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Cheap beer gets boost from bum economy

BY Jenna Duncan

MILWAUKEE Miller Brewing Co.’s chief executive, Tom Long, said Thursday that the company has seen an increase in the sales of less expensive beers, such as Milwaukee’s Best, since January. Long attributed this trend to conditions in the U.S. economy and added that while consumers are spending less on beer, they still seem to want plenty of choices.

“We’re trying to make sure across the portfolio, we’ve got something people are going to want to drink … Whether they’ve got a pocket full or they’re feeling a little bit pinched, that we have the right beer for them,” Long said.

Long reported that his company’s two largest brands, Miller Lite and Miller High Life, each rose 1.1 percent in sales. Sales of Miller Lite account for about 46 percent of the company’s business and High Life accounts sales make up about 14 percent. A newly launched “Take Back The High Life” campaign has helped to turn around a three-year decline for the brand, the company said.

At the close of the last fiscal year, ended March 31, Miller reported its revenue went up 4.8 percent to $5.1 billion. Earnings climbed 27 percent to $477 million for the whole year—however, $33 million came from a settlement.

In October 2007, the New York Times reported that Miller and Molson Coors Brewing Co. had announced plans for a merger. The creation of MillerCoors, combining the second and third place U.S. Brewers’ business, would help the companies stay competitive against No. 1 U.S. brewer, Anheuser-Busch, the companies said. Final approval is needed from the government, but the merger should be on track by this summer, Long said.

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Gurkan appointed Campbell’s vp of development

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMDEN, N.J. Campbell Soup Co. has appointed Tarkan Gurkan as its vice president of corporate development.

Gurkan joins Campbell after 14 years in the food industry business, including seven years with Lehman Brothers, four years with Nabisco Holdings Corporation and three years with Pepsi-Cola Company. He previously worked for the Koc Group, a Turkish industrial company.

Gurkan earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Turkey’s Bogazici University and his master’s in business administration from Dartmouth College.

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Research shows use of sought-after sweetener is safe

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. A study into possible health effects associated with stevia, a natural, calorie-free herb used to make sweetener being researched for use in U.S. food production, concluded that the additive is safe. The study is expected to be published next week online, sources said.

A Web journal called Food and Chemical Toxicology is slated to publish findings from the study, funded by Cargill. Cargill and Coca-Cola are working towards gaining U.S. regulatory approval for a sweetener extracted from the South American herb, branded Truvia.

In the 1990s, the FDA denied stevia for use as an additive, stating that there was not enough evidence to prove its safety. However, it was approved later to be sold as a dietary supplement.

Some reports, dating back to 1985, have said that stevia can cause mutations in the livers of rats and potential fertility problems for men. Coke and Cargill have disputed these claims and insisted that their new product is much different from unrefined forms of stevia used in early testing. The companies are moving to go ahead with product development and distribution in countries that have approved stevia for use, such as Brazil, China and Japan.

Though some countries have reportedly banned stevia, a recent report by the World Health Organization said there were no major toxicity risks associated, but also said more studies should be done on the health effects on people with hypertension and diabetics.

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