Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

49 acquisitions in September

October 4th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

September brought fewer mergers and acquisitions than normal, with under 50 food and drink transactions recorded on the bevblog.net database.

3 topped the $500 million mark:

• $2,000 million in ingredients for Univar to buy Nexeo Solutions in the United States

• 740 million euros for France’s Lactalis to acquire the nutrition business of South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare.

• $525 million in soft drinks for the newly formed Keurig Dr Pepper to gain Core Nutrition in the United States

Of the 49 total, 7 were in ingredients, 6 in soft drinks and 5 in snacks, with 3 each in alcohol, bakery, confectionery and dairy.

20 countries were involved. 28 deals were within national borders, 17 of these in the United States and 4 in the United Kingdom.

Overall, the United States featured in 26, the United Kingdom in 8 and the Netherlands in 5, followed by France, Germany and Switzerland on 4 apiece.

World water recognition

September 27th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

With World Water Day firmly established each year on 22 March, World Water Week is now gaining attention at the end of August.

This is because the water agenda is progressing from management to stewardship, as the perspective broadens from water cost to water value.

Water stewardship goes beyond operational issues to include economic, ecological and social implications as well as balancing competing uses. Good stewardship should provide a basis for social licence. Bad stewardship could jeopardise it.

Zenith is a member of the global Alliance for Water Stewardship and has a team of water specialists uniquely qualified to support the implementation of stewardship programmes. We shall be presenting a workshop on stewardship best practice during the next Global Bottled Water Congress at Evian on 22-24 October.

Water is moving up the ranking of corporate priorities to become a key element of business strategy.

Those businesses with a dependence on access to good quality water, but without a corporate water strategy, are at greater risk of missing out on future opportunities for growth.

Robot coffee barista ?

September 25th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

I never expected this, but it could just work.

While I was in Singapore earlier in the summer, I met Ella, who introduced herself and conversed with me, but was in fact a ‘Mobile Robotic Barista’.

This robotic arm took my coffee order and duly dispensed it, ending with the equivalent of a flirtatious wink by twisting its hand/head to one side. Here’s the photo I took.


My first reaction was to doubt how a ‘machine’ could ‘personalise’ a premium service.

A conversation with Keith Tan, founder and CEO of Crown Coffee, quickly put me straight.

How do you ensure consistent quality in a 24 hour operation when there are staff shortages ? A robot guarantees this, increasing productivity and saving on cost. It could even anticipate your order as a regular customer by face recognition.

Then I smelled the coffee.

Apparently, 20% of social media followers for many Chinese businesses are fake.

Their social media presence is inflated to improve their positioning and profiles are often managed by agencies.

These fake forces are known as water armies, because they pour water into the online dialogue.

The practice gained wider awareness when a $110 million film backed by Alibaba was suddenly withdrawn after just one weekend.

The blame was put on water armies.

I am indebted to the Financial Times magazine on 4th August for this extraordinary insight. But then, if it’s anything to do with beverages, you should be able to rely on bevblog.

Online subscription opportunity

September 18th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

I’ve just been in China again for 2 weeks. Online sales there are booming and I had my first experience of having payment by cash refused.

In the United States, online sales are expected to account for 20% of the grocery total by 2025, upwards of $100 billion.

Online subscriptions were just $57 million in 2011, but rocketed to $2.6 billion in 2016, according to McKinsey.

Numerous beverage companies are already taking advantage:

• Soylent meal replacement drinks started in 2013 with an exclusively e-commerce model, combining Amazon, direct to consumer and subscriptions from an early stage.

• Sudden Coffee backs up its subscription service with discounts and newsletters encouraging free trials.

• Hint water has prioritised direct to consumer subscriptions to have greater customer knowledge.

• Others such as Dirty Lemon functional drinks use SMS text messaging.

Apparently, three key success criteria are ensuring security and transparency to build trust. And one commentator has identified the biggest problem as being … stockpiling.

Record 80 acquisitions in August

September 17th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

August indeed. The bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database registered an all time record 80 food and drink transactions in the course of the past month.

Many of them were enormous. In fact 6 exceeded not just $1,000 million but also $2,000 million:

• $6,800 million in packaging for Australia’s Amcor to buy US based Bemis
• $5,100 million in coffee for Coca-Cola to acquire UK based Costa from Whitbread
• $3,900 million in cannabis-based non-alcoholic beverages for Constellation Brands to gain 38% of Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp
• $3,200 million in soft drinks for PepsiCo to take over Israel based SodaStream International
• $3,100 million in beer for Heineken to build a 40% stake in China Resources’ CRH Beer
• $2,160 million in meat for US based Tyson Foods to win Keystone Foods from Marfrig of Brazil.

That’s almost $25,000 million from those 6 alone.

The key categories were soft drinks with 14 deals, alcohol with 12, dairy with 11, services with 10 and packaging with 7. Meat, plant-based and snacks came next with 3 each.

44 were domestic affairs. 29 of these were in the United States, with 4 each in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. 36 were across borders.

Of the 80 total, 47 involved the United States, 12 the United Kingdom, 6 Australia, 5 Canada and 4 each France, India and the Netherlands.

11 were funding rounds.


September 4th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

Since my blog on 19 June about dairy alternatives worldwide, the Plant Based Foods Association has published research by Nielsen for the year to 16 June 2018.

This puts US retail sales at $3.3 billion, up 20% on the previous year. The figures include meat and other animal product alternatives, but exclude some outlets and non-dairy products.

The research highlights the scale of advance by non-dairy and non-meat products.

More on plant-based growth

Plant-based milks now account for 13% of total US milk sales. Plant-based meat, however, could prove by far the bigger opportunity.

Beer for health

August 30th, 2018 | Posted by Richard Hall in Richard Hall - (0 Comments)

And wine. But without alcohol.

There’s a huge amount of innovation these days in low alcohol and non-alcoholic beers and wines.

Strong growth is predicted too.

I had thought the primary reasons were centred around:

• general concern about excess alcohol intake
• cultural and social constraints, from religion to drink driving
• improved product taste.

I hadn’t realised there was such a direct correlation with health and obesity:

• not only significantly lower calories
• also lower potential risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and stress
• even suitability for pregnant women.

The global market for non-alcoholic beer and wine has been estimated at $16 billion in 2017, with forecast growth of over 7% a year. That’s a lot higher than most beverage markets.