Wow. We knew Chinese babies were guzzling back so much foreign-made formula that British and supermarkets had to impose rationing. Now it appears their parents are handing over cans of stuff as gifts at Chinese new year, rather than the more traditional – and surely welcome – bottles of Scotch and Cognac.
Starbucks is launching its first espresso branded with a place of origin – undeterred by the fact that Guatemala, home of the new “cocoa and baked spices” brew has declared a state of agricultural emergency because of rampant coffee tree fungus.
Guatemala’s blighted crops and 275,000 coffee farmers stand in sharp contrast to the pomp surrounding Monday’s launch of the Guatemala Antigua, the first time Starbuck’s customers anywhere will have a choice of bean for their drink.
How do you toast the victory of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s socialist president, who last Sunday won another six-year term, reconfirming him as one of Latin America’s most commanding political figures?
Not, perhaps, with Scotch, beer, or coca-cola. Indeed, the manufacturers behind virtually every international drink are more likely to be in the doldrums over the news than in celebratory mood.
SABMiller has, in 18 months, doubled the number of African countries where it sells its local Chibuku beer.
But growth is not the only explosive thing about Chibuku, as drinkers of the brew well know. It ferments in the package so it doesn’t have much fizz (or alcohol) on day one; But by day four it is up to full strength; keep it much longer and you could be in for an inadvertent soaking.
Turkey was the fitting venue for a fresh debate on emerging markets: less how to get more of them than what to call them.
Industry bosses meeting at this month’s Consumer Goods Forum – who together preside over an aggregate €2.5tr of sales, approaching the entire economic output of Germany – were all keen to tap growth in emerging markets. But they were more coy about saying so, with an increasing number of speakers referring to “fast growing markets”.
Unilever, the consumer goods conglomerate, has long relied on door to door saleswomen – dubbed Shakti ammas – to sell its soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents in rural India. Now it has brought their menfolk on board.
SABMiller has finally started selling the world’s first commercially-produced cassava beer. Nearly a year later than envisaged, bottles of Impala are available under a pilot scheme in northern Mozambique.
The delay highlights how even a big multinational with deep experience of emerging markets can still be held up by details such as sourcing fresh cassava from hundreds of individual farmers. In EMs, implementation matters as much as strategy.
There are a lot of reasons to be bearish on India at the moment. The country’s stock market is among the world’s worst performers year to date. Inflation is stubbornly stuck at 9 per cent. Growth has been revised downwards to 8.2 per cent even as the central bank continues to hike interest rates at an unprecedented pace.
Yet none of this appears to have put off Emerging Global Advisors, the US-based asset management firm, from taking a punt on Asia’s third largest economy. In fact the group has just launched a a fund focusing on India consumer stocks as a play on the country’s galloping domestic consumption.
Chocolate producers are gearing up for an Easter bonanza – down Rio way.
Brazil, the world’s biggest Catholic country, ranks second only to the UK when it comes to guzzling chocolate Easter eggs. Euromonitor, the data agency, projects that the broader market for seasonal chocolate – including Christmas selections – will grow 50 per cent by 2015, far outpacing global growth of 15 per cent and the UK’s 20 per cent.
In a nod to the country’s other passion, there will be football-themed eggs along with the usual slew of Toy Story and other cartoons familiar to Brits.
Fourth time unlucky. Bright Food, the Chinese dairy conglomerate with ambitions to go global, has failed once again to cross the line. The 50 per cent stake in Yoplait, the world’s number two brand that was put on the bloc by French private equity firm PAI, has gone to General Mills of the US. The deal values it at €1.6bn.
This time at least Bright Food appeared to put up a good fight. It put more money on the table than rival bidders, bankers say, and brought the promise of something potentially bigger still – a market of 1.3bn stomachs with a growing appetite for yoghurt.
The fear of liquidity – too much of it, that is – is intensifying. India is the latest to pave the way for a possible extension of capital controls. In comments published today on the Reserve Bank of India’s website, Duvvuri Subbarao, governor, ruled out – for now – a Tobin tax but was quick to add: “it needs reiterating that no policy instrument is clearly off the table and our choice of instruments will be determined by the context.”