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Sep 21, 2017 / Richard Hall

US should halt Philadelphia tax

I have long argued that obesity should be tackled urgently and comprehensively.

Evidence last month demonstrates that the Philadelphia soft drinks tax introduced on 1st January merely creates unnecessary car journeys and displaces jobs.

Yes, carbonated soft drinks sales volumes were down 55% in Philadelphia between January and May, but just outside Philadelphia they were up 38%. Bottled water sales were up strongly in the first 6 weeks, but they might have grown as fast anyway.

It’s worth remembering that the tax includes diet soft drinks too and happens to be raising tens of millions of dollars, even if the amount is less than expected.

Sep 19, 2017 / Richard Hall

US halts national parks ban

This was one of the more astonishingly bad ideas conceived by public authorities in recent years. In 2011, the US National Park Service approved a ban on selling bottled water in single serve containers. The policy was implemented by 23 national parks.

It took 6 years to realise they had had a Simpsons D’oh! moment.

The ban didn’t help the environment because other drinks’ bottles were heavier and contained ingredients with a higher carbon footprint.

It didn’t make anyone healthier because most alternatives contained calories and were sweetened.

According to the International Bottled Water Association, research has shown that, “when bottled water isn’t available, 63% of people will choose soda or another sugary drink – not tap water.”

Fortunately, Americans have more common sense, as 92% believe bottled water should be available wherever other beverages are sold.

Sep 14, 2017 / Richard Hall

An obesity strategy at last ?

Well, possibly. Certainly better than what preceded it. Last month, the UK Government extended its obesity focus from sugar to calories.

The premise is that many adults consume 200-300 calories per day more than they should.

The Food and Drink Federation has welcomed this adoption of its long advocated whole diet approach.

The problem is that the strategy won’t be published until 2018.

It would also be better to see national strategies as part of concerted international action.

Sep 12, 2017 / Richard Hall

67 acquisitions in August

August was another bumper month for food and drink industry transactions, with 67 recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database – the second highest ever.

Unusually, none exceeded $1 billion or even $500 million. The two biggest were:

• $425 million in meat for Hormel Foods to buy Fontanini in the United States

• €340 million for US based Corvex private equity to take a strategic 0.8% stake in Danone of France.

Of the 67 total, 12 were in alcohol and 12 in soft drinks, with 6 in dairy, 5 in packaging, 4 in ingredients and 4 in services.

37 were within national borders, including 26 in the United States, 4 in the United Kingdom, 2 in Australia, 2 in Canada and 2 in the Netherlands.

30 were international, with 15 involving the United States, 6 Japan, 5 the United Kingdom (all sales), 4 Australia, 4 France, 3 Israel (all purchases) and 3 Turkey (all sales).

22 countries featured overall.

Sep 7, 2017 / Richard Hall

US beverage guidelines

According to the US Beverage Guidance Panel, Americans consume 21% of their daily calories from beverages. Experts recommend this should be reduced to 10%.

The Panel has developed guidelines for six categories of beverages according to their relative virtue in terms of calories and nutrients, advising caution for all except water.

Earlier research published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health calculated that switching 3 sugar sweetened drinks a week to water for 12 months would reduce a person’s energy intake by 24,336 calories.

The International Bottled Water Association recently compared calories and sugar in a number of beverages:
BLOG-US Beverage Guidelines

Water at the bottom comes out on top.

Sep 5, 2017 / Richard Hall

US beverage market value

Beverage Industry magazine publishes an annual State of the Industry supplement, which provides a useful ready reckoner on retail market values and growth. For ease of reference, I’ve combined some categories, then divided them into billions and millions.

BLOG-US Beverage Market Value

In terms of value, carbonated soft drinks on $27.6 billion were ahead of beer on $23.7 billion, with bottled water 3rd on $15.3 billion and energy drinks 4th on $11.1 billion.

By way of growth, sparkling waters were the fastest at 16.0%. Imported beer on 9.4% beat craft beer on 5.8% and almond milk came 3rd on 8.1%, with still retail waters 4th on 6.2%.

BLOG-US Beverage Market Value 2

The emerging iced coffee market had the fastest growth overall at 22%, while soy milk sank back by 14%.

Aug 17, 2017 / Richard Hall

New Thailand tax on sugar

I’m in favour of comprehensive action to tackle obesity rather than singular measures that target individual products, but Thailand’s new sugar tax seems to make more sense than most.

It comes into effect on 16th September and the merits I could discern are:

• It’s designed to improve health and not just to support government finances.
• It has a six year strategy.
• It provides incentives as well as disincentives.
• So taxes will go down on sugar free beverages and progressively increase on high sugar products.
• The sugar threshold of 6g per 100ml is based on WHO standards.
• Its aim is to encourage change by both manufacturers and consumers.

However, every silver lining has its cloud. The tax rates and product categories have yet to be defined.

Aug 15, 2017 / Richard Hall

New US tax on bottled water

To me, better hydration means better health. All water contributes to that. And bottled water just as well as tap.

No calories, no treatment, natural purity, local sourcing, lightweight packaging, easy recycling, low carbon footprint, great convenience – the benefits are manifold.

And yet…

Washington State in the United States introduced a new tax on bottled water from 1st August.

It’s expected to raise $30 million in a full year.

Personally, I can’t fathom this. Compared with all other competing choices, water should be preferred not penalised.