Beer’s Aussie future — Coke is it

If I had to make one prediction about Australia’s beer future, it’s that Coca Cola Amatil will hit its target of being our number three brewer within five years, if not earlier.

They say you can tell a lot about people by the company they keep. And it applies to corporations, too. So, when dominant Australian beverage business, Coke, teams up with major global company, SABMiller plc, you know that something’s brewing on a large scale.

And in this case, starting in August 2006, it was a 50:50 joint venture in Pacific Beverages, established to ‘sell and distribute imported premium beers in Australia’, says Coke’s website.

Originally the venture saw Coca Cola Amatil handling SABMiller’s international beer brands, Peroni Nastro Azzuro (Italy), Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic) and Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Chill (USA).

Then in December 2007, Coke announced its acquisition, through Pacific Beverages, of Hunter-based Blue Tongue Brewery at an estimated (by The Australian Financial Review) $15–$20million.

Blue Tongue’s products – Premium Lager, Traditional Pilsener, Alcoholic Ginger Beer and Premium Light – are all positioned, like SABMiller’s brands, in the rapidly growing, highly profitably premium end of the market.

And with a $100million brewery yet to be built you can bet that this is page one of the story.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008