April's top stories: Asahi to acquire SABMiller brands, Drink Me Chai Iced Chai Latte

Japan-based Asahi Group has agreed to acquire SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime brands in a $2.9bn deal, and Drink Me Chai, a leading Chai brand in the UK, has entered the ready-to-drink market with the launch of Iced Chai Latte. Drinks-insight-network.com wraps-up the key headlines from April 2016.


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Asahi Group to acquire Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime brands from SABMiller for $2.9bn

Japan-based Asahi Group agreed to acquire SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime brands in a $2.9bn deal. The move paves the way for the planned $108bn merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.

The acquisition is subject to the completion of Anheuser-Busch InBev's merger with SABMiller.

Through the acquisition, Asahi intends to expand its growth platform in Europe.The AB InBev-SABMiller merger is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

Drink Me Chai targets UK's ready-to-drink market with Iced Chai Latte

Drink Me Chai, a leading Chai brand in the UK, enters into the ready-to-drink market with the launch of Iced Chai Latte.

The brand claimed that as there are no other Chai offerings in the UK flavoured milk market, it seeks to tap the growing sector, which is currently valued at £42m, and the increasing popularity of the Chai flavour profile.

Drink Me Chai founder Amanda Hamilton said: "Flavoured milk is set to grow at double the rate of white milk, driven by busy consumers who are health and taste conscious.

Ball and Rexam agree to divest $3.42bn assets to Ardagh

Beverage can manufacturers Ball and Rexam agreed to sell $3.42bn of assets to Ardagh, a Luxembourg-based packaging manufacturer, to secure regulatory approval for the planned £4.43bn merger.

The merger was expected to be closed in June. However, it faced regulatory concerns as the combined entity would be the dominant player in Brazil, Europe and North America, where together the firms hold a 74%, 69% and 60% market share respectively, reported the Telegraph.

To allay regulatory concerns, the two firms decided to divest some of their global assets, which represent around one-fifth of the total production.

AB InBev acquires Italian craft brewery Birra del Borgo

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Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) purchased Birra del Borgo as part of its strategy to enter into the craft beer market in Italy. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Birra del Borgo stated that the deal would enable it to secure investments for its expansion.

The firm was founded by Leonardo Di Vincenzo in 2005 in a small town around 60 miles from Rome. He will continue to head the firm as CEO.

Nestlé South Africa opens expanded instant coffee manufacturing plant

Nestlé South Africa opened its expanded instant coffee manufacturing plant in Estcourt following a R1.2bn ($84m) investment.

This forms part of the company's R2.9bn ($203m) foreign direct investment in the last five years.

The expansion includes the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, a new coffee processing plant, and the upgradation of existing coffee processing and coffee drying plants. Since construction commenced, at least 20 direct and more than 470 indirect jobs have been created.

Coca-Cola announces progress in refranchising of North American bottling operations

The Coca-Cola Company announced continued progress in its refranchising programme of North American bottling operations.

It signed letters of intent as part of its ongoing implementation of a 21st century beverage partnership model, an initiative to sustain success in North America.

The Coca-Cola system added a new bottler, which is led by Ulysses Junior Bridgeman, founder of a Louisville, US-based Manna.

Core Nutrition launches organic beverage to tap growing consumer demand in US

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Core Nutrition introduced Core Organic, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic fruit-infused beverage, as part of its efforts to tap the growing demand for an organic market in the US, which was estimated to be valued at around $40bn in 2014.

The low-calorie beverage will be rolled out at grocers, including Kroger, Safeway / Albertson's, Save Mart / Lucky Supermarkets, H-E-B, Sprouts Farmers Market, Acme, Tops Friendly Markets, Bristol Farms, and select Whole Foods Markets through May.

Further, extensive distribution will commence at 7-Eleven locations on both coasts, as part of the retailer's push for 'better for you' beverages.

Coca-Cola agrees to remove health benefits label on Vitaminwater drinks

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The New York court gave approval to a settlement agreement in a multi-year lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola over a health benefits label on its Vitaminwater line of drinks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and two law firms filed a lawsuit against the beverage firm in 2009 to stop it from making claims on labels that its drinks, which includes 32g of sugar, minimises the risk of eye disease and promotes healthy joints.

This agreement was given approval from Robert M Levy, judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Australian wine retailer Vinomofo secures funding from Blue Sky Venture Capital for global expansion

Australian-based online wine retailer Vinomofo secured A$25m ($18.8m) from Blue Sky Venture Capital, which will help in strengthening its operations, as well as venturing into new markets.

The company raised the capital for the first time in five years since it launched its operations in Australia.

The investment will help the Melbourne retailer to launch its model to six new markets, comprising the UK, the US, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, reported zdnet.com.

Alibaba to increase sale of Italian wines

Alibaba announced plans to bolster the share of Italian wine sold by its online network by tenfold.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was reported by Reuters as stating that the share of Italian wines sold on its online network platform would increase from 6% to 60%.

Speaking at Italy's Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, Ma was quoted by the news agency as saying: "Chinese people have a passion for all things Italian. Alibaba wants to be the gateway to China for Italian brands and small businesses."