Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Author Archives: Richard Hall

About Richard Hall

Richard is an economist who was made a Director of the Dairy Trade Federation at 28 and has since become a world leading expert on the international food and drink sector. He regularly chairs industry conferences and client company strategy reviews. He is a respected presenter and writer of numerous industry and market studies. Email: rhall@zenithinternational.com or telephone +44 (0)1225 327900

Biggest buyers and sellers in 2018

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

Coca-Cola, Cavu, Kerry, Waterlogic, Archer Daniels Midland, FrieslandCampina, Heineken, JAB and Lactalis were the most acquisitive companies of 2018, according to the bevblog.net food and drink transactions database, with each responsible for 5 or more takeovers. Diageo, Krones, Nestlé, Oetker and Unilever all made 4 purchases.

Nestlé was only company to agree 5 or more sales, followed by Real Good Food and Tyson Foods on 4, then BRF on 3.

A total of 1,281 companies were involved across 66 countries, with the United States and United Kingdom most prominent overall.

France was again the biggest net buyer (+15), followed by Luxembourg (+10) and Denmark (+9).

The United Kingdom was the main net seller (-22), followed by the United States (-17) and Germany (-16).

Link to database




28 acquisitions over $1 billion in 2018

January 16th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Out of a record 777 food and drink transactions covered by the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database for 2018, 28 involved sums over $1,000 million. This was below the 33 recorded in 2017, but higher than the numbers for 2015 and 2016.

The $104 billion combined value of the top 10 was 36% higher than the $77 billion for the top 10 of 2017, but 39% lower than the $171 billion for the top 10 of 2016 and little more than a quarter of the $365 billion for the top 10 of 2015.

The 28 over $1 billion totalled $141 billion, compared with $115 billion for the 33 over $1 billion in 2017, $190 billion for the 22 over $1 billion in 2016 and $403 billion for the 27 over $1 billion in 2015.

Link to database


777 food and drink acquisitions in 2018

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

2018 was another record year for food and drink industry transactions, with 777 registered in the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database, an average of 15 each week.

The total is 48 more than in 2017 and 63% higher than five years ago. The number has increased every year since a dip in 2013.

The most active sectors were soft drinks on 65, ingredients on 62, dairy on 57, then packaging on 47. Wine on 37 was ahead of spirits on 29 and beer on 23.

The top 15 sectors were the same as 2017, with the exception of equipment replacing plant-based. The combination of plant-based with dairy-free, meat-free and vegan totalled 28. Bottled water and water coolers added up to 25.

The biggest increases were for services (+25) and confectionery (+13). Most of the main categories saw declines, led by beer (-17) and dairy (-15).

Link to database


69 acquisitions in December

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

2018 ended with 69 food and drink company transactions recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database in December.

Of these, two topped $1,000 million in value:

  • $3,800 million for Unilever to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s health food drinks portfolio
  • $1,000 million for US-based private equity firm Elliott to purchase 2.5% of Pernod Ricard.

Among the 69 total, 14 were in soft drinks, 10 in alcohol, 7 in dairy, 6 in ingredients and 5 in meat.

35 were inside individual countries and 34 international. The United States featured in 37 overall, the United Kingdom in 12, the Netherlands in 6, France in 5 and Canada in 4.

17 were funding rounds, 4 were plant-based and 2 were for online services. Emerging sectors represented included cannabidiol, insects and nootropics.

2018 – year of plastic, plant-based, instant delivery

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

In 25 years’ time, when people look back on 2018, what will they remember it for ? I believe there are three key changes, which accelerated to such an extent that 2018 will come to be regarded as a defining year.


The first is plastic. The entire world developed a consciousness not seen before about plastic. It was triggered in late 2017 by the television programme Blue Planet II, showing birds and fish choking on plastic.

There has been a flurry of activity, with multiple initiatives, but mostly disjointed. Many companies now have targets for 100% recyclability and have introduced a degree of recycled content. Some have gone further, aiming for 100% recycled content. Others are switching from single-use plastic cups and straws. Various governments are looking at legislation. But joined up thinking and action on collection and circular economy recycling is still a long way off across too much of the world.


The second is plant-based moving into the mainstream. Plant-based dairy alternatives have been growing for some time. 2018 was the year that plant-based meat alternatives came into the supermarket and fast food, because its texture and taste had finally become competitive. Flexitarianism is now commonplace and veganism is no longer the niche of extreme behaviour that some tried to dismiss.

Instant delivery

The third is the threat to the high street from online delivery. E-commerce has now been growing strongly for a number of years. But 2018 was the year that high street retailers could no longer cope in both the United Kingdom and United States. It’s true that this was more in non-food then food, but the message is clear. 2018 also saw more voice activated and same day delivery to the extent that it is bound to become more everyday.

Missing out

What didn’t happen in 2018 that might have ? Driverless vehicles and drone delivery are two that will. Blockchain is emerging fast, but bitcoin bit the dust. Cannabis seems high up there for the future. Personalised nutrition is increasingly on the way.

I wonder what 2019 will bring. I hope it brings all of you success and prosperity.


Public perceptions of packaging

December 18th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

How extraordinary. We may care more. But we may also misunderstand more.

A survey of 7,000 people across 7 European countries, commissioned by Pro Carton, came up with some remarkable findings.

The first is that people care a lot more about packaging than they did.

  • 68% said being environment friendly has become more important to them and their family over the past 5 years.
  • 74% said media coverage on packaging waste had influenced their purchasing habits.
  • 75% said the environmental impact of packaging affects their purchasing decisions.
  • 77% said they would pay more for packaging with less impact on the environment.
  • 90% want on-pack labelling about packaging’s environmental status.

The second is that substantial, but lower, numbers are more seriously interested in action that would affect them directly.

  • 58% said they would accept a tax to force the adoption of more environment friendly packaging.
  • 52% said they had switched brands or products because of packaging concerns, even though a much higher
  • 81% would prefer the same product in cardboard instead of plastic.

The most challenging, but not altogether surprising, findings were the strength of feeling in favour of cartons compared with all other packaging materials.

I’m sure the answers would have been different if the word ‘tin’ had been replaced by ‘aluminium/steel cans’. The plastic industry must clearly work hard to regain public support.

Top 10 e-commerce markets in 2023

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

Asia dominates the latest forecasts on grocery e-commerce expansion worldwide from IGD, the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

China comes out on top, with expected sales of almost $200 billion, nearly 4 times more than today.

South Korea is anticipated to have the highest online market penetration at 14.2% of overall grocery sales. This is said to be “due to the rising number of smaller households, widespread high speed internet access and high consumer confidence in making online payments.”

Other research by IGD earlier in 2018 would have put India in 7th place with $5.0 billion of online grocery sales by 2022 and Indonesia in 8th place with $4.5 billion.

IGD will be speaking at Zenith Global’s Global Beverage Insights day in London on 16th May 2019.

I reported on Tetra Pak’s e-commerce forecasts in my blog on 18th October.



47 acquisitions in October

December 11th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

A total of 47 food and drink industry transactions were recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database in October.

4 of these amounted to more than $500 million, with 2 above $1,000 million.

  • $1,840 million for South Korea’s CJ Cheiljedang to buy 80% of Schwan’s frozen food in the United States
  • $1,230 million for France’s Lactalis to purchase the natural cheese business of Kraft Heinz in Canada
  • $880 million for China’s Legend private equity firm to take 94.47% of Australis Seafoods in Chile
  • $550 million for US-based Sazerac to acquire 19 spirits brands from Diageo.

Of the 47, 8 were in alcohol, 4 each in bakery, services and soft drinks, then 3 each in dairy, ingredients and packaging.

28 were within national borders, 15 of these in the United States and 5 in the United Kingdom. 19 were international. 23 countries were involved overall.

22 featured the United States, followed by the United Kingdom on 9, France on 6, with China and Germany on 3 each.