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Apr 16, 2019 / Richard Hall

More truth on soft drinks taxes

Since even before Zenith’s research was used by the UK Government to calculate the potential revenue from a new soft drinks industry levy, I have argued that tackling obesity required a range of measures and that taxing soft drinks would have little impact.

At the recent Global Sugar Summit, it seems my views have been borne out by two key authorities including one of the most unlikely.

None other than Professor Graham MacGregor, who founded Action on Sugar and spoke at 2 industry conferences organised by Zenith, has acknowledged:

“The fact is, you wouldn’t expect this to have an effect on obesity. We’ve got to have multiple layers to get calorie intake down in order to deal with it and just having a soft drinks tax is not going to help.”

The highly respected Institute of Economic Affairs added weight with its analysis that “a recorded decline in sugary soft drinks consumption by 50% in the last 15 years had not correlated to a decline in obesity, suggesting that it was the wrong sector for the government to be focusing on.”

Well, knock me down with a feather.

Apr 11, 2019 / Richard Hall

Positives and negatives in nutrition

Negatives have dominated nutrition policies over the past 50 years.

Key messages have been to stop eating so much salt, sugar, fat and meat.

Now, at last, a major study published in The Lancet journal on ‘The Global Burden of Disease’ has shifted the focus on to positives.

We could do more good by eating more whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

The study assessed consumption trends for 15 dietary factors across 195 countries between 1990 and 2017.

It found that 1 in 5 deaths were associated with poor diet. That amounted to 11 million deaths in 2017 as well as 255 million lost years of healthy life.

Lack of whole grains and fruit accounted for 5 million deaths and 147 million lost years of healthy life.

Excess sodium contributed a further 3 million deaths and 70 million lost years of healthy life.

Fat and sugar were not in the top 3 concerns.

There are three quotes I picked out that summed up the change of advice:

“Suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking.”

“While sodium, sugar and fat have been the focus of policy debates over the past two decades, our assessment suggests the leading dietary risk factors are high intake of sodium or low intake of healthy foods such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, and vegetables.”

“Dietary policies focusing on promoting the intake of components of diet, for which current intake is less than the optimal level, might have a greater effect than policies only targeting sugar and fat, highlighting the need for comprehensive food system interventions to promote the production, distribution and consumption of these foods across nations.”

I noticed one other conclusion worthy of note:

“Globally, consumption of all healthy foods and nutrients was suboptimal in 2017.” The largest gaps included milk.

Apr 9, 2019 / Richard Hall

Latest on recycling in Europe

Some of the latest European statistics for recycling are really quite impressive.

• 85.8% for paper and cardboard packaging

• 78.3% for metal packaging

• 74.1% for glass packaging.

This is the average for all 28 EU countries, so some are even higher.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that consumers across Europe think that cartonboard is the most environmentally friendly type of packaging material.

Nevertheless, the European Union has now set ambitious new targets for plastic, seeking a 90% collection rate for PET bottles by 2029. That compares with the current average of 58%. Germany and Norway have already reached the 90% level, but Greece is down at 29% and Bulgaria bottom at 17%.

The EU also wants to see 25% recycled content in PET bottles by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Apparently, this would require 60 new reprocessing plants with an average annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes each.

That’s a tall order, but there’s no way round it. Plastic has to prove itself all over again

Apr 4, 2019 / Richard Hall

49 acquisitions in March

Lower than expected. 49 food and drink industry transactions were recorded on the bevblog.net mergers and acquisitions database in March. Not only that. There were fewer of scale than usual. Just 2 reached $500 million, though 1 of these exceeded $4,000 million.

• £3,340 million for US-based Berry Global to buy UK-based RPC in packaging.

• $585 million for US-based Olympus private equity to buy UK-based DS Smith’s plastics division.

Of the 49 total, 10 were in ingredients, 6 in alcohol, 6 in soft drinks, 5 in plant-based and 3 each in dairy, packaging and services.

18 were inside national borders, 15 of these in the United States. 31 were international, spanning 25 countries.

The United States topped the overall rankings on 27, followed by the United Kingdom on 9, France on 4, Japan on 4 and 3 apiece for Belgium, China, Norway and Sweden.

The UK made 7 international divestments and Japan 4 international purchases. 8 of the March list were funding rounds.

Apr 2, 2019 / Richard Hall

Dairy vs non-dairy in nutrition

With plant-based products making inroads into dairy’s market share, more dairy advocates are emphasising milk’s natural nutrients, even as part of a plant-based diet.

The Dairy Council of California has developed a graphic to illustrate this.

It certainly shows how milk stands out on calcium benefit. I look forward to other comparisons in due course.

Mar 28, 2019 / Richard Hall

Top 10 best sellers in France

According to Nielsen ScanTrack and Nielsen Homescan, as reported by Rayon Boissons, the top 10 best selling beverage brand lines in France by value in 2018 were:

• 4 water lines clearly had the highest penetration, all multipacks, including 1 sparkling.

• 4 were spirits, in singles.

• 2 were beers, in multipacks of 20 or more.

• None were soft drinks, whether carbonated or still.

Mar 26, 2019 / Richard Hall

PET recycling in Europe

So, how good are we ? Bottle half full ? Or bottle half empty ? Overall, more than half full. But many countries are well behind. Certainly, some progress. But needing to do much better.

The latest annual European survey commissioned by Petcore Europe shows:

• 1.923 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected in 2017, up from 1.881 million tonnes in 2016.

• But the percentage of total PET bottle weight collected appears to have fallen from 59.8% in 2016 to 58.2% in 2017.

• The strongest performers were Germany and Finland at 90-95%.

• The weakest were in the Mediterranean in central eastern Europe at “less than 30-40%”.

The quality of some collected PET has also been brought into question, with PET trays and opaque bottles accounting for up to 25% of bales which should only be clear PET or mixed colour PET.

More positively, the maximum capacity for processing collected PET was 2.038 million tonnes in 2017, meaning that there is significant potential to do better if collection is improved.

Mar 21, 2019 / Richard Hall

Plastic plans from France

A group of leading manufacturers and retailers in France have announced recycling targets that go beyond most other initiatives.

Signatories include Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestlé and Unilever along with Auchan, Carrefour, Franprix, Monoprix and Système U, backed by WWF.

There are 6 key goals:

• eliminating problem materials, such as PVC by 2022 and polystyrene

• developing new business models for consumers to adopt reusable packaging

• requiring 100% reusability or recyclability by 2025

• achieving 60% recycling by 2022

• incorporating a minimum 30% recycled content by 2025

• trialling new solutions.

Nestlé has now launched a new paper sachet for Nesquik powder. And Coca-Cola has just introduced some PET bottles with 50% recycled content, having already reached an average 27% recycled content across all its French production.