Issue 81: 16 April 2010

“Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.”

Buddha [paraphrased]

Beverage bites… A reverse take on the soft drink tax idea

Image“If I worked at Pepsi, I’d be actively lobbying for the obesity sweet soda tax (a penny an ounce) being proposed in New York. Instead, in a no-surprise knee jerk reaction, almost everyone in the industry is lobbying like crazy to stop it. This is dumb marketing.

The benefit of a tax is that it affects you and your competitors at the same time, so you all benefit from doing the right thing, as opposed to having to compete against someone who doesn’t care as much as you do.

Once people realise that excessive use of your product makes them sick and then die a long and painful death, it’s probably time to stop lobbying and time to start doing something about it. This industry should stop thinking it is in the corn syrup delivery business (which brings nasty side effects along with it) and start focusing on delivering joy in a bottle. Lots of interesting ways to do that without giving up profits.

If your success depends on sickening the poorest and least educated portion of your customer base (and the ones that buy the most from you), it’s time to redefine success.

Seth Godin, US marketing linchpin
[This man has so many brilliant insights – I had to share yet another one with you! Ed]

EBNditor’s Stuff – Fallout from five-a-day study


Last week, a major European (EPIC) study blew holes in the commonly-held wisdom that a diet rich in fruit ‘n veg was a viable protection factor against the BIG C. Reaction to this news generated even more articles than the original, unsurprisingly. Several, highlighted here, put this hot topic into perspective.

ImageCOMMENT: Five-a-Day still important

South Africa’s 5-a-Day for Better Health TRUST didn’t like the choice of headline on the issue in last week’s newsletter – actually, it wasn’t my headline – Simply eating your five a day will not protect you against cancer – but that used by the far more influential UK newspaper, The Independent. The TRUST’s response to the EPIC study . . . Read more


COMMENT: How 5-a-Day became one of the most successful indoctrinations in modern Britain

ImageI start my day on a bus decorated with the injunction to eat 5-a-day, I drop my son off at a nursery where he learns to count using the Government’s 5-a-day fruit and vegetable quota, and at the supermarket it is slapped anywhere it will confer a commercial advantage. We have swallowed it whole and, when we swallow the 5-a-day, we believe we gain a kind of magic protection. Or we did until last week’s news that the biggest study of its kind, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that the reduced cancer risk by eating five-a-day didn’t add up to more than a hill of beans.

This made me a bit queasy. Where did this 5-a-day order — promoted by government, the NHS, the American Cancer Society and more than 25 other countries — come from? Read more


COMMENT: No health study can undermine our faith in what we should be eating

Thanks to the 5-a-day campaign, at least we know what we should be eating. . . Regardless of its impact on the big C, it is still a major victory for state intervention in our health. Read more


ImageBritons eating fewer vegetables

Britons are eating fewer vegetables despite millions of pounds being spent on the 5-a-day campaign. Figures from the fresh produce organisation, Freshfel Europe, reveal British consumers ate 1% more fruit in 2008 compared with the previous five-year average but vegetable consumption plummeted by 11%. Overall European fruit consumption fell 1% in that period, with vegetable consumption dropping by 14%. Read more


Deli Spices – 30 years young and showing it!

ImageImageThis week I pay tribute to Deli Spices that’s celebrating 30 years in business. It’s an impressive company, founded by a remarkable food industry entrepreneur, Fleishmeister, Walter Haller, and has evolved from a one-man business into a highly-respected spice company and the third-largest spice supplier to the meat processing industry in South Africa.

IUFoST 2010 logo

 Why you HAVE to be at it!


On a personal note, I owe huge thanks to Deli Spices’ MD Robin Haller (above) for his vote of confidence as one of the first major backers and advertisers back in 2008 of my new endeavour, FOODStuff SA, and which, I’m delighted to report, some 18 months on from launch, continues to thrive. Read my interview with Robin Haller here

Enjoy this week’s read!


Email Brenda Neall, editor and publisher: [email protected]


ImageClick here …. and here …. technical sales reps, auditors, plant managers, key account managers, QC/QA etc

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.

SA Food Industry News


Tiger’s Albany Bread packaging is biodegradable – ASA

ImageOxo-bio company, Symphony, has hailed a ruling by the South African Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that bread bags made with its d2w additive can be advertised as biodegradable.

The ASA has reversed its verdict in January that the biodegradable claim made on Tiger Brands’ Albany Bread Bag was “unsubstantiated” following an appeal by the UK-based oxo-bio firm. The directorate said it was now “satisfied” that the bags had established its green credentials. Read more And read the ASA ruling here

CPUT’s new Food Technology complex

Construction on the R41m-R100m new Food Technology Complex at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Bellville is well advanced and the project is scheduled to be completed by October/November. The project will make food technology consulting expertise more available to smaller food companies in future.

By October/November, R41m (entirely provided by CPUT) is scheduled to have been spent on the project and its 1 500m2 plant and associated facilities; another R25m in funding and equipment is currently being sought from other parties (to make R66m); the balance, to make up R100m, is a longer-term vision.


The complex will be shared and integrated between CPUT’s Department of Food Technology and the Agrifood Technology Station on the campus, part of a government-subsidised consulting system designed to assist small businesses. Read more

ImageFresh stock of new technical skills heading for the food and beverages manufacturing sector

More than 1 200 artisans are making their debut in the food and beverage manufacturing sectors; the culmination of a four-year apprenticeship project spearheaded by the FoodBev SETA. Over three years to date, the R79-million project, involving mainly previously unemployed people, has enrolled 1 096 of the targeted 1 230 apprentices. Read more


ImageNew ready-to-drink Chilla iced coffees

Fair Cape Dairies and the Chilla Beverage Company have teamed up to develop range of premium iced coffee beverages. Read more




Food Industry News

EFSA opinion paves way for EU approval of stevia-based sweeteners

ImageEU approval for natural sweeteners from the stevia leaf has moved one step closer after scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave them a clean bill of health.  EFSA’s opinion is in line with that of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the US FDA, approving stevia extracts with at least 95% purity of steviol glycosides. It will now be passed on to the European Commission, with final EU-wide approval expected next year. Read more

EFSA to provide comprehensive overview on bisphenol a safety by end May

ImageBPA is permitted for use in food contact materials in the European Union, under Commission Directive 2002/72/EC of 6 August 2002 relating to plastic materials and articles intending to come into contact with foodstuffs. It is also permitted for food contact use in other countries such as the USA and Japan. Read more


ImageCoca-Cola ups stake in UK’s Innocent

Coca-Cola has increased its stake in the popular UK smoothie maker Innocent Drinks to 58%, gaining majority ownership of a British brand known for its healthy ingredients and social awareness. Last year Coca-Cola bought an initial 18% share in Fresh Trading, Innocent’s parent, for £30 million, a deal that valued the London-based smoothie maker between £150 million and £300 million at the time. Terms of the deal to increase the stake to 58% weren’t disclosed.


Coca-Cola is looking to learn from Innocent’s unique branding exercises and roll out its products to more customers in Europe. “We have long admired their brand and their products and believe in the business’s long-term growth potential,” said James Quincey, Coca-Cola president for Northwest Europe and the Nordics. “We will do all we can to help Innocent make its products available to more consumers in Europe.” [No link]


ImageUK: Cadbury plans to open chain of cafés

Cadbury is to go ahead with a plan to open a chain of high street cafés after Kraft Foods, its new owner, endorsed the venture. As well as serving afternoon tea, Cadbury Cocoa Houses will have a chocolatier service on site. Read more


EU: Nespresso steams ahead with brilliant European growth

ImageNestle Nespresso machines have shrugged off the recession – with Nestlé reporting the business grew 22% globally and by an even steeper 35.5% in Britain during 2009. It is Nestle’s fastest-growing business. According to Mintel, the in-home coffee market has grown by 17% in value over the past five years, in large part as consumers trade up from the jars of instant to more expensive options. Read more


US: McDonald’s Board says “no” to cage-free eggs

ImageThe board of directors of McDonald’s has recommended that the company’s shareholders vote against a proposal to require that 5% of the eggs purchased for the chain’s restaurants in the United States be the cage-free variety. The proposal was advanced by the Humane Society of the United States. Some major fast food companies, including Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s, and the retailers Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s have already made some level of commitment to purchasing or selling cage-free eggs. But the McDonald’s board said Friday that the science is not there to support a switch. Read more


ImageUS: General Mills joins the sodium slashing trend

General Mills says it will cut the amount of sodium by 20% in a number of its cereals, soups, snacks and other products by 2015 – and becomes the latest of several major food makers to reduce the salt in its foods as regulators and consumers push for healthier products. The reductions will affect about 600 items — roughly 40% of its products. Read more


BobMessengerBob’s Banter: A little word of caution on the low-sodium trend

I’ve seen this ‘lower the sodium’ gig before in the food industry and the results weren’t too impressive. So I’m offering a friendly warning here — before you guys rush off to fill supermarket shelves with new low-sodium products, you better understand that consumers aren’t going to give an inch or a shred of credit if those products end up insulting their palates. Even if said consumers are all wound up about health issues. Even if said consumers really desire products with less sodium in them. When it comes to packaged foods, bedding down with the lower-sodium advocates won’t mean spit if, in the end, the consumer doesn’t like what he or she is tasting.


I think most of you will admit that past efforts to reduce sodium in packaged foods have not gone well. That little matter of taste and flavour keeps getting in the way. But I’m not saying, don’t do it. What I am saying is, if you do it, you better be very sure that what you’re offering meets the average consumer’s single, most important litmus test: how does it taste? You better be honest about that or you can just wave bye-bye to the windfall.

Bob Messenger, a foremost US food industry analyst and commentator, publisher of The Morning Cup

Food Marketing and Trends

Oatmeal, a sweet trend for diners and restaurant profits

ImageHow brilliant is this: First, take a healthful food that costs just pennies per serving and requires barely any effort to make. Then, sex it up with sweet toppings and extra ingredients. Finally, put it in a cute, portable container. That’s hot oatmeal to go, the restaurant industry’s newest answer to breakfast on the run. Chains such as Starbucks, Au Bon Pain, Cosi, Caribou Coffee, Jamba Juice and Pret a Manger have introduced hot oatmeal with fruit and nut toppings for takeout within the past 18 months. Even fast-food giant McDonald’s has been test-marketing a fruit-topped oatmeal. Read more

ImageMcDonald’s plans major restaurant revamp that aims for ‘coffeehouse’ feel

McDonald’s is gearing up for a major makeover that will give the fast-food burger restaurants a more hip, coffeehouse design. In the next five years, McDonald’s plans to spend billions of dollars to remodel thousands of US restaurants with new features such as plasma TVs, lounge chairs and electric fireplaces. . . “You can’t sell a $4 burger in a $2 (restaurant),” says Steve West, a stock market analyst. Read more


US: In-flight food tries to be tasty

ImageThose bland sandwiches sold by airlines to economy-class passengers? They’re on the way out. Even as the last major airline — Continental Airlines — is ending free economy-class meals on domestic flights this fall, carriers are changing their whole approach to food.

The new offerings are in large part the result of the new economics of in-flight food. Kevin Jackson, managing director of consumer marketing for US Airways, said that when airlines gave away food, “the motivation was to minimize cost.” Now that most airlines are selling food, they have an incentive, he said, to “provide better choice and quality for passengers.” Read more


Don’t be a walk-in pantry, be a place where food is enjoyed!

ImageHistorically, grocers have treated the store and store shelves largely as a warehouse. Organise the products with military precision, and consumers will treat the grocery and food experience as such. Square. Stacked. Efficient. Rational. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the passion, creativity or spontaneity. This is food preparation and consumption as more of a means-end game that favours efficiency over pleasure. Read more


Sustainability Stuff


ImagePalm oil, good or bad?

Palm oil has been in and out of vogue over the past few decades, gaining polarized media attention regarding its health and environmental implications. Read more

Developing a ‘water battery’ for trees

ImageAccording to the World Health Organization, 1.2 billion people – or almost 1 out of 5 people in the world – are without access to safe drinking water. And even in areas with access, 70% of water withdrawn from fresh groundwater sources is used for agriculture.

But using groundwater to grow crops and trees doesn’t make sense to Pieter Hoff, a Dutch inventor. Not only are traditional irrigation techniques inefficient because most of the water is lost to evaporation, Hoff says, but water can be easily captured from the atmosphere to grow just about anything. His remarkable product, the Groasis waterboxx, is an ‘intelligent water incubator’ that produces and captures water from the air through condensation and rain. The condensation is caused by artificial stimulation and the water is captured because of the design of the device, without using energy. It operates on much the samples principal as do trees that grow out of rock. Entire areas of currently worthless land can be made available for their cultivation, he claims. Read more


Health and Nutrition Stuff


Is cleanliness to blame for increasing allergies?

ImageAllergies have become a widespread in developed countries: hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent. The reason? Excessive cleanliness is to blame according to Dr Guy Delespesse, a professor at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine. Allergies can be caused by family history, air pollution, processed foods, stress, tobacco use, etc. Yet our limited exposure to bacteria concerns Dr Delespesse. Read more


Does drinking milk cause upper-respiratory congestion?

ImageConventional wisdom states that drinking milk causes an increase in phlegm. Scientists have have generally dismissed the notion, though, since experiments do not seem to bear it out. In one study, researchers noted that even people who were inoculated with the common cold virus did not show any increase in symptoms when they drank milk. But a new report suggests that those earlier studies suffered from a critical flaw: not all milk is the same. Read more


People get hungrier when they’re starved for sleep

ImagePeople who are trying to stay trim may want to make sure they get plenty of sleep. In a study, researchers found that normal-weight young men ate a Big Mac’s-worth of extra calories when they’d gotten four hours of sleep the night before compared to when they slept for eight hours.

Given the findings, and the fact that people have been sleeping less and getting fatter over the past few decades, “sleep restriction could be one of the environmental factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic,” they write in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Read more


Consumers regard sweeteners with suspicion

ImageMany British consumers still regard sweeteners with suspicion, although in practice, very few actively avoid products that contain them, according to research commissioned by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). The findings show that many consumers believed that ‘natural’ ingredients were automatically safer than ‘artificial’ or ‘industrially produced’ ingredients. Likewise, most consumers did not realise that sweeteners and other food additives underwent rigorous safety testing in order to gain regulatory approval. Read more

Ingredient and Food Science Stuff


Giving soybean oil a new role in serving society

ImageScientists have reported on the development of a new method for converting soybean oil into a highly effective bio-based sunscreen active ingredient that does not carry the potential health concerns of ingredients in some existing sunscreens. The new, natural sunscreen agent could replace petroleum-derived ingredients in a variety of personal-care products, they reported at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society. Read more


Kosher dietary standards: rabbis need to account for every molecule

ImageThousands of years ago, when the kosher laws were written, distinctions between what was kosher or not were easy to make. With modern-day foodstuffs, however, that’s not the case. Even the vanishingly small amounts of chemical additives and flavourings in foods must meet strict guidelines in order for them to be certified kosher. Read more


ImageAward-winning ingredient is boost to brain power

At the recent USA Nutracon Conference, a supplement proven to increase cognitive performance, Cereboost from Naturex, was granted the NutrAward 2010 for the Best New Ingredient of the year. Read more


Sodium reduction in cheese using Nu-Tek’s modified potassium chloride

Nu-Tek has developed a patent-pending technology that minimises the metallic note of the potassium chloride so it is more similar to sodium chloride, or salt, in salty perception. Read more


ImageThe onion, a natural alternative to artificial preservatives

Some components of the onion have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, making it possible to use this bulb for food preservation, new research from Spain demonstrates. Read more




S AMERICA: Bolivia comes up with the real thing: Coca Colla

ImageThe drink, made from the coca leaf and named after the indigenous Colla people from Bolivia’s highlands, went on sale this week across the South American country. It is black, sweet and comes in a bottle with a red label – but similarities to Coca-Cola end there. One is a symbol of US-led globalisation and corporate might; the other could be considered a socialist-tinged affront to western imperialism. Read more


ImageCoke Zero’s secret formula

Coke Zero, the calorie-free drink, with its sleek black label design, was developed with the male of the species in mind. Apparently, market research shows that men don’t buy products with “diet” in the name, but they still want to diet. So what’s the difference between Coke Zero vs Diet Coke? Read more


ImageSuckers for bottled water

When did we get the idea that without constant hydration we’ll shrivel up and die? We need a campaign of humiliation to finally kill off the bottled water industry. [Lovely blog by Tim Hayward]. Read more


ImageJamie Oliver on America, obesity – and crying on primetime TV

Jamie Oliver’s much-hyped reality show, “Food Revolution”, has just aired on US prime time TV where it has garnered excellent and lousy ratings. The show follows his now-familiar mission to get obese families to change their suicidal diet, this time in America’s most unhealthy town: Huntington, West Virginia. But already media hostility is fomenting at a Brit lecturing Americans to stop killing their kids. Read more on what Jamie’s up against


Awesome art of minifoods

ImageIn the minutes it takes us to devour our favourite meal, we rarely think about the time it took to produce such a delicious creation. The diligence it takes to create a pizza from scratch and the patience and artistic skill required to dress a four-tier wedding cake is more of a craft than we think. But what about replicating the same foods, down to every last detail, on a scale so small that the final product could sit comfortably on a fingertip? See more of this amazing art – made from a polymer clay called Fimo. Read more


ImageAmazing coloured cake

The trouble that some moms go to! If you want to try your hand at making this extraordinary cake, here’s the recipe: Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week!