beer conduit had been accidently cross-connected.

Pyramid Breweries inc. has announced their fourth quarter results of 2005. As a lot of other craft breweries they had a stellar year increasing their Q4 results by 11% over 2004. They believe that a strong craft beer market and their own investments and efforts in sales and marketing are the factors that provided this increase. For the whole year of 2005 they achieved annual sales for $50 million dollars, which is a company record. Pyramid representatives stated that the brewery’s focus on their wheat beers is also an important factor that contributed to their success.

SAB-Miller has received the permission from the Slovak competition authority to acquire Slovakia’s third largest brewery, Topvar. The $15 million transaction had been announced in May 2005. A SAB-Miller spokesman, Nigel Fairbrass commented the following : "Topvar is a good fit with our existing brewing business in Slovakia, Saris, which is located in the eastern part of the country. It is a regional brand, but it has national potential -- we plan to take it into the rest of the country and realise some synergies by merging it with Saris in 18 months’ time, after the acquisition is finalised."

The Boston Beer Co. are considering the expansion of their Samuel Adams brewery in Cincinnati or build a new one elsewhere. They’ve already invested $11 million in the brewery in 2005, which allowed it to produce two thirds of the company’s total volume. The rest of the production came from contract brewing. The company’s owner, Jim Koch, declared that he would like for the brewery to produce 100% of their beer. An investment of $70 to $90 million would be required to do this.

Thai Beverage, the brewer of Thailand’s best selling beer, Chang Beer, is launching a new product. Chang Light is a 4.2% abv beer and the brewery expects that it will allow them to hold 50% of the light beer market. They are also planning to launch one or two new brands later in the year in the hope of improving their 66% total market share.

Singapore’s Tiger Beer will expand its United States distribution through a deal with Anheuser-Busch. The brewery believes that the deal provides them a broader ditribution because of Anheuser-Busch’s network of nearly 600 independent wholesalers.

While we’re on the Asian brewery subject, let’s talk about the Chinese Tsingtao brewery. After a strong 2005 year where they enjoyed a 10%, the brewery is setting ambitious targets for their growth in 2006. They believe that the growth will continue on the same pace while barley prices should remain stable.



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