Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

In March, I wrote about the United Arab Emirates banning bottled water exports; this followed a similar ban in Saudi Arabia. It sounds like it might be spreading. Oman has announced that it is also looking at banning exports of bottled water.

Dr Abdullah bin Ali Al Hinai, Acting Director-General of Industry at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, gave details of the export volumes and short falls via the Oman News Agency*.

There are some interesting numbers here… The Director-General gives figures of 14 million litres of bottled water exported from Oman in 2010. This is just 10% of the volume exported from the UAE in the same year.  I’ve had a quick look at water use in Oman, where the total water use is estimated to be 1.5 billion cubic meters of water every year, increasing to 1.7 billion cubic meters by 2020. So bottled water exports represent just 0.001% of total water use.

Now, I raise this not in defence of an export ban of bottled water, but more to highlight the point that other industries that use significantly greater volumes of water, such as the dairy industry, may be targeted next. Bottled water is an obvious example of water being exported, however the water contained in other products (the virtual water) is much less obvious but may become significantly more important as pressure on resources increases. The consequences of this could be bans on exports of dairy products.

As always, i’ll be watching the next steps very closely.

Dr. Ric Horobin

Water & Environment Director at Zenith International

P.S. I’m sure this and other hot industry topics will be discussed at Zenith International’s upcoming Global Bottled Water Congress taking place from 8th – 10th October in Barcelona.  You can review the Congress and book your place online here.

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.

*Source: Times of Oman. You can read the full story here.



July 26th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Dairy - (0 Comments)

Here are four stories to illustrate how the world of dairy innovation is being pulled in all kinds of contrasting directions.

  • Chinese scientists are developing a genetically modified cows’ milk that could act as a substitute for human breast milk.


  • A US company has just launched Flaxmilk – an all natural dairy-free milk from flax oil with numerous health benefits.


  • Omega-3 is set to boom over the next few years, according to a new US study.


  • A Los Angeles school district is considering a ban on flavoured milks to help reduce childhood obesity.


At least diversity is natural, I suppose.



June 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Dairy - (0 Comments)

My blog a year ago about feta cheese and watermelon generated more comment on FoodBev.com than almost anything else I’ve written.

Well, I experienced another sensational new taste combination I had not tried before, while I was in St Petersburg for Zenith’s Global Dairy Congress.

Russian food has improved beyond measure since I first travelled there 40 years ago.  I especially enjoyed the pancake snacks and some very tender fish.

My new discovery, appropriately for a dairy week, came with a selection of cheeses for dessert.  In the middle of my plate was a small bowl of honey.  It was a treat.  Even with blue cheese.  And it beats jam, which is also becoming increasingly popular as a cheese accompaniment.

In fact, cheese is breaking into all kinds of new sweet dessert territory.  Another product I enjoyed more than I expected was a chocolate-coated cottage cheese snack bar from dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann.  What would the Danish Government say to that ?


June 14th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Dairy | Events - (0 Comments)

At last week’s Global Dairy Congress, one of the most keenly anticipated presentations was from dairy newcomer PepsiCo.  Indeed, following its acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann, PepsiCo now has a General Manager – Global Dairy.  What did Kim Small have to say ?  I hope she’ll forgive me if I’ve oversimplified.

  • PepsiCo’s new strategy revolves around four natural ingredients – fruits, whole grain, veggies and milk.
  • Innovation will take place across and between these product types.
  • Milk is seen as a nutrition powerhouse.
  • Emphasis will be placed on value added dairy, breakfast and snacking.


April 19th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Dairy - (0 Comments)

More national companies and brands are introducing local products with a personalised appeal.

French dairy Sodiaal is testing the limits of this idea with “Le lait de ma Région” under its Candia brand.

The four variants highlight their particular region of production and provide a photograph of a local farmer.

So, what did you make of the BBC Money Programme television series which finished last night?

I’m told the audiences were high, with 1.4 million watching the first episode on bottled water. The other two editions were on cereals a week ago and yogurt yesterday.

The main reaction I’ve had so far has been about a fairer balance than other broadcasts as well as good storylines, but I would certainly be interested to hear more.

Please do post any comments you might wish to add.

Now that PepsiCo has announced plans to buy 66% of the Wimm-Bill-Dann dairy and juice business in Russia, you can hear the strategy engine being revved up.

Chief pilot Indra Nooyi has already made it clear she wants to treble the group’s healthier products portfolio from $10 billion sales in 2010 to $30 billion by 2020. Wimm-Bill-Dann will ensure the plan(e) is ready for take off at the same time as ticking off many of the right boxes.

Russia is an emerging market. PepsiCo will become its leading food and drink player. Wimm-Bill-Dann has three main activities of dairy, beverages and baby food – all in the nutritional sweet spot. The company also has a very strong management team.
The dairy dimension is now a crucial part of the strategy. In the Financial Times, Indra Nooyi was reported as saying:

“Dairy has a huge untapped potential to bridge snacks and beverages. We see the emerging opportunity to ‘snackify’ beverages and ‘drinkify’ snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience.”

You can’t say you haven’t been told. I think I prefer the idea of snackification to drinkification.


December 1st, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Dairy | Health - (0 Comments)

Consumer instincts are generally very strong, but factual knowledge is sometimes extremely weak.

A recent survey of 3,000 UK consumers found that 86% could not estimate the correct fat content of semi-skimmed milk, even as far as a band of 0-10%.

As many as one in ten people thought semi-skimmed milk contained more than 50% fat.

The research was conducted for the Make Mine Milk campaign. It certainly gives them one clear objective.