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INSIGHTS Express is designed for busy beer execs who want faster news and more info. Available via fax or email (your choice), INSIGHTS Express delivers subscribers breaking news, key numbers, pithy quotes, and other interesting info 2X a week. That's over 100 issues each year.

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As scan data shows significant craft slowdown so far this yr and several biggest players flat-to-down in first half, craft segment as defined by BA posted 8% growth Jan-Jun, estimates Bart Watson.  Craft scored double-digit gains each of last 6 calendar yrs.  Elusive craft definition complicates reported trends.  Bart’s growth estimate based on brewers that will be in BA-data set in 2016.  That excludes fast-growers Lagunitas and Ballast Point (Founders already out), as they’re not BA-defined craft brewers anymore.  Another fast-grower, AB’s Goose Island, ain’t in the number either.  Trend would be higher with ’em.  Recall, BA does not include big brewers’ craft brands/acquisitions, nor Craft Brew Alliance. But BA does include Yuengling, which softens trend.  So do first-half downturns at Boston, Sierra Nevada and a coupla other big craft brewers.  But “long tail of craft continues to smoke,” sez Bart, “there's very little evidence of much of a slowdown there.”  Tail and newbies adding incremental and oft-missed on-site/taproom volume not measured by other data services.   Speakin’ of newbies, no slowdown in folks entering the biz.  A whoppin’ 917 new operating brewers in US since same time last yr and brewer count now sits at 4,656.  Oh yeah, there’s another…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 132
Big news out of Ballast Point today.  Two top Ballast Point execs have left the co as of today, including chief commercial officer Earl Kight, who has been the face of the company with distribs for years, as well as prexy/ceo Jim Buechler, top exec of co.  On Earl’s Facebook page, he talks of “the final Longfin from my manZach Borba...all good things must come to end...my last day at Ballast Point...on to the next project (s).”  One distrib comments: “Dude…????  WTF???”  Ballast Point of course was bought by Constellation for a billion bucks late last year.  And so far, at least from a numbers perspective,  going swimmingly.  Constellation just reported that Ballast Point up 60% in latest qtr Mar-May. And Ballast Point virtually doubling yr-to-date in IRI multi-outlet + convenience data in what’s become a very tough craft environment for many.   More as story develops.  

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 130
Multiple participants and observers have put their own spins on Dept of Justice’s deal with ABI to clear ABI-SAB (see below).  How does DoJ describe the deal?  Govt headlines that “settlement” maintains competition in US, “prohibits ABI from disadvantaging rivals” and “provides review of future ABI craft beer acquisitions.”  So even DoJ views this as win-win-win: for ABI, competing brewers and distribs, as well as consumers.  First, divesting SAB’s MC interest “prevents any increase in concentration in the US beer industry,” a fundamental DoJ concern.  Second up, in DoJ view: settlement “prohibits ABI from instituting or continuing practices and programs that limit the ability and incentives of independent beer distributors” to sell beer of “ABIs high-end and other rivals.”  DoJ Review of Future Buys; New or No?  Further, settlement “precludes ABI from acquiring beer distributors or brewers including non-HSR [Hart-Scott-Rodino law] reportable craft brewer acquisitions without allowing for department review of the acquisition’s likely competitive effects.”  DoJ explains this provision by noting that settlement requires ABI to notify govt of deals that would not otherwise be reportable under current law.  They include acquisitions of “any interest” in brewers that do over $7.5 mil in annual revs and distribution rights to…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 129
SABMiller reported perhaps its last trading update this morn, including a relatively soft set of MillerCoors results.  Recall, MillerCoors shipments up 1% in 1st qtr, as it built inventories, 2 points ahead of 1.3% STR decline.  Paid the piper in 2d qtr when MC shipments dropped about 600,000 bbls, 4% and sales-to-retailers declined 2%.   STR # surprisingly weak, given bump at end of Jun from calendar effect.  MC reportedly off more in Apr-May, before a stronger Jun.  MC rev per bbl up just 1%, SABMiller reports, “reflecting positive sales mix together with favorable, although softening, net pricing.”  Miller Lite “in line with the prior year” while Coors Light “declined low single digits driven by the discontinuation of Coors Light Citrus Radler summer variant.”  Total premium lights down low singles, as MC “continued to gain market share in the segment.”  MC above premium STRs also “down low single digits” with “mid-single digit declines” in Redd’s and Blue Moon brand families.  Those are MC’s 2 biggest above premium franchises.  But Redd’s and Blue Moon declines “partially offset by the continued growth of Henry’s Hard Sodas.”  No trend given on Leinie.  MC below premiums again “experienced a mid single digit decline,” with Keystone…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 128
Busy times for Pabst legal.  In addition to winning Winner dismissal in MD and battlin’ MC in Milwaukee over future contract production, Pabst also trying to get case filed by several Ohio distribs dismissed.  Predictably, Pabst wasted no time in providing US Dist Ct in Oh with fresh copy of US Appeals Ct’s recent decision supporting terminations by different supplier (NAB owner) of some of same distribs that Pabst terminated in 2015 under same Oh law.  (See Jul 11 Express.)  Indeed, US Dist Ct had put Pabst case on hold pending 6th Circuit’s decision “because the statutory and constitutional issues in [NAB] case were so similar in this case,” Pabst pointed out.  As we noted earlier this week, distribs terminated by Pabst argued that like NAB purchaser, Pabst not true successor brewer under Oh law that can terminate without cause after purchase, given that purchase happened via several levels of holding companies.  But Appeals Ct focused on “control” of brands and found control clearly passed in NAB situation.  And that sure seems same in Pabst situation.  In any case, Pabst noted that Appeals Ct dismissed “constitutional challenges raised by” some of same distribs in NAB case and that “the rationale…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 122
Just as a blue moon can be 2d appearance of full moon in single mo, US District Ct judge Gonzalo Curiel in Calif just dismissed plaintiff’s lawsuit vs Blue Moon for 2d time in less than a yr.  (If that name sounds familiar, he’s the judge being attacked by Donald Trump over latter’s “university.”)  And this time, Judge Curiel closed off plaintiff’s ability to amend.  Indeed, “amendment would be futile,” he concluded.   Just as he tossed Plaintiff’s first set of arguments that MC misleadingly labels, advertises and markets Blue Moon as “craft,” judge similarly rejected 2d round of arguments, ruling that: 1) “reasonable consumer” would not be misled by Blue Moon ads; 2) MC not liable for 3d parties “representing” Blue Moon as craft; and 3) Blue Moon pricing itself not a “representation” that it’s craft.  As he has all along, judge refused to define “craft.”  (This article appeared in our Craft Brew News publication Jun 17.) Specifically, Judge Curiel found 3 internet ads which portray history of brand and profile brewer/creator Keith Villa to be “non-actionable puffery” that did not misrepresent Blue Moon.  Then too, since plaintiff didn’t show MC had “unbridled control” over distribs or retailers, including concert/sports…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 110