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Mar 24, 2015 / Richard Hall

Palcohol – no thanks, pal

I felt relieved last year when US regulators withheld approval for powdered alcohol before it had gone on sale. Now it has been given a green light.

Alcohol is already a major hazard for society, which it is not particularly successful at navigating. Powdered alcohol, which simply needs to be mixed with water, is a far greater hazard.

Or should I say, too great a hazard. It will be almost impossible to restrict at public and family events or amongst younger age groups, especially in schools. It will be so much easier for drinks to be spiked.

I’m not known for being alarmist, but I would not expect to wait very long before allegations of palcohol leading to rape and accusations of causing death on the roads.

In my entirely personal view, palcohol should be prohibited. Period.

Mar 19, 2015 / Richard Hall

Health warning on soft drinks

Not exactly.  But not far off.

The latest advertisement for Coca-Cola Life in France’s LSA magazine has a white bar at the bottom of the page, containing the words:

“Pour votre santé, évitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé

Which means, ‘For your health, avoid excess fat, excess sugar, excess salt.’

Quite a message.

Mar 17, 2015 / Richard Hall

What a tonic for water

It’s fascinating how many companies are now promoting water, even though they’re not selling it.  I’m thinking of everyone from dispense machine and dispense cap suppliers to producers of nutrition supplements and dilutable syrups.

The most striking example I’ve seen recently was a full page advertisement in The Sunday Times on 8th March.

The heading read: “Not as perfect as water.  But better than no water at all.”

The full text was: “Water is amazing.  Two thirds of the planet’s surface is water.  Even our bodies are made of it.  We all know how important water is, but we sometimes struggle to drink enough of it.  At only 5 calories, a delicious glass of Robinsons No Added Sugar is the easy and tasty way to drink more water, wherever you are.  So go on, start enjoying water with a splash of Robinsons.”

As the founding Chairman of the Natural Hydration Council, I have to say I’m delighted.

Mar 12, 2015 / Richard Hall

Zero understanding

You might reasonably expect consumers to understand that ‘zero’ and ‘diet’ soft drinks contain no sugar or calories.

Especially when these products account for some 40% of purchases.

Yet, according to The Independent in Ireland, research by Coca-Cola found that many Irish people did not know this.

How many ?  Six out of ten.  60% !

Mar 10, 2015 / Richard Hall

36 acquisitions in February

February 2015 saw 36 food and drink industry transactions recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database.  2 involved sums over $500 million, 1 of them amounting to more than $5,000 million.

  • €6,600 million for US based Ball to buy UK based Rexam in packaging.
  • $620 million for US based Keurig Green Mountain to repurchase shares from Italy’s Lavazza in coffee.

The €400 million purchase of Serbia’s Danube Foods Group, including Knjaz Milos bottled water, by UK based Mid Europa private equity didn’t quite reach $500 million because of recent exchange rate variations.

Of the 36 total, 6 were in alcohol, 6 in ingredients, 6 in packaging and 5 in soft drinks.

17 were within national borders and 19 international.  The United States featured in 20, followed by the United Kingdom on 9, Spain on 4 and France on 3.



Mar 5, 2015 / Richard Hall

Storms brew over dietary guidelines

Both the UK and US Governments are considering new national dietary guidelines.  On the whole, it looks as if there’s:

  • good news for milk and dairy
  • bad news for fizzy drinks and meat
  • increasing recognition of hydration.

There are also some curious refinements of policy being proposed:

  • In Britain, ready meals and pizzas could be included in the recommended 5 a day for vegetables.
  • In the US, aspartame comes up for a caution while caffeine is given more of an all-clear
  • And the US recommendations drop all concerns about cholesterol.

The background to the new guidelines is disturbing on high obesity and low achievement of basic nutrition goals.

The solutions envisaged stray into the realms of sustainability and taxation.

It’s an extremely complex area because people will always choose with their purses and taste buds.

But we unquestionably have to do better than our track record so far.

Mar 3, 2015 / Richard Hall

Next big thing on obesity

Or perhaps I should say, the next big think.

Here’s an idea to think about.

More and more evidence points to our health being influenced by our diet.

Also, we are generally eating out more frequently than in the past.

Yet, so often, restaurant meals do not automatically include vegetables as part of the main course.

Many even make it more difficult to eat healthily by charging extra for vegetables.

So, should restaurants be obliged to include vegetables with their main courses ?

If they did, we would have a far better chance of a healthier meal.

It might be a small gesture, but it could make a big difference.

One to think about, I hope.

Feb 26, 2015 / Richard Hall

Plastic waste soils the seas

Imagine a beach.  Measure one metre.  Place on the sand 15 shopping bags full of plastic.  Then do the same for every other metre of coastline around the world.  That’s how much waste plastic finds its way into the sea … every year.

An appalling 8 million tonnes a year.  And the amount is growing.

A new US-Australian study assembled data from 192 countries and found that China was responsible for 28% of the total, followed by Indonesia on 10%.  All the other main offenders were middle and low income countries, many from Asia, with the United States ranked 20th.

Plastic is a re-usable resource from a non-renewable resource.  Surely we must treat it better ?