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Beverage Business Insights

Bud Wholesalers Organizing to Win Better Monster Exit Terms Bridling at paltry buyout they can expect from soon-departing Monster Energy brand, group of Anheuser-Busch wholesalers are organizing to try to win improvements, tho so far they’re not showing their hand as to how they’ll accomplish that. In emails to fellow Bud distributors, organizers Jeff Vukelic of Saratoga Eagle in upstate NY and Jeff Gower of Wil Fischer in Springfield, Mo, are claiming “overwhelmingly positive” response to initial email sent out last week, and are now gathering signatures for cooperation agreement that precludes supporters from negotiating individual deals with Monster Beverage. Group will be managed by committee that so far includes just Vukelic and Gower but which will be expanded to include representative from each state where Bud wholesalers have come aboard. Per latest memo, terms of any ultimate deal would have to be approved by vote of all wholesalers, who’re being asked to contribute initial $2,500 to cover legal and other expenses. Agreement includes confidentiality clause to try to prevent leaks as strategy is developed. Effort is reminiscent of efforts by some Glaceau distributors to challenge buyout terms over transition of that brand to Coca-Cola back in 07; none is known to have prevailed in court challenges, but a few may have settled on slightly sweetened terms.

As reported, Monster Energy currently splits US between Bud shops and Coke bottlers but plans to migrate brand almost entirely to Coke network as it implements deal calling for investment by Coke in return for stake of co. Monster contract calls for buyout of just 1X gross profit, which Bud operators feel grossly undervalues their contribution to development of brand. “Simply stated, one times gross profit is not anywhere near the value of the brands,” Vukelic and Gower wrote in initial solicitation to fellow beer distributors last week. As earlier reported, departure of brand could severely weaken many Bud houses, to point of forcing some into sale or merger, some beer consultants have warned. Spectacular growth and margin of energy brands has enabled top brands Red Bull and Monster to negotiate uncommonly stingy agreements with indie distributors; if anything, Red Bull’s is worse than Monster’s, calling for no stipulated buyout even for terminations without cause.

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Here is some of the info BBI readers had access to recently:


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    • Ex-Fiji, Pabst Chief Cochran Back in NAs, at Helm of AquaHydrate; Rethinking Premise; Has Given Himself 8-10 Weeks to Take Hydration Brand 'from Good to Great'

    • Monster Outerforms Rivals on Volume, Price in Dec

    • Calypso Surpassed 2 Mil Cases in 2011; Boosts Chicago DSD Presence; Plans New Flavor

    • FANCY FOOD: Back in Juice Biz at Califia Farms, Steltenpohl Reflects on Odwalla, Adina Lessons; Warns Against Institutional Funding; Sees Opportunities in Local/Simple Nexus

    • Body Armor Investor Repole: 'Had to Be Something Special' to Re-Enter Bevs; Seeing Repeat Biz Already; Believes All-in-One Concept Makes It iPhone of Bevs

    • Adina Lays Off Sales Force while Continuing Search for New Partners

    • FANCY FOOD: Republic of Tea Changes Packs to Celebrate 20 Years; Enters Sweet Tea Realm; Plans Probiotic, Red-Wine-Extract Additions to Be Well Line for Expo West

    • PEOPLE: Kurtz Hits Ground Running at Bai; Body Armor Confirms 'Significant' Repole Investment

    • SPECIAL REPORT: Vita Coco May Approach $200M Sales in 2012; National Rollout Should Be Complete; Will Reassert Tropical Positioning, Dial Up Paid-Media Budget

    • RESEARCH: Clues Revealed on Why Coffee Cuts Risk of Diabetes

    • Anheuser-Busch Adds to Branch Network with Ore Deal; Keeps Monster, Outside Craft Brands

  • And much, much more!

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