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Jul 21, 2015 / Richard Hall

Innovations you could not make up

The summer always brings out the craziest innovations you could scarcely imagine. Here are 4 that I read about within the space of a few days.

• An eel flavoured soda in Japan from Kimura Inryou with a “salty, fishy, savoury flavour of grilled barbecue eel in a fizzy cola” to be launched today.

• A protein beer in the United States that contains 5g of protein and sold out its first production run within 24 hours under the brand name of Mighty Squirrel.

• A beer-based biofuel in New Zealand that is produced from natural beer waste and delivers the same performance as petrol while emitting 8% less carbon.

• A cheesy Doritos nacho chip flavoured carbonated soft drink in the United States from PepsiCo launched as Mountain Dew Dewitos.

Do try them if you can.

Jul 16, 2015 / Richard Hall

Campus water ban results

The American Journal of Public Health has published a study of what happened to consumption and waste after a ban on bottled water sales at the University of Vermont.

Free reusable water bottles were handed out, 68 water fountains were adapted and information campaigns were launched.

And the result ?

• 25% increase in the consumption of ‘sugary drinks’

• 8.5% increase in plastic bottle waste.

So much for higher education.

Jul 14, 2015 / Richard Hall

Taxing soft drinks

There have been some startling assertions recently about the impact of ‘sugar sweetened beverages’ on life and death.

One academic study went so far as to blame sugar sweetened beverages for 184,000 adult deaths a year worldwide, but critics claimed chronic disease was the culprit.

There have also been important moves on taxing soft drinks, but in varying directions.

• New Zealand rejected a call for a 20% tax because the government did not see this as a feasible solution.

• Barbados is due to introduce a 10% tax on 1st August. This will apply to added sugar drinks but not natural sugar drinks such as 100% fruit juice, coconut water and milk.

Mexico’s 10% tax was introduced on 1st January 2014 and led to a 6% cut in consumption during the year. This may prove to be a significant outcome, but it remains to be seen what impact there will be on obesity.

Jul 9, 2015 / Richard Hall

Breakthrough innovation

What makes a breakthrough innovation ?  For the United States, Nielsen sets some good criteria:  a new value proposition, $50 million sales in year 1, at least 90% of year 1 sales in year 2.


Out of 20,000 new product launches in the past 4 years, how many do you think achieved this ?  The answer is 74.  12 were added in 2014.  Of these, 5 were in food, 4 in drinks, 1 in personal care, 1 in household and 1 in petcare.  

The drinks rankings were:


5        Monster Energy Ultra                       Monster

6        Mountain Dew Kickstart                   PepsiCo

8        Redd’s Apple Ale                              MillerCoors

10      Red Bull Editions                               Red Bull 

Jul 7, 2015 / Richard Hall

39 acquisitions in June

June saw 39 food and drink industry transactions recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database.

4 were above $500 million and 2 of these were more than $1,000 million. The biggest were:

• €2,945 million for US based Apollo private equity firm to purchase French Saint Gobain’s Verallia packaging operations

• $1,500 million for Brazil’s JBS to buy Marfrig’s Moy Park meat business in Europe.

Of the 39 total, 8 were in alcohol, 5 in ingredients, 4 in dairy, 4 in packaging, 3 in equipment and 3 in soft drinks.

24 countries were involved. The United States participated in 18, the United Kingdom in 6, then France, Italy and Spain in 4 each, followed by Australia, Germany and Netherlands in 3 each.

Jun 30, 2015 / Richard Hall

Soft drinks and sustainability

I find it fascinating to see just how far the soft drinks industry has progressed in the past few years on a host of corporate social responsibility measures. Last week I was looking through the latest report from Coca-Cola on its activities in Great Britain and here is a selection of indicators that might have seemed unachievable until very recently:

• 1.29 litres of water used to make 1 litre of drink in 2014
• 34% recycled content in PET bottles
• 43% of cola and 39% of all drinks sold as lower or no calorie.

There was also a useful reminder of where the company’s carbon footprint comes from:

• 50% packaging
• 18% ingredients
• 18% refrigeration
• 8% manufacturing
• 6% distribution.

Jun 25, 2015 / Richard Hall

World changer – 100% plant based plastic

My second wish list world changer has also recently moved closer to becoming a reality.

What if plastic were not derived from oil but came from plant materials instead and could also be recycled ? Wouldn’t that transform consumer perceptions and confidence ?

This month Coca-Cola displayed a fully 100% plant based and 100% recyclable PET bottle at the World Expo in Milan.

It has already sold 35 billion bottles with some 30% plant based plastic as well as some recycled content.

It may be a few years before the 100% plant bottle is in commercial production and cost competitive with oil based PET. But the technology is now proven and the prospect certainly quenches my thirst.

Jun 23, 2015 / Richard Hall

World changer – Half calorie sugar

This week, I wish to focus on two possible world changers in terms of technological advances which could help meet society demands so effectively that they may transform consumer sentiment and behaviour.

Obesity has become a great scourge of today’s lifestyle. What if sugar could be produced just as naturally but with fewer than half the calories ?

Well, apparently, this has now been achieved by an Israeli company DouxMatok, which means twice as sweet in French and Hebrew.

Moreover, the new product is based on sugar and costs no more, using less of it by increasing the surface area in contact with our taste buds.

Ironically, the downside for many products is that their volume may need to be topped up by other ingredients to maintain pack size consistency.

Maybe consumers will instead prefer an all-natural zero calorie sweetener with sugar taste equivalence.

Neither task is yet complete, but man’s inventiveness seems to be on the way there.