The congress takes place in Warsaw on April 16-17 2013, and Richard Hall, founder and Chairman of Zenith International, spoke to us about issues facing soft drinks, and how the event could help.
“On health, calories seem to be the most prevalent concern, and the industry is addressing this with new sweeteners and sweetener combinations, creating new segments such as Zero and Ten [calorie],” he told BeverageDaily.com.
Other key health dimensions included ‘natural’ as well as functional benefits, Hall said, while on the environment, “packaging seems to be the most important question, not just about quantity of packaging but type too”.
He added: “As with sweeteners and calories, we’re finding new forms of plastics emerging which are designed to answer the oil-based packaging question for the future. These are very exciting and there are some very important initiatives already.”
Soft drinks must answer social concerns
Further environmental dimensions included transport, waste and recycling, Hall said, with the last a particularly important issue for the soft drinks industry.
Under the consumer choice heading, Hall said drinks companies were well aware that all consumers were “consuming on individual occasions, at individual moments, with individual moods and needs”.
But the industry also needed to answer social concerns, Hall said, adding that, with pressure from regulators and other groups for new laws, taxes, bans and restrictions mounting, firms had to balance social needs against the growing consumer demand for choice.
“Nowadays it is not sufficient for companies to deal with taste, affordability and convenience. They need to deal address social needs, balancing individual and social requirements more transparently than ever before,” he explained.
‘Action packed’ congress programme
Historically, the priority in terms of products was what was inside the pack, alongside its presentation, Hall said. “But now we’re looking at this extra dimension, the ethics of the company and character of the product.
“Is it contributing to my sense of well-being and giving back to society, or just simply giving me extra value from a particular promotional deal?”
Zenith International’s 9th InnoBev Global Beverages Congress is designed to help address all these concerns by offering research results, networking opportunities, and ideas, Hall explained.
“We’ve got two action-packed days, including a Coca-Cola plant tour and our sustainability awards, plus speakers from big companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Kirin, Tata and Suntory,” he said.
“We’ve also got smaller innovators, financial commentators, suppliers and industry analysts. Our keynote speaker is the chair of Coca-Cola Europe, talking about how the industry can answer the competing demands on a firm and its products, as we chart our direction for the future.”
You can register for Zenith International’s 2013 InnoBev Global Beverages Congress here. The event is sponsored by Aptar, Beneo, Bericap, Closure Systems International (CSI), Sidel.