Briefs: Anheuser-Busch, Nestle and cannabis booze

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bottled water Anheuser-busch

In the latest news roundup, Anheuser-Busch will continue to step up
pricing in the US, Coca-Cola is considering Indian expansion,
Nestle take a controlling stake in bottled water group Henniez, and
the number could be up for cannabis gin.

Anheuser Busch adapting to US beer demands Anheuser Busch, brewer of Budweiser, has told investors that the company remains on track for long-term growth on the back of successfully adapting its operations to meet market challenges.

The US-based company told investors at a conference last week that it expected to meet its full year targets for 2007, and predicted a bright future ahead despite some recent difficulties in the UK beer market due to pricing and expansion.

Group vice president W Baker said that the last two years have bought "considerable" changes to both the company's operations and the wider US beer industry in general.

The brewer therefore has increasingly sought to expand its portfolio, particularly for imported and craft brands, in the country, according to baker.

"To support this broadened portfolio, we have transformed our selling system to make it both more personal and high tech at the same time," he said .

"We have also been making changes in marketing and media, with more significant changes planned for next year."

Baker claims that because of this restructuring, the company is therefore better prepared for the challenges ahead.

The group also entend to enact a strategy of price increases through its US beer operations during late 2007 and early 2008.

He claimed that the companies optimism reflected the current trend in the US beer market, with shipment volume this year up 1.8 per cent for the year to date in October.

Though commodity costs have not been favourable to processors, Anheuser-Busch said it had successfully delivered productivity saving in its operations during the year as well.

Baker also praised the company's international beer business, which he claimed through markets such as Mexico, where it owns 50 per cent of brewer Grupo Modelo, had been major contributors to growth.

Nestle completes Henniez purchase Nestle has successfully acquired a 99.03 per cent in bottled water manufacturer Sources Minérales Henniez to further consolidate its share in the global bottled water market.

Along with the majoirty voting rights, the company as of 29 November, will also take control of the group's manufacturing assets.

Through the purchase, Nestle Waters had acquired Henniez's three production sites in the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Valais, along with its Henniez and Cristalp brands.

The whole group had sales of CHF152m (€92m) in 2006.

With an annual bottled water consumption of 127 litres per capita, the Swiss market is above the European consumption average with further growth expected at one per cent to two per cent annually, the company said.

With the addition of Henniez's assets, Nestle now holds hold about a 25 per cent share of the country's market for the product.

Coca-Cola exec reveals India plans Coca-Cola is set to spend $250m dollars on increasing capacity in India to meet growing demand for its goods in the country, press reports have said.

"India is a very important market for not just what it's today, but also for the growth potential and also in terms of being a growth market," group chief executive Muhtar Kent told the Dow Jones Newswires service.

"We are growing in India rapidly, quarter after quarter, and we need to invest in infrastructure to ensure that the growth continues."

The company was unavailable for comment over it plans in the country.

UK drinks watchdog stub out cannabis spirits Cannabis-flavoured drinks have attracted the attention of UK drinks watchdog the Portman Group, which has called for a ban on the products to smoke out drug paraphernalia from the already under pressure spirits industry.

Three spirits products, which the watchdog says all come from beverage manufacturer Spain-based Beveland, will be affected by the ban.

The offending brands highlighted by the Portman group include 'Perigan's Cannabis-Flavoured Gin', 'Iganoff Cannabis-Flavoured Vodka' and 'Rodnik's Cannabis-Flavoured Absinthe'.

It was a complaint by a publican in the English city of Bristol, which bought attention to the brands, after he complained that each of the bottles appeared to contain a picture of what appeared to be a cannabis leaf on its label.

An independent complaints panel then ruled that these labels were strictly in breach of the watchdog's directive on the naming, packaging or promotion of alcohol using illicit drugs association.

Portman Group chief executive David Poley said the industry had a duty therefore to cut out the idea that alcohol and drugs were interchangeable.

"The industry must not contribute to this attitude but instead distance itself totally from illegal drugs," he said.

"This rare example of inappropriate marketing should not be allowed to blight the responsible actions of the overwhelming majority of drinks producers."

The Portman Group is a social responsibility agency, which represents a number of the country's leading brewers.

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