Skip to content
Jun 26, 2018 / Richard Hall

Obesity and soft drinks don’t add up

Carbonated soft drinks volumes are relatively stable in many countries and in long term decline in the United States.

Calories in soft drinks are falling on both sides of the Atlantic.

Yet obesity is not following a similar path anywhere, as far as I am aware.

The obesity figures recently reported in The Sunday Times are quite shocking:

• For adults in the United States, up from 23% in 1991 to 38% in 2014.

• For adults in the United Kingdom, up from 14% in 1991 to 27% in 2015.

• For children aged 12 to 15 in America 21% aged 11 to 15 in England 23%.

• For children aged 9 to 11 in America 18% and aged 10 and 11 in England 20%.

• For children aged 2 to 19 in America 29%, UK 28%, Ireland 27%, France 18% and Japan 14%.

The UK Government forecasts that 50% of UK adults will be obese by 2050, costing £10 billion a year in health service provision and £50 billion a year to the wider economy.

The figures will only slim down if policies are given added weight.

Jun 21, 2018 / Richard Hall

Update of dairy sustainability

After 10 years of its Dairy Roadmap sustainability programme, the UK dairy industry has reported on its progress over that time.

The results are to be commended:

• 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from milk production

• 24% increase in water efficiency

• 18% uplift in energy efficiency

• 85% of HDPE milk containers now recycled

• almost 90% drop in waste to landfill from 35% to 4%.

Also of note:

• Dairy is the largest UK agricultural sector, accounting for 15% of output value, worth £8,800 million in wholesale sales and employing over 70,000 people.

• The UK dairy sector is no 3 in Europe and no 10 worldwide.

Jun 20, 2018 / Richard Hall

Dairy preferred to plant-based

Despite their growth, plant-based alternatives to dairy are not as popular as might be expected, according to consumer research by Cargill, as published for the United States in the May 2018 edition of Dairy Foods.

• Just 13% of US consumers are dairy avoiders, with 10% limiting their consumption and only 3% consuming none at all.

• Only 12% prefer plant-based, with 8% also consuming dairy and 4% consuming just plant-based.

• A very substantial 42% consume both, with a further 24% having tried plant-based but disliking it and 21% never having tried it.

So plant-based still has some way to go.

Jun 19, 2018 / Richard Hall

Non-dairy growing faster

Rabobank’s new report on dairy alternatives provides both insights and lessons for the dairy sector.

First, the insights:

• Dairy alternative global retail sales have been growing by 8% a year for the last 10 years and have now reached $15.6 billion.

• Dairy-free milk represents 12% of combined liquid sales.

• Dairy demand is growing at an overall rate of 2.5% a year, but drinking milk retail sales in West Europe have been falling by 3% a year to $18.6 billion and in the United States by 5% a year to $12.5 billion.

• 39% of dairy alternative sales are soy, with almond now up to a 68% share in the United States.

Second, the lessons:

• Dairy’s strengths are identified as nutritional value, clean label, natural fat, price competitiveness and taste.

• Dairy-free’s attractions include perceptions around health, sustainability, lifestyle choice and sustainability as well as curiosity.

• Nut allergies are seen as a possible concern, but many other alternatives are waiting in the wings – from barley, flax, oat and pea to canary grass, hemp and quinoa.

Jun 14, 2018 / Richard Hall

Safeguarding access to water

According to one estimate, it will take an investment of $449 billion a year to achieve the water availability targets set out by the United Nations for 2030.

Another estimate puts the total required at $6,700 billion.

Today, the World Health Organisation and Unicef calculate that 2.1 billion people still don’t have access to safe drinking water and 4.5 billion lack adequate sanitation.

The financial world is taking more note and some have gone so far as to characterise water as the ‘new oil’ or ‘blue gold’.

In fact, the Chief Executive of Suez has predicted that water ‘could become more valuable than oil’.

His assessment is a stark warning. “Companies will have to rely on wastewater recycling or desalination … If astronauts can drink their own recycled urine, then we can also drink treated waste water. From ‘toilet to tap’ is a challenge for the public to accept, whereas from ‘showers to flowers’ does appeal.”

I’ve always thought this will be increasingly reflected in the valuations of protected natural water sources, but possibly more in the long term than the short term.

Jun 12, 2018 / Richard Hall

Running out of water

Well, Cape Town didn’t in the end.

Now satellite data from NASA on fresh water reserves has identified dozens of regions around the world at high risk, including the Middle East, the Caspian sea, northern India and north east China.

Out of 34 regions where there has been the greatest change in fresh water availability, human activity is the primary cause in 14 and climate is the primary cause in 8.

The Financial Times on 17th May noted that “prolonged droughts in California, eastern Brazil and the Middle East led to depleted groundwater reserves.”

An author of the study has concluded that “water insecurity is much closer than we think.”

When I was in Hong Kong last week, one of the regional newspapers charted the levels of water in all of Hong Kong’s reservoirs because of low rainfall in May. Reassuringly, it was raining as I left for the airport.

Jun 7, 2018 / Richard Hall

67 acquisitions in May

May was a massive month for food and drink transactions, with 67 being recorded on the mergers and acquisitions database. Do take a look at or

6 deals topped $500 million, including 4 above $1,000 million and 2 over $5,000 million.

• At $7,150 million, Nestlé’s acquisition of Starbucks ready to drink retail rights outside its outlets was just ahead of

• $7,100 million in ingredients for US-based IFF to buy Israel’s Frutarom.

• £1,500 million was the price agreed for UK-based Pret A Manger to move from Bridgepoint private equity to JAB Holdings.

• $1,000 million enabled Middleby to buy Taylor Company in equipment from United Technologies in the United States.

Of the 67 total, 8 were in ingredients, 7 in alcohol, 7 in soft drinks, 6 in dairy, 6 in packaging, 5 in snacks, 4 in equipment, 4 in nutrition and 4 in meat-free/vegan.

17 were funding rounds of some kind.

29 countries featured in May. 30 deals were within national borders, 23 of these in the United States. 37 were international.

Overall, the United States was involved in 36, the United Kingdom in 16, France in 6, the Netherlands in 5, Israel in 4, Germany in 3 and Switzerland in 3.

May 17, 2018 / Richard Hall

New alternatives to plastic

There are, of course, numerous alternatives to plastic already – paper, glass, metal and more. Plastic has many forms too. All have advantages and disadvantages.

I’ve noted four innovations in recent weeks that seem worthy of greater attention.

• In February, Tetra Pak announced it had produced 500 million beverage cartons entirely from renewable materials including the cap. The Tetra Rex bio-based cartons were introduced in October 2014, using paperboard certified by the Forest Sustainability Council and plastic caps derived from sugar cane.

• More companies are using opaque plant-based bottles that look like plastic, such as the US So Delicious Organic Almondmilk with Cashew launched in February. The bottle is 80% plant-based from sugar cane and can be recycled.

• Mondi has created a new recyclable plastic laminate, known as BarrierPack Recyclable, consisting of 2 PE film layers to make pouches.

• CCL Label has developed a new EcoSource label, which provides a bottle sleeve with up to 94% bio-based material.

Bio-based materials offer an increasingly important alternative to oil-based materials, if that’s what society chooses for the future.

BLOG-17MAY2018-1-Tetra Rex Bio-Based Cartons

BLOG-17MAY2018-2-So Delicious