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May 8, 2019 / Richard Hall

World wine rankings – 2

Stable consumption

2018 global wine consumption of 246 million hectolitres was significantly higher than in 2000, but lower than its peak of 2007 and 2008. 5 of the top 10 markets in 2018 saw rises and 5 saw falls.

May 7, 2019 / Richard Hall

World wine rankings – 1

Global wine production jumped 17% in 2018 to 292.3 million hectolitres, after tumbling 8.2% in 2017, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

Climate change is clearly accentuating volatility, with an increasing propensity for droughts, floods, premature harvests and yield variations.

Less land

The amount of land devoted to vineyards has been declining over the past 15 years, but stabilised in 2018 at 7.4 million hectares. The largest areas under vines in 2018 were:

More wine

In contrast, there have been big swings in wine production (excluding juice and musts), with increases or decreases of 20% of more for 7 of the top 10 countries in 2018.

2018 saw the biggest surge of the current century, but production was slightly higher in 2004.

May 2, 2019 / Richard Hall

Beyond bottles for Coke and Pepsi

Just as other industries are having to reinvent themselves, from news to transport, is this now happening in soft drinks ?

It’s already happened in the shift to waters, teas and energy drinks, but how far could Coke and Pepsi move beyond bottles ?

Well, cans and vending as well as fountains and dispense have been around for a long time too. But there are new initiatives from both companies that may herald bigger future changes.

Within the past few days:

• PepsiCo has launched its Beyond the Bottle programme with two new hydration platform dispense machines – one free-standing and the other counter-top.

• Coca-Cola has extended its Dasani PureFill Water Station roll out.

Key features of both are smartphone apps for payment, wide personalised choice, hydration monitoring and potential for free plain water dispense.

So like social media, both companies are exploring the need to give away free content in order to build loyalty and meet concerns about sustainability.

In fact, each company has been trialling multiple other new non-packaged solutions for some time:

• Coca-Cola’s Freestyle touch screen soda fountain was introduced in 2009.

• PepsiCo first tested its Drinkfinity pods with re-usable bottles in 2014.

• Coca-Cola tried out a partnership with Keurig Kold pods from 2014 to 2016.

• PepsiCo purchased SodaStream International for $3,200 million in 2018.

So far, these experiments are small scale, but the possibilities are waiting to be uncapped.

Apr 30, 2019 / Richard Hall

Falling short of 5 a day

So much for achieving the generally accepted target of 5 fruit and vegetable portions a day. And yet the preferred World Health Organisation target is 10 portions or 800 grams for the best protection against non-communicable diseases.

The sad truth from a 28 country European Union survey is that 36% of the population don’t even manage 1 fruit portion a day and 37% don’t eat 1 vegetable portion a day.

Just 23% consume vegetables twice a day and 27% eat fruit twice a day.

The top countries for at least 1 fruit portion a day are Italy and Portugal at above 80%. For vegetables, Ireland and Belgium reach over 80%.

The laggards for fruit are Latvia, Bulgaria and Lithuania at less than 40%. For vegetables, Hungary comes lowest at 30%.

How simple and yet how difficult it is to make good sense of our diets.

Apr 25, 2019 / Richard Hall

Breakfast or die

If you don’t have breakfast, you’re 87% more likely to die of heart disease than if you eat it daily.

That is the stark conclusion from a survey of 6,550 Americans aged 40 to 75 between 1988 to 1994, then following their health up to 2011. During this time 2,318 died, including 619 from cardiovascular disease.

Adjustments were made to rule out other factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status, diet and lifestyle.

Eating breakfast was also associated with all kinds of other benefits such as helping lower blood pressure, prevent haemorrhage, regulate appetite and improve glycemic response.

Skipping breakfast was linked to numerous other adverse impacts such as higher cholesterol, decreased satiety, increased obesity, impaired insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes.

The damning conclusion was that “skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease … Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health.”

The study was conducted by the American College of Cardiology and published in its Journal.

It contradicts a growing belief that occasional fasting has health benefits, but the research is clearly not the end of the story.

Personally, I have always been a great believer in a wholesome breakfast. After many years of feeling too hungry by lunchtime, I switched some time ago to a breakfast of natural yogurt, muesli, granola, prunes and berries, with a small glass of milk. It is simple, gives me pleasure and I hope it keeps me healthy.

A strong coffee then sets me up for the day ahead.

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