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May 3, 2016 / Richard Hall

Mars goes occasional

The recent announcement by Mars on new health initiatives was significant for 3 reasons:

• It will introduce really simple messaging to consumers by accepting that some foods with high levels of fat, salt or sugar should be labelled ‘occasional’ as distinct from ‘everyday’.

• It defied pressures to alter certain products whose indulgent characteristics require higher levels of these ingredients.

• It adopted the demanding World Heath Organisation guidelines on reformulation of its overall product portfolio.

The impact will be far greater if this contributes to a new industry-wide consensus.

Apr 28, 2016 / Richard Hall

New Coke Zero

How difficult it is to put a simple message across. You want to emphasize a product has zero sugar, so you call it Zero. A whole segment of Zero products develops.

Yet, ten years later, half of British consumers still do not realise Coke Zero has zero sugar. What do you do? Coca-Cola has decided the only course is to change the name to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

In doing so, the company also released some interesting insights about its UK portfolio.

• Low and no calorie variants make up 43% of Coca-Cola brand consumption and the aim is to increase this beyond 50%.

• “For years we have offered people a choice … Since 2012 our commercial strategy has focused on accelerating the growth of our no sugar options.”

Apr 26, 2016 / Richard Hall

New Pepsi

PepsiCo and its Chief Executive Indra Nooyi gave the clearest evidence of its emerging new strategy when the company’s first quarter results were released last week.

• “We are aggressively moving our portfolio to package and product combinations with fewer calories.”

• “We’ve broadened our beverage portfolio to lessen our reliance on colas and today we have the leading non-carbonated beverage portfolio in the US.”

• “Globally just 12% of our revenues come from trademark Pepsi and less than 25% comes from carbonated soft drinks on a global basis.”

• ‘Guilt free’ beverages with under 70 calories per 12oz serving now account for 45% of PepsiCo beverage revenue.

• ‘Good for you’ beverages, such as bottled water and unsweetened ready to drink teas, accounted for 25% of 2016 first quarter sales.

Mountain Dew Kickstart, with 40 calories per 8oz serving, generated more than $300 million in retail sales after three years in 2015, adding 34% volume growth in the first quarter of 2016.

Apr 19, 2016 / Richard Hall

Debating sugar taxes

Two important opportunities are coming up in the next month to debate the merits and mechanics of taxation on sugary drinks.

The first is on 27th April at the InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress in Verona, with 3 leading industry representatives from around the world:

  • President of the International Council of Beverages Associations and the Canadian Beverage Association, Jim Goetz
  • President of the Italian Soft Drinks Association Assobibe, Aurelio Ceresoli
  • Secretary General of the Turkish Fruit Juice Association Meyed, Ebru Akdağ.

The second is on 12th May at the UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference in London, with 3 key influential experts:

  • Chairman of Action on Sugar, Professor Graham MacGregor
  • Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright
  • Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association, Gavin Partington.

Booking details are on I do hope you can join us.

Apr 12, 2016 / Richard Hall

Low sugar awareness

Despite all the media comment and brand advertising, British consumer awareness of the sugar content in soft drinks is extremely low.

A survey of 2,028 consumers by Harris Interactive for The Grocer magazine on 2nd April showed:

• Pepsi Max – just 26% correctly said it has no sugar, while 17% thought its sugar level is the same as regular.

• Coke Zero – 46% rightly knew it has no sugar, but 11% still believed its sugar content is the same as regular.

• Coke Life – 16% identified it as no sugar, 17% as regular – all of them wrong.

Another indicator that any UK sugar tax would turn sour.

Apr 7, 2016 / Richard Hall

31 acquisitions in March

March was relatively light on food and drink industry transactions, with just 31 recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database.

3 of these were worth over $500 million:

• $1,600 million for China Resources Beer to buy the remaining 49% of China Resources Snow Breweries from SABMiller as part of its takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev

• €684 million for Italy’s Campari to purchase Marnier-Lapostolle spirits in France

• $500 million for Dutch dairy FrieslandCampina to acquire 51% of Engro Foods in Pakistan.

Of the 31 total, 7 were in alcohol, 4 in packaging, 3 in soft drinks and 2 each in dairy, equipment, meat and services.

22 countries featured, with the United Kingdom involved in 11, the United States in 9, the Netherlands in 4 and China in 3.

Apr 5, 2016 / Richard Hall

Top 10 in French soft drinks

The 2015 ranking of soft drinks companies in France shows big contrasts between volume and value.


The figures cover hypermarkets, supermarkets, discounters and drives.  Their source is Rayon Boissons.

Roxane has a sizeable volume lead, while Coca-Cola has more than double the value share of second placed Nestlé.







Mar 31, 2016 / Richard Hall

Britain’s top brands

16 of Britain’s top grocery and household brands are soft drinks, according to The Grocer’s latest ranking for 2015 based on data from Nielsen. 4 more are hot drinks, 10 others are dairy products including 1 milk and 1 is a plant based drink.


3 of the soft drinks are bottled waters, 2 are energy drinks and 2 are fruit juices.
Growth was very mixed, with Alpro and Monster achieving the highest growth rates.