Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Last year I discussed the water export bans from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman. At BevME in December, I took that theme further and gave a presentation on my view of what the future holds. Here’s a summary:

There have been bans on exporting water from Saudi Arabia and UAE since September, and there is also now a ban on exporting produce grown in open fields from Saudi Arabia. I think this gives an indication of what the future holds.

Water exports are obvious. You can actually see the water leaving the country. The term ‘virtual water’ is now often used to describe the water used in the production of a product, and this is much less obvious. The virtual water in a tomato, for example, is not just the water physically in the fruit as it is exported, which is small. It includes all the water used to irrigate the tomato field which is lost through evaporation. A very rough back of the envelope estimate is that a single tomato can contain up to 13 litres of virtual water. So, the impact of ceasing exports of just a single tomato is that 13 litres of water are available for another use.

I believe that decisions like this will be made more and more often, particularly in Middle East where most countries are in the top 20 ranking of water stressed countries. It is not straightforward to calculate the virtual water content of individual products, but what is clear is that countries like Saudi Arabia are taking the issue of water seriously. At the Saudi Water and Power Forum in Jeddah last December, there was even discussion about stopping centre pivot irrigation systems. The impact on food production would be significant. The very fact that such a debate is being held gives some indication of the pressures on groundwater in this rapidly developing and arid region.

Dr Ric Horobin

Water & Environment Director at Zenith International

I’d love to hear your comments and views. Follow me on twitter @riczenith.

Alternatively if you’d like to contact me directly regarding how we at Zenith International can help your business email me: rhorobin@zenithinternational.com.


March 18th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Society - (0 Comments)

So Coke is the number one brand on Facebook with 22.5 million fans.  Red Bull is the only other beverage in the top ten – in 5th place with 15.2 million fans.

Starbucks is second on 19.6 million and Disney third on 17.1 million.

All too often I read something of interest, put it on one side for future reference and weeks pass by before I return to it. This story crossed my desk earlier in the month.

A bottle of Coca-Cola sold for a staggering $35.36 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. That’s quite a premium, even for the world’s most valuable brand.

The added value came from its co-branding with another premium producer, Andy Warhol, who painted it. And the picture wasn’t even in colour.


September 10th, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Society - (0 Comments)

Indeed. 2,779 per month. About 6 per hour. That’s how many text messages are sent or received by American consumers under the age of 18, according to research by Nielsen covering April 2009 to March 2010.

In contrast, consumers over 65 average 32 texts per month. Women text 34% more than men. African-Americans 38% more than Caucasians.

Two observations … How the world has changed. How do those kids find the time ?


September 8th, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Society - (0 Comments)

Some quotes to savour:

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind” – Henry James, the novelist.

“Kindness = Repeat business = Profit” – Tom Peters, management guru.
“Hard is soft. Soft is hard” – In search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman.

“We don’t take people to the elevator – we take them down to the street” – David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising.

I rarely read management books. I rely more on experience and instinct. But I check against summary articles. These quotes really struck a chord. Other key words for me are courtesy, service, imagination and value.

What are yours ? I’d be most interested.

In terms of values, Zenith’s are expertise, excellence, challenge and partnership. I refer to them in making any serious business decision.

These musings were prompted by an article in the Financial Times on 24th August. For more, go to http://www.tompeters.com/ or read his new book The Little BIG Things.

In the past year or so, I have included a slide in some of my presentations, putting forward seven prerequisites for future brand success in soft drinks – taste, value, natural, health, benefit, integrity and personal.

The greatest of these in the long term is individual emotion. It must seem silly to many people that branding might be all about love and happiness, but more of the latest research and strategies bear this out.

Take, for instance, Coca-Cola’s new Open Happiness campaign and its recent Happiness Barometer study of 12,500 consumers across 16 countries and 4 continents. Regulars of my blog will know that I like numbers that come to life and these really do.

  • The six happiest countries were Mexico, Philippines, Argentina, South Africa, Romania and United States.
  • A high average 67% are generally satisfied with their lives – 71% of teenagers compared with 66% of those over 40.
  • 77% derive more happiness from direct contact with family and partners than from the virtual world of watching tv, connecting online and receiving texts.
  • To cheer us up, 38% turn to a night out with friends and 22% go for a simple hug.
  • Retail therapy works for 25% of women but only 10% of men.
  • 56% cited the taste of Coca-Cola as something that makes them smile. 12% mentioned meeting the love of their life.

The real thing can have many meanings. Is it love or statistics that are in the eye of the beholder ?


June 1st, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Society - (0 Comments)

34% of Britons pack tea bags when they travel on holiday and 19% take coffee. This is higher even than confectionery at 17%.

The figures are based on a survey of 2,324 members by Which? Holiday in March 2010 and published in the June issue of Which? magazine.


May 19th, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Events | Society | Soft drinks - (0 Comments)

Conferences are great places to pick up unexpected new insights. At last week’s UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference, I learned a lot about British shopping habits from Sarah Mitson of TNS.

  • The main weekly shop takes an average 50 minutes and involves 66 items being purchased.
  • Top up visits average 20 minutes for 13 items.
  • 81% of supermarket trips today are for top up visits, not the main weekly shop.
  • Top up shopping accounts for 39% of supermarket value sales.
  • 25% of shoppers say they walk through the entire store, but in-store cameras show only 2% cover more than half the store.
  • Eye level is not the optimum shelf for display, because our eyes are normally angled 15-30% downwards.