Briefs: SABMiller, Playboy, and whisky tax

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Energy drinks Drink Energy drink Alcoholic beverage

This week, SABMiller declines to bid for S&N, Playboy makes a
push into US energy drink market and The Scotch Whisky Association
aims to maintain a freeze on spirits tax.

SABMiller quashes S&N rumour International brewer SABMiller has ruled out a rival bid for UK-based Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) amidst mounting speculation that it was considering a move for the company.

The brewer said yesterday that it had taken a preliminary evaluation of S&N, but did not wish to take the deal further.

The deal could have setback a €7.8bn bid made for the company last month from a consortium consisting of Carlsberg and Heineken, though the bid now looks to be going ahead uncontested.

If S&N accepts the proposals, then Heineken and Carlsberg will split S&N's assets, with the former, as planned, acquiring full control of the profitable Baltic Beverages Holdings (BBH) joint venture.

Playboy aims to energise drinks market The beverage industry may not be the first thing associated with Hugh Hefner and his Playboy empire, but the famous bow-tied bunny logo will soon be adorning cans of a new energy being rolled out across s number of US states next month.

The beverage, called somewhat unsurprisingly the Playboy Energy Drink, will come in both a regular and sugar-free variety, according to manufacturer Play Beverages.

The drink maker said the roll out was designed to target strong growth within the functional beverage market in the country, particularly for energy drinks.

This demand has seen a number of varied and sometimes-controversial product launches within the country in the last year.

After many failed attempts, Redux beverages this month received approval by the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell one of its product under the name Cocaine after an earlier voluntary recall, concerning claims made on its can .

Both brands are now likely to go head to head in the country.

US consumers drank 990m litres of energy drinks during 2006, a 47 per cent increase over the previous year, making the country the largest global market for the product, according to market analyst Zenith International.

Zenith research director, Gary Roethenbaugh said the US was becoming an increasingly significant market for energy drinks, and as such was driving global growth for the product.

In terms of regional market share, despite the US markets prominance, Asia-Pacific continued to dominate demand last year accounting for 47.8 per cent of all energy drink consumption, Zenith said.

North America was the second most important market place with a 29.1 per cent global share followed by Western Europe with 12.5 per cent.

Emerging markets for energy drinks link Eastern Europe and Latin America accounted for 2.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.

Whisky group calls for tax freeze The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) this week appealed to the UK government for a continued freeze on taxing spirits products in order to allow the industry to compete with rising input costs.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the SWA, claimed the government had shown a fairer stance on alcohol in recent years, though rejected calls for higher taxes to prevent irresponsible consumption of the product.

"Spirits duty stability boosts competitiveness and has helped distillers to invest heavily in their operations and supply chain across Scotland ," he stated.

"Calls for higher duties to tackle alcohol misuse are misplaced."

Hewitt said that the industry had already shown itself to be strongly committed to working with the government in promoting responsible drinking, claiming that duty rises are not the way to tackle the issue.

However, some believe that the industry is failing in its aims to promote responsible drinking.

Last week, Ken Jones, head of the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers, claimed that alcohol manufacturers were targeting children, reflecting wider European concerns over irresponsible drinking throughout the bloc.

"We've got to challenge the multi-national companies to stop selling booze to children and end the crazy promotions that target them," he stated.

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