Beverage Industry’s annual ranking of the top companies in the beverage business includes companies from every category.
Two categories are tied when it comes to the beverage segments that show up most frequently on the Top 100 list: beer and bottled water are both produced by 24 different companies. Water tends to be produced mostly by companies that also manufacture soft drinks and alternative beverages, making it a big crossover category.
While there are 24 companies that include water in their mix, only 7 companies claim water as their only product category.
Sales figures among the Top 100 vary from companies reporting around $10 million in sales to those reporting more than $10 billion. The $10 billion marker lands you in the big leagues. That claim to fame is reserved for only eight of the Top 100: The Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé, Diageo, Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller, Interbrew, Heineken NV and PepsiCo. For five of those companies, beer is a major revenue generator, but it is not part of the mix at all for No. 1 place-holder, Coca-Cola, which had $23.1 billion in sales.
But even landing at No. 100 on this list is a big distinction, and the company representing the mean on the list was $207 million.
Falling in line
The names in the first few slots on the Top 100 haven’t changed much from year to year. For the last three years running it’s been the same four companies lining up on the front lines: The Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé, Diageo and Anheuser-Busch.
But companies farther down the list also are making news. Internal reorganization continues at Miller Brewing Co. in the United States following South African Breweries’ 2002 acquisition of Miller. Greater marketing focus and closer ties with distributors are credited for some of its 2005 success. SABMiller added $1.9 billion in 2005 to report $14.5 billion in sales, compared with $12.6 billion in 2004.
Similarly, InBev is now realizing the full benefits of its merger. Last year marked the first full year of combined operations following the 2004 merger of Interbrew and Am Bev (Companhia de Bebidas das Americas). InBev jumped an extra $2.2 billion in 2005, reporting $13.8 billion in 2005 sales compared with $11.6 in 2004.
New York state of mind
New York is the state that the greatest number of beverage companies on the Top 100 call home. Twelve companies have headquarters there. Actually the entire East Coast rates high for headquarters; 35 of the Top 100 companies reside on the East Coast.
Behind the numbers
While Coca-Cola Co. maintained its No.1 spot this year, PepsiCo made a huge advancement toward the end of the 2005 when, on Dec. 12, its market capitalization moved ahead of Coca-Cola’s for the first time.
That day, Pepsi closed up 31 cents at $59.31 to give it a market capitalization of $98.4 billion: Coca-Cola closed down 36 cents to $41.15 for a market capitalization of $97.9 billion. The five-year trend shows Pepsi stock rising by more than a third compared with Coca-Cola stock falling 30 percent.
Wall Street analysts report the shift reflects investors’ preferences for Pepsi’s more diversified portfolio of beverage and snack brands. Analysts also credit Pepsi with embracing sports drinks and water earlier on than Coca-Cola.
Undeniably, however, Coca-Cola continues to sell more beverages. Suffice it to say, the famous rivals are now more competitive than ever.
This year’s list continues to follow recent trends of companies being bought, merged or otherwise transforming themselves. Here are the changes that stand out on this year’s Top 100:
No. 3 - Diageo: Acquired California winemaker The Chalone Wine Group in 2004, boosting its presence in the U.S. market with wider distribution.
No. 9 - Pernod-Ricard: Purchased Allied Domecq in 2005 after a bidding war with its competitors. The move launched the company into the No. 2 spot in the spirits industry.
No. 12 - Molson Coors: 2005 marked the first year as a new company following the merger of Adolph Coors Co. and Molson Inc. in 2004. The company reported a 27.9 percent increase in sales for 2005.
No. 15 - Constellation Brands: Upped its wine portfolio with the acquisition of The Robert Mondavi Corp. in the last days of 2004 on top of taking a 40 percent ownership stake in Italian winery Ruffino that year. Both contributed to a 15 percent increase in net sales last year and took the company to more than $4 billion in sales for the first time.
No. 57 - Apple & Eve: Bought Northland Cranberries’ branded juice business in 2005, making it the leader in 100 percent cranberry juice products. The deal included a supply agreement for Northland, which continues to operate as a grower.
No. 63 - Cruzan International: Changed its name from Todhunter International to Cruzan International in 2005 to emphasize its leading rum brand, Cruzan. The company makes its final appearance on this year’s list, as it announced last fall that it would become part of Absolut Spirits Co.
Being the top dog
Executives at No. 1 Coca-Cola may not get the same kind of paparazzi attention as Britney Spears, but the company is definitely hounded by competition. Not to mention that when you are already the powerhouse, it’s a lot tougher to keep racking up the increases year over year.
Coca-Cola managed to do it last year, adding an extra $1.2 billion in 2005 sales vs. 2004. The company credits the increase to its efforts to stabilize share in the RTD segment (after losing share the prior year) and growing sports, juice and water worldwide. On the flip side, it lost worldwide share in teas and coffees last year. The response to that: “… improvement is a key focus for 2006.”
Like many of the brands in our Top 100, the Starbucks name carries a lot of leverage with consumers. It’s not merely trendy, it’s become part of pop culture and it is extending its influence beyond the coffee shop.
Starbucks now has an entertainment division, Starbucks Entertainment, that’s designed to create marketing ventures to link the brand with films, music and books — in some cases with a financial stake for Starbucks. The company’s first film deal was backing Lionsgate’s Akeelah and the Bee (the equity stake was not disclosed), released this spring.
Chairman Howard Schultz recently told USA Today, “Our customers have given us permission to extend the experience.”
Strengthening the Bull
Red Bull has been steadily climbing the Top 100 list, with enviable sales gains — an accomplishment made even more significant considering all of its sales stem from just one brand and two products, a regular and sugar-free version. Last year, sales grew 28.9 percent to land the company at $2.5 billion.
This summer, the company plans to add one more variation to its mix … a larger 16.6-ounce version of the product is being tested in Las Vegas. While many competitors have launched comparable energy drinks at this larger size (as opposed to the traditional 8-ounce energy drink size) with price points hovering around CSD prices, Red Bull is pricing its 16.6-ounce product at $3.59. “We want to see the impact of a premium-priced 16-ounce product on the overall category,” says Red Bull spokesperson Patrice Radden.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Beverage Industry