For the leading players in the industry such as Danone, 2011 was the last year that the developed world accounted for a higher proportion of its sales than the new economies of Brazil, India, Russia and China.
During the year, Kraft completed a US$200m facility in Brazil (its biggest investment in Brazil for 10 years), Nestlé invested €68m in a new beverage plant in Brazil, and new Brazilian giants such as Brf Brasil Foods and Marfrig entered the Global Top 100 Food & Beverage Companies listing for the first time.
As Food & Beverage International reported in the September issue, the dairy sector emerged as a ‘sweet spot’ for activity thanks to rocketing demand for dairy products across Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Chinese dairies Mengniu and Yili entered the Top 100 listing as a result of their focus on higher-end, often fortified dairy offerings. Closer to home, a rejig of strategy saw Fonterra establish a new European headquarters in the Netherlands, and Humana Milchunion join Nordmilch to create the new German dairy giant DMK. Both organisations claim to have positioned themselves for greater global growth.
And this ever extending global reach put safety and sustainability right at the top of the corporate agenda during 2011. First off, at the beginning of the year was the dioxin crisis, which saw industrial oil destined for biofuel ending up in the animal feed chain in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK, bringing pressure to bear on the European Commission to strengthen its dioxin measuring procedures.
This safety breach was swiftly followed by the E.coli outbreak in Germany that saw 18 people lose their lives and Spanish cucumbers held to blame for the contamination until sprouts derived from fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt were tracked down as the culprit.
The Consumer Goods Forum Top of Mind Survey discovered that Food & Product Safety had leaped from fourth place in the overall ranking of concerns for the food & beverage industry to second place, interestingly knocking the Economy & Consumer demand into third place from its pole position a year earlier. As a result, the Global Food Safety Initiative announced that Building Confidence in Food Safety was one of its key strategic priorities for the period 2011 to 2015.
In the same Top of Mind ranking, Corporate Responsibility (including sustainability, social standards and corporate governance) is now firmly in first place in the important issues facing top food & beverage manufacturers. This concern is reflected in the growing number of pages dedicated to sustainability and corporate & social responsibility news within the pages of the FoodBev Media titles and on FoodBev.com during the year.
Amid the widespread report was news of Coca-Cola’s establishment of a new global Office of Sustainability, Unilever’s implementation of its Sustainable Living Plan, Nestlé picking up the Gold Medal Award from the World Environment Centre for its commitment to environmental sustainability, and Kraft expanding its sustainability goals to cover its Cadbury and LU business.
This sustainable focus has led to an interesting array of product launches featuring more environmentally friendly packaging. Most notably, Coca-Cola has teamed up with Avantium to co-develop Avantium’s YXY technology for producing 100% bio-based PEF bottles, and with Heinz to have ketchup bottles produced using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle PET technology.
PepsiCo introduced its ‘green’ bottle made from 100% recyclable materials, and Danone picked up this year’s Global Bioplastics Award for the use of Ingeo polylactic acid in its Activia yogurt cups and Braskem bio-based, high density polyethylene in its Actimel yogurt drink bottles.
This increase in activity during the year was reflected in participation at the dedicated industry events during the year, most notably Fi Europe, which closed its doors in Paris in December on the biggest show of its 25-year history.
Already, bookings for next year’s Anuga FoodTec are higher than for any other year, so it looks as if the momentum started during 2011 is set to continue into 2012.
Here’s hoping, and here’s looking forward to reporting on the major developments as they occur.
Claire Rowan is managing editor of Food & Beverage International magazine. Subscribe here.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019