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Issue 67: 18 December 2009



“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”

W Clement Stone

 

Food bites . . . The new frugal consumer? Think again!

Image… toward the end of the 1990-91 recession Fortune forecasted the “Death of conspicuous consumption” and Time ran yet another cover story on the return of the simple life noting “after a 10-year bender of gaudy dreams and godless consumerism, Americans are starting to trade down.” Ditto for the combined whammy of the bursting of the internet bubble and 9/11.
 
“Supposedly we were all ready to hunker down, cocoon, and live more soberly and simply. And again, our behaviour didn’t quite match our symbolic-based chatter, as we created financial instruments nobody understood, began selling mortgages to the unemployed and went on an 8-year, credit-induced spending bender.

“Heck, even the venerable Dr Phil frequently observes “Remember, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.”
 Harvey Hartman of The Hartman Group, in an excellent article: “A New Frugality?” Consumption Ain’t Dead Yet


ImageEditor’s Stuff – Au revoir 2009 & the Noughties!

 

And so we come to the end of 2009 and a year that has been full of challenges and concerns and, hopefully, some highlights among a lot of discouraging stuff, political, economical and environmental. It is also the passing of a decade – good grief, the Noughties are over already! NO WONDER we can’t wait to get out of the office and away from it all for a few blissful days or weeks…

 

The trend predictions have been piling up this week and make for some very interesting reading. There are several viewpoints, but a major theme running through all is how this year’s adversity is creating a new set of permanent consumer values and lifestyles. There’s also some divergent opinion on this – and that’s what I love doing in this newsletter: presenting a wide range of news, developments and thinking on this most fundamental and important human enterprise: feeding ourselves.

 

I’ve had a ball in my first year in publishing this newsletter and website, and thanks for all your hits, your subscriptions and many letters of appreciation of the benefits to be had in FOODStuff SA. Keep ’em coming!

 

I couldn’t think of two more apt stories to end 2009 than these….

 

US: Life expectancy reaches record highs

A report issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans are living longer than ever – 80.4 years for women and 75.3 years for men. “The risk of dying has dropped to a record-low level, and life expectancy has reached a record high,” says the a report. So despite what the food police believe, this simply wouldn’t be possible without the amazing modern agriculture and food supply chains. So, it is indeed true – food industrialists, contrary to much popular belief, are not out to poison their customers! Read more

 

ImageUK: Champagne is as good for the heart as cocoa!

In research just published in the British Journal of Nutrition, a team led by Dr Jeremy Spencer of Reading University, has found that Champagne has the same health benefits as previously found in red wine.

 

It contains healthy levels of polyphenol antioxidants, which are believed to reduce the effects of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. In particular, these antioxidants slow down the removal of nitric oxide from the blood, lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing the risk of heart problems and strokes. Read more  

Cheers to this good news!


Enjoy this week’s read! Happy holidays – I’ll be back on January 8, 2010.


Email Brenda Neall, editor and publisher:
brenda@foodstuffsa.co.za

 

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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

 

ImageSA: Danone buys Clover stake of joint venture

Clover SA has sold its 45% stake in Clover Danone – a local joint venture with French dairy producer Groupe Danone – to the multinational company for just more than R1bn. The joint venture, created 12 years ago, has a turnover of about R1,4bn accounting for 44% of SA’s yoghurt market. Read more


SA: American apples selling in Shoprite

ImageThe Shoprite Group has made retail history this month with the first consignment of apples from the United States unpacked on its shelves. This is the first time that US apples have been exported to South Africa.

The retail giant, known for its Checkers, Shoprite and OK chains, expects 160 tons or about 8 000 cartons of Red Delicious apples. The heart-shaped, deep red apple is currently the most popular variety in the US. Countries such as South Africa, Australia and Japan have long had a ban on importing apples from the US, owing to concerns about the possible introduction of pests. Read more

 

ImageSA: NBL debuts Five Roses Select African Blend

NBL has introduced Five Roses’ Select African Blend, said to be made from the highest quality Kenyan teas and blended with Central and Southern African teas to bring out the body, brightness and distinct taste of African teas.
Read more


ImageSA: World Cup beer battle brewing

One of the biggest games in next year’s Fifa World Cup in South Africa will be played out in the nation’s bars and retailers. Brewers are gearing up for battle during next summer’s football tournament, with Diageo and Heineken looking to usurp SABMiller’s dominance in Africa’s largest beer market. Read more

UK: Cadbury sweetens defence against ‘cheap’ Kraft bid

ImageCadbury this week issued a rallying cry to investors, raising growth and profitability targets while promising enhanced shareholder returns to see off a hostile takeover from Kraft Foods, the American food giant. The company also confirmed that it has spoken informally to other potential suitors.

In its defence document against Kraft’s £10.1 billion offer, Roger Carr, chairman of Cadbury, said: “Kraft is trying to buy Cadbury on the cheap to provide much needed growth to their unattractive low-growth conglomerate business model. Don’t let Kraft steal your company with its derisory offer.” Read more

ImageUS: Kraft tears apart Cadbury’s hostile bid defence

Kraft Foods has attacked Cadbury’s defence to its £10 billion hostile bid, claiming the British chocolatier was asking shareholders to put their faith in long-term growth targets “never before achieved” and “subject to significant risk and uncertainty.”

The American food group said that while Cadbury was concentrating on long-term targets to 2013, it had not given details on its performance for next year, when key raw material costs such as cocoa are expected to remain near record highs. Read more

EU: Ending Europe’s Banana War with Latin America

ImageThe European Union reached agreement on Monday to put an end to a decades-long trade dispute with Latin American and other smaller producers over tariffs on banana imports. The deal resolves the world’s longest-running trade dispute, and means the European Union will steadily cut tariffs on bananas supplied from Latin America and other smaller producers such as Thailand and the Philippines. Read more

ASIA: Ajinomoto to develop technology for producing cystine and cysteine

ImageAjinomoto has announced a new initiative to develop propriety fermentation technology for producing cystine and cysteine, amino acids important in a wide array of applications, including pharmaceuticals, flavourings, and cosmetics.

 

Ajinomoto’s expansion in this marketplace will offer additional sourcing options for manufacturers, as it will make available cystine and cysteine that are produced by microbial fermentation of starches and/or sugars. The largest portion of the cystine and cysteine demand currently is met by producers who extract these amino acids from raw materials of animal origin. Read more


ImageStevia hits European market

Coca-Cola France has reformulated Fanta Still with stevia only three months after the French government approved a form of the natural sweetener.

France is the first European country to approve a stevia sweetener under a rule allowing member states to approve ingredients for a limited two year period, before the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gives full EU approval. Read more


Hot Stuff


Is going Fairtrade being abused as a marketing ploy?

ImageThis year the Fairtrade Foundation celebrated its 15th birthday. Over the years it has helped improve the livelihoods of more than seven million people throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. It’s a well respected organisation, fighting a noble cause. But as more shoppers opt for ethical brands, are companies going Fairtrade just for the marketing value? Read more

 

Getting to the root of Climategate

ImageIn the unfolding debate over “ClimateGate,” the affair of the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that offer an inconvenient peek behind the curtain of climate science, one thing is clear. Virtually every commentator’s position on the issue — is this a scandal that exposes global warming as a scientific sham, or a faux scandal stoked by climate-change denial propaganda? — can be predicted by his or her politics. You can look at the byline or the publication, and predict with near-100 percent accuracy what the article will say.

 

While the facts are ostensibly the same, the interpretations differ so dramatically that we might as well be talking about two different realities. Read more

 

Don’t blame cows for climate change 

ImageDespite oft-repeated claims by sources ranging from the UN to music star Paul McCartney, it is simply not true that consuming fewer meat and dairy products will help stop climate change, according to a University of California-Davis authority on farming and greenhouse gases.

Associate professor and air quality specialist Frank Mitloehner said both McCartney and the chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ignored science when they launched a European campaign called “Less Meat = Less Heat.” The launch came on the eve of the climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

McCartney and others, such as the promoters of “Meatless Mondays,” seem to be well intentioned but not well-schooled in the complex relationships among human activities, animal digestion, food production and
atmospheric chemistry, Mitloehner said. Read more


Food Trends 2010 and NPD

 

ImageLeatherhead: Food and drink trends for 2010

In the depths of a recession it was not difficult to expect that the last year of the noughties would be a year when consumers traded-down, economised by staying in, rediscovered the joys of cooking at home, and harked back to better times. These 2010 predictions are from Leatherhead Food RA in the UK. Read more

ImageMintel predicts global consumer trends for 2010

Following this year’s global economic recession, consumers are ready to reset and start fresh for 2010. Mintel predicts seven key consumer behaviour trends for the year ahead, looking at how this year’s adversity created a new set of values. In 2010, resilience will define consumer behaviour, as people’s strengthened resolve and changed behaviours shape new lifestyles. Read more


ImageInnova: Over 1 600 cereal bars were launched in the first 11 months of 2009

The energy bar market in the US has risen from less than $400m in 1996 to over $2bn today, although this rate has now slowed and there are signs of saturation … Lu Ann Williams, Head of Research for Innova Market Insights, says that “Within the nutrition bars market, traditional-style energy bars are having to compete with a range of other health-oriented bars…” Read more


ImageBacon, sardines are among top food trends for 2010, ad agency says

Sardines, Bacon, wine cocktails and a consumer backlash against ubiquitous nutritional claims by food manufacturers are among the top food trends for 2010, according to advertising agency J Walter Thompson. Here are five of the top trends compiled by the agency. Read more


ImageTop food stories of the decade

This decade has witnessed a dramatic transformation in the way Americans shop for, eat and think about food. When Americans were asked to recall the top food stories of the decade, nutritional concerns and food safety garnered the top spots. In the survey commissioned by Hunter Public Relations, a leading public relations firm specialising in the food and beverage industry, Americans voted the following as the three most memorable food-related stories of the decade… Read more

ImageWine trends of the Noughties

From screwcaps to Faitrade wines, the last ten years have been full of innovations. If the Noughties are to be remembered for anything, it’s for making pink wine acceptable. Where once a fondness for rosé had to be a guilty secret, indulged in the privacy of one’s home. The Noughties also saw the rise of Fairtrade, organic and biodynamic wines. Screwcaps proved they were here to stay … and best of all, quality around the world got better and better, so much so that you have to work hard to find a bad wine. Read more


ImagePackaging trends for a new year 

Reduced consumer spending along with businesses’ cost-cutting initiatives frequently put innovation efforts on the back burner throughout this difficult year. Yet the packaging industry has found ways to remain dynamic and reactive to shifting market needs. This article looks at some of the key packaging developments that have shaped the industry in 2009, as well as emerging trends that may play a significant role in the coming year. Read more  

 

Coke honcho explains Coke’s innovation push

ImageDeryck van Rensburg [yes, hailing from SA], president of The Coca-Cola Co’s Venturing and Emerging Brands unit, offers insights into how Coke uses his group to address the fast-moving entrepreneurial beverage scene. Van Rensburg said while Coca-Cola controls the top beverage brand in the world, one third of the beverage industry’s 2009 growth has come from “areas that barely existed five years ago.” Read more

 

Gatorade planning another facelift, new products in 2010

ImagePepsiCo brand Gatorade is looking to innovate itself out of a sales slump and will spend some $30 million on product and packaging development to do so. The granddaddy of the sports-drink category is pushing forward with plans to introduce “G Series,” a grouping of three product categories, while giving another facelift to its core product lines.

 

“The whole sport-drink category was invented by Gatorade. The time has come for us to get back to meaningful innovation for the category,” said Massimo d’Amore, CEO of PepsiCo’s Americas Beverages group. Read more

 

Designing healthier snacks

ImagePackaged snack goods are in the midst of a makeover, with many product designers revolutionising the way the world snacks.


“Over the past decade, more consumers have developed an interest in their health and are trying to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Carlos Rodriguez, marketing manager, Cargill Salt, Minneapolis. “These consumers are looking for snack options that will help them in their goals, but they must not only be healthy for them, they must also taste good. Taste continues to be among the key drivers in consumer purchase decisions.”

 

Snackers are embracing a value mentality that prizes quality and whole ingredients, better-for-you recipes, and green production practices. While low prices are always a draw, consumers are seeking snacks with fewer additives and/or preservatives, and are spending extra dollars for organic and premium snack treats that can boost their flagging spirits in the recession. Read more


Health claim scepticism impacts functional spreads market

ImageSpreads with added benefits continue to be negatively impacted by consumer confusion and scepticism, argues market researcher Mintel.

New product development (NPD) in yellow fats has, therefore, shifted from functional spreads with added benefits towards premium butters, particularly spreadable butters, it says in its Yellow Fats Report 2009. It found that margarine-type products, with health claims are used by only one in four over-55s, “these consumers being the least likely to see these spreads as tasty and the most likely to view them as processed”, it says. Read more


Green Stuff


ImageCoca-Cola chief takes on climate change

He has been one of a handful of Fortune 500 CEOs to come to Denmark to throw his support behind a global agreement to regulate carbon emissions. “It is absolutely imperative that our commitment to a low-carbon future be fully understood,” says Muhtar Kent (right), Coca-Cola’s CEO. “We’re here to lend a Coca-Cola voice to the public and political debate on getting to a fair framework, an inclusive framework, an effective framework so that we can achieve climate protection.”

 

He was accompanied by Carter Roberts, the president of the World Wildlife Fund, one of the non-profit partners helping Coca-Cola find its own way toward a more sustainable business model – one that pollutes less, recycles more, requires less water, and holds down its greenhouse gas emissions even as the business grows. Read more


ImageSA: Pick n Pay gets greener refrigeration technology

Pick n Pay has embarked on a project to replace outdated harmful ozone-depleting HCFC-based refrigeration with energy-efficient German refrigeration technology. Read more


ImageSA: Getting much better at glass recycling

Latest figures released by The Glass Recycling Company confirm that South Africa is getting better at glass recycling with tonnage increasing by a massive 65% in the three-year period since not-for-profit company was established. Read more


SA: A Wonder Bag in every kitchen?

Image“We are looking to go into local retailers within a year. My mission is to have a Wonder Bag in 1m households within two years. Just as 20 years ago nobody used sunscreen, and now it is unheard of to go into the sun without it, in 20 years it will be unheard of to have a kitchen without a Wonder Bag.”

 

So says Sarah Collins, the founder and CEO of Natural Balance, and co-designer (with manufacturing partner Youth for Development) of the Wonder Bag, an insulation bag that retains the heat of pots and crockery, allowing for hours of cooking time after just a few minutes fuel use. While acknowledging that there’s nothing new about the technology behind slow cooking and the insulation bag, Collins has pioneered a project with a new green edge… Read more

ImageNestle Waters North America launches new, lighter bottle

Nestle Waters has launched a new version of its Eco-Shape PET bottle which the company claims is one of the world’s lightest half-litre bottles. An updated version of the 2007 Eco-Shape bottle, this next-generation bottle is Nestle Waters’ lightest half-litre bottle yet. Weighing 9,3 grams on average, this bottle contains 60% less plastic than the company’s original half-litre PET bottle, first introduced in the mid-1990s. Read more

 


COMMENT: Unilever in the palm oil spotlight

ImagePalm oil continues to be a monkey on the back of many food manufacturers and retailers. The issue has grabbed the headlines in recent weeks, not least because of the WWF’s report into how companies were sourcing palm oil – a study that led to embarrassment for some.

It also led to companies issuing public announcements on how they would source palm oil more “sustainably”.

Around the publication of the WWF report came a series of announcements from companies including Nestle, United Biscuits and Premier Foods in a bid to demonstrate that they are looking to source palm oil in a way that will not destroy rainforests and endanger wildlife.

Mark Price, boss of upmarket UK retailer Waitrose, even admitted the WWF report had “toughened our resolve”. Today (11 December), Unilever sought to demonstrate just how committed it is to sustainable palm oil by ditching a supplier over accusations of deforestation.

As a founder of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Unilever has been at the forefront on trying to developing a greener commodity. However, such a fact will matter little to consumers who are becoming aware of the link between the palm oil in their foods and environmental destruction in Asia.

Unilever has attempted to portray itself as decisive through its decision to suspend supplies from the palm oil producer at the centre of the allegations but every time a food company, particularly a multinational, is linked to damage to the environment, damage is done to its brand and green credentials.

ImageThe issue of palm oil is complex but is increasingly in the public eye. The rewards are there for those brands and retailers that can demonstrate that they too have the same concerns as consumers
.”

Dean Best, Managing Editor, www.just-food.com

Food Science & Safety Stuff


Foodborne Staph toxin pinpointed by new assay

ImageMost people need about two days to recover from being sickened by foods contaminated with what’s known as staphylococcal enterotoxin A, or “SEA.” Produced by Staph aureus bacteria, this toxin is a leading cause of foodborne illness worldwide. A new test that traces a Staph aureus toxin is one billion times more sensitive than the current “gold standard” assay. Read more

 

ImageFood aromas could become new weapon in battle of the bulge

 A real possibility does exist for developing a new generation of foods that make people feel full by releasing anti-hunger aromas during chewing, scientists in the Netherlands are reporting after a review of research on that topic. Such foods would fight the global epidemic of obesity with aromas that quench hunger and prevent people from overeating. Their article appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Read more

ImageFeel the pulse

Watch out for the terms pulsed electric field (PEF), high pressure processing (HPP) and cold plasma. They may sound like they have been lifted from Philip Pullman’s latest sci-fi novel but they will be the eco-friendly novel food manufacturing “processes of the future”, according to Huug de Vries, project co-ordinator NovelQ and manager of the University Wageningen’s Food Technology Research Centre. Read more


Health and Nutrition Stuff


Nestlé Scientists: daily dark chocolate consumption may provide stress relief

ImageNestle scientists in Switzerland have released results of a study that aimed to capture a holistic view of the metabolic changes associated with dark chocolate consumption in healthy men and women, using nutritional metabonomics. The study has concluded that consuming dark chocolate daily can positively impact the metabolism of people whoreport having high-stress levels. Read more



Miscellany


ImageGrossing out on fat ads

The New York City Department of Health has released the following commercial (left) on YouTube, and it’s really, really gross. This follows its campaign of print ads showing human fat pouring out of soda bottles that have been displayed in the city’s subways as a means to change drinking behaviour away from sugar-laden beverages. See more  


That’s it for two week, folks! Happy holidays – I’m back again on January 8th, 2010.

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