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Oct 30, 2014 / Richard Hall

Healthy vs unhealthy food price gap

I just don’t agree.

It’s been reported that healthy foods are three times more expensive than unhealthy foods in Britain and the price gap is widening.

I find this hard to believe, even though the research was undertaken by the University of Cambridge.

To me, the methodology was flawed, because the comparison was in calories not in nutrients. Also, the basket was confined to 94 items.

Good food and good nutrition seem as affordable as they have ever been and possibly more so.

I don’t accept that obesity is a function of cost.

There are so many other key factors from better education about nutrition and food preparation to time management and personal responsibility. What do you think ?

Oct 28, 2014 / Richard Hall

Rehydration key to tackling Ebola

A doctor, who survived Ebola in Nigeria, has credited plenty of water and her own determination.

The Financial Times reported the story on 14th October, saying: “Her experience is consistent with other survivors of the disease in Nigeria – all of whom engaged in an endurance test of rehydration as soon as they were diagnosed, drinking up to five litres of a solution of water combined with rehydration salts each day.”

Another doctor, who has examined multiple Ebola patients, backed up the case for rehydration. “With Ebola, things multiply – they don’t add up.” If you miss a day of water, you have to make up for it the next day with twice as much.

Oct 23, 2014 / Richard Hall

Packaging innovation by Niagara

Another highlight of Zenith’s Global Bottled Water Congress in Budapest earlier in October was a presentation by Andy Peykoff Sr, Founder and Chairman of Niagara Bottling in the United States.

Niagara has achieved extraordinary momentum through intensive cost management and packaging innovation. Andy Peykoff gave some fascinating examples.

• In 1998 its typical 0.5 litre PET bottle weight was 25g. Today it is 8-11g. A saving of up to 68%.

• Bottle caps now weigh just 0.8-1.0g.

• Today packaging accounts for only 2% of the weight of a bottled water product, compared with 40% for glass and even 13% for an egg.

• Another pioneering move was introducing nested cases, where bottles are packed diagonally rather than in rectangular lines. These are 50% stronger and allow 17% more cases per pallet. This is because the bottles have 6 contact points between each other instead of 4.

Oct 21, 2014 / Richard Hall

Calories and beverage choices

At Zenith’s Global Bottled Water Congress in Budapest earlier in October, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of global market leader Nestlé Waters, Marco Settembri, made some dramatic statements.

He asked: “Can we in bottled water make a difference in public health?” And he answered: “I believe we can. People are not drinking enough water and are consuming too many calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, the usefulness of which is questioned by science”.

He showed a video illustrating the behaviour of 13,000 students in the United States when faced with a choice between two vending machines next to each other. One contained sugar-sweetened beverages, the other bottled water. An out of order sign was put on the bottled water machine. What happened? Did everyone walk away to find tap water? In fact, 63% chose a sugar-sweetened beverage instead.

He underlined that bottled water and tap water complement each other in increasing water consumption and urged the bottled water industry to promote the pleasure of drinking water.

Oct 16, 2014 / Richard Hall

Monster vs Red Bull in Spain

I’ve written several blogs about Monster energy drink catching up with and overtaking Red Bull in the United States.

Now it’s happening in Spain as well. The latest figures from the September edition of Alimarket show:

• Monster volume up 56% to 25 million litres in 2013, compared with Red Bull down 6% to 30 million litres.

• Monster retail volume up 7.5 share points to 21.0% in the year to 30 March 2014, compared with Red Bull down 2.1 share points to 20.3%.

Where next, I wonder ?

Oct 14, 2014 / Richard Hall

Soft drinks most social

Of the top 100 food, drink and other grocery brands in Britain, soft drinks are leading the way, according to analysis of Facebook and Twitter engagement in The Grocer magazine earlier this month.

• 4 soft drinks were in the top 10 : Irn-Bru at 1, Volvic at 2, Pepsi at 5 and Capri-Sun at 10.

• 5 more were in the top 50 : Robinsons at 22, Fanta at 27, Ribena at 37, Innocent at 39 and Evian at 40.

Dairy had 8 entries and hot drinks 4.

Alcohol and some other categories were excluded.

Oct 9, 2014 / Richard Hall

Record 62 acquisitions in September

September was a record month for food and drink sector transactions, with 62 listed on the database including 19 in the first 4 days alone.

8 involved sums over $500 million and 3 of these more than $1,000 million:

• $4,600 million sales from the proposed new terms of merger between fruit businesses Chiquita of the United States and Fyffes of Ireland

• $1,400 million for Japan’s Mitsubishi to buy Norwegian fish producer Cermaq

• $1,225 million for US Crown Holdings to purchase Heineken’s Empaque packaging operations in Mexico.

Among the 62 total, 11 were in soft drinks, 9 in dairy, 8 in alcohol, 6 in packaging, 4 in ingredients and 4 in nutrition.

30 were international and 32 within national borders, 24 of these solely in the United States.

28 countries featured overall, with 36 involving the United States, 6 the United Kingdom, 5 Japan, 4 Brazil and 4 Ireland.

It should also be noted that August’s largest prospective deal relating to Treasury Wine Estates of Australia will not now proceed.

Oct 8, 2014 / Richard Hall

Packaging breakthrough

PET has transformed the bottled water and carbonated soft drinks markets. It has had less success with beer, fruit drinks and milk.

Now Sidel has come up with a real contender for beer. Its new bottle:

• has a smooth round base like glass
• can take a crown cap like other beer bottles
• saves up to 86% of the weight of glass
• withstands flash and tunnel pasteurisation
• offers a six month shelf life
• and, of course, it’s clear, doesn’t shatter and so on.

At the moment, although 5 billion bottles of beer are sold in PET each year, this represents only 2% of total consumption. It’s not hard to imagine this figure rising substantially in the coming years.