Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Some of the latest European statistics for recycling are really quite impressive.

• 85.8% for paper and cardboard packaging

• 78.3% for metal packaging

• 74.1% for glass packaging.

This is the average for all 28 EU countries, so some are even higher.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that consumers across Europe think that cartonboard is the most environmentally friendly type of packaging material.

Nevertheless, the European Union has now set ambitious new targets for plastic, seeking a 90% collection rate for PET bottles by 2029. That compares with the current average of 58%. Germany and Norway have already reached the 90% level, but Greece is down at 29% and Bulgaria bottom at 17%.

The EU also wants to see 25% recycled content in PET bottles by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Apparently, this would require 60 new reprocessing plants with an average annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes each.

That’s a tall order, but there’s no way round it. Plastic has to prove itself all over again

49 acquisitions in March

April 4th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Lower than expected. 49 food and drink industry transactions were recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database in March. Not only that. There were fewer of scale than usual. Just 2 reached $500 million, though 1 of these exceeded $4,000 million.

• £3,340 million for US-based Berry Global to buy UK-based RPC in packaging.

• $585 million for US-based Olympus private equity to buy UK-based DS Smith’s plastics division.

Of the 49 total, 10 were in ingredients, 6 in alcohol, 6 in soft drinks, 5 in plant-based and 3 each in dairy, packaging and services.

18 were inside national borders, 15 of these in the United States. 31 were international, spanning 25 countries.

The United States topped the overall rankings on 27, followed by the United Kingdom on 9, France on 4, Japan on 4 and 3 apiece for Belgium, China, Norway and Sweden.

The UK made 7 international divestments and Japan 4 international purchases. 8 of the March list were funding rounds.

With plant-based products making inroads into dairy’s market share, more dairy advocates are emphasising milk’s natural nutrients, even as part of a plant-based diet.

The Dairy Council of California has developed a graphic to illustrate this.

It certainly shows how milk stands out on calcium benefit. I look forward to other comparisons in due course.

According to Nielsen ScanTrack and Nielsen Homescan, as reported by Rayon Boissons, the top 10 best selling beverage brand lines in France by value in 2018 were:

• 4 water lines clearly had the highest penetration, all multipacks, including 1 sparkling.

• 4 were spirits, in singles.

• 2 were beers, in multipacks of 20 or more.

• None were soft drinks, whether carbonated or still.

PET recycling in Europe

March 26th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

So, how good are we ? Bottle half full ? Or bottle half empty ? Overall, more than half full. But many countries are well behind. Certainly, some progress. But needing to do much better.

The latest annual European survey commissioned by Petcore Europe shows:

• 1.923 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected in 2017, up from 1.881 million tonnes in 2016.

• But the percentage of total PET bottle weight collected appears to have fallen from 59.8% in 2016 to 58.2% in 2017.

• The strongest performers were Germany and Finland at 90-95%.

• The weakest were in the Mediterranean in central eastern Europe at “less than 30-40%”.

The quality of some collected PET has also been brought into question, with PET trays and opaque bottles accounting for up to 25% of bales which should only be clear PET or mixed colour PET.

More positively, the maximum capacity for processing collected PET was 2.038 million tonnes in 2017, meaning that there is significant potential to do better if collection is improved.

Plastic plans from France

March 21st, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

A group of leading manufacturers and retailers in France have announced recycling targets that go beyond most other initiatives.

Signatories include Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestlé and Unilever along with Auchan, Carrefour, Franprix, Monoprix and Système U, backed by WWF.

There are 6 key goals:

• eliminating problem materials, such as PVC by 2022 and polystyrene

• developing new business models for consumers to adopt reusable packaging

• requiring 100% reusability or recyclability by 2025

• achieving 60% recycling by 2022

• incorporating a minimum 30% recycled content by 2025

• trialling new solutions.

Nestlé has now launched a new paper sachet for Nesquik powder. And Coca-Cola has just introduced some PET bottles with 50% recycled content, having already reached an average 27% recycled content across all its French production.

Social footprint labelling

March 19th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

11 years ago, Zenith proposed a new concept of environmental impact labelling to accompany the current system for nutrition labelling.

Now, the French organisation Ferme France has announced a far broader social footprint label, to be introduced on trial products before the end of this year.

The French scheme has an admirable simplicity, summarising social impact in a single score out of 100.

Underpinning the French figure is a complex structure of analysis:

• 6 categories – environment, traceability, nutrition/health, work conditions and animal well-being, equity and economic contribution, general interest

• 36 sub-categories

• 185 indicators

• 4 performance levels

• full supply chain analysis.

Other existing methodologies such as the Nutri-Score will be incorporated.

Even the Zenith proposal was going to incur considerable cost, but there will be a time when social footprints are as common as nutrition labels.

The EAT-Lancet Commission report on Food, Planet and Health, published on 16 January, looks set to become a major reference document for future policy on food and diet.

Its central recommendation is that healthier diets need to be more plant-based and this will help the planet environmentally.

The research is emphatically endorsed by a recent analysis from Barclays, which rather dramatically states that “Burping cows are more damaging to the climate than all the cars on this planet” and warns of “Government action … in the form of interventions such as a methane tax.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, agriculture and food account for a quarter of all emissions worldwide.

And yet, the US National Dairy Council also uses FAO research to point out that “From an environmental perspective, dairy is not a major contributor to GHGe. Globally, the dairy sector contributes just 2.7% of total global anthropogenic GHG emissions.” The US figure is an even lower 2%.

Moreover, the US dairy sector has made some huge reductions in its carbon footprint, with substantially more to come:

• “In 2007 compared to 1944, the US dairy community was able to produce a gallon of milk using 65% less water, 90% less land and with 76% less manure – resulting in a 63% smaller carbon footprint.”

• “US dairy farmers have committed to further reduce GHGe by 25% by 2020.”

It’s so important to base policy on the full facts.