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Apr 23, 2015 / Richard Hall

French drive slowdown

The rapid advance of France’s click and collect drive outlets slowed significantly in the first quarter of 2015.

The latest statistics from the April 2015 issue of Rayon Boissons show that the total number of drives on 1 March 2015 was 3,358.  The figure is still increasing, but only by 40 overall since 1 January, after 57 openings and 17 closures.

The top 5 drive retailers by number of outlets on 1 March were Intermarché on 977, Courses U on 619, Leclerc on 562, Carrefour on 457 and Casino on 213.

Apr 21, 2015 / Richard Hall

Beer necessities

Innovation abounds in all beverage sectors.  Here are three that caught my eye recently in beer:

  • New Belgium + Ben & Jerry’s salted caramel brownie brown ale in the United States.  This is a joint initiative between a craft brewer and an ice cream brand, resulting in a 6.3% alcohol by volume brew to be launched in the autumn.
  • Suntory’s new Precious collagen beer in Japan.  This has 5.0% alcohol by volume and 2 grams of collagen per can to help preserve skin suppleness.
  • El Boqueron beer in Spain made with sea water from the Mediterranean.  It has 4.8% alcohol by volume and must go well with pretzels.
Apr 16, 2015 / Richard Hall

Reviving carbonates

Carbonates have stalled in the States, diets are down further, emerging markets are slowing, the BRICs are behind.

Actually, there is also a lot of encouraging news in carbonates.  The innovation pipeline is strong, stevia is strengthening and functionality is now being added to the fun.

But this is the hard part.  If energy drinks have to be edgy to be really successful, do carbonates always have to be more fun than functional ?

There have been various attempts at functionality for carbonates in the past and the results have not been promising.

Now we have 7Up Revive, which just might signal a game changer.

From PepsiCo, it’s an isotonic drink with a combination of electrolytes and vitamins.  It’s made sufficient progress in Vietnam and Malaysia to be launched this month in India.

This sounds a useful step on the road to revival.



Apr 14, 2015 / Richard Hall

43 acquisitions in March

43 food and drink industry transactions were recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database for March.  One was huge and most of the rest were quite small.

The giant deal was the $40,000 million purchase of Kraft by 3G and Berkshire Hathaway to merge it with Heinz.

The next biggest was the $800 million US packaging purchase of Citadel Plastics by A Schulman.

Of the 43 total, 10 transactions were in alcohol, 9 in soft drinks, 6 in packaging and 3 in dairy.

29 countries featured overall, with the United States involved in 20, followed by the United Kingdom on 10.  Switzerland made 4 sales and France 3 sales.  Australia and Ireland each made 3 purchases.

Apr 9, 2015 / Richard Hall

Beverage as art

Over the Easter break, I happened to pass the Nespresso store in London’s Regent Street.  It was a revelation.

Here the brand has been transformed into art as well as experience.

Each wall seemed to have turned capsules, cartons, machines and processes into exhibition – geometric and artistic, with contrasts of dark and light.

The other characteristic that caught my eye was customisation.  There was a queue for members to sample new flavours.  And there was a promotion for personalising your own machine with ‘Pixie Clip’ coloured sides, similar to mobile phone cases.

The place was packed.  All as designed.

Apr 7, 2015 / Richard Hall

Yowk is no joke

I suppose I should have written this piece on April 1st, but it’s no joke.

In fact, I can see it catching on around the world. It comes at quite a premium, but I’ve tried it and it tastes just right.

It was also a winner at the IFE World Food Innovation Awards organised by FoodBev Media in March.

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods, but achieving the perfect soft boiled egg with a liquid yoke requires careful attention. Not any more.

The new brand Yowk provides an egg, salt and some sticks of toast in a plastic pot. If you fill the pot with boiling water for five minutes, the partly pre-cooked egg is warmed up to the ideal serving temperature and texture.

To make a pleasure more assured and more simple is among the best of innovation.


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.