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InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress: April 7-9, Lisbon

'Seesaw’ 2014 in store but global soft drinks congress brings balance

By Ben Bouckley+

25-Feb-2014
Last updated the 25-Feb-2014 at 16:44 GMT

Photo: Ruben Alexander/Flickr
Photo: Ruben Alexander/Flickr

 The global soft drinks industry faces a ‘seesaw year’ in 2014 but the challenges posed by mature markets and categories are amply offset by opportunities elsewhere in the sector.

That’s according to Richard Hall, chairman of Zenith International, the organizer of the 10th InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress , an event that will address these issues directly in Portugal, Lisbon on April 7-9 2014. Click on the link to learn more or book tickets.

Filling us in on the program for 2014 – following last year’s successful event in Warsaw – Hall speaks about the general mood within the soft drinks industry as we exit 2013 looking for signs of recovery in key markets and categories.

“I think we’re in a see-saw year where there are some weights bearing on the downside, but these are all able to be more than offset by opportunities,” he tells BeverageDaily.com

“So we see contrasts between mature markets and emerging markets, mature categories and emerging categories, strong mature businesses and rapidly emerging new concepts and firms,” Hall adds.

“Even in mature high volume areas, it is still possible to add value. Economic recovery will strengthen business confidence in growth. Most progress will be hard-fought and hard-won.”

For instance, one of the big questions to answer this year, Hall says, is whether soft drinks such as Coca-Cola Life (launched in Argentina last year) can successfully create a new “mid-point between taste, health and nature”.

Unilever senior VP of marketing delivers keynote address

Turning to the InnoBev Global Soft Drinks Congress program in Lisbon, Hall explains that Zenith has innovators and top speakers from world-leading companies such as Coke and Unilever “and also people from less well-known but rapidly expanding companies such as Tata and Ajegroup”.

“Secondly, we have the InnoBev debate. For the first time on a public platform we will have WWF and Oxfam debating with the American Beverage Association (ABA) and Coca-Cola,” Hall says.

“Other industry members will have a chance to listen to and contribute to both sides of the argument. The problem really is that these discussions have taken place all too often remotely and through the media, rather than directly and in a constructive dialog,” he adds.

Thus, Hall explains, smaller businesses that aren’t directly engaged in the debate have a chance to witness some key proponents and arguments directly.

“Another highlight is our keynote address with the senior VP of marketing for Unilever, Marc Mathieu, who is one of the top marketing names in consumer goods in the world talking about the future of markets and marketing,” he says.

“There will also be numerous networking opportunities, a gala dinner and plant tour. We have speakers from all over the world, so it’s really the industry’s only truly global event.”

UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference – ‘Possibly our best ever program’

May 2014 will also see Zenith run its annual UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference at the Congress Centre, London on May 7. This year’s event is organized together with the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA).

“It’s possibly our best ever program for that event – we have three supermarket buyers from Tesco, Asda, the Co-op, and three new products for an entrepreneurial shoot-out introduced by Fever-Tree – a key entrepreneurial success story of the past few years,” Hall says.

“We also have the shadow public health minister [Luciana Berger] and Professor Graham MacGregor who chairs Action on Sugar. So once again we’re not having the debate away in the distance – the people pushing industry will talk directly to industry members and hear how industry is meeting their concerns.”