"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can
change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, anthropologist
Food bites... The consumer wants it all
Editor's Stuff - Third of SA food harmful, misleading?
What? Huh? Following a written question in Parliament by the DA recently, it has emerged that an alarmingly large number of food samples tested by government authorities are harmful to consumers or not what manufacturers claim on the labels.
The DA is calling for an investigation into the unacceptable number of food samples failing safety tests: "The high number of food samples that failed safety tests by the Forensic Chemistry Laboratories suggests that there are major problems with quality control over food in South Africa," DA spokesperson on health Mike Waters said in a statement.
While I have been on holiday in the sticks for the past two weeks, it seems extraordinary that this report with its shocking revelations seems to have fallen below the mainstream media radar. I can find very little reference to it beyond this one source and will endeavour to follow up in the week with the Dept of Health.
Fine innovation from Cadbury
As we roll down towards the Festive Season, it's good to see yet several interesting local food innovations popping up. One I particularly like is from Cadbury, news of which hit my desk but yesterday. For all the premium cachet that rests in the brand, Cadbury has done admirably well in SA in making its products more affordable, without lessening their quality.
Michelle Pickering, Cadbury Research, Development & Quality Director Middle East & Africa Confectionery, has said in the past that, for Cadbury, affordability is three things: quality, advantage and value; that they can't strip out the cocoa butter to make a poor-tasting compound and hope its going to sell. The product needs to be great-tasting, the appropriate quality for the consumer segment and above all, offer value. It has to be a substantial treat at the price they can afford - and this is a major challenge for product developers in affordability markets.
Cadbury has taken its a cue from the book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, by the late CK Prahalad who debates how much more science, ingenuity and innovation is required to make products for the bottom of the pyramid. Read about Cadbury's clever new product, aimed at the bottom end of the pyramid, here.
Enjoy this week's read!
Publisher & Editor
See jobs here and here.
Local Food Industry Stuff
Pioneer settles with the Competition Commission to the tune of R1bn
Pioneer Food Group this week agreed on an R855,7m bill with the
Competition Commission, in a landmark settlement that is likely to shape
the future of antitrust penalties in SA. The deal allows Pioneer to clean the slate, and brings an end to all
outstanding allegations of collusion and price-fixing against it.
Pioneers tab consisting of a R250m fine, a R250m contribution to a
newly created incubator fund for small agrobusinesses, and an agreement
to reduce its gross profit margin on flour and bread products to the
tune of R160m comes on top of a R195,7m fine imposed by the
Competition Tribunal in February. (Pic: Pioneer MD Andre Hanekom) Business Day.
COMMENT: Pioneer learns the hard way
Forget BEE fat cats in their expensive German sedans, forget government officials dining on caviar in lavish Cape Town hotels at taxpayers expense the Pioneer Foods debacle is the most outrageous example of callousness and greed. Its worse than not giving a rats arse about the poor - its stealing what little money they have out of their pockets. The Daily Maverick.
Game presents a fresh take on food shopping
After 40 years Massmart's Game has earned a solid reputation as one of
South Africas leading discount retailers. The brand is synonymous with
general merchandise and non-perishable groceries for home, business and
leisure. Now Game is in the process of expanding its offering to
include a new fresh food store-within-a-store concept
incorporated into Game stores, called Foodco. FastMoving.
Walmarts bid for Massmart - Whats in the trolley?
Speculation is increasing around the terms and conditions of Walmarts bid to buy local retailer Massmart. This follows last weeks statement that the US giant may consider acquiring just 55% of Massmart, rather than 100% as was initially proposed. Financial Mail.
Pick n Pay's new marketing director
Bronwen Rohland, Pick n Pays new marketing director, is a formidable operator. Credited with managing the groups R500m SAP implementation and its evolving supply chain strategy, she will now direct her energy towards marketing. The group has been outmanoeuvred on the marketing front. Shoprite has established itself in consumers minds as the cheapest of the food retailers. Marketing has been left to the buyers and is very supplier-driven, says Rohland. That must change. Financial Mail.
Aletta Croftons Walkie Talkie Chicken wins over South African tastebuds
Simba has announced the winner of its innovative
"Whats Your Lekker
Flavour?" competition: Aletta Croftons Walkie Talkie Chicken. Her
flavour beat hopeful flavour finalists Masala Steak Gatsby, Snoek &
Atchar and Vetkoek & Polony, and making her R200 000 richer. In
addition to this cash prize, Aletta will also receive 1% from the sales
of her winning flavour, which could translate into up to R500 000 per
year for as long as her flavour is on sale. FOODStuff SA. Read more
Shoprite feeding programme serves five million
The Shoprite Group's national feeding programme has now served a total of five million cups of soup and bread to needy South Africans, with its mobile Soup Kitchen trucks making about three to four stops each day and feeding up to 500 people at schools, old age homes, HIV/AIDS homes as well as orphanages. It also reaches out to communities when disaster and humanitarian-relief efforts are needed.
started the Mobile Soup Kitchen project in 2007 and since then Royco
(Mars Africa) and DSM Nutritional Products have been loyal partners by
providing fortified dry soup powder to support the project. BizCommunity.
New Desert Fantasy flavour from Liqui-Fruit
has introduced Desert Fantasy, a limited edition blend of
"nothing-but-fruit, mixed with loads of innovation, a dash of pure
tongue-in-cheek and a touch of true fantasy." FOODStuff SA. Read more
New teas from Freshpak
NBL's Freshpak has launched three new speciality teas having reportedly specific health solutions. Freshpak
Shape includes hoodia, the indigenous appetite
suppressant, blended with antioxidant-rich green tea and an orange flavour. Freshpak Digestion includes senna, used since
ancient times as a natural aid to digestion, blended with rooibos and blackcurrant flavour. Freshpak Energy uses ginseng, the
Chinese herbal remedy for boosting energy levels and stimulating both
mind and body, blended with rooibos and strawberry flavour.
Caren Bigham, the brand manager explains, "We all feel the pressures of modern life, so the wellness range was created to provide a convenient health solution that fits in with our daily routines." [No link]
Food Industry News
Global food crisis forecast as prices reach record highs
Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many
countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their
highest levels in two years, with scientists predicting further
widespread droughts and floods. Although food stocks are generally good
despite much of this year's harvests being wiped out in Pakistan and
Russia, sugar and rice remain at a record price. The Guardian.
Are we having another food crisis?
The world food price index
is at its highest since 2008, when food prices rocketed and millions of
people suffered. This year the crisis seems to be happening again.
Prices for the staple grains that underpin the world's food supply
soared after forecasts for the US and Chinese maize harvests fell in
October, Pakistan lost its wheat to floods, and crop losses to drought
and wildfire led Russia to ban grain exports until 2011. Food prices
have soared in India, Egypt and elsewhere and are being blamed for riots
Are we having another food crisis? New Scientist investigates.
US: GMA plans a FOP label showing nutritional data
Responding to pressure from federal regulators, the GMA has announced that it will develop a labelling system for the front of food packages that would highlight the nutritional content of foods, including things like calories, unhealthy fats and sodium that many consumers want to limit. The Grocery Manufacturers Association said the labelling system would be introduced early next year. NY Times.
COMMENT: For front-of-pack labels, smart choices take time
Uh-oh, surely not another industry-sponsored front-of-pack nutrition label! Food industry engagement is welcome, but lets take it slowly no one benefits until we figure out a system that works.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute announced last week that they intend to develop a front-of-pack labeling scheme based on the initial recommendations of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report meant to kick-start that process: Highlight calories, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. FoodandDrinkEurope.
Is Kraft killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?
Is the Kraft/Cadbury merger really working? Certainly, we are led to
believe so by Kraft Foods chairman and chief executive officer Irene
Rosenfeld (left), who was over here [in the UK] last week rallying the
troops. Back in September she told the Financial Times: We feel
terrific about the integration of Cadbury. One-third of Krafts top
management is from Cadbury. Not any more it isnt. A stream of
top-level defections has now turned into a cataract. Even those who said
they would stay on seem to be having second thoughts. Marketing Week.
Fairtrade under fire: accused of doing less for coffee farmers than Starbucks
Multinational companies such as Starbucks, Kraft and Nestlé do more
for developing-world coffee farmers than the Fairtrade Foundation,
according to a critical report from a free-market thinktank.
Describing Fairtrade as costly, opaque and substantially unproven, the 130-page report commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) says: "Fairtrade requirements [on farmers] may well reflect the subjective views of western consumers and not the real needs of poor producers." The report specifically attacks the Fairtrade Foundation's refusal to accept child labour and genetically modified technology, suggesting these strictures represent "the whims of western consumers" rather than the needs of farmers. The Guardian.
Nestlé gains under Bulcke's leadership
Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé, is not well-known to the public, but under his leadership the company posted a 4.1% sales gain for the first nine months of 2010. He makes decisions carefully, based on data, and has met changing consumer needs by launching products at lower price points, reducing sugar and salt in existing products, and introducing products with a health focus. USA TODAY.
Food Trends, NPD and Marketing Stuff
Mintel reveals consumer packaged goods trends for 2011
An ageing workforce, men shopping for the family, and whether to
cater to obesity or counter it. Just three of the food trends likely to
affect decision-making in the food industry in 2011, according to
Mintel. The global market and consumer intelligence company has just
released its predictions on which worldwide consumer packaged goods
(CPG) trends set to make an impact in 2011.
These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing, notes Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products. FOODStuff SA. Read more
Mintel reveals consumer trends for 2011
Why the hacktivists are winning
How do you hijack corporate culture, demoralise employees and derail multi-million dollar marketing campaigns? All too easily, it turns out. Fueled by the internet and the publics growing distain for corporate greed, hacktivism is a trend on the rise. Todays hacktivists use increasingly clever tactics in order to elevate public debate about the way corporations do business ...
Last month Hershey released its first Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Less than 24-hours later, labour rights groups Global Exchange, Green America, the International Labor Rights Forum and Oasis USA launched a counter report (convincingly titled Raising the Bar: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company) and accompanying web campaign. In the United States, Hershey conjures up innocent childhood pleasures and enjoyable snacks, the counter report says. However, halfway across the globe, there is a dark side to Hershey..." Christian Science Monitor.
German company patents nocturnal milk
A German company has
patented its process for nocturnal milk which it claims contains 100
times more melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep, than
After more than five years of research, Munich-based Milchkristalle launched its new milk powder product, which can allegedly aid people with sleep problems. The product was first introduced to Germany in April this year, followed by a launch in Austria in September. The product comes in the form of night-time crystals called Nacht-Milchkristalle produced from the night-time milk the company produces. FoodandDrinkEurope.
Dispel consumer myths around added sugars, IGD
Consumers do not understand the role of sugars in the diet, according
to a new report from IGD that suggests food businesses can improve the
information they provide to aid understanding. Reducing added
sugar is part of a major drive towards offering healthier food and
beverage products, and the main public health messages revolve around
managing energy intake and dental health. However as well as providing
energy and carbohydrate, they also perform technological functions in
foods, such as texture, colour, acting as a preservative and improving
The new report from the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), called Sugars: Improving information and messages to consumers, is intended to help food manufacturers clarify messages to consumers about the role of sugars in the diet, and to use appropriate terms for describing sugars on food and beverage products. FoodNavigator. and
Understanding the unconscious mind of the consumer
Learning the real motivation behind why people buy is more about their actions than their reasoning, according to a new book, Consumer.ology by Philip Graves. The unconscious mind is the real driver of consumer behaviour... The first obstacle to understanding this is recognising how we frequently react without conscious awareness. As long as we protect the illusion that we ourselves are primarily conscious agents, we pander to the belief that we can ask people what they think and trust what we hear in response. After all, we like to tell ourselves we know why we do what we do, so everyone else must be capable of doing the same, mustn't they?
Nutrition and Health Stuff
Omega-3 DHA doesn't slow Alzheimer's: study
An essential nutrient found in fish oil does not appear to slow the
mental decline associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new
study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The
study is merely the latest to cast doubt on the mental benefits of the
omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which until recently was
considered a promising way to minimize the risk and damage of dementia.
The other main ingredient found in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid, or
EPA, is not believed to play a significant role in brain health. CNN.
Sugar-sweetened drinks diabetes link clear and consistent: Meta-analysis
Regular consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a clear and consistently greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis of 11 published studies. The findings, published in Diabetes Care, appear to support claims that intake of sugary beverages should be limited in order to reduce risk of these conditions. FoodNavigator.
Nutritionist Marion Nestle fingers the missing calories in Americas big binge
For most of the last century, obesity rates in America moved about as much as a couch potato (hanging around 15 percent). Then, in the early 1980s obesity took off in a most un-couch-potato-like fashion, and by the 21st century, 33 percent of the U.S. population was obese. Though studies aren't crystal-clear on this, it does not appear that people were significantly more active 30 years ago. They were, however, eating at least 200 calories less each day than they are now.
So where are all these extra, mysterious (and they are mysterious!) calories coming from? Renowned American nutritionist, Marion Nestle, recently spelt it out at a lecture in the US. Grist.
Scientists unlock how trans fats harm arteries
The method by which dietary trans fats cause hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) may have been identified by a new study on mice fed a high trans fat diet. The research paper, published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, suggests that high levels of trans fats cause atherosclerosis by reducing the responsiveness of a key protein that controls growth and differentiation in cells. The protein, known as transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta, plays an important role in immunity and the development of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. FoodNavigator.
Food Science Stuff
Cargill's lower-calorie chocolate set for 2011 launch
Cargills cocoa & chocolate business has unveiled the breakthrough
technology behind the first chocolate to achieve an EU-approved consumer
claim of reduced calorie. The 30% calorie reduction is double that of
any other chocolate on the market and is equivalent to a saving of up
to 160 calories for a 100g chocolate bar.
This has been achieved through applying Cargills chocolate expertise to a process using a patented blend of sweeteners, including Cargills zero-calorie bulk sweetener, Zerose erythritol. Cargill said it will be ready to introduce chocolate by the end of 2011. ConfectioneryNews.com.
Defatted cocoa powder best compromise for low-fat choc: Nestle
reduced fat chocolate using defatted cocoa powder may indeed by the
best compromise for confectionery producers, says a new study from
Nestlé Product Technology. FoodandDrinkEurope.com.
Organic onions, carrots and potatoes do not have higher levels of healthful antioxidants
With the demand for organically produced food increasing, scientists are reporting new evidence that organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally do not have higher levels of healthful antioxidants and related substances than vegetables grown with traditional fertilizers and pesticides. Their study appears in ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. EurekaAlert.
BPA levels in US foods 1,000 times less than limits, study finds
For the first time in the United States, researchers are reporting in a peer-reviewed scientific journal detection of Bisphenol A (BPA) in fresh and canned food as well as food wrapped in plastic packaging. The amounts, however, were almost 1,000 times lower than the "tolerable daily intake" levels set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). ScienceDaily.
Frito Lay vs Frito Lay: Canada sticks to its noisy SunChips bag
Unlike its US cousin, Frito Lay Canada wont kill off the compostable SunChips bag despite complaints from consumers that its too noisy. Instead, the company has turned all the chatter over its loud-as-thunder bags into an opportunity to sell more of the eco-product, converting the brouhaha into a marketable moment. BNet.
New non-alumnium foil packaging for food and drink products
new transparent, non-aluminium foil barrier film line for stick pack
and flow wrapped food and drink applications is being launched globally
by Rollprint Packaging Products. It says its Overture One film is
suitable for a wide variety of granular, powdered, liquid and solid
applications such as stick packaging for powdered drinks.
Overture One lamination is based on the companys ClearFoil barrier-coated polyester and is coupled with an aggressive sealant. The company says its research revealed the need for a structure with barrier properties but without the use of aluminium foil, from wanting portions of the product to be visible to consumers to overcoming metal detection interference. FoodProductionDaily.
Sustainability and Green Stuff
Are there plenty more fish in the sea?
British Columbia's Fraser River, a few hours' drive upstream from
Vancouver, has just witnessed one of nature's most spectacular natural
phenomena - the return of the sockeye salmon, and this year it is the
biggest salmon run in a century. Despite dire predictions
from scientists, 34 million sockeye salmon came back to the exact
stretch of river where they were born to spawn this year and what makes this even
more astonishing is that it comes just one year after only one million
The experience has left people asking what the failure of scientists to get it right on salmon means for the fishing industry worldwide - and whether the dire predictions about over-fishing have been over-stated. BBC.
Biofuels are back. This time they might even work
Make something people want to buy at a price they can afford. Hardly a revolutionary business strategy, but one that the American biofuels industry has, to date, eschewed. Now a new wave of companies think that they have the technology to change the game and make unsubsidised profits. If they can do so reliably, and on a large scale, biofuels may have a lot more success in freeing the world from fossil fuels than they have had until now. The Economist.
An old idea may help solve the problem of plastic waste
Plastics were once regarded as wonder-materials. They are still
ubiquitous, but find less favour than they used to because of the very
stability and persistence that won them plaudits in the first place.
Persistence is not a quality to be desired in something that gets thrown
away, and so much plastic is used in packaging, and in articles that
are disposable, that many people now see conventional petrochemical
plastics as a nuisance and a threat.
The search is on, then, for biodegradable alternatives. One possibility has recently been explored by David Schiraldi of Case Western Reserve University, in Ohio, and his colleagues. They propose to reach back into history and revive the use of a feedstock that was used to make some of the first plastics invented: milk. The Economist.
Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!
The Water Myth: Debunking the dilution solution
I have nothing against it. There are seas and lakes of it. It flows in
rivers, brooks and streams. Sometimes it falls from the sky great news
for plants but not if you've just put the washing out.
Without it, we wouldn't have lovely cups of tea, or chicken soup, showers, baths or if you are Japanese a shower and then a bath. And when you're thirsty, there is nothing more refreshing than a glass of it. But drinking a glass every now and then is rather different from having to drink two litres a day, which is what we should all be drinking, if you believe them: the Water Fascists. The Independent.
Is candy evil or just misunderstood?
Sugar and candy have moved into the popular mindset, especially among parents of young children, as nasty modern evils. Dr Samira Kawash is an American writer who has created the Candy Professor blog in a bid to put some context and truth to this irrational matter. The history of candy, she says, shows that it has often served as a scapegoat for cultural ills; that candy carries so much moral and ethical
baggage that people view it as fundamentally different in a bad way
from other kinds of food. NY Times [free registration required]
The truth about men, women and food
men hard-wired to eat meat? Do women have an innate need for cupcakes?
It's a complicated business, eating. And one made knottier by the idea
that some foods are masculine (hamburgers, steak), while others
(yoghurt, quiche) are strictly for girls. Were these ideas of gendered
eating originally generated just for ad campaigns, or could the cliches
point towards a deeper truth? Do men and women need different diets? How
many of our views on what constitutes "women's food" come from how
we're brought up, and how many are tied to something genetic? If men are
from meat, are women from cupcake? The Guardian.
That's all the stuff for this week, folks!