20 Dec 10 Issue 112 21 December 2010
“There are no persons capable of stooping so low as those who desire to rise in the world.”
Lady Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington and Irish novelist
Food bites… The world’s worst boss
That would be you. Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself. Odds are, you’re doing it poorly.
If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organisation developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under…. There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It’s hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.
Editor’s Stuff – “Groot ‘cluck’ in die land!”
Surprisingly for the this time of year, the local food industry has generated some high-profile headlines, good and bad. On the bad side, the heat’s on the chicken industry to explain some dubious practices that have come to light – click here for details. And even if the whistle-blower is a disaffected ex-employee of the company concerned, and even if the practice is “legitimate and safe”, it’s all about perception. And as we all know, perception is the king of all marketing.
Judging by some radio interviews, reaction on talk shows and web-based articles, consumers don’t like this story one bit, especially as it tarnishes the most important source of protein. The truth, as always, is likely to be buried among a deluge of fear-mongering and hype generated in rivers of social media commentary and viral broadcasting. The chicken spin doctors look set to have a busy few days!
The liquor industry – and many who rely on its expansive and vital economic coat-tails – will be duly alarmed at a proposal by two government ministers to clamp down on liquor advertising and marketing (read more here) in what seems a noble, if horribly misguided, attempt to do something about the social scourges that go with SA’s rampant levels of alcohol abuse. Of course, it’s much easier to shaft an easy and visible target, even if it’s the wrong one, instead of getting to the crux of the problem which is poverty. This story will run and run.
And then, on a brighter note, we had Clover’s successful and over-subscribed JSE listing last week, the cherry on a lengthy journey of transformation from commodity co-op to producer of some of SA’s top food-bev brands. In the next newsletter, too, I’ll bring you details of Clover’s latest innovation: UHT milk in plastic bottles.
And for some light relief, if you missed these from the last newsletter, check out FOODStuff SA’s list of the “Best and Worst of 2010” Awards here.
Enjoy this week’s read! Wishing you a safe and happy festive season – I shall be back in the new year on Friday 7 January with the first newsletter of 2011!
Email Brenda Neall: email@example.com
Publisher & Editor
Local Food Industry Stuff
South Africans have been buying and eating tons of old, repackaged frozen chickens for years, reports News24. After a frozen chicken has passed its expiry date it is allegedly washed, injected, rebranded and sold again in leading supermarkets. Reprocessed frozen chickens produced by Supreme Poultry, the third-biggest supplier of the birds in South Africa, are also given new expiry dates. Supreme Poultry supplies Pick n Pay, Shoprite/Checkers and other outlets with frozen chickens.
Country Bird Holdings, Supreme’s holding company, last week said the practice was legal. Thami Bolani, chairperson of the National Consumer Forum (NCF), slammed the practice, calling it unacceptable and misleading. Read more
The reprocessed chicken scandal has spread to include popular fast-food outlets KFC and Nandos.
Consumers all over South Africa have expressed their dismay at reports that Supreme Poultry, the country’s third-biggest chicken supplier, has a standard practice of reprocessing unsold frozen chickens and putting them back on sale with new expiry dates. Read more
Clover joined Afgri, Astral, Oceana, Rainbow and Sovereign Foods on the JSE’s food producers board last week. The company has made big strides since it converted from a farmers co-operative into a commercial business six years ago… it sold off its retail chain, NCD Agri, disposed of factories, stainless steel manufacturing operations and 28 underutilised vehicle workshops and has converted from a supplier of commodity products into one of SAs most loved consumer brands.
Clover intends to use a large portion of the R500m raised from the listing to relocate its UHT milk production facility in Gauteng to Pinetown and Port Elizabeth, where the bulk of the milk is produced. Funds will also be invested in new capacity and improvements to the supply chain to unblock bottlenecks. Financial Mail. Read more
Clover targets regional and niche players
Newly-listed Clover Industries, which last week started life as a publicly traded company, sees opportunity for consolidation in the fragmented regional and niche end of the milk industry, CEO Johann Vorster (left) said.
Clover, which launched with a placement price of R10,50, is unlikely to try to buy a large competitor such as Parmalat, Dairy Belle or Woodlands, but would look to expand where it does not have a strong presence, Vorster said. “I dont know that from a dominance point of view it would be feasible” to buy any of the three large players, he said. “But we certainly see regional and niche players.” He also said, contrary to comments last week, that Clover would not look to buy wine and spirits maker KWV, the subject of a takeover bid by Pioneer Foods Group. Business Day. Read more
Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini have caused a stir with their recent announcement of possible drastic new measures to curb alcohol abuse. Their proposal includes banning booze advertising at sports events; limiting the number of new liquor licences, which will hit new restaurants; and making it illegal for motorists to drive after consuming alcohol, no matter how little. TimesLive. Read more
Foodcorp division wins Woolworths Overall Supplier of the Year
The Woolworths Foods Supplier Conference, held in late November 2010, saw Foodcorp, the producer of some of the country’s best-loved brands such as Yum Yum peanut butter and Ouma rusks amongst others, walk away with a number of awards.
Doug Varkevisser, MD of Foodcorps Speciality Division, expressed his delight: “We are honoured that our Speciality Division received the award of Best Overall Supplier. Woolworths has a base of 600 suppliers. That’s an incredible achievement.” In addition to the award of Best Overall Supplier, Foodcorp’s Fifers won Best Bakery Supplier of the Year, and Foodcorp’s Gull Foods won Best Prepared Supplier of the Year. FastMoving. Read more
Iconic new sauce packs for Nandos
Never short on originality, Nando’s has launched an iconic range of packaging to secure its worldwide brand status. Nando’s authentic Peri- Peri, also known as the African birds eye chilli, is captivating customers in more than 30 countries, including South Africa, the UK, the US, Australia, UAE, Malaysia, Canada, and more. This month, Nando’s marks another milestone in its successful history with the exciting launch of iconic retail packaging for its range of Peri-Peri sauces and marinades, the result of an exciting project to promote its brand equity, differentiate its products onshelf and provide instant international recognition. FOODStuff SA. Read more
New microwavable bacon from Enterprise
Tiger Brands has launched an interesting packaging innovation for bacon – Enterprise Microwavable Bacon. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, a pack (you can choose between Streaky and Back Bacon) cooks in three to four minutes. Just place the pack on a paper serviette or sheet of roller towel on a plate, dial/press in the time, and watch it puff up and release steam; allow the pack to cool for a minute before it cutting open. Read more on this and several other new SA food-bev packs in Clive Glover’s monthly column. FOODStuff SA. Click here and here
Food Industry News
US: Dannon fined for exaggerated health claims for Activia
The Dannon Company (Danone in the US) will pay a $21 million fine and stop making exaggerated health claims for two very popular Dannon products under an agreement with the federal government and attorneys general from 39 states. Dannon will stop claiming that one daily serving of Activia yoghurt relieves irregularity and that its DanActive dairy drink helps people avoid catching colds or flu, the Federal Trade Commission announced last week. “These types of misleading claims are enough to give consumers indigestion,” says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.” USA Today. Read more
EU: Danone’s Actimel does not alleviate diarrhoea – EFSA
More bad news for Danone… The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has rejected Danone’s claim that its drinkable yoghurt Actimel effectively combats diarrhoea. The world’s largest yoghurt maker, claims that Actimel has a number of health benefits, including that it can reduce the instance of diarrhoea, which the EU’s food safety regulator says is bogus. Millions of shoppers have bought into the claims of yoghurt brands that pro-biotic (“good bacteria”) products can boost bodily defenses and combat so-called “bad bacteria”. This isn’t the first time EFSA has ruled rejected the health claims of pro-biotic yoghurt makers – in October 2009, 180 health claims for pro-biotic ingredients were thrown out by EFSA. Read more
US: EPA says saccharin not a threat after all
The US Environmental Protection Agency has dropped the artificial sweetener saccharin from its list of hazardous substances, the agency said last week. The white crystalline powder used in diet drinks, chewing gum and juice was dubbed a potential cancer-causing agent in 1980. While a review by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer cleared saccharin in the late 1990s, it has remained on the EPA’s potential hazard list. The EPA said it is dropping saccharin and its salts from its hazard list after a request by the Calorie Control Council, which argued that the scientific basis for remaining on EPA’s list no longer applies. Mother Nature Network. Read more
Happy Meal saga raises more than food, marketing questions
McDonald’s has faced intense scrutiny from critics who believe the chain plays a significant role in the obesity epidemic. And in the last year, some special interest groups and others have focused their attacks on the fast-food chain’s practice of marketing to children, who are too young to make responsible eating decisions but are good at clamoring for toys and burgers. These groups say children risk becoming obese and are learning unhealthy habits they’ll carry for life … With attacks proliferating, McDonald’s has underscored that it offers more-nutritious options like apple slices as a substitute for fries, and defenders have argued that parents, not laws and lawsuits, should control what kids eat. Chicago Tribune. Read more
COMMENT: McDonald’s CEO: “food police have no business telling the company what it can and cannot sell
“McDonald’s position is that Americans should be able to eat themselves to death. It is a well-reasoned argument. People who do not go to the fast food chain will probably find high-calorie, high-fat meals somewhere else. McDonald’s is tired of taking blame for soaring childhood obesity rates … “
The company’s CEO Jim Skinner says the “food police” have no business telling the company what it can and cannot sell. He reacted to a new law in San Francisco banning McDee’s Happy Meals. “Well continue to sell Happy Meals,” said Skinner, in the face of a ban that does not become effective until December 2011. The new rule “really takes personal choice away from families who are more than capable of making their own decisions”. 24/7 Wall St. Read.
UK: Why Cadbury is moving to Switzerland
First the Brits were outraged that Kraft could whip away one of their prized national treasures, and now the fury has been rekindled with Kraft’s announcement that it will move Cadbury’s HQ to Switzerland. As the Motley Fool comments: “What Kraft is doing is taking advantage of Switzerland’s lower corporation tax rate (15% compared with Britain’s 28%) in order to reduce its overall tax liability. Why pay more tax than you have to? Tax avoidance is acting within the law to reduce your tax liability. In contrast, tax evasion is breaking the law by not paying taxes that you owe, such as not declaring cash in hand payments … Unfortunately, many politicians like to confuse the two thus treating avoidance as illegal activity.” Motley Fool UK. Read more
COMMENT: Cheap food does not equal higher quality of life
For decades, the federal government has watched idly while a few gigantic companies grabbed ever-greater control of the food industry. As big players gobble smaller ones, they concentrate power at the top of the food chain – and apply relentless pressure to cut costs, giving rise to many of the things I hate about the food system. Workers, farmers, the environment, animals, public health – all get abused so that mega-retailers like Walmart, meat producers like Smithfield, and corn processors like Cargill can keep costs down while profitably selling cheap food. Well, in a sharp break from its predecessors, the Obama Justice Department is actually acknowledging the problem and contemplating actually doing something about it. Grist Magazine. Read more
Marketing, Trends and Innovation Stuff
Leatherhead’s top food and drink trends for 2011
Ten trends will dominate the UK food and beverage industries next year, predicts Leatherhead Food Research in the UK. It identifies these as: Reformulations and stealthy reductions, sustainability, health and wellness, riding out the recession, ever-expanding tastes, provenance, small indulgences, frozen foods, convenience and obesity.
“Trends such as sustainability and reformulations fit together well as its all part of an overarching move towards companies becoming more transparent with their consumers and fulfilling consumer demands to move back to simplicity in terms of packaging and ingredients listings,” says a spokeswoman for the Market Intelligence Department at Leatherhead. The health and wellness and obesity trends also fit with reformulations as companies look towards stealthily reducing sugar/fat/salt contents in order to help consumers maintain their health, she adds. [In SA, no doubt much of the reformulation trend would be to engineer out cost with ingredient alternatives. Ed] FoodNavigator. Read more
US: Food Channel predicts 2011 food trends
The Food Channel teamed with Mintel and other researchers on a list of food predictions for 2011. The ten trends on the list include chefs in schools, rooftop gardens, social media for information and coupons, and the growing popularity of canning food.
The editors write: “Our values have changed in recent years. We now value different things than we did before the economy slumped, jobs became a precious commodity, and technology turned out to complicate our lives as much as it gave us shortcuts. Sure, for years we talked about simplicity, sometimes under names like “local” or “social consciousness,” or “green.” But it was like true simplicity was second stringsomething that we should probably want, but didnt, not really. Well, that whole paradigm is quickening thanks to the economy. As we head into 2011, we see people beginning to cherish simplicity. Yes, we have tasted simplicity and have been won over.” Food Channel. Read more
Trends in the SA snack market: assessing the top three categories
The South African snack market has three clear top categories that outperform others in terms of volumes produced. These are: naks, potato chips and puffs.
Naks generally holds a 40% plus share of the market, with potato chips covering a fifth of overall volumes, and puffs between 10% and 15%. The remainder of the market is fairly fragmented, and covers the likes of peanuts, popcorn, pretzels and corn chips. FastMoving. Read more
Bottled water industry prepares for a global water fight
They said the bottled water industry was in trouble
First, it was health and environmental issues, including what to do with the used plastic. Then the global recession hit and people really started to bash the business. Everyone expected cash-strapped consumers to turn to the tap for their drinking needs. Yet somehow, despite those reasonable predictions, bottled water became one of the food and drink industrys star performers … For all intents and purposes, it appears that emerging market consumers have hit the bottle. Investment U. Read more
Granola Bars: a healthy snack or dressed-up junk food?
They contain teaspoons of sugar, layers of chocolate and a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients. So why is it that granola bars are considered a nutritious snack?
The North American appetite for the handy, individually wrapped bars has been rising for years, and with it, the steady introduction of new products. Row upon row of granola bars now eat up close to an entire grocery-store aisle … Many granola-bar makers have begun to tap into the consumer health trend by fortifying their bars with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fibre. Other bars tout the fact they are low in calories and can help consumers maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It’s definitely been growing,” said Joel Gregoire, food and beverage industry analyst with NPD Group. “That whole notion of that ‘better for you’ halo thats wrapped around it, I think, is really pervasive with snack bars.” Toronto Globe and Mail. Read more
US: Tropicana rolling out a new fruity product for kids
Living the PepsiCo promise to develop healthier food items, Tropicana is to launch Tropolis, a smooth blend of real squeezable fruit that’s “packed with nutrition” and offers 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Designed to assure kids are consuming enough fruits, Tropolis will roll out in select markets late next month. “… our hope is that this new nutritious snack will give moms yet another way to give their children fruit goodness,” says Memo Maquivar, Tropicana VP marketing. “For kids, we want Tropicana Tropolis to be all about making fruit fun and being drawn into ‘a world of good.'” [No link]
This news from a food giant should boost Cape Town food innovator, Fruit Pack, perhaps confirming that it’s on the right path with the recent launch of a similar product on the SA market – as reported in the last newsletter. Read more here
NZ: Rockit apple nominated for Fruit Logistica Innovation Award
The Havelock North Fruit Companys apple Rockit is up for an international innovation award, hot on the heels of winning some New Zealand innovation awards recently. Rockit is one of 10 entries nominated for the FRUIT LOGISTICA Innovation Award 2011 (FLIA), that honours the most outstanding new products and services in the international fresh produce industry.
The Rockit apples are a tiny new variety marketed as being “sweet, crunchy and distinctively fresh”. The fruit is slightly bigger than a golf ball, sweet flavoured and block red intense blush colour with innovative packaging that together provides a healthy and highly convenient snack alternative for children and adults. Fresh Plaza. Read more
The story of the KeepCup
The KeepCup has been a marketing phenomenon in Australia, achieving sales of A$1m. Now, its Melbourne-based inventors are launching it into another café society, the UK. Designed by former café owners fed up with the waste from coffee-to-go, the KeepCup is a reusable coffee cup that comes in the three standard sizes, and allows users to order a coffee to go at their favourite café, while avoiding using a disposable cup.
The cup is made from polypropylene, santoprene and silicone, making it lightweight, dishwasher safe and microwaveable. As it mimics the design of paper cups, the cup fits in espresso machines and has a sealable lid to keep contents safely inside. The cup also has a sleeve that protects fingers from hot temperatures and it also keeps contents hot for up to 20 minutes. FoodBev.com. Read more
Nutrition and Health Stuff
Stuffing yourself in imagination curbs stomach pangs
The holiday season is here and with it all the guilty delights of a traditional festive diet. But if you want to fend off the flab, pushing thoughts of mince pies out of your mind might be counterproductive: indulging thoughts of eating a
particular food may help us to eat less of the real thing.The finding could mean a rethink of weight management and drug treatment programmes, because these usually emphasise avoidance of thoughts of the desired item, rather than encouragement of them. “We believe this is the first research to show the imagination can decrease the attraction of any initially attractive stimulus,” says Joachim Vosgerau at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, part of the team that conducted the research. New Scientist. Read more
Weight gain seems to change the brain’s response to food
Most people probably find drinking a milkshake a pleasurable experience, sometimes highly so. But apparently that’s less apt to be the case among those who are overweight or obese. Overeating, it seems, dims the neurological response to the consumption of yummy foods such as milkshakes, a new study suggests. That response is generated in the caudate nucleus of the brain, a region involved with reward. Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found that that overweight and obese people showed less activity in this brain region when drinking a milkshake than did normal-weight people. USA Today. Read more
Researchers tout milk’s health benefits
Milk, it turns out, is a pretty healthy beverage after all. That’s the conclusion of researchers writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They found that drinking three glasses of milk per day may lead to an 18% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. The research conducted at Wageningen and Harvard Universities, examined 17 studies from Europe, USA and Japan, also found no link between the consumption of regular or low-fat dairy and any increased risk of heart disease, stroke or total mortality. Consumer Affairs. Read more
The worms within
Some of the worms and germs weve been warding off may actually keep us well. One solution, some scientists say, is to welcome them back . . . I met William Parker just two days before World Toilet Day, an international campaign to break taboos about, yes, potties. Its a subject not many like to talk about. The cause is a critical one: access to sanitation and safe drinking water are key to preventing a host of diseases. But a growing body of research suggests there may be a dark side to clean living. Scientific American. Read more
Nutmeg treated as drug for hallucinogenic high
Nutmeg is making headlines as an unconventional way of getting high – it’s called a nutmeg high. Nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses. The buzz can last one to two days and can be hallucinogenic, much like LSD. “It’s the flavour of the month,” says Dr Jeffrey Bernstein of the Florida Poison Information Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital… “But most people only try it once because they have such nasty side effects.” ABC News Health. Read more
Food Science & Food Safety Stuff
The 100 Top Science Stories of 2010
Every year, DISCOVER magazine sorts through the scientific accomplishments of the past 12 months, and assembles a list (beautifully photographed, too) of the coolest experiments, most brilliant discoveries, and most world-changing events. The magazine’s editor’s conclude that 2010 was quite a year. Making into the top hundred stories are several food-related ones, including the massive US egg recall. More than 500 million eggs were pulled off store shelves last US summer due to possible contamination with salmonella. It was the largest food recall of the past decade, according to the FDA. Discover Magazine. Read more
Study supports concerns over popcorn butter flavour
Diacetyl – a chemical used in butter flavouring may damages the lungs by reacting and forming complexes with amino acids in cell membranes, according to a new US study. Findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry are amongst the first to propose a mechanism between diacetyl and the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), diagnosed in a number of workers at US popcorn manufacturing plants in 2007. Food Navigator-USA. Read more
US: 2010 meat and poultry recalls: over 10,5 million kgs
More than 10,5 million kilos of meat and poultry were recalled in 2010 by processors regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Meat and poultry recalls often involve bacterial contamination, but this year more than 8,4 million kilos of beef, pork, and poultry were recalled for a long list of infractions including ineligible imports, foreign materials, undeclared allergens, animal drug abuse and more. Six Salmonella-based recalls were responsible for more than half of the 2,3 million kgs of meat and poultry recalled for bacterial contamination. Food Safety News. Read more
US: New estimates of food poisoning cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new estimate of foodborne disease. But that does not mean that food poisoning is declining or that farms and factories are producing safer food. Instead, officials said, the governments researchers are just getting better at calculating how much foodborne illness is out there.
In a pair of research reports made public this week, the CDC said that about 48 million people a year get sick from tainted food, down from the previous, often-cited estimate of 76 million. The number of deaths estimated to come from food poisoning also went down, to about 3 000 a year from 5 000. NY Times. Read more
You can read further here, http://cdc.gov/foodborneburden/ (it’s a nice site, with open, transparent calculations).
Biotechnology to save Florida’s orange industry?
An insect-borne bacterial disease that is ravaging Florida’s citrus crop means the juice squeezed from the Sunshine State’s fruit may soon come from trees that have had their genetic makeup modified. The blight, commonly known as “greening,” is the world’s most destructive citrus disease. GMO juice would likely be reviled by critics of the biotech industry, but most scientists who have studied the problem agree that genetic modification, and the cultivation of trees resistant to the bacteria that causes the disease, currently hold out the only real long-term hope of fighting it. Truth About Trade.org. Read more
Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!
The science of your hangover
Hangoverville is a place nobody wants to visit, but the road towards it is one many of us end up taking, especially during the party season. The telltale signs of having reached your destination are unmistakable and aptly described on a global scale. “Smacked from behind” is the literal translation of the Swedish word for hangover. Meanwhile, the Salvadoreans describe themselves as waking up “made of rubber”, the French with a “wooden mouth” or a “hair ache” and the Danes with “carpenters in the forehead”.
“In the past, dehydration was thought to be the main cause of hangover symptoms,” says Emma Derbyshire, independent nutritionist and consultant to the Natural Hydration Council. “But now, scientists believe that alcohol withdrawal, and chemicals formed in the body when our livers break down alcohol, also contribute to those dreaded symptoms.” The Independent. Read more
What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets
Husband-and-wife team Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, from California, spent three years and $1-million visiting 80 individuals around the world to document what they eat on a single day. The result is a contrasting picture of what people around the globe consume. With each image Menzel and D’Aluisio add context to the profiles with essays on food politics and cultural obsessions with diet. Here are two images from the book: What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets.
Overlooking his 50th floor worksite, ironworker Jeff Devine perches on the roof of a high-rise with his typical day’s worth of food in Chicago, Illinois. The caloric value of his typical day’s worth of food on a day in the month of September was 6,600 kcals. He is 39 years of age; 6 feet, 1 inch tall; and 235 pounds. He carries a cooler of ready-to-eat food from home rather than eat at fast food restaurants and vending trucks.
Noolkisaruni Tarakuai, the third of four wives of a Maasai chief, poses with her day’s worth of food outside her house in a Maasai village compound near Narok, Kenya. The caloric value of her typical day’s food on a day in the month of January was 800 kcals. She is 38 years of age: 5 feet, 5 inches tall; and 103 pounds. Noolkisaruni has her own house for sleeping and a windowless cooking house with earth and dung chinked into the walls. Maasai wealth is derived from the cattle owned, the land, and the number of children born to support the family business: cattle and goats. She is photographed here with her day’s worth of food: largely maize meal and milk. The fallen tree on which her food rests was knocked down by a marauding wild elephant. The Telegraph. See more photos
That’s all the stuff for this week, folks!