It felt as if it was a busy month. And so it turned out. The bevblog.net database recorded almost 3 food and drink transactions for every working day of November.
Most were quite small, but there were four deals of scale:
• $1,400 million sales from the packaging merger of UK Chesapeake Services and US Multi Packaging Solutions
• £350 million for the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan to buy UK Burton’s Biscuit
• $489 million for Denmark’s Carlsberg to increase its stake in China’s Chongqing Brewery from 29.7% to 60.0%.
• $472 million for the agreed but not finalised dairy bid by Canada’s Saputo for Australia’s Warrnambool.
Of the 55 total, 11 were in dairy, 9 in packaging and equipment, 8 in alcohol, 8 in soft drinks and 5 in ingredients.
The activity was spread across 30 countries, with the United States involved in 19, the United Kingdom in 10, Australia in 6, New Zealand in 6, Canada in 5, France in 4 and Switzerland in 4.
About time. And not enough. But I am delighted to see new momentum from industry efforts to improve recycling rates.
• European Union beverage carton recycling rose from 37% in 2011 to 40% in 2012.
• European PET bottle recycling reached 52% in 2012.
• US aluminium can recycling increased from 65% in 2011 to 67% in 2012.
I delight in simplification. I have taken full advantage of The Economist’s ability to summarise global economic health in a single line. Now I’ve discovered another single line that captures commodity price volatility since 1900.
Source: Index Mundi with thanks to Forum for the Future and www.knowledgeshare.com
It shows bumps and dips in most of the places you would expect. But two aspects struck me instantly:
• I would have anticipated far more volatility over time.
• The last three years have been the highest and among the most extreme, despite a faltering global economic recovery.
An online petition will shortly reach Nestlé, with 400,000 supporters urging the company to “stop draining Pakistan dry!”
The plea pulls no punches – “destroying countries’ natural resources … forcing people to buy their own water back … rendering entire areas uninhabitable … the poor watch wells run dry and watch their children fall ill.” And that’s just the first two paragraphs.
The concern, of course, is legitimate. Nestlé has also put itself in the firing line by bottling water and by leading the debate about placing a sensible value on water to stop so much being wasted.
But Nestlé is completely the wrong target. Indeed, Nestlé may be the best advocate and partner for Pakistani villagers.
• First of all, bottled water uses very little water and all of it is drunk. Most of it is local, less is wasted than for any other beverage and it is safe.
• Second, in many countries, more people would fall ill if there were no bottled water.
• Third, bottled water companies and especially Nestlé are the best guardians of natural water sources, often conserving more water than they use.
• Fourth, it is years of neglect or inability by governments to provide adequate public water supplies that is the problem in many countries.
A petition that a Swiss company should ensure that Pakistani “villages have access to safe drinking water” is sadly misdirected.
What’s in a name ? Everything, possibly.
In March 2011, Kraft launched a pocket-sized add-to-water syrup called MiO. It enjoyed huge success in the United States and has led to the creation of a new liquid water enhancer category after similar launches by Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and others.
Two days ago, another drink called Mio was launched in Russia with the support of Rexam and Alcon, but this one is a milk shake in cans.
I can’t help wondering how long two drinks with the same name will be able to co-exist without a cold war.
My way out would be for the new brand to become Mjo, which is a shortened form of the Swedish for milk – mjölk. It wouldn’t even need the logo to change !
Personalisation is becoming a dominant theme of this decade. I highlighted it in my November beverage innovation article on Think Global, Act Personal, when I looked at dispense caps, freestyle vending, liquid enhancers and personalised bottles.
Now I should add another dimension – producing a premium brand experience in your home.
This has been promoted for decades with coffee filters and fizzy drinks machines, but two more recent innovations have pushed at new boundaries.
One is the coffee pod, led by Nespresso and Senseo, and now almost ubiquitous. Bean to cup vending is a variant on the same theme.
Next year, we’ll see Heineken’s new Sub draught beer machine, aiming to create a genuine draught beer experience at home.
What’s your limit on the price for a Coca-Cola ?
At Christie’s on 12 November, a single bottle sold for $57.2 million.
It had been painted by Andy Warhol.
Isn’t it extraordinary how different countries take such different views on taxation? Here are some examples of new initiatives around the world at the end of October.
• The French Parliament voted for an energy drinks tax of 1 euro per litre as a public health measure, to take effect on 1 January 2014 and raise 60 million euros a year if passed by the French Senate.
• India’s Supreme Court rejected most aspects of a call for tougher ingredient controls and warnings on labels.
• Mexico’s Senate backed a lower house vote for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages including syrups at 1 Peso per litre.
• Thailand’s Finance Ministry is proposing a 10-20% excise tax on ready-to-drink green tea from 2014 as ‘the claim by local producers that they are helping tea farmers is no longer valid’.