Bevscape Business

EXECUTIVE MOVES

The newly-combined Anheuser-Busch InBev company announced appointments for prominent positions that use personnel from both companies. David A. Peacock will take over as president of Anheuser-Busch and keep his office based in St. Louis. Peacock served as vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch and Chief Executive Officer of Wholesaler Equity Development Corp., a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch. Also, Luiz Fernando Edmond will become zone president of North America. He previously served as InBev’s zone president for Latin America North and AmBev’s Chief Executive Officer.

O.N.E. Natural Experience announced two new appointments in their Los Angeles-based corporate offices. Ike Gill joined the company as Chief Operating Officer / Chief Financial Officer. Gill was previously the COO at Penta Water. John Moffitt joins O.N.E. as Vice President of Sales. Before joining O.N.E., Moffitt was Senior Vice President DSD Sales & Operations at Naked Juice.

The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. announced three executive appointments within the company’s global management team. Rob King, who served as President of PBG North America since 2006, will now expand his responsibilities to include Mexico. Brent Franks has been named President of PBG Mexico and will now direct the company’s business there. Franks has served as PBG’s Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Chief Customer Officer since 2006. Victor Crawford has been appointed Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and System Transformation. Crawford has served as PBG’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations since 2006.

SUPER GRAPES

Welch’s has long promoted its grape sales. Now, it’s promoting the grape itself, from mere fruit to… superfruit. The purple Concord grape is loaded with polyphenols, according to the venerable juice company, putting it in the company of other fruits like the pomegranate and açai berry, both of which have seen sales grow due to their own high antioxidant counts.

It might not be the worst idea in the world: given the sales boost that red wine received from grapes’ health benefit, and the fact that just about every other fruit, from the cranberry to the acerola, has made some kind of superfruit claim or another, what’s to stop Welch’s from throwing its stems into the 30-fruit-over-the-top-rope competition

Welch’s also comes to the ring with a pair of competitive advantages: deep name recognition and lots of old-school cash, enough to hire an emerging personality like Food Network host Alton Brown to flog their fruit for them. Will it work? Hard to tell, but a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done by the initial superfruit companies – and when it comes to putting a face (or a fruit) onto a trend, the flyover states are still more familiar with the grape than the mangosteen.

ZIMA ZEROED-OUT

Consumers may not have noticed this one, but Zima is no more. MillerCoors announced in October that it would discontinue the malt beverage introduced by Coors in 1992.

MillerCoors said they decided to end the line – which arguably started the malternative category – to reduce “complexity” within the company’s brand portfolio. The company asked distributors to replace Zima on store shelves with Sparks beverages.

Zima production ceased on October 10, and MillerCoors expect the last orders of the product to be filled in December.

ALCOHOL TAXES HEADING UP?

The cash register price of beer, wine and liquor could be headed upward in most of the country if legislators listen to the suggestions of the Marin Institute.

The group, which describes itself as an alcohol industry watchdog, urged 38 states with budget shortfalls to follow the lead of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently proposed a nickel-per-drink tax on alcohol.

The group projects that the tax could raise an additional $355 million in New York. Florida could add $430 million to its budget with a similar increase. Some states have not raised alcohol taxes in decades, the group said. For example, the last time alcohol taxes were raised in Massachusetts was 1975; while in Arizona alcohol taxes were last raised in 1983.

ORGANIC TRAILING OFF?

The current economic climate of bailouts, frozen credit markets and plunges on Wall Street is likely to hurt the recently-lucrative organic food and drink market, according to Mintel research.

The organic market should reach $7.2 billion in 2008, according to Mintel, but the organization sees year over year growth slowing, and doesn’t expect sales to rally anytime soon.

“Rising food and gas prices, the credit crunch and economic uncertainty have deeply affected people’s shopping habits,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior analyst at Mintel. “Across the board, Americans are spending less and ‘organic versus traditional’ is a decision many people are thinking about carefully.”

Mogelonsky sees two major cost-related challenges for organic manufacturers: rising food prices and private label brands. Average food prices at home have increased more than 7 percent in the last year, and private label organics have exploded. Mintel’s Global New Product Database tracked over 540 new private label organic foods in 2007, compared to 35 new products seen in 2003.