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Issue 66: 11 December 2009



“I have always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew and then chew it.”
William C deMille, American screenwriter and film director
 

Food bites . . . Dealing with the unexpected

Image“Still, all these [food safety] challenges pale in comparison with the biggest threat to modern-day food production: the unexpected. And that could be a terrorist adding cyanide or ricin to the food supply or an unethical supplier substituting a cheaper—and possibly toxic—ingredient.

“The biggest thing that is scaring the heck out of people is looking for things they don’t expect, like melamine. Now people are asking, ‘How do we not leave these things to chance? What kind of analysis workflow and systems can we use to catch these things at the first pass?’”

Paul Zavitsanos, Agilent’s worldwide food industry manager


 


ImageEditor’s Stuff – SA’s year-end NPD flourish

 

JUST when 2009 was heading to be a new product desert in South Africa, news of not one, but three, really interesting, truly ground-breaking, local debutantes have come to light! Interestingly, two of them are processing/recipe developments which is fairly unusual these days, while the other rests on clever packaging technology. You can read all about them below.

 

I’m sure there have been several others that have missed my eager eyes in the past eleven months – which brings me to my next contention. The SA food industry – and I’m making a sweeping statement here, so forgive me if it doesn’t apply – in my long experience as a trade journalist and reporter, is singularly slack at public relations and communications.

Most times, I have to ask, cajole, beg and bully to get the story on new launches and developments, and that extends from the biggest corporates to the smallest start-up players, and across the supply chain, too. It is really quite extraordinary, especially as most of the big companies, no doubt, have large marketing, PR, communications, brand management teams in-house and pay handsome bucks to external marketing service providers.

 

So please send me, tell me your news! My clever webmaster, Stephen de Lange of Estar Design, alerted me this week to the fact that, thanks to good SOE (search engine optimisation), FOODStuff SA has made it onto page one of Google (co.za) for the search term “food industry”. All the more reason for your company, its products, services and achievements to have a presence on it!

 

ImageNoMU thinks outside the stock cube

The great management guru, Peter Drucker, said business is about two things: innovation and marketing, and if ever there was a South African food company that observed Mr Drucker’s guidelines, it’s Cape Town’s ever-stylish and quality-driven NoMU Foods. Working with virtually no advertising budget, the husband-and-wife team of Tracy Foulkes and Paul Raphaely have astutely leveraged their best abilities – Tracy’s foodie genius and Paul’s marketing/PR nous – to build a renowned brand, that in but ten years stands proudly South African on global shelves. 

 

Their latest launch, presented and explained at my desk, in person by Paul, nogal, and complete with exquisite press kit and photography, is simply brilliant and I expect it will win a slew of awards – and get many people cursing that they didn’t think of it first. The concept is Fonds, concentrated liquid stocks in four flavours, a first for South Africa and representing a massive improvement on traditional stock powders and cubes. Authentic, home-made flavour that you can’t believe and a triumph of recipe development. Read more

 

Dynamic Commodities wows at Anuga!

ImageWhile this news has come a little late to FOODStuff SA, I’m delighted to report that Port Elizabeth company, Dynamic Commodities, has enjoyed another big innovation win, this time at the world’s biggest food fair, Anuga, held in Cologne in October. They took home the first prize in the Fine Foods Category at Anuga’s innovation forum, Taste ’09, for their new product, Bits o’ Juice, frozen natural citrus pods.

I came across the news in the latest Financial Mail, which opens its story thus: “It’s a long way from being a lawyer and corporate banker to selling cryogenically frozen lemon cells to the Japanese. But entrepreneur Adrian Vardy has made the transition from corporate suit to factory floor with ease…” Read more

Bokomo innovates with Werda To Go long-life salads

ImageSo much food and beverage innovation rests on packaging, and Bokomo’s new Werda launch, To Go single-serve, ambient salads, is just such an example. Bokomo is the first food producer in SA to adopt AMPET, an award-winning plastics innovation from Denmark’s Faerch Plast (presented locally by AGQPE) and a concept that challenges glass, cans and retort pouches for functionality. The new Werda To Go range aims to put several topical and consumer-friendly adjectives behind lunch time: convenient, healthy, value for money, economical and tasty. Read more

Enjoy this week’s read! Email Brenda Neall, editor and publisher: brenda@foodstuffsa.co.za

 

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technical sales reps, auditors, plant managers, key account managers, microbiologists etc


Afrikaans translation: To translate this page, go to http://interpret.co.za/, 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.


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Food Industry News


UK: Have a break – have an ethical Kit Kat

ImageNestlé, the world’s biggest food company, is to pay poor cocoa farmers more for their beans by switching its best-selling Kit Kat chocolate bar to Fairtrade.

Emrbarking on what its UK chocolate boss described as an ethical “long journey”, the four-finger Kit Kat will carry the Fairtrade logo from next month. Over the next two years the two-finger and other versions of the £183m-a-year bar will make the switch. More than 8,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast) will benefit from the decision, receiving an extra $150 a tonne, 4% above the $3,384 world price. Read more

 

ImageUK: Cadbury sets December 14 deadline for Kraft decision

Cadbury will give a formal response on December 14 to the $16 billion Kraft Foods takeover bid, the company has announced. The UK confectioner rejected preliminary approaches from Kraft, which then went directly to shareholders. Read more

 

ImageUK’s Mandelson: Cadbury bidders must respect its heritage

Britain’s business secretary, Peter Mandelson, said companies seeking to acquire Cadbury must respect the confectioner’s “work force and the heritage and quality.” Any firm seeking a “quick buck” through a takeover could face government opposition, he said during a trade conference in Birmingham, the place where Cadbury began. Read more

 

US: Irene Rosenfeld – Kraft Foods’ CEO has a history of high achievement

ImageThe 56-year-old Kraft chief executive is a woman who appears more at home with her work or her family than on the public stage. However, in August this year, Rosenfeld broke with habit and burst very visibly into the limelight when she flew to London to tell Roger Carr, the chairman of Cadbury, that she wanted to take control of the British confectioner.

 

As politicians lead calls for Kraft to tread carefully in its efforts to seize control of a company that has been at the heart of life in Birmingham and wider Britain since 1824, they would do well to know what they are up against. Read more

 

US: Gatorade drops Tiger’s drink, decided before infamous accident

ImageGatorade is discontinuing its Tiger Woods drink but says it made the decision before the golfer’s car accident led to a media firestorm surrounding his personal life. The decision to drop the drink, called Tiger Focus, was first reported by trade publication Beverage Digest in its issue dated November 25, two days before the incident at Woods’ home in Florida. A PepsiCo spokesman says the decision came several months ago. Read more

US: General Mills cuts sugar in some cereals

ImageWith Obama administration showing signs that it will not put up with “insane” health claims on cereal boxes, General Mills seems to be acting proactively, and says it will further reduce the amount of sugar in ten of its leading cereals marketed to kids. The move will cut the sugar level of Cocoa Puffs about 25 percent from where it was two years ago, and about 18 percent from where it is now. General Mills says the move is a reaction to consumers’ desire for less sugar, rather than a response to criticism. Read more

 

US: Google’s top food & drink search term of 2009

ImageFor the tiny Acai Berry, 2009 was a big year. It was the feature of countless news stories and unfortunately the subject of endless spam emails that flooded consumers inboxes. Now Google has confirmed what many in the industry already predicted – Acai Berry was the fastest rising search term on Google in the Food and Drink category … The Acai berry has gained international recognition as one of the highest antioxidant fruits in the world … One of the reasons for the very high search volume in Google for Acai is that people were confused by all the conflicting marketing and health claims being made about the acai berry. Read more

 

ImageNORTH AMERICA: Ouch! Unilever recalls 10 million tainted slimming drinks

Unilever has recalled an estimated 10 million cans of its Slim-Fast ready-to-drink products in North America on fears they could be infected with Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Read more

ImageUK: Organic lobby ‘must keep open mind’ over GM

A leading proponent of genetically modified crops has urged the organic lobby to keep an open mind over the benefits of new crop technologies to avoid a global food crisis … Dominic Dyer, Crop Protection Association (CPA) chief executive, said the organic industry must stop demonizing pesticides and GM crops. Read more

 

SA: SAB strengthens the war on SA’s drunk-driving plague

ImageThe Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and SAB have launched a state of the art Alcohol Evidence Centre (AEC) in Soweto. The AEC is equipped with the necessary tools to accurately detect a driver’s blood alcohol concentration level through a single breath sample.

This is the second such centre to open in South Africa as part of a countrywide initiative by SAB to tackle drunk driving. The accuracy of the data collected at the AEC is expected to dramatically improve the prosecution rates of those detained under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Read more

 


ImageBob’s Beat: Is Gatorade just the beginning of flight from Tiger?

 

Image“Look, I know what PepsiCo said, that dropping the Gatorade drink specially formulated for and tied to golfer Tiger Woods was a decision made prior to the news about his ‘cheating’ ways. But c’mon, why would Pepsi dump the Tiger drink — did it suck? No, the sales stunk, but I still think PepsiCo appreciates a little breathing room from Tiger while the media finishes counting up the women he has bedded. But will PepsiCo get back into bed with Tiger as soon as the controversy surrounding him thins out? Yeah, sure, I mean, for a giant like PepsiCo, business is business and we are, after all, talking about the best golfer on the planet. Maybe the best ever.

 

“But if it were me, I’d dump the adulterous lout for good. If I would’ve done something like this to my wife, I’d be spending the rest of my life speaking falsetto. In my world, Tiger Woods is damaged goods, and marketers should think twice about seeking his endorsement on anything. But they won’t. Because that’s the world we live in now. Principles? Character? Please, this is not the 1950s. If you want someone to feel sorry for, feel sorry for Woods’ wife and his kids — they’re the ones who’ve been terribly wronged by Tiger’s sex-ploits with, as one blogger called it, “an assortment of waitresses, party girls and hookers”. What a jerk!

Bob Messenger, publisher of the daily food-zine, The Morning Cup,
is a foremost US food industry commentator and observer

 


Hot Stuff


Challenging the conventional wisdom on fish and mercury

ImageIf you swallow the scary stories anti-food activists are constantly pushing to the media, you might be worrying about trace amounts of mercury in the fish you eat. But new research shows that levels of mercury in fish might be irrelevant after all. Since 2006 when we published “The Flip Side of Mercury”, we’ve been saying that selenium levels in seafood might actually be canceling out the negative effects of mercury, in an all-natural conspiracy to make fish the “brain food” your mom always said it was. (Selenium is a key antioxidant that helps guard against heart disease and boosts your immune system.) Read more

 


Food Science & Safety Stuff


Precision breeding creates super potato

ImageThe skin is light brown, the meat luscious and yellow: from the outside alone, this new potato looks like any other. But on the inside, it is different. Its cells produce pure amylopectin, a starch used in the paper, textile and food industries. The new potatoes — recently harvested and processed for the first time — were developed with the aid of a new, especially rapid breeding process. Read more  

Nanoparticle protects oil in foods from oxidation and spoilage

ImageUsing a nanoparticle from corn, a Purdue University scientist has found a way to lengthen the shelf life of many food products and sustain their health benefits.

Yuan Yao, an assistant professor of food science, has successfully modified the phytoglycogen nanoparticle, a starchlike substance that makes up nearly 30 percent of the dry mass of some sweet corn. The modification allows the nanoparticle to attach to oils and emulsify them while also acting as a barrier to oxidation, which causes food to become rancid. His findings were published in the early online version of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Read more

ImageUS: E Coli lawsuit seeks $100 million!

Stephanie Smith, a 22-year-old Minnesota dance instructor left paralysed by a burger tainted with E coli, filed a $100-million lawsuit against Cargill on December 3. Read more

US: After long delays, vaccine to counter bad beef is being tested

ImageScientists are fairly sure that vaccines [will help] wipe out the dangerous strain of E coli known as O157:H7, one of the most persistent food-safety problems. An American beef company has started a trial for a drug intended to reduce E coli in cattle after years of bureaucratic delays in Washington. And now, even if the vaccines prove successful in these ambitious tests, they face an uncertain future as farmers and feedlot owners worry about who will pick up the extra cost … Read more

Food safety means business opportunity …

ImageA recent edition of Chemical & Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for chemists and engineers, features food safety as both an important public health threat and a business opportunity. According to ACS, “Recalls of ground beef, peanut butter, and other foods have done more than raise public awareness and concern about food safety. They are also quietly fueling a boom in the market for food testing equipment and fostering new food safety regulations.” Read more



Health and Nutrition Stuff

 

ImageResearchers find genetic reasons for childhood obesity

Scientists studied the DNA of children who are severely obese and found that some are missing part of their chromosome 16. The deletion seems to create “a very strong drive to eat,” said Dr Sadaf Farooqi of Cambridge University. Read more

ImageStudy debunks caffeine’s sobering power

A new study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience debunks the myth that a strong cup of coffee will help sober up an intoxicated person and reveals that popular caffeinated “alcohol-energy” drinks don’t neutralise alcohol intoxication. Read more

 

Under the influence of ethanol: how alcoholic beverages are like allosteric drugs

ImageWherever there’s a happy hour, there’s allosteric modulation. Although researchers are only beginning to understand how the ethanol in a keg of beer or a snifter of brandy works on a molecular level, they do know that it interacts with targets at allosteric sites, which are areas of a protein outside the site that binds the natural ligands. That knowledge may lead to new treatments for alcoholism. Read more


Why your workout isn’t working

ImageIt’s a simple, tried-and-tested equation: exercise equals weight loss. The foundations on which a multibillion-pound fitness industry is built. But what if that equation was wrong? Or, at least, a far more complex one than conventional thinking would have us believe? Read more


ImageEat protein to heal a damaged brain

A diet of chicken, fish and protein shakes might be just the thing for people with brain injuries, suggests a study in mice. Read more


Food Trends 2010 and NPD

 

US: The first rice-based, soy-free meat alternative

ImageUS producer, Morini Brands has launched Risofu, claimed as the world’s first rice-based tofu and meat alternative which free of the top eight allergens; soy, wheat, egg, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shell fish.

 

Uniquely formulated and processed to deliver a real meat-like texture and diverse cooking characteristics, Risofu is the key ingredient in the Morini’s new Bahama Rice Burger that was successfully launched last year, claiming the AVA’s (American Vegetarian Association) coveted “Most Innovative Product Award” of 2008 for great taste, quality and more. Read more

ImageHotchocspoons: the perfect hot chocolate-making device?

A lovely piece of European innovation, Hotchocspoons comprise 50 grams of chocolate melted down and then solidified around a wooden spoon for convenient stirring. The come in over 50 varieties, including ones that include a whisky or amaretto shot (genius), strawberry and pink peppercorn, a “kids only” with Smarties, white chocolate, an 85% dark chocolate, and even a seaweed flavour. Read more

“Cool” new water from South Korea

ImageThe latest global bottled water launch comes from water harvested from a strip of land 245km long and just 4km wide, whose purity is probably the most jealously guarded on earth.

For more than half a century the Demilitarised Zone, the buffer between North and South Korea, has only yielded crops of razor-wire fences, landmines, watchtowers, and squadrons of heavily armed soldiers – until three months ago when the Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co began selling DMZ 2km water, from a spring that flows under the strip.

The bottling plant is safely just within South Korean territory but the origin of the water is clear: along with the outline of a bird, the label boasts the legend DMZ. Read more

 

Tetra Pak: good prospects for ambient dairy products

ImageFigures just released in the latest edition of the Tetra Pak Dairy Index – which tracks worldwide facts, figures and trends in the dairy industry – show that consumption of ambient milk and other ambient liquid dairy products (LDP) across developed markets is projected to grow by 0.6% from 2008 to 2009. This growth comes during a period of worldwide economic recession, with total LDP consumption (ambient and chilled) in developed markets expected to dip by 1.2% from 2008 to 2009. Read more
 


Green Stuff


ImageDanisco launches website for climate-friendly foods

Danisco has more than 70 ways to help the food and beverage industry combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and consumption of natural resources – all now gathered on the new Danisco Climate Friendly website, aimed at giving manufacturers a fast route to a greener image.
 
As consumers express growing concern about the climate, the first products with carbon labels are appearing on supermarket shelves. Danisco’s website is designed to help manufacturers find solutions that boost sustainable production within their food sector. Read more

Getting by on little water

ImageAccording to the witty accusation often attributed to Mark Twain, everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Scientists still may not be able to do anything about the weather, but they are working to make plants that thrive despite it.

By probing the biological and chemical bases of some plants’ innate ability to flourish in regions and periods of limited precipitation, researchers in industry, academia, and government labs are learning to confer drought tolerance to major food, feed, and fiber crops including rice, corn, and cotton. These scientific advances, which have been mounting in recent months, come as the combined effects of surging world population and climate change may be poised to deliver a potent one-two punch to global food supplies in the coming years. Read more

Manure for organic agriculture not as pathogenic as assumed

ImageA new computer model – called Coliwave – developed by researchers at the University of Florida, Wageningen University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands predicts contamination risks … “Many people have been skeptical of organic foods because of reports that the manure can be a source of contamination,” says researcher Ariena van Bruggen of the UF Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences and the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “However, what we found is that manure, when properly stored and treated, is actually safer than we previously thought,” she said. Read more


ImageAlternative packaging made from farm waste

Two young American businessmen have developed a green alternative to polystyrene packaging, which is made from farm waste and mushrooms, uses one tenth of the energy to produce and biodegrades into a natural fertiliser. Read more

 


Packaging Stuff

 

ImageAir to spare: why is that package half-empty?

It happens all the time: You open a snack bag, cereal box, or pill bottle and find a little bit of product and … lots of air. Consumer Reports in the US dings such products with a “Black Hole Award”, and recently rounded up a handful of samples and asked their makers to explain the extra space. Read more



Miscellany


Tomatoes can ‘eat’ insects

ImageGarden vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes have been found to be deadly killers on a par with Venus fly traps, according to research.

British botanists have discovered that tomatoes can “eat” insects; that is, their furry stems grasp the legs of small bugs and then, once they’ve died and fallen to the ground, the plant soaks up their nutrients through its roots. The researchers, publishing their findings in the wonderfully-titled article “Murderous plants: Victorian Gothic, Darwin and modern insights into vegetable carnivory” in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, concluded “We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think.” Read more

The most expensive bottled waters in the world

ImageBottled water has become something of a swear word in today’s increasingly green-inclined world. But I couldn’t resist including this article, that granted, is about a year old. It’s about the most expensive bottled waters in the world…. it contends that just as consumers have embraced the concept that chocolate is no longer merely a candy bar stamped “Nestlé” and salt is more than crystals in a cylinder labeled “Morton’s,” so too are they coming to appreciate the different tastes and “mouthfeel” of premium waters. Bottled water is now making the transition from being considered a commodity to being a natural product with its own origin. Read more

That’s it for this week, folks!

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