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News briefs: PepsiCo, Refresco and Viking beer ban

By Neil Merrett , 25-Sep-2008
Last updated on 25-Sep-2008 at 15:40 GMT

This week, PepsiCo is reportedly India bound to boost its beverage sales, Refresco looks to expand into European juice making and a beer with a Viking heritage comes into trouble over its branding.

PepsiCo pledges Indian investment - report

PepsiCo is looking to invest $500m in a bid to shake up its sales within its Indian operations, according to news reports.

Indra Nooyi, the beverage and snack group’s chief executive officer, told gathered reporters this week that the company hoped to triple its business in the world’s most second most populist nation, according to Bloomberg.

Nooyi said that stagnating sales of some of the group’s beverage brands in the US, as well as higher commodity prices impacting on snack manufacture had led to the company to take the decision.

PepsiCo is currently holding a conference in the country for its management and other executives in a bid to develop an understanding of the market, the report says.

Refresco plans Euro juice push

Netherlands-based beverage group Refresco says it has signed an agreement with Bavaria as part of a planned acquisition of the group’s soft drink manufacturing plant in Hoensbroek, in the south east of the country.

Refresco, a manufacturer of branded and private label soft drinks and juices, said the move was designed to boost its portfolio of products in Europe.

Group chief executive officer Hans Roelofs added that the takeover plans would combine both companies’ expertise to help ensure efficiency improvements in the manufacturing process.

“Our goal is to form a European platform of fruit juices and soft drinks manufacturers,” he stated. “This will improve our service to regional customers and our businesses can profit from an extended Refresco network”.

Viking ale maker braced for branding battle

The Scotland-based brewer of a Viking branded ale called Skull Splitter, is facing the wrath of an industry led, UK-based social responsibility organisation over the ‘aggressive’ imagery associated with its name.

The Orkney Brewery says that new research commissioned by The Portman Group has singled out the 8.5 per cent volume, internationally sold beer alleging that its name plays up both violence and the impact of its alcohol content on a consumer.

Under The Portman Group’s mandate, its members will meet later in the year to decide if any penalties should be imposed on the brewery, which could lead to recommendations for retailers not to stock the product.

The brewer says that it intends to fight the report’s findings claiming its name is derived from Thorfinn Hausakluif, a Viking Earl of Orkney who also liked to be known as the “Skull Splitter.”

Norman Sinclair, managing director of parent company Sinclair Breweries said that the company had already explained the ale’s origin to the Portman group and claimed that the body’s focus on the craft beer segment was misguided.

“We’ve always promoted a responsible attitude towards our products and, whilst we recognise that the Portman Group is trying to address a very real problem with under-age drinking in this country, real ales are not the cause of these issues,” he said. “Sadly, the Portman Group does not appear to have grasped this fact.