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Nov 27, 2014 / Richard Hall

Good habits and bad habits

Food Matters Live hosted an eyebrow-raising 450 speakers at an innovative trade show in London last week, so I was bound to learn a lot from attending, which I was pleased to do as a speaker and session chairman. Two sets of findings particularly struck me. Both were about how we link our eating habits, especially in terms of health.

The first was from Kantar Worldpanel’s continuous analysis of 30,000 households in Britain:

• When people drink water, 18.3% also eat fruit, 3.6% eat crisps and 2.3% eat chocolate.

• Among cola drinkers, 8.8% eat fruit, 5.2% eat crisps and 3.8% eat chocolate.

Whatever conclusion you reach, reducing the availability of bottled water isn’t one that makes any sense to me.

The second was from Tropicana, drawing from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It discovered that fruit juice consumers also eat more fruit and vegetable portions than people who don’t drink fruit juice.

• Adult juice drinkers also eat 5.1 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, compared with 3.7 for non-drinkers.

• Children consuming juice eat 3.5 portions in contrast to 2.5 for non-consumers.

Fruit juice consumers appear to be healthier in Britain too, with “a lower body weight, body mass index and waist circumference than non-consumers”.

Nov 25, 2014 / Richard Hall

Bottled water under the microscope

A new infographic on US bottled water argues that it involves “very small water use with very big health benefits.”

1 It uses less than 0.004% of water in the US, compared with 31% for irrigation and 49% for electricity.

2 The amount used in production to make 1 litre of product is 1.46 litres for bottled water, compared with 2.02 litres for soft drinks, 3.68 litres for wine and 3.8 litres for beer.

3 Bottled water “helps people choose fewer soft drinks”, accounting for 40% of all water servings.

4 “By switching from soft drinks to bottled water, Americans have saved 300 billion calories each year and 6.4 billion gallons of water …”

For more, go to

Nov 20, 2014 / Richard Hall

America’s favourite beverage

Is not what you think.

Figures were published recently as part of a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, with 5,627 respondents reporting on all they drank over 2 days in 2009-10, a surprisingly long time ago.

• 1st came tap water.
• 2nd was plain bottled water.
• After a big gap, 2% fat milk ranked 3rd.
• Ground coffee was 4th.
• Whole milk was 5th.
• Cola came 6th.

Average consumption of all water was 0.55 litres a day.

Coffee consumption was 6 times higher at 8.00 in the morning than at lunchtime and still lower after dinner.

Soda consumption peaked at midday and again in the early evening.

Nov 18, 2014 / Richard Hall

Snacks and health – really ?

We’re definitely snacking more.

We’re scaling down our weekly shop and topping up at discounters or local convenience stores.

We’re also eating more often during the day. The recent Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking, which collated online responses from 30,000 consumers in 60 countries, found that:

• 91% snacked at least once a day
• 21% snacked 3 to 4 times a day.

Snacks have increasingly become meal replacements, with:

• 52% sometimes snacking instead of breakfast
• 43% in place of lunch and
• 40% instead of dinner.

The study apparently discerned a “shift in a consumer mindset to one focused on health”, but the biggest category in key regions was:

• confectionery in Europe and Middle East/Africa
• salty snacks in North America
• cookies and snack cakes in Latin America.

There were, however, some encouraging signs on health, with:

• fresh fruit being top of the wish list
• vegetables scoring strongly
• yogurt and cheese coming high in the preference rankings.

If only intent translated into action.

Nov 11, 2014 / Richard Hall

38 acquisitions in October

October was a less frenetic month for food and drink industry transactions, with 38 recorded on the database. 3 reached the $500 million mark, including 1 above $1,000 million:

• $1,300 million for Brazil’s Cutrale and Safra families to buy US based Chiquita, instead of the previously agreed Chiquita merger with Fyffes

• $565 million for France’s Danone to purchase 25% of China’s Yashili

• $500 million for US based Coca-Cola to purchase 29.4% of Australia based Coca-Cola Amatil’s Indonesia subsidiary.

Of the 38 total, 7 were in dairy, 4 in packaging, 4 in soft drinks, 3 in alcohol and 3 in confectionery.

22 were within national borders and 16 international, involving 22 countries. As always, the United States was most active, with 10 national and 8 international. The United Kingdom featured in 6, then Germany on 4, Italy on 4 and the Netherlands on 3. All 4 Italy deals were sales to foreign companies.

Nov 4, 2014 / Richard Hall

Cutting sugar in soft drinks

There is a trend here. An important one. Soft drinks companies are pledging to cut the calories in our diets.

Two national industry coalitions have made announcements since the summer. That means discussions have been going on for months. It also means the companies involved have taken policy decisions which allow for similar initiatives elsewhere.

It’s notable, though, that the two announcements so far are quite different in targets and timescales.

On 23rd September in the United States, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple pledged to “reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 per cent by 2025.” This might involve selling more water and lowering pack sizes as well as promoting lighter variants such as Coca-Cola Life and Trop50. It does not necessarily imply cutting the calorie content of regular cola.

On 9th October in France, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Orangina Schweppes, PepsiCo and Refresco Gerber committed that “by 2015 they will decrease the average rate of sugars in soft drinks by 5%, with the exception of sugar naturally found in fruits.” The target for 2020 is a 12% reduction. The baseline is 2010.

These proposals won’t satisfy everyone, but they are significant steps.

Oct 30, 2014 / Richard Hall

Healthy vs unhealthy food price gap

I just don’t agree.

It’s been reported that healthy foods are three times more expensive than unhealthy foods in Britain and the price gap is widening.

I find this hard to believe, even though the research was undertaken by the University of Cambridge.

To me, the methodology was flawed, because the comparison was in calories not in nutrients. Also, the basket was confined to 94 items.

Good food and good nutrition seem as affordable as they have ever been and possibly more so.

I don’t accept that obesity is a function of cost.

There are so many other key factors from better education about nutrition and food preparation to time management and personal responsibility. What do you think ?

Oct 28, 2014 / Richard Hall

Rehydration key to tackling Ebola

A doctor, who survived Ebola in Nigeria, has credited plenty of water and her own determination.

The Financial Times reported the story on 14th October, saying: “Her experience is consistent with other survivors of the disease in Nigeria – all of whom engaged in an endurance test of rehydration as soon as they were diagnosed, drinking up to five litres of a solution of water combined with rehydration salts each day.”

Another doctor, who has examined multiple Ebola patients, backed up the case for rehydration. “With Ebola, things multiply – they don’t add up.” If you miss a day of water, you have to make up for it the next day with twice as much.