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Issue 85: 28 May 2010

Don’t tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done.”

James Ling, American businessman

Food bites… Supplements wasted on the healthy

Image“The irony is that people who have little need for supplementary vitamins and minerals are the ones most predisposed to take them. People with disposable income to spend on vitamins, who are interested in their health and well-being, these are the people who need them the least . . . It is very hard to demonstrate health in people who are already healthy.” 
Prof Marion Nestle, arch food industry critic and professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University

EBNditor’s Stuff – African flavours to the fore! 


I’ve been suprised by the lack of food and beverage innovation around the World Cup – there are soccer promos and labelling iconography aplenty – but little sign of ‘kick me’ new, original or fun concepts. Perhaps manufacturers have been too budget strapped to apply for exorbitant FIFA licenses, or to pay the lawyers should Mr Blatter’s heavies get heavy on any perceived branding infringement. 


BaobabRather the spotlight has fallen on the flavours of Africa in the run up to the big event, both overseas and at home. Grabbing appropriately large headlines this week has been baobab. In late 2008, Mintel predicted that after gaining novel foods status in the June of that year, the exotic baobab was certain to be one hot new superfruit. Some 18 months later, abetted by all the soccer-in-Africa hoopla, Mintel’s hunch has proven correct. And there’s a company in Paarl, Afriplex, as the key processor and supplier of baobab extracts and flavours, which has a very large smile on its collective face. It seems the world can’t get enough of its indigenous plant elixirs and extracts.


Afriplex works with trade association, PhytoTrade Africa, on sourcing and marketing baobab and their UK distributor is quoted on Food Navigator this week on the “incredible level of interest in baobab, and that a “very large confectionery company”, a smoothie maker, a babyfood manufacturer and several cereal bar makers are conducting trials of baobab-based products. Read more


ImageAdding to the baobab bonanza, news broke, too, this week that Pepsi Japan has just added Pepsi Baobab to the portfolio of its wonderful and weird flavours that include Pepsi Ice Cucumber, Pepsi Blue Hawaii, Pepsi Shiso (green perilla) and Pepsi Azuki. The bottles design (and the product itself) is obviously dedicated to the upcoming World Cup and features a huge Baobab tree’s silhouette put against a red and yellow African sunset. Read more


ImageSays Danie Nel, CEO of the Afriplex Group: “The decision by Pepsi to utilise baobab as an exotic flavour, confirms our belief in the potential of the African superfruit for a wide range of food and beverage products. We have seen the launch of a large number of baobab products in the EU after achieving novel food status. We are actively persuing the Japanese market because of the willingness to embrace a unique product like baobab and have an officially-appointed agent based there. Promotion campaigns for more than three years are now delivering results. Our products derived from baobab covers pulp, extracts and flavours. We are excited about the prospects in the US, Canada, EU and the Far East following our exhibition of baobab products at Vitafoods last week in Geneva.”


And more and more local companies are getting in on the indigenous act.

 IUFoST 2010 logo


See the Full Congress
Programme here

Woolies has a new range of ethno-yoghurts – more on this next week as the launch PR is not yet ready – and Cape Town’s indomitable aloe diva, Barbara Kleinschmidt, is about to hit some better times with the debut of a new range of aloe ferox-based beverages. A passionate believer in the potential of aloe, she reports things are starting to happen for her products and that “after nearly 20 frigging years, they SHOULD be happening!” she adds. Her new drinks are only just off the filler, so more on them, too, next week.


Enjoy this week’s newsletter!

Email Brenda Neall, editor and publisher:


Magalies Citrus is looking for a Product Development Technician, and Orley Foods has three positions advertised. See jobs here and here.

Afrikaans translation: To translate this page, go to, and simply paste the URL into the page translator module. The translation is by no means perfect, but is a help if you want to read in your home language.

Local Food Industry Stuff


ImageSABMiller to serve up a cup-can

SABMiller has patented an easy-to-open beer can that converts into a drinking cup when the top has been removed, part of an effort by the world’s second- largest brewer to reduce waste and violence at sporting events. The container would be introduced at Soccer World Cup fan parks next month. Food Production Daily. Read more



SABmiller: the fight for market share

ImageMuch has been made of the “beer wars” in the SA market. It’s a battle that began when Heineken audaciously withdrew SABMiller’s licence to brew Amstel in 2007. It escalated when Heineken and Diageo, who between them have a market cap of over R500bn, partnered with Windhoek through local distribution company brandhouse to challenge the dominance of the mighty SAB.

Heineken’s move had been expected for some time, so when it came SAB had new premium beers waiting in the wings. But in its haste to launch Hansa Marzen Gold, it took its eye and marketing spend off what it now terms its “power” brands — Castle, Hansa, Black Label and Castle Lite. And it has paid the price. Financial Mail. Read more


Food production: new look at old ways

ImageThe brain behind retail chain Woolworths’ Farming for the Future initiative, Kobus Pienaar, is looking to the past for inspiration to solve today’s food needs. The retailer ventured into agriculture intent on several aims: radically improving soil and plant health; preserving resources like water and soil; and protecting biodiversity. Financial Mail. Read more


Rainbow Chicken profit up 21% but sales remain under pressure

ImageRainbow Chicken, the country’s largest producer of chickens, in announcing its annual results this week, said prices were likely to stay low due to oversupply of meat and overall weaker conditions. Rainbow maintained its cautious stance even as the company that slaughters four million birds a week reported a 21% jump in pretax profit for the year to March to R533,7m, boosted by value-added operations such as Rainbow polony. Business Day. Read more

Fast food on the fast-track

ImageUrban black South Africans are devouring pizza faster than ever before. To capitalise — and capture the market before anyone else cottons on — Debonairs is opening new stores in downtown Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. These are areas where commuters gather and foot traffic is heaviest.

“We are obsessed with developing our brand in these areas,” says Kevin Hedderwick, CEO of Debonairs’ holding company Famous Brands . The company has developed a new addition, Debonairs Express, which promises freshly cooked products in two minutes. “Landlords love us, and franchisees are lining up — it’s a race to market,” says Hedderwick. Business Day. Read more

Food Industry News


EU: From iconic tastes to regulations: Givaudan flavour chief shares insights

ImageWhat are the hot topics on the lips of the flavour industry? In a rare interview Mauricio Graber, president of flavours at Givaudan, talked to Food Navigator about acquisitions, icon flavours, healthier foods, and the regulatory landscape.

The number one flavour company in the world, Givaudan reported sales of CHF2 135m in 2009 and EBITDA of CHF450m – on a par with 2008 and a very fair result in a year marked by economic upheaval. In the last three years, the company has been bolstered by its acquisition of rival Quest for a massive CHF2.8bn. Food Navigator. Read more


US: ConAgra sees sweet potato potential

ImageConAgra is turning its attention to sweet potatoes, and is working with scientists to tweak the shape and other characteristics in hopes of expanding the market. The company is opening a Louisiana factory dedicated to sweet potato production, which will make french fries, waffle fries and other products. The Wall Street Journal. Read more


US: The food industry is besieged

ImageBig challenges and pressure to change from all fronts confront the food industry . . . First and foremost, new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be jointly published this fall by the Dept of Health and Human Services and the Dept of Agriculture. The guidelines are modified every five years by a consensus of scientific experts and provide “authoritative advice” for Americans two years and older about good dietary habits to promote good health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. There’s little doubt the new guidelines will urge less consumption of salt, sweeteners and fats particularly trans fat. Food Processing Magazine Read more  


US: Kraft Foods CEO unfazed by Buffett stake cut

ImageThe integration of Cadbury is on track and benefits from the $18.4 billion deal will become clear to shareholders, says Kraft Chairman and Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld … “I will say that for Mr Buffett as well as for all our shareholders, in the coming months we will continue to deliver against the targets we have laid for ourselves. These results will speak for themselves,” Rosenfeld said. Reuters Read more


Target: Nestlé in the firing line

ImageUS: Bottled water pits Nestlé vs Greens

Bottled water, which for years delivered double-digit growth for Nestlé, is on a deep slide and under fire from environmentalists. They decry the energy used to transport it and the use of billions of plastic bottles, and oppose efforts to use new springs, citing concerns about water scarcity. The issue has come into sharp focus on the idyllic town of Cascade Locks, Oregon, on the north slope of Mount Hood. The Wall Street Journal. Read more


COMMENT: Brand spanking: Nestlé gets hijacked

ImageBy now I’m sure you’ve seen the video clip: an office employee, bored stiff at work, decides to “have a break, have a Kit Kat” — only those aren’t slender fingers of dark chocolate and biscuit he’s snacking on, but orangutan fingers, and just look at the blood dripping off his chin! The goal of the ad was simple: highlight Nestlé’s sourcing of unsustainably produced palm-oil products, and the knock-on effects of deforestation and dwindling orangutan numbers.

Two months later the ad has had its desired effect: following more than two million views and inspiring roughly 200 000 emails of protest, Nestlé has teamed up with The Forest Trust, an organisation that will help Nestlé to source its palm oil sustainably. The ad has been so successful because it hit Nestlé in the sweet spot, hi-jacking its most prized possession: the Nestlé brand. Read more


ImageBob’s Beat: Nestlé could have avoided the worst of the Greenpeace assault

Let Nestle’s futile battle with Greenpeace serve as a smart reminder to all food marketers — in a war of words, it’s the words that the consumers listen to that marketers must heed. When the big global activist group decided to get in the face of Nestle because it was doing business with an Indonesia palm oil producer who was knocking down rain forest land used by orangutans, you sensed it was a tussle Nestle couldn’t win.


Once Greenpeace spread the photos of those cute and cuddly orangutans around the globe, once it won the support of the mainstream media, Nestle was screwed. Even I, your heartless editor, felt for those little red-haired apes and hoped Nestle would just do the smart thing and dump its Indonesian supplier. And to its credit, Nestle has now done that. But it should’ve seen the handwriting on the wall sooner and it could have avoided most of Greenpeace’s aggressive, sometimes vile, propaganda blitz aimed at it.


The way I view it, if an activist protest involves animals and a threat to their environment, don’t look back, throw up the white flag asap, and just get the hell out – fast! What is the lesson for other food marketers? That being a multi-billion dollar corporate giant doesn’t mean squat against foes who know how to shape public opinion against you. Greenpeace is a master at it, as Nestle quickly learned. In a statement, Nestle promised to remove companies from its supply chain that are “owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation”. Good for Nestle. Even better for the orangutans.

Bob Messenger, foremost US food industry commentator and publisher of the Morning Cup


Food Trends, Marketing and NPD

Flavour torque: the rise of adrenaline cuisine

ImageSnack chips are spicier. Chewing gum is mintier. Energy drinks are fruitier. In short, American cuisine is adrenaline cuisine.

Food companies are hitting their labs to zest up flavourings to appeal to our expanding palates, and, of course, boost sales. In the US, PepsiCo Frito-Lay recently introduced Doritos chip flavours labeled First-, Second- and Third-Degree Burn. Gum-maker Wrigley is using new technologies like textured crystals it calls Micro-Bursts to deliver a more intense flavour as well as new sweeteners to make flavours last longer. Seasoning company McCormick says Americans now keep an average of 40 different spices, a figure that has grown roughly twice as fast in the past two decades as it did in the previous 30 years. Wall Street Jounal. Read more

Five lessons from the wonders of food science

ImageIf you have been following recent developments in the food world, you might have been surprised by the (relatively) meteoric rise of the so-called “techno-emotional” or what others have termed “molecular gastronomy” movement — the application of sophisticated food science technology and design principles to produce more-engaging, higher-quality eating experiences.

No longer constrained by craft and trade notions of traditional cuisines on the one hand, and not bound by the industrialist impulse to view technology as a tool for homogeneity, consistency and cost efficiency, chefs, food fans and entrepreneurs alike are increasingly turning to the wonders of food science to produce truly wonderful, awe-inspiring creations. The Hartman Group. Read more  

ImageInterpreting science in a social media world

The examples can be found on the internet almost daily: “Is salt deadly?” or “Do pomegranates prevent breast cancer?” – headlines that misinterpret or sometimes completely misrepresent scientific studies, and those are from major outlets. As news sources become more varied with more and more journalists freelancing, bloggers becoming mainstream and even Twitter being used as a source, the need to understand how to interpret scientific research becomes more important than ever. Read more

Squeezing the joy out of ketchup

ImageHeinz’s decision to change its ketchup recipe after 40 years is a sign of our health-obsessed, killjoy times. As for reducing sodium content, let’s remember this is a condiment. It’s designed to be used to add a little flavour to food and therefore should be packed with salt, pepper, herbs and spices. And all that salt? It’s almost certainly harmless. Unless you have pre-existing high blood pressure, there is little evidence that cutting salt intake improves health Spiked Online. Read more


The ‘C’ Word

ImageOur increasingly busy, modern lives mean that convenience is more relevant and important than ever. A 24/7 society has demanded functional solutions and ready meals and takeaway packaging in the food and drink sector have largely led the design evolution.

But, we are now looking for convenience – to some extent – in each and every sector. By and large, today’s consumer sees portability and function as a given and is, therefore, expecting more innovative and stylish offerings.  And so, the question is, just what are we doing to meet the needs of the consumer who wants convenience but who has a creative eye? Read more


ImageSweets & Snacks: Hottest new products and explores trends for 2010

At the largest candy and snack show in the Americas, the 2010 Sweets & Snacks Expo held this week in Chicago, more than 2,000 new confectionery creations and snack sensations were unveiled. The annual trade show is presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), who predicts that leading new product trends for 2010/2011 include: Chocolate-Covered Everything * Twisted Traditions – New twists on classic candies …. FOODStuff SA. Read more

ImagePurelosophy drinks

Purelosophy, a line of functional drinks from Switzerland, has received an international award, Prix D’excellence De La Beauté 2010. The Purelosophy line of 100% natural Swiss lifestyle drinks includes three products — Be Relax, Be Detox and Be Power. They have reportedly have scientifically proven benefits for the health, speed up physical recovery, help overcome stresses of the urban life and hydrate the body in the proper way. Read more  [Beautiful packaging, but do they work?? Read more on the “Beauty from Within” business, from last week’s newsletter. Ed]


Health and Nutrition Stuff


ImageStudy: Fat is not effective at curbing hunger

Fats do a poor job of conveying feelings of fullness, a study indicates. Participants were given breakfast meals high in saturated, mono- or polyunsaturated fat, and researchers concluded that the type of fat made no difference in feelings of satiety or the amount consumed at a lunch meal. Food Navigator. Read more

Omega-3: Fishy claims for fish oil

ImageIf I told you that one cheap pill could boost your brain power, protect you from heart disease and cancer, and even alleviate depression, all with no known side effects, would you want it? Who wouldn’t? You’ve probably heard of the pill’s main ingredient: omega-3, a substance found in fish oil and other natural products. If the flood of headlines and adverts from food and supplement manufacturers are to be believed, you need only boost your intake of omega-3 and all these benefits will be yours.

Omega-3 supplements first appeared in the early 1980s. Given they are still going strong 30 years later, you would be forgiven for thinking that claims of their beneficence have all been substantiated. Yet several new studies, as well as recent reviews of existing evidence, call this received wisdom into question. Do any of the claims stand up under scrutiny? New Scientist. Read more

ImageBetter way to detect food allergies

A chemical engineer believes he has a better way to diagnose such allergies. His new technology can analyze individual immune cells taken from patients, allowing for precise measurement of the cells’ response to allergens such as milk and peanuts. Science Daily. Read more


Selenium-enriched milk could fight cancer

ImageSupplementing cows’ diets with the mineral selenium could create enriched milk that would provide cancer-fighting health benefits. This milk would contain high levels of antioxidants, which can stave off the development of cancer-causing cells. University of Guelph researchers are discovering how selenium might benefit both dairy producers and consumers. Guelph Mercury. Read more


Food Science, Biotech & Food Safety


ImageImproved gluten-free bread

Researchers at Teagasc Food Research Ashtown in Ireland are producing tasty, nutritious gluten-free breads for coeliac disease sufferers.The research focused on using the so-called ‘pseudocereals’ amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat to replace wheat in bread formulations. ScienceDaily. Read more


ImageHow many cancers are caused by the environment?

Traces of chemicals known to cause human cancer lurk everywhere. But after decades of research, figuring out how many people might contract cancer because of them remains an elusive goal. Scientific American. Read more


Randomness may be key to reduced sugar products

Uneven distribution of sugar in a food may allow formulators to reduce the sugar content of foods without detrimentally affecting the sweetness of the finished product, Dutch researchers report. According to results published in Food Quality and Preference, the ‘inhomogeneous distribution’ of sugar allowed sugar levels to be reduced by 20%  without reducing sweetness.

The findings build on earlier science from Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TIFN) into salt reduction using what they called smart salt distribution. The technique allows for the reduction of salt without adding sodium substitutes, or taste or aroma additives. Food Navigator. Read more

ImageMilk research group takes first step to functional ingredients

A new initiative to identify dairy bioactive ingredients has yielded 30 peptides that could be used to develop new functional food and beverage ingredients. Food Navigator. Read more

ImageHey little hen

In the world of poultry farming, the sexes are unequal. Broilers aside, hens can look forward, if that is the right phrase, to long, productive lives as layers of eggs for human consumption. Cocks are generally for the chop, a process that greatly vexes animal-welfare activists.

Chicken-sexing is a huge industry. The world’s population of laying hens is now nearly six billion strong, according to the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Time, then, to mechanise the process. And that is what Tauseef Butt, the boss of LifeSensors, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, proposes to do. The Economist. Read more


 Sustainability Stuff


Cheese-powered fuel cells: The whey to greener electricity

ImageIt may seem ridiculous, but in the hunt for sources of alternative energy researchers have come up with fuel cells which are powered by cheese — or at least whey, a by-product in cheese making. Whey is rich in lactose, a sugar which Georgia Antonopoulou, a biochemical engineer at the University of Patras, Greece, says can be consumed by cultures of bacteria contained within a fuel cell to generate an electric current.


Microbial fuel cells, as such devices are known, are not a new idea but they are attracting more attention. . . and could help not just in the cheese-making industry. Breweries, pig farms, food-processing plants and even sewage works could gain from the technology. The Economist. Read more

A SPECIAL report on water

ImageFinite, vital, much wanted, little understood, water looks unmanageable. When the word water appears in print these days, crisis is rarely far behind. Water, it is said, is the new oil: a resource long squandered, now growing expensive and soon to be overwhelmed by insatiable demand. Aquifers are falling, glaciers vanishing, reservoirs drying up and rivers no longer flowing to the sea. Climate change threatens to make the problems worse. Everyone must use less water if famine, pestilence and mass migration are not to sweep the globe. As it is, wars are about to break out between countries squabbling over dams and rivers.

The language is often overblown, and the remedies sometimes ill conceived, but the basic message is not wrong. [If this topic interests you, don’t miss this excellent and pertinent Special Report from the The Economist. Ed]  Read more


Packaging Stuff


All the AmeriStar winners for 2009/2010

ImageThe Ameristar Awards presented annually by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IOPP), recognise packages that exhibit superior innovation, product protection, performance, less environmental impact and economics.

This year, the “Best of Show” was won by Abbott Nutrition for its innovation for baby formula, the Similac SimplePac. Its switch from a round, composite can to a custom-engineered, extrusion blow-molded container has resulted in a package that the company describes as “parent-friendly,” “easy-to-use,” “convenient,” and “mess-free.” The IOPP judges clearly agreed. Packaging World. Read more on Similac SimplePac Download details of all the winners here [This takes a while to download]

AmeriStar Award for the resealable can

ImageThe Ball Resealable End (BRE) from Ball Corporation has received the 2009/2010 AmeriStar Award for beverage packaging. Each year, the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) honors companies that have succeeded in creating innovative packaging that delivers improved efficiency and sustainability. The BRE does this by adding resealability to the long list of beverage can benefits, which include superior shelf life, tamper-resistance, the ability to chill quickly, excellent billboard space and recyclability. FOODStuff SA. Read more


US: New ESL packaging: 90-day shelf life + sustainability gains

ImageByrne Dairy of Syracuse, New York, is the first in the US to install a Predis Combi blow/fill/cap system. Developed by Sidel, Predis technology is notable because it sterilizes PET preforms rather than PET bottles.


Called “dry sterilisation” by Sidel, Predis brings cost savings because the item to be sterilised, a preform, is so much smaller than a bottle. That means less hydrogen peroxide and rinse water is required to sterilise the small preforms compared to a bottle, and the PET preforms can be lighter because the blown bottles are never subjected to the rigors of heating and rinsing. Packaging World. Read more


Optimising CO packaging to extend fresh meat shelf life

ImageThe use of carbon monoxide (CO) for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) of fresh meat is a relatively recent option for the meat industry. This gas is extremely effective as part of a MAP system for fresh meat because CO binds firmly to meat pigment to produce a cherry red colour that is visually identical to that which results when fresh meat is exposed to air. Fresh meat colour “bloom” is the result of oxygen binding to the meat pigment, but this is a relatively fragile colour even at high oxygen concentrations. The retail shelf life of fresh meat is often limited by the colour loss that typically occurs within a few days of retail display. [Registration required] Read more


ImageSome packaging adhesives can contaminate food – study

Spanish scientists have called for further study into some adhesives after research revealed that some toxic substances from them could penetrate packaging and contaminate food. Food Quality News. Read more


A bright future for Westpack

ImageSince its inception in 2007,  Durban’s Westpack, a dry food co-packer that’s quickly acquired an enviable list of blue-chip FMCG customers, has embarked on a big brand and product innovation project in conjunction with its sister company that has developed and successfully launched Future Life, an immune-boosting energy meal. FOODStuff SA. Read more




Consider liquorice

ImageIt takes all sorts to make a world, but there are few foods more divisive than liquorice. Which side of the bootlace are you on? Liquorice is one of the quintessential love-or-hate ingredients: a raven paste that divides families more surely than Marmite, politics or morris dancing.

British liquorice is invariably confected, blunted with glucose, soothed with coconut or speckled with tiny sugar balls. But on the continent it’s taken seriously. The Dutch add salt to theirs to make one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever tasted – gummy, bite-sized sodium swamps. The Italians produce pellets to use as a masochistic breath freshener. Guardian. Read more

ImagePopcorn through the ages

Popcorn. Estimates vary, but most anthropologists agree that popcorn got its start in South America around 5,000 years ago, and it’s been popular ever since. It’s been much more than a movie treat for thousands of years, used as currency, for soup and beer, packing materials, and jewelry. Whether you take yours with extra salt, light on the butter, or au naturel, here are popcorn facts for all tastes. Read more  


ImageFlap over California ‘Happy Cows’ ad

Californian state legislators have had a collective apoplexy on learning that the California Milk Advisory Board sent a production crew to New Zealand to film 10 commercials that claim California cows are happy. Sacramento Bee. Read more


Kill me quick: Kenya’s lethal brew

ImageThe Korogocho slum is one of the poorest in Nairobi, Kenya’s teeming capital. Its 120,000 residents occupy a stinking square kilometre by the city rubbish dump. Nearly three-quarters are under 30 years old. Many are alcoholics. The equivalent of $1 is enough to buy four glasses of illegally brewed chang’aa — and oblivion.


Some drink the local special, jet-five, so called because the fermentation of maize and sorghum is sped up with pilfered jet fuel. It can damage the brain. Elsewhere in Nairobi, chang’aa is spiked with embalming fluid from mortuaries. The name, meaning literally “kill me quick”, is well chosen. The Economist. Read more


America’s unhealthiest drink

ImageA 2,000-calorie milkshake that is the equivalent of eating 68 rashers of bacon has been named the worst drink in America. Just one drink equals the recommended daily total calorie intake for women and falls only just short of the 2,500 daily allowance for men.

The Cold Stone PB&C is made with chocolate ice cream, milk and peanut butter. It contains 2,010 calories, 131 grams of fat – 68 grams of which is saturated – and 153 grams of sugar. Telegraph. Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week!

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