Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Rethinking coffee

February 20th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Is coffee about to become as much a cold drink as a hot drink ?

Two recent acquisitions suggest the future of iced coffee could be about to heat up.

Iced coffee has been gaining ground, especially in the United States. It sells at a premium price and has outpaced many other drinks. But its global sales are still relatively niche.

Then along comes the new beverage shake up group of JAB and Mondelez to merge Keurig with Dr Pepper Snapple for $18.7 billion.

One of the reasons put forward by JAB was: “An increasing percentage of coffee is being drunk by millennials – as cold brew or ready-to-drink… For us to be a broad player in the coffee industry, we have to have access to distribution capabilities to tackle these segments.”

This was just after Vietnam’s Masan had spent $75 million on a similar move to buy the remaining 31.5% of Vinacafe. Masan already markets a coffee energy drink called Wake-up 247.

Personally, I’ve been more impressed in the past by the advance of iced teas, but iced coffee is beginning to achieve new appeal, most notably with the smoother taste of cold brewing.

It is no coincidence that Zenith has just issued a new report on ready to drink Coffee Innovation. For further details, go to www.zenithglobal.com

Cow urine as health drink

February 15th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

I’m just back from a week in India preparing to organise the first India Beverages Congress.

India is on fine form, with a golden economic decade or more in prospect.

I did not, however, expect to open my copy of The Times of India on 6th February and read of another golden opportunity.

The Principal and Superintendent of the Uttar Pradesh Government’s Ayurveda College and Hospital has announced plans to “collect, process and sell packaged bottles of cow urine as a health drink.

“Drinking 10ml to 20ml cow urine daily will act as a preventive against seasonal diseases like liver, cough and stomach-related ailments. Daily consumption … will also help increase people’s immunity.”

I wonder whether we’ll have to include this innovation in the Congress programme.

63 acquisitions in January

February 13th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

January was a bumper month for food and drink industry transactions, with 63 recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database.

5 deals over $1 billion had a combined value of $61.5 billion:

• $30,000 million in agribusiness for Archer Daniels Midland to buy Bunge in the United States

• $18,700 million for Luxembourg’s JAB Holdings to merge Keurig Green Mountain coffee with Dr Pepper Snapple soft drinks in the United States

• $5,100 million in spirits for Bermuda’s Bacardi to purchase the remainder of Mexico’s Patron

• $4,900 million in packaging for WestRock to take on Kapstone in the United States

• $2,800 million for Italy’s Ferrero to gain Nestlé’s confectionery business.

The spread among the 63 total was broader than usual, with 11 in alcohol, 7 in dairy, 5 in confectionery, 4 in soft drinks, 4 in services and 3 each in equipment, general food, ingredients, nutrition and plant-based.

29 were within national borders, with 19 of these in the United States, 4 in the United Kingdom and 3 in Spain.

34 were international, involving 32 countries.

Of the 63, 29 featured the United States, 11 the United Kingdom, 6 Spain, 5 Switzerland and 4 Italy.

Many companies are exploring new ways to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials and waste.

I am still hesitant about bio-degradable packaging because it can’t be recycled, it takes years to degrade and it might discourage consumers from collecting used packs.

I am much more in favour of bio-based materials, which are derived from food or plant waste.

At present, there are various examples of 30% plant-based PET bottles which can be fully recycled, but none that is 100% plant-based. The technology exists, but not as a commercially viable proposition.

Japan’s Suntory is seeking to do just that. Last month it invested $9 million in a sustainable technology company called Anellotech.

Anellotech is aiming to produce cost-competitive new materials from non-food biomass that will not only enable the commercial development of 100% plant-based PET bottles but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The target is to have multiple plants in commercial scale operation within 10 years. I’d say we could all benefit from this investment.

Coca-Cola’s ‘World without Waste’ initiative this month is the third set of challenging sustainability goals I feel I should commend. The scale must be without parallel.

• By 2030, Coca-Cola will collect and recycle as many packs as it sells. Currently, it is reported to fill 120 billion bottles a year.

• By then, its plastic bottles will have 50% recycled content, a huge increase from the current 7% average.

• I’m delighted Coca-Cola is persevering with its PlantBottles, which have 30% plant-based content and could become entirely plant-based.

Poor recycling rates remain a global problem, but the example of Mexico shows what can be achieved by industry leadership and co-operation. Collection rates there have increased from 9% in 2002 to 60% today. Yet in the United States, the figure for PET bottles is just 30%.

Responsible business – Evian

January 25th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

In some ways, Evian’s new environmental aspirations are the most astonishing so far this year.

Last autumn, Danone publicised plans to make Evian a global carbon neutral brand by 2020.

I visited its spectacular new production facilities earlier this month and am delighted the wider industry will have a chance to make a tour during our next Global Bottled Water Congress from 22nd to 24th October.

What took my breath away in last week’s announcement was the plan to make all plastic bottles from 100% recycled content by 2025. That’s 100% recycled and 100% recyclable again – the circular economy’s ultimate goal.

This will not be easy to achieve. It requires far higher collection and recycling as well as more consistent quality than is possible today. It may also be significantly more expensive.

Currently, Evian PET bottles typically have 25% recycled content and this level is quite common for soft drinks and water producers, even if rarely publicised.


We’re just 3 weeks into 2018 and we’ve already seen a succession of major businesses setting out new social responsibility targets.

One programme that impressed me was from leading UK soft drinks producer and Pepsi partner Britvic. The main attractions were the breadth of its ambitions as well as some demanding short term goals for 2020:

• Zero waste to landfill from manufacturing.
• 15% carbon emission reduction relative to production from 2016.
• 15% recycled PET content across British product portfolio.
• 20% average calorie reduction per serving.
• 35% reduction in water usage to 1.4 litres per litre of beverage produced.
• 40% of leadership roles to be held by women.

Among other interesting insights about how the company has adapted to changing social priorities, 72% of its UK portfolio and 94% of Britvic owned brands will escape the new sugar tax from April 2018.

Out of a record 727 food and drink transactions covered by the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database for 2017, 33 involved sums over $1,000 million. This was higher than in each of the previous 5 years, except 2014.


Global Food and Drink Acquisitions Over $1 Billion 2012-17

Sources: bevblog.net, Zenith Global


Top 10 Global Food and Drink Transactions 2017

Sources: bevblog.net, Zenith Global

The $77 billion combined value of the top 10 was under half the $171 billion for the top 10 of 2016 and under a quarter of the $365 billion for the top 10 of 2015, but more than the $68 billion for the top 10 of 2014.

The 33 over $1 billion totalled $115 billion, compared with $190 billion for the 22 over $1 billion in 2016, $403 billion for the 27 over $1 billion in 2015 and $108 billion for 35 over $1 billion in 2014.

Link to database