Tag Archives: drinks

Armenia to drop cognac branding on brandy exports

YEREVAN/JUNE 10 2021 (The Bulletin) —  Armenia’s government agreed to stop marketing its premium brandy products to Europe as cognac from 2032, part of a trade deal that it signed with the EU four years ago.

The announcement that Armenia would finally drop using the cognac brand came 10 days after PM Nikol Pashinyan had been in Paris meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to lockdown France’s support for Armenia over its ongoing border rows with Azerbaijan. 

France, a key ally of Armenia, has been pushing for the cognac title to be used only by brandy produced in its Cognac region. In return for dropping the term cognac, the EU promised to spend 3m euro helping Armenia build up a new brand for its brandy exports to Europe.

The TASS news agency quoted Armenia’s deputy PM Mger Grigoryan as saying that a new brand for Armenian brandy had not yet been decided upon.

“I am not ready to disclose such details so far because major market players have no consensus so far,” He said.

Armenia had appeared to drag its feet over imposing a ban on the cognac branding after signing an Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU in 2017 that improves trade relations and enforces European standards. 

EU law protects regional names on European food and drink products, although Armenia will still be able to market its brandy as cognac in Cyrillic on bottles sold to Russia, its main export market. The EU struck a similar deal with Moldova in 2014 when it agreed to drop using the cognac term too. Premium Moldovan brandy is now called Divin.

Brandy is an important part of Armenia’s branding and it is famed across the former Soviet Union. Its most famous producer is the Yerevan Brandy Company which markets its products under the Ararat brand and is owned by France’s Pernod Ricard.


— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Coca-Cola to build new bottling plant in Azerbaijan

BAKU/FEB. 2 2021 (The Bulletin) —  Coca-Cola will build a new $30m bottling plant in Azerbaijan, a sign of confidence in a quick recovery from an economic downturn linked to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Media reports said that the new bottling plant will be built in either Ismayilli region or Gabala region and will create more than 100 jobs, adding to the, roughly, 300 people that Azerbaijan Coca-Cola Bottlers already employs.

Turkey’s Coca-Cola Icecek, which also has operations in Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, owns  Azerbaijan Coca-Cola Bottlers. The Turkish company that produces the Efes beer owns 50% of Coca-Cola Icecek and the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta also owns a 20% stake.


— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbekistan wants to sell stake in Coca Cola bottling plant

TASHKENT/JUNE 22 (The Bulletin) — the Uzbek government said it wanted to sell its 57% stake in its joint-venture with Coca-Cola, the largest soft drinks producer in Central Asia.

The sale of the two production plants in Uzbekistan, for an undeclared amount, highlights the government’s commitment to its much-vaunted privatisation process, a process that has touched most sectors of an economy that was once considered off-limits to foreign investors.

Uzbekistan’s State Asset Management Agency gave no other details on the potential sale but it is one of the country’s most-prized manufacturing assets and will attract interest.

In March, Coca-Cola said that it planned to invest $31m into the joint venture to “modernise and expand the production capacities of factories in Tashkent and Khorezm province”.

It also said in its statement at the time that it had increased capacity by more than a third in 2018 and by another third in 2019, reflecting large growth in the soft drinks market in Central Asia and also in Uzbekistan which has experienced an economic boom under Shavkat Mirziyoyev, president since 2016.

“According to the findings of the study conducted in 2019, the market is expected to grow by 1.8 times in the next 10 years due to the growth in population, income and the tourist inflow into the region,” Coca Cola said in its March statement.

This was shortly before the Uzbek government locked the country down to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Economists have said that the lockdown strategy, adopted by most countries, will tip Uzbekistan into a recession this year.

The sale of its stake in the Coca-Cola joint-venture is just the latest asset that the Uzbek government has put up for sale. Earlier this year it said that it wanted to find a foreign partner to run its airline, Uzbekistan Airways. It was unclear if a deal with Uzbekistan Airways may also involve selling off a stake.


— This story was first published in issue 451 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin on June 23 2020

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Value of Georgian wine exports rises 20%

JAN. 4 (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgia earned 20% more from wine exports, an important part of both its economy and national identity, in 2018 than in 2017, the Georgian National wine Agency said. Russia was once again the top importer of Georgian wine, followed by Ukraine and then China. Georgia earned $203m from wine exports in 2018. The total volume of exports increased by 13%. Georgian wine experts have said that China will become its biggest wine foreign wine market over the next decade.

>>This story was first published in issue 396 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 11 2019

Carlsberg expands production site in Kazakhstan

JAN. 8 (The Conway Bulletin) — Danish brewer Carlsberg increased its capacity at its plant in Kazakhstan by 20% in 2018, Victor Semak, head of Carlsberg in Kazakhstan, told the Trend news agency. The beer market, for on-trend craft ale and also for mainstream larger, in Central Asia and the South Caucasus has been growing. Mr Semak said that Carlsberg had a 41.2% share of the Kazakh beer market.

>>This story was first published in issue 396 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 11 2019

Alcohol ban imposed in Turkmenistan

JAN. 1 (The Conway Bulletin) — Turkmenistan imposed strict new alcohol laws on Jan. 1 that will outlaw alcoholic drinks on public transport and in sports centres. The sale of alcohol will also be banned altogether on national holidays. One characteristic of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s tenure as Turkmen president has been his emphasis on health edicts. He wants to ban smoking by 2025 and from 2021 restaurants and bars will be banned from selling alcohol at the weekend.

>>This story was first published in issue 396 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 11 2019

Armenian randy production soars

JAN 4 (The Conway Bulletin) — Brandy production in Armenia, something of a bellwether for the state of the wider FSU economy, increased by 41% between January and end-November to 27.9m litres, official statistics showed. This comes on top of a 27% increase for the same period in 2016 compared to 2015. Powered by Russia and oil prices, the FSU economies are recovering from a slump in 2014-16.

— This story was first published on Jan. 5 2018 in issue 356 of The Conway Bulletin

Russia’s Shokoladnitsa to open coffee shops in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT, MAY 26 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Highlighting an increase in coffee consumption across Central Asia and the South Caucasus, Russian coffee shop brand Shokoladnitsa said that it was working on a deal to open its first cafes in Uzbekistan and Georgia.

For Uzbekistan in particular, the opening of Shokoladnitsa branded coffee shops would herald a new era and open up opportunities for other companies looking to invest in Central Asia’s most populous country. There are currently no high street coffee shop chains in Uzbekistan. Uzbeks are also renowned for their love of sipping light green tea out of piala, a small handleless bowl, rather than drinking mugs of black coffee.

In an interview with the Russian-language Rambler website, Maxim Trubnikov, director of regional development and franchising at Shokoladnitsa, said he expected to open five shops in Uzbekistan and eight new shops in Kazakhstan.

“Currently, we are working with Georgia, Uzbekistan, negotiations are underway for the opening of the brand in Kazakhstan,” he said.

“I expect that we conclude the contracts in the coming months.”

Shokoladnitsa also owns the Coffee House and Wabi Sabi brands. It was one of the original coffee shop brands to expand across Russian, serving americanos and cappuccinos since 2000.

It already has franchises in Astana, Almaty, Yerevan and Baku. The coffee scene has become increasingly developed in Kazakhstan with the emergence of several coffee shop chains over the past few years, including Starbucks.

In Uzbekistan, a Bulletin correspondent said a coffee culture was slowly spreading through independent cafes in Tashkent but that tea was predominant.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 330, published on May 28 2017)


Georgian wine producers tap into Chinese market

TBILISI, MARCH 7 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Official data from Georgia showed that its wine producers exported 8.8m bottles of wine in January and February, nearly double the volume during the same period in 2016.

Wine is one of Georgia’s most important exports and the National Wine Agency said that the value of exports in January and February hit $20.5m. This puts Georgia on course for a record year and highlights the success of its export strategy. So successful has the marketing strategy become that rival winemaker Azerbaijan has pledged to mimic it.

Georgia’s wine industry has concentrated its efforts on breaking into new markets where drinkers are acquiring a taste for wine. Top of this list is China. Georgia sold nearly 832,000 bottles of wine to China in Jan. – Feb. and expects the Chinese market to become the second biggest, after Russia, by the end of the year, overtaking Ukraine.

The head of marketing at the Wine Agency, Irakli Cholobargia, said: “China as a market is one of the keys to drive volumes and serve as one of the alternatives to the Russian market on which we would like to be less dependent as far as unstable political relations are concerned.”

The boost in wine exports to China also vindicates advocates of a free-trade deal signed with China in Sept. 2016. Since then Georgian wine companies have signed a series of deals with Chinese companies, including a deal by Badagoni in Nov. 2016 to export 5m bottles of wine.

In 2016, Georgia’s overall exports rose by 38% to 50m bottles. Russia made up 27.2m of this total, Ukraine 8.8m and China 8.3m.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 320, published on March 13 2017)

Aliyev wants Azerbaijan to boost wine sales

FEB. 2 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Azerbaijan is producing only 20m bottles of wine per year, roughly a fifth of its capacity, media quoted President Ilham Aliyev as saying.

Mr Aliyev wants Azerbaijan to diversify away from oil and gas, which dominates the economy. The economy has taken a hit with the collapse in oil prices. He has previously highlighted the potential for growth in the hazelnut sector and now appears to have earmarked the wine-making industry for growth.

“Most of these plants were built in recent years. Major funds have been invested in them and modern equipment installed. How can it be possible for plants with a production capacity of 100m bottles to produce only 20m bottles of wine?” media quoted him as saying.

Georgia, which has a far more developed wine production and sales system, exports 50m bottles of wine every year. Most of the growth has come in China and other parts of the Far East.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 315, published on Feb. 3 2017)