Issue 104: 15 October 2010

 Morne du Plessis“Never turn down a journey… no journey is ever made in vain. In business, it’s so important to get out of the office and make the journey. The journey is literal and figurative; it could be a new project or physically going somewhere.

Morné du Plessis, SA rugby legend

Food bites… The whole supply chain needs revolution

Image“There’s a need to recognise that raw materials are not a tap to turn on, or off, at will. The industry cannot afford to pay lip service to farming, and farming is too fragile to subsidise the rest of the food chain. The world expects farmers to make an enormous transformation; to re-position our production systems to increase both their efficiency and their environmental sustainability. Globally, farming is big business, but it is not big enough to meet these challenges alone. This requires the active collaboration of all supply chain partners, from farmers and processors, to retailers and foodservice operators, and also consumers.”
Ton Christiaanse, UK head of meat processing giant, Vion UK, speaking in London recently

Editor’s Stuff – Brilliant shots of innovation from Fair Cape!


WOW! This week I bring you news of a double dose of great innovation from Fair Cape Dairies. But a few week’s ago it launched one of the country’s first one percent fresh milks, and now it has released two highly novel yoghurt products.


ImageWhile the functional food concept is largely being strangled to death by stringent health claim regulations in many other parts of the world, here comes Fair Cape with Rooiboost, a new 100ml shot of drinking yoghurt infused with the equivalent of six cups of rooibos tea, the recommended daily intake following several scientific studies that have confirmed rooibos’ antioxidant potency in humans, and thus its role in cancer prevention.


The good health news on rooibos, verified by science, has been grabbing headlines around the world – and this innovation brilliantly leverages all the attractive health qualities inherent in this indigenous treasure. I have yet to taste it – but by my reckoning, Rooiboost (great brand name!) has winner written all over it. Read more here


ImageAt the same time, Fair Cape has launched a second great concept – a savvy co-branding initiative with Bokomo to include Weet-Bix, SA’s number-one breakfast cereal, in a new range of spoonable yoghurts. Read more here


Nice work, Fair Cape, especially in today’s tough market conditions. And yet two more products from a dairy company that can take a bow as this country’s leading dairy innovator, by my estimation, for both its own branded products and for those produced for Woolworths by its subsidiary, The Dairy Connection.


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!
 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


SA hunger: running on empty

ImageThe end of apartheid has not reduced the proportion of SA’s population that is going hungry, a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows. The Washington-based institute released its global hunger index this week. SA scored 7,3 on the index — as it did in 1990, indicating that almost nothing has changed for the country’s poorest people. It puts SA in the middle of a band from five to 9,9, tagged as having “moderate” hunger. Financial Mail. Read more

ImageBeer growth: thinking outside the keg

Whether true or not, the rumour that SABMiller is looking to buy the business of its African joint venture partner Groupe Castel, raises an interesting question: where are the global brewers going to find the next round of growth? Financial Mail. Read more

ImageFood prices – low food inflation

As buyers of food we haven’t had it this good in a while. After the food price shocks of 2008 — when rocketing commodity prices drove food inflation up to almost 20% year on year — SA, Australia and the US have experienced the lowest food inflation in the world in the past year, according to the National Agricultural Marketing Council. But this may be changing as food commodity prices rise — to consumers’ dismay and retailers’ relief. Business Day. Read more


National Brands backs IFC’s nation-building franchise concept

ImageNational Brands is putting its weight behind a franchise concept that aims to uplift the informal sector, one cup of coffee at a time. The FMCG company is providing enterprise development funding for the Drink & Snack franchise which was launched this week by Innovative Franchise Concepts (IFC). IFC aims to create 8 000 jobs by 2013 by establishing 2 000 Drink & Snack outlets – it sets up informal traders currently trading in taxi ranks and train stations in their own franchised businesses where they sell hot and cold beverages and simple snacks to morning commuters. FastMoving. Read more


ImageSidel creates South African subsidiary

Another major foodbev packaging international has eyed the potential of Africa…. Sidel has created its own subsidiary in South Africa to better serve the growing beverage industry in the country and surrounding region. FoodProductionDaily. Read more


Vacu-FreshNew SA foodbev packs

Interested in keeping your finger on product and packaging innovation? Check out what has caught ace packaging photographer, Clive Glover’s eye in his monthly column, published on FOODStuff SA by kind courtesy of SA’s foremost and outstanding packaging magazine, PACKAGiNG & Print Media. And see Clive’s September report here


Today is Global Handwashing Day!

ImageGlobal Handwashing Day is aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease.

In noting the day, Swift Micro Labs invites food companies to submit pictures of their challenges with handwashing and how solutions were found. Swift will then select two success stories which will be published on its website and both companies will receive a FREE training session on handwashing techniques and principles by Swift Micro Laboratories (T&C’s apply). Pictures and solutions need to be forwarded to Jolene Brooks by 22 October 2010.

ImageAnother local company, Focal Food, is highlighting International Handwashing Day with an invitation to review handwashing training using Glogerm technology, a new fun effective way to ascertain the efficacy of handwashing among your staff. Click here for more information

Food Industry News


Canada declares BPA to be toxic

ImageThe government of Canada has formally declared bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance. BPA has been shown to disrupt the hormone systems of animals and is under review in the US and Europe. Canada’s move, which was strenuously fought by the chemical industry, followed an announcement by the government two years ago that it would eliminate the compound’s use in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children.

The compound was formally listed as being toxic to both the environment and human health in an official notice published online by the government without fanfare, a noticeable contrast to the earlier baby bottle announcement, which was made by two cabinet ministers. NY Times. Read more


ImageFSSC food safety scheme claims first for EU-wide recognition

 The global food manufacturers’ safety scheme FSSC 22000 is the first to win recognition throughout the European Union after its acceptance by European Co-operation for Accreditation. FoodQualityNews. Read more


New strategy by Wal-Mart to strengthen its buying clout

ImageThe bottom line: Wal-Mart is trying to increase its buying clout by teaming with suppliers to jointly purchase raw materials at better prices. With sales slowing in the US and the price of sugar, meat, and wheat on the rise, the world’s largest retailer is jointly purchasing a growing share of raw ingredients with manufacturers of food and household products sold in its stores. It’s all about the retailing giant doing what it’s become famous for: squeezing costs out of its supply chain. Business Week. Read more

ImageA hectic year for food companies in America

… In April the Institute of Medicine recommended a mandatory limit on the amount of sodium in food. In May Michelle Obama, who frets that American children are too porky, urged the industry to create healthy new products. More is to come. The Federal Trade Commission wants to curb the marketing of unhealthy food to children. The Food and Drug Administration is developing new labels to help consumers identify what is good for them. Congress may soon pass a new Child Nutrition Act. Making healthy food is easy. Making people eat it is not … The Economist. Read more


Image‘Double pyramid’ shows healthy eating-environment link-up

The most environmentally-friendly foods are also those which are healthiest for humans, concludes a new study from a food and nutrition think tank that proposes a ‘double-pyramid’ of nutrition and environmental impact. FoodNavigator. Read more


Food Trends, NPD and Marketing


UK: Ethical labels add millions to cost of food

ImageMillions of pounds is being added to Britain’s food bill because of the cost of running the baffling array of ethical food labels, an investigation by The Daily Telegraph has shown. There are up to 80 different ethical and food assurance schemes, all of which can be used on packaging to help shoppers make a decision about what to buy. It is estimated that about a fifth of all the food Britons consume has some ethical label on it. Almost all of the schemes charge a fee for food companies or farmers to use their logos on products. The cost of these charges are passed on to the customer in higher prices. The Telegraph. Read more

US: Stonyfield Farm makes switch to PLA for yoghurt multipacks

ImageThe world’s largest organic yoghurt producer, Stonyfield Farm in New Hampshire, US, has embraced bioplastics, announcing the launch of new plant-based packaging for all of its multipack form/fill/seal containers. The new polylactic acid cups, made from Ingeo resin from NatureWorks LLC, replace previous packaging made from polystyrene, resulting in 48% less greenhouse gas emissions. Read more here from Stonyfield and here from Read more


UK: Mince, tea, white bread mark Britain’s unsophisticated shopping basket

ImageMorrisons, the supermarket chain, has analysed the weekly shops of its 11 million customers and found that the most common items are products that would not have looked out of place in baskets 50 years ago, just after food rationing ended. The item found most regularly in customers’ baskets, was sliced white bread, followed by ready salted crisps, then a tin of chopped tomatoes.  Mince, cheddar cheese, strawberry jam and bananas were some of the other staples, while vegetables were rarely found with just broccoli making an appearance. Neither onions, potatoes, nor carrots are in the list of the 17 most popular items. And the only item of fruit was the banana. The Telegraph. Read more 


ImageUS: Sierra Mist Natural’s huge giveaway

Last weekend, PepsiCo spent around $3m in the US, giving away 10 million cans of Sierra Mist Natural – its latest version of the lemon-lime soda which now includes sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. This major marketing campaign is spending what the company normally spends in a year to market the billion-dollar brand in the last quarter. Read more


Tesco introduces resealable solution for sparkling wine

ImageA revolutionary new re-sealable top for sparkling wine has just been launched in the UK by retailing giant, Tesco. The breakthrough means that from now on anyone fancying a glass of sparkling wine won’t have to worry about the rest of the bottle going flat as the new device will totally reseal it [whoever had to reseal a bottle of sparkling wine? Ed].

The Australian top, called Zork, is the third major innovation launched by Tesco to revolutionise the wine industry and help customers. Earlier this year the supermarket brought out new super lightweight bottles and in 2002 it introduced the first screw cap closures for wine. FoodIngredientsFirst. Read more

ImageUK: McDonald’s becomes the biggest seller of coffee

McDonald’s has overtaken large coffee chains Costa and Starbucks becoming Britain’s biggest seller of coffee. Over the past twelve months, international fast-food chain McDonald’s has sold over eighty four million cups of coffee. Often struggling to rid itself of associations with un-healhy, processed fast-food, these new figures are exciting for the brand who hope that this proves that McDonald’s has gained millions of middle class consumers. FDIN. Read more

ImageCOMMENT: It’s good to 
be processed

“One of the biggest frustrations of my job is dealing with ill-informed experts who insist that our world would be a better place if we rid ourselves of all processed foods and ate only fresh, in-season produce. 

Why do so many people have such a downer on the idea of food ‘processing’? Why are they so quick to blame it for all the environmental and health problems facing the nation (and the planet)? History shows that the population only started growing food once man had mastered the basics of preservation and processing which improved safety and allowed food to be stored for longer. The fact that our ancestors applied this knowledge in exciting new ways such as brewing beer and fermenting grapes only made life taste even better!

Processing has always been good for us. It’s thanks to the efforts of an ever-more efficient manufacturing sector that today’s shoppers have access to a wider choice of safe, nutritious and affordable food than at any time in history. So how did we allow ‘processing’ to become synonymous with ‘junk’ in discussions about food?

We have all allowed the debate to be dumbed down so that the critical role our sector plays in ensuring food security is taken for granted or dismissed. And we haven’t always helped ourselves with marketing efforts that fuel the impression there is something bad about processed foods. We must all rebalance the debate. Before it’s too late.”

Julian Hunt is director of communications at the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, with this comment piece published in Food Manufacture magazine. Link

Health and Nutrition Stuff

Not just your imagination: kids really are more allergic

ImageThese days, any parent worth her salt knows to inquire about food allergies before a playdate begins. Allergies are everywhere, to all sorts of nuts, or eggs, or dairy. Rustling up a snack has never been more complicated, as Andrew Liu learned when he was responsible for providing it in his child’s kindergarten class. A pediatric allergist, Liu asked who was allergic and got a list of six names out of 28 students. “I thought, Could this really be?” says Liu, who practices at National Jewish Health in Denver. Time Magazine. Read more


Study: HFCS does not cause obesity

ImageFor years, high fructose corn syrup has been erroneously implicated as a prime suspect in the obesity epidemic. Inexact scientific reports and inaccurate media accounts have increased confusion about the sugar made from corn. New research proves otherwise. A new study, presented at the recent Obesity Society’s 28th Annual Scientific Meeting, further reinforces the facts about high fructose corn syrup. Results from the double-blind study revealed that fructose containing sweeteners (sugar, high fructose corn syrup) do not uniquely contribute to obesity when consumed as part of a healthy weight maintenance diet. The study also found that high fructose corn syrup no more contributes to caloric intake than table sugar (sucrose). Food Manufacturing. Read more


Lose weight with fake food?

News from the recent Obesity Society annual meeting in San Diego: Doctors have tried inserting a balloon into the stomach to make a person feel full so he won’t eat as much and will lose weight. Now scientists are turning to a similar strategy that involves swallowing a capsule. This pseudofood involves filling a gelatine capsule made of biocompatible and biodegradable materials with expandable, absorbent fibre and polymer granules. LA Times. Read more


ImageWatermelon lowers blood pressure, study finds

No matter how you slice it, watermelon has a lot going for it – sweet, low calorie, high fiber, nutrient rich – and now, there’s more. Evidence from a pilot study led by food scientists suggests that watermelon can be an effective natural weapon against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease. EurekaAlert. Read more


ImageHealth halos that make us fat

If you think you eat healthier at the Subway than at Spur, you might be wrong. You could be a victim of the “Health Halo.” This study, presented recently at the Association for Consumer Research conference in the US, showed that people eating at restaurants claiming to be “healthy” estimated they ate only 56% as many calories as they actually did.
EurekaAlert. Read more

Sustainability & Hot Stuff

People film themselves eating ‘backwards’ for viral campaign

ImageOn World Food Day tomorrow (16 October), a viral video campaign called ‘Face Your Food’ aims to bring together a global online community to fight for a more sustainable food industry. Fairfood International, a non-profit lobby organisation, encourages food and beverage companies to live up to their responsibility and make their products more sustainable.

Lobbying multinational companies to change their production and trade methods requires tremendous public support, so the organisation is launching its viral video campaign – ‘Face Your Food’ – to rally support. The campaign invites people from across the world to film themselves while eating. The video is then automatically slowed down and played backwards. According to Fairfood, this asks the question, where does our food come from? See more

Food Politics: a textbook myth-buster

ImageRobert Paarlberg’s introduction to the politics of food flambés many of today’s Malthusian myths and puts that food-price crisis in perspective… In 2008, global food prices shot up. The cost of wheat, rice and corn all rose sharply in commodity exchanges. Protests, even riots, followed in a number of countries. Major crop-producing countries like Ukraine suspended food exports to protect prices for basic commodities at home. The cosy assumption that humanity had solved, or was at least on the way to solving, the problem of supplying food to a growing population was called into question.


Food Politics is not intended to be a polemical work by any means, being written more as a useful basis for food policy courses and a wide-ranging introduction for the interested reader. But Paarlberg does provide many pointed and interesting criticisms of some of the supposedly commonsense positions in the food debate as it exists today. Food Politics would be an invaluable read for anyone who wants to go beyond the headlines to look at the real state of the debate about food today. Spiked. Read more


ImageA history of GM crops 

Genetic modification occurs when scientists isolate a gene from one plant or animal and successfully introduce that gene to another plant or animal, thus changing its genetic code and function. From vitamin-enriched rice, thanks to an assist from a carrot gene, to pest-proof corn that boasts a bacterium’s genetic material, GM crops are a part of our everyday lives. Time. Read more :


SABMiller creates vision of brewing in 2030

ImageSABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewers, has predicted how its breweries may look in the future, given a range of different scenarios determined by the cost and availability of water and energy. Working with innovation consultancy, Innovia Technology, SABMiller envisioned four plausible business environments, based on the different uncertainties facing the brewing industry over the next 30 years. These scenarios informed thinking around how the ‘Brewery of the Future’ might look under different circumstances, with some surprising results.

The most extreme scenario, ‘Marginal Survival’ envisaged a market with limited access to water and high energy costs. This scenario – where people would migrate from areas of water shortage or turbulent weather -provoked the most unorthodox response. One of the proposed solutions was a smaller, mobile brewery which would move from place to place on the back of a ship. FoodIngredientsFirst. Read more

Food Science Stuff


ImageStudy: Gloves do not guarantee food safety

Using gloves when preparing food can sometimes increase food-safety risks by creating a false sense of security, according to research. Study authors note that the warm, moist interiors of gloves provide environmental conditions conducive to microbial growth, and glove wear and tear is common. Read more


ImageEnzyme in saliva shapes how we sense food texture

Creamy. Gritty. Crunchy. Slimy. Oral texture perception is a major factor contributing to each person’s food preferences. Now, a new study finds that individuals’ perception of starch texture is shaped by variability in the activity of an oral enzyme known as salivary amylase. EurekaAlert. Read more

Background noise affects taste of foods, research shows 

ImageThe level of background noise affects both the intensity of flavour and the perceived crunchiness of foods, researchers have found. Blindfolded diners assessed the sweetness, saltiness, and crunchiness, as well as overall flavour, of foods as they were played white noise. While louder noise reduced the reported sweetness or saltiness, it increased the measure of crunch. The research is reported in the journal Food Quality and Preference. It may go some way to explaining why airline food is notoriously bland – a phenomenon that drives airline catering companies to heavily season their foods. BBC. Read more


Study finds causes of Colony Collapse Disorder in bees

ImageColony Collapse Disorder [CCD], that sees seemingly healthy honeybee colonies that go into sudden, steep decline, has been one of the prime causes of concern for beekeepers and farmers of the huge range of crops that depend on bees for pollination since it was identified in 2006. Now a group of biologists have completed a study that claims to have found the cause: a combination of two common infections – one fungal, one viral – working together to create a condition far more serious than either would in isolation. The Telegraph. Read more

Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!


Happy 75th birthday, Kit Kat!

ImageThree quarters of a century on from launch, Nestlé Kit Kat continues to be a recipe for success. With around 540 Kit Kat fingers consumed every second worldwide and 17.6 billion fingers sold every year as noted by the Guinness Book of Records in March 2010, this week Kit Kat celebrated its 75th birthday.

The Kit Kat name originates from the late 17th century in London, where a literary club met at a pie shop owned by pastry chef Christopher Catling.  The group was called the Kit Kat club and took its name from an abbreviated version of the owner’s name. In 1935 in London and the South East of the United Kingdom, the first four-fingered wafer was launched as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp.  Within 18 months however, it was rebranded by Rowntree’s marketing director George Harris, as Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp.  Here, an iconic brand was born. Nestle. Read more


‘What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets’

ImageIf we are what we eat, then what we consume on any given day defines not only our hunger, but also our food preferences, location, social class, financial situation and culture. This is the premise of “What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets,” a new book by husband-and-wife team Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio that documents the meals of 80 people in 30 countries on an ordinary day.

The engaging snapshot mini-profiles are organised according to calories consumed from least (a Kenyan Maasai herder who ate 800 calories) to most (an English mother of three who binged on 12,300 calories). LA Times. Read more

Consider butter

ImageNot only does it play a starring role on the nation’s toast, but it helped shape the history of Europe. Butter is the first and best of the fats, a smear of puddled sun. It’s a Janus on the tongue, calm and unintrusive but rich and cloakingly full. A naked piece of toast is a desiccated slab: licked with the gold stuff it becomes complete and whole. Butter brings something irreplaceable to the shattering folds of a croissant, the fluffy crumb of a sponge. It makes sauces sing. The Guardian. Read more


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