Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Beyond milk

November 14th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

An article in the Wall Street Journal on 1 November offered some great insights into shifts in US beverage consumption patterns, especially milk.

According to Dairy Management Inc …

• 94% of US households stock milk.

• 2018 consumption totalled 3.5 billion gallons, 13.25 billion litres.

• That’s 9% less than in 2014, a drop of 330 million gallons, 1.25 billion litres.

• Plant-based milks have only gained 60 million gallons of that, 225 million litres.

• “We’re losing over 50% to bottled water … No 2 is ready-to-drink coffee.”

• Eating less breakfast cereals accounts for 25% of milk’s decline.

• In the past year, whole milk sales are up 2.5%, while low fat milks are down 4.4%.

According to IRI research, the leading brands by market share are:

Fairlife sales have now risen to $450 million.

60 acquisitions in October

November 12th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

October was not an outstanding month for food and drink transactions, with 60 recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database, including 2 with a value over $500 million:

• 888 million euros for the packaging IPO of a 28% stake in Verallia of France

• $932 million in ingredients for One Rock private equity to buy Innophos in the United States.

Of the 60 total, 7 were in ingredients, 7 in soft drinks, 6 in alcohol, 5 in dairy, 5 in packaging, 4 in bakery and 4 in hot drinks. The combined free from number was 8 including 3 dairy-free and 2 meat-free.

10 were funding round investments.

34 were within national borders, 18 of these in the United States, 9 in the United Kingdom, 3 in Canada and 3 in France. 26 were international, involving 23 countries.

Among the 58, the United States figured in 28, the United Kingdom in 13, France in 7 and Ireland in 4.

Can recycling record

November 7th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Can recycling in Europe reached record levels in the latest annual statistics, an average 74.5% in 2017, up from 72.8% in 2016. I’m delighted.

• The total was 31 billion cans.

• They weighed 420,000 tonnes.

• 6 countries achieved rates of 95% or more:

99% Germany

98% Belgium, Finland, Norway

96% Luxembourg

95% Lithuania

• Recycling aluminium uses 95% less energy than new aluminium and produces 95% less greenhouse gas emissions.

• Good deposit return schemes are said to “generate the best results.”

• 6 countries achieved rates below 50%:

43% Latvia, Portugal

40% Czech Republic

38% Hungary

36% Romania

30% Malta

As the song goes, ‘Things Can Only Get Better.’

Plastic in perspective

November 5th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

The one thing missing from most of the current debate on plastic is perspective. I’ve written about this before, but feel prompted to do so again by some plain talking common sense from Coca-Cola’s Chief Executive James Quincey.

He was speaking to my colleague Duane Stanford as Executive Editor of Beverage Digest and will also be addressing our New York Future Smarts Conference on 9 December. Asked whether recycling or materials technology are the solution to plastic waste, he said:

“Both … require the same initial step, which is collection.

“A circular economy on plastic has a lower carbon footprint than aluminium or glass.

“The first thing you want is to be in plastics that have an intrinsic value … they can be reused or recycled. Many forms can’t and we want to get out of those.

“With no new technology, if we collect the bottles, we can make new bottles. This problem can be solved without new technology.

“There are some new technologies that are going to make recycling even easier.

“If someone could come up with a way of having a biodegradable plastic bottle that didn’t just break down into smaller bits of plastic, but truly, truly broke down, that would be interesting.

“The lowest carbon footprint will still be the idea of collecting the plastic back and making new plastic out of it.

“It’s not just about waste, which is the visible problem, it’s ultimately going to be about carbon footprint.”

Such clarity is rare.

Consumer attitudes to water

October 17th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

10 questions were asked of 1,053 British consumers recently and the analysis was published online by The Grocer. In summary:

• Nearly 9 out of 10 people of all ages drink tap water, 7 out of 10 every day.

• 7 out of 10 people now consume bottled water, led by 76% of 25-34 year olds.

• 65% are influenced by price, compared with 38% by taste, 29% by brand, 27% by sustainability and 20% by source.

• Younger people are far more brand loyal – 52% aged 18-24, falling to 31% aged 55-64.

• 55% pay little or no attention to minerals.

• 42% of women and 34% of men “believe bottled water is a big cause of environmental problems”.

• 47% don’t find it easy to recycle when consuming on the go.

• There is no consensus on the most sustainable material, with 28% saying glass, 27% for recycled plastic, 13% for aluminium cans, 11% for paper-based plastic and 14% saying there’s no difference.

• 31% of Londoners worry about what tap water contains, while 30% feel tap water is just as good as bottled.

• 55% are not worried about nitrates in tap water.

63 acquisitions in September

October 15th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

More than 2 transactions per day is becoming increasingly common, with 63 recorded on the bevblog.net database of food and beverage mergers and acquisitions during September.

3 were worth over $1,000 million and 1 more over $500 million:

• $5,000 million in beer for the Hong Kong IPO of a stake in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Asia unit

• €1,150 million in packaging for Japan’s DIC to buy German BASF’s global pigments business

• $1,000 million in infant nutrition for China’s Mengniu to gain Bellamy’s of Australia

• £517 million in seafood for Denmark’s Bakkafrost to take over the Scottish Salmon Company.

Of the 62, 7 were in alcohol, 6 in packaging, 5 in ingredients, 5 in nutrition, 4 in dairy, 4 in dairy-free and 4 in soft drinks. This is the first time dairy-free has reached as many as 4 and as many as dairy. The total for plant-based dairy, meat and seafood was 6.

27 were inside national borders, 21 of these in the United States and 5 in the United Kingdom. 36 were international, involving 25 countries.

Of the 63, the United States played a part in 36, the United Kingdom in 12, Australia in 4, Germany in 4 and the Netherlands in 4.

Reality checks for obesity

October 10th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

While on the topic of obesity, more UK research throws light on what might work better.

A study published in the British Medical Journal last month indicated that a 20% tax on sugary foods would be far more effective than a 20% tax on sugary drinks.

The finding was based on a comprehensive model using Government data. It showed:

• “Increasing the price of biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets by 20% would reduce annual average energy intake by around 8,900 calories, leading to an average weight loss of 1.3kg over one year.”

• “A similar price increase on sugary drinks would result in an average weight loss of just 203g over one year.”

Sugar sweetened beverages were assessed as contributing 2% of total energy and 11% of free sugar intake. Biscuits, cakes and confectionery add up to 12% of total energy and 26% of free sugar intake.

Unfortunately, voluntary UK Government schemes have yet to make much impact on confectionery. Breakfast cereals and yogurts are on track to reach the 20% sugar reduction target in 2020, but confectionery has achieved only 2% so far.

Ironically, the combined impact of all Government measures to date, including the soft drinks industry levy and the voluntary sugar reduction programme, have not prevented overall sugar consumption in England from rising.

According to a report from Public Health England: “Overall the total tonnes of sugar sold in foods included in the reformulation programme from the in-home sector has increased by 2.6% between 2015 and 2018 (excluding cakes and morning goods).”

Something else has got to give.

UK soft drinks tax update

October 8th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Three conclusions can be drawn from the latest news on the UK soft drinks sugar levy introduced in April 2018.

• It is raising a lot of money for government spending.

• It has helped reduce the sugar content of soft drinks.

• It has contributed to no discernible reduction in obesity.

Over the four tax years 2020/21 to 2023/2024, the UK Government expects to collect another £1,370 million. None of this, however, is guaranteed to help school sports or other obesity measures.

According to Public Health England, sugar levels in UK soft drinks have fallen by 29% in ‘private label and manufacturer-branded soft drinks,’ but “without reducing soft drink sales.”

Research from Kantar Worldpanel finds that soft drinks now ‘make a 7.7% contribution to take-home sugar in the UK.’

The British Soft Drinks Association asserts that “no evidence has yet been presented indicating that the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has had an impact on obesity levels”.