Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

Plant-based packaging promise

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

Welcome news to learn of the new US Plant Based Products Council.

Certainly, it will be helpful to combine expertise on opportunities for bio-sourced materials.

The Council has already launched an online database covering 480 different plant-based products currently on the market, with a commitment to expand its coverage as new products are developed.

Also of interest is a survey undertaken by the Council in August 2018. Among US millennial consumers:

• 90% have favourable views of bioplastic when explained, with just 13% so far ‘very familiar’ with bioplastic.

• 60% are surprised by the apparent lack of alternatives to plastic.

• 48% feel guilty about their use of plastic, compared with 33% for paper, 31% for water and 19% for the amount they drive.

68 acquisitions in January

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

2019 started with 68 food and drink industry transactions recorded in the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database for January.

Most were modest, including 17 fund raising rounds, with just 2 involving sums of more than $500 million. In fact, both of these exceeded $3,000 million.

• £3,320 million for US-based Apollo private equity to buy UK-based RPC in packaging.

• €3,200 million sales for the French co-operative merger between d’Aucy and Triskalia to form Eureden.

Of the 68, 10 were in alcohol, 9 in dairy, 9 in packaging, 6 in ingredients and 4 in bakery.

Emerging categories included 3 for meal kits, 2 for plant-based and a first for CBD (cannabidiol) as well as for hydroponic (vertical farming).

34 were within national borders, 19 in the United States, 5 in France and 4 in the United Kingdom. 34 were international, spanning 30 countries.

Across the total, 32 featured the United States, 12 France, 10 the United Kingdom, 4 Germany and 3 India.

Every January, around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, there are various announcements of new initiatives on global issues.

This year, there have been 3 of major significance.

  • The first was from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, criticising current food production practices and advocating a more circular economy, with increased local and regenerative sourcing, less waste and better planning.
  • The second was the EAT-Lancet Commission report, saying that we must halve our meat and sugar intake while doubling our consumption of nuts, fruits, legumes and vegetables for future global health and sustainability.
  • The third was the launch of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste by 30 energy and supply chain companies, with a $1,500 million investment in recycling and clean-up projects over 5 years.

It is increasingly clear that governments no longer have the capability to tackle these issues alone.

Only if industry acts in partnerships will companies be able to chart a course of long term, strategic common sense amidst the competing pressures of the day.



A US survey of 2,048 adults in November 2018, on behalf of the International Bottled Water Association, found that bottled water is consumed by 12% more Americans than carbonated soft drinks. 71% drink bottled water, compared with 59% drinking soda. If fully representative, this is an extraordinary reversal of the figures for November 2017, when carbonated soft drinks had a 4% lead.

Despite critical media coverage of plastic, Americans have a highly positive view of all water including bottled water.

  • 99% drink water.
  • 91% believe bottled water is healthy and convenient.
  • 84% feel they should drink more water.
  • Of bottled water drinkers, 98% choose it for taste, 98% for quality, 90% for safety, 81% for convenience on the go, 70% for lack of artificial sweeteners and 68% for low calorie content.

Americans’ choice of different water types is broken down by the survey:

  • 16% drink only bottled.
  • 21% drink mostly bottled.
  • 37% drink bottled and tap/filtered equally.
  • 16% drink mostly tap/filtered.
  • 10% drink only tap/filtered.

Consumption patterns for bottled water are also analysed:

  • 89% drink it on the move.
  • 82% of those working drink it at work.
  • 75% drink it at home.

Kerbside collection was a much higher 54% for bottled water, compared with 20% for soda. When asked about who should take primary responsibility for recycling, the view was:

  • 78% consumers
  • 59% industry
  • 31% government
  • 21% all three groups.

Collection and recycling certainly need working on.

I have argued against taxing added sugar in soft drinks, because I think it deflects attention from real solutions to obesity. Am I wrong ? The latest evidence backs me up.

A new global assessment has come this month from Geoff Parker, who is Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Beverages Council. He reports that:

  • The New Zealand Ministry of Health analysed 47 studies and “found the impact of such taxes on public health was weak.”
  • In Mexico, “what actually happened according to tax receipts … was a very small decline … of less than 2 per cent in the first year, … a recovery in sales in year 2 … and growth in sales thereafter.”
  • In Berkeley, California, calorie intake from beverages increased because of people switching to smoothies and juices.
  • In Britain, there hasn’t been “any discernible impact on consumer behaviour.”

He concludes that “this intervention lacks evidence from anywhere in the world that such a tax has a measureable impact on obesity rates and analysis has shown it doesn’t improve diets either.”

Instead, there have been multiple adverse unintended consequences including job losses, budget shortfalls and cost pressure on lower income households.

He calls for greater collaboration between governments and industry, with an emphasis on reformulation and smaller pack sizes.

Then, of course, there is the rest of our diet…



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




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


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