Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

This year’s UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference, organised by Zenith Global in conjunction with the British Soft Drinks Association, attracted a record number of delegates to focus on its theme of ‘Crafting the future.’ Among a variety of delegate polls …

• 46% expected 2019 UK soft drinks volume growth of 2-3.9%, with 31% saying more than 23% saying less.

• 66% believed plastic/sustainability/waste is the biggest issue facing the industry today, compared with 20% for sugar/obesity/health.

• 47% felt functionality/added benefit is the biggest opportunity, with 27% opting for craft/personal/premium and 20% for wellness/natural.

• On packaging sustainability, 40% selected consumer education as the first priority, followed by 24% for collection consistency and 19% for recycling capacity.

• On the Soft Drinks Industry Levy’s effect, 60% viewed it as positive, 30% negligible and 10% negative.

• For the best future impact on sugar concerns, 33% chose sweetener naturalness, 26% sweetener taste and 15% a wider sugar tax.

• The greatest adult soft drink opportunity was perceived to be alcohol free beer/wine/spirits with 39% support, followed by herbal/botanical with 29% and mixers with 17%.

64 acquisitions in April

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

A total of 64 food and drink industry transactions were recorded in the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database during April.

5 amounted to more than $500 million, with 3 of them over $1,000 million:

• $3,400 million in cannabis products for Canada’s Canopy Growth to buy US-based Acreage Holdings

• $1,700 million in wine for US-based E&J Gallo to purchase 30 brands from Constellation Brands

• $1,300 million in snacks for Italy’s Ferrero to take on selected North Amercian brands and facilities from Kellogg

• €885 million in food for PAI private equity and Charles Jobson to acquire Dutch-based Wessanen

• $510 million in soft drinks for Butterfly private equity to win Bolthouse Farms from Campbell Soup in United States

Among the 64, 11 were in alcohol, 10 in dairy, 7 in snacks, 6 in soft drinks, 4 in services and 3 each in ingredients, packaging and plant-based.

32 took place within national borders, 18 of these in the United States. 32 were international, involving 22 different countries.

The United States featured in 36 of the 64, the United Kingdom in 9, France in 7, Canada in 6, Netherlands in 6, Spain in 4, Germany in 3 and Norway in 3.

Growing trade

International trade in wine has grown strongly since 2000, except for a noticeable dip in 2009, but this slowed in 2018, with volume up 0.8% to 108 million hectolitres and value up 1.2% to 31.3 billion euros.

Spain was the biggest volume exporter in 2018 at 19% of the global total and France was the biggest value exporter with a 30% share.

5 countries accounted for more than half of global imports.

In terms of wine types and packs traded internationally in 2018:

• Bottled still wine fell to 53% of volume and 70% of value.

• Sparkling wine rose to 9% of volume and 20% of value.

• Bag-in-box wine advanced strongly to 4% of volume and 2% of value.

• Bulk wine over 10 litres lost volume to 34% but gained value to 8%.

Stable consumption

2018 global wine consumption of 246 million hectolitres was significantly higher than in 2000, but lower than its peak of 2007 and 2008. 5 of the top 10 markets in 2018 saw rises and 5 saw falls.

Global wine production jumped 17% in 2018 to 292.3 million hectolitres, after tumbling 8.2% in 2017, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

Climate change is clearly accentuating volatility, with an increasing propensity for droughts, floods, premature harvests and yield variations.

Less land

The amount of land devoted to vineyards has been declining over the past 15 years, but stabilised in 2018 at 7.4 million hectares. The largest areas under vines in 2018 were:

More wine

In contrast, there have been big swings in wine production (excluding juice and musts), with increases or decreases of 20% of more for 7 of the top 10 countries in 2018.

2018 saw the biggest surge of the current century, but production was slightly higher in 2004.

Just as other industries are having to reinvent themselves, from news to transport, is this now happening in soft drinks ?

It’s already happened in the shift to waters, teas and energy drinks, but how far could Coke and Pepsi move beyond bottles ?

Well, cans and vending as well as fountains and dispense have been around for a long time too. But there are new initiatives from both companies that may herald bigger future changes.

Within the past few days:

• PepsiCo has launched its Beyond the Bottle programme with two new hydration platform dispense machines – one free-standing and the other counter-top.

• Coca-Cola has extended its Dasani PureFill Water Station roll out.

Key features of both are smartphone apps for payment, wide personalised choice, hydration monitoring and potential for free plain water dispense.

So like social media, both companies are exploring the need to give away free content in order to build loyalty and meet concerns about sustainability.

In fact, each company has been trialling multiple other new non-packaged solutions for some time:

• Coca-Cola’s Freestyle touch screen soda fountain was introduced in 2009.

• PepsiCo first tested its Drinkfinity pods with re-usable bottles in 2014.

• Coca-Cola tried out a partnership with Keurig Kold pods from 2014 to 2016.

• PepsiCo purchased SodaStream International for $3,200 million in 2018.

So far, these experiments are small scale, but the possibilities are waiting to be uncapped.

Falling short of 5 a day

April 30th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

So much for achieving the generally accepted target of 5 fruit and vegetable portions a day. And yet the preferred World Health Organisation target is 10 portions or 800 grams for the best protection against non-communicable diseases.

The sad truth from a 28 country European Union survey is that 36% of the population don’t even manage 1 fruit portion a day and 37% don’t eat 1 vegetable portion a day.

Just 23% consume vegetables twice a day and 27% eat fruit twice a day.

The top countries for at least 1 fruit portion a day are Italy and Portugal at above 80%. For vegetables, Ireland and Belgium reach over 80%.

The laggards for fruit are Latvia, Bulgaria and Lithuania at less than 40%. For vegetables, Hungary comes lowest at 30%.

How simple and yet how difficult it is to make good sense of our diets.

Breakfast or die

April 25th, 2019 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

If you don’t have breakfast, you’re 87% more likely to die of heart disease than if you eat it daily.

That is the stark conclusion from a survey of 6,550 Americans aged 40 to 75 between 1988 to 1994, then following their health up to 2011. During this time 2,318 died, including 619 from cardiovascular disease.

Adjustments were made to rule out other factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status, diet and lifestyle.

Eating breakfast was also associated with all kinds of other benefits such as helping lower blood pressure, prevent haemorrhage, regulate appetite and improve glycemic response.

Skipping breakfast was linked to numerous other adverse impacts such as higher cholesterol, decreased satiety, increased obesity, impaired insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes.

The damning conclusion was that “skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease … Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health.”

The study was conducted by the American college of Cardiology and published in its Journal.

It contradicts a growing belief that occasional fasting has health benefits, but the research is clearly not the end of the story.

Personally, I have always been a great believer in a wholesome breakfast. After many years of feeling too hungry by lunchtime, I switched some time ago to a breakfast of natural yogurt, muesli, granola, prunes and berries, with a small glass of milk. It is simple, gives me pleasure and I hope it keeps me healthy.

A strong coffee then sets me up for the day ahead.