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Dec 21, 2017 / Richard Hall

Themes for 2018 – obesity

I was drawn to two articles recently on consumer health:

• in The Sunday Times on 26th November about Coca-Cola

• in Food Manufacture on 4th December about UK Government policy.

New Coca-Cola Chief Executive James Quincey has heralded a change of approach. The ‘initial strategy to deflect blame by telling consumers there was lots of sugar in other goods or urging them to get more exercise was “a mistake … consumers don’t want to be lectured. If there’s a problem, you have to be in favour of something that is likely to lead to a solution …” He overturned opposition to traffic light warning labels on UK products. He also introduced smaller packages and more sugar-free Cokes.’ He still opposes soda taxes, because ‘when soda taxes are introduced, soda sales fall but consumers then choose substitutes that are often higher in calories, worsening obesity.’

Public Health England Director of Nutrition Dr Alison Tedstone said that, ‘while sugar has been the cornerstone of the obesity battle, … the issue can only be truly addressed by tackling the 75% of calories consumed in the UK that are not sugar-related … particularly the growing proportion of calories eaten out of the home.’ She added that: “Education is important … but it’s not going to solve the obesity problem … Most children know what they should be eating.”

Clearly, we all have a role to play.

Dec 19, 2017 / Richard Hall

Teleporting drinks

One of my key learnings this year has been the extent to which colour and smell influence taste.

I remain sceptical, however, about the latest technology that allows the colour and flavour of a lemonade to be transmitted online and tasted by a recipient; who is only drinking water.

The science is not to be sniffed at, coming from the National University of Singapore and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The explanation is plausible – “Flavour is mainly how we perceive food or beverages in our mind and it consists of multisensory information including visual, taste, smell among others… Our approach is to augment the beverage flavour experience by overlaying extra sensory stimuli.”

The method is straightforward. The sender dips a sensor into a beverage and sends the data to a recipient who drinks from an electronically connected container, which both stimulates the taste buds and uses LED lights to convey the relevant colour signals.

And hey presto. Virtual lemonade.

My doubts are mainly about convenience and practicality as well as delivery but, once the technology develops, I can see it being used as a taste enhancer, such as for the elderly in hospital or to help people reduce fat, salt or sugar in their diet.

Dec 14, 2017 / Richard Hall

World top 10 beverage brands

3 of the world’s 10 most valuable beverage brands are soft drinks, according to the latest assessment by Interbrand. 3 more are beers, 3 are spirits and the last is a champagne.

The full top 10 is :


Coca-Cola is ranked 4th overall and its value is more than all the other top 10 beverages combined.

Whilst I wouldn’t take issue with the top 3 names, I feel many other brands must be strong top 10 contenders, especially Red Bull and Monster.

Dec 12, 2017 / Richard Hall

Global e-commerce update

According to the latest figures for the year to March 2017 from Kantar Worldpanel, e-commerce sales reached:

• 4.6% of all fast moving consumer goods, with
• 30% growth in grocery.

By 2025, Kantar Worldpanel predicts e-commerce will rise to:

• 10% of total FMCG business, with a value of
• $170 billion.

China’s online market is already worth a reported $25.3 billion, more than the US and UK markets combined.

The top six countries for overall value growth in past year were China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and the United States.

The fastest % growth rates in grocery value were in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Dec 7, 2017 / Richard Hall

56 acquisitions in November

56 food and drink transactions were recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database in November.

2 involved huge sums of over $5,000 million and 1 more exceeded $500 million:

• $12,000 million combined sales for the US alcohol distribution merger of Republic National Distributing Company and Breakthru Beverage Group

• $6,550 million value for another alcohol merger between San Miguel Pure Foods, San Miguel Brewery and Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippines to create San Miguel Food and Beverage

• $727 million sales for US based Kind Snacks, in which Mars took a minority stake.

Among the 56 total, 12 were in alcohol, 10 in dairy, 6 in snacks, 5 in soft drinks and 3 each in hot drinks, ingredients and nutrition.

27 were within national borders, 20 of these being in the United States. 29 were international.

Overall, 27 countries featured, with the United States marking up 34 deals, the United Kingdom 6, Australia 5, Canada 5, Spain 4 and France 3.

Nov 23, 2017 / Richard Hall

National policy on bottled water

Of all the countries in the world, which would you suppose is developing a National Policy on Packaged and Bottled Water ?

There may be others, but I’m not aware of any. So this may be the first such initiative. It’s been taken by the Minister of State for Trade in Uganda.

The three main reasons appear to be market growth, counterfeiting and tax disparities.

• ‘Bottled water has become a very important commodity’ and the Minister wishes “to make sure the industry grows.”

• He also wants to “get rid of counterfeit bottled water products and illegal players.”

• The third issue is that different tax rates across East and Central Africa make Uganda producers less competitive. Kenya levies no duty, Tanzania charges 5% and Uganda exacts 10%.

According to the Uganda Water and Juice Manufacturers Association Secretary, “until now the unofficial policy in Uganda considers bottled water to be a luxury product, whereas we all know that water is life and is consumed by everybody.”

Nov 21, 2017 / Richard Hall

Aluminium recycling nears target

Aluminium beverage can recycling in Europe rose 1.6% to a record 72.9% in 2014, according to the latest figures for the EU 28 and EFTA countries, closing the gap on the 2025 target of 75%.

Finland, Germany, Belgium and Norway all achieved levels of 95% or more. Spain, the United Kingdom and Estonia were in the middle of the rankings at around 65%.

Four countries, however, failed even to reach 33% – Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Latvia.

If some countries can achieve 90% or more, why not the rest ?

Nov 16, 2017 / Richard Hall

2.3 billion people overweight

Another major study has found that childhood obesity worldwide has multiplied 10 times in 40 years.

124 million 5 to 19 year olds were obese in 2016, compared with 11 million in 1975. Another 213 million were overweight in 2016.

Obesity now affects 6% of girls and 8% of boys. Yet there are also 75 million girls and 117 million boys who are underweight.

Adult obesity over the same period has increased from 100 million to 671 million, with a further 1,300 million overweight.

The World Health Organisation analysis attributes the causes of increased obesity to food marketing, higher pricing of healthy food and government polices.

I have long argued that government policies are lacking. I also accept that food innovation and marketing has been effective. But I disagree that healthy food is any more or less affordable than other food.