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Newsletter 13 April 2012

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 13 April 2012 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:  “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” – John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist

Bidfood Solutions
Editor’s Stuff: New ‘Theatre of Food’ upstages the others!

I live in Cape Town and this week took my bike out to enjoy a ride on a champagne autumn day down to Tokai to view the new Food Lover’s Market in Main Road, which rightly has claimed to set a benchmark for fresh produce retail and retail as a whole in South Africa.

OWOWOW! This roll-out store, modelled on the Whole Foods retail chain in the US, offers consumers a brand new shopping experience as a ‘Theatre Of Food’ retail destination, allowing customers to complete their entire shop in-store.

This may be a flagship offering in the high-flying, rapidly expanding group, but it served as a striking counterpoint to the uninspired and unimaginative retailing that we’ve gotten so used to in our leading supermarkets.

Part of the Food Lover’s Market’s appeal, as on its original premise as Fruit & Veg City, is its fabulous fresh produce offer. Not quite the case in my local supermarket which serves as a source of endless exasperation.

“What do people want to eat today?” I was finally moved to ask the bemused store manager this week after encountering, for the umpteenth time, a fresh produce section that was, in my opinion: haphazard, badly stocked, of limited choice, had meters of empty shelves, and very expensive.

“They want healthy, fresh, natural, appetising, affordable food – but they are certainly not finding it in this store. Your fresh produce sector is a disgrace!” I answered for him. He merely looked hopelessly confused and rushed off to check for himself. (Now that I’m over 50, I give myself permission to be a grouch!)

What tricks are SA’s biggest retailers missing? Their fresh produce sections are by-and-large, lousy, boring, ornery, unappetising, underwhelming … and serve as added grist to the mill of their more trend-savvy and rising competitors who have put yes, fresh, life into fresh produce.

You can read all about Cape Town’s new ‘Theatre of Food’ here

The sorry “Slimageddon” saga in America continues to generate miles of media coverage – at last some of it sane and putting the facts to the fore, albeit too long after this steer bolted. It certainly holds big lessons for the food industry, all of which should have been learnt before.

Enjoy this week’s read!


Brenda Neall: publisher & editor
 Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Many interesting career opportunities are posted up on FOODStuff SA’s Jobs pages! Click here!

Kerry Citrus

  Local News and Developments

Once in dire straits, SA’s magnificent game heritage has transformed into a multi billion-rand industry. The role of this heritage and game ranching extends well beyond ecotourism and hunting – it has great potential to play a role in ensuring the country’s food security.

The iconic All Gold tomato sauce – part of the Tiger Brands stable – shrank from 750ml to 700ml with no fanfare recently, a development which was seen a consumer take it to the ASA.

Mail & Guardian wine writer, Tim James, has conducted a wine poll among writers, sommeliers, wine masters and buyers at regular intervals over the past twenty years to gauge expert opinion on SA’s finest wineries. He’s done it again this year, and the results are both similar and very different.

Prof Tim Noakes has moved from advocating carbo-loading to suggesting that carbohydrates are an addiction posing severe health risks. But while his revised recommendations are couched in the language of science, does the science support them? [Excellent opinion piece from the Daily Maverick].

International News & Stuff
The US FDA denied a petition on March 31 seeking to ban bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, from food and beverage packaging, but the agency said it continues to support research examining the safety of the chemical.

Pret a Manger, the UK sandwich chain that transformed the British lunch, says it will create 550 new jobs as it steps up expansion plans after year of record sales and store openings.

What exactly fueled the firestorm over what some call “lean finely textured beef” and others call “pink slime”? Here’s a possible answer: a troubling mix of industry intransigence, uninformed consumers and a megaphone-toting media — social and otherwise. The only innocent bystander was the cow.

France: McDonald’s looks to lure French with ‘McBaguette’
The French branch of fast food giant McDonald’s will to introduce a “McBaguette” sandwich in a bid to cater to local tastes. Often derided in food-crazy France for its mass-production approach, the chain has worked to adapt, with sandwiches featuring local ingredients such as goat’s cheese and pepper sauce alongside its traditional burgers and fries.
Kraft boss earns $22m after Cadbury’s cuts
Irene Rosenfeld, the controversial boss of US food group Kraft, earned $22m last year after hitting targets tied to cutting costs. [Her R174m, as head of the world’s second-largest food company, is still small fry compared to SA’s own Whitey Basson of Shoprite who in 2011
topped the executive earnings list with a staggering salary/bonus package of R627.53-million!]

Savannah Fine Chemicals

 Food Marketing, Trends and Innovation

Research conducted on new realities in health and wellness by Euro RSCG Worldwide, a leading marketing communications agency, shows there is a revolution in consumers’ attitudes towards their health – with interesting implications for brands both within and outside the healthcare arena.

“More products, less packaging” is the nub of Easter confectionery trends. Globally, the number of Easter chocolate product introductions grew 45 percent in 2012 compared with the year prior, according to Mintel.

Protein is hot hot hot
Once the preserve of sweaty men pumping iron, protein has emerged from an image overhaul as the ingredient of choice for food developers targeting consumers of all ages and both genders keen to battle the bulge and stay strong, according to one trends expert. 

The BeviBag is a fiendishly practical new packaging idea out of the US for beverages with a genesis of practical need – in this instance by two moms looking for a solution to ease the trials of drinking for one of their children who is autistic.

The Coca-Cola Company is said to be preparing for a European-wide launch of one of its very niche brands, a premium non-alcoholic adult soft drink called Tumult that’s currently only sold in Paris.

Combining street food convenience and restaurant quality, mobile kitchens are bringing good, cheap food to a pavement near you… At a time when consumers are cutting back on their restaurant spending, a van serving up fresh and inexpensive lunches and dinners is an easy sell to the public.

The chia craze
Many people won’t have heard of chia, but this ancient seed is fast becoming a superfood craze in the US and Europe.

Verni Superflor

Food Science, Safety and Ingredients Stuff

Alternative bread process to improve quality and cut costs – Campden
Research institute Campden BRI has partnered with equipment firm Rondo to commercialise a ‘radical’ alternative bread process that it claims can improve bread quality and reduce costs for manufacturers.

Fish fraud – labeling a less-desirable species as a more desirable one – is widespread. Olive oil, too, isn’t always what it seems. And honey from Asia is fraught with suspicion. Enter the “optical stable isotope analyser,” a device that could provide a lot more certainty about a food’s provenance and authenticity.

Finding the sweet spot: Sucralose in an evolving sweeteners market
It’s not as sexy as stevia, and not as cheap as aspartame, but sucralose continues to press food formulators’ buttons, and demand is still growing – fast – says market leader Tate & Lyle.

Tate & Lyle Re-opens its US sucralose facility to meet customer demand

Even the smallest quantity of Salmonella may, in the future, be easily detected with the technology known as SERS, short for “surface-enhanced Raman scattering”.

Food processing needs to be championed by industry
Industry needs to boast about achievements in food processing as it provides a key role in sustainability and nutrition, according to Food Science and Technology Professor, Tiny van Boekel. In contrast to common belief, food processing is good for nutrition value and sustainability issues, he exhorts.
British food research agency, Campden BRI has worked closely with Oxoid and International Food Hygiene to produce a series of informative articles on topical and industrially-relevant aspects of food and drink microbiology. These are all available as online pdfs – a very useful resource for those involved in food safety, QC/QA issues.
Tetra Pak’s new ‘Hyperspeed’ concept for carton-filling
Tetra Pak sprung a major surprise at the recent Anuga FoodTec 2012 expo, whipping the covers off a modified A3 Speed filling machine called ‘Hyperspeed Concept’, which can process an incredible 11 cartons per second. 

 Health and Nutrition Stuff

Sugar is getting a great deal of bad press of late, and here’s some more… A new study has, for the first time, established a direct link has been between the amount of sugar circulating in the blood and how old a person looks.

It’s expensive! It’s exotic! It’s superfruit! You may wonder what is it about these fruits that lifts them out of the ranks of the ordinary into exalted superfruit status.  SuperPR, that’s what.

Consumers in the US and elsewhere have more nutrition information and choices than ever, but remain befuddled on what to buy and what to eat as obesity rates continue to soar. Why?

Managing weight is about more than energy balance or ‘bad foods’, say experts
Weight management is more far more complex than cutting out a few ‘bad’ foods or balancing energy in and energy out, according to a new consensus paper. 

Researchers from Purdue University in Indiana are testing a compound found in red wine that has the ability to block the processes of fat cell development. The research into the compound known as piceatannol may lead towards finding a simple method to combat obesity.

Last top headline – The bitter truth about sugar
Is a tsunami going to hit SUGAR, I wonder? I came across this very interesting and pertinent analysis of this hot topic, and some of the criticism seems very “unwhacky”. Included is a YouTube link to a most engaging presentation by one of sugar’s harshest opponents, Dr Robert Lustig, that’s well worth listening to.

 Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Stuff

Is Food the New Sex?” is the question explored in this brilliant essay by Mary Eberstadt, research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Trying to understand a curious reversal in today’s western culture, she delves into reasons why yesterday’s bedroom prude has given way to today’s kitchen prude.

More mature viewers might remember when citrus marketer, Outspan, visited their school, probably only those attended by white kids back in those bad old SA days, handing out plastic devices that you plunged into oranges to suck out their juice – a really fun way to encourage the consumption of citrus fruit. Now, the concept has gone rather more high-tech.

Aah, one of the world’s biggest challenges (if you’re not British) is how to keep the beer cold. Devices and innovations abound, most of them involving the indirect route by cooling the beer’s container.
   Now, however, Japanese beer maker, Kirin, has gone a different route and developed a method for cooling the beer directly and, more importantly, keeping it chilled for much longer.

 Food bites… The power of Jane Doe!

The ‘pink slime’ saga is too big to ignore… more comment this week:
“Blogger Bettina Siegel should become the Poster Girl for what can happen when the food industry gets blindsided by criticism it never saw coming.
   Siegel, not a scientist, not a food industry guru, but a consumer with her own blog who was first to broadcast her disgust with so-called “lean finely textured beef” (aka pink slime), and who gathered a quarter-million signatures on a petition against the ingredient. That’s power right there, when a veritable Jane Doe can round-up 250 000 people to join a fight against a food ingredient that virtually anyone with a food science degree can tell you is quite safe to consume.
   Proof again that what drives the marketplace is perception; anyone who banks on facts to drive an argument with consumers is doomed to lose it.”
Bob Messenger, US food industry observer and publisher of The Morning Cup

DSM Quality for Life
QPro International

Swift Micro Labs

Par Excellance
Professional Career Services
The HR Company
Anchor Yeast
ProCert Southern Africa

Progress Excellence
Totally Food Events
Brenda NeallPublished every Friday as part of, this newsletter is a cherry-picking, agglomerating service for all food and beverage industrialists. It aims to be topical, insightful, provocative, intelligent… fast, fresh and full of additives!
FOODStuff SA, stuff about FMCG food-bev manufacture from farm gate to retail shelf, is published and edited by Brenda Neall. You can contact her at:

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