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Oct 18, 2018 / Richard Hall

Online grocery outlook

The latest Tetra Pak Index provides another set of superb insights into the future of online grocery.

For all fast moving consumer goods, online sales increased by 30% worldwide in the year to March 2017, taking at 4.6% share.

In grocery alone, online sales have risen from $21 billion in 2012 to $41 billion in 2017, with projected growth of 17% a year to $94 billion in 2022.

Forecasts by country and key city show massive variations.


Consumers are reported to be loyal to their initial online retailer choice and to preferred brands, but they are searching increasingly by product rather than brand.

Convenience seems to be decisive. More attention is being devoted to ‘super fast delivery’, voice ordering, auto-replenishment and the unpacking experience. Sustainability is at last rising up the agenda.

Oct 16, 2018 / Richard Hall

What American children drink

You might expect that soft drinks would be the most consumed beverage group by American children, but the latest US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2013 to 2016 shows this is not so.

For children of all age groups – 2 to 5, 6 to 11 and 12-19 – water tops the table, followed by milk until the age of 12.

In fact, water builds to an almost 50% share for teenagers, while milk drops from 32% for the youngest to 14% for teenagers.

Soft drinks rise to 22% for teenagers, less than half the share of water.

Girls depend on water more than boys, who drink a higher share of everything else.

The overall figures for all age groups are:

BLOG-16Oct2018-What American Children Drink

In terms of children’s nutrition, it is significant that: “ For all Americans aged two years and older, milk is the number one food source of three of the four under-consumed nutrients of public health concern identified by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, namely calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”

Oct 4, 2018 / Richard Hall

49 acquisitions in September

September brought fewer mergers and acquisitions than normal, with under 50 food and drink transactions recorded on the database.

3 topped the $500 million mark:

• $2,000 million in ingredients for Univar to buy Nexeo Solutions in the United States

• 740 million euros for France’s Lactalis to acquire the nutrition business of South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare.

• $525 million in soft drinks for the newly formed Keurig Dr Pepper to gain Core Nutrition in the United States

Of the 49 total, 7 were in ingredients, 6 in soft drinks and 5 in snacks, with 3 each in alcohol, bakery, confectionery and dairy.

20 countries were involved. 28 deals were within national borders, 17 of these in the United States and 4 in the United Kingdom.

Overall, the United States featured in 26, the United Kingdom in 8 and the Netherlands in 5, followed by France, Germany and Switzerland on 4 apiece.

Sep 27, 2018 / Richard Hall

World water recognition

With World Water Day firmly established each year on 22 March, World Water Week is now gaining attention at the end of August.

This is because the water agenda is progressing from management to stewardship, as the perspective broadens from water cost to water value.

Water stewardship goes beyond operational issues to include economic, ecological and social implications as well as balancing competing uses. Good stewardship should provide a basis for social licence. Bad stewardship could jeopardise it.

Zenith is a member of the global Alliance for Water Stewardship and has a team of water specialists uniquely qualified to support the implementation of stewardship programmes. We shall be presenting a workshop on stewardship best practice during the next Global Bottled Water Congress at Evian on 22-24 October.

Water is moving up the ranking of corporate priorities to become a key element of business strategy.

Those businesses with a dependence on access to good quality water, but without a corporate water strategy, are at greater risk of missing out on future opportunities for growth.

Sep 25, 2018 / Richard Hall

Robot coffee barista ?

I never expected this, but it could just work.

While I was in Singapore earlier in the summer, I met Ella, who introduced herself and conversed with me, but was in fact a ‘Mobile Robotic Barista’.

This robotic arm took my coffee order and duly dispensed it, ending with the equivalent of a flirtatious wink by twisting its hand/head to one side. Here’s the photo I took.


My first reaction was to doubt how a ‘machine’ could ‘personalise’ a premium service.

A conversation with Keith Tan, founder and CEO of Crown Coffee, quickly put me straight.

How do you ensure consistent quality in a 24 hour operation when there are staff shortages ? A robot guarantees this, increasing productivity and saving on cost. It could even anticipate your order as a regular customer by face recognition.

Then I smelled the coffee.

Sep 20, 2018 / Richard Hall

China’s water armies and fake news

Apparently, 20% of social media followers for many Chinese businesses are fake.

Their social media presence is inflated to improve their positioning and profiles are often managed by agencies.

These fake forces are known as water armies, because they pour water into the online dialogue.

The practice gained wider awareness when a $110 million film backed by Alibaba was suddenly withdrawn after just one weekend.

The blame was put on water armies.

I am indebted to the Financial Times magazine on 4th August for this extraordinary insight. But then, if it’s anything to do with beverages, you should be able to rely on bevblog.

Sep 18, 2018 / Richard Hall

Online subscription opportunity

I’ve just been in China again for 2 weeks. Online sales there are booming and I had my first experience of having payment by cash refused.

In the United States, online sales are expected to account for 20% of the grocery total by 2025, upwards of $100 billion.

Online subscriptions were just $57 million in 2011, but rocketed to $2.6 billion in 2016, according to McKinsey.

Numerous beverage companies are already taking advantage:

• Soylent meal replacement drinks started in 2013 with an exclusively e-commerce model, combining Amazon, direct to consumer and subscriptions from an early stage.

• Sudden Coffee backs up its subscription service with discounts and newsletters encouraging free trials.

• Hint water has prioritised direct to consumer subscriptions to have greater customer knowledge.

• Others such as Dirty Lemon functional drinks use SMS text messaging.

Apparently, three key success criteria are ensuring security and transparency to build trust. And one commentator has identified the biggest problem as being … stockpiling.

Sep 17, 2018 / Richard Hall

Record 80 acquisitions in August

August indeed. The mergers and acquisitions database registered an all time record 80 food and drink transactions in the course of the past month.

Many of them were enormous. In fact 6 exceeded not just $1,000 million but also $2,000 million:

• $6,800 million in packaging for Australia’s Amcor to buy US based Bemis
• $5,100 million in coffee for Coca-Cola to acquire UK based Costa from Whitbread
• $3,900 million in cannabis-based non-alcoholic beverages for Constellation Brands to gain 38% of Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp
• $3,200 million in soft drinks for PepsiCo to take over Israel based SodaStream International
• $3,100 million in beer for Heineken to build a 40% stake in China Resources’ CRH Beer
• $2,160 million in meat for US based Tyson Foods to win Keystone Foods from Marfrig of Brazil.

That’s almost $25,000 million from those 6 alone.

The key categories were soft drinks with 14 deals, alcohol with 12, dairy with 11, services with 10 and packaging with 7. Meat, plant-based and snacks came next with 3 each.

44 were domestic affairs. 29 of these were in the United States, with 4 each in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. 36 were across borders.

Of the 80 total, 47 involved the United States, 12 the United Kingdom, 6 Australia, 5 Canada and 4 each France, India and the Netherlands.

11 were funding rounds.