Liquor Industry News 2-6-13

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SABMiller seeks China fillip with Kingway

 

Source: FT

By Christopher Thompson

Feb 5th

 

SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer by sales, has agreed to pay Rmb5.38bn ($864million) in cash to acquire a lossmaking Chinese brewery business.

 

On Monday, SAB said that China Resources Snow Breweries – its joint venture with the state-backed China Resources Enterprise – is to buy seven breweries from the state-owned Guangdong-based Kingway Brewery Holdings, as well as its Kingway lager brand.

 

Total annual production capacity at Kingway’s breweries is 14.5m hectolitres and would increase SAB’s market share of the Chinese beer market to 24 per cent by volumes, according to the company.

 

Ari Mervis, managing director of SABMiller Asia Pacific, said the company would use the extra capacity to expand its Snow beer brand, the biggest in China.

 

“The acquisition of Kingway gives us greater access to high growth and attractive regional markets in China, thereby enhancing CR Snow’s competitive position,” he said.

 

Pablo Zuanic, an analyst at Liberum, said the price equates to around $59 per hectolitre, which was “in line” with similar deals for mass market brands in China and will give SAB an entry into some relatively wealthy urban markets.

 

In the first six months of 2012, however, Kingway made a pre-tax loss of $8.7m.

 

Margins have remained low in the Chinese beer market as most consumers are still unwilling to pay a hefty premium for brands. In spite of its joint-ownership of Snow, the world’s biggest-selling beer by volume, SAB’s China business accounts for about two per cent of earnings according to the company.

 

Last month, SAB blamed unusually cold and wet weather in China for weaker than expected quarterly volume growth – but said the impact was lessened by the fact that China was not one of its more profitable markets.

 

 

——

SABMiller Venture To Swallow Chinese Brewers In $863M Deal

 

Source: Law 360

By Karlee Weinmann

February 05, 2013

 

Brewing giant SABMiller PLC is laying claim to a bigger piece of the sought-after Asian beverage market through an $863 million deal announced Tuesday to fold China’s Kingway Brewery Holdings Ltd. into an existing joint venture in the region.

 

SABMiller’s China Resources Snow Breweries Ltd., jointly owned with conglomerate China Resources Enterprise Ltd., will add seven breweries that together are able to churn out 145 million liters of beer per year. By peppering in Kingway, CR Snow will ratchet up its production capacity by nearly 10 percent, according to company figures.

 

London-based SABMiller did not say how it planned to finance its all-cash purchase of one of China’s most popular beer companies. The transaction is subject to the approval of regulators and Kingway shareholders.

 

After the sale, CR Snow – the main Chinese beer branch in SABMiller’s expansive portfolio – will strengthen its foothold in one of the beverage industry’s most desirable markets. The ever-consolidating sector is clamping down on high-growth Asian locales, mainly through acquisitions and new joint ventures aimed at swiping market share away from rivals.

 

Central to the proposed deal are four of the seven breweries, located in Guangdong province. The region is one of China’s fastest-growing, and with an abundance of wealthier consumers, presents a significant opportunity for the beer maker.

 

“The acquisition of Kingway gives us greater access to high-growth and attractive regional markets in China, thereby enhancing CR Snow’s competitive position,” SAB Miller Asia Pacific Managing Director Ari Miller said in a statement.

 

The remaining breweries included in the transaction are in the emerging Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces and Tianjin municipality. Overall, the buy would stretch CR Snow’s footprint and give it a stronger foundation for production and sales, SABMiller and CR Snow co-owner China Resources said.

 

“Kingway is a widely recognized brand and quality asset and enjoys a strong market share with an extensive sales network and established manufacturing infrastructures in China,” China Resources Chairman Chen Lang said in a statement. “The transaction not only strengthens our production capacity and economies of scale, but also further optimizes the sales network of CR Snow in China.”

 

Asia’s exploding beer market, estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, has sped ahead of other regions to vastly outpace their beverage-sector growth. In addition to China, Singapore has throttled to the forefront of dealmaking chatter in the beverage industry, serving as the backdrop to two major deals over the past half-year.

 

Thai Beverage PCL, owned by one of its home country’s richest men, over the summer found itself locked in a bid war with Dutch beer major Heineken NV over the brewery unit of Singaporean conglomerate Fraser & Neave Ltd.

 

After a heated back-and forth that drove up the unit’s price, ThaiBev relented, backing off Heineken’s $4.4 billion takeover. But despite ceding control of the beermaking division, ThaiBev owner Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi mounted a successful $11.2 billion buyout bid for the remaining F&N businesses with a particular focus on its food and beverage holdings.

 

SABMiller, the second-largest brewer in the world based on revenues, is itself the product of a major merger that linked the former SAB PLC to U.S. mainstay Miller Brewing. The company’s brand cache includes the Miller line, Fosters and Pilsner Urquell, among a slew of others.

 

Counsel information for the parties involved in the instant deal was not immediately available.

 

 

——

Baijiu to drive spirits growth until 2016

 

Source: Drinks International

By Hamish Smith

05 February, 2013

 

World sprits consumption is set to increase 9% over the period 2012-2016, buoyed by 14% growth in Baijiu sales, according to IWSR research commissioned by Vinexpo.

 

The market report, which was presented at the Vinexpo Bordeaux 2013 press conference in London today, forecasts the Chinese spirit will represent close to half of the world’s spirits consumption (3.3bn  9-litre cases) by 2016 when it will stand at 1.4bn  cases.

 

That would make baijiu almost three times the size of its nearest competitor vodka, which between 2012-2016 is expected to increase 1.6% to 494m cases.

 

Spirits consumption growth will be driven by Asia Pacific, which now accounts for 61.5% of total consumption, the report said.

 

In volume terms the region’s consumption has grown from 1.9bn cases in 2007 to 2.2bn cases in 2016, a rise of 13.6%, while in value it will increase 30.7% from $148.4bn to $193.9bn over the ten year period.

 

While Europe is expected to decline in consumption, the Americas is a region of optimism for the sector and will see a 5.38% rise from 2007-2016, ending the period with consumption value of $76bn, the report forecasted.

 

 

——

Vodka volumes to rebound by 2016 – study (Excerpt)

 

Source: Just-Drinks

By James Wilmore

5 February 2013

 

The vodka category is expected to return to global volume growth by 2016 and retain its spot as the world’s second most popular spirit, according to a study.

 

The survey by the organisers of wine exhibition Vinexpo, presented in London today (5 February), shows that vodka consumption between 2007 and 2011 fell by 4.9% to 491.7m nine-litre cases. However, consumption is forecast too edge up by 1.6%, based on predictions for the 2012 to 2016 period.

 

Regionally, Asia-Pacific accounts for 61% of spirits consumption, after seeing a 75% jump between 2007 and 2011, the survey revealed. However, this is expected to slow by 2016 to 14%.

 

Chinese white spirit baijiu is the world’s most consumed spirit and accounts for one third of all drinks sold in the category, the study found.

 

 

——

Britain sobers up as drinkers cut back on wine and spirits

 

Source: Daily Telegraph

By Telegraph Reporters

05 Feb 2013

 

Researchers forecast that every British adult will knock back about 53m fewer litres of wine and spirits by 2016, the equivalent of at least a bottle every year.

 

The projections come after falls in British wine consumption of four per cent since 2007, the Financial Times reported.

 

The drop in drinking has been blamed on price rises largely on the back of rising taxes which now make up more than half the cost of a bottle of wine and nearly 80 per cent of a bottle of vodka.

 

The French, the biggest market for wine, are forecast to register a decline in consumption, according to the forecasts from International Wine and Spirit Research.

 

France, second only to the US in terms of wine consumption, is expected to see volumes fall nearly three per cent over the next four years, following a further seven per cent decline between 2007 and 2011.

 

Italians, number three in the wine consumption league, Argentines and Spanish are also forecast to cut back while China and Russia are forecast to record a rise in consumption, the newspaper reported.

 

British abstemiousness is stretching to the islands’ most famed national drink, with volumes of Scotch whisky poised to fall below 6m 9-litre cases this year, which would represent a million fewer cases less than 2006.

 

This would be the first time this has occurred since statistics were compiled by IWSR.

 

Scotch is one of the Britain’s best known exports but several of the biggest markets are losing their taste for the drink

 

Americans, Thais, Spanish and South Koreans all forecast to drink less over the coming years, forecasts show.

 

The projections were published yesterday at Vinexpo, hosts of the world’s biggest wine and spirits trade fair.

 

Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, attributed the falling trend to the economic slowdown and increased publicity over health concerns.

 

“People are drinking less on a regular basis but drinking better on an occasional basis,” he told the newspaper.

 

He said there had been an increase in bottles of wine costing more than $10 [£6].

 

Sellers of wine, spirits and beer face reduced consumer spending and rising taxes as well as the possibility of minimum unit pricing, which would further raise the price of a tipple.

 

David Cameron, the prime minister, is seeking to introduce 45p minimum price per unit, in an attempt to purge town centres of Saturday night binge drinkers and reduce alcohol-related illnesses.

 

A Home Office consultation on the proposals ends tomorrow.

 

Men are twice as likely to die from alcohol-related causes as women are, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

 

In 2011 there were 17.2 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 men, compared to a figure of 8.3 for women. Alcohol caused 4,503 men to die in England that year and 2,272 women. Compared to 2010, those figures represented increases of 1.4 and 1.8 per cent respectively.

 

Death rates from alcohol were highest in north west England and lowest in East Anglia and London.

 

 

——

Russia: Crack Down On Duty-Free Alcohol Thanks To In-Flight Brawls

 

Source: Reuters  

02/04/2013

 

Russia may soon crack down to stop boozy flights after a spate of brawls involving drunken passengers.

 

State television on Monday broadcast amateur footage of several drink-soaked punch-ups after a plane made a forced landing in Uzbekistan on the way to Thailand on Sunday because a Russian had attacked other passengers.

 

The footage included shots of a man butting a steward during one flight and a fight among passengers queuing for the toilet during another. In a third incident, a man was tied to his seat and his mouth taped shut after passengers got fed up with him.

 

A senior member of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said the assembly could soon draw up legislation to ban duty-free liquor and cigarettes being brought on board planes, even in sealed bags.

 

“We would like to prepare it (the legislation) before the end of this session,” Interfax news agency quoted Vitaly Yefimov, the first deputy chairman of the Duma’s transport committee, as saying.

 

“Changes are needed to end such uproar on planes. It’s a direct threat to flight security,” he said, without giving any other details of the Duma’s plans.

 

Russian television said that only in one recent case had a Russian passenger faced criminal charges for violent behaviour on board a plane. Several others had been fined, it said.

 

Flights on Russian airlines are generally much more comfortable these days than in Soviet times, when passengers often had to fight their way to the front or back of the plane through thick cigarette smoke.

 

But alcohol consumption per capita in Russia is the fourth highest in the world, according to World Health organization figures for 2011, and passengers often enjoy an onboard tipple.

 

 

——

Diet Soda May Be the More Dangerous Alcohol Mixer

 

Source: ABC News

By SAMIR VERMANI, M.D., ABC News Medical Unit

Feb. 5, 2013

 

Cutting calories with diet soda may seem like a good idea — as long as it’s not at a bar.

 

A new study released in the journal Alcoholism suggests that cutting alcoholic drinks with diet soda makes them more potent than using their full-calorie counterparts. Specifically, researchers found that mixing alcohol with diet (sugar-free) soft drinks resulted in a higher breath alcohol content than mixing alcohol with a regular (sugar-sweetened) soft drink.

 

“The results were surprising,” said Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor in the department of psychological science at Northern Kentucky University, and one of the lead investigators of the study.

 

Researchers served one of three beverages: vodka added to a diet drink, vodka added to a regular drink or a regular soft drink with a vodka scent added so that participants would believe it was an alcoholic beverage. They then sat back while the subjects enjoyed their cocktails.

 

Those participants drinking the vodka-diet drink cocktails had a significantly higher breath alcohol content and had the highest degree of behavioral impairment among the groups, the study found.

 

“We are talking about significant differences here,” Marczinski said. “Participants who drank diet soda with vodka had blood alcohol contents as high as 18 percent more than when sugar-containing mixers were used.”

 

The theory behind this is that sugar-containing drinks stimulate the stomach much like a meal does. Having some food in your stomach delays stomach emptying, thus delaying absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. The result is that drinkers get a less-potent hit of alcohol in their systems after drinking.

 

“This is why southern European countries have lower rates of alcoholism despite their increased alcohol intake,” said Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York, who was not involved in the study. “They always drink while eating.”

 

Diet beverages, since they contain no sugar, do not trigger the stomach to delay emptying, allowing alcohol to reach the bloodstream more quickly.

 

“The choice of what you mix your alcohol with can make a difference,” Marczinski said, adding that there may even be potentially harmful consequences for those who regularly request a diet soda with their spirits.

 

“In the long run, it’s more harmful for your body to be exposed to a higher alcohol concentration than a few extra calories,” she said.

 

But not all alcohol experts agree that going diet with your cocktails is all that different. Boris Tabakoff, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, pointed to the fact that study subjects drank the equivalent of three to four drinks over a five-minute period.

 

“Few if any bars will serve you a drink that strong,” he said. “If you want to chug your alcohol to the point of consuming the equivalent of three to four drinks in five minutes, you should not worry about calories.”

 

Tabakoff further pointed out that calorie-conscious drinkers might do better simply to limit their alcohol intake, noting that alcohol, too, is packed with calories.

 

 

——

2013 Issue Briefs Focus on Regulatory Issues

 

Source: Public Action Management

by Pamela S. Erickson

Feb 5th

 

For the third year, the Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace is pleased to offer Issue Briefs – concise, easy-to-understand summaries that address common alcohol regulatory issues.

 

Given the budget difficulties among state and local governments, alcohol is often a target for additional revenue. Some proposals would greatly increase alcohol availability. Others would allow aggressive sales practices that promote purchase in high volume at discounted prices. Deregulation advocates claim that longstanding policies designed to limit availability and prevent steep discounts are antiquated, ineffective and hurt consumers. In 2011, the state of Washington passed a ballot measure, written and sponsored by the Costco Corporation, that converted Washington’s control system for spirits to a license system and eliminated other regulations so that wine and spirits could be sold in a highly deregulated environment. While it will take a few years to fully assess the impact on revenue, public safety, and local business, some impacts are immediately apparent. Public health officials, citing credible research, advise against such deregulation.

 

Alcohol regulations are designed to balance availability, price, and promotional practices. Our regulatory systems also provide cost-effective tax collection and protection from dangerous products. They work to curb problems with underage drinking, public disorder, and excessive consumption. Most alcohol regulatory systems aim to foster moderation in alcohol consumption. Ironically, Washington State’s deregulation initiative specifically deleted moderation as a goal!

 

These briefs, designed for policymakers, media members and others, underscore the importance of comprehensive alcohol regulations that level the business playing field and, ultimately, help ensure public health and safety.

 

Here is a full rundown of Issue Briefs:

 

Issues relating to the history and purpose of alcohol regulation:

1. Aren’t our alcohol regulations antiquated? Weren’t they designed to prevent organized crime and other problems of Prohibition?

2. Why do we need regulations to balance our alcohol market systems?

3. Since alcohol is a legal product, why can’t it be sold like orange juice or any other legal product?

4. What are some real-world examples of what happened when alcohol was deregulated?

 

How our regulatory system works:

5. What does a good alcohol regulatory system look like?

6. Why are some states in the liquor business? Can’t a control state just convert to a license state and save money?

7. Why are beer, wine and spirits regulated differently?

8. What are the benefits of the three-tier system of alcohol control?

9. Isn’t alcohol regulation bad for business? Shouldn’t we loosen alcohol regulations to help local business?

 

Individual system elements:

10. Since the recession, all Americans expect good values, so what’s the problem with lower prices for alcohol?

11. Why shouldn’t alcohol be more convenient for customers to buy? Shouldn’t those who drink exercise personal responsibility?

12. What is the problem with allowing more stores to sell alcohol?

13. Why shouldn’t we able to buy alcohol on Sundays, holidays, or any hour of the day or night?

 

Revenue and safety:

14. Can’t we save taxpayers some money by eliminating the liquor cops and using local law enforcement or state police instead?

15. Why don’t we have problems with fake alcohol or tax revenue loss?

 

These briefs are designed to stand alone and be used as educational tools.

 

PDFs may be downloaded for use.

 

Please contact Pamela S. Erickson, at pam@pamaction.com, if you have questions or would like a customized version of a particular brief.

 

 

——

Ad Regulator Clears Anheuser-Busch’s Light Cider Claims (Excerpt)

 

Source: Law 360

By Gavin Broady

February 05, 2013

 

An advertising industry self-regulator on Tuesday signed off on Anheuser-Busch LLC’s promotion of Michelob ULTRA Light Cider as having one-third fewer calories than its competitors, noting that those claims are in line with U.S. Food and Drug Administration definitions and guidelines.

 

The National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, found that Anheuser-Busch had presented enough evidence to back up calorie content claims for the beverage made in relation to the “leading regular ciders” on the market.

 

 

——

Effort building to change US pot laws

 

Source: MyWay

By GENE JOHNSON

Feb 4

 

An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal pot tax.

 

While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills, the first of which Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday, Blumenauer told The Associated Press.

 

Polis’ measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it’s legal to one where it isn’t.

 

The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul of Texas.

 

Blumenauer’s bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent on the “first sale” of marijuana – typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax pot producers or importers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500.

 

His office said Monday it doesn’t yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might bring in. But a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week suggests, based on admittedly vague estimates, that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion a year. They call for directing the money to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and the national debt.

 

Last fall’s votes in Colorado and Washington state to legalize recreational marijuana should push Congress to end the 75-year federal pot prohibition, Blumenauer said.

 

Washington state officials have estimated that its legal marijuana market could bring in about half a billion dollars a year in state taxes.

 

“You folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart,” Blumenauer said. “We’re still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal. … It’s past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out.”

 

Advocates who are working with the lawmakers acknowledge it could take years for any changes to get through Congress, but they’re encouraged by recent developments. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week came out in support of efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on marijuana.

 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has indicated he plans to hold a hearing on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and has urged an end to federal “mandatory minimum” sentences that lead to long prison stints for drug crimes.

 

“We’re seeing enormous political momentum to undo the drug war failings of the past 40 years,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, who has been working with lawmakers on marijuana-related bills. “For the first time, the wind is behind our back.”

 

The Justice Department hasn’t said how it plans to respond to the votes in Washington and Colorado. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, on the grounds that doing so would conflict with federal drug law.

 

Blumenauer and Polis’ paper urges a number of changes, including altering tax codes to let marijuana dispensaries deduct business expenses on federal taxes, and making it easier for marijuana-related businesses to get bank accounts. Many operate on a cash basis because federally insured banks won’t work with them, they noted.

 

Blumenauer said he expects to introduce the tax-code legislation as well as a bill that would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to enact medical marijuana laws without fear that federal authorities will continue raiding dispensaries or prosecuting providers. It makes no sense that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, in the same category as heroin and a more restrictive category than cocaine, Blumenauer said.

 

The measures have little chance of passing, said Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser. Sabet recently joined former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and former President George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum in forming a group called Project SAM – for “smart approaches to marijuana” – to counter the growing legalization movement. Sabet noted that previous federal legalization measures have always failed.

 

“These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana problem we have in this country,” Sabet said. “The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids, and stigma of people who have a criminal record for marijuana crimes.

 

“There are a lot more people in Congress who think that marijuana should be illegal but treated as a public health problem, than think it should be legal.”

 

Project SAM suggests people shouldn’t get criminal records for small-time marijuana offenses, but instead could face probation or treatment.

 

 

——

Maine: LePage’s liquor bill aims to repay hospital debt

 

The emergency legislation says that the state will control liquor revenue, with a private contractor handling other tasks.

 

Source: Press Herald

By Jessica Hall

Feb 5th

 

Gov. Paul LePage has proposed emergency legislation to increase the portion of liquor revenues the state collects as part of his plan to pay off Medicaid debt to the state’s hospitals.

 

The bill calls for a contractor to handle monitoring inventory, managing accounts, advertising, and coordinating with suppliers.

 

The governor said last month that, after its current liquor contract expires in 2014, the state would take back management of liquor sales and seek a contractor to handle only distribution.

 

But the proposed legislation, submitted Monday, says the state would control the proceeds from liquor sales, with “a private sector person to provide administration, trade marketing and distribution and warehousing activities.”

 

As emergency legislation, the proposal needs approval from two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate. It would become law immediately.

 

Under the proposal, the state would pay off its debt to the hospitals by issuing bonds for as much as $187 million, to be repaid from liquor sales.

 

In years when more money comes from liquor sales than is needed for repayment of the bonds, the state could use as much as $7 million for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Protection for drinking water systems and wastewater treatment. The rest, if any, would be used for construction on highways and bridges.

 

Once the bonds have been paid off, the state would transfer any money in the fund to the Maine Budget Stabilization Fund, often called the rainy day fund.

 

Last week, Maine’s current wholesale liquor distributor, Maine Beverage Co., offered the state a guaranteed $320 million to extend its contract without a bid process. LePage quickly rejected the offer, saying the contract is worth more.

 

From mid-2004 through 2011, liquor sales totaled $864.7 million under the 10-year contract awarded to Maine Beverage Co., according to financial documents filed with the state.

 

Maine officials hope to collect more money from liquor sales and lower retail prices by $2 to $7 per bottle to make the state more competitive with New Hampshire. The state also has said it wants to pay higher commissions to agency liquor stores.

 

 

——

Bruce Willis to approve Belvedere plan – report (Excerpt)

 

Source: Just-Drinks

By Andy Morton

5 February 2013

 

Belvedere has been under bankruptcy protection for four years

 

Actor Bruce Willis, a shareholder in French drinks group Belvedere, is to vote in favour of the company’s restructuring at a shareholders meeting next week, a French newspaper has reported.

 

Willis, who owns a 3% stake in Belvedere, said restructuring will save jobs and is the only option that makes sense, according to Le Figaro yesterday (4 January).

 

 

——

ADM lifts profits despite US drought

 

Source: FT

By Gregory Meyer in New York

Feb 5th

 

Archer Daniels Midland overcame a stubborn US drought to report sharply higher profit in the last three months of 2012, but had little to say about its $2.9bn bid for Australia’s GrainCorp.

 

The New York-listed company’s shares jumped more than 5 per cent after it posted net earnings of $510m, or 77 cents per share, in the three months to the end of December – a sixfold increase on an exceptionally poor quarter a year earlier.

 

The stronger results came in spite of low Mississippi river water conditions that have complicated the flow of grain exports and persistent losses from refining ethanol fuel amid scarce US corn and weak petrol demand.

 

ADM’s business of shipping and processing soyabeans and other oilseeds helped offset these problems. Operating profit in the oilseeds division was $411m, up from $202m in the same quarter a year earlier.

 

The company’s soyabean operations, which include a vast processing plant at its Decatur, Illinois headquarters, ran at record capacity during the quarter.

 

Last year ADM took a 19.9 per cent stake in Australian wheat exporter GrainCorp and offered A$2.8bn ($2.9bn) for the entire company. It wants to diversify supply sources as US grain shipments fall short.

 

GrainCorp has argued the bid “materially undervalues” its network of grain storage and transportation assets and its proximity to Asia and other importers.

 

Patricia Woertz, ADM chief executive, said: “There’s been no further conversation with them since the rejection of our last proposal.”

 

ADM’s stake in GrainCorp, which the company quietly began building in June, appreciated by $62m during the quarter.

 

Shares of ADM were 3.2 per cent higher at $29.35 in afternoon trade in New York.

 

GrainCorp closed at A$12.09 per share Tuesday, A$0.11 below its suitor’s current offer.

 

 

——

200 Beaujolais properties ‘to close’ says French media

 

Source: Decanter

by Panos Kakaviatos

Tuesday 5 February 2013

 

Up to 200 Beaujolais producers may have to close down because of the exceptionally low-yielding harvest last year.

 

Some French media report that ‘over 200 properties’ will have to close down because they cannot pay the costs from the 2012 harvest, but trade association Inter Beaujolais said the figure is closer to 50.

 

In an average harvest, Beaujolais produces some 850,000 hectolitres of wine, but last year’s harvest was 40% lower, threatening the existence of some of the region’s 2,700 domaines according to Inter Beaujolais.

 

The cause was bad weather – including frosts and hail – that affected the entire Beaujolais region. ‘We normally have difficult weather that can affect parts of Beaujolais, but 2012 was difficult across the entire region, something that is absolutely unheard of,’ Jean Bourjade of Inter Beaujolais told Decanter.com.

 

The maximum yield allowed in Beaujolais is 52 hectolitres per hectare. In 2012, it was 30.

 

Previous reports that the 2012 harvest was 50% below the average were revised to 40% below the harvest last month, after the numbers were double checked, Bourjade said. But state aid and loans are still needed to assist properties that have barely been able to meet their costs.

 

‘Some domaines will survive with short term loans to pay their costs, but they did not make any money for themselves,’ he said. But about 50 domaines, ‘are beyond help,’ he added.

 

Public aid, including a ?1m grant from the Conseil Général in the Rhone Department, where up to 95% of Beaujolais producers are located, will not buffer expected price increases for Beaujolais wine across appellations – from basic Beaujolais to village crus, according to Bourjade and French news reports.

 

 

——

Pennsylvania: House committee advances direct wine shipping bill

 

Source: Penn Live

Sue Gleiter

February 05, 2013

 

Once again, a bill designed to allow Pennsylvania residents to receive shipments of wine at their front doorstep is headed to the House of Representatives.

 

This morning, the House Liquor Control Committee voted on an amended bill designed to allow online wine sales to residents 21 or older in the state.

 

For several years, legislators in both the House and Senate have been trying to pass legislation to permit Pennsylvania residents to order out-of-state wine. The bills also would allow Pennsylvania wineries to ship their wines out-of-state.

 

Last year, both chambers considered legislation. However, it stalled when some House Republicans said they would like to tie direct shipping into legislation to privatize the state-run liquor stores.

 

“It’s an issue that is long overdue in my opinion,” said Rep. Curt Sonney, a Republican from Erie and the bill’s sponsor.

 

Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled a proposal to end the state’s longtime liquor monopoly. His plan calls for selling off the state’s 600-plus wine and spirit stores and opening up booze sales to supermarkets, convenience stores and big-box stores.

 

His proposal didn’t address direct shipment of wine.

 

Right now, wine enthusiasts in the state can only purchase wine from the state-run wine and liquor stores. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board offers select wines for home delivery off of its Fine Wine & Good Spirits website.

 

Under the House bill, both in-state and out-of-state wineries would have to apply for a direct shipping license through the LCB. Wineries could ship up to nine liters of wine per month to individuals.

 

Taxes, including a 6 percent sales tax and 18 percent Johnstown Flood tax, would be collected. Shippers would be required to check identification to ensure deliveries are made to residents over the age of 21.

 

Driving lawmakers to look at broadening regulations when it comes to shipping alcohol is a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says if states allow wineries within their borders to ship to customers, they must allow out-of-state wineries to do the same. Pennsylvania wineries can ship out of state.

 

 

——

North American Winery Total Passes 8,000 (Excerpt)

 

Source: Wines & Vines

Feb 4th

 

Wines & Vines releases complete 2013 Directory & Buyers Guide

 

More than 8,000 wineries now produce wine in North America according to Wines & Vines, which released the latest data at the 2013 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium.

 

Surprisingly, fewer than half the wineries are in California, reflecting the explosion of wineries throughout the other states and Canadian provinces.

 

Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=111242&htitle=North%20American%20Winery%20Total%20Passes%208%2C000&

 

 

——

Magnotta buys Kittling Ridge wine business

 

Source: CNW

Feb 5th

 

Magnotta Winery Corporation, Ontario’s third largest winery, today announced the purchase of the wine assets of Niagara-based Kittling Ridge Ltd. The transaction will transfer store licenses, wine listings, grape grower agreements and the Kittling Ridge name and trademarks to Magnotta allowing the Ontario winemaker and retailer to accelerate its growth and increase the number of its stores.

 

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has approved the deal that will see the Kittling Ridge brand continue as part of Magnotta’s portfolio which now includes Kittling Ridge’s signature Icewine and Brandy and Vidal Icewine products, complementing Magnotta’s leading position in this wine category.

 

“We are very pleased to have arrived at this agreement with Kittling Ridge,” said Rossana Magnotta , President and CEO, Magnotta Winery Corporation. “Opening new retail locations in Ontario’s regulated wine industry is only possible through the acquisition of existing licenses. This purchase allows us to add new stores to our chain and build on our over 20-year retail success while evolving the Kittling Ridge brand.” Magnotta added, “We are also very excited to be working with the additional Ontario grape growers that are now part of our roster as a result of the deal and supporting the agricultural growth of the province. These relationships will play a key role in our success as we process more grapes and expand our 100% Ontario VQA product line.”

 

Magnotta’s new Kittling Ridge stores are located in Barrie, London , North York, Richmond Hill and Toronto . All Kittling Ridge licenses are expected to be transitioned into Magnotta stores over the next few years and will offer the company’s full line of products. Kittling Ridge products will continue to be distributed through the LCBO, other liquor boards across Canada and export markets.

 

 

——

Slow flow for Australian wine

 

Source: The Age

February 6, 2013

 

The decline in Australian wine production is tipped to continue over the next five years but the industry could eventually be more sustainable and profitable as a result.

 

A new report released in London forecasts Australian production will be down 14.7 per cent over the next five years compared with the previous five.

 

At the same time world-wide production will decline just 2.3 per cent, according to an International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) study commissioned by Vinexpo.

 

The only top 10 wine-producing country expected to take a bigger hit than sixth-ranked Australia is Italy which is tipped to decline by 16.1 per cent.

 

Italy is number two on the table behind France and ahead of Spain.

 

”Australia for two decades has showed incredible growth around the world but is plateauing now and there’s an adjustment on the production side which is totally normal,” Vinexpo chairman Xavier de Eizaguirre said. ”It doesn’t mean Australia is in trouble in terms of exporting, it just means there’s a correction after years and years of spectacular growth.”

 

The IWSR study doesn’t include export forecasts but does reveal that between 2007 and 2011 Australian exports declined 13.3 per cent from 89 to 77 million cases.

 

In the top 10 only Germany and Portugal fared worse.

 

But in monetary terms the value of Aussie wine exports fell 20.9 per cent to $US1.96 billion ($1.89 billion). Germany also experienced a fall, but of just 5.1 per cent.

 

Part of the problem for Aussie exporters is that drinkers in their largest market, the United Kingdom, are increasingly experimenting with Italian and Spanish wines as bars and restaurants from those countries proliferate.

 

Nevertheless, Mr de Eizaguirre insists the picture is actually positive for the Australian industry.

 

Local wine makers will move to more specialised or boutique labels which will eventually lead to a more sustainable and profitable sector, he said.

 

”It will take a while for the Australian industry to adjust to the new trends but it will translate into less volume, better qualities and higher prices.”

 

The Vinexpo chairman said the fact New Zealand wines were going ”through the roof” proved the market was ready for more premium wines despite Europe facing an ”unprecedented” economic crisis.

 

The IWSR study reveals Chinese consumption of imported still wines grew by more than 550 per cent in the five years to 2011 by volume. And it’s forecast to expand a further 62.7 per cent by 2016.

 

Mr de Eizaguirre says Australia should be doing more to push aggressively into the region.

 

”They are already working hard in the Chinese market,” he said. ”(But) it will increase definitely in the next five years.”

 

Vinexpo, the world’s biggest wine fair, will be held in Bordeaux in June.

 

 

——

China will import less over the next four years: Vinexpo research

 

Source: Decanter

by Chris Mercer

Tuesday 5 February 2013

 

Chinese will import wine at a slower pace as the country’s domestic wine production increases – while the world’s most populous nation is set to become the world’s second-biggest wine consumer by 2016.

 

Competition for space in China’s wine market is set to intensify in the next few years: China’s wine market will still expand by 40% in volume over the next four years, but opportunities for foreign brands will be more limited.

 

Figures released jointly by wine trade show Vinexpo and research group IWSR show that between 2007 and the end of 2011, wine sales in China rose much faster, by 144% in volume, than they will for the next four years.

 

Alongside the predicted slowdown, Chinese wine production is growing considerably.

 

Since 2007, the country has risen from 10th to eighth in the global wine production league table, and it is expected to displace Australia and Chile to become the world’s sixth biggest producer in 2016.

 

‘It will be more challenging, and especially for France [market leader], because everybody wants to go there now,’ Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, told Decanter.com.

 

However, de Eizaguirre said the speed of growth in China remains ‘incredible’ compared to many other markets, and its per capita consumption is still only 1.6 litres a year.

 

‘China will bypass the US very soon,’ he said. ‘The forecast for 2016 is 250m cases. The US is about 350m, so they’re getting very close.’

 

In value terms, China should overtake the UK to become the world’s second biggest wine consuming nation by value in 2016, with sales of US$16.7bn.

 

More than a third of foreign visitors to Vinexpo 2013, to be held in Bordeaux in June, are expected to come from Asia.

 

Most of the other figures released by Vinexpo showed a continuation of existing trends. Consumption in the UK, for example, will continue to fall up to 2016, by around 4% on current levels.

 

However, sparkling wines and still wine priced above US$10-a-bottle will buck this trend.

 

Globally, wine consumption is expected to rise by 5.3% between 2012 and the end of 2016, to 2.87bn cases, while worldwide production will fall by around 2%.

 

 

——

China official ‘just trying to learn about wine’ in photo causing internet uproar

 

Source: Daily Telegraph

By Tom Phillips, Shanghai

05 Feb 2013

 

Zhou Shaoqiang, the manager of a state-owned investment company in the southeastern city of Zhuhai, was subjected to an online mauling last month after accusations he had hosted an exclusive dinner party at which thousands of pounds worth of wine were consumed.

 

The alleged shindig would have gone unnoticed but for the actions of Chi Tengfei, a boastful guest who used his mobile phone to forward a photograph to friends.

 

“Drank 12 bottles tonight,” read an accompanying message. “What to do tomorrow and the day after?”

 

The photograph, which subsequently leaked onto the internet, showed guests huddled around 12 bottles of wine at a private club and suggested that the late-night drinking session had extended to bottles of Château Latour and Haut-Brion. In 2011, a six-litre bottle of 1961 Château Latour was reportedly auctioned to a Chinese buyer for £135,000.

 

Once public, the photograph raced around the Chinese internet. Mr Zhou came under fire from corruption-weary micro-bloggers and an investigation was launched.

 

But this week investigators said they had found evidence of a rather more mundane dinner consisting of 12, mostly pork-themed dishes.

 

Just six bottles of wine were consumed, at a total cost of 2,580 yuan (around £258), according to a report in Guangzhou’s Yangcheng Evening News.

 

The offending bottles of Château Latour and Haut-Brion were already empty when placed on the table, it was claimed.

 

Mr Zhou, who said he had paid out of his own pocket in cash, told investigators the empty bottles were produced to help his guests “learn more about wine”, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper.

 

China’s micro-blogging community was unimpressed, describing the investigation as a whitewash and nicknaming Mr Zhou “the wine learning brother.” “Please stop covering up for the wine brother,” wrote one user of the Twitter-like Weibo.

 

Another wrote: “Owning large amounts of property is about gaining understanding of architecture. Having huge amounts of savings is about deepening economic knowledge.

 

“Our government officials really are living and learning,” they added.

 

Meanwhile, Mr Chi, whose indiscrete photograph triggered the crisis, has begged the media to leave him in peace.

 

“There is nothing to it,” he told the Yangcheng Evening News this week. “The media has got it totally wrong. This has troubled me tremendously, causing me huge mental stress.”

 

The controversy comes days after China’s incoming president Xi Jinping urged Communist Party officials to be “diligent and thrifty”.

 

Officials should “resolutely oppose extravagance,” Mr Xi said, according to state media.

 

 

——

Chipotle 4Q profit rises despite higher food costs

 

Commodity costs comprised 33.5 percent of the company’s revenue for the quarter

 

Source: NRN

Lisa Jennings   

Feb. 5, 2013

 

Chipotle Mexican Grill reported on Tuesday a 6.8-percent increase in profit for the fourth quarter despite higher commodity costs for beef, salsa ingredients and dairy.

 

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Chipotle recorded net income of $61.4 million, or $1.95 per share, compared with $57.5 million, or $1.81 per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

 

As reported earlier, revenue grew by 17 percent to $699.2 million on a same-store sales increase of 3.8 percent, mostly driven by traffic.

 

Food costs during the quarter, however, rose 130 basis points to comprise 33.5 percent of the company’s revenue, primarily due to increases in prices of the beef used for steak and barbacoa. The higher cost of salsa ingredients and dairy products like cheese and sour cream also contributed to the impact on revenue.

 

For the entire year, Chipotle reported net income totaled $278 million, or $8.75 per share, compared with $214.9 million, or $6.76 per share, for fiscal 2011.

 

Revenue for 2012 rose 20 percent to $2.73 billion, driven by a 7.1-percent increase in same-store sales. Traffic also rose for the year, but increased menu prices also contributed to the same-store sales jump, the company said.

 

During fiscal 2012, Chipotle opened 183 new restaurants for a total of 1,410 units.

 

“Our empowered restaurant teams once again were able to attract more people into our restaurants, creating positive comparable sales at Chipotle despite a sluggish economy and the roll-off of our price increases,” said Monty Moran, co-chief executive of Chipotle, said in a statement. “We feel confident in our continued ability to drive sales growth in 2013 through a combination of new restaurant growth and our top performing empowered restaurant teams creating an extraordinary dining experience for our customers.”

 

In its outlook for 2013, the company said it expects to open between 165 and 180 new restaurants.

 

Same-store sales for the year are projected to be flat to rising by low single digits, excluding additional menu price increases.

 

 

——

CMG: Plenty of future growth, but recent rally may be ahead of itself

 

Source: Goldman Sachs

Feb 5th

 

What’s changed

CMG reported 4Q12 EPS of $1.95, in line with its prior preannouncement. We update our 2013-2014 EPS estimates to $10.12/$12.50 from $10.24/$12.29 with various minor tweaks to SSS and margins, and we introduce a 2015 EPS estimate of $14.90. We retain our Neutral rating.

 

Implications

(1) We see risk to near-term SSS and EPS. Our 1Q13 forecast is for 0.6% SSS and $2.04 of EPS, below Street estimates of 1.5% and $2.14. Inclusive in our forecast is flat traffic, an assumption that may prove optimistic given current trends and tough compares. Management’s noncommittal commentary about January trends adds to the near-term uncertainty.

 

(2) CMG is currently behind on pricing as food costs are at 33.5-34.0% of sales, higher than any prior level in our financial model. Management is clearly reticent to take price increases, and potentially for good reason. Increasing prices may result in elasticity and thus further traffic softness. We do not believe elasticity is currently being appropriately considered.

 

(3) Current SSS trends in the low-mid single digit range are not enough to generate leverage in CMG’s model. As such, a continuation of the current algorithm suggests 18-20% EPS growth in out-years, in line with PNRA and SBUX, and not consistent with CMG’s hyper-growth heyday. With this in mind, while there are likely many years of compounding ahead for CMG, we do not believe the period of multiple re-basement has fully played out.

 

Valuation

We raise our P/E and DCF-based 12-month price target by $5 to $285 to reflect higher out-year estimates. This is 25x our 2H13/1H14 EPS estimate.

 

Key risks

Upside risks include a return to higher SSS in part from pricing. Downside risks include further reductions in traffic, possibly from elasticity.

 

 

——

Johnny Rockets owner considers sale

 

Asking price could range from $100 million to $150 million, source familiar with offer says

 

Source: NRN

Lisa Jennings   

Feb. 5, 2013      

 

Johnny Rockets’ parent company is considering a sale of the classic Americana-themed burger chain.

 

Officials confirmed Monday that parent Red Zone Capital Management Co. LLC has hired North Point Advisors to explore a possible sale of the nearly 300-unit casual-dining concept.

 

Cozette Phifer Koerber, vice president of brand management and communications for The Johnny Rockets Group Inc., based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., said the company could offer no further details on the process.

 

John Gordon, principal of Pacific Management Consulting Group in San Diego, said he was familiar with the offer and that the company’s asking price was in the range of $100 million to $150 million, which would be about nine to 13 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, of about $12 million.

 

“To get those kinds of numbers, one must demonstrate growth or potential growth,” Gordon said.

 

Founded in 1986, Johnny Rockets is known for its diner-style burgers, sandwiches, fries served with a ketchup smiley face and milkshakes. Tableside juke boxes play 1950s-era music, and servers are encouraged to dance and sing along.

 

The 75-percent franchised concept grew rapidly in the 1990s but later became mired in debt. Toward the end of the decade, growth was put on hold while the company closed underperforming locations.

 

Red Zone bought Johnny Rockets in 2007 from former owners Centre Partners Management LLC and Apax Partners Inc., two private-equity firms that owned the chain along with heirs of late founder Ronn Teitelbaum, who died in 2000. The acquisition price for the chain was not disclosed, though it was described by company officials at the time as “a high single-digit multiple” of corporate cash flow.

 

Red Zone is the investment vehicle of Daniel Snyder, an owner of the Washington Redskins football team and Six Flags amusement parks.

 

In recent years, Johnny Rockets has been aggressively building its presence overseas, opening for the first time in Nigeria, for example, where five units are planned over the next seven years. The company has also struck franchise agreements in Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

 

Johnny Rockets has restaurants in more than 16 countries. Growth in the U.S., however, has been slow.

 

For the fiscal year ended April 2012, Johnny Rockets had 223 restaurants in the U.S., including 26 company-operated locations.

 

The chain had U.S. systemwide sales of $212.7 million, which was virtually flat, or down 0.1 percent, compared with the prior year, the company reported.

 

In recent years the company has experimented with dual branding and new formats, adding alcohol service to some restaurants.

 

Last year, a Johnny Rockets franchisee in Phoenix began testing a new fast-casual variant called JR’s Burger Grill, featuring smaller dishes at a lower price point that would compete with the growing number of fast-casual burger concepts that have threatened to eclipse older brands like Johnny Rockets.

 

 

——

Alabama: The Bible Belt brouhaha over beer

 

Source: CNN

By Tommy Andres

Feb 5th

 

Despite the fact that it has been federally legal since 1979, there are still two U.S. states that don’t allow residents to make beer in their own homes: Alabama and Mississippi.

 

The issue is expected to be one of the first to surface in Alabama’s state legislature as lawmakers there head back to session this week, and a colorful standoff is likely.

 

Homebrew laws have failed to materialize for the past five years, with religion and morality arguments narrowly beating out the estimated 5,000 underground homebrewers in the state who say their civil liberties are on the line.

 

 

——

Nebraska: Alcohol retailers wary of more enforcement

 

Source: WORLD-HERALD

By Joe Duggan

Feb 5th

 

The beer brewer likes the idea of Nebraska hiring more investigators to enforce state liquor laws. The beer seller? Not so much.

 

The mixed reviews surfaced in the Legislature during a public hearing Monday on a bill that would authorize the Nebraska State Patrol to hire 15 new investigators for alcohol enforcement. The new hires would cost the state an estimated $1.6 million per year.

 

A lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewery, joined the state’s liquor wholesalers and distributors in voicing support for the bill. Lobbyists for alcohol retailers, meanwhile, said those who own bars, liquor stores and supermarkets don’t need additional oversight.

 

“We’ve got enough law enforcement out there to take care of this,” said Jim Moylan with the Nebraska Licensed Beverage Association.

 

In a related matter, members of the General Affairs Committee heard more on a bill that would lessen the fines for second or third offenses of selling alcohol to a minor during a law enforcement compliance check. The committee took no action on either bill.

 

Hobert Rupe, director of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, testified in support of Legislative Bill 579, the proposal that would beef up liquor enforcement. He said the commission transferred its dozen inspectors to the patrol in 1987. Now, eight or nine investigators are assigned primarily to the task.

 

The ratio of liquor establishments to inspectors in 1987 was 345 to one, he said. Now, it’s 605 to one.

 

What’s more, the state issued just 222 special event liquor licenses in 1987. Last year it issued nearly 4,000 such licenses, Rupe said.

 

“I believe the State Patrol does a fantastic job,” he said, “but they’re being stretched.”

 

Several senators on the committee raised concerns about the ongoing costs of hiring new officers, which, including salary, benefits and equipment, runs about $100,000 annually for each investigator.

 

Rupe pointed out that the $30 million in excise taxes on alcoholic beverages that the commission collects each year goes directly into state coffers. That figure has grown by about $10 million since 1987, he said.

 

“The only thing that hasn’t gone up is the number of investigators,” he said.

 

Moylan pointed out that sheriff’s deputies and police officers can, and do, enforce the state’s liquor laws.

 

Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, sponsor of the proposal, said the patrol is currently authorized to hire 477 officers, the smallest number since 1986. Nonetheless, he indicated that he would consider reducing the requested number of liquor investigators if it would help advance his bill to the floor.

 

No one from the State Patrol testified at the hearing.

 

As for the related measure, Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus introduced LB 413 “to prevent liquor licensees from being stung to death.”

 

Liquor law violations accumulate over a four-year period, with each subsequent violation prompting longer suspensions and higher fines. A first violation typically carries a 10- or 12-day suspension, which the state will waive if the violator pays a fine of $50 per day. A second violation within four years doubles the daily fine amount.

 

Schumacher’s bill would prevent compliance check violations from counting against a license holder for the purposes of increasing penalties.

 

He suggested that overzealous enforcement makes compliance checks more like sting operations, if not entrapment. The undercover law officers who carry out the checks hire minors to attempt to buy alcohol in the state’s roughly 5,500 liquor establishments.

 

The beverage association and the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association testified in support of the bill. They said the majority of liquor license holders pass compliance checks.

 

Rupe testified against the bill, disputing the senator’s characterization of entrapment. He said compliance checks work, in part because they carry increasingly stringent penalties for multiple offenses.

 

Law enforcement ticketed 31 establishments for a second or third violation under compliance checks in 2012, which resulted in nearly $80,000 in fines.

 

Schumacher’s bill would have reduced those fines by about $48,000, according to a fiscal note attached to the legislation.

 

 

——

Rhode Island: Farmers’ market alcohol sales bill

 

Source: WPRI

05 Feb 2013

 

Wine and beer sales could be coming to farmers’ markets in Rhode Island.

 

A legislative panel is scheduled to review legislation on Tuesday that would allow local wineries and breweries to sell their products at farmers’ markets for off-site consumption.

 

Supporters say a similar law has worked well in Massachusetts and that retail alcohol sales at farmers’ markets would be a boon for the state’s small-batch wine and beer producers.

 

The legislation would also allow brewers and vintners to offer samples of their products at farmers’ markets.

 

No vote on the proposal is scheduled.

 

 

——

Connecticut: Lawmakers Push for Stronger DUI Charges When Kids Are in Car

 

Source: NBC

By Chris Coffey

Feb 5, 2013  

 

Lawmakers in Connecticut are pushing for tougher drunk driving laws that would increase penalties for adults convicted of drinking and driving with children in their vehicles.

 

Connecticut is one of a handful of states without a specific Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) child endangerment charge, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  MADD is urging lawmakers to make drunk driving with a child in the car an automatic felony.

 

43 states and the District of Columbia have enhanced penalties for those who drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle, according to MADD.  However, the laws vary widely in severity and definition of a child passenger.

 

“You’re putting that child in danger and there needs to be a punishment that goes along with that crime,” said MADD volunteer Skip Church.

 

Robert Hills, 30, of Connecticut was driving his wife and four young children cross-country last August when he was arrested by the Utah Highway Patrol.  Hills had led pursuing officers on a high-speed chase before officers deployed tire spikes to stop his vehicle.  Hills was charged with failure to respond, obstruction of justice and an enhanced DWI because he had kids in the car.  He pleaded guilty and spent fifty days in jail.

 

But what would have happened if Hills was arrested for the same thing in his home state of Connecticut?  It’s not clear, because there is no enhanced DWI law here.

 

“We have enough problems with protecting our children in this state and this is one of them that certainly deserves our attention,” said Rep. Al Adinolfi (R-103).

 

Adinolfi is proposing enhanced drunk driving penalties in Connecticut.  His two previous attempts to toughen the laws ran out of time in the state legislature.  Adinolfi’s proposal is based on New York’s Leandra’s Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child under sixteen and first time offenders face up to four years in prison.

 

Leandra’s Law is named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado.  She died and six other girls were injured when their driver, who was drunk, flipped their vehicle on the Henry Hudson Parkway.

 

However, critics like attorney Teresa Dinardi said Connecticut already has laws that accomplish the same goal of tougher penalties.

 

“Because right now they already get charged with risk of injury, which sounds like that’s what they want to do, just call it something else,” Dinardi said.

 

Risk of injury to a minor is a felony.  However, prosecutors have been known to drop that charge for first-time offenders who are eligible for alcohol education programs.

 

Amber Haaser of Vernon was driving her children on Halloween night, when one of the kids called 9-1-1 for help.  Haaser was charged with a DWI and two counts of risk of injury to a child.  She’s due in court Tuesday.  Haaser’s public defender said he could not comment on the status of her case.

 

According to MADD, 211 children under 15 were killed in drunk driving crashes across the country in 2010.  60% of them were passengers of drunk drivers.

 

“I think we need to get something on the books that deals specifically with child endangerment as it relates to alcohol,” Church said.

 

MADD also wants a possible DWI child endangerment felony to go along with mandatory ignition interlock devices being placed in offenders’ cars.

 

Meantime, one convicted drunk driver who won’t be driving child passengers any time soon is Robert Hills.  Last December, Hills was sentenced to one year in prison and three years of probation on separate assault, larceny and trespassing charges in Connecticut.

 

 

——

Oregon: Drunken driving ‘loophole’ targeted

 

Too many offenders are avoiding the breathalyzer ignition locks, legislators say

 

Source: The Register-Guard

By Saul Hubbard

February 5, 2013

 

While state legislators have embraced policies in recent years that require more drunken driving offenders to install alcohol-­detecting breathalyzers in their vehicles, some lawmakers believe those rules need more tweaking this year to make them effective.

 

Chief among the proposed changes is House Bill 2117, which received an initial public hearing on Monday, as lawmakers reconvened for the first working day of the 2013 legislative session.

 

HB 2117 would close what proponents see as “a loophole” in the law regarding the devices – called ignition interlocks – that prevent a vehicle from starting when a driver fails a breathalyzer test.

 

Under current law, both offenders convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants and those who enter a DUII diversion program to avoid the risk of conviction must legally install an interlock that they pay for. The requirement for the latter group, typically first-time offenders, was added by the Legislature in 2011. Approximately 10,000 people in Oregon are convicted of drunken driving every year, while another 10,000 enter diversion programs.

 

But statistics show that in 2011 only about 35 percent of offenders installed the interlock devices as required to regain their driving rights, Anne Pratt, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, said Monday.

 

Some drive with suspended licenses or give up their vehicles. But many others “wait out” the period of time that they are required to have an interlock device installed and then apply for a new license, legally bypassing the interlock requirement, Pratt said.

 

HB 2117 would change the law so that those offenders would need to install an interlock device for the required period of time, regardless of when they reinstate their license.

 

“It makes no sense to have life-saving laws on the books and then let them slip out through the loopholes,” Pratt said.

 

HB 2117 would also increase to $275, up from $150, a fee that offenders in DUII diversion programs must pay to an independent alcohol and drug evaluation specialist responsible for monitoring offenders’ interlock device installations.

 

While the concept of interlock devices has proven popular with the public and state lawmakers nationwide in recent years, the actual rolling out of the devices continues to pose difficulties.

 

Amy Joyce, a legislative liaison for the state Department of Transportation, said legislators are drafting amendments to HB 2117 that would give the Transportation Department some oversight authority over standards for the devices and their installation. There is no such oversight by the state now, she said.

 

Other amendments are also expected, lawmakers said Monday.

 

Rep. Jim Thompson, a Dallas Republican, said the concept of HB 2117 is “a matter of cleaning up the way our inter­lock device laws work.”

 

The length of time that a DUII offender must keep an ignition interlock device varies from one year for those who enter a diversion program to five years for repeat offenders who have their licenses revoked.

 

The devices are often rented, typically at a cost of around $70 a month.

 

 

——

Indiana: House passes bill allowing distilleries to sell hard alcohol by glass, bottle rather than just wholesale

 

Source: Deseret Sun

Feb. 5, 2013

 

Popular local brewery Sun King is among several Indiana businesses pushing the state to loosen regulations to allow the creation of micro distilleries, which they see as a tourism boost alongside Indiana’s burgeoning market for craft beer and local wineries.

 

The Indiana House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 91-8 for House Bill 1293, which would allow people to sample hard liquor at Indiana distilleries, buy a drink, or to take home a bottle.

 

Few distilleries exist in Indiana now, and they can produce hard alcohol only for wholesale distribution to retailers. Like the ban on the sale of alcohol in stores on Sundays, the restriction on distilleries is a blue law throwback to prohibition. Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois already allow distilleries to sell alcohol on site.

 

Indiana is losing out on tourism and economic development until it joins the 21st Century, said the bill’s author, Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany,

 

“This is an industry whose potential is currently greatly limited by statute here in Indiana,” he said.

 

The bill appears to be a tougher sell in the Indiana Senate. But for now, business owners hope the House’s vote is an indication they’ll soon be allowed to produce local bourbons, whiskey, vodkas and gins for tastings and local sales.

 

At Sun King, president Omar Robinson said the company wants in on a growing national trend of mico distilling. And Sun King’s brewers, he said, have unique ideas to mix spirits and their popular beers.

 

“It could be something more unusual than just plan old whiskey and bourbon,” he said.

 

Clere said three businesses who have contacted him would add distilling to their operations immediately: Sun King, 3 Floyds Brewery in Munster, Ind., and Huber’s Orchard, Vineyard and Winery, in Starlight, Ind., near Louisville.

 

Ted Huber can see the impact distilleries can have on the economy and tourism from his 600-acre family farm just over the Ohio River – literally. He welcomes visitors who come over from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to his winery weekly. He can offer them a glass of wine, but not a quarter shot of bourbon – the traditional sample on the Kentucky tour.

 

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