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News briefs: Unilever/Starbucks team up, Carlsberg buy

By Neil Merrett, 21-Aug-2008

Related topics: Financial

This week, Unilever, PepsiCo and Starbucks agree on a new licensing deal to produce ready-to-drink (RDT) tea products, Scotch whisky makers are successful in obtaining Chinese copyright measures and Carlsberg expands eastwards.

Tea for three in Starbucks RTD push

Coffee group Starbucks is looking to extend its presence in the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage market through a new cooperation with PepsiCo and Unilever designed to push the Tazo brand of tea-based beverages in North America.

The partnership, which will further a similar partnership between PepsiCo and the coffee retailer to produce RTD coffee drinks, will see the licensed joint manufacture and distribution of the Tazo brand of iced and juiced teas as well as herbal infusions.

Pepsi and Unilver, who already work together as part of the the Pepsi/Lipton Tea Partnership, said in a joint statement that the combination of all three companies’ operations would grant it a major foothold in the US and Canadian RTD tea market.

The US market alone for tea-based products is expected to double over the next five years, boosted by a growing interest in wellness, according to Packaged Facts.

The group estimate that sales for instant, leaf, liquid concentrate and ready-to-drink tea will reach nearly $15bn by 2012, compared to $7.4bn this year.

The main driver behind this growth is the product's positioning within the good-for-you market, at a time when interest in health and wellness foods is continually increasing.

According to Packaged Facts, tea's "all-natural halo" and its lower caffeine content than coffee or cola is one of the major attractions for consumers, particularly the older generation.

Scotch makers praise Chinese trademark boost

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is claiming a major coup in its battle to protect the use of the term ‘Scotch’ on spirits products in the emerging market of China by obtaining a Geographical Indication (GI) for the tipple.

The association, which protects the global interest of Scotch whisky, says it has successfully applied for the designation within the country by registering it as a ‘collective trade mark’ through the Chinese Trade Mark Office.

Earlier this year, an SWA spokesperson told BeverageDaily.com that although China is becoming an increasingly important market for spirits exports, with further potential for growth, though there had been no drastic improvements in crackdowns by authorities.

Lindesay Low, a SWA advisor specializing in Chinese law, praised the decision therefore as a positive step for the industry in its attempts to protect against counterfeit and mislabeled products.

“Over a number of years, we have welcomed the commitment and co-operation of the Chinese authorities in tackling imitation products ‘passed off’ as Scotch whisky in China,” she said.

Carlsberg buys Baku-Castel

Carlsberg-owned Eastern European brewer Baltika has announced the completion this week of a deal for Azerbaijan-based counterpart Baku-Castel for an undisclosed amount.

The purchase, completed just months after parent group Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH) was itself brought fully under Carlsberg’s wing from former joint-venture partner Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), will allow the company to expand both its own and the acquisition’s brands into Asia.

Baltika, is a major player on the growing Russian beer market with the purchase further expanding BBH’s overall presence in the higher growth Eastern European market.