Coca-Cola concluded $4.9bn acquisition of Costa

The Coca-Cola Company completed an acquisition of Costa from its parent company Whitbread.

Valued at $4.9bn, the deal was first announced on 31 August 2018. It was completed after obtaining regulatory approvals in the EU and China.

The Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey said: “We see great opportunities for value creation through the combination of Costa’s capabilities and Coca-Cola’s marketing expertise and global reach.”

UK annual gin sales topped £2bn for the first time in the UK

Market data from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association showed that British consumers bought more than 73 million bottles of gin last year recording sales of £2.1bn. This was the first time that annual gin sales have topped £2bn.

From January to March 2017, 6.4 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK, which rose to nine million bottles during the same period in 2018. Over the 2018 Christmas period, gin sales were up 40% over 2017.

In 2018, flavoured gin was valued at £165m, showing an increase of 751% compared with 2017 as more brands brought out speciality gins.

McLeod Russel agreed to sell three tea estates in India

McLeod Russel signed an agreement to sell three of its tea estates located in the state of Assam to Luxmi Tea Company for an estimated value of nearly INR1.5bn ($21m).

As part of the agreement, McLeod Russel sold Addabarie Tea Estate, Mahakali Tea Estate and Dirai Tea Estate assets. Together, the three sites contributed around INR770m ($11m) to McLeod Russel’s turnover in the 2018 financial year.

Luxmi Tea is engaged in the growing, manufacture and sale of tea. McLeod Russel intends to use proceeds from the divestiture to reduce its debts and make new investments in its existing tea estates.

Microsoft, Mackmyra and Fourkind to create whiskey using AI

Microsoft, technology consultancy firm Fourkind and Swedish whisky distillery Mackmyra formed a partnership to create a new whisky.

The beverage is one of the first consumer recipes to be created using artificial intelligence (AI).

Mackmyra Master Blender Angela D’Orazio said: “We always strive to challenge the traditions in the very traditional whisky trade and that’s something we really do now when we develop a whisky with the help of AI.”

Johnnie Walker launches four whiskies with Scottish flavours

Johnnie Walker launched four 12-year-old blended Scotch whiskies in the Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series.

The products offer distinct flavour profiles that represent four areas in Scotland. Each Scotch is crafted using whiskies from a particular region to capture the primary flavour characteristics of that area.

The collection captures the fruity flavours of Speyside, the rich characteristics of the Highlands, the sweet notes of the Lowland region and the smoky finish of Islay whiskies.

EBRD invests in Kazakh beverage producer RG Brands

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) agreed to provide a loan of $25m to support operations of Kazakhstan-based food and beverages manufacturer RG Brands.

RG Brands is engaged in the production of a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages, including juices, soft drinks, UHT milk, tea, water and franchised brands.

It is reported to be one of the largest private sector clients of the EBRD in Kazakhstan.

Nestlé debuts plant-based latte coffees in UK and Ireland

Swiss food and drink company Nestlé expanded its products offering in the UK and Irish markets with the launch of three plant-based coffees under its Nescafé Gold brand.

The three new latte variants including almond, oat and coconut, are certified by the Vegan Society. Therefore, the products can be used by consumers following a vegan diet.

Nescafé UK and Ireland business head Neil Stephens said: “Our new premium Nescafé Gold frothy coffees bring the plant-based, non-dairy trend out of the coffee shop and into the home.”

Campari Group agrees to acquire French company Rhumantilles

Italy-based beverage company Campari Group signed an agreement with Groupe Chevrillon and a group of minority shareholders to acquire French company Rhumantilles.

Under the terms of the agreement, Campari acquired the company for an enterprise value of €60m ($66m).

Rhumantilles owns 96.5% stake in the Martinique-based Bellonnie&Bourdillon Successeurs, the owner of French rum brands Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny and Duquesne, a brand designed for the local market.

Nestlé opens juice manufacturing plant in Pakistan

Global food and beverage company Nestlé expanded its juice production capacity in Pakistan with the opening of a $22m plant at its Sheikhupura Factory.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar inaugurated the company’s Nestlé Fruita Vitals plant.

The plant is an edition to the company’s facilities operating in Pakistan and has 24,000 units per hour production capacity. It produces Nestlé’s range of juices, nectars and drinks.

Marston’s agrees sale of 137 pubs to Admiral Taverns

UK-based independent brewer and pub operator Marston’s signed an agreement to divest 137 pubs to the community pub group Admiral Taverns for consideration of £44.9m ($57.8m).

The divestiture is in line with Marston’s plan to sell some of its non-core assets to reduce its debt.

Marston’s CEO Ralph Findlay said: “We are making good progress with our plans to reduce our net debt by £200m by 2023 in part through the disposal of non-core assets. We are encouraged by the level of market interest that this portfolio of pubs has attracted.