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Oct 17, 2019 / Richard Hall

Consumer attitudes to water

10 questions were asked of 1,053 British consumers recently and the analysis was published online by The Grocer. In summary:

• Nearly 9 out of 10 people of all ages drink tap water, 7 out of 10 every day.

• 7 out of 10 people now consume bottled water, led by 76% of 25-34 year olds.

• 65% are influenced by price, compared with 38% by taste, 29% by brand, 27% by sustainability and 20% by source.

• Younger people are far more brand loyal – 52% aged 18-24, falling to 31% aged 55-64.

• 55% pay little or no attention to minerals.

• 42% of women and 34% of men “believe bottled water is a big cause of environmental problems”.

• 47% don’t find it easy to recycle when consuming on the go.

• There is no consensus on the most sustainable material, with 28% saying glass, 27% for recycled plastic, 13% for aluminium cans, 11% for paper-based plastic and 14% saying there’s no difference.

• 31% of Londoners worry about what tap water contains, while 30% feel tap water is just as good as bottled.

• 55% are not worried about nitrates in tap water.

Oct 15, 2019 / Richard Hall

63 acquisitions in September

More than 2 transactions per day is becoming increasingly common, with 63 recorded on the database of food and beverage mergers and acquisitions during September.

3 were worth over $1,000 million and 1 more over $500 million:

• $5,000 million in beer for the Hong Kong IPO of a stake in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Asia unit

• €1,150 million in packaging for Japan’s DIC to buy German BASF’s global pigments business

• $1,000 million in infant nutrition for China’s Mengniu to gain Bellamy’s of Australia

• £517 million in seafood for Denmark’s Bakkafrost to take over the Scottish Salmon Company.

Of the 62, 7 were in alcohol, 6 in packaging, 5 in ingredients, 5 in nutrition, 4 in dairy, 4 in dairy-free and 4 in soft drinks. This is the first time dairy-free has reached as many as 4 and as many as dairy. The total for plant-based dairy, meat and seafood was 6.

27 were inside national borders, 21 of these in the United States and 5 in the United Kingdom. 36 were international, involving 25 countries.

Of the 63, the United States played a part in 36, the United Kingdom in 12, Australia in 4, Germany in 4 and the Netherlands in 4.

Oct 10, 2019 / Richard Hall

Reality checks for obesity

While on the topic of obesity, more UK research throws light on what might work better.

A study published in the British Medical Journal last month indicated that a 20% tax on sugary foods would be far more effective than a 20% tax on sugary drinks.

The finding was based on a comprehensive model using Government data. It showed:

• “Increasing the price of biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets by 20% would reduce annual average energy intake by around 8,900 calories, leading to an average weight loss of 1.3kg over one year.”

• “A similar price increase on sugary drinks would result in an average weight loss of just 203g over one year.”

Sugar sweetened beverages were assessed as contributing 2% of total energy and 11% of free sugar intake. Biscuits, cakes and confectionery add up to 12% of total energy and 26% of free sugar intake.

Unfortunately, voluntary UK Government schemes have yet to make much impact on confectionery. Breakfast cereals and yogurts are on track to reach the 20% sugar reduction target in 2020, but confectionery has achieved only 2% so far.

Ironically, the combined impact of all Government measures to date, including the soft drinks industry levy and the voluntary sugar reduction programme, have not prevented overall sugar consumption in England from rising.

According to a report from Public Health England: “Overall the total tonnes of sugar sold in foods included in the reformulation programme from the in-home sector has increased by 2.6% between 2015 and 2018 (excluding cakes and morning goods).”

Something else has got to give.

Oct 8, 2019 / Richard Hall

UK soft drinks tax update

Three conclusions can be drawn from the latest news on the UK soft drinks sugar levy introduced in April 2018.

• It is raising a lot of money for government spending.

• It has helped reduce the sugar content of soft drinks.

• It has contributed to no discernible reduction in obesity.

Over the four tax years 2020/21 to 2023/2024, the UK Government expects to collect another £1,370 million. None of this, however, is guaranteed to help school sports or other obesity measures.

According to Public Health England, sugar levels in UK soft drinks have fallen by 29% in ‘private label and manufacturer-branded soft drinks,’ but “without reducing soft drink sales.”

Research from Kantar Worldpanel finds that soft drinks now ‘make a 7.7% contribution to take-home sugar in the UK.’

The British Soft Drinks Association asserts that “no evidence has yet been presented indicating that the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has had an impact on obesity levels”.

Oct 3, 2019 / Richard Hall

When in Rome … recycle

A second summer story that intrigued me was an incentive being trialled in Rome to boost plastic bottle recycling.

From August, for 12 months at 3 metro stations, consumers can drop off plastic bottles from 25cl to 2 litres and gain 5 euro cents in points on an app.

Depositing 30 bottles will earn enough points for a 1.50 euro ticket.

It would be even better if visitors take advantage too. As the saying goes ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’

By coincidence, another great historic city had already introduced a similar campaign. Last year, a metro station in Istanbul installed reverse vending machines to collect plastic bottles and aluminium cans in exchange for train ticket credits.

In this instance, it takes 28 x 1.5 litre bottles or 29 x 0.5 litre cans for a 2.60 lira ticket.

A free ride with a social return.

Image: Facebook @Virginia Raggi
Oct 1, 2019 / Richard Hall

7 key food trends from Nestlé

Among many interesting news stories over the summer, one came from Nestlé identifying 7 key food trends.

The full 7 were:

• ‘an explosion of different dietary patterns’, most notably plant-based

• the influence of social media, requiring innovation that looks cool when shared online

• the requirement for variety – with increasing authenticity, functionality and sustainability

• the search for more acceptable packaging, which might include paper and biodegradability

• action to reduce carbon emissions

• collaboration on everything from sustainability to start-up acceleration and

• affordable, healthy nutrition.

Is this the future of food ? These 7 could well play a major part in it.

Sep 26, 2019 / Richard Hall

From bottled water to water drinks

What’s in a name ? Everything. The world changes. And so do markets. Which means that words to describe markets must change too.

Bottled water has been a market phenomenon over the past 30-40 years. It has become more than bottled and more than water.

Zenith Global has changed its UK market report titles to reflect this.

• First there is Plain Water, which is led by natural source waters.

• Second there are Water Plus Drinks, which include those with added flavour and/or functionality.

• The combined category is now more simply and completely described as Water Drinks.

We commend these new category names to other industry groups and the media.

We shall also be altering our conference and awards programmes to match, so we shall hold the:

• 2020 UK Water Drinks Conference on 24th March in London

• 2020 Global Water Drinks Congress in the autumn

• 2020 Global Water Drinks Awards in the autumn.

Let’s see when industry innovation ingenuity leads to the next set of changes.

Sep 24, 2019 / Richard Hall

Best beverages for kids

Some positive guidance on what young children should drink …

It’s come from a combination of distinguished US institutions:

• Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

• American Academy of Pediatrics

• American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

• American Heart Association.

Children under 6 months should only consume breast milk, if possible.

From 6 to 12 months, they should start drinking water at meals.

From 12 months to 2 years, whole dairy milk should be added and a small amount of fruit juice is permissible, though fruit would be preferable.

From 2 to 5 years, dairy milk consumption should be low fat.

This makes so much sense.

• It recognises the need for good hydration and that “water is essential for life”.

• It values dairy milk, even to the extent of advising against substituting dairy-free drinks, except fortified soy milk, because they “lack key nutrients found in cows’ milk” and “our bodies cannot absorb nutrients in these non-dairy milks as well as they can from regular milk”.

• It supports the benefits of fruit juice within limits.

There are negatives. No flavoured milk, sugar sweetened beverages, low calorie sweetened beverages or caffeinated beverages.

As with all guidelines, success will also require a balance of judgement.