Food & drink

Big theory

Why are we getting so fat? There are lots of explanations being chewed over (increased supply of fatty foods, lack of physical exercise etc) but none of them quite stack up. You certainly can’t claim ignorance as a defence these days – just pick up any women’s magazine. So maybe eating is compensation for something else? Maybe eating too much (or drinking) is a treat for people who can’t afford very much else. Perhaps inequality, anxiety and low self-esteem are the real culprits here? Maybe the problem is ‘Mcjobs’ not McDonalds?

Source: The Guardian/Sydney Morning Herald (UK/AUS).

Chocs away

According to a group of Italian experts, a diet comprising chocolate and Italian wine makes you feel better and look younger. And they were stone cold sober when they had the idea.

Source: Newsweek (US).

Underage drinking

A government study in the UK says that children under 16 years are drinking twice as much alcohol as children were a decade ago.

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK).

Crisps and fizzy drinks go flat

Sales of crisps (corn chips) have fallen by 11% in the UK due to fears about obesity. Impulse buying of snacks (fizzy drinks and confectionery) is also down by 2.2%.

Source: The Sun (UK).

Cool idea

A self-cooling beer can is being tested in Britain. (the country famously described by ex Prime Minister John Major as the home of lukewarm beer).

Source: The Guardian (UK).

Hot chocolate in Starbucks

Starbucks has launched a service that allows customers to order digital music along with their coffee. (Hot Chocolate’s Greatest hits?, Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones?)

Source: Trendcentral (US).

Fishy story

The average fish travels 1,000 miles before it reaches a supermarket shelf in Britain. Strange, because nobody in Britain lives more than 70 miles from the sea.

Source: The Daily Mail (UK).

Fast water

Speedo (the Australian swimwear company) is launching a bottled ‘performance’ sports water.

Source: Trendcentral (NETH).

Black is better than green

We know that green tea boosts the immune system. Now a study by Pace University (New York) suggests that white tea has antiviral and antibacterial effects that are greater than green tea. We’re off to stick the kettle on.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).

Green is better than white

More tea anyone? A Dutch study says that green tea reduces the risk of heart attacks while Australian research says that green tea reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Other studies have linked tea with fighting cancer, weight loss and anti-ageing. Unilever has even brought out a range of cosmetics based on tea.

Source: The Australian/various (AUS).

France gets a hangover

French wine exports fell by 10% and domestic consumption was down by 5% in 2003. If that’s not enough to give French wine producers a hang-over, only 37% of French people now consider themselves regular wine drinkers compared to 61% 25 years ago.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).

Drink gets dumbed down

A UK wine retailer has said it will do away with ‘intellectual’ (elitist?) labelling in its stores by labelling all wines by taste profile (grape varieties) rather than by region. The company said that customer research indicated that drinkers were intimidated when they bought wine. Another example of dumbing down?

Source: The Guardian (UK).

Go large

It weighs 1.8 kilos (4 pounds) and contains two pounds of beef and a pound of bread. Yes, it’s a monster burger, available from R-Place restaurant in Morris Illinois (US).

Source: The Sun (UK).

Walking the walk

McDonald’s is giving away pedometers with adult happy meals in the UK. However, as a commentator pointed out, you’d have to walk for 5 hours and 42 minutes to burn off the calories contained in a Big Mac, large fries, large cola and McFlurry. Kellogg’s is also offering pedometers with packs of Special K cereal.

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK).

Toy story

Here’s an idea. Cereal packs used to contain toys and still feature cartoons and competitions. So, if you’re trying to get kids to eat more vegetables, why don’t they appear on (in) packs of peas and carrots?

Source: What's Next.

Pet crazy days

Pet owners these days don’t like the idea their pet might die before they do, so Procter & Gamble is creating an Iams (petfood) branded MRI scanning service for cats and dogs. The company is also launching a pet insurance service to pay for the US $1,200 scans.

Source: Fortune (US).

New chip technology

Procter & Gamble has printed promotional messages on the surface of Pringles chips in the US to promote a partnership with Hasbro toys. We’ve seen eggs and bananas used as poster sights before so why not extend the idea to other foods.

Source: Adnews (AUS).

Goodbye haute cuisine, hello bistro?

The closure of a series of upscale French restaurants in New York is not the result of anti-French feelings post Iraq, but a ‘casualisation’ of dinning in the US. We’re not aware of a similar trend in the UK or Australia, although several top end restaurants no longer open for lunch due to a lack of business people with time on their hands. We predict this will change. There will be a backlash against fusion cuisine (’fusion confusion’), and a return to classic national cuisine.

Source: The Australian/various. (AUS).

Pre-packed fresh salads (another oxymoron?)

Heinz has launched a range of ready made salads in the UK called Salad Shakers. The varieties are chicken Caesar and Greek.

Source: The Grocer/Sense Worldwide (UK).

Milk lite and other trends

You might think that milk consumption would be declining, but in Australia it’s increasing by 1.8% per annum. The fastest growing sector, predictably, is the low fat sector (+8%), but what’s really odd (our friends at Williams Inference would call this an anomaly), is that flavoured milk is actually declining and kids are drinking more ordinary milk. Weird.

Source: The Australian (AUS).

Absolutely mist

If alcopops and jelly vodka left a nasty taste in the mouth, how about alcohol vapour? Alcohol With Out Liquid (AWOL) is a system that uses an oxygen machine connected to a diffuser. Spirits are poured into the machine and an oxygen/alcohol mix is delivered via a mouthpiece. The result is alcohol vapour straight into the bloodstream. Responsible? We think not, so it’s sure to catch on.

Source: Sun Herald (Aus).

Cognac takes off

Cognac is one of the fastest growing drinks in the US with sales now exceeding US $1 billion annually. The reason for this trend is the adoption of the drink by young black males who account for 60-85% of domestic sales depending on which report you believe.

Source: Daily Telegraph/ (UK/US).

Hispanic hit

The boom in all things Spanish means that the fastest growing restaurant chain in California is Guatemala’s Pollo Campero.

Source: Daily Telegraph/ (UK/US)

Low carbs still a big hit.

Sales of low carb foods in the US are expected to hit US $30 billion in 2004 – that’s more than –Coca-Cola’s global revenues. Most US food companies now have low carb lines and 26 million Americans are said to be on a low carb diet. However, the craze may have peaked according to PepsiCo’s CEO.

Source: Time (US).

Who's responsible?

Is it the responsibility of supermarkets to educate their customers about healthy eating? Should shops sell things that are demonstrably bad for people (cigarettes, alcohol, firearms? – the last two possibly OK individually, but a really bad idea in combination). How about schools? Should we educate children about food and fitness?

Source: What's Next.

Another whopper

Is it true that in the US schools are ordering school buses with wider seats to accommodate the larger bottoms of ‘growing’ children.

Source: The Guardian (UK).


Starbucks have joined forces with Jim Beam Brands to market a new coffee based liqueur in the US.

Source: Food Business Review (US).