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Alcohol sales thrive in hard times [06/09/2011]

Alcohol sales climbed with little interruption throughout the recent recession, and have continued to expand in recent months.

This is in spite of -- or maybe because of -- the stagnant job market. So the old adage -- that the booze industry survives in a recession because people drink even when they're broke -- appears to be true.

    "I wouldn't say it's recession proof," said Esther Kwon, an alcohol industry analyst for Standard & Poor's. "People will buy less and they will move to different venues, meaning moving to home instead of a bar. But people will continue to drink, regardless."

Alcoholic beverage sales grew by nearly 10% during the 12 months ended May 31, according to financial information company Sageworks, even though the average unemployment rate during that time exceeded 9.3%.

Sales expanded more than 9% in 2008, the first full year of the recession, when the average unemployment rate was 5.8%. Sales slumped dramatically the following year, but were still 1% higher, as the unemployment rate shot up to about 9.3%.

In 2010, sales jumped more than 9% as unemployment grew to 9.6%.

"These numbers grew almost in spite of the recession," said Sageworks analyst Sam Zippin, noting health care was the only other industry to maintain growth through the recession. "Other than going to the doctor, [alcohol] is another need to have."
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It's not just the manufacturers who are benefiting. Sageworks found that other categories of the alcohol industry maintained growth throughout the recession, including retailers, wholesalers and bars.

Wine and spirits experienced uninterrupted growth, as did the high-end craft beers. The loser appears to be the so-called "legacy beers," including iconic brands such as Budweiser.

"It appears that some of the mass-produced beers, Coors and Budweiser, are getting squeezed," said Zippin. "[Consumers] are either going to really low cost beers, like PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), or they're going to the craft beers."

Coors Light, from Molson Coors Brewing, managed to carve out a sales gain of 1.1% in 2010, according to statistics from Standard & Poor's and the industry publication Beer Marketer's Insights. But sales for Miller High Life, also from Molson Coors, dropped more than 4% last year.

Sales for Budweiser, the flagship brand for Anheuser-Busch InBev Inc., plunged 7.3% in 2010, while Busch sales dropped more than 6%, Bud Light sales slipped nearly 2% and Natural Light fell 3%.

"The economy has been a major driver of declines within the industry," said Dave Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD). "The unemployment rate among core blue-collar beer drinkers remains three times that of more affluent, white-collar consumers."

Peacock said his company "remains focused on things we can control" and that "we feel good about our marketing and the plans we have in place for our brand portfolio."

Molson Coors was not available for comment.

But craft brewers have had a different experience. Sales at Boston Beer Co., (SAM) the maker of Samuel Adams and the market share leader in this category, edged up 1.7% in 2010, according to the S&P report.

Other craft brewers fared better last year, with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. increasing its sales by 7.8%, Magic Hat Brewing Co. gaining 14.8% and New Belgium Brewing Co. soaring 18.3%.
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"The craft beer costs more, but the consumers are saying, 'We're getting something different here and we're willing to pay for it,'" said Kwon.

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo., said that consumers are showing a preference for craft beer with stronger and more experimental flavors.

"A lot of beer drinkers are finding that they like hoppy beers," he said. "One of the more hop-influenced styles is India Pale Ale, and IPA is growing over 40% compared to a year ago."

Gatza said that craft brewers are also benefiting from the local loyalty of their consumers, who are willing to pay extra to support independent brewers in their own communities.

"The brewers are doing their part by putting out interesting quality beers," he said. "The consumers are doing their part by supporting local companies. Retailers are adding shelf space for craft brewers. It seems like things are running on all cylinders."

I made another cake...

Lyn belongs to our Diet Club and she was lamenting that she had gained weight.

She told us that she had made her family's favourite luscious cake over the weekend, and added that they'd eaten half of it at dinner that evening.

The next day, Lyn continued, she kept staring at the other half, until finally she cut a thin slice for herself. One slice led to another, and soon the whole cake had vanished.

She went on to tell us how upset she was with her lack of willpower, and how she knew her husband would be so disappointed. Everyone commiserated, until someone asked what her husband said when he found out.

Lyn smiled broadly and quipped, 'He never found out.  I made another cake and ate half of that too.'

The Italian cuisine

The Italian cuisine is one of the most varied cuisines.

 Italy was unified in1861, and the Italian cuisine was reflected  by the cultural variety of the regions in italy and by the Italian history, which was influenced from Greek, Roman, Norman and Arab civilizations. The Italian cuisine is considered as a prime example for a 'perfecto' cuisine, and is imitated all over the world.

Regional differences in the italian cuisine

The Roman cuisine for example usually uses sheep's cheese and organic meat , on the other hand, Tuscan cooking is using white beans and bread without salt.  In Rome the pizzas are very thin like crackers, and  Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas are thicker. than their counterparts.   The Northern Italian dishes are influenced by French cooking, because of the proximity of the French border. Emilia-Romagna is the number one with wheat production in italy, and is also known for their stuffed pasta. Napoli is considered as the home of pizza and mozarella.

Northern Italian cooking versus Southern Italian cooking

The northern and southern Italian cuisines are very different,  mainly because of the cooking fat and the style of pasta which is commonly used. The Northern Italian cuisine use butter, cream, Mascarpone cheese, risotto and fresh egg pasta, on the other hand, the southern Italian cuisine  use Mozarella cheese from buffalo, olive oil and dried pasta. The Southern Italian cuisine use larger amounts of tomatoes
 Every traditional Italian menu in every Italian Food Restaurant will probably consist of the following Italian Names

- Antipasto - these are hot and cold appetizers.
- Primo (The First Course), which usually consists some hot dish like pasta, risotto
  or soup. Usually there are also vegetarian options.
- Secondo (The Second Course), which is also the main dish, usually fish or meat,
  commonly veal is the used meat, although beef became popular since WWII and
  wild game is very popular, usually in Tuscany.
- Contorno (The Side Dish) usually is a salad or vegetables.
- Dolce, there is no better way to finish your meal by Dessert.

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