Issue 100: 17 September 2010

“Genius begins great works; labour alone finishes them.”

Joseph Joubert, French essayist


Food bites… Let’s get real about food additives!

Image “Let’s analyse the cancer claim, since that is the most common reason for our distrust of “chemicals” in food or agriculture. Are we really dying more often of cancer than we used to? If so, our more sophisticated, tastier, safer, more plentiful and more attractive food may account for it. As it turns out, cancer rates did rise for some time until around 1990. In 1900, the three most common causes of death were influenza, tuberculosis and intestinal diseases. Two of these today rarely cause death, while influenza has become far less deadly. So instead of dying as a child of gastro-enteritis, or a 40-year-old of influenza, we carry on living. Of course, that exposes us to age-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.”
Ivo Vegter, columnist with The Daily Maverick, SA’s spunkiest news website. Read more

Editor’s Stuff – Choose your trend carefully!Brenda

If you have explored the website, and browsed through the odd newsletter, you may have noticed that I put a lot of emphasis on trends, analysis and insight – my key drivers, as an insatiably curious journalist, in this endeavour are to share news and opinion, stimulate thought, be provocative, be entertaining, and offer valuable and intelligent content to my readers.


Thus I am especially proud to offer you, on a regular basis, exclusive content from New Nutrition Business’ monthly newsletter. This global think-tank focuses its research on the health and nutrition arenas and its informed take on this all-pervasive food industry movement is magnificently profound, astute and accessible. Enjoy this great NNB editorial on “Choosing your trend carefully”… An extract:


ImageWhen trying to identify which trends your company should connect to it’s essential to distinguish between those that are big and have no growth potential and those which are small and have high growth potential.

Consumer research often identifies consumer insights – which are then used as guides to strategy – that are in fact only descriptions of trends that have already reached maturity and have no more upside potential. What it doesn’t do often enough is help you find the issues which matter to only a small group of people – counter-intuitively, it is these insights which are often the key trends that will drive your business. Let’s take two trends as an example – digestive health and “all natural”.


In one sense, it is true that consumers’ desire for foods to be “as natural as possible” is the biggest trend. In detail it means that consumers want foods to be free-from everything they think is bad – usually interpreted as free-from artificial preservatives, colours or flavours. This is a mass-market trend – with every brand that can do so now reformulated to deliver the free-from “bad ingredients” promise. And in fact it’s a trend of no commercial value…” Read more here


Enjoy this week’s read!


Email Brenda Neall: [email protected]

Publisher & Editor


 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

ImageFair Cape launches first one percent milk in SA

Fair Cape Dairies has launched the first-ever 1% milk in South Africa, seizing the opportunity to offer consumers a wider choice in low-fat dairy. The new milk will be available in store from September 2010 in one and two-litre recyclable PET bottles. FOODStuff SA. Read more


ImageTwo Cape food companies do themselves proud

Two food companies fared creditably well in the 2010 Small Business Awards, hosted last month by 567 CapeTalk, and sponsored by Softline Pastel. Congratulations to the two runners up: Khayelitsha Cookies and NoMU Food. Each won a laptop with a starter-pack software package from Softline Pastel as well as an airtime package on 567 CapeTalk to the value of R25 000. 


ImageWhy is Woolworths buying out its franchises?

Simon Susman, CEO of Woolworths, answers nine questions on this issue. Number one: “Our franchising strategy goes back to 1993, when the world was a lot simpler. At that time our ability to manage stores, particularly in the far-flung regions, was low. Our systems and processes have improved materially over the past 15 or 16 years and the model is no longer appropriate.” Financial Mail [free registration required]. Read more


Ten key labelling regulation changes

ImageThe new labelling regulations (R146) which become law on 1 March 2011 are lengthy and complex. At a recent breakfast organised by F&B Reporter/Packaging Reporter at Africa’s Big Seven Expo, nutrition and labelling consultant Jane Badham set out 10 key label and advertising changes which the SA foodbev industry needs to understand.


1. All labels will change: Every single food label in SA will have to change, and time is running out. The cost implications are large. It is expected that the system will be largely self-regulating, with competitors reporting each other for non- compliance.

2. Claims – almost all are out! Out are: nutrient function claims; enhanced- function claims; reduction-of-disease risk claims; pre- and probiotic claims; glycemic index claims; slimming claims; and trans fat claims. DevelopTechnology. Read more


New, more stringent seafood eating guidelines from SASSI

ImageWWF’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) launched its new species list, aimed at helping consumers make informed seafood choices and in doing so promote the sustainable use of marine resources. The new list is the result of months of rigorous assessments using an internationally accepted best practice methodology, developed by around 50 international organisations. AfricaGeographic. Read more


ImageA picture is worth…South African campaign for sustainable fisheries

And still with SASSI…. look at this terrific ad campaign by the World Wildlife Fund in South Africa and SASSI, to encourage people to eat fish caught in an environmentally-friendly manner that avoids bycatch. Read more 


Eye-opening maize solution for Africa

ImageOrange maize, a variety of the staple food that has been biofortified with vitamin A to curb the incidence of child blindness and other diseases, is to be released in Zambia in 2012. Richard Kamona, director of the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute, said the organisation used conventional plant- breeding techniques to produce the more nutritious maize.


Orange maize, many years in R&D, has been developed and adapted for Zambian conditions by US scientists with funding mainly from USAid, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s department for international development. Financial Mail [free registration required]. Read more


ImageCadbury takes Lunch Bar to the MAX

Cadbury SA has launched the nation’s favourite chocolate bar in a new limited edition, Lunch Bar Choc Max.

Lunch Bar Choc Max is the same well-known milk chocolate bar, but is crammed with a “bigger chocolate hit” of chocolate wafer, chocolate crispies, caramel, peanuts and added raisins. FOODStuff SA. Read more 

Food Industry News


US: Corn syrup producers want sweeter name: corn sugar

ImageAmericans increasingly are blaming high fructose corn syrup and avoiding it. And now the makers of high fructose corn syrup want to sweeten up its image with a new name: corn sugar. The bid to rename the sweetener by the Corn Refiners Association comes as Americans’ concerns about health and obesity have sent consumption of high fructose corn syrup, used in soft drinks but also in bread, cereal and other foods, to a 20-year low.


The group plans to apply to the FDA to get “corn sugar” approved as an alternative name for food labels. Approval could take two years, but that’s not stopping the industry from using the term now in advertising. The State. Read more  


ImageCoca-Cola named world’s best brand for 11th year in a row

Interbrand has published its Top 100 ‘Best Global Brands’ for 2010, and Coca-Cola is still top of the pile – despite the soaring value of technology companies. Interbrand. Read more


To wash hands of palm oil Unilever embraces algae

ImageAs food and consumer-goods companies face problems obtaining the key ingredient palm oil without damaging the environment, Unilever is betting on a promising low-life alternative: algae. The FMCG giant, which relies on palm oil to make Dove soap, Vaseline lotion and Magnum ice cream, is has announced that it has made a multimillion-dollar investment in Solazyme Inc, a South San Francisco company that harvests algal oil, a liquid that can replace palm oil in foods, soaps and lotions and serve as biodiesel fuel to power airplanes. And hot on the heels of Unilever, is Sir Richard Branson with a personal investment in the company. Read more


Kraft Foods lays out its new global growth strategy

ImageKraft Foods has presented its new global growth strategy at a meeting of analysts and investors in New York. The comprehensive review of the company’s power brands, global categories and regional business units detailed the plan by which Kraft Foods will deliver organic revenue growth of 5% or more, margins in the mid- to high-teens and earnings per share (EPS) growth of 9 to 11%, making it a top-tier performer in the global food industry. Read more

Image925 million in chronic hunger worldwide – FAO

FAO and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said that the number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high despite expected recent gains that have pushed the figure below one billion. The new estimate of the number of people who will suffer chronic hunger this year is 925 million, 98 million down from 1.023 billion in 2009.


“But with a child dying every six seconds because of undernourishment related problems, hunger remains the world’s largest tragedy and scandal,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. “This is absolutely unacceptable.” Read more 


US: Study says food industry has negative sway over food safety system

ImageThe food industry is jeopardising US public health by withholding information from food safety investigators or pressuring regulators to withdraw or alter policy designed to protect consumers, said a survey of government scientists and inspectors. A study released on Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists found one-in-four of those surveyed have seen corporate interests forcing their agency to withdraw or modify a policy or action designed to protect consumers during the past year. Reuters. Read more

Food Industry Trends, Innovation & Marketing

UK: Waitrose replaces meat trays with new ‘snip and slide’ packaging

ImageUK retail chain Waitrose has decided to reduce meat packaging across its meat lines by using plastic pouches rather than polystyrene trays. Waitrose claims the ‘snip and slide’ packaging will save 9 000t of packaging each year. The company said the light-weight flow-wrap packs will initially be used for mince and diced meat packaging. The retail giant is also planning to roll out the new packaging across its entire product line including chops, loins and other cuts if the initial lines are a success. The Telegraph. Read more


Cutting fat in cooking with the new Airfyer

ImageIt is one of nature’s cruel little jokes on us – the foods that are the most tempting are almost always the worst ones for our health. Sure, there are those who claim to LOVE celery, but really we all know that they are lying. Do you really think that if those people could have crispy French fries instead of vegetables and have no ill effects that they would still choose the watery, stringy stalks?


Luckily for all of the fried food lovers (and closet fried food lovers) out there, Phillips has created the Airfryer. This device uses hot air to create crispy fried foods. It works by moving hot air around a grill section. Phillips claims that foods will come out with up to 80% less fat than if they were made in an oil fryer. Read more  

UK: Soft drinks for real men

ImageBlokes, as we know, are stupid. Just how stupid will be illustrated by the success (or not) of a new drink: Iron Press, “the soft drink for real men”. Seemingly aimed at the same sexually insecure young men who drove Coca-Cola to launch Coke Zero, because Diet Coke is perceived as too effeminate, Iron Press is a soft drink designed to look and feel like beer. It comes packaged in chunky 500ml brown beer bottles, is amber- coloured, so when poured it resembles a pint, and is brewed to maintain a beer-like head (which, in fairness, it does). That it doesn’t taste remotely like beer is by the by. The Guardian. Read more


The Champagne bottle goes green

ImageThe proverbial Champagne bottle designed by the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon in the 17th century to contain the “devil’s wine” has become synonymous with lavishness and commemoration. However, the bottle, which was created in an attempt to prevent secondary fermentation and ‘explosions’, is undergoing a redesign in an attempt to cut carbon emissions. Its latest manifestation will exhibit the bottle losing its stocky shoulders and in the process of shedding weight, making it more environmentally friendly. Read more

KFC tries to revive founder Colonel Sanders’ prestige

ImageThe cultural connection to Colonel Sanders seems to have been lost in the deep-fryer of time. Colonel Harland Sanders, the goateed founder of KFC known for his white suits, string ties and “finger-lickin’ good” punch line, would have turned 120 years old today. But young adults don’t know him from beans.


More than six in 10 Americans ages 18 to 25 — the chain’s key demographic — couldn’t identify him in the KFC logo, according to a survey last week by the chain. Worse, five in 10 believe he’s a made-up icon and three in 10 haven’t a clue who he was. That’s why KFC is taking action. Today, the world’s largest chicken chain, with 15,000 outlets in 109 countries, unleashes an online PR blitz aimed at bringing the Facebook generation eye-to-eye with the venerable colonel. USA Today. Read more


ImageDanone withdraws high-dose bone yoghurt in France

Danone has decided not to roll out its high-dose, calcium-fortified bone health yoghurt Densia in France after a disappointing trial in a small French town. The company said an apathetic response to the product convinced it to shelve plans for a national roll-out, as it has done in other European countries. DairyReporter. Read more  


The new shape of popcorn?

ImageUS company, Medora Snacks, has launched PopCorners, “The New Shape of Popcorn”. PopCorners are made from all-natural ingredients and were created to “satisfy the cravings of popcorn lovers’ desire for popcorn at an affordable price, all while maintaining that authentic chip-like experience”. Packaging Digest. Read more

Health and Nutrition Stuff


DSM launches Nutri-Facts, a scientific information service about essential micronutrients

ImageNutri-Facts is a web-based initiative dedicated to providing customers, consumers, healthcare professionals and media representatives with generic, balanced scientific information on essential micronutrients such as vitamins and carotenoids. The website provides latest scientific news and established facts about health impacts, requirements and safety of micronutrients. The non-commercial initiative is supported by an external Scientific Advisory Board of international nutrition experts. Read more here and visit here


Dieting, not exercise alone, is the key to cutting obesity

ImageOverweight people who believe exercise alone can make them thin are living under an illusion because only serious, long-term dieting can lead to significant weight loss, a study has found. The belief that exercise can be used to fight the obesity epidemic is wrong because it would require inordinate amounts of heavy physical training over long periods of time to have any significant impact on a person’s weight, scientists said. The Independent. Read more 


Does diet soda make you fat?

ImageFor a dieter, the ultimate terror is hearing that the supposedly innocuous food or drink you’ve been consuming daily for God knows how long is actually a fat-filled Trojan horse. Which might be why the scare over diet soda — triggered every few years by some study that suggests that Diet Pepsi, Coke Zero, and their kin might actually make you gain weight — understandably creates some hysteria.

Controversy over whether the “high-intensity sweeteners” found in diet soda and low-calorie goods — like aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, and stevia — are helpful for weight control, or even safe, warrants an unbiased look at the research. The Daily Beast. Read more


Why do heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers?

ImageOne of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don’t drink tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one’s risk of dying, even when you exclude former problem drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers. Read more


Consumption of ‘good salt’ can reduce population blood pressure levels, research finds

ImageAn increased intake of ‘good’ potassium salts could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure at the population level, according to new research. The favourable effect brought about by potassium is even estimated to be comparable with the blood pressure reduction achievable by halving the intake of ‘bad’ sodium salts (mostly from table salt). ScienceDaily. Read more

Food Ingredient & Science Stuff


First rice, then wheat – now scientists unravel the cocoa genome

ImageScientists have sequenced the genetic code of the cocoa tree, which they say could triple the yield of the disease-prone crop and transform the lives of millions of poor farmers in Africa and around the developing world who rely on it for their livelihood. The US chocolate firm Mars, working with the computer firm IBM and the US Department of Agriculture, took two years and two months to unlock the genetic code of the tree, Theobroma cacao (“food of the gods”). Instead of patenting the genome, they have placed it online for anyone to use for free. The Independent. Read more ….. And read more here from Scientific American


Flavours taste milder in noisy settings, says Unilever

ImageA side portion of jazz with your lasagne? Food manufacturers often make ‘serving suggestions’ on product packaging or wine pairing ideas, but in the future they may suggest what music to listen to while you eat too, new research suggests.


Consumer goods giant Unilever is currently conducting research on how multisensory perception affects food, as it seeks new ways to boost consumers’ enjoyment of its products. As well as investigating more obvious interrelations such as appearance, texture and smell, its R&D department teamed up with the University of Manchester on a project to investigate the effect of background sound in enhancing the taste of food. Read more  

 Sustainability Stuff


ImageEnding the oceans’ ‘tragedy of the commons’

Leading international marine scientists are proposing radical changes in the governance of the world’s oceans to rescue them from overfishing, pollution and other human impacts. Based on a successful experiment in Chile, the researchers say a new approach to marine tenure could help to reverse the maritime ‘tragedy of the commons’ which has led to the depletion of fish stocks worldwide. ScienceDaily. Read more


Supercrops: Fixing the flaws in photosynthesis

ImageFrom termites to blue whales, virtually all life on Earth depends on plants’ ability to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into food – and without the waste product, oxygen, you would be dead in minutes. You would think, then, that evolution would have honed the process to perfection over the past two billion years or so. Yet photosynthesis remains astonishingly inefficient in some ways. A borrowed trick or two could make them far more productive. New Scientist. Read more

Hot Stuff


ImageThat finger-licking, lip-smacking taste

Monosodium glutamate sounds awful, but then, so does sodium chloride or folic acid or aspartame or lecithin. They all sound like the kinds of chemical that cause our rising cancer rates. Yet the most likely way they will kill you is to worry yourself to death. Daily Maverick. Read more


COMMENT: Time to embrace balanced kids’ marketing regulation

ImageKids are not going to stop liking chocolate, pizza, ice cream, or fries. Heck, neither am I. So why is industry so afraid of mandatory restrictions on marketing to children? The obvious reason is money.


If you market brightly coloured sugary cereals, for example, by covering the packaging with kids’ favorite cartoon characters and placing ads during kids’ favorite television programs, you’ve got a better chance of profitability than if you market them to adults. But this approach is damaging the food industry. Consumers are beginning to wonder whether there might be something deeply unethical about creating high-sugar, high-fat, high-sodium products and then trying to attract (increasingly overweight) kids by associating them with all they love best.

It must be said that industry has made enormous strides in recent years to restrict its advertising of unhealthy foods to children but marketers still have a long way to go. Read more

Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!


ImageFDA warns against Viagra coffee

A coffee product claiming to assist erectile dysfunction has been deemed an unapproved drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to the presence of hydroxythiohomosildenafil, an analogue of sildenafil, used in the sexual aid Viagra. BeverageDaily. Read more


Why do we eat chili?

ImageHealthy, sane humans do not stab themselves in the thighs, or bathe their eyes in lemon juice. So why do we so love to assault one of the most sensitive organs in the human body, the tongue…. Humans, apparently, enjoy torturing themselves. Spiciness, after all, is not a flavour, not like sweet or salty or sour. Spicy means pain. The sensation of spiciness is the result of the activation of pain receptors in the tongue. According to psychologist Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania, about a third of the people around the world eat hot peppers every single day. Why? Because they “love the burn”. The Guardian. Read more

McDonald’s targeted in US public health ad

ImageA hard-hitting US television commercial bankrolled by a Washington-based medical group has infuriated McDonald’s by taking an unusually direct shot at the world’s biggest fast-food chain this week, using a scene filmed in a mortuary followed by a shot of the brand’s golden arches logo and a strapline declaring: “I was lovin’ it.”


The line is a provocative twist on McDonald’s long-standing advertising slogan, “I’m lovin’ it” and a voiceover intones: “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.” McDonald’s, which has thrived in the recession, isn’t laughing. The Guardian. Read more And see the video here


ImageForbidden foods in the US

The reasons behind the moratorium of these illegal and potentially deadly delicacies. Among them are unpasteurised Milk, absinthe, ackee… Read more 


ImageLady Gaga shows off her raw meat dress, again

Lady Gaga, who came under fire recently for wearing a meat bikini on the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan, wore a raw meat dress at this week’s VMAs. It was one of many outfits she wore throughout the night. Is Lady Gaga’s outrageous fashion sense shtick, shock or slop? Opinions vary, but there’s no denying that whatever you think of the pop star, she’s unforgettable. USAToday. Read more


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