Issue 20: 19 December 2008
‘Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.’
Food for thought . . . Veering between seasonal surfeit and abject miseryObesity is a serious issue, I know. But an equally serious problem is the despair so many women feel because they yearn to be thinner and thinner and still thinner and are trapped in demented and permanent dieting.Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, commentator in the UK’s The Independent,
read more of this excellent article.
Editor’s Stuff – It’s the gravy!
THE silly season is well and truly on us – and with it, not a great deal of industry news.
However, an important and notable development this week is that the US FDA has just declared stevia, the natural, zero-calorie sweetener derived from the stevia plant, as safe for use in foods in beverages, clearing the way for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other companies to use high-purity stevia extracts in a variety of products.
The stevia story has been garnering many headlines in the global food media for some time now, and we can expect it to generate many more in the months to come. It’s certain to be one of the biggest international stories of 2009, but how meaningful it will be on our shores, if ever, remains to be seen.
Okay, back to Christmas… so what’s your worst part of it all? The rush, the crush, the shopping, the no-bloody-parking, the expense, the I-don’t-know-what-to-buy, the crass commercialism, the Xmas muzak in the malls, the cooking, the gravy for the turkey….
I reckon gravy making is a common bind and conundrum for many cooks. Well, if you read below in my fun Christmas section, one of the world’s best chefs reckons that you can’t go wrong with one of the food industry’s most prosaic, every-day items; a Knorr stock cube! He makes the point rather emphatically, in fact. And I’d have to agree – I find the humble stock cube among the most useful and convenient items in my kitchen, ideal for soups, casseroles and gravies. So useful, that I have taught myself through long trial and experimentation to make a decent gravy – it’s really so darn easy and always impresses both the family and guests. To my mind, a well-made gravy is an essential and tasty je ne sais quoi that turns an ordinary meal into something memorable. So cheers to the Stock Cube!
And cheers to you and here’s hoping that you have a wonderful festive season, full of great fare and fine gravy, and that the good times continue into 2009. There are some entertaining festive season items in this week’s newsletter and lots more serious stuff. It’s a real Christmas tree…
PS Please vote for The New Product of 2008 (the poll is on this page top right)! And read more below about a Christmas gift to you; a must-have for anyone in the health, nutritional, functional foods sectors.
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Knorr stock cube is the ‘best f***ing ingredient in the world’
He was the youngest chef – and the first Briton – to win three Michelin stars. In a claim that will dismay hardline foodies, Marco Pierre White (left) has revealed that the unlikely secret of his success is the stock cube.
Gordon Ramsay’s teacher and now nemesis, White angrily debunks elaborate restaurant cooking and says most diners would be happier with a corned beef sandwich or a takeaway curry.
White says: “Knorr is the best f***ing ingredient in the world, let’s not kid ourselves. Knorr chicken stock cubes? Genius product. Every kitchen should have a packet. The problem is most people don’t know how to use it.”
White also praises ketchup, Coleman’s mustard and Worcestershire sauce, which he says he has used to make “the most delicious sauce in the world to serve with beef”. [This article is not hot off the press, but I like its celebration of one of the food industry’s most heroic yet unsung products. Ed] Read more
Britons admit to enjoying sprouts after learning to cook them
Britons have finally fallen in love with brussels sprouts after learning how to cook them properly, according to a survey that shows the vegetable is shedding its reputation as an unwelcome inclusion on plates for Christmas lunch or dinner. Read more
Budget cookbook a hit for credit-crunch Christmas
Nigella Lawson beware. A cookbook of budget recipes by an unknown author looks set to be a surprise Christmas bestseller, outselling books by a string of celebrity chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. Read more
UK: Purple potatoes go on sale for Christmas
Purple potatoes, grown in volcanic ash in Hawaii, are set to brighten up Christmas dinners this year. The colourful spuds go on sale in Tesco stores around the country from today and are part of the supermarket chain’s drive to bring exotic vegetables to Britain. Read more
Happy Birthday, Bloody Mary!
Everyone’s favourite hair-of-the-dog hangover cure, the Bloody Mary, turned 75 years old in 2008, according to legend.
The most popular theory has it that Fernand Petiot invented the cocktail at Harry’s Bar in Paris in 1920, when it was known as the Red Snapper because it was so harsh. But he didn’t transform it into the drink we know today until he was at the St Regis Hotel in New York in the 1933 and added the special ingredient: Tabasco sauce. That’s when it became the Bloody Mary. Read more
Food Industry News
US: Stevia extracts win FDA approval
The US FDA has just declared stevia, a natural, zero-calorie sweetener derived from the stevia plant, as safe for use in foods in beverages. The agency’s non-objection to petitions clears the way for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other companies to use high-purity stevia extracts in a variety of products.
The FDA has issued letters to Cargill and Whole Earth Sweetener Co, a unit of Merisant, stating that it has no objections to their separate claims that rebaudioside A, a highly-purified derivative of stevia, poses no health threat when used in foods and beverages. Both companies filed notices with the agency in May claiming the sweetener should be generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
Coca-Cola is expected to shortly unveil a natural diet drink sweetened with stevia in the US. The juice drink will be part of the company’s Odwalla line and will be available in three flavours. Read more
US: Cargill starts national campaign for its stevia sweetener
Cargill is launching an integrated national marketing campaign for Truvia, its new zero-calorie sweetener made from the stevia leaf. The campaign, which will include TV, print and online advertising, focuses on clean, close-up images of the stevia leaf, the crystalline nature of the tabletop sweetener and its use in foods and beverages. Read more
WORLD: Has the food crisis abated?
A Q&A with Joachim von Braun, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute
The price of staple foods, wheat, rice, corn, more than doubled over the course of the last year. Food riots swept poorer nations from Bangladesh to Haiti, and some countries, such as India and Vietnam, imposed limits on crop exports. Read more
EU: Rome stages big cheese bailout for Parmesan
Parmigiano Reggiano, Italy’s King of Cheese, is in trouble. Robust in flavour and crumbly, it is a classic of Italy’s artisan food traditions, made by hand by 430 craft producers around the city of Parma. But with Italian consumption falling as costs soar, almost a third of producers now face bankruptcy.: This is Italy’s big cheese bailout. Essentially, the government will be gobbling up 3% of Parmesan production at an estimated cost of €50m and distributing it to the needy. Read more
US: KFC planning national grilled chicken rollout
KFC, known for its fried chicken, plans to introduce a new grilled option across the country next year in hopes of lifting lagging sales – a key ingredient in parent Yum Brands’ strategy for strong US profit growth. Yum chairman and CEO, David Novak revealed the plans at an investment conference in New York. Read more
China: Drain cleaner, industrial dyes and opium derivative now outlawed as food additives
China’s first list of banned food additives issued this week contains substances commonly used as insecticides, drain cleaners and industrial dyes. Read more
EU: DSM battens down hatches, cuts workforce
DSM has announced plans to lay off 5% of its global workforce — approximately 1,000 people — in addition to further measures to reduce costs and stabilise its financial position in the face of the challenging world economy. Read more
EU: This Bud’s not for just you; EU court tosses A-B’s trademark
In the on-going Bud vs Bud battle, a European Union high court has scrapped a trademark for Anheuser-Busch’s famous “Bud” beer name in Europe, handing a legal victory to Czech rival Budvar. Read more
UK: Scotland’s distillers rush to slake world’s thirst for whisky
Scotland’s distillers are struggling to satisfy the world’s growing demand for whisky. The global thirst for ‘a wee dram’ rose to an all-time high last year, with exports reaching £2.8bn, earning Britain £90 a second. And as the pound’s slump continues, those heady numbers could rise further, say analysts.
But meeting this extraordinary demand has posed major problems and forced manufacturers to launch an urgent construction programme that will see the opening of Scotland’s first major new distillery for more than 30 years. Read more
UK: Frozen food is cool again thanks to the credit freeze
Shoppers have cancelled their orders of organic food and abandoned bottled water in favour of the tap. Premium-label heat-and-eat meals are left on the shelf, along with exotic fruits airlifted in from Africa. There is a new air of austerity in the aisles of our supermarkets and a back-to-basics recession diet – which has made frozen food cool again. Read more
New York planning ‘fat tax’ on drinks
New York plans to unveil an ‘obesity tax’ on sugary soft drinks. If Governor David Paterson’s plan becomes law, consumers would pay more for non-diet versions of drinks such as Coca-Cola. Paterson is proposing the potential 15% tax to help close a budget deficit of $15bn and improve the health of people living in the state. Read more
Comment on NY State’s planned obesity tax – Bob Messenger
Governor David Paterson of New York has proposed a new sacrifice for the tax gods — an 18% obesity tax on soda and other sweet drinks. Gee-whiz, what a surprise! And all of this under the guise of wanting New Yorkers to cut back on the consumption of ‘high-caloric’ beverages containing “less than 70% real fruit juice.” Oh please. So let’s say New Yorkers do cut back, then what? Patterson will then rescind the tax? Don’t think so. They’ll just find new foods or food-related conditions to slap taxes on.
“This is just another money-raising thing — the same with the bottle bill. It’s a tax,” assemblyman Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, says.
Yes, and this is only the beginning — there is more, much more, to come.
EU: giving the UK and Ireland an inch, and a pint
The European Parliament has voted to allow the continued use of the pint and the mile on Tuesday, a relief for Britain and Ireland. Read more
US: Super-charged omega-3 cookie
A US food group, Ambo Foods, hopes to continue targeting growing interest in fortified baked snacks with ongoing development of a new range of cookies it claims contain ‘substantial’ levels of omega-3 oil — more than 1000mg of EPA and 1000mg DHA omega-3s. Although fish oil is considered to be the best source of the heart-healthy omega-3, it has been notoriously difficult to incorporate into formulations since it is highly susceptible to oxidation. Read more
TRENDS! Looking ahead to 2009. . .
EXCLUSIVE!! New Nutrition Business: Top Ten Trends in Health and Functional Products
In tough times the single most important factor consumers will take into account in choosing a functional food or drink will be whether it delivers a benefit they can feel. When people can feel the benefit that is being offered to them, they can see that they are getting value-for-money. Read more
Datamonitor: Ten trends to watch in FMCG goods in 2009
With 2009 nearly upon us, look for new product marketers to make the year interesting with beauty foods and drinks, detox products and concentrated liquid cleaners that cut costs and help the environment. Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics takes a look at these and other trends in consumer packaged goods for the coming year. Read more
Consumer goods in Japan: hit products in 2008
Japanese magazine, Nikkei Trendy, has announced what it considers to be the top 30 ‘hit’ products in Japan in 2008. Given the gloomy economic outlook, products emphasising value-for-money are undoubtedly getting attention, while other products in the top 30 show that, as well as satisfying consumers’ needs, food and drink manufacturers must also cater for product trends such as health and fusion. Read more
Kosher leads top ten claims for new products
Kosher is the most frequently used claim on food and drink products launched this year, according to Mintel, which suggests that the growing interest may be more to do with food safety than religion.
Kosher was in first place with 5,389 new launches in 2008 in a top ten list of claims for new food and beverage products, followed by “all natural” and “no additives/preservatives”. Read more
Energy goes edible
Through its Global New Products Database, Chicago-based Mintel has seen ingredients like ginseng, guarana and taurine, formerly privy to energy drinks, migrating into foods. The database found that 70 new foods touting “energy” in the product description hit US shelves between Jan 1 and May 5, 2008. Read more
Health & Nutrition
So sugar makes kids hyeractive? You can cure a hangover? Think again.
Scientific evidence shows that neither of these popularly-held beliefs are true, and the same goes for several other health myths. Read more
Sweetened beverage consumption increases in the US
Over the past two decades, the number of adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and punches has increased dramatically, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read more
Here’s to the Oz wine that clears the arteries
Although the benefits of wine have been known for centuries, new bottles from the Australian Wine Doctor vineyard are loaded with up to 100 times more resveratrol, the antioxidant that prevents the build-up of fat in arteries.
At his boutique 50-acre estate in the Lower Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Dr Philip Norrie is producing a shiraz and a chardonnay with 100mg per litre of resveratrol. That, he says, is 70 to 100 times the amount found in an ordinary
bottle of white, or 15 to 20 times the amount in a bottle of red. Read more
New coating can prevent bread spoilage
An antimicrobial wax paraffin coating for paper or cardboard packaging is ready for commercial release, says Spanish developer, Repsol YPF.
The Madrid-based company claims that its Rycoat F-100 wax paraffin coating incorporating cinnamaldehyde-fortified cinnamon essential oil is an efficient antimicrobial coating for paper or board packaging to inhibit white bread spoiling.
Packaging: Economic concerns battle convenience for supremacy
Escalating oil costs have an impact on both packagers and consumers, driving new food and beverage packaging trends. But convenience is still top-of-mind for many.
Food and beverage products and packaging are inextricably linked to the trends taking place within the larger economy, society, and consumer culture. In the past 12 months, rising oil prices have forced consumer packaged goods companies to re-evaluate packaging formats and materials, as well as their transportation and distribution methods. At the same time, consumers, hit hard at the pump and watching their wallets, are turning more and more to packaged food and beverage solutions that provide healthful, convenient, at-home alternatives to dining out. Read more
Food Science Stuff
Why is food science the ‘baddie’ for consumers?
It sometimes seems as if life is a pantomime, and food science is the baddie, complete with boos and hisses from the audience. Read more
Colouring food, naturally: eliminating synthetics gives chemists the blues
Food makers wishing to impart a bright hue to their products can choose from among a full range of synthetic colourings. But changing consumer preferences and the spectre of new regulations have sent food industry insiders in search of natural alternatives.
It’s not exactly a rainbow of possibilities, they are finding. Cheese makers are fortunate that plant-based yellow and orange food colours have been available for centuries. They still use annatto — derived from the seed of a tropical tree — to give cheddar its distinctive look. Now, the rest of the food industry is looking to ingredient makers to complete the
colour wheel with stable, naturally derived red, purple, green, and blue. Read more
Water of life – taking a scientific look at whisky
It’s quite ironic that there are some 200 to 300 chemicals in the finished product [whisky] including carbonyl compounds, alcohols, carboxylic acids and their esters, nitrogen- and sulfur-containing compounds, tannins and other polyphenolic compounds, terpenes, and oxygen-containing heterocyclic compounds, and esters of fatty acids – any one of which would probably be banned under health and safety rules if you were inventing whisky as a product today. Indeed, the nitrogen compounds include pyridines, picolines and pyrazines . . . carcinogens on the rocks, anyone? Read more
The art and science of playing with your food
A dash of tech and a hint of fun are keeping ‘foodie’ scientists intrigued. While the latest developments in experimental and scientific cooking, known as molecular gastronomy, might originate from the high temples of haute cuisine, a group of part-time tinkerers are exploring quirky cooking at home. Read more
Truly Whacky Stuff
A tasty little present for men – Burger King body spray
Still can’t think what to get him for Christmas? Socks don’t seem to cut it any more? Fret no longer because Burger King is here to help.
The mass purveyor of grilled meat is offering, for a limited time, something even better than their usual piles of beef patties. This week, American men were given the chance to smell like their favourite meat snack with the launch of Flame, Burger King’s contribution to the perfume market. Your man’s fast food habit may gross you out, but even he may be thrown off by this: Burger King is now making perfume.
For a limited time on its website, Burger King is offering a body spray called “Flame” ($3.99). The fragrance is described as having “the scent of seduction” and a “hint of flame-broiled meat.” The scent is comparable to that of the Whopper.
Would you or your man ever wear this? Read more
That’s it for this week, folks!
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