FOODStuff SA’s Best and Worst of 2010

Scouring through the year’s newsletters, we’ve come up with a list of the best, the worst and a heap of other accolades (or not) that have marked 2010. This list is entirely, unashamedly subjective! Herewith, the 2010 FOODStuff SA Best and Worst Awards …

Story of the Year: Kraft’s $19-billion acquisition of Cadbury. Impressive CEO Irene Rosenfeld garnered gazillions of media mentions and more words of copy than even salt reduction or obesity.

Shame of the Year: Pioneer Foods’ deceitful performance at the Competition Tribunal and subsequent R1-bn fine for price collusion, which it has seemingly shaken off as it now looks to buy KWV. As the fabulous news website, The Daily Maverick put it so gently: “…the Pioneer Foods debacle is the most outrageous example of callousness and greed. It’s worse than not giving a rat’s arse about the poor – it’s stealing what little money they have out of their pockets.”

Event of the Year: IUFoST 2010, August, at the CTICC. A world-class gathering of food scientists and brilliantly organised by SAAFoST.

Local Products of the Year: NoMU’s Fond, Fair Cape’s Rooiboost, Dynamic Commodities Bits ‘O Juice. Winners all.

Whacky Product Launches of the Year: Tesco’s lasagne sandwich (UK), Le Froglet (187ml of wine sealed with foil in a plastic stemmed wine glass – UK); bottled sea water (UK).

Goodbyes of the Year: An awkward one for Simon Susman, CEO of Woolworths and who’s now non-executive deputy chairman; his respected father and one-time MD David Susman, who died at the age of 84; Raymond Ackerman to deserved retirement; and Graham Beck, a brilliant South African entrepreneur whose name has become synonymous with fine wines, died in London aged 80.

Birthdays of the Year: Deli Spices (30 years), SAAFoST (50 years), Orley Foods (50 years) and the humble can (200 years).

Buy of the Year: Danisco’s purchase of Research Solutions, a go-getting product development consultancy in Cape Town that’s also been doing great business with its own ingredient compounds, mainly for the dairy sector.

Package of the Year: SABMiller’s Event Can launched for the World Cup – just voted Can of the Year in the US, too

LocCloeteal Innovation of the Year: Prof Eugene Cloete’s (dean of the Science Faculty at Stellenbosch University) hi-tech “teabag” that can purify polluted water instantly and at minimal cost.

Coolest Innovation of the Year: “Revolutionary Removable” degradable chewing gum that launched in the US, making it the world’s first commercially available environmentally-friendly gum.

Trend of the Year: Processed is out – people’s desire to return to “real food” with no compromise on the quality of what they eat. We want it all!

Trend Two of the Year: Every once in a while, some unsung nutrient gets rediscovered and, in the course of a few short years, is rendered virtually magical in the eyes of health professionals and consumers. Then, seemingly overnight, the spell is broken. This year it happened to Omega 3, pomegranate and just last week, vitamin D.

Issue of the Year: Salt, salt, salt – too much of it, and how to reduce it!

Issue Two of the Year: BPA, another ubiquitous chemical, found in everything from food cans to baby bottles and which many would postulate is killing us. Just as many say it’s doing no such thing and is perfectly safe at current regulated limits. Ditto for salt.

Hottest Topic of the Year: Sustainability and feeding the billions in the coming decades.

“Ag shame” of the Year: HFCS – high fructose corn syrup’s already poor image plumbed new depths. Try to argue that the sweetener is not an evil, secret weapon of mass destruction but a perfectly natural product that’s no worse for you than regular old sugar, and consumers have responded with a collective “Yeah, right”. They’re now planning to market it as “corn sugar” in the US. Yeah, right.

Confusion of the Year: A myriad of new possibilities behind the obesity pandemic: “calories in vs calories out” is apparently far too simplistic.

BIG Shock of the Year: That South Africa comes third in global obesity stakes, as confirmed by the results of an indendent survey done in July in our four biggest cities, commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline. Half an hour in your local mall will confirm the findings.

The Rug Pull of the Year: Health claims in Europe, and most elsewhere, too. Where to now for functional foods?

Disappointment of the Year: Five-a-day does not keep cancer away.

The “Why am I not Surprised” of the Year: Health, schmealth… consumers are not ignorant about what constitutes a healthy diet, they just don’t chose to go there. There’s a big disconnect between what consumers know and say versus what they do. Taste, taste, taste – followed by affordability and convenience are still tops, no matter what!  Here’s great insight as to why people continue to make really poor food choices when they are perfectly well informed about healthier options. It’s called behavioural economics and it poses some sticky challenges for the food industry and health regulators.

Vindication of the Year: For those of us who love science, a ruling by a British parliamentary committee that homeopathy is 19th-century snake oil and has no place within the NHS.

Your Loss is Our Gain of the Year: Cadbury SA’s marketing dynamo Geoff Whyte who vacated his position in April after the Kraft takeover, and is now heading up National Brand’s Snackworks.

carrotsFood Marketing Campaign of the Year: In the US, where baby carrot producers joined forces to take on junk food with a fabulously zany marketing campaign. See