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May 26, 2015 / Richard Hall

Non-milks hit $1,600 million

I feel uncomfortable about using the word milk for them, but more types keep appearing and many of them are gaining in popularity, though not all.

Latest figures for the US market show 2014 retail sales and % change on 2013 as: 

US retail sales in 2014 

$ million

% change

Almond milk



Soy milk



Coconut milk



Rice milk



Hemp milk



Oat milk



 All milk alternatives





The rest include multigrain, hazelnut and other variants.  The source is SPINS.

Cashew milk is a 2015 innovation.  And apparently peanut milk is on its way.



May 21, 2015 / Richard Hall

Top city for coconut water

Which city would you pick ?  I would have said New York.  That’s where it started.  In the gyms, on the go.

At last week’s UK soft drinks industry conference, we were updated by brand leader Vita Coco.  Apparently it’s London.

UK sales of coconut water have now reached £75 million and there are 47 brands on the market.

May 19, 2015 / Richard Hall

Wake up to liquid breakfast

We had a record attendance at Zenith’s annual UK soft drinks industry conference last week. Over 20 speakers covered all the issues and presented many innovations.

Among them, we learned a lot about breakfast drinks:

• Australia’s breakfast drink market is reportedly worth A$200 million a year.

• The UK market is a long way behind at just £7.5 million, but is beginning to grow strongly.

• The UK breakfast cereals market declined last year by 6%.

Breakfast is such an important meal, yet many skip it. Let’s hope breakfast drinks can fill the gap.

May 12, 2015 / Richard Hall

43 acquisitions in April

We’re heading for more than 500 international food and drink industry transactions being recorded on the database this year, with another 43 registered in April.

Three were particularly big, all over $2,500 million:

  • $3,600 million for China Resources Holdings to consolidate its non-beer activities.
  • €3,240 million for US-based XPO Logistics to buy France’s Norbert Dentressangle.
  • €2,600 million for UK-based Nomad Foods to purchase 91% of Iglo in frozen food.

Among the 43 total, 8 were in alcohol, 8 in soft drinks, 6 in ingredients, 5 in packaging and 3 in dairy.

21 countries were affected.  Uniquely, the United Kingdom featured in more than the United States – 16 to 15.  3 more countries were involved in 5 each – Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands, followed by China and France on 3 apiece.  The United Kingdom was by far the biggest seller, making 8 disposals to other countries.






May 7, 2015 / Richard Hall

World’s biggest food show

Expo 2015 opened in Milano on 1st May.  Its theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.  There are 144 national pavilions and undoubtedly many more restaurants.  You really should go.  It runs until 31st October.

I went on Sunday.  I must have walked at least 10 kilometres.  What did I see ?

Among beverages, there was a large Coca-Cola pavilion and one of its Eko Centers, which provide clean water and social enterprise support in Africa.  Evian had a capsule with sounds of the source and San Pellegrino had a dedicated booth with source visuals.

Wine was represented by many imaginative displays.  Beer too.  And coffee was the central theme of several countries.

In design terms, some of the most striking pavilions were those of China, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Belarus.  France had a glorious overhead presentation of culinary heritage and a captivating commentary on sustainability.  Oman gave particular prominence to water.

The highlights were too numerous to mention, but included crops and herbs being grown through the coming months.

There was special attention to the environment in all the materials and stands.

Was there a glimpse of the future ?  I visited an excellent concept store created by Coop Italia, with low tables instead of shelves and electronic information on screens to complement labels.  There was also a small rotating vertical herb garden, which I suspect uses more resource than it saves.

The huge amount of walking and exercise necessary was certainly not going to increase obesity.  But what was the only product I bought while there?  Chocolate.




May 5, 2015 / Richard Hall

Cross-category innovation

The latest issues of Beverage Innovation and Dairy Innovation magazines display a mind-boggling array of new products from around the world.  Five stood out for me as examples of how far brand owners believe consumers are willing to accept multi-category mixes.

The first two are milk with no milk and beer with no alcohol.

  • Bolthouse Farms’ blueberry banana almond milk from the United States – fruit, almond.
  • Wahaha’s beer flavoured green tea from China – alcohol, tea.

The next three are all from Japan.

  • Suntory’s yogurt flavoured water containing fermented whey to keep it clear – dairy, water.
  • Megmilk’s yogurt cereal breakfast replacement drink containing oats, banana puree and juice – dairy, cereal, juice.
  • House Wellness Foods’ garlic energy drink with black garlic – I’m speechless and keeping my mouth shut about this.


Apr 30, 2015 / Richard Hall

3D food printing

3D solid food printing is definitely on its way, but what about liquid food?

The main contenders at the moment appear to be chocolate, other confectionery, pasta and various ideas for decoration.

The world’s first conference on 3D food printing was held in the Netherlands last week.

Now I’m hearing about 3D printing of liquid food.  I’ve seen a machine create a raspberry, drop by drop.  But I haven’t yet tasted one.


Apr 28, 2015 / Richard Hall

Mio, Mjo and now Mia

Two of the more common words in beverage branding recently have been variations on the theme of Life and My/mine.

I’ve blogged about some of these in the past, notably a group of Mios and then Mjo.  Now for Mia.

Mia is a range of wines from Spain’s Freixenet.  The sparkling variants have just been launched in France.

Mia is especially interesting because it’s a lifestyle range aimed at new consumers and is identified with a charismatic female wine maker.

Make mine a Mia.