alcohol

Once the self-proclaimed “King of Good Times”, flamboyant Indian bmillionaire tycoon Vijay Mallya has seen his airline grounded and has seen part of his drinks empire, United Spirits, controlled by Diageo. Now he’s no longer the biggest player in his remaining drinks business.

As of Tuesday, the largest shareholder in United Breweries, the maker of Kingfisher beer, is Heineken. 

Is Russia the world’s toughest beer market? It’s beginning to look that way, after Heineken said on Tuesday it would see a 10 per cent decline in volumes sales in the country this year. That’s even worse than a recent gloomy assessment by Carlsberg, which said volume had slumped by 7 per cent in the first half.

“Russia is a very, very difficult market,” René Hooft Graafland, Heineken’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call, warning that profits were likely to fall this year “in the low single digits”, sending the brewer’s shares down 5 per cent by mid morning in Amsterdam. 

The century-old global battle over who gets to call their beer Budweiser, the Czech Republic’s Budejovicky Budvar or Beligian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, has seen the Belgians defeated on the Italian front, following a court ruling that allows the Czech brewer to use the brand on the Italian market.

Petr Samec, Budvar’s spokesman, told CTK the Czech news agency on Tuesday that the Italian decision “a great victory”, adding: “This is probably the toughest loss for ABI in more than 100 years of global war for the Budweiser brand.” 

A Chinese manufacturer and direct seller of health, cleaning and beauty products with Malaysian roots may not be the most obvious cross-border investor in the South African wine industry. But Guangdong-based Perfect China is selling volumes of classic wine with a French heritage produced in South Africa’s vineyards. It is one more sign of the potential for Asian investors with an innovative eye for Africa. 

Wine night in Nanning

When Luca Famiglietti, a 45-year-old Italian wine supplier, first came to China in 1995, he never thought he would end up selling wine from his motherland in Qinzhou Port, Guangxi province two decades later.

But despite the allure of richer trade areas, Qinzhou, China’s sixth “free-trade port”, is emerging as a trade hub for the poorer southwestern Chinese region, including the provinces of Guangxi, Yunnan and Guizhou. 

What’s the world’s most popular tipple?

It’s likely you won’t even have heard of it, let alone tried it. The world’s biggest-selling brands of spirits come from emerging markets – but they face increasing international competition, according to new research. 

The Kremlin’s campaign against alcohol abuse is taking its toll on Russia’s vodka industry.

As soaring taxes on liquor have put the country’s favourite tipple beyond the reach of ordinary people, sales of legally produced vodka have plunged this year – and the Russian drinks market is awash with moonshine. 

It took him a long time to reel in his trophy, but it looks as though Russian alcohol and finance magnate Roustam Tariko has finally landed Poland’s Central European Distribution Company, a leading regional vodka producer.

In an announcement on Monday, Nasdaq-listed CEDC said that it was going into Chapter 11 proceedings which will result in Tariko’s Roust Trading owning all the shares of the reorganised company. 

By Irene Madongo and Rob Minto

When it comes to new markets for top-class wines, most people tend to think of China buying up France, by the bottle and by the vineyard.

So when it comes to champagne, where are the big growth markets? The Brics? To an extent, yes. But there is one country high on the list that might surprise: Nigeria, which is expected to see the second biggest increase in sales volume over the next five years. How come? Chart of the week takes a look. 

With confidence tanking across western economies, it’s no surprise that the world’s biggest consumer-facing industries have been looking elsewhere for growth. And it was more of the same for Diageo on Thursday, as it announced that its strongest sales and profits increases for the last half year came from developing countries.

The maker of Baileys and Guinness saw global sales grow 5 per cent to £6.04bn over the second half of 2012, with operating profits up 11 per cent to £2.05bn. But its fastest growth rates came from Africa and Latin America, as emerging consumers pour back its international spirit and local beer brands. 

This should be the time to ramp up sales of whisky to South Africa. The country has an expanding middle class and a taste for the drink, as well as a fondness for premium brands.

Instead, Scotch whisky exports to the country are dropping, and it’s domestic producers that are taking market share. 

Strong sales in emerging markets have propped up SAB Miller’s profits – again – despite the slowdown in the global economy and unfavourable foreign exchange and input costs.

The question is how long will it last? 

It looks like Vijay Mallya may finally have been thrown a lifeline for his embattled Kingfisher Airlines. But will it be enough?

After four long years of discussions, rumours and speculation, Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, agreed on Friday to buy a 53.4 per cent stake in his flagship United Spirits for more than $2bn. The attraction is obvious: Diageo gains great access to India’s 1.2bn consumers and the world’s biggest whisky market. But for Mallya, the stakes are even higher. 

scotchDiageo, the drinks producer behind brands such as Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, is booming in emerging markets. Q1 sales growth figures, reported on Wednesday, show an expansion of 16 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 11 per cent in Africa. 

The Czech Republic is scrambling to save its hard liquor sales after tainted alcohol killed more than 20 people, imposing an export ban just ahead of probable EU action and promising to set up a new regulatory regime to ensure that future sales will be safe.

The measure was imposed on Thursday evening by the Czech health ministry, adding to a ban on domestic sales of liquor that contains more than 20 per cent alcohol imposed last week and bans of sales of Czech alcohol in Poland and Slovakia after people were sickened and killed by drinking spirits from the Czech Republic.