By James Atkinson

Lion executives have acknowledged they face an uphill battle to curtail parallel imports of their much coveted Corona brand, with the current exchange rate making the practice more attractive than ever before.

While liquor retailers consider parallel imports of Corona to be endemic, Lion CEO Rob Murray told TheShout that from the company's experience, they tend to peak out at 10 per cent of any brand's volume.

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"And with the current exchange rate, we're probably just going to have to live with that," said Murray, who spoke exclusively to TheShout last week.

"My working assumption is it will carry on to a certain extent, as it does on Heineken, as it does on Stella, many of the [imported] brands really."

But Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine managing director James Brindley told TheShout that Corona's previous distributor, Foster's, had demonstrated it was possible to have an impact on the trade.

"In the last six months they've done a really good job with Modelo in reducing parallel," he said.
"Of course, it's a global economy now and at $1.07 exchange rate there's always going to be opportunities… you can probably never eradicate it, but you want to minimise it."

Brindley said Lion actively works to reduce parallel imports of its brands by collecting product codes to send back to the brand owner, and lobbying health authorities to ensure they understand the problems associated with labels that have the codes scratched out and the labels missing.

"There's a real risk if a product explodes or is damaged and there's no code on it, there's no way to help that person," he said.

"It's not illegal to bring in other imports, but I think the legality comes into it in terms of obeying state and other food laws when there's no law to identify where it came from."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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