Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

After 10 years of its Dairy Roadmap sustainability programme, the UK dairy industry has reported on its progress over that time.

The results are to be commended:

• 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from milk production

• 24% increase in water efficiency

• 18% uplift in energy efficiency

• 85% of HDPE milk containers now recycled

• almost 90% drop in waste to landfill from 35% to 4%.

Also of note:

• Dairy is the largest UK agricultural sector, accounting for 15% of output value, worth £8,800 million in wholesale sales and employing over 70,000 people.

• The UK dairy sector is no 3 in Europe and no 10 worldwide.

Despite their growth, plant-based alternatives to dairy are not as popular as might be expected, according to consumer research by Cargill, as published for the United States in the May 2018 edition of Dairy Foods.

• Just 13% of US consumers are dairy avoiders, with 10% limiting their consumption and only 3% consuming none at all.

• Only 12% prefer plant-based, with 8% also consuming dairy and 4% consuming just plant-based.

• A very substantial 42% consume both, with a further 24% having tried plant-based but disliking it and 21% never having tried it.

So plant-based still has some way to go.

Non-dairy growing faster

June 19th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Rabobank’s new report on dairy alternatives provides both insights and lessons for the dairy sector.

First, the insights:

• Dairy alternative global retail sales have been growing by 8% a year for the last 10 years and have now reached $15.6 billion.

• Dairy-free milk represents 12% of combined liquid sales.

• Dairy demand is growing at an overall rate of 2.5% a year, but drinking milk retail sales in West Europe have been falling by 3% a year to $18.6 billion and in the United States by 5% a year to $12.5 billion.

• 39% of dairy alternative sales are soy, with almond now up to a 68% share in the United States.

Second, the lessons:

• Dairy’s strengths are identified as nutritional value, clean label, natural fat, price competitiveness and taste.

• Dairy-free’s attractions include perceptions around health, sustainability, lifestyle choice and sustainability as well as curiosity.

• Nut allergies are seen as a possible concern, but many other alternatives are waiting in the wings – from barley, flax, oat and pea to canary grass, hemp and quinoa.

According to one estimate, it will take an investment of $449 billion a year to achieve the water availability targets set out by the United Nations for 2030.

Another estimate puts the total required at $6,700 billion.

Today, the World Health Organisation and Unicef calculate that 2.1 billion people still don’t have access to safe drinking water and 4.5 billion lack adequate sanitation.

The financial world is taking more note and some have gone so far as to characterise water as the ‘new oil’ or ‘blue gold’.

In fact, the Chief Executive of Suez has predicted that water ‘could become more valuable than oil’.

His assessment is a stark warning. “Companies will have to rely on wastewater recycling or desalination … If astronauts can drink their own recycled urine, then we can also drink treated waste water. From ‘toilet to tap’ is a challenge for the public to accept, whereas from ‘showers to flowers’ does appeal.”

I’ve always thought this will be increasingly reflected in the valuations of protected natural water sources, but possibly more in the long term than the short term.

Running out of water

June 12th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Well, Cape Town didn’t in the end.

Now satellite data from NASA on fresh water reserves has identified dozens of regions around the world at high risk, including the Middle East, the Caspian sea, northern India and north east China.

Out of 34 regions where there has been the greatest change in fresh water availability, human activity is the primary cause in 14 and climate is the primary cause in 8.

The Financial Times on 17th May noted that “prolonged droughts in California, eastern Brazil and the Middle East led to depleted groundwater reserves.”

An author of the study has concluded that “water insecurity is much closer than we think.”

When I was in Hong Kong last week, one of the regional newspapers charted the levels of water in all of Hong Kong’s reservoirs because of low rainfall in May. Reassuringly, it was raining as I left for the airport.

67 acquisitions in May

June 7th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

May was a massive month for food and drink transactions, with 67 being recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database. Do take a look at www.bevblog.net or www.zenithglobal.com.

6 deals topped $500 million, including 4 above $1,000 million and 2 over $5,000 million.

• At $7,150 million, Nestlé’s acquisition of Starbucks ready to drink retail rights outside its outlets was just ahead of

• $7,100 million was in ingredients for US-based IFF to buy Israel’s Frutarom.

• £1,500 million was the price agreed for UK-based Pret A Manger to move from Bridgepoint private equity to JAB Holdings.

• $1,000 million enabled Middleby to buy Taylor Company in equipment from United Technologies in the United States.

Of the 67 total, 8 were in ingredients, 7 in alcohol, 7 in soft drinks, 6 in dairy, 6 in packaging, 5 in snacks, 4 in equipment, 4 in nutrition and 4 in meat-free/vegan.

17 were funding rounds of some kind.

29 countries featured in May. 30 deals were within national borders, 23 of these in the United States. 37 were international.

Overall, the United States was involved in 36, the United Kingdom in 16, France in 6, the Netherlands in 5, Israel in 4, Germany in 3 and Switzerland in 3.

There are, of course, numerous alternatives to plastic already – paper, glass, metal and more. Plastic has many forms too. All have advantages and disadvantages.

I’ve noted four innovations in recent weeks that seem worthy of greater attention.

• In February, Tetra Pak announced it had produced 500 million beverage cartons entirely from renewable materials including the cap. The Tetra Rex bio-based cartons were introduced in October 2014, using paperboard certified by the Forest Sustainability Council and plastic caps derived from sugar cane.

• More companies are using opaque plant-based bottles that look like plastic, such as the US So Delicious Organic Almondmilk with Cashew launched in February. The bottle is 80% plant-based from sugar cane and can be recycled.

• Mondi has created a new recyclable plastic laminate, known as BarrierPack Recyclable, consisting of 2 PE film layers to make pouches.

• CCL Label has developed a new EcoSource label, which provides a bottle sleeve with up to 94% bio-based material.

Bio-based materials offer an increasingly important alternative to oil-based materials, if that’s what society chooses for the future.

BLOG-17MAY2018-1-Tetra Rex Bio-Based Cartons

BLOG-17MAY2018-2-So Delicious



One question I have often asked myself is what level of plastic collection and recycling would make it acceptable ?

Recent statistics from Germany’s Forum PET show that:

• Almost 99% of “mandatory PET deposit bottles are collected for recycling in Germany.”

• “93.5% of disposable and reusable bottles are recycled – and up to 98% for disposable deposit bottles.”

• “34% of the recycled material is processed into new PET bottles”, with packaging film using 27% and textile fibres 23%.

• 80% of the PET is recycled in Germany and the rest is exported to neighbouring countries rather than Asia.

One answer is for all countries to ensure as much as possible is both collected and recycled. That won’t halt the debate, but it will reduce the problem.