Coke ups the ante in beer battle

What’s Coke got to do with beer? In Australia it’s made and distributed by Coca Cola Amatil (CCA), owner, as well, of the new 50-million litre capacity Blue Tongue Brewery due to open on the NSW central coast this week.

The brewery is vastly bigger than the original, located in the Hunter Valley. And it’s part of a larger joint venture with SAB Miller one of the world’s largest brewers. CCA already distributes the Blue Tongue beers and SAB Miller’s international brands, Peroni Nastro Azzuro, Peroni Leggera, Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell, Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Chill.

Industry sources say CCA already has ten per cent of the fast-growing premium beer market. And the new brewery gives it the capacity to expand production of the local brands and to brew the international brands under licence – just as its major competitors Lion Nathan and Fosters already do with brands like Beck’s and Stella Artois.

There’s already speculation that CCA, through SAB Miller, might bid for Carlton United next year when Foster’s splits its wine and beer divisions. But CCA boss, Terry Davis, who cut his business teeth in the wine industry at Cellarmaster Wines then Foster’s, says not at the current share price.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010