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Dec 8, 2016 / Richard Hall

48 Acquisitions in November

November saw 48 food and drink transactions recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database, including 4 valued at over $500 million:

• $1,700 million for US soft drinks manufacturer Dr Pepper Snapple to purchase Bai Brands

• £1,200 million for UK services provider Informa to buy Penton Information Services

• $1,000 million for Cofco of China and Swire Beverages of Hong Kong to take on extra Coca-Cola bottling plants in China

• $747.5 million for Ireland’s Greencore to gain Peacock Foods in the United States.

Of the 48 total, 11 were in soft drinks, 9 in alcohol, 6 in packaging, 4 in bakery and 3 each in dairy and equipment.

26 were within national boundaries – 16 of them in the United States and 6 in the United Kingdom.

19 countries were involved overall, with the United States featuring in 29, the United Kingdom in 11, Italy in 4, Ireland in 3, Japan in 3 and the Netherlands in 3.

Dec 6, 2016 / Richard Hall

Water as key to understanding China

If you’re looking for an interesting read with a liquid theme over the holiday season, how about The Water Kingdom – A Secret History of China ?

It was published last summer and I noted a review in The Sunday Times.

Its author Philip Ball says “Water is a key that unlocks an extraordinary quantity of Chinese history and thought,” with such examples as:

• 4 million killed by floods covering an area as big as Britain in 1931
• 10 million killed by drought in 1876-79
• water as a weapon to drown or starve enemies
• water as the source of myths about river gods and water dragons
• the immense challenge of the Three Gorges Dam at 185 metres in height.

The power of water never ceases to amaze me.

See also The Guardian – link below.


Nov 29, 2016 / Richard Hall

Fortunes mixed for dairy alternatives

For years, alternatives to real milk have captured a greater proportion of media attention than deserved by their relative sales. Recent US figures, published in the November 2016 issue of Beverage Industry, show dairy alternatives are not insignificant, but there are declines as well as increases.

• All plant-based/alternative beverages up 5% to 242 million gallons and up 5.2% to $1.7 billion in supermarkets and convenience stores for the year to 4th September 2016, according to IRI.

• Almond milk up 8.5% to 165 million gallons and up 7.9% to $1.1 billion.

• Soy milk down 10.3% to 44 million gallons and down 9.5% to $300 million.

• Coconut milk up 11% to 16 million gallons and up 11% to $164 million.

• Cashew milk up 57% to 8 million gallons and up 58% to $54 million.

What’s coming next ? Look out for banana, flaxseed, hemp, quinoa, rice and sunflower.

Nov 24, 2016 / Richard Hall

20% of wine in France online

That’s what has been predicted within 5 years. In 2015, 10% of all wine sales in France were made online, compared with 12% for clothing and just 3% for food.

The value of wine sold on the internet in 2016 is forecast to be 1,600 million euros, almost 4 times the 410 million euros achieved 5 years ago in 2011.

The average basket of wine purchased online is a highly attractive 200 euros.

These current market figures came from Kedge Business School as reported in the November 2016 issue of Rayon Boissons.

Nov 22, 2016 / Richard Hall

Beer brewed by artificial intelligence

Yes, apparently. Actual reality, not just virtual reality.

Algorithms have been created to adjust the flavour of 4 new beers on the UK market according to consumer feedback. The most recent answers can influence the next set of questions.

Codes to access the questions are printed on the bottles. A sample question would be to rate an aspect of taste out of 10.

The 4 beers are called Amber AI, Black AI, Golden AI and Pale AI. They are currently on sale by UBrew in London and will reportedly soon be available online.

The business behind them is IntelligentX Brewing, a joint venture between the 10x creative agency and machine learning experts Intelligent Layer.

Further details are to be found in the Financial Times of 2nd November.

Nov 15, 2016 / Richard Hall

Empty bottles that sell cars

Another enterprising use for PET bottles.

In Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, one way to advertise a car for sale is to put an empty water or soft drink bottle on its roof.

If you are interested in buying it, you honk your own car horn. Someone then comes out of a house or office to meet you. And off you go.

Ingeniously simple. But I’d never come across it before.

My thanks to Monica Ganley, who spoke at our Dairy Vision event in Brazil earlier this month.


Nov 10, 2016 / Richard Hall

Water crazes

Not so long ago we had the ice bucket challenge, which led otherwise normal people to have cold water poured over them for charity.

This followed tombstoning, where people stepped off ever higher cliffs into the sea.

Now it’s bottle flipping. You flip a nearly empty bottle of water into the air and see how many times it takes to land it upright.

In all cases, it doesn’t count if it hasn’t been filmed and put on the internet.

Bottle flipping has become so popular that a school has had to ban it.

Nov 8, 2016 / Richard Hall

52 acquisitions in October

Over 50 food and drink industry transactions were recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database for October.

Three were valued at more than $500 million:

• $780 million for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to buy the Canadian wine business of US-based Constellation Brands

• $680 million for Chinese dairy leader Yili to purchase a 37% stake in China Shengmu Organic Milk

• $600 million for Constellation Brands to gain the Obregon brewery in Mexico from Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev.

An unusually high 32 of the 52 total were within national borders, leaving just 20 across borders. 23 countries featured, led by the United States on 27, the United Kingdom on 12, Belgium on 4, France on 4 and Canada on 3.

16 were in alcoholic drinks and 8 in soft drinks, then 6 in dairy, 5 in packaging, 3 in bakery and 3 ingredients.