Liquor Industry News 6-17-13

Franklin Liquors

Monday June 17th 2013


Diageo chief set to be next Compass chairman


Boss of Guinness and Smirnoff firm tipped for top job at Surrey-based services firm which made £1.1bn last year


Source: The Guardian

Sunday 16 June 2013

The long-serving boss of the Guinness and Smirnoff firm Diageo is reportedly in line to claim one of the top leadership jobs currently up for grabs in the FTSE 100.


Paul Walsh, who is stepping down at Diageo this summer after 13 years at the helm, is reported to be the next chairman of the catering and services multinational Compass.


The role, which is currently held by Sir Roy Gardner, is one of a number of top-flight vacancies that also include Lloyds Banking Group, WPP, Centrica and GlaxoSmithKline.


The Sunday Times said Walsh’s likely appointment at Compass would boost its international expansion prospects as he has overseen deals in Turkey, Brazil, India and China. Under his watch at Diageo, the firm’s market value has grown by about £30bn, helped by deals such as its acquisition of the Seagram drinks empire.


Ivan Menezes will take over as chief executive at Diageo from 1 July, though Walsh will remain for a year’s transition period.


Walsh began his career with Grand Metropolitan in 1982. The drinks firm merged with Guinness in 1997 to create Diageo.


The Surrey-based Compass, which handles catering at major sporting events such as Wimbledon and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, made profits of £1.1bn in the year to last September.




Bernard Arnault still wealthiest wine owner in France


Source: Decanter

by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

Saturday 15 June 2013

Bernard Arnault of LVMH – owner of Hennessy, Moët et Chandon and Chateau Yquem – continues to head up the list of wealthiest wine owners in France, according to the second annual roundup published in Challenges magazine this week.


His fortune is listed at ?1.5 billion, a slight rise from last year due to the appreciation in the value of his vines. Arnault (through LVMH) also owns half of Chateau Cheval Blanc with his friend and business associate Albert Frère, the wealthiest man in Belgium.


The Castel family, headed up by Pierre Castel and owners of Castel Freres and 50% of Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau Beaumont, négociant company Barrière Frères and wine merchants Nicolas is listed in second place, with a fortune of ?875 million.


Coming in third is Frédéric Rouzaud of Champagne Roederer, owner of Chateau Pichon Longueville among others, with an ?800 million fortune, just in front of Philippine de Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild with ?750 million.


Francois Pinault of Chateau Latour, Chateau Grillet and Domaine d’Eugénie comes in sixth at ?700 million, with fellow First Growth owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos of Chateau Margaux at number 6, with an estimated fortune of ?600 million.


The rest of the top 10 places go to Christian and Jean-Francois Moeuix (counted together, although their companies are in fact separate) with ?550 million, Bernard Magrez of Chateau Pape Clement with ?525 million, and Michel Reybier of Cos d’Estournel with Benjamin de Rothschild, of Chateau Clarke, each listed with a fortune of ?450 million.


Each owner within the top 10 has seen a rise in estimated net worth over the past 12 months, due to the rises in land values seen in their appellations.


The Challenges article lists the top 50 wine-related fortunes, and other notable figures include Gerard Perse of Chateau Pavie at 12 (?375 million), Jean-Hubert Delon of Léoville Las Cases at 14 (?320 million) and Jean-Michel Cazes of Lynch Bages in 20th spot (?260 million).


Baron Eric de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite Rothschild makes an appearance at number 24, alongside both Jean Merlaut of Gruaud Larose and Martin and Olivier Bouygues of Chateau Montrose, all with an estimated net worth of ?260 million.


At the lower reaches of the Top 50 come Daniel and Florence Cathiard of Smith Haut Lafitte at 45 with ?170 million, and Didier Cuvelier of Léoville Poyferré at number 50 with a mere ?145 million.




Total compensation for Constellation CEO exceeds $8 million in 2013


Source: Rochester Business Journal


June 14, 2013


Constellation Brands Inc.’s president and CEO saw a slight drop in his base salary in fiscal 2013 over fiscal 2012.


Robert Sands earned a base salary of $1.19 million in fiscal 2013, down from $1.20 million the previous year. Including other pay, such as stock awards and non-incentive equity plan compensation, Sands total compensation in fiscal 2013 was up to $8.01 million, from $7.71 million the prior year, filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission show.


Salaries of top executives at Victor-based Constellation Brands were included in a filing for the company’s annual meeting, which will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 24 at the Callahan Theater at the Nazareth College Arts Center.


Constellation Brands’ fiscal 2013 year ended Feb. 28.


Pay for other executives are below:


Richard Sands, chairman of the board: base salary of $1.16 million, down from $1.18 million the previous year. Including other compensation, total compensation was $6.36 million, down from $6.69 million in fiscal 2012;


Robert Ryder, executive vice president and chief financial officer: base salary for fiscal $582,442, down from $589,725 a year prior. Including other compensation, total compensation was $2.66 million, up from $2.57 million in fiscal 2012;


John Wright, executive vice president and chief operating officer: base salary of $578,962 in fiscal 2013, up from $570,702 in fiscal 2012. Including other compensation, total compensation was $2.66 million, up from $2.40 million in fiscal 2012;


Keith Wilson, executive vice president and chief human resources and administrative officer: base salary of $531,600 in fiscal 2013, down from $538,247 in fiscal 2012. Including other compensation, total compensation was $2.43 million up from $2.34 million the prior year.




Diageo boss under fire over drink sponsor row


Source: Irish Independent

Thomas Molloy

17 June 2013


THE country’s largest drinks company has warned that a ban on drinks sponsorship could ultimately lead to less investment here.


Diageo, which owns Guinness and controls 40pc of the market, said a clampdown on sponsorship might force the company to reduce spending in future.


A spokesman for the company insisted the drinks company “wants to be able to continue with further investments in the future, but to do so requires a sustainable environment in which to promote our Irish-manufactured products responsibly”.


Diageo is currently spending ?153m on new plant at the company’s headquarters in Dublin’s St James’s Gate.


The comments came after the head of Diageo’s Irish operations said that the company did not have to brew Guinness or make Baileys in Ireland.


David Smith dismissed proposals to ban alcohol companies from sponsoring sport and cultural events as “political headlines” that could lead the company to scale back spending here.


“If our Irish business is diminished by this, there is less need to invest,” Mr Smith told a Sunday newspaper.


The comments were sharply criticised by communications specialist Terry Prone, who said it was “outrageous” for Diageo to suggest that the ban on drinks sponsorship was a “political headline”.


“I find that frankly outrageous,” she told RTE’s Marian Finucane show.


“For a drinks company to suggest that this is a political issue is very clever spinning…”


Director general of the Law Society, Ken Murphy, called on the Government to insist that visiting dignitaries are not photographed with a pint of Guinness, which generates free publicity for the company.


“One political thing that could be done in relation to Diageo is the next time a head of state comes, they should not be photographed for the world’s media in the greatest PR (public relations) coup ever,” he said.


“Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at 10 in the morning had to stand and admire a pint of Guinness.”


The company rejected proposals from Junior Health Minister Alex White to ban drinks sponsorship, but said it remained committed to working with the Government to “find the effective solutions to reduce alcohol misuse further”.


The comments come as opposition to the drink sponsorship ban continues to mount.


Some health campaigners say a ban would help reduce underage drinking and break the link in people’s minds between sport and alcohol.


Opponents say there is little evidence that a ban works, and claim that many sporting events would have to be cancelled if sponsorships were removed.


A draft report by an Oireachtas committee says the ban is not merited, and the country’s main sporting organisations would suffer financially.


Diageo is one of the country’s biggest advertisers and employs around 1,500 people in Ireland.


A ban on sponsorship would come at a difficult time for the company, which is struggling with falling sales in Ireland and the rest of Europe as drinking habits change, the recession bites and people become more worried about their health.




Beer Bellies Are a Myth


Source: TIME

By Matt Peckham

June 13, 2013


Consider the cliché: a darkened room, a bleary-eyed middle-aged man collapsed into a couch, beer in hand, TV-flicker illuminating his sallow stubbled face, and a stomach threatening to escape from his pants like a giant mutant amoeba.


Blame that belly on the beer? Not so fast. According to University of California Davis food science professor Charles Bamforth, the colloquial notion of the beer belly – that beer somehow uniquely targets the gut – doesn’t jibe with medical science.


“The beer belly is a complete myth. The main source of calories in any alcoholic beverage is alcohol,” Bamforth told Popular Science. “There’s nothing magical about the alcohol in beer, it’s just alcohol.”


Alcohol doesn’t have V.I.P. dibs on abdominal fat in other words (any more than spot exercises like sit-ups burn stomach chub), it’s just another ingredient in your caloric regimen, though Bamforth notes that in cases of excessive alcohol consumption (read: abuse) you can develop something called ascites: a buildup of fluid around your abdomen that can cause distension of a sort, though in that case it’s likely related to actual liver damage.


So where did this idea that beer consumption spawns belly fat come from anyway?


Massachusetts General Hospital alcohol researcher Dr. Aliyah Sohani suggests it may have to do with serving sizes: Both cans and bottles of beer average 12 ounces, while your average glass of wine contains five and your average shot glass is just 1.5 ounces.


“You are drinking it in more quantities than wine or liquor, so you tend to have more caloric intake,” says Sohani. “You are talking about a difference between several hundred calories a night and a couple hundred.” Follow the logic here and if the average lush consumed wine in greater quantities than beer, the colloquialism would be “wine belly” (though hello alliterative fizzle).


No, that doesn’t mean anyone’s green-lighting your nightly keg stands – alcohol is a calorie-dense compound, after all – it’s just that those extra belly rolls are as likely to come from any calorie-dense source as your favorite brew.




Alcohol ads push underage girls to drink more, research finds (Excerpt)


Source: Globe and Mail


Thursday, Jun. 13 2013


A woman in a tight T-shirt holds a cup in front of her chest as she pours a beer in a TV ad. Her face is cut out of the shot. In another beer commercial, there is a closeup on a woman’s torso from behind as she dances at a party. Next to a bottle of tequila, a man embraces a woman, lifting her up with a smile on his face.


These images of sexually attractive, popular women associated with alcoholic beverages are not meant for women as young as 13. But underage girls see them, and the exposure to advertising is having an adverse effect on their health. That’s the argument made in an editorial published on the Canadian Medical Association Journal website on Monday by senior associate editor Dr. Ken Flegel.



NABCA Legislative Update: May 11, 2013-June 14, 2013


Source: NABCA

Jun 14th


Click Here to View Legislative Update by State


Click Here to View Legislative Update by Category


Click Here to View Update on Regulations



Wine fund market brought to its knees


Source: FT

By Ellen Kelleher

Jun 16th


It is difficult to turn a profit on bottles of bordeaux and burgundy when the outlook for sought-after vintages looks bleak at best. And it is more challenging still if you run an open-ended wine fund, as evidence emerges that this niche investment sector is floundering.


Just ask Andrew Davison, founder of the Vintage Wine fund, a Cayman-based investment vehicle once boasting as much as ?110m in assets at its 2008 peak. It is to be wound down at the end of the month after being hit by dismal performance, forced sales and a spate of redemptions.


“The wine market is dead. It could take years for this market to recover,” says Mr Davison. “I think you have to ask whether open-ended structures are suitable for these sorts of illiquid investments. There’s also a danger that wine funds can get too big. When you allow investors to come in and exit on a regular basis, you get huge outflows when things go bad.”


The closure of one of Europe’s oldest wine funds is not a lone example of why gaining exposure to this sector can turn into a cautionary tale.


The industry took another hit this month when the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority announced that wine funds listed in London – which are unregulated collective investment schemes – must not be marketed to retail investors of limited means.


The demise of the Vintage Wine fund also comes as the Luxembourg financial regulator is forcing Nobles Crus, once the world’s largest registered wine fund worth as much as ?109m, to bar its investors from withdrawing their money. It can no longer sell its shares after running out of cash.


The decision by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier to “temporarily suspend all redemptions and subscriptions” in Nobles Crus came late last month after Elite Advisers, the fund’s managers, admitted they did not have enough cash to meet redemptions.


The fund revealed the news in a letter sent to investors.


“Nobles Crus now finds itself confronted with a few requests from large institutional investors for redemptions involving considerable sums of money,” wrote Miriam Wilson and Michel Tamisier, general partners at Elite Advisers in a letter dated May 31. “Currently, Nobles Crus does not have the necessary liquidity to honour these requests.”


The gating of the fund follows a long spell of criticism of its practices. The valuation system Nobles Crus employs continues to come under attack from other wine fund managers, who tend to rely on Liv-ex prices as a benchmark for their portfolios, but have not reported consistently strong returns.


Rather controversially, the managers of Nobles Crus opt not to use Liv-ex. Their reasoning is that its coverage of the rarer vintages in which they invest is “patchy and inconsistent”.


Andrew della Casa, director of the $55m Wine Investment fund, which only invests in bordeaux, adamantly disagrees with the decision: “We do believe the best practice is to use Liv-ex. If Liv-ex isn’t covering your stocks, then they aren’t liquid enough to be considered in the portfolio.”


While many wine funds took a beating in recent years, especially after the Chinese pulled out of bordeaux in 2011, the Nobles Crus fund, which launched with just ?2m in assets at the start of 2008, did not. In 2008, the fund returned 20.4 per cent; in 2010, 13.4 per cent; And in 2012, the fund returned 8 per cent despite meeting millions of euros in redemptions.


Envious rivals argue that most of the fund’s profits have come from unrealised accounting gains on inventory, not from actual sales of wine. They say that a number of the bottles in the Nobles Crus portfolio are freely available at cheaper prices elsewhere.


Mr Tamisier vigorously defends the fund’s valuation methods.


“Our 2001 valuation of Cheval Blanc 2000 included observed market prices from the UK of ?789 per bottle, but up to ?1,525 per bottle from a Hong Kong auction house,” he told FTfm.


Wine funds remain exclusive. There are no more than 20 registered, with most concentrated in Europe and a select few in Asia and the US. Even the most established have not been in existence for more than 10 years.


Justin Gibbs, co-founder of Liv-ex, says: “Wine funds are still a game in their infancy.”


But the market holds appeal, especially for wealthy Chinese, who just a few years ago were responsible for driving the price of fine French wines to record highs.


According to Mr Gibbs, the performance of wine, which is worth about £6bn per year as a global market, has been “very lacklustre” since June 2011, when the market turned after a strong two-year run. The best bordeaux vintages tend to fare better than burgundy, but on the whole the market remains weak.


In a note to investors, Mr della Casa, described last year’s en primeur season, which involves purchasing wine while a vintage is still in a barrel, as “generally disappointing”.


He blamed poor sales on the high release prices French chateaux demand.


Mouton Rothschild emerged as the strongest of the young wines, with price increases of around 1.5 per cent on average across vintages. Château Margaux was up a bit as well, while Château Lafite was broadly flat.




Attack on Chinese students overshadows Vinexpo opening


Source: Decanter

by Jane Anson

Sunday 16 June 2013

Stéphane le Foll, French agicultral minister, called an attack on six Chinese students, on the eve of the Vinexpo opening, ‘inadmissable’ and ‘xenophobic’.


The attack came in the early hours of Saturday morning, on six Chinese oenology students studying at Chateau La Tour Blanche in Sauternes.


They were in their apartment, in the village of Hostens when a small group of French men who had earlier received a warning from police to quieten down a party forced their way in.


One student was taken to hospital with facial injuries from a bottle being thown at her.


The attack is assumed to have been because the men believed the Chinese students had reported the party to the police.


Speaking at the opening of Vinexpo, Le Foll condemned the attack, joining demands from the Chinese embassy in Paris to bring the perpetrators to justice to ensure the safety of Chinese students in the country.


The timing is particularly unfortunate as the wine industry focuses its attention on Bordeaux for the 17th edition of Vinexpo, the biannual fair started in 1990 by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, and now grown to the world’s largest wine trade fair, with 2400 exhibitors and 46,000 visitors from 120 countries.




Vinexpo opens its doors to 48,000 visitors


Source: Harpers

Written by Erin Smith

Sunday, 16 June 2013


The international global event Vinexpo 2013 opened its doors today, for the next five days, exhibiting over 2,400 wine and spirit producers, representing 45 different countries and attracting over 145 different nationalities to Bordeaux, France.


The international global event Vinexpo 2013 opened its doors today, for the next five days, exhibiting over 2,400 producers, representing 45 different countries of the wine and spirits world and attracting over145 different nationalities in Bordeaux, France.The bi-annual event is anticipating over 48,000 visitors this year. The venue’s focus this year appears to be a great opportunity for producers to showcase new packaging concepts, including innovative closures and smaller single serving containers, such as 20-cl wine bottles or cans.


The exhibition is expected to connect producers with global distributors, wine stores, merchants and importers with an anticipated high volume of Asian visitors at this year’s show.


Vinexpo also has an extended spirits section this year with designated areas dedicated to Cognac, vodka, rum, whisky, gin, sake, grappa and tequila.


Key themes to be discussed this year include online wine sales, global wine distribution, the potential of the Chinese and Asian wine markets as well as decode the latest trends including low alcohol wines and lighter styles of wine and a key focus on rose wines.


“Tasting by Vinexpo” which attracted one in four visitors when launched in 2011 will again be a highlight of the show.  The events will take place in several rooms in the Halls 1,2 and 3 hosting over 80 meetings, tastings, and conferences throughout the five-day affair.


Stéphane Le Foll, the French Minister of Agriculture, officially opened Vinexpo today at 14:30pm.




New dating site launched for wine lovers


VineaLove, which was founded by a French former wine journalist, may help you find your vino-sipping soulmate.



By Victoria Taylor

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Wine aficionados seeking a special someone to split a bottle with now have their own online dating website.


VineaLove, the brainchild of former wine journalist Françoise Pauly, officially launched on Sunday at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France.


“About two months ago, I just woke up with this thought that there wasn’t a dating website for wine lovers,” she said in an interview with the Daily News. “I know there are dating websites for everybody else from geeks to heavy metal fans, so obviously there’s a need for a one for wine lovers.”


So Pauly, who founded a wine-related job site in 2003, and her 25-year-old daughter Roxane Brooke started working on VineaLove, which will eventually transition into a paid networking site for wine enthusiasts looking for love or companionship.


The first 1,000 users who register on the new site will get a free membership. Pauly said they haven’t nailed down a monthly membership fee for those who sign up after that, but it will likely be about $20 in the U.S. and vary by country.


Pauly said subscriptions were coming in from all over the world before the site even launched, with men and women of a range of ages registering from places like India, New Zealand and Morocco.


“When people like wine, they love wine,” she said. “It’s a real passion.”


English, French, Japanese, Italian and Turkish versions of the site are currently online, and editions in other languages are forthcoming.


Pauly said she would like the site to also be an international platform for oenophiles. In your profile, you reveal whether you are looking for a relationship, friendship or business connection, and whether you are single or in a relationship. Users can contact each other individually, or discuss their favorite vineyards and kinds of grapes with other wine connoisseurs on the forum. There will also be VineaLove meet ups and events in major U.S. cities.


“What wine people love more than drinking wine is talking about it,” Pauly said.




Constellation Brands’ Chris Fehrnstrom Elected as Board Chairman of Wine Institute


Source: WSJ

Jun 14th


Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B), a leading beverage alcohol company, announced today that Chris Fehrnstrom, chief marketing officer, Wine and Spirits division, has been named Chairperson of Wine Institute’s Board of Directors.


“The California wine industry is exciting, and rapidly evolving,” said Fehrnstrom. “Our passion for this industry is unwavering and Wine Institute represents California’s wine interests to policymakers with the goal of increasing exports. We take great pride in the quality of our California wine, which is a great example of the best American-made products.”


“Our high quality grapes and production of world-class wines is a signature California industry that contributes billions of dollars to the local, regional and national economies,” said Jay Wright, Constellation’s president, Wine and Spirits division.  “We are proud that Chris has been chosen by his peers to work on behalf of Wine Institute with wineries, communities, partners and elected officials throughout the state to positively impact this important industry.”


“Chris is widely respected because of his hard work and dedication to the California wine industry,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and chief executive officer of Wine Institute.  “His passion, strong industry relationships and understanding of the legislative, regulatory and economic challenges that our members face make him a natural leader. He will continue to drive Wine Institute’s mission to initiate and advocate for public policies that enhance the ability to responsibly produce, promote and enjoy wine.”


Fehrnstrom also praised outgoing Chairperson Kathleen Heitz Meyers. “Kathleen exemplifies all that is good about the California wine industry and I would like to congratulate her on her steadfast service.”


California is the nation’s top winemaking state, producing 90 percent of U.S. wine, and the 4th largest producer worldwide after France, Italy and Spain. Constellation has a strong presence in this important region including our Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Ravenswood, Simi, Franciscan Estate, Wild Horse and Woodbridge wineries. Because of this presence, Constellation has had a longstanding relationship with Wine Institute.


Fehrnstrom has been with Constellation since 2002, first serving as senior vice president of marketing and then president for the company’s former luxury division, Icon Estates.  He then became president of Constellation’s super-premium business before advancing to chief marketing officer for Constellation Brands worldwide in 2009.  Prior to joining the company, Fehrnstrom held key roles at the former as well as Domaine Chandon and E. & J. Gallo Winery.




Sweden rejected wine for being ‘better’ than samples


Source: UPI

June 14, 2013


A Swedish alcohol supplier said the country’s state-run liquor monopoly sent back 6,000 bottles of a Spanish wine because it tasted better than the samples.


Kare Hallden, chief executive officer of alcohol supplier Spruce Up, said state-run liquor store monopoly Systembolaget chose to stock Spanish albarino wine Fulget after choosing its samples over 50 competitors in March, The reported Friday.


However, Hallden said the store sent the 6,000 bottles back to the company in May because the wine delivered was “clearly better” than the March samples.


“I believe that taste-wise it is exactly the same wine,” Hallden told the Livets Goda wine magazine. “Systembolaget, on the other hand, believes that the wine that has been delivered to the stores is much better than that which won the tender in the beginning of the year.”


Systembolaget spokesman Lennart Agen said Hallden’s statements aren’t entirely true.


“We never said it tasted better. We’ve said it tasted different. It is simply a different wine,” Agen said. “Whether the wine that was delivered tasted better or not is his value judgment.”


Spruce Up said it is being forced to pay the cost of returning the bottles, losing tens of thousands of dollars in the process.




Rolland: En primeur is a ‘game’


Source: the drinks business

by Lucy Shaw

14th June, 2013


Bordeaux’s leading consultant, Michel Rolland, has admitted that the process of en primeur tastings and the resulting scores is a risky “game” for consumers.


Michel Rolland has admitted that the en primeur tasting and rating process is a risky “game” for consumers


Speaking to the drinks business this week at the UK launch of his new Spanish wine project, R&G, Rolland said: “You only get to the truth of a wine when it’s in the bottle, before that it’s a sort of game where the consumer can win or lose.”


Rolland was scathing about wine writers’ ability to accurately access en primeur samples, claiming that 99% of professional tasters get it wrong.


“Saying you know what a wine is going to end up like when you taste it after six months in barrel is like having baby twins and saying one is going to be a lawyer and the other a doctor – it’s impossible to know at such an early stage,” he said.


Despite this, Rolland doesn’t believe the en primeur tastings take place too early, as he doesn’t feel critics’ scores carry much weight.


“I don’t think scores are that important – if you look at the world’s top tasters, most of their scores are in alignment and people only care about the first, second and third growths anyway,” he told db.


Rolland praised Robert Parker’s provisional in barrel scores as he feels the truth of a wine can only be known after it’s been bottled


He did however concede that US critic Robert Parker got it right by offering a provisional score while the wines are in barrel and a definitive score when they’re bottled.


“Giving a range, such as 89-92 points, while a wine is in barrel helps account for the element of doubt that remains until the wine is bottled – you can never know the truth until then,” he said.


As Jean-Michel Laporte of La Conseillante explained to db earlier this week, Rolland said that the only difference between his en primeur samples and the final wines is the fact that he doesn’t add any pressed wines (as opposed to free run juice) to the samples.


“Most wines end up with around 10% of pressed wine in the final blend but we can’t put this into the en primeur samples as it’s too harsh and tannic and we have to show a drinkable wine that people are able to understand,” he said.


“You have to take care of some of the details without changing the fundamental character of the wine,” he added.


Rolland, who recently sold his family-owned Pomerol estate Le Bon Pasteur to Chinese businessman Sutong Pan, consults for wineries all over the world.


In terms of China’s winemaking potential, Rolland, who consults for the country’s biggest food manufacturer – Cofco – on its local and imported wines, believes China’s biggest handicap is its climate.


“From what I’ve seen, China’s climate is too prone to extremes ­- it gets too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and when it rains it pours but I believe the greatest terroirs in China are yet to be discovered,” he said.




Stalking a Wine for All Seasons


Source: WSJ


Jun 13th


WHETHER IT’S RAISING an umbrella to avoid a midsummer soaking, braving unseasonal wind in August or enjoying a late-summer heat wave, Europe’s unpredictable weather never fails to fascinate.


Of course, one of the advantages of living in a climate constantly on the move is that it lends itself to interesting wines. Such is the diversity of the weather here that the growth cycle of the vine changes every year, giving each vintage its own particular characteristics.


So it follows that when it comes to stocking up the cellar for the summer months, an eclectic choice of wines is required to cope with every eventuality. One could argue that during June, July and August it is best to turn to the Northern Hemisphere, where wines are naturally more taut, high in acidity and low in alcohol, rather than the Southern Hemisphere, where they possess more lively and riper fruit.


As the temperature rises, our taste buds crave crisp, dry white wines whose acidity sends a dance of electricity across the palate. This is where Germany excels, producing truly great wine made from the Riesling grape variety that offers a vast array of flavors. It’s a common misconception that Germany only produces sweet Riesling. In fact, it also produces some of the best dry white wine in the world-frequently sold at very affordable prices.


Out of the country’s many regions, my favorite three are the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz, which all produce their own distinctive styles.


Riesling from the steep sides of the Mosel Valley can smell of fresh apple, peach, apricot, elderberry, aniseed and quince. These are some of the most elegant and well-made wines in the world. Producers to look out for include Fritz Haag, Joh. Jos. Prüm, Dr. Loosen, Willi Schaefer, Egon Müller and Dr. H. Thanisch.


Further east, in the Rheingau, Pinot Noir-or Spätburgunder, as it is known locally-also thrives. Producers such as August Kesseler make world-class examples that can smell of damson and spice, with a refreshing, mineral length. These pair well with heavy, barbecued meats or lamb cutlets and couscous salad. Producers to hunt down include Schloss Johannisberg, Künstler, Robert Weil and Josef Leitz.


Austria, too, is starting to export some interesting Pinot Noirs, one of which I have highlighted in Drinking Now (below).


The Pfalz covers an enormous area to the east of the Rhine. Here, the Rieslings tend to have strong aromatics and more body, and can be aged for many years. Dr. Wehrheim, Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan, Josef Biffar and Reichsrat von Buhl are among the highlights. Reichsrat von Buhl also produces a sparkling wine known in Germany as sekt. It has a scintillating aroma of green apple, lemon and lime, and a sherberty acidity that makes it a razor-sharp, invigorating aperitif. But don’t be afraid to serve it with food; its attractive acidity makes it an ideal pairing with oily fish such as salmon, mild cheeses like Gouda or mozzarella or vegetarian pasta dishes.


No summer selection is complete without mentioning Beaujolais, the red wine made from the Gamay variety that is perfect for summer drinking. In France’s Beaujolais region, the 10 cru villages (St.-Amour, Juliénas, Moulin-à Vent, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly) produce wines that have the complexity and nuanced character of the Old World, but whose prices haven’t risen too far yet.


These fragrant wines can be anything from light and fruity to something a little more complex. They all share one thing in common: They are eminently drinkable. Perfect for the home rack, they can pair with pretty much anything. Slightly chilled with fish dishes, decanted with roasted poultry, as an accompaniment to steak or cold meats and salad. A trio of outstanding vintages (2009, ’10, ’11) has produced wines that are perfumed, ripe and wonderfully easy to drink. Alain Chatoux’s wines are immediately attractive. Thibault Liger-Belair, Jean-Paul Dubost, Olivier Merlin and Bernard Métrat are all wines to look out for.




Safeway: rump stake


Disposals leave US grocer ripe to be taken private


Source: FT

Jun 13th


Tidy shelves make for easy shopping. This helps explain why Safeway, the supermarket chain, sold its Canadian stores. The US business that remains is that much easier for would-be acquirers to drop into their basket. If the deal also maximises the value of Safeway’s parts, so much the better.


On Wednesday, Safeway announced the sale of operations in the frozen north to Empire Company, parent of the Sobeys chain, for C$5.8bn. It is a transformative deal for Sobeys, its aggregate valuation doubling and its store base in western Canada fortified. Empire investors have cheered, sending its shares up more than a tenth. For its part, Safeway shares are up just under a tenth to $25 per share.


The sum-of-the-parts arbitrage for Safeway is straightforward. The sale price represents 11 times cash flow, while Safeway as a whole trades at just 5 times. Even after taxes, the effective multiple paid still exceeds 7 times (do not worry, Empire shareholders – with synergies your effective multiple slips to under 8). And earlier this year, Safeway floated a portion of its Blackhawk subsidiary, a gift card network, in an IPO. With interest in alternative payments running high, it trades at 13 times cash flow. Both of these divestitures establish real market values for valuable subsidiaries – value the market ignores when trapped within the US grocery operation.


There is the worry that with its crown jewels stripped, what remains of Safeway, in all its ugliness, will be laid bare. Yet, while it is a rump, Safeway is at least a simplified rump – basically just a US-based grocer. And it is perfectly moulded to be taken private. If the US portion of Safeway could be acquired at 6 times cash flow, then that, along with the proceeds from the Canadian divestiture and its share of Blackhawk, could be worth above $35 per share – a level Safeway shares have not touched since early 2007.




Hypermarkets suffer midlife crisis


Source: FT

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris and Andrea Felsted in London

Jun 16th


Miniskirts and the beehive were all the rage, The Beatles topped the charts, push-button telephones were launched – and the first hypermarket was born.


“The Times They Are a-Changin’,” sang Bob Dylan in 1963, the year that Carrefour’s new “everything under one roof” concept opened the doors to a revolutionary new way of shopping.


An excited crowd of 2,500 people poured into the store at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, 20km south of Paris on June 15 to experience the novelty of buying groceries, fresh food, DIY and clothes in a shop three times bigger than the norm.


Self-service, free parking and an on-site petrol station – at the height of the car-buying boom – proved enormously popular and the shelves had to be restocked several times a day.


“I was immediately struck, and even intimidated, by the size of the shop – there were thousands of products everywhere,” recalls Alice, one of the shop’s early cashiers, in a set of anecdotes collected by Carrefour for the anniversary. “Moreover, it was the big store everyone was talking about; people came from all over Île-de-France by car to do their shopping here.”


According to Andrew Seth, author of The Grocers and Supermarket Wars, the early hypermarkets “satisfied a very primary need, which was one-stop shopping. It was just marvellous because people had been used to having to run round six stores, and suddenly there was this wonderful advantage of being able to do everything at one till.”


However, like many 50-year-olds, the hypermarket is going through “a midlife crisis” in the words of Georges Plassat, Carrefour’s chairman and chief executive, who has been battling poor performance at the world’s second -largest retailer by sales after Walmart of the US.


When petrol prices were low in the 1960s and early 1970s, families thought nothing of driving 40km for the convenience of stocking up on everything from tomatoes to tennis rackets. Today, shoppers have many more alternatives to the vast stores on the edge of town, and industry figures show that many are moving to other formats.


Competition has also intensified. Many of the hypermarkets staples, such as consumer electronics, have migrated from supermarket shelves on to shoppers’ laptops, with online transactions now accounting for about 10 per cent of total retail sales in the US and UK. In France, other groups such as Leclerc, Auchan and Casino have been snapping at Carrefour’s heels.


Leclerc, which has smaller hypermarkets than Carrefour and consistently low prices, overtook Carrefour in France for the first time in May in terms of market share, according to Kantar, the market research group.


The economic downturn has also transformed shopping habits. In an effort to avoid temptation, many with strict budgets are staying away from the big stores altogether and so-called hard discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, which tend to have smaller stores often closer to town centres, have proved a more attractive alternative. In the year to May 12, Aldi’s sales rose 30 per cent year-on-year, while Tesco’s rose just 2.4 per cent, according to Kantar.


Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital in the UK says hypermarkets have to “find a new relevance. That is something that retail managements all over the world are trying to grapple with”.


The problem is most pronounced in the US and continental Europe where hypermarkets can exceed 200,000 sq ft – the size of two-and-a-half football pitches. Some groups have reduced space by selling it off or renting it out; others have tried to “reinvent” the hypermarket as Carrefour tried and failed to do three years ago with its Planet concept, adding beauty areas, crèches and sushi stands to the mix. In the UK, Tesco has acquired Giraffe, the family-friendly restaurant group, and bought a stake in the Harris + Hoole coffee chain, in an effort to make its stores more inviting.


Though hypermarkets in developed markets are struggling, the story is different in Asia and Latin America where sales are growing at a rapid pace, helped by emerging middle classes, rising car ownership and bigger families than those in the west.


According to Planet Retail, sales at superstores and hypermarkets are set to increase by 4 per cent in North America between 2011 and 2016, with just 2 per cent growth in western Europe. But, they are forecast to rise 7.5 per cent in Latin America and 9 per cent in Asia.


However, even in France, 1m people visit a Carrefour store a day and 90 per cent of the population go to one of the country’s 1,900 hypermarkets at least once a month.


At Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, the Carrefour is three times bigger than it was in 1963 – 8,000 sq m – and receives 1.7m customers a year.


Nevertheless, the golden age of the hypermarket in advanced economies is over, as it struggles to find a place in a world where an iPad mini is more fashionable than a miniskirt.


While talk of the death of supercentres and large hypermarkets invoked by critics may be premature, they “undoubtedly have got a health warning hanging over them”, says Mr Black.




New York introduces legislation to ban use of polystyrene


Source: NRA

June 14, 2013


Local lawmakers in New York City have introduced legislation that would effectively ban the use of polystyrene packaging at restaurants and other foodservice outlets in the area.


The legislation, introduced June 12 into the City Council by members Lewis A. Fidler, Vincent J. Gentile and Letitia James in conjunction with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would prevent operators from using the plastic foam packaging at fullservice and quickservice restaurants, cafes, delicatessens, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks or carts and cafeterias.


Mayor Bloomberg initially proposed the ban during his State of the City address in February.


If passed, the regulation, which would be enforced by the city’s departments of health and consumer affairs, would take effect July 1, 2015. According to the proposed bill, operators who do not comply with the rule would face fines of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. Manufacturers of polystyrene packaging also would be subject to financial penalties.


City Councilman Peter Vallone urged the city to reconsider the proposed ban, saying it would “cost businesses, consumers and taxpayers millions of dollars as well as threaten jobs in the restaurant industry” and other businesses.


He asked the mayor to work with the council on other options, including recycling. “Foam can and should be recycled,” he said. “I urge the mayor to work with the council to explore this option instead of a ban.”


The National Restaurant Association, which supports the increased use of sustainable packaging, said it would appreciate the opportunity to work with the city on developing a plan that is feasible and cost-effective for the industry and consumers.


“It is important to note that in some cases, a suitable supply of alternatives to polystyrene foam packaging does not exist or is prohibitively expensive,” said Scott DeFife, the NRA’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs. “This ban could create a great burden for restaurants, more than 90 percent of which are small businesses, if those concerns are not addressed.”


DeFife pointed out that some alternative packaging sources have their own impact on the environment due to the energy and resources required to make them. In other cases, he said the infrastructure for recycling or composting doesn’t exist or can’t meet the demand.


“This is an area where incentives may work better than prohibitions,” he said.


A recent study conducted by MB Public Affairs on behalf of the American Chemistry Council found that a polystyrene ban would likely increase the operating costs of the city’s restaurants and other small businesses since alternative packaging is often more expensive. It also is not as effective in keeping food hot or cold, the study found.


“For a restaurant – especially a small, neighborhood business – mandating a switch to a higher-priced alternative for basic supplies can have a serious effect,” said Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association, when the report was issued in March. “These are businesses that are absorbing higher food and energy costs, and are under pressure from a struggling economy that leaves less money in people’s paychecks. It’s one more thing to add to the headwinds they are facing.”


The study said a polystyrene ban, if enacted, could end up costing businesses, consumers and tax payers nearly $100 million a year.


Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute said government limits on packaging options is not good public policy.


“Businesses should be allowed to select packaging based on its own merits of product performance, suitability, price competitiveness and impact on the environment,” she said. “A free marketplace helps to keep costs down and drive innovation.”


Dyer added that she hoped the city would “refocus its efforts on increasing recovery of all foodservice packaging instead of decreasing packaging options for foodservice operators.”




Pennsylvania: Corbett to nominate former Congressman Tim Holden to LCB


Source: Lebanon Daily News



A Schuylkill County Democrat who represented Lebanon County in Congress may find a seat on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.


Gov. Tom Corbett announced Thursday he will nominate Tim Holden to post.


The governor also said he will nominate Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Correale F. Stevens to fill the vacancy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Sean Logan to the Turnpike Commission and Gladys M. Brown to the Public Utility Commission.


Nominations for the Supreme Court, Liquor Control Board and Turnpike Commission require a two-thirds vote in the state Senate. The Public Utility Commission requires a majority vote by the state Senate. Corbett plans to submit the nominations to the state Senate on Friday. Holden, of St. Clair, served 10 years in Congress representing Lebanon, Berks and Schuylkill counties, as well as parts of Perry and Dauphin counties, but his political career was cut short by the redistricting after the 2010 U.S. Census. Gone was the 17th U.S. Congressional District and, Holden, who had represented Lebanon County since 2003.


Put in its place were the 6th Congressional District represented by Jim Gerlach and the 15th Congressional District represented by Charlie Dent.


Holden then lost in the 2012 primary to Scranton attorney Matt Cartwright in his new district, where he was a virtual unknown to 80 percent of the population. A graduate of Bloomsburg University, Holden worked as a probation officer, real estate agent and insurance broker before becoming sheriff of Schuylkill County for seven years, all prior to his election to Congress. During his tenure in Congress, Holden was a member of various agriculture, transportation and infrastructure committees.


“These four individuals reflect the qualities and qualifications that transcend political labels and uniquely suit each one for the positions of public trust for which they have been selected,” Corbett said in a news release.


Stevens, of Sugarloaf, Luzerne County, has served as president judge of the state Superior Court since 2011. He has been a member of the Superior Court since 1998.


A graduate of Penn State University and the Dickinson School of Law, Stevens served as a judge of Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, district attorney of Luzerne County, as well as serving four terms as a member of the House of Representatives and solicitor for Hazleton City and Hazleton Authority. Stevens teaches criminal justice and government courses at Penn State-Hazleton, as well as continuing legal education for state and local bar associations. He has received numerous civic awards and was honored by the Dickinson Law School Alumni Association for his service in the judiciary.


The Supreme Court seat became vacant with the resignation of Joan Orie Melvin in May. Stevens, if confirmed, will serve until January 2016, with the election to fill the vacancy permanently taking place in November 2015.


Logan, of Monroeville, Allegheny County, is a former state senator and currently serves as the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Monroeville.


Prior to joining the visitors bureau in 2013, Logan was vice president of community relations at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Logan also served as mayor of Monroeville. During his tenure with the state Senate, representing Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, Logan served as minority chairman of the Law and Justice Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Committee.


Brown, of Harrisburg, has served with the Democratic caucus of the state Senate since 1991 and presently holds the position of deputy chief counsel. After earning her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Brown served as a law clerk to retired U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Simmons in the Western District of Pennsylvania. She has also served as assistant counsel for the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in the Department of State.


Among her areas of legal experience, Brown has worked on public utility law, helping to draft major pieces of legislation, including electric competition, telephone and natural gas deregulation.




Maine: Hospital debt payment bill heads to Gov. LePage


Source: AP

Jun 14th


Maine lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to a plan to renegotiate the state’s liquor contract to pay its hospitals’ years-old debt of hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid services – one of Gov. Paul LePage’s top priorities.


Lawmakers in the House and Senate unanimously approved the bill, which no longer is tied to a proposal to expand Medicaid to 70,000 Mainers. Its passage is a major victory for the Republican governor working with Democratic majorities in both chambers.


“Our hospitals are key to the health of our community, and this final payment makes good on the lifesaving work that our nurses and doctors do for Maine families,” said Rep. Margaret Rotundo, a Lewiston Democrat. “Paying back the hospitals is not a partisan issue, and I strongly suspect that all of us are very pleased to be able to vote affirmatively in support of our hospitals today,” she said.


Under the proposal, sponsored by Republican Sen. Patrick Flood of Winthrop, the state’s share of $183.5 million would be covered using bonds, which would be paid off with anticipated revenues from a restructured, 10-year liquor contract. That would trigger a federal match to complete the payment.


LePage’s previous effort to pay back the hospitals fell short last month after Democrats tied it to a proposal to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul, which the governor opposes.


Democrats said the two bills belonged together because accepting federal funding to cover more Maine families would help reduce hospital charity care costs, which are passed on to all Maine taxpayers.


But LePage, who campaigned on the hospital debt issue when he ran for governor in 2010 and has made repayment a top priority since taking office, vetoed the measure and re-introduced the hospital bill on its own.


Lawmakers approved a separate bill Thursday night to expand Medicaid, also sending that measure to LePage.


Hospital officials said being paid what they’re owed will allow them to invest in equipment and their facilities, pay off loans, replenish savings and pay vendors on time.


“I’m not sure I thought today would ever happen, but I am very, very pleased and thankful it is here today,” said Sylvia Getman, CEO of the Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, which is owed about $12 million.


Not being paid by the state has forced hospitals to put off buying new equipment, restrict travel and hiring, freeze salaries and borrow money for equipment and projects.


They’ve also had to pay higher interest rates on loans because their credit ratings were downgraded by credit rating agencies, said Derrick Holland, chief financial officer for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, whose seven hospitals serving the northern two-thirds of the state are collectively owed $111 million.


“This is not a windfall for the hospitals,” Hollings said. “Quite frankly, there’s a lot of mopping up cleanup work that needs to be done to repair the damage that was a caused as a result of not being paid.”


Lawmakers on Thursday emphasized the bipartisan support behind the liquor contract proposal, which includes the renegotiation of the prices of some brands to compete more aggressively with New Hampshire liquor sales.


“It’s really good to see the hard work of both side of the aisle working together on this bill bringing this forward and bringing really good, strong support to this bill in a bipartisan fashion,” House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette of Newport said before Thursday’s vote.


The bill’s passage also could mean the release of some unissued bonds that already have been approved by lawmakers and voters. LePage has said he won’t sign off on $105 million in public improvement bonds until lawmakers agree on how to pay back the state’s hospitals. Democrats say the governor is holding the bonds hostage, putting jobcreating road construction projects on hold.


Lawmakers say the state will save $5 million if it completes the payments before Oct. 1.




Nevada: Billboard for alcohol not funny to some


Source: News 3

by: Sandra Gonzalez



A billboard that was probably meant as a joke turns out is no laughing matter to some. It’s an ad for alcohol from a popular liquor company, but the attempt at humor isn’t very funny to some people.


The billboard is for Lee’s Discount Liquor, and its message is: “Alcohol is cheaper than therapy”.


Mother, Lourdes Mansouri’s mouth dropped when she read this billboard.


“Putting a sign that alcohol is cheaper than therapy. Unbelievable that’s what I say. It’s unbelievable,” Mansouri said.


She says close friend of hers died as a result of a drunk driver.


“She was a mother of three and she died in a crash accident and she was on her way to work at three in the morning, and she got killed by a drunk driver, so i don’t think alcohol is cheaper than therapy, I don’t think so,” Mansouri said.


Public relations consultant Ira David Sternberg drove past the billboard and found himself doing a double take. Sternberg tells us the billboard probably wasn’t intended to make light of the situation, but the message fell short. Perhaps he says another set of eyes should have been called in before it went on the billboard.


“It shouldn’t come from a retail operator kind of product. It really should come from someone else, a comedian talking about his history in therapy for example. That could be funny. But not when you’re selling the product,” Sternberg said.


So many people were outraged, that a national petition was started on The petition urged the owners of Lee’s Discount Liquor to remove the billboard saying it’s a socially irresponsible message model to everyone.


But not everyone was offended.


“I think it’s entertaining and humorous. I do believe it to some degree, because therapy is very expensive now and alcohol is very cheap,” said Jonathan Sims.


“It’s way cheaper. Go buy me a bottle. Ain’t got to worry about no damn therapy, especially dealing with my crazy kids,” said Booker Payne.


One woman says the sign while not humorous is sadly true.


“It’s sad because a lot of people are addicted to alcohol and it takes an awful lot of treatment to try to get them off it, and often you can’t get them off it,” said Elspeth Fyfe.


News 3 spoke to the company’s owner, who told us the billboard will be taken down next week.




Wisconsin: Green Bay liquor store owners get jail time in fraud


Source: PostCrescent

Jun. 14, 2013


The former owners of a liquor store on Green Bay’s northeast side will serve jail time as well as probation for running a food stamp fraud operation out of their store.


“The system was designed to help people, and you were entrusted with this,” Brown County Judge Tammy Jo Hock told Gurnek and Gurdeep Basanti, owners of the former Beach Road Liquor, 1020 N. Irwin Ave. “This was a complete violation of that trust.”


The Basantis let customers buy liquor and cigarettes with their county-issued “Quest” cards, which is a forbidden use under the food stamp rules, court records say. They also would, with the cooperation of some of their food stamp customers, double-charge them and then pocket the extra cash, and use their customers’ cards to make purchases for the store.


Gurnek Basanti, 56, directed his wife to do the deeds, mostly because he was seldom in the store because of a separate job he had as an independent contractor dump truck driver, said Basanti’s lawyer, Michael Hart.


That made Gurnek Basanti more culpable, but the operation still shouldn’t result in jail time, Hart argued.


“On the street, this is an acceptable way of doing business,” Hart said. “Customers seem to expect it; they come to a business and ask if they do business this way, and I don’t know whether they were afraid of losing that customer’s business or hoped to score, but they engaged in the practice and it gained steam.”


Gurdeep Basanti may have done most of the illegal transactions, but it was at her husband’s directive, said her lawyer, David Garaghty.


“Hypothetically, if he had said no, I think it wouldn’t have happened,” said Garaghty, also asking for no jail time.


Hock rejected both arguments.


“They were an arm of this (food stamp) program,” Hock said. “There were numerous transactions . When the search warrant was executed, 15 Quest cards were recovered, one on Mrs. Basanti’s person and 14 in the store. He (Gurnek Basanti) admits they continued out of pure greed.”


In sentencing Gurnek Basanti, Hock ignored Hart’s request for no jail time and also a prosecution recommendation for 90 days in jail and instead gave him six months in jail, along with two years probation.


Hock also rejected a joint recommendation of no jail time, just community service, plus probation for Gurdeep Basanti and gave her the same sentence as her husband’s.


The couple already paid restitution of $825, the only figure assessors could come up with without guessing, according to Assistant District Attorney Beau Liegeois, so Hock ordered no restitution but observed the fraud amount likely was much higher.


The couple’s daughter, Simarjot Basanti, 26, was implicated in the scheme but was only charged with a single misdemeanor count of fraudulently using someone else’s card to make a $27 purchase. This time Hock followed the joint recommendation and issued a sentence of one year probation and 50 hours of community service.


The Basantis have since been running a Dollar Store out of their previous liquor store, having lost their liquor license following their August arrest. They aren’t authorized to accept Quest cards at that store and are forbidden, as condition of their probation, from possessing another person’s card.




Edelman issued a corrected version of this release




Craft distillers celebrate new opportunities for growth


Source: Edelman

June 13, 2013


Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that redefines business for state alcohol manufacturers. HB 347/SB 642 set a precedent for the alcohol industry that has not been seen in the state since the days of prohibition. GrayRobinson government relations attorney Jason Unger and alcohol industry attorney Richard Blau represented the Florida Craft Distillers Guild in amending outdated legislation.


“There are several sets of interests that have to be taken into account when drafting alcohol legislation, which makes it one of the trickiest industries to represent from a legal perspective,” said Blau, the chair of GrayRobinson’s national alcohol beverage and food law practice. “You have stakeholders with concerns in the public safety and health and wellness sectors, while also having to consider implications at a political and economic level. The fact that this bill was able to pass in its first session, with little to no opposition on the voting floor, is truly extraordinary.”


“From a legislative standpoint, we were able to work with key legislators and leaders in the alcohol industry to pass a bill that everyone could support,” said Unger, the lead lobbyist on the effort out of GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office.


In recent years the state has seen a growing number of craft distilleries that invite the public to tour their facilities and sample their product. However, unlike wineries and breweries, Florida law prohibited these distilleries from selling manufactured products on site. The product would have to be shipped off to a wholesaler or distributor for purchase. With the passage of HB 347/SB 642, championed by Representative Ronald Renuart and Senator Alan Hays, these distilleries can now sell products as part of this offering.


Philip McDaniel, chairman of the Florida Craft Distillers Guild and owner of the St. Augustine Distillery currently under construction in St. Augustine, Fla., predicts that the number of distilleries across the state could grow from 15 to anywhere between 35 and 50 over the next decade as a direct result of this new legislation.


“For us, the most exciting part of this is that we can now complete the customer experience,” said McDaniel. “When customers tour our distilleries they build up anticipation to try the product and want to take home a memory of the experience.  When we’d have to say ‘I’m sorry, we can’t sell you a bottle’ at the very moment they’re eager to purchase, well, it’s just creates a negative customer experience.”


McDaniel has plans for the future of St. Augustine Distillery now that the law will take effect July 1. In addition to a gift shop that sells bottles of the artisan crafted bourbon, gin, vodka and rum, there will be a small screening room that shows a documentary about the distiller’s relationship with local farms. The distillery is located just off of the trolley route located in the heart of St. Augustine’s historical tourist district and McDaniel is hopeful that a vast majority of these patrons will enter his doors.


“Florida has some of the best agriculture in the world, especially when used as a value added component for alcohol manufacturing. We have one of the largest sugar cane crops in the nation and a variety of fresh fruits to flavor our liquors, wines and beers,” said McDaniel. “This legislation will allow Florida distillers to capitalize on our unique location and build a global reputation bringing new visitors to the state because, quite simply, they can’t find this experience anywhere else.”


JoAnn Elardo, owner of Cape Spirits in Cape Coral, Fla., can finally hire the help she needs to offer tours due to the added revenue the distillery will bring in from alcohol sales. Cape Spirits manufactures Wicked Dolphin Rum.

US Spirits: NABCA Conference Call – Spirits growth solid, but moderating


Source: UBS

Jun 13th


NABCA expects c3% volume growth and c5% value growth for 2013E

UBS hosted a conf call with NABCA (Control States cover 22% of US volumes). 2013 outlook remains solid with NABCA expecting c3% volume growth and c5% US$ value growth for US spirits. However, this is a moderation from the current 12 month rolling trend of +3.2% volume and +6.1% value growth up to April. The moderation in volume growth of the last 3-4 months could be linked to the economy and tough y/y comparables. NABCA expects May volumes to increase by +1.9-2.0% y/y against a very tough comparable of +11%.


Premiumisation and price increases remain a focus for the industry

Ultra premium continues to drive the fastest growth in the market of +10% (though moderating from +12% two years ago), with Super Premium and Premium picking up from +5% to +6% and Value slowing from +4% to +3%. NABCA believes that most spirits companies are looking to take price where they can.


Innovation expected to remain a focus, across all beverage alcohol

NABCA expects continued momentum for bourbon flavour innovation (though not to the extent of vodka). New vodka launches continue maintaining high competition in the category (Burnett’s Vodka by Heaven Hill is a #4 brand in the Control States, New Amsterdam vodka by Gallo is one of the fastest growing brands). NABCA sees the spirits industry embracing craft distillers more than in beer. Beer innovation is expected to continue to pick up, even though NABCA has seen only minor impact from hybrid products on spirits to date.


Comfortable with 2013E forecasts for US spirits, though upside unlikely

We estimate 2013 US spirits volume and value growth of +2.0% and +4.5% y/y.




MillerCoors boss welcomes beer battle with Constellation Brands (Excerpt)


Source: Just-Drinks

By James Wilmore

13 June 2013


MillerCoors’ boss has revealed he is “looking forward” to competing with Constellation Brands in the US beer market and does not fear new rivals.


Tom Long, president & CEO of the Molson Coors and SABMiller JV, admitted that brands such as Corona, which Constellation now has the sole US rights to, are “very powerful in certain parts of the country”.  “I’m sure they (Constellation) will be seeking to be more aggressive,” Long told Bloomberg TV today (13 June).




Ill. law to force Busch to sell beer distributor stake by 2015


Source: Chicago Tribune

By Emily Bryson York

June 13, 2013


It’s official: Anheuser-Busch will have to sell its stake in City Beverage, the brewer’s largest local distributor.


Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB2606 into law Thursday afternoon. The legislation reinforces the state’s three-tier system, which requires the manufacture, distribution and retail sale of alcohol be split among  three business interests. Most states have had similar systems in place since Prohibition.


Anheuser-Busch, owned by Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, has until Jan 1, 2015, to sell the stake.


BDT Capital, an investment firm owned by Byron Trott, owns the remainder of City Beverage.






Thirty-nine Wines Receive Highest Accolade and Are Awarded The Chairman’s Trophy


June 13, 2013


Ultimate Beverage Challenge® (UBC), is proud to announce the results of the annual Ultimate Wine Challenge® (UWC) held at Astor Center in New York City on June 3-7, 2013. With a record 800+ wine entries this year – up 10% over last year – 39 superior wines received the highest score in their category and were awarded the Chairman’s Trophy. Scores of wines were named Finalists and many rated “Great Values” based on their score-to-price relationship, which shows that a great tasting wine doesn’t have to cost a fortune. All wines rated 80+ are listed in the results and all wines rated 85+ include tasting notes.


Full results available at


UBC founder/Judging Chairman F. Paul Pacult, UBC partner/Judging Co-Chairman Sean Ludford and 15 of the world’s foremost wine buyers, authors, journalists and sommeliers, including six Masters of Wine, tasted, assessed, debated, reviewed and scored the entries using UWC’s innovative multi-round judging system and the consumer-friendly 100-point rating scale. In accordance with UWC service policy, all wines were judged in appropriate fine crystal glassware and grouped in small flights of 3 to 7 wines according to grape type, region and price. The judges did not know the identity of any of the entered wines in order to ensure unbiased evaluations.


UWC 2013 judges were: Christy Canterbury, MW; James Conley; Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW; Doug Frost, MS, MW; Debbie Gioquindo; Mary Gorman-MacAdams, MW; Ed McCarthy; John McClement; Jean K. Reilly, MW; Jack Robertiello; Patricia Savoie; Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW and Tara Q. Thomas.


Said Pacult of UWC 2013, “The dramatic increase in participation again this year from wine producers from five continents serves as a clear affirmation of Ultimate Beverage Challenge’s meticulous detail to methodology, recognized authority and uncompromising integrity. In short, everything we do, every system we’ve created, is geared to showcase each wine’s virtues.”


Top scoring wines will be published in the Ultimate Beverage Challenge 2013 Guide to the World’s Best Wine & Spirits in Beverage Media (October 2013 issue), which goes out to 60,000+ beverage alcohol buyers in the United States.


For downloadable, behind-the-scenes images of UWC, go to:




New York wine collectors sue Charlie Trotter, accusing him of selling a counterfeit bottle of wine


Source: Chicago Tribune

By P.J. Huffstutter

June 13, 2013


The famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter has been sued for allegedly selling two wine collectors from New York a big, bogus bottle of wine.


According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Chicago, Bekim and Ilir Frrokaj paid more than $46,200 last June for what they thought was a magnum of 1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from Trotter’s Michelin-starred restaurant.


Trotter closed his restaurant last August, citing a desire to travel and to study philosophy, and as part of the closure made plans to sell thousands of bottles from his restaurant’s wine collection. This drew interest from wine aficionados who admired the restaurant’s collection of Bordeaux and cabernets.

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“During dinner, Charlie Trotter and the sommelier explained the rarity and value of the DRC magnum to Benn and Ilir,” according to the court filing. “Charlie Trotter and the sommelier also spoke about wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti estate and how those wines are some of the rarest and most valuable in the world.”


But the Frrokajs contend this was not true, and that it was only when they tried to have the bottle insured that they learned from a consultant that it was counterfeit.


Trotter could not immediately be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear whether he hired a lawyer for his defense.


According to the complaint, when consultant Maureen Downey met with estate co-owner Aubert de Villain, he stated “Domaine de la Romanee-Conti only produced small yields in 1945 and as a result did not produce any large format magnum-size bottles.”


The lawsuit accuses Trotter and his former restaurant of violating federal and state consumer laws, and seeks $75,000 in damages. Efforts to recover without going to court proved unsuccessful, the plaintiffs’ lawyer John Auchter said Thursday.




Will More Collectors Turn Wine Into Cash?


Source: Forbes

Jun 12th


Selling art is pretty hard and pretty expensive. Finding buyers can be tough, particularly for expensive works, and US collectors that do sell works pay a higher rate of capital gains tax than they would on most assets.


So it’s understandable that more collectors today use their art collection as collateral for loans instead. In fact, 41% of  collectors surveyed in Deloitte’s 2013 Art and Finance Report say they’d consider art-secured lending.


But what about wine? Yesterday, Bloomberg’s Miles Wiess reported that Goldman Sachs had advanced a loan to a former senior director, Andrew Cader, backed by 15,000 bottles of fine wine, mostly first growth Bordeaux and grand cru and premier cru Burgundies.


It has already spawned a lot of groan-worthy headlines about wines and liquid assets, but will this news encourage more wine collectors to follow in Cader’s footsteps?


Although individuals can get already loans using a wide range of esoteric assets from jewellery to antiques as collateral, as Bloomberg reports, speciality lenders have been less keen on wine-secured loans, allegedly because of concerns about fakes.


Nevertheless, there seems to be decent interest from borrowers, which is why some lenders do it. Bordeaux Cellars, a specialist wine lender in London, currently charges borrowers 15% per year for loans of 12 to 18 months secured against wine collateral. However, Bordeaux Cellars will only lend up to 35% of the value of the wine used as collateral. That’s considerably less than the amount of cash that lenders are typically prepared to advance against art collateral, usually up to 50% of the value.


Borro will also give you a short-term loan on your wine collection, but for a price -over 35% on an annualized basis.


However, art-secured loans don’t come cheap either. There are private banks that will advance loans at reasonable rates if clients can also show that they have top-notch credit and other assets at their disposal. However, there are plenty of other lenders that will advance smaller amounts to anyone with the right collateral, as long as they’re prepared to pay eye-watering interest rates.


On some levels, wine should be a more compelling form of collateral compared to things such as art or antiques or jewelry, where valuation is even more subjective. You can actually find a market price for many top-tier Bordeaux, for example, on the Liv-Ex wine exchange in London. And there are plenty of concerns about forgeries and fraud in the art market too.


So it will be interesting to see if, and how, opportunities for collectors to take out wine-secured loans actually grow.




Had enough of the stock market? Try investing in wine


Source: Fox News

By Tracy Byrnes

June 12, 2013


More and more people are buying wine, not just for pleasure, but as an investment.


Even Goldman Sachs was willing to accept almost 15,000 bottles of fine wine as loan collateral from a former high-ranking executive, according to a regulatory filing last month.


Wine lovers and Wall Street pros see the value and want to invest. So it’s no surprise a wine investment fund would surface. The Bottled Asset Fund (BAF), launched in 2010, is the world’s first Italian-focused fine wine investment fund.


The market for Italian wine is growing globally, with export markets, like Asia, driving up value. Hence, the BAF currently is projected to return profits to its investors, net of fees, of over 30 percent. Can’t even get close to that investing in the stock market these days.


Most recently the fund bought the historic collection of Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino valued at $5 million. The Biondi-Santi estate is widely recognized as the creator of Italy’s most important wine, Brunello di Montalcino, and, more importantly, it introduced wines for long-term aging to the Italian wine culture.


This 7,000-bottle acquisition spans 1945 to 1975 and includes hundreds of bottles of the cult 1955 and 1964 vintages, representing a unique addition to the BAF portfolio.


And with so much interest from investors, the fund’s management company, Vino Management Corporation, plans to launch another fund by the end of 2013, with the goal to commit $25 million.


So you want a piece? Current minimum investment is about $50,000, according to Sergio Esposito, the fund’s director who has been in the Italian wine business for over 30 years.


He is also the founder of Italian Wine Merchants in Manhattan, one of the most thorough Italian wine stores in the country.


So if the stock market volatility is keeping you up at night, maybe investing in the BAF would be a better option.


Don’t have the money? Then just have a glass of wine before bed.


Cent’ Anni




Buyers out in force for 2013 coastal varieties


Source: Western Farm Press

Greg Northcutt

Jun. 12, 2013


More 2013 wine grapes from California’s coastal regions are trading hands in the spot market than from the interior valleys.


“That’s mildly surprising,” says Jeff Bitter, vice-president of operations for Allied Grape Growers, Fresno, Calif., a marketing cooperative with nearly 600 grower-members in the state’s major grape regions “Last year Central Coast and North Coast growers harvested such a huge crop that demand for their grapes this year wasn’t expected be so strong so early in the season, but it is.”


One reason for the increased interest in Coastal grapes is the limited availability of Central Valley grapes. Much of this year’s production there is still covered by multi-year contracts negotiated when recession-battered consumers drove up demand for the lower-priced wines made from interior-grown grapes.


Now, with the economic outlook beginning to improve, consumers are beginning to trade up when they go wine shopping.


“The real hot spot in the wine market right now are bottles priced in the $13 to $18 range,” Bitter says. “That seems to be generating interest in grapes from most Coastal areas except for the ultra-premium regions. Higher-priced Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Sonoma County Pinot Noir are still in strong demand, too. However, buyers seem more interested in purchasing great quality coastal fruit so they can average down the grape cost of their higher-end programs, rather than purchasing additional high-end fruit.”


While the prices growers are getting for their 2013 grapes are below historical highs in many cases, they’re still at economically sustainable levels for most varieties grown in the state, not just the Coastal regions, he reports.


Red varieties, in general, have maintained the strong prices they commanded last year, Bitter notes. “Across the board, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Petite Syrah, at least as a blender, seem to be doing very well,” he says. “Growers with any or all of those varieties have plenty of buyers knocking at their doors.”


Multi-year contracts are common in the Coastal areas. That includes the white varieties, with the highest prices being offered for Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, Bitter adds.


Given last year’s high-tonnage Chardonnay production, he wasn’t expecting the strong interest in the variety this year. In the past, a big Chardonnay crop one year, typically, has been followed by a steep price decline the next. In fact, the Chardonnay market did soften at the end of last year’s harvest. “Since then, it’s bounced back and is now healthy and stable,” Bitter says.


Last year’s big crush in the Lodi-Clarksburg area of the San Joaquin Valley has observers guessing about the likely size of this year’s harvest. Most expect production to the vines use this season to recover. However, good bunch counts and vine growth early this season show promise of another sizeable crop, he reports.


Meanwhile, vineyards in the Central Valley south of Lodi could be poised for a jump in production this year.


In 2012, while growers in other part of the start saw double-digit increases in production, the Central Valley crop was only about four percent bigger than an average crop


“So, it’s possible, maybe even likely, that we’ll see a good strong increase in the size of  the Central Valley crop this year, while production elsewhere is down due to a large crop last year,” Bitter says.


The unseasonably warm weather that has characterized this season and advanced development of the 2013 crop throughout California’s wine grape areas could be setting the stage for strong production next year. As he points out, fruit bud differentiation for one year’s crop occurs during the previous May and June. By that measure, this year’s weather is favoring a good bunch count for the 2014 crop.


In the meantime, though, forecasts are calling for a hot summer. High temperatures combined with reduced deliveries of surface water this year and the costs of pumping water from the ground could force growers to cut back on their irrigations. And that, Bitter says, coul result in growers harvesting a smaller crop than the one now developing on their vines.




2013 ‘a vintage to remember’ say New Zealand winemakers


Source: Decanter

by Richard Woodard

Thursday 13 June 2013

Winemakers in New Zealand are hailing the 2013 vintage as ‘one of the best in history’, with a record harvest 28% bigger than last year’s crop.


New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan described the summer as ‘outstanding’ with ‘near-perfect conditions for growing grapes’.


‘The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit-driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape-growing regions – 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.’


Nearly 350,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2013, a record volume up 5% on 2011 and 28% bigger than last year’s small crop, which left New Zealand short of wine to feed its expansion plans.


Key region Marlborough and key grape variety Sauvignon Blanc both had good years, with volumes up 33% and 26% respectively, while the Pinot Noir crop was 36% bigger than in 2012.


‘The small 2012 grape crop left the industry unable to meet continuing strong consumer demand in established and new markets,’ said Gregan.


‘Winemakers will welcome the more normal 2013 harvest as the better balanced supply will facilitate renewed export growth in the year ahead.’


Premium winery Villa Maria described the quality of Marlborough fruit as ‘exceptional’ with Chardonnay an early highlight, but reserved its highest praise for Hawke’s Bay.


Claiming that the area’s 2013 harvest was ‘remarkable’ and would ‘go down in history’, the company said: ‘We have never seen everything look so pristine and the flavours were amazing.’


Flavours were so pure and clean that variations between soil types and individual clones were apparent, with Merlot described as ‘a real stand-out’.




Bordeaux 2012 hamstrung by ‘insufficient price cuts’


Source: Decanter

by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

Thursday 13 June 2013

An official summary of Bordeaux’s 2012 en primeur campaign shows the average price cut on all 344 wines released was 7.6%, compared to the 2011 vintage.
Despite early hopes that sales would be spurred by significantly lower pricing from Bordeaux’s five first growths, which were down 33% on the previous year and sold well, overall public demand was generally very poor.


The new figures, produced by Bordeaux-based wine brokerage house Tastet Lawton – which is widely respected for its hard data on primeur campaigns – also show 2012’s pricing was an average of 30% higher than the most recently affordable vintage of 2008.


‘The two big problems for the 2012 campaign were insufficient price cuts and too many wines on the market,’ Tastet Lawton’s managing director Erik Samazeuilh


Samazeuilh said the number of brands released as en primeur should be closer to the 1995 figure of 235 and that wines with little resale margin, such as the Cru Bourgeois, were crowding the market. ‘Only the Grands Crus and their like should be on the market as en primeur,’ he said.


He added that Bordeaux’s negociants were now carrying unwieldy amounts of stock, made up of about two thirds of the unsold 2012 vintage, large quantities of unsold 2011 and some unsold 2010.


On a slightly more upbeat note, Samazeuilh said next week’s Vinexpo wine trade fair might bring some demand for the 2012s, especially with 2013 vintage currently mired in bad weather, and at least three weeks behind schedule.


Some commentators believe traditional en primeur buyers in the US and UK have lost interest in buying Bordeaux’s primeurs following price inflation for the 2009 and 2010 vintages, driven by demand from new buyers in China and Hong Kong.




Burgundy’s Les Saint Georges applies for promotion to Grand Cru


Source: Decanter

by Panos Kakaviatos

Thursday 13 June 2013


A group of vintners from Burgundy’s renowned Nuit Saint Georges appellation is applying to have its Les Saint Georges vineyard promoted from premier cru to grand cru status.


Thibault Liger-Belair, who owns more than 2ha of the 7ha vineyard, is one of a team of producers preparing the application to France’s appellations authority, the INAO.


The INAO now needs a ‘cahier de charges’ specifying terroir and soil characteristics, yields, planting conditions, harvesting methods and historical justifications for such a promotion.


INAO office manager Eric Vincent told that after detailed examinations of the terroir, the application would be forwarded to INAO headquarters in Paris.


Les Saint Georges is one of 41 premiers crus of Nuits Saint Georges but has long been considered the very best terroir of the region, which has no grand crus.


Liger-Belair, who has teamed up with Gregory Gouges of Domaine Henri Gouges, Erwan Faiveley of Domaine Faiveley and Philippe Chezeaux of Domaine Chevillon-Chezeaux, among others, told the promotion would ‘repair a historical anomaly’ in that the original decision was taken in a specific economic and political environment.


He said Les Saint Georges could have been classified as grand cru, but its candidacy was not submitted because the then owners, ‘in a time of economic crisis’, wanted to avoid paying the higher taxes that grand cru vineyards were liable to.


Liger-Belair is ‘aware’ of doubts about the initiative, including those of his cousin Louis Michel Liger-Belair, who is president of Burgundy’s grand cru union and who runs Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne Romanée.


One concern, according to Thibault Liger-Belair, is that such a promotion may lead to further promotions and open a Pandora’s Box, ‘diluting’ the meaning of grand cru.


Frederic Mugnier of Jacques Frederic Mugnier, who owns Clos de la Marechale vineyard in Nuits Saint Georges, said that the end result would be creating possibly a new ‘super grand cru classification for the original grands crus.’


But Thibault Liger-Belair does not share such concerns. ‘Burgundy has evolved and nothing is fixed,’ he said. ‘We must remember that the Cote de Nuits gets its name from Nuits Saint Georges.’




DSWE Appoints Francesco Giovannetti Director of Strategic Sales and Branding


Source: DSWE

Jun 13th


Domaine Select Wine Estates, a Manhattan based wine & spirits import and distribution company, announces the appointment of Francesco Giovannetti as Director of Strategic Sales and Branding.  Mr. Giovannetti joined DSWE as Portfolio & Key Account Development Specialist in 2012 and has worked with closely with both the DSWE producers and sales teams in account and brand development.  As Director of Strategic Sales and Branding, Mr. Giovannetti will continue to report to Founder & CEO Paolo Domeneghetti and will work directly with Executive Vice President Joseph LoSardo relative to sales planning & execution for the portfolio on a national level.




American Beverage Licensees Elects New Officers


On-Premise Retailer Harry Klock of Montana Elected 6th ABL President


Source: ABL

Jun 13th


The Board of Directors of American Beverage Licensees (ABL) elected Harry Klock, owner and operator of Stockman Bar in Harlowton, Montana, as ABL President at its meeting on June 9, 2013. Klock will represent the trade association’s nearly 20,000 members for a two-year term, leading the national beverage alcohol retail community and working with ABL’s staff on issues affecting its membership.


Previously an ABL Vice President, Klock served Montana as an assemblyman in the Montana House of Representatives from 2005-2012, where he sponsored bills concerning small business and healthcare regulations.  A former President of the Montana Tavern Association, Mr. Klock and his family operate Klock Land and Livestock.


“I am proud and excited to serve as President of American Beverage Licensees,” said Klock. “We face new and ongoing challenges as independent beverage retailers.  I hope to be a strong voice for the interests of on- and off-premise licensees and small business owners.”


“Harry’s experience as a state legislator will be invaluable as ABL and our members continue to navigate the complex world of beverage alcohol politics and policy,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.  “I’m looking forward to working closely with him the next two years, as well as with all of our newly-elected and continuing officers.”


Klock is joined in his new role by the officers who comprise ABL’s executive committee. The 2013-2014 ABL Executive Committee includes: Vice President Don Diserens of Alton Sports Tap in Godfrey, IL; Vice President Steve Morris of Jorgenson’s Restaurant & Lounge in Helena, MT; Vice President Paul Santelle of Garden State Discount Liquor in Perth Amboy, NJ; Vice President Warren Scheidt of The Cork in Columbus, IN; Treasurer Ray Cox of Elite Beverages in Indianapolis, IN; and Representative At-Large Bob Sprenger of Bubba’s in Marion, WI.  Outgoing President Chuck Ferrar of Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, MD remains on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past-President.




Ron Burkle Said in Talks to Buy Tesco’s Fresh & Easy


Source: Bloomberg

By Lauren Coleman-Lochner, Mark Clothier & Leslie Patton

Jun 12, 2013


Billionaire Ron Burkle is in talks to buy Tesco Plc (TSCO)’s unprofitable Fresh & Easy chain in the U.S., according to people familiar with the discussions.


Burkle would use the stores to relaunch the Wild Oats brand, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. Jim Keyes, the former CEO of 7-Eleven Inc. and Blockbuster Inc., owns the Wild Oats name and will serve as chief executive officer of a new grocery retail venture with the billionaire, said one of the people. Burkle founded private-equity company Yucaipa Cos.


Frank Quintero, a spokesman for Yucaipa, declined to comment. A Tesco official declined to comment.


Tesco fell 0.4 percent to 342.55 pence at the close of trading in London today.


Fresh & Easy marks Tesco’s second failed international venture after it paid to exit Japan last year. The chain, with about 200 shops in Nevada, California and Arizona, hasn’t made a profit since it was built up from scratch in 2007. Tesco invested about 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in the country before deciding the chain, which targeted urban areas with private-label food, was a drain on earnings and management time.


Chief Financial Officer Laurie McIlwee told journalists on June 5 that Tesco was “in advanced discussions with a number of parties interested in taking over Fresh & Easy in its entirety.” The decision to dump the chain cut Tesco’s profit by 1.2 billion pounds in its last fiscal year, leading to the company’s first annual drop in almost 20 years.

Burkle Investments


Burkle has sought investments and stakes in troubled companies, including a partnership to take over Barneys New York last year. He was also interested in buying part of grocery chain Supervalu Inc. (SVU), people familiar with the matter have said. Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Supervalu sold some of its banners, including Jewel-Osco and Acme, to a Cerberus Capital Management LP-led team in March.


An entity with Yucaipa’s address has applied to open grocery retail stores, according to the trademark application that was published for opposition on May 21. The owner of the filing is listed as Wild Oats Marketing LLC with Yucaipa’s address of 9130 West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.


Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI) bought Wild Oats in 2007. At the time, Wild Oats had 109 locations and annual sales of about $1.2 billion, according to a statement from Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. Wild Oats, which opened its first retail stores in 1987, is planning a comeback to grocery-store shelves, according to the company’s website. This year, it will sell branded cereals, coffee, dry beans, pretzels and other foods at U.S. supermarkets.




Economist’s Notebook: May restaurant sales dip from record-high volume


Source: NRA

June 13, 2013


In his latest commentary, the National Restaurant Association’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy analyzes the latest sales results.  Restaurant sales dipped in May from April’s record high volume, but still remain above year-ago levels.  Looking ahead, economic fundamentals continue to point toward a generally positive sales environment in the second half of the year.


Restaurant sales edged down in May from April’s record high volume, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Eating and drinking place sales totaled $45.9 billion in May on a seasonally-adjusted basis, down 0.4 percent from April’s upwardly-revised sales volume of $46.1 billion, which represented a record high.


Despite the May downtick, combined restaurant sales in April and May were nearly $1.4 billion more than the volume registered during the first two months of 2013, when restaurant spending was dampened by the payroll tax hike.


The restaurant industry underperformed in May relative the overall retail sector (excluding foodservice), where sales rose a solid 0.7 percent above its April level.  However, restaurant sales in May stood 4.4 percent above their May 2012 level, which was essentially on par with the 4.3 percent 12-month gain in overall retail sales.


Looking forward, economic fundamentals continue to point toward a generally positive sales environment in the second half of the year.  Job growth – a key driver of restaurant sales – continues to follow a moderately upward trajectory, with monthly gains averaging 175,000 jobs during the past year.


At the same time, consumer sentiment appears to be on the mend, with The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rising in May to its highest level in more than five years.


For their part, restaurant operators are generally optimistic that sales levels will improve in the coming months.  In the National Restaurant Association’s May 2013 Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, 41 percent of operators said they expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 10 percent expect their sales to decline.


The 10 percent of operators who think their sales will decline is the lowest reading in 11 months, which suggests that some of the downside risk to the outlook is dissipating.




Lending to Restaurants Picks Up, but Mostly for Big Players


Source: WSJ

By Annie Gasparro

Jun 13th


Banks are lending money at a faster pace to large restaurant franchisees, but mom-and-pop shops with an appetite to expand are still struggling to get the cash.


Loans to franchisees–a key source of funding that helped the likes of Pizza Hut and Applebee’s spread nationwide–fell dramatically during the recession. “Now the credit markets are very active again. It’s a depth and breadth that we haven’t seen in the last few years,” said Dave Farwell, head of franchise financing for RBS Citizens.


Sales are rebounding in the restaurant industry, and interest rates are at historic lows, making both bankers and restaurant operators feel like it’s a good time to grow.


For instance, Border Foods Inc., a top Taco Bell franchisee with roughly 180 total restaurants, recently secured a $17 million line of credit to fund remodels, new site development or acquisitions. The loan is part of a $98 million seven-year senior credit facility.


However, veteran small franchisees are still struggling to raise enough cash just to meet the renovation demands of their parent brands, said Brad Swanson, managing director of KeyBanc’s consumer & retail group.


Whether its remodeling their restaurants, like Wendy’s is asking, or investing in a menu overhaul, like Burger King recently required, its a lot to ask of small businesses.


“There is a population of franchisees who got on board in the ’70s and ’80s when quick-serve and casual dining were really expanding, and they have a handful of units now,” Mr. Swanson said. “For small franchisees like that, a $600,000 to $800,000 remodel is a significant investment.”


Justin Trouard, a single-unit franchisee who opened his first restaurant earlier this year, said he was shocked at how difficult it is for small business owners to even be considered for a modest loan.


“The big banks’ requirements are ridiculous. You have to have 50% of the loan in cash and 50% in collateral,” he said. “At that point, you don’t even really need a loan.”


For a while, all he could find were offers for unsecured loans at interest rates of 15% to 20%. Mr. Trouard eventually received an offer from a local bank using an online matching service called BoeFly, and he recently opened his Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise in the D.C. area.


The International Franchise Association says lending to franchisees in general–not just restaurants–will reach its highest level this year since the recession, lending $23.9 billion. However, there’s still an expected shortfall of $2.6 billion between franchisees’ appetite for growth and banks’ ability to meet the demand, the association said.


“We’re seeing definite improvement, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said IFA President and Chief Executive Steve Caldeira. “Their already thin margins are being squeezed by things like health-care regulations and commodity costs, and it’s making it extremely difficult for small business owners to turn a profit.”


As a result, underperforming locations are selling out to bigger franchisees or being bought back by the parent brands, since they can afford to invest in improvements. Last week, a 40-unit Applebee’s franchisee, RMH Franchise Corp., bid $8.6 million in a bankruptcy auction for 15 Applebee’s locations owned by a smaller Illinois franchisee. The deal needs approval from a bankruptcy judge.


Mr. Farwell, of RBS Citizens, said the parent chains aren’t sorry to see some of the smaller players exit, as they prefer to have more professional franchisees that tend to uphold brand standards better.


“It takes a higher level of sophistication to run these chains than it did a few years ago, so I think the consolidation will continue,” he said.


Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (KKD), which is returning to new-store growth in the U.S. after a decade-long lull, said it’s looking for multi-brand, experienced franchisees to lead its expansion. “You still may see some smaller players, but we’re looking more for people with more flags in their hat,” said Chief Financial Officer Doug Muir.


However, other brands, like Subway, whose sandwich shops are all franchised, still see an opportunity among new and smaller operators.


Subway tends to attract smaller franchisees since its menu is relatively simple and it requires less capital to open a store. They are even helping franchisees expand. “In 2008, lending tightened up, and it got harder to get access to capital,” Chief Development Officer Donald Fertman said.


To help, Subway began hosting forums for potential lenders, to instill confidence in the brand. “We just held another one recently, and I think it’s helped our franchisees have more success at continuing development than other chains,” he said.


The chain even surpassed McDonald’s in the number of locations it has, now boasting 39,500 worldwide compared to McDonald’s “more than 34,000.”






Heartland distribution center to service company’s central & southern Illinois customers


Source: Respublica

June 13, 2013


Wirtz Beverage Illinois and Wirtz Realty Group, joined by Mayor John Mohr and local elected officials, unveiled the vision of a 50,000-square-foot Heartland headquarters for the beverage company in Lexington, Ill. Standing on 14 acres, the distribution center will serve the central and southern Illinois regions and consolidate smaller facilities throughout the state.


“This marks an important day for Wirtz Beverage as we expand upon the investments we have made in our home state of Illinois,” said Rocky Wirtz, President of Wirtz Beverage Group. “We have been operating statewide for a number of years however these new facilities allow us to better coordinate our logistics, service customers and ultimately be more efficient in growing our business.”


The facility will include 15,000-square-feet of office space and a 35,000-square-foot warehouse, along with 20 truck docks. In addition, the site will serve as the hub for the company’s Heartland sales force, drawing team members from across the region.


“It’s a huge project for the city and it may be the single largest private investment that we’ve seen in many, many years,” Mayor Mohr said. “The folks at Wirtz Realty and Wirtz Beverage have been great to work with and it is no doubt they will be a great benefit to McLean County.  Wirtz Beverage has a strong history of being a community partner, and we welcome its team to Lexington.”


Among those also in attendance at the groundbreaking were Julian Burzynski, Executive Vice President of Wirtz Beverage Group, Anthony Iatarola, Senior Vice President, Wirtz Realty Group, Illinois State Senator Jason Barickman and State Representative Dan Brady.


The Heartland facility is expected to be fully operational by early 2014.






Craft distillers celebrate new opportunities for growth


Source: Edelman

Jun 13th


Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law two bills that redefine business for state alcohol manufacturers.  HB 347/SB 642 set a precedent for the alcohol industry that has not been seen in the state since the days of prohibition. GrayRobinson government relations attorney Jason Unger and alcohol industry attorney Richard Blau represented the Florida Craft Distillers Guild in amending outdated legislation.


“There are several sets of interests that have to be taken into account when drafting alcohol legislation, which makes it one of the trickiest industries to represent from a legal perspective,” said Blau, the chair of GrayRobinson’s national alcohol beverage and food law practice. “You have stakeholders with concerns in the public safety and health and wellness sectors, while also having to consider implications at a political and economic level. The fact that this bill was able to pass in its first session, with little to no opposition on the voting floor, is truly extraordinary.”


“From a legislative standpoint, we were able to work with key legislators and leaders in the alcohol industry to pass a bill that everyone could support,” said Unger, the lead lobbyist on the effort out of GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office.


In recent years the state has seen a growing number of craft distilleries that invite the public to tour their facilities and sample their product. However, unlike wineries and breweries, Florida law prohibited these distilleries from selling manufactured products on site. The product would have to be shipped off to a wholesaler or distributor for purchase. With the passage of HB 347/SB 642, championed by Representative Ronald Renuart and Senator Alan Hays, these distilleries can now sell products as part of this offering.


Philip McDaniel, chairman of the Florida Craft Distillers Guild and owner of the St. Augustine Distillery currently under construction in St. Augustine, Fla., predicts that the number of distilleries across the state could grow from 15 to anywhere between 35 and 50 over the next decade as a direct result of this new legislation.


“For us, the most exciting part of this is that we can now complete the customer experience,” said McDaniel. “When customers tour our distilleries they build up anticipation to try the product and want to take home a memory of the experience.  When we’d have to say ‘I’m sorry, we can’t sell you a bottle’ at the very moment they’re eager to purchase, well, it’s just creates a negative customer experience.”


McDaniel has plans for the future of St. Augustine Distillery now that the law will take effect July 1. In addition to a gift shop that sells bottles of the artisan crafted bourbon, gin, vodka and rum, there will be a small screening room that shows a documentary about the distiller’s relationship with local farms. The distillery is located just off of the trolley route located in the heart of St. Augustine’s historical tourist district and McDaniel is hopeful that a vast majority of these patrons will enter his doors.


“Florida has some of the best agriculture in the world, especially when used as a value added component for alcohol manufacturing. We have one of the largest sugar cane crops in the nation and a variety of fresh fruits to flavor our liquors, wines and beers,” said McDaniel. “This legislation will allow Florida distillers to capitalize on our unique location and build a global reputation bringing new visitors to the state because, quite simply, they can’t find this experience anywhere else.”


JoAnn Elardo, owner of Cape Spirits in Cape Coral, Fla., can finally hire the help she needs to offer tours due to the added revenue the distillery will bring in from alcohol sales. Cape Spirits manufactures Wicked Dolphin Rum.


“Before we were just a name on a shelf,” said Elardo. “Now we have marketing capability. We can make our distillery a destination and put our stamp on our product.”

Rémy Cointreau remains upbeat in the face of China sales slowdown


Source: FT

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris

Jun 11th


Rémy Cointreau said it expected flat China sales of cognac in the first half of this year, followed by a “significant improvement” in the second half.


Jean-Marie Laborde, chief executive of the French spirits group, said on Tuesday: “I can confirm that the start of the year is soft in China?.?.?.?We expect a lacklustre first half in China and its impact will be felt by the company.”


Mr Laborde was speaking as the Paris-based group reported an 18 per cent rise in full-year net profit to ?130m in its financial year to end-March – slightly below analysts’ expectations.


Sales of ?1.2bn were 16 per cent higher than in the same period the year before, or 9 per cent higher on a like-for-like basis.


Sales to China in the first half of the year were 40 per cent higher than in the same period of the previous year.


Mr Laborde said there had been a sharp slowdown in Chinese demand over the past six months in restaurants and bars for its most prestigious cognacs, including Louis XIII, which retails from about $2,500 a bottle and is often consumed by high-ranking Chinese officials.


Demand from younger Chinese drinkers, who drink less expensive cognac, remained robust, he said. Wholesalers’ cognac inventory levels in China were high after the weaker-than-expected lunar new year, he said, and would take time to run down. He was confident about the medium-term growth outlook for premium spirits.


Premium drinks companies and luxury goods groups have almost all been hit by the country’s economic slowdown and by the new Chinese government’s austerity campaign, which has led to the giving of less expensive gifts and lower spending by state officials.

Rémy, controlled by the Hériard Dubreuil family, makes 40 per cent of its operating profits from cognac sales in China, but said the slowdown was cyclical, not structural.


“Our good results today are, among other things, due to having anticipated the recovery in the US,” said François Hériard Dubreuil, chairman,


Mr Laborde said Rémy was raising its presence and investment in Africa, initially focused on a handful of countries, including South Africa and Nigeria, which he said was a promising market.


Rémy also took an impairment charge of ?15.9m on the value of its 27 per cent stake in Dynasty Fine Wines, the listed Chinese group. Dynasty, which warned in February that it made a loss in 2012 but has yet to publish its results, is valued at ?43m in Rémy’s accounts.


Last month, Pernod Ricard, France’s largest spirits group by sales and maker of Martell cognac, also forecast weaker sales growth in China due to the country’s economic slowdown.




Rémy Cointreau: Consolidated Preliminary Results for the Year Ended 31 March 2013


Source: Herald Online

June 11, 2013


Rémy Cointreau’s (Paris:RCO) sales for the financial year ended 31 March 2013 increased by 16.3% to ?1,193.3 million. Current operating profit was ?245.4 million, a rise of 18.1%, which was a very strong performance given that it was achieved on the back of double-digit growth the previous year. The current operating margin rose to 20.6% despite a further increase in marketing investment.


These results reflect the sales momentum of the Group’s brands in all regions of the world with double-digit growth in Asia and the US. Europe, despite a mixed economic environment, also contributed to this performance.


Net profit rose by 17.7% to ?130.4 million.


The Group’s net financial debt was ?265.5 million even though two acquisitions were completed during the year, and the Net debt to EBITDA ratio remained below 1.


The 2012/13 financial year was marked by:


a strong increase in current operating profit,

double-digit growth in Rémy Martin sales, which went hand-in-hand with strong profitability,

sustained, strong growth in Asia,

a remarkable performance in the US,

the strategic acquisition of Bruichladdich, a single malt Scotch whisky, and

a sound financial position: the Group has ?600 million available in long-term funding


Rémy Martin – Once again, the brand reported a remarkable performance: a 21.5% increase in sales to ?719.8 million and a 25.2% rise in current operating profit to ?216.6 million, under the combined effect of price increases and very high quality innovations, particularly in Asia, as well as in the US where consumer demand was strong. Russia contributed to this substantial growth, as did some Western European countries which are seeing positive trends.


There was a further improvement in the operating margin to 30.1% (29.2% the previous year), despite another increase in marketing investment.


Liqueurs & Spirits – Overall sales in this division were ?239.1 million, an increase of 10.8% compared with the previous year. This performance was all the more remarkable in light of the fact that Europe is the division’s primary market. Cointreau also performed well, not only thanks to the US but also to Western Europe. Despite the continued challenging economic situation in Greece, Metaxa reported growth thanks to Eastern European markets. Bruichladdich, added to this division’s portfolio since 1 September 2012, did not have a significant impact during the period.


Current operating profit declined to ?45.2 million due, as anticipated, to a substantial increase in sales and marketing investment in the divisional brands overall. The operating margin was 18.9%.


Partner Brands – Sales grew by 7.6% to ?234.4 million, together with operating profit of ?3.8 million.


Consolidated results


Sales of ?1,193.3 million represented an increase of 16.3% (up 8.8% organically, with 10.3% organic growth for Group brands).


Current operating profit rose by 18.1% to ?245.4 million (+12.3% organically), with an increase of 20.6% in operating margin compared with the previous year. This performance was achieved thanks to a further significant improvement in gross profit, accompanied by increased advertising and marketing investment to support the brands.


Operating profit was ?237.9 million, after deducting a ?7.5 million charge that primarily included expenses related to the two acquisitions.


Net financial expenses amounted to ?20 million, a significant decline of ?15.3 million which was primarily due to movements in the value of interest rate and foreign exchange hedging instruments.


The income tax charge of ?72 million reflected an effective tax rate of 33.1%, higher than the rate of 27.9% applicable in the previous year.


The share in the loss of associates primarily originated from Dynasty. The Chinese group, Dynasty Fine Wines Ltd, in which Rémy Cointreau holds a 27% stake, issued a profit warning in February 2013 flagging a loss for the 2012 financial year after several years of declining results. Since Dynasty’s annual financial statements were still pending publication at Rémy Cointreau’s balance sheet date, the Group carried out an impairment test on the value of its equity investment, on the basis of which an impairment charge of ?15.9 million was recognised.


The Group’s share of net profit, excluding non-recurring items, was ?151.5 million, an increase of 22.3% compared with the previous year.


The Group’s share of net profit rose by ?20 million to ?130.4 million, an increase of 17.7% after the Dynasty provision.


Net financial debt was ?265.5 million, an increase of ?76.9 million after taking into account the ?167.4 million impact of the two acquisitions completed during the year. The net debt to EBITDA ratio was 0.99. At 31 March 2013, Rémy Cointreau had confirmed financial resources of ?600 million.


Shareholders’ equity was ?1,094.8 million with a stronger balance sheet. Following implementation of the share buyback programme in December 2011 and May 2012, the Group holds 1.4 million treasury shares, accounting for 2.8% of its share capital and valued at ?96.1 million.


During the 2012/13 financial year, the Euro/US Dollar rate was very close to that of the previous year, at USD 1.35/?1 versus USD 1.34/?1. Foreign exchange movements had a positive effect of ?12 million on net profit.


On 10 June 2013, Rémy Cointreau announced that it had signed an agreement with the Nordic group, Altia, in respect of the transfer of Larsen Cognac including the brand, industrial and commercial assets and inventories, to enable the entity to operate as a going concern.


A cash dividend of ?1.40 per share will be put to a shareholders’ vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 24 September 2013.




In a worldwide economic environment which lacks visibility, particularly in Europe, but nevertheless remains favourable for the premium spirits industry, Rémy Cointreau remains true to its long-term high value strategy.


The Group will continue to rely on its very high quality brands, its innovation policy, the dynamism of its distribution network and its strict cost control, and remains confident in its capacity to continue to generate profitable growth over the medium to long term.




Rémy Cointreau: Chinese conundrum


French spirits group needs Chinese cognac drinkers to keep imbibing


Source: FT / LEX

Jun 11th


So how much do you know about the state of mind of Chinese cognac drinkers? And are you confident enough to back your view with cash? If the answers are “plenty” and “yes”, then go ahead and buy shares in Rémy Cointreau, which reported results on Tuesday. Exposure to China’s wealthier consumers has been a boon to Rémy, which specialises in high-end cognac. Profit growth has averaged 20 per cent for the past four years. That is better than rivals have managed, so Rémy’s shares, which were rated in line with Diageo and Pernod Ricard four years ago, now enjoy a premium. They trade on 23 times forecast earnings, against 18 times for the other two.


To maintain that premium – let alone expand it – Rémy has to keep growing. Yet the trend is not encouraging. The change in Chinese leadership, and efforts to rein in gifting, have dented the enthusiasm of buyers of the more expensive cognac brands. Organic sales growth was 9 per cent in the year to March, against 16 per cent the previous year. This year may not be much easier. In April the company told analysts that wholesale inventories were higher than normal. Rémy is confident that demand will return, particularly for drinks bought in bars and restaurants. Still, earnings forecasts for the year to March 2014 have been drifting down, from ?4.30 a share last October to ?3.70 now.


One way to shore things up would be to grow the group’s other brands, which include Mount Gay rum and Cointreau. Profits from these brands fell 14 per cent last year, as the company put money into marketing and absorbed raw material price increases. But it plans to invest. It bought Bruichladdich whisky for £58m last July – its first foray into scotch – and it has the balance sheet capacity for more deals. But all that will take time to show through on the bottom line. For now, it is all about the Chinese cognac.




Edrington Group Ends US Contract with Remy Cointreau (Excerpt)


Source: Wine & Spirits Daily

Jun 11th


Glasgow-based Edrington Group has ended its US distribution contract with Remy Cointreau, effective March 31, 2014, said Remy Cointreau ceo Jean-Marie Laborde in the company’s full year results. Subsequently Edrington, which owns brands such as The Macallan, The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark, will be setting up its own distribution network in the US. You may recall Remy Cointreau and Edrington Group have been distribution partners in the US since 1999. “It’s an old story, thus, of hatred and love and participation between Remy Cointreau and Edrington,” said Jean-Marie.


He went on to say that he’s not sure whether Edrington’s decision had anything to do with Remy Cointreau’s purchase of Bruichladdich Distillery Company, “but in the US market in any case, the Edrington brands are going to be immediately replaced by our own brands that we bought out within our distillery.”




Diageo plc – Special Call


Source: Seeking Alpha

Jun 10 2013




Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to today’s Brunch-time Call with the Presidents. [Operator Instructions] Just to remind you, the call is being recorded.


I’m now pleased to hand over to the President, Diageo Latin America & Caribbean, Randy Millian. Over to you, sir.




Diageo Facing Raki Trouble in Turkey After Booze-Ad Ban


Source: Bloomberg

By Kristen Schweizer & Selcan Hacaoglu

Jun 11, 2013


The latest ad for Turkey’s Efes beer features an unmarked brown bottle and the cryptic message: “Even if we don’t see each other, we’ll know.”


The slogan refers to a law signed Tuesday by President Abdullah Gul that bans alcohol ads, limits sales, and would even stop TV viewers from watching Homer Simpson enjoy a Duff beer in Moe’s Tavern, as depictions of drinking on television programs are to be blurred out.


Diageo Plc (DGE) called the law “disappointing” in a statement, and Turkish spirits producer Yeni Raki ran a newspaper ad showing a hand shaking a glass of the drink with the words: “Ads are over. Excuse us.” Turkish winemakers have published notices with text in the shape of a wine bottle condemning the curbs.


The law forbids the sale of alcohol at night and near schools and mosques, going against the secular traditions of the Muslim-majority country of 74 million, where many people drink and women often choose not to cover their hair. Protesters who’ve taken to the streets in recent weeks calling for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s resignation have denounced the alcohol restrictions, among other grievances.


Erdogan, who has dismissed the protests as the work of extremists, says the law is aimed at improving the nation’s health. As a substitute for the traditional anise-flavored spirit raki, last month he declared ayran, a salty yogurt drink, to be the national beverage.

‘Healthy Generation’


“We did not ban alcohol; we just introduced a new framework,” Erdogan said in Istanbul last month at a conference on tobacco, which he has also targeted. Bans on smoking in coffee houses and restaurants date to 2008, and on May 31, he extended the restrictions to drivers of private cars. “We want to raise a healthy generation,” Erdogan said.


Diageo, the world’s largest distiller of alcoholic beverages, paid $2.1 billion for raki-maker Mey Icki two years ago. The London-based company’s shares fell 5.3 percent through yesterday from May 23, when Turkey’s parliament passed the alcohol-ad ban.


As protests have rocked Istanbul in recent weeks, the Borsa Istanbul National 100 Index has dropped almost 18 percent since May 23. Anadolu Efes Biracilik & Malt Sanayii AS, which produces Efes beer, declined 27 percent in the same period. Turk Tuborg Bira ve Malt Sanayii AS (TBORG), which also produces beer, is down 14 percent.


Turks consume 3.4 liters (0.9 gallons) of pure alcohol per capita annually, or just more than half the global average, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S, consumption is 9.4 liters; in Britain it’s 13.4 liters. In Moldova, the global leader, it’s 19.2 liters.


Russian Crackdown


A year ago, Russia — with annual consumption of 15.7 liters per capita — began a similar crackdown with higher taxes, limits on where liquor can be sold, and ad restrictions.


Industry regulations in the U.S. only allow ads for spirits when 70 percent of the audience is over the legal drinking age – – TV shows airing after 11 p.m., for instance, or in high-end magazines. Rules for beer are looser.


In India, where alcohol ads have been prohibited for decades, producers have found a way around the ban by promoting other products like soda and bottled water under the same name. Kingfisher beer and Bagpiper’s Scotch Ale, for instance, both sell soda water with logos very similar to their alcohol brands.


“Ad bans are not the way to make people drink less,” said Dominic Lyle, director general of the European Association of Communications Agencies in Brussels. The restrictions are “very much a political move and linked to the views of the government. It’s more about secular versus religious.”


Shifting Tastes


Turkish imports of European liquor declined from 9 million cases in 2002 to 8 million cases last year, although their value more than doubled to 129 million euros ($171 million) as tastes shifted to pricier booze, according to SpiritsEurope, a trade association for distillers. The ban will prevent new products from entering Turkey since they won’t be able to build their brands with ads, according to Paul Skehan, the group’s director general.


“There’s a lot of industry disappointment that this law was rushed through at supersonic speed and there was no consultation of any of the industries affected,” Skehan said.


In a statement, Diageo — home to brands such as Johnnie Walker whiskey and Captain Morgan rum — said it believes a “collaborative approach among the industry, government, and third parties would lead to a better outcome.” The Turkish Association of Advertising Agencies, citing “deep tension” with the government, declined to comment on the new law.


While the curbs will hurt them, liquor producers still have high expectations for Turkey, said Spiros Malandrakis, a drinks analyst at Euromonitor International in London.


“The potential for the market is massive,” he said. “It’s one of the few countries in the region that’s growing, so everyone wants in.”




Beer taxes: Why six-packs are pricier in some states


Source: CNN Money

By Melanie Hicken

June 11, 2013


Every state imposes a tax on beer, but the amount each state charges varies widely.


Buy a six-pack of beer in Tennessee and you’ll pay 66 cents towards state beer taxes. Yet, right across the border in Missouri, the tax drops to mere pennies.


With a state excise tax of 6 cents per gallon of beer, or three cents per six pack, Missouri — home to Anheuser-Busch (BUD) — has one of the lowest beer taxes in the nation.


Tennessee, which happens to be the heart of whiskey country, claims the top spot, due to combined excise and wholesale taxes that push the tax burden for consumers to $1.17 per gallon, or 66 cents per six pack, according to the Tax Foundation’s analysis of beer-specific statewide taxes. In contrast, the state’s taxes on spirits — including whiskey — rank 30th in the nation.


Other states with the highest beer taxes include Alaska ($1.07 per gallon), Alabama ($1.05) and Georgia ($1.01), which charge more than 50 cents in taxes on a six-pack.


Meanwhile, the lowest taxes are in Wyoming, a generally tax-friendly state which levies only two cents in taxes on a gallon of beer or one cent per six pack. Other low beer-tax states include Wisconsin and Colorado, the respective birthplaces of Miller and Coors brews.


Sometimes dubbed “sin taxes,” excise taxes are selective taxes on specific goods and activities, such as cigarettes, gasoline and indoor tanning services. Beyond raising revenue, excise taxes are often aimed at decreasing consumption and paying for government services related to the product. For example, gasoline taxes help fund road and highway repairs.


Beer lovers not only indirectly pay a state beer tax, but they may also face a local excise tax as well as a federal excise tax of about 58 cents per gallon (for large brewers), or about 33 cents per six-pack. All of this is in addition to any state and local sales tax that is charged whether the beer is bought at a grocery store or a favorite pub. And some states tack on case or bottle fees and other special sales taxes specifically targeting alcoholic beverages.


Excise taxes are typically paid by brewers and distributors before the beer reaches store shelves so they won’t show up on a receipt like a sales tax, but consumers still feel their effects.


“A higher tax on beer is going to make for a higher price on beer,” said Scott Drenkard, an economist at the Tax Foundation.


The difference adds up. Buy a six-pack once a week for a year in Tennessee and your purchases will have included around $34 for state taxes. In Missouri, less than $2 in state beer taxes would be included in the same purchases.


While the way Tennessee’s wholesale beer tax is charged is slated to change in July, the tax rate will remain among the country’s highest.


Anti-drunk driving groups and other advocacy groups argue that other states should raise outdated beer tax rates to help reduce consumption and pay for prevention and healthcare programs.


Wyoming, for instance, hasn’t raised its beer excise tax since 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition, while Pennsylvania’s dates back to 1947, according to Alcohol Justice, a self-proclaimed industry watchdog that argues that all state beer taxes are too low.


The brewing industry counters that beer is already one of the country’s most heavily-taxed goods. Including federal and state business taxes, taxes make up 40% of beer’s retail price tag, according to The Beer Institute, an industry trade group. Similar to sales taxes, beer taxes are regressive, meaning that they hit lower and middle-class consumers the hardest, the institute argues.


“This is an invisible tax that consumers don’t know they’re paying,” Beer Institute President Joe McClain said in a March 2013 audio interview posted on the group’s website. “The people who enjoy beer the most, those middle-class Americans, are feeling the bite of that tax more.”




6 Anheuser-Busch Watered-Down Beer Suits Grouped In MDL


Source: Law 360

June 11, 2013


The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Monday centralized in Ohio six putative class actions accusing Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC of deliberately overstating the alcohol content of its beers by watering them down, overriding the malt beverage giant’s objections.


The panel sent the litigation to the Northern District of Ohio to be handled by U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent, who is already presiding over one of the suits at issue. The five other suits have been pending in California, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas federal courts.


AB had fought against grouping the suits into an MDL, arguing that the factual issues in the suits were not complex or numerous enough to warrant centralization because any variance in their products’ actual alcohol conduct from what their labels say is within the range allowed by federal regulation.


But the panel sided with the plaintiffs, saying that “notwithstanding defendant’s apparent acknowledgment of some variance for unspecified products, the alleged conduct primarily at issue – systematic overstatement of the alcohol content – will remain in dispute and will involve complex discovery concerning the calibration of the involved equipment and corporate policy with respect to labeling.”


AB had also argued that centralization wasn’t warranted because there were a limited number of lawsuits and lawyers involved, so they could voluntarily coordinate. The panel wrote, however, that the lawsuits were pending in six geographically dispersed districts and that the overlap in counsel was minimal.


The panel held that the six lawsuits share factual questions arising from AB’s alleged deliberate and systematic practice of overstating the alcohol content on the labels of 11 of its malt beverage products, and that centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve resources.


Robert Mills of The Mills Law Firm, who represents some of the plaintiffs, told Law360 on Tuesday that he was pleased the cases had been consolidated and that “an experienced, distinguished judge has been assigned to oversee this important consumer litigation.”


Attorneys for AB did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.


The proposed class actions all allege that AB deliberately overstates the alcohol content in its Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, Black Crown and Bud Light Lime beverages.


The complaints lodged in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in February asserted that AB has the means to precisely control the exact alcohol content of its malt beverages to within hundredths of a percent, but it chooses to water down those products in order to churn out more units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients.


Peter Kraemer, AB’s vice president of brewing and supply, said in February that the claims were completely false and that the lawsuits were groundless.


“Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws,” Kraemer said at the time in an emailed statement. “We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world.”


The plaintiffs are represented by The Mills Law Firm, Bramson Plutzik Mahler & Birkhaeuser LLP, Caroselli Beachler McTiernan & Conboy, and Ronald Frederick & Associates Co. LPA, among others.


AB is represented by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP, among others.


The case is In Re: Anheuser-Busch Beer Labeling Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL Number 2448, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.




Big Food, Big Soda And Big Alcohol Pose ‘Serious Challenge’ To Health Promotion Says WHO


Source: Newsroom America

10 Jun


The World Health Organization (WHO) says efforts to promote good health are more vital than ever given that non-communicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of death, but also warning that they face daunting challenges, including from ‘big business’.


“Today, the tables are turned. Instead of diseases vanishing as living conditions improve, socio-economic progress is actually creating the conditions that favour the rise of non-communicable diseases,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in an address to the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion, held in Helsinki, Finland.


“Economic growth, modernization, and urbanization have opened wide the entry point for the spread of unhealthy lifestyles,” she stated.


Dr Chan told participants that today, getting people to lead healthy lifestyles and adopt healthy behaviours faces opposition from forces that are “not so friendly.”


“Efforts to prevent non-communicable diseases go against the business interests of powerful economic operators. In my view, this is one of the biggest challenges facing health promotion,” she stated.


“It is not just Big Tobacco anymore. Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. All of these industries fear regulation, and protect themselves by using the same tactics.”


She said these tactics include front groups, lobbies, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research that “confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt.”


They also include gifts, grants, and contributions to worthy causes that cast these industries as respectable corporate citizens in the eyes of politicians and the public, she added. They include arguments that place the responsibility for harm to health on individuals, and portray Government actions as interference in personal liberties and free choice.


“This is formidable opposition. Market power readily translates into political power. Few Governments prioritize health over big business. As we learned from experience with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell the public just about anything,” said Dr. Chan.


“Let me remind you. Not one single country has managed to turn around its obesity epidemic in all age groups. This is not a failure of individual will-power. This is a failure of political will to take on big business.”


Dr Chan also voiced concern about two recent and related trends. “The first relates to trade agreements. Governments introducing measures to protect the health of their citizens are being taken to court, and challenged in litigation. This is dangerous,” she stated.


“The second is efforts by industry to shape the public health policies and strategies that affect their products. When industry is involved in policy-making, rest assured that the most effective control measures will be downplayed or left out entirely. This, too, is well documented, and dangerous.


“In the view of WHO, the formulation of health policies must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests,” said Dr Chan.


The week-long conference, co-hosted by WHO and Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, will assess achievements and aims for health promotion globally. It aims to address what works and how, identifying options for action, available processes, mechanisms and tools.




Australia: Alcohol Advertising Review Board Releases List of Shame Target Alcohol Ads


Source: Top News

by Prakash Sharma



Alcohol Advertising Review Board has compiled a report listing top 10 shockers. In bid to monitor alcohol advertising, health campaign groups urged the board last year to make a list of nation’s most irresponsible alcohol ads.


The review board listed the advertisements for Budweiser beer on a telephone box outside a school and a range of Jim Beam Racing children’s clothing as the nation’s most irresponsible ads.


The board received nearly 200 complaints in its first year and more than double the complaints were received by the alcohol and advertising industries’ voluntary complaints system.


The board released its first annual report on Tuesday. It revealed fully upheld 104 of the complaints and partly upheld 32. An advertisement for VB is among other advertisements that have been named in the list. The ad shows an image on a Thirsty Camel Facebook page that read, “I wish I could trade in my heart for another liver. Then I could drink more and care less”.


Fiona Stanley, Chairwoman of the Alcohol Advertising Review Board, said it is clear from the findings that the system of self-regulation was a failure.


Professor Stanley said alcohol industry is using creativity as a weapon to disguise people to promote their products. It is shocking and concerning as children and young people should not feel tempted to consume alcoholic beverages because of entangling alcohol advertisements.




Is alcohol advertising harming girls?


Source: The Globe and Mail


Jun. 10 2013


Are the companies who sell alcoholic drinks comparable to cigarette marketers? One doctor thinks so, and is taking the industry to task for the way it advertises to young girls.


In an upcoming editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, released online Monday, senior associate editor Dr. Ken Flegel makes the argument that like tobacco companies, the alcoholic beverage industry has recognized that a good way to increase profits is to target young female consumers – but that this has left adolescent girls, who also see the ads, particularly vulnerable.


“The advertising industry knows very well how to secure new, lifelong clients: Most current smokers began smoking before age 18. The type of alcohol advertising being directed at young women suggests that an attractive body and a successful, trendy life will be the result of using any particular product,” wrote Dr. Flegel, who is also an associate professor of medicine at McGill University and attending physician at the McGill University Health Centre. “.Exposure to advertising on television and in magazines, and use of alcohol have also been shown to have distinctive social and emotional effects on girls compared with boys.”


To illustrate this, Dr. Flegel points to research showing that young girls – at ages as early as 13 – are drinking as much alcohol as young boys are (while suffering, in some cases, worse health effects as a result). He also cites further studies, which have found that adolescent girls are exposed to more alcohol advertising, and that this exposure can be associated with increased consumption.


“Adults, both male and female, should know what they are doing. But adolescents need guidance as to what alcohol is and what it does. They need to be taught that the purpose of advertising is to create a demand where there is no need,” Dr. Flegel writes. “When advertising reaches a vulnerable group, such as adolescent girls, they need to understand what it means to be duped by an adult influence that does not have their interest at heart.”


In addition to putting the onus on parents and doctors to inform young girls about their choices, Dr. Flegel argues that as with tobacco products, health warnings should be required on the packaging of alcoholic drinks. Warnings should also be included in advertising, he wrote.






Source: Public Action Management

By Pamela S. Erickson

Jun 11th


Everyone has a stake in reducing the large number of people who die or are injured on our highways due to alcohol involved crashes.   Almost 10,000 people die every single year from drunk driving.  This is far more than the 6,700 total deaths we have suffered in the two recent wars.  But, to achieve any kind of significant reduction, we must work together with passion and dedication.  My fear is that arguing over the value of a single measure will deter progress that can clearly be made on all the aspects of this issue.


“Please use door at rear of building.”

The site of a recent DUI in Portland, Oregon involving two drunk drivers, one death, serious injuries and substantial property damage.


Here’s the background:

In May of this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that we drop the Blood Alcohol Content assumption for alcohol impaired driving from .08 to .05.  They cite the fact that there were 9,878 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2011 and that progress on DUI has plateaued since the mid 1990’s.  To be clear, the number of deaths due to alcohol related crashes has continued to decline, but the percentage of all traffic deaths due to alcohol has remained around 31% since the mid 1990’s.


Click here to continue article.




New Zealand: Outstanding summer produces best wine vintage yet


Source: NBR

Wednesday June 12, 2013


Winemakers say the long hot summer has produced one of the country’s best vintages yet.


Grape harvesting has just been completed and the crop is up 28% on 2012 at 345,000 tonnes.


New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says the outstanding summer provided near perfect conditions for growing grapes nationwide.


“The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions,” Mr Gregan says in a statement.


The small 2012 grape crop left the industry unable to meet continuing strong consumer demand in established and new markets.


“Winemakers will welcome the more normal 2013 harvest as the better balanced supply will facilitate renewed export growth in the year ahead,” he says.


Of the key varieties, sauvignon blanc produced the biggest crop with 228,781 tonnes, up 26% on last year, followed by pinot noir with 23, 285 tonnes, up 36% on last year.


Marlborough produced the biggest crop, with 251,680 tonnes harvested, up 33% on the last year.


There is already been a record number of wine shipments made in May.


New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries and annual wine exports are valued at $1.2 billion.




Chinese hygiene department, not tax, is main concern for fine wine shippers


Source: Decanter

by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

Tuesday 11 June 2013


Fine wine exporters are unfazed by China’s recent threat to impose an anti-dumping tax on European wine – the real threat, they say, is the Chinese hygiene department.


The department has the right to remove two bottles per case for tests, to determine if it is fit for human consumption. This is a bigger headache for importers of small-volume, high-end wines than a tax that may not materialise.


Exports of fine wine to China are worth millions for merchants and producers, mainly in Bordeaux. However, because the Chinese government already imposes a 48% tax on wine imports, most fine wine shipments destined for China are sent to Hong Kong, a tax-free zone for wines.


The wines then make their way into China via various routes, often circumventing customs altogether.


‘The threats of an anti-dumping tax aren’t a big worry for us,’ Jo Purcell, director of wine merchant Farr Vintners in Hong Kong, told ‘Partly, because it appears to be a bit of political muscle flexing, and partly because the tax, if it materialises, really seems to be aimed at the [lower cost] volume imports that compete with China’s domestic wine industry.’


The real issue, she said, for fine wine shippers is the two bottle per case testing rule, which is, conversely, less of a worry for volume importers and much more of a concern for someone shipping, for example, 12 bottles of Petrus.


Gary Boom, director of London fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index, said the hygiene department rule was the reason his company avoids exporting to China. Instead, Bordeaux Index ships to Hong Kong and the company’s Chinese clients take care of logistics from there.


Boom also said the tax threat was probably only ‘a bit of posturing’ because ‘there are too many people with an interest in importing wine’ in China for it to happen.




Precept Wine buys Yakima Valley ‘Skyfall’ vineyard (Excerpt)


Precept Wine recently acquired a Yakima Valley vineyard, which it named Skyfall, and plans to grow grapes for red wines on the property.


Source: Puget Sounds BJ

By Rachel Lerman

Jun 10th


Precept Wine has acquired 174 acres in the Yakima Valley that it will convert from a partial orchard to a vineyard planted with red-wine grapes.


Seattle-based Precept, a wine producer that operates vineyards across Washington, Oregon and Idaho, bought the land for an undisclosed sum from two brothers named Malli who live in California, said David Minick, Precept vice president of vineyard operations. The brothers owned it for three years, but found it difficult to be absentee owners, he said.


The property is located near Benton City, just south of Red Mountain, and is currently planted with 32 acres of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, Syrah, sauvignon blanc and Riesling grapes. The land also has 66 acres of sweet cherries and 22 acres of other fruit.


During the next three years, Precept will convert the land to more than 100 vineyard acres, keeping about 20 acres of sweet cherries. The company says it will focus on planting and replanting the red wine grapes and also plans to add Chardonnay lots.


“As a company, we have a lot of whites in the ground, so we were looking for more places to do reds,” Minick said.


The land is in a warm spot of the valley, he said, on a bluff above the Yakima River and gets a lot of sun reflection from Horse Heaven Hills on the south edge.


“It will give us the nice acidity the Yakima Valley is known for with the nice tannin structure that the warmer sites will give you,” he said.


The vineyard will be named Skyfall, Minick reports, though he can’t take the credit for the daring name. CEO Andrew Browne thought it up while discussing the many hang gliders who drop off the cliffs above the vineyard to take advantage of the thermal winds.




Naked Wines appoints former Treasury chief winemaker


Source: Harpers

Written by Carol Emmas

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Naked Wines has appointed former vice-president and chief winemaker for the Americas at Treasury Wine Estates, Matt Parish, as chief winemaker.


His new role will involve advising the company’s increasing number of funded international winemakers and overseeing its new customer-funded winery in Sonoma.


Parish has over 18 years and 25 vintages of global winemaking experience, and has produced a string of 90+ point wines.


Before he joined Treasury Wine Estates he worked in various viticulture and winemaking roles in the US, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and his home country of New Zealand.




HEINEKEN : announces departure of Chief HR Officer


Source: 4-Traders



Heineken N.V. (‘HEINEKEN’) today announced that Michael O’Hare, Chief HR Officer, will leave HEINEKEN and return to the USA in late summer 2013.


Commenting on the change, Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Heineken N.V. said, “This has been a difficult decision for Michael. However personal considerations have led Michael and the family to conclude it is right for them to return to the USA. In the last four years, Michael has played a major role in accelerating our transition to a more performance driven and people-focused company.   Along the way he has evolved our understanding of how the growth of our business is linked to the growth of our people and our culture. We have all benefited from his professional, collaborative approach and it has been a pleasure to work with him.”


Michael will take up a role with a US-based multinational later in the year.


The process of selecting a new Chief HR Officer is underway and an announcement will be made once concluded.




Ruby Tuesday Hires Ex-Darden Executive Burrowes to Head Ruby Tuesday Concept


Source: Dow Jones

By Melodie Warner

Jun 11th


Ruby Tuesday Inc. (RT) named former Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) executive Todd Burrowes its chief operations officer and president of the Ruby Tuesday concept as the casual-dining company looks to improve its sales and profitability.


The restaurant operator said Mr. Burrowes has more than 25 years of industry experience and spent the past five years as executive vice president of operations for Darden’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.


“Todd will be instrumental in leading our efforts to reposition the Ruby Tuesday brand, creating a more lively and approachable guest experience which we believe will provide opportunities to increase our sales and profitability,” said President and Chief Executive JJ Buettgen.


After Ruby Tuesday named a new chief executive late last year, the company sought to refocus on turning around sales at its namesake brand. The company decided in January to close 13 Marlin & Ray’s restaurants, its one Wok Hay location–exiting from both concepts–and also two company-developed Lime Fresh restaurants.


Ruby Tuesday also opted to shut its two Truffles Grill locations in April instead of continuing to market them for sale.


The company in April reported fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 52% as the casual-dining chain was hampered by restaurant closure costs and weaker same-store sales.


Shares closed Monday at $9.61 and were inactive premarket. The stock has climbed 22% so far this year.




It’s time to contact Congress on immigration reform


Source: NRA

June 11, 2013


The immigration debate has hit a critical phase — and restaurateurs are gearing up to make a difference as a bipartisan reform bill moves to the Senate floor for debate.


Debate began in the Senate this week on a comprehensive reform bill authored by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators.


The bill contains three key National Restaurant Association priorities: a clear path to legalization, national implementation of the E-Verify employee verification system, and increased border security that won’t harm legal travel and tourism. A vote on the bill could come before the Senate recesses on June 28.


With a vote imminent — and the nation bordering on its first real opportunity in decades to make  meaningful, bipartisan reforms to a broken system — the NRA is ramping up its efforts to support comprehensive immigration reform.


The NRA is calling on its members to meet, write, or call their lawmakers this month to urge support for bipartisan changes that meet the needs of American businesses and the people they employ. The NRA’s campaign includes a dedicated online resource to keep members informed about the latest developments and put them in touch with members of Congress so they can voice their support for immigration reform. The site


Restaurateurs are also organizing at the state level. In South Carolina, the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association will hold a press conference Thursday that will focus on the business community’s support for and economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. Ruben Montalvo, an immigrant from Mexico who owns Cantinflas Restaurant and Bar in Greenville, S.C., will be a featured speaker. Montalvo came to Boston from Mexico in 1986 on a work visa when he was employed by Gillette. After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, he left his engineering job and decided to become an entrepreneur. He opened Cantinflas, which currently employs 20 people, in 1994.


“At the time, I thought I’d be here for a year,” Montalvo said. “I want to show what can happen when immigrants are given the same opportunities as everyone else. I see challenges in other industries as well as in the hospitality industry.”


The Greenville News published a lengthy profile of Montalvo last year.


“If we did not have the job openings and the demand for labor, these employees would go to Canada or somewhere else,” Montalvo said. “It’s important for employers to be heard on this issue, because we are the ones who see that need for workers.”


The NRA has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform for years. Over the course of the current debate, the NRA has remained in close contact with the senators who authored the bill and the White House. The Association will continue working to strengthen its key legislative priorities, which are:


A pathway to permanent legalization. The NRA believes that productive members of society must be able to work and live in the U.S. in a manner that de-criminalizes and de-politicizes the process and the people.

A national employment verification system. The current patchwork of state and local immigration laws — sometimes inconsistent with each other — exposes employers to unfair liability and an untenable regulatory structure. A more workable E-Verify system would allow restaurant operators to treat prospective employees with respect and manage the application process in a timely and efficient manner. Many in the restaurant industry supported the “Legal Workforce Act” in the last Congress as a model employment verification system. The Legal Workforce Act has recently been re-introduced in the House of Representatives.

Improved border security that encourages legal travel and tourism. Immigration reform must include measures to improve both border security and opportunities for U.S. businesses to encourage legitimate travel and tourism.


“The restaurant industry is an industry of tremendous opportunity, with a workforce of more than 13 million employees that is reflective of America’s diversity,” said Scott DeFife, the Association’s executive vice president for policy and government affairs. “The National Restaurant Association has worked with the Senate’s bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight,’ the Administration, and key House stakeholders on sensible reforms to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. We urge both chambers to continue to move forward and address these important issues.”




The REAL reason middle-class mums love Aldi (and it’s nothing to do with award-winning tea bags and bacon… but everything to do with the booze aisle)


Source: Daily Mail

By Claudia Connell

11 June 2013


Strawberries and cream… bread and butter… tea and biscuits… some things just go together. But cheese and compression bandages? Yoghurt and head torches? Not so much.


Of course, this hasn’t deterred staff at the Walton-on-Thames branch of Aldi from displaying them proudly, side-by-side.


It’s fair to say the shop’s displays don’t make much sense – but then there’s not much about the German discount supermarket that does.


From the bizarre items they stock (‘Would you like a bicycle saddle with your baguette, Madam?’) to the chaotic layout and infuriating lack of assistants, Aldi seems, at first glance, to offer a gruelling shopping experience.


It is certainly a far cry from the glossy Waitrose store I usually frequent.


Yet now seems the time to sweep supermarket snobbery aside and give Aldi a chance.


For last week it emerged as the overall winner in a taste test of own-brand foods conducted by trade magazine The Grocer.


Aldi came out top in 16 categories – more than Waitrose and M&S combined – with gold medals for everything from its bacon to its brioche.


With praise such as this, not to mention bargain prices, it’s no wonder the middle classes are hot-footing it there in droves and that Aldi, which originally targeted more socially deprived areas, is now opening up in Newbury, Winchester, Ely and Cowes on the Isle of Wight.


With no branches near my home in South London, I head off to a store in Walton-on-Thames, the sort of town where ladies lunch and gents play golf.


There, standing out like a sore thumb beneath the shadow of 12th-century St Mary’s church, lies Aldi. It looks like the sort of council-run place where you’d go to get a verruca removed.


The inside isn’t much better, with strip lighting that fails to lift the gloom and piles of stock in the middle of aisles making it hard to navigate my wobbly trolley.


At 9.30am, the twinset and pearl shoppers are nowhere to be seen. Instead, the store is full of pensioners all making a beeline for the famous ‘special buy’ section, where you can get all sorts of strange stuff (such as the aforementioned compression bandages and head torches).


But I have to admit the food is impressive. A 200g punnet of cherries – a fruit that usually costs more than gold – is £1.79, and they look impossibly juicy.


As well as the cherries, there’s English rhubarb for 69p, a pack of four avocados at £1.49 and on-the-vine tomatoes for 69p.


Bagged salad is also good value. A generous bag of baby leaf salad is just 79p, as is the rocket.


There are plenty more middle-class staples available too: brie, Parma ham, chorizo, houmous and fresh pesto are all present and correct in the chiller cabinet.


In most cases, there’s only one type of each – but there’s actually something quite liberating about not having to dither over 16 different varieties.


The choice of teas, coffees and breakfast cereals is similarly limited but includes Diplomat teabags – one of the lines Aldi has just won an award for.


At £1.39 for 60, they’re nearly half the price of the Twinings Everyday Tea I usually drink.


Aldi has also been much praised for its bread and baked goods, and I have to say the range is not only impressive but crazily cheap.


Four delicious-looking all-butter croissants are only 55p, while the gold medal-winning French Marble brioche looks irresistibly fluffy.


All shoppers have their items that they are just not prepared to skimp on – and for me it’s chicken and loo rolls.


At £3.99 for four breast fillets, the chicken is the cheapest I’ve seen for a long time – but it just doesn’t look very nice.


It’s not free-range, and I suspect that by the time it comes out of the oven the pumped-up breast will have shrunk to a bite-size dog treat.


As for the loo roll, well let’s just say I’ve seen sandpaper that looked softer.


I try to remind myself that beggars can’t be choosers, and that while I’m not exactly on the breadline, I could do with trimming back my food bill.


Although I live alone, I spend around £85 on my weekly shop at Waitrose – and that rarely includes red meat or alcohol.


Aldi has been found to be 40 per cent cheaper than Waitrose – and an annual saving of £1,700 isn’t to be sniffed at. That’s two weeks in Spain.


An hour into my Aldi shop, I am beginning to spy the odd well-heeled Surrey wife: their immaculately blow-dried hair, J Brand jeans and Tod’s loafers are a dead giveaway.


However, rather than buying their entire weekly shop at Aldi, they are nipping in for one item. Booze.


Heading to an aisle stacked high with wines, beers and spirits, I feel I’ve uncorked the secret to Aldi’s success.


Alcohol is something that Aldi does well. When their £3.69 Spanish red wine Toro Loco Tempranillo was voted one of the best in the world last year, you couldn’t get it for love nor money. Today they have a supply in but it’s going fast.


I grab a bottle and get chatting to 66-year-old Gillian Jones, who has come straight from her tennis lesson and is still dressed in her whites.


‘I only come in for the gin,’ she tells me. ‘It’s the best I’ve ever tasted, and so much cheaper than brands like Gordon’s.’


She’s right about the gin. In blind taste-tests, Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin (£9.65) was rated better than brands like Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire, which are twice the price.


For the most part, Aldi sells their own ranges, interspersed with a handful of famous brands such as Haribo and Marmite. They’re also notorious for doing ‘lookalike’ ranges – products cunningly designed to look like well-known brands but at a fraction at the price.


But as I’m not currently in the market for a two-man tent, a catering-sized jar of pickled eggs or a 35-piece set of spanners, I leave the bargain hunters to it and make my way to the tills.


There are only three checkouts and the shortest queue has 14 people in it. When I finally reach the front, the assistant scans my food so fast his hands are a blur.


He stacks it in a huge tower, and even though it’s apparent I’m struggling to keep up, he doesn’t slow down and several items fall to the floor.


Back home, and with my blood pressure restored to its normal rate, I’m keen to see if the taste of these gold medal winning foods makes up for the hassle of buying them.


Things don’t start well with the Diplomat teabags, which produce a weak and tasteless cuppa, although the Belmont Jaffa Cakes are indistinguishable from McVitie’s ones, which are double the price.


The brioche is as delicious as it looks, but I’m disappointed in both the chocolate and the lemon and mascarpone cheesecake that were singled out for praise. To my palate, they taste processed, not homemade.


Just as I am reaching the conclusion that shiny Waitrose is still my true love, I remember the wine and cherries.


I almost want the cherries to be dry and bitter, but they’re sweet and juicy – and the perfect accompaniment to my large glass of Toro Loco Tempranillo, which must be smoothest wine I’ve ever tasted. How on earth can it have cost just £3.69?


Suddenly I’m regretting not having snapped up a whole box of the stuff – and a load of that award-winning gin to boot.


Aldi, I have a feeling I’ll be joining the Surrey housewives and weaving my way – perhaps a little unsteadily – down your aisles once more.




Pennsylvania: Nutter Makes Last-Ditch Push For Increased Liquor Tax To Fund Schools


Source: CBS Philly

By Mike Dunn

June 11, 2013


Mayor Nutter is making a last-ditch effort to get City Council to go along with his plan to hike the liquor tax, as part of the city’s latest school district bailout.


City Council members on Wednesday are expected to give initial approval to the operating budget, and they’ve already approved a new cigarette tax. But they appear unlikely to move on a proposal to hike the liquor-by-the-drink tax from ten to fifteen percent.


Mayor Nutter is still pushing for it. “This week really primarily is the week of action, the week we need actions to be taken,” Nutter says.


Council President Darrell Clarke indicates that the lawmakers are likely to meet the District’s request simply through cigarette and increased revenue collection – not liquor.


“Council is on track to pass legislation that will ensure the $60 million number,” Clarke says.


But that doesn’t satisfy the mayor, who wants the liquor tax hike as well, saying, “The responsible thing to do is provide as much funding to invest in the education of children.”


Clarke believes Council is acting responsibly, and doesn’t appreciate the mayor’s public chiding,


“Council will manage its business internally.”


The mayor, though, isn’t throwing in the towel on his liquor tax proposal. “There’s a lot of time between Wednesday/Thursday,” he says.


Both the cigarette and liquor proposals also require approval of state lawmakers, and the prospects there remain unclear at best.

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