News Briefs

The European Commission has fined Groupe Danone 1.5 million euros and Heineken 1 million euros for colluding to control the wholesale beer market in France. The case, which began in 1996, alleges that the two companies devised, but did not put into action, a plan to balance the volume of beer distributed through their integrated networks and limit acquisition costs of wholesalers.
Foodservice company AFM Inc., Orlando, Fla., has established a wine and spirits division, headed by Don Shaver and Tim Moreno. The company says the new division will be able to develop complete beverage programs to fit the themes of bars, restaurants, nightclubs or hotel accounts, train staff members and print menus. It also is building an off-premise team that will consist of a director of off-premise and key off-premise sales representatives in Tampa, south Florida, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.
Vermont Pure Holdings has acquired bottled water distributor Evans Quality Coffee Service of New England, based in Dedham, Mass. The company has made five similar acquisitions this year, and Evans will further its development in the Boston metropolitan market.
The Pepsi Bottling Group, Somers, N.Y., has formed a seven-year partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso, including exclusive vending, retail and pouring rights at Sun Bowl Stadium and all university locations. The college is a major urban research university, with a majority Mexican-American population and 19,000 students.
Anheuser-Busch has signed Budweiser as the official international beer sponsor for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. As part of the agreement, the company will have rights to use the Olympic Games logo for promotional purposes in China and 29 other countries. Anheuser-Busch says China is its most important international market, and it plans to use the official marks on packaging, point-of-sale materials, sales promotions and branded merchandise.
The Coca-Cola Co. has signed an exclusive three-year agreement with AirTran Airways to serve its carbonated soft drinks, Dasani water, Seagram’s non-alcoholic mixers and Minute Maid juices on all flights. The agreement builds on an 11-year partnership between the two companies and covers all the airline’s non-alcoholic beverages.
Opici Import Co., Glen Rock, N.J., will import, distribute and market Cheviot Bridge PTY’s Long Flat Wine Group portfolio in the United States. The deal, which is the first Australian addition to Opici’s line-up, also includes the Thirsty Lizard and Kissing Bridge brands, and will add approximately 55,000 cases to the company’s business.
Diageo and Moët Hennessy have named Century Wine & Spirits a strategic distributor of the companies’ wine and spirits brands in Delaware. Similar agreements were formed with North-west Beverages of North Dakota, Famous Brands/Western Wholesale of South Dakota and Ben Arnold-Sunbelt in South Carolina. To date, Diageo has selected strategic distribution partners in 38 states and the District of Columbia, representing 80 percent of its business.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments reviewing Michigan and New York direct shipping decisions Dec. 7.
M2P Capital LLC and Norwest Equity Partners have purchased Deep Rock Water Co., Denver. The new owners say they intend to provide the resources needed to expand the Deep Rock bottled water business in new and existing markets. Deep Rock has production facilities in Denver and Grand Junction, Colo., and Omaha, Neb., with customer sales and service centers in Colorado Springs, Fort Lupton and Avon, Colo. Its Minnesota division, Glenwood Inglewood, has a facility in Minneapolis. The company’s products are distributed in 12 states.
The Distilled Spirits Council, in cooperation with Historic Mount Vernon, has created a new distilling museum at George Washington’s Distillery. The museum will be part of the American Whiskey Trail, a national cultural heritage and tourism initiative showcasing historic sites and museums in five states related to whiskey and distilling.
Abbott Labs has announced plans to acquire nutritional supplement-maker EAS Inc. from North Castle Partners for $320 million. Originally considered a bodybuilder’s supplement, EAS has gone more mainstream, manufacturing shakes, protein drinks and nutritional bars. Brands include AdvantEdge, Myoplex and Body for Life. Abbott says the acquisition will give it entry to the healthy-living consumer market. Other companies that reportedly considered buying EAS, which has about $300 million in annual sales, include Nestlé, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods and Kellogg.
Southern Wine & Spirits of America has acquired Premier Wine & Spirits of New York, including Letchworth Wine & Spirits in western New York. In a statement, Southern Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Harvey Chaplin said Marc Taub, chairman and founder of Premier Wine & Spirits, will continue with the organization “as a strategic part of our new management team.”
America’s Second Harvest named The Coca-Cola Co. Donor of the Year at its recent annual conference. Part of its Hunger Hope Awards, the National Retailer of the Year Award went to Albertson’s for the second year in a row, and a distinguished service award was given to the Food Bank for New York City.
The Coca-Cola Co. received its award for distribution more than 16 million pounds of food and beverages, including Minute Maid, Powerade, Dasani, Fruitopia, Nestea and Hi-C to more than 128 member food banks around the country. The company procured shipping when Second Harvest was faced with transportation limitations, and was one of the first companies to use the association’s DonorExpress online donation system.