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Jun 1, 2017 / Richard Hall

China population 90 million lower ?

The new research hasn’t been confirmed as authoritative, but it could help explain some changes in the Chinese economy.

China’s official population is 1.38 billion. A US based Chinese scientist, however, believes the Chinese birth rate has been over estimated since 1990. He concludes the revised population figure should be 90 million lower at 1.29 billion.

This would mean India now has the highest population in the world at 1.33 billion. Unless that has to be revised too.

May 31, 2017 / Richard Hall

Pulse of the nation

Zenith now features live delegate polling at its conferences and the results from the UK Soft Drinks Conference earlier in May could provide useful pointers to future industry expectations.

To me, the most revealing findings were:

• 67% believing sustainability would be the key issue in 5 years’ time, with just 16% saying sugar.

• 64% supporting a bottle deposit scheme.

• 69% preferring recycling into other products instead of closed loop.

• 53% in favour of the entire food industry reducing sweetness levels, with 47% against.

Full results on everything, from the General Election and Brexit to market growth and innovation, are available at

May 30, 2017 / Richard Hall

Health of the nation

At Zenith’s UK Soft Drinks Conference earlier in May, speakers presented some salutary insights on recent changes in the national diet.

1 We are not eating 5 fruit and vegetable portions a day.
For the year to 17 January 2017, excluding ingredients in pies, the figures were 2.9 portions for children, 2.9 portions for men and 3.2 portions for women.

2 Average take home soft drinks sugar content has fallen below the new tax rate.
The average was 5.4 grams per 100ml in 2012 and fell below the 5.0 gram levy threshold to 4.7 grams per 100ml in 2016. 32% of take home soft drinks would currently be subjected to the levy.

3 Milk, sugar and confectionery now make a bigger contribution to take home sugars than soft drinks.


All the figures came from Kantar Worldpanel research.

May 25, 2017 / Richard Hall

Same country – different recycling

What would you say is a reasonable difference in household recycling rates between the best and worst regions of a country? 10%? 20%?

There are 2 disturbing findings in the June issue of Britain’s Which? consumer watchdog magazine.

The first is that UK waste recycling declined in 2015/16 from 44.9% to 44.3%. This cannot be acceptable.

The second is that the best Council of South Oxfordshire at 66.6% was several times better than the lowest performing London Borough of Newham on 14.7%, a difference of 353%.

There is, however, light at the bottom of the bin bag. Richmondshire District Council increased its recycling by 14.7 percentage points, the same as the total for Newham, to 52.4% in just one year.

May 23, 2017 / Richard Hall

Diffusiophoresis – don’t be put off

According to The Economist magazine on 20th May, based on research by Princeton University and published in Nature Communications, this could be the solution to many of the world’s problems with water access and quality.

It’s only at an experimental stage, but the test was remarkably successful. It:

• removed 99.95% of particles
• used under one thousandth of the energy required for membrane filtration
• is cheap and should prove easy to maintain
• only requires carbon dioxide.

My explanation may not be sufficient, but essentially the process involves:

• a flow of water with
• gas permeable membranes on either side,
• one containing carbon dioxide and
• one containing air.

As the carbon dioxide moves from one side to the other, the positively charged particles gravitate towards it and the negatively charged particles gravitate towards the air, leaving the main flow clean.

We may well hear more about diffusiophoresis.

May 18, 2017 / Richard Hall


You wouldn’t find it hard to guess 4 of the top 6 soft drinks brands sold online in the United States, but what about the other 2 ?

According to 1010data as reported on Bloomberg, Coca-Cola was number 1, Pepsi 3, Mountain Dew 4 and Sprite 6 in the year to February 2017.

The other 2 were not Dr Pepper, Fanta or 7Up.

No 2 was zero calorie Zevia with a 17% share to Coke’s 22% and Pepsi’s 12%. No 5 was Hansen’s on 4%, behind Mountain Dew on 5% but in front of Sprite on 3%.

On Amazon earlier this month, Coca-Cola variants took 3 of the top 4 positions and Dr Pepper Snapple’s recently acquired Bai Bubbles Voyager was number 2.

May 16, 2017 / Richard Hall

“Fizzy water makes us fat”

There’s only one place you could expect to find a story like this. A national newspaper, where it took up nearly a half page. I guessed immediately.

A University study was conducted on 16 rat siblings with 4 different drinks, 2 fizzy and 2 still. The rats consuming fizz became heavier than the rats consuming still. Oddly, neither of the fizz options were plain sparkling water.

A second test was conducted on 20 adults. Those drinking sparkling water at breakfast were hungrier.

Hey presto. Dream headline: “Eau No! Now Scientists say fizzy WATER makes us fat”. Thank you, The Mail on Sunday of 14 May. Can’t see the connection myself.

May 11, 2017 / Richard Hall

Sugar tax quiz

I didn’t make this up. The answer is really quite shocking.

Nielsen has just undertaken a Sugar Tax Survey of 500 UK consumers. How many do you think were aware that the new levy in April 2018 only applies to soft drinks ?

Well, some 8 out 10 knew about the tax.

Two thirds thought it applies to confectionery, 59% said chocolate, 57% picked out biscuits and 56% selected cakes.

28% did not think it applies to soft drinks at all.

And the number who correctly knew it only affects soft drinks ? 0%. 0 people. No one. Not even one.