Issue 106: 5 November 2010

“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

Image“If lack of time was the key driver towards convenience and thus processed foods, nothing has changed on that front. The current shift comes from people’s desire to return to ‘real food’. Consumers still want convenience, more so than ever, but they’re no longer prepared to compromise on the quality of what they eat. Thus, bringing real food values back to processed food is imperative and becoming a true cost of entry to their success.”

Bryan Urbick, founder and CEO of the Consumer Knowledge Centre, UK. Read this article here

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. Read more here

Fine innovation from Cadbury

Cadbury ShotsAs 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 it’s 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!

Email Brenda Neall: [email protected]

Publisher & Editor

FOOD INDUSTRY JOBS ADVERTISED THIS WEEK! Tongaat Hulett is looking for technical sales staff – equity employment opportunities!
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Local Food Industry Stuff

Pioneer settles with the Competition Commission to the tune of R1bn

ImagePioneer 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. Pioneer’s 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.  Read more

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. 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. The Daily Maverick. Read more

ImageGame presents a fresh take on food shopping

After 40 years Massmart’s Game has earned a solid reputation as one of South Africa’s 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. Read more

ImageWalmart’s bid for Massmart – What’s in the trolley?

Speculation is increasing around the terms and conditions of Walmart’s bid to buy local retailer Massmart. This follows last week’s statement that the US giant may consider acquiring just 55% of Massmart, rather than 100% as was initially proposed. Financial Mail. Read more

Pick n Pay’s new marketing director

ImageBronwen Rohland, Pick n Pay’s new marketing director, is a formidable operator. Credited with managing the group’s 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. Read more

Aletta Crofton’s Walkie Talkie Chicken wins over South African tastebuds

Simba Walkie TalkieSimba has announced the winner of its innovative “What’s Your Lekker Flavour?” competition: Aletta Crofton’s 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

ImageThe 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.

Shoprite 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. Read more

Cadbury launches new bottom-end ‘Shots’ chocolate brand in South Africa

ImageCadbury South Africa has introduced an exciting new Dairy Milk range extension, ideally suited to the local market. Called Cadbury Dairy Milk Shots, the product is a chocolate ball coated in a crunchy candy shell. FOODStuff SA. Read more

ImageNew Desert Fantasy flavour from Liqui-Fruit

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

ImageNew 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

ImageGlobal 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. Read more

Are we having another food crisis?

ImageThe 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 in Mozambique.

Are we having another food crisis? New Scientist investigates. Read more

US: GMA plans a FOP label showing nutritional data

ImageResponding 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. Read more

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 let’s 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. Read more

Is Kraft killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?

ImageIs the Kraft/Cadbury merger really working? Certainly, we are led to believe so by Kraft Food’s 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 Kraft’s top management is from Cadbury.” Not any more it isn’t. 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. Read more

Fairtrade under fire: accused of doing less for coffee farmers than Starbucks

ImageMultinational 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. Read more

ImageNestlé 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. Read more 

Food Trends, NPD and Marketing Stuff

Mintel reveals consumer packaged goods trends for 2011

ImageAn 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

ImageWhile consumers are still reeling from the aftershock created by the global economic crisis, lessons have been learnt, behaviours changed and consumer adaptability has created a new way of life. With that in mind, Mintel predicts nine key consumer trends for the year ahead, examining how long term behaviour has been implicated. In 2011, consumers are living for the long term with attitudes inspired by a changed value set. FOODStuff SA. Read more

Why the hacktivists are winning

ImageHow 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 public’s growing distain for corporate greed, hacktivism is a trend on the rise. Today’s 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. Read more

German company patents ‘nocturnal milk’

ImageA 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 normal milk.

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. Read more

Dispel consumer myths around added sugars, IGD

ImageConsumers 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 palatability.

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. Read more and download the report here

Understanding the unconscious mind of the consumer

ImageLearning 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? Read more

Nutrition and Health Stuff

Omega-3 DHA doesn’t slow Alzheimer’s: study

ImageAn 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. Read more

ImageSugar-sweetened drink’s 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. Read more

Nutritionist Marion Nestle fingers the missing calories in America’s big binge

ImageFor 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. Read more

ImageScientists 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. Read more

Food Science Stuff

Cargill’s lower-calorie chocolate set for 2011 launch

ImageCargill’s 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 Cargill’s chocolate expertise to a process using a patented blend of sweeteners, including Cargill’s zero-calorie bulk sweetener, Zerose erythritol. Cargill said it will be ready to introduce chocolate by the end of 2011. Read more

Defatted cocoa powder ‘best compromise’ for low-fat choc: Nestle

Formulating reduced fat chocolate using defatted cocoa powder may indeed by the ‘best compromise’ for confectionery producers, says a new study from Nestlé Product Technology. Read more

ImageOrganic 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. Read more

Packaging Stuff

ImageBPA 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. Read more

Frito Lay vs Frito Lay: Canada sticks to its noisy SunChips bag

ImageUnlike its US cousin, Frito Lay Canada won’t kill off the compostable SunChips bag despite complaints from consumers that it’s 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. Read more

ImageNew non-alumnium foil packaging for food and drink products

A 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 company’s 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. Read more

Sustainability and Green Stuff

Are there plenty more fish in the sea?

ImageBritish 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 fish returned.

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. Read more

ImageBiofuels 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. Read more

An old idea may help solve the problem of plastic waste

ImagePlastics 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. Read more

Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!

The Water Myth: Debunking the dilution solution

ImageWater. 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. Read more

Is candy evil or just misunderstood?

ImageSugar 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] Read more

ImageThe truth about men, women and food

Are 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. Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week, folks!