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Dec 5, 2019 / Richard Hall

Social media update

There are some useful statistics on social media usage in the latest issue of Futures.

• 45% of the global population use social media.

• Facebook peaked in 2017, slipping to 73% usage in the United States and 69% usage in the United Kingdom this year.

• Instagram is still growing strongly, rising to 50% in South Korea, 47% in the United States and 39% in the United Kingdom.

• Snapchat has greatest usage among 16-24 year olds – 66% in the United Kingdom and 63% in the United States.

• Twitch, a living streaming platform, is growing strongly among 16-24 year old men – up to 32% in the United States and 24% in the United Kingdom.

Dec 3, 2019 / Richard Hall

Functional products in Japan

Some important numbers were presented at the recent Probiota Asia event.

FOSHU (Food for Specific Health Uses) claims were allowed in Japan from 1999, but require scientific evidence based on human clinical trials. FFC (Food with Function Claims) were introduced in 2015 without requiring the same degree of verification.

Sales of FOSHU products dipped from $3.64 billion in 2016 to $3.62 billion in 2018, while FFC product sales almost doubled from $970 million to $1.84 billion.

There were 1,000 FOSHU accredited products in 2018, compared with 1,700 carrying FFC labels. Yet FFC applications have reportedly fallen and some successful functional brands such as Meiji’s R-1 and LG21 yogurts do not rely on either category of claim.

The most popular claims in 2018 were:

• maintaining health

• improving physical strength • caring for skin

• assisting physical recovery

• nutrient balance.

Nov 19, 2019 / Richard Hall

49% carton recycling in Europe

1% better than in 2017. Some countries achieve above 70%. Others much less.

This needs to improve further. Recycling should be straightforward. A simple, water-based process can separate the 3 main materials.

The average carton today consists of 75% paperboard, 21% polymers and 4% aluminium.

If consumers are to love cartons as much as they appreciate paper, then there needs to be far more investment and consistency in carton collection and recycling.

Nov 14, 2019 / Richard Hall

Beyond milk

An article in the Wall Street Journal on 1 November offered some great insights into shifts in US beverage consumption patterns, especially milk.

According to Dairy Management Inc …

• 94% of US households stock milk.

• 2018 consumption totalled 3.5 billion gallons, 13.25 billion litres.

• That’s 9% less than in 2014, a drop of 330 million gallons, 1.25 billion litres.

• Plant-based milks have only gained 60 million gallons of that, 225 million litres.

• “We’re losing over 50% to bottled water … No 2 is ready-to-drink coffee.”

• Eating less breakfast cereals accounts for 25% of milk’s decline.

• In the past year, whole milk sales are up 2.5%, while low fat milks are down 4.4%.

According to IRI research, the leading brands by market share are:

Fairlife sales have now risen to $450 million.

Nov 12, 2019 / Richard Hall

60 acquisitions in October

October was not an outstanding month for food and drink transactions, with 60 recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database, including 2 with a value over $500 million:

• 888 million euros for the packaging IPO of a 28% stake in Verallia of France

• $932 million in ingredients for One Rock private equity to buy Innophos in the United States.

Of the 60 total, 7 were in ingredients, 7 in soft drinks, 6 in alcohol, 5 in dairy, 5 in packaging, 4 in bakery and 4 in hot drinks. The combined free from number was 8 including 3 dairy-free and 2 meat-free.

10 were funding round investments.

34 were within national borders, 18 of these in the United States, 9 in the United Kingdom, 3 in Canada and 3 in France. 26 were international, involving 23 countries.

Among the 58, the United States figured in 28, the United Kingdom in 13, France in 7 and Ireland in 4.

Nov 7, 2019 / Richard Hall

Can recycling record

Can recycling in Europe reached record levels in the latest annual statistics, an average 74.5% in 2017, up from 72.8% in 2016. I’m delighted.

• The total was 31 billion cans.

• They weighed 420,000 tonnes.

• 6 countries achieved rates of 95% or more:

99% Germany

98% Belgium, Finland, Norway

96% Luxembourg

95% Lithuania

• Recycling aluminium uses 95% less energy than new aluminium and produces 95% less greenhouse gas emissions.

• Good deposit return schemes are said to “generate the best results.”

• 6 countries achieved rates below 50%:

43% Latvia, Portugal

40% Czech Republic

38% Hungary

36% Romania

30% Malta

As the song goes, ‘Things Can Only Get Better.’

Nov 5, 2019 / Richard Hall

Plastic in perspective

The one thing missing from most of the current debate on plastic is perspective. I’ve written about this before, but feel prompted to do so again by some plain talking common sense from Coca-Cola’s Chief Executive James Quincey.

He was speaking to my colleague Duane Stanford as Executive Editor of Beverage Digest and will also be addressing our New York Future Smarts Conference on 9 December. Asked whether recycling or materials technology are the solution to plastic waste, he said:

“Both … require the same initial step, which is collection.

“A circular economy on plastic has a lower carbon footprint than aluminium or glass.

“The first thing you want is to be in plastics that have an intrinsic value … they can be reused or recycled. Many forms can’t and we want to get out of those.

“With no new technology, if we collect the bottles, we can make new bottles. This problem can be solved without new technology.

“There are some new technologies that are going to make recycling even easier.

“If someone could come up with a way of having a biodegradable plastic bottle that didn’t just break down into smaller bits of plastic, but truly, truly broke down, that would be interesting.

“The lowest carbon footprint will still be the idea of collecting the plastic back and making new plastic out of it.

“It’s not just about waste, which is the visible problem, it’s ultimately going to be about carbon footprint.”

Such clarity is rare.

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.