Issue 16: 21 November 2008
‘A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don’t see what it takes to get there.’
Dawn Staley, NBA basketball player.
Food for thought . . .Redesigning the food game‘…whatever we may have liked about the era of cheap, oil-based food, it is drawing to a close. Even if we were willing to continue paying the environmental or public-health price, we’re not going to have the cheap energy (or the water) needed to keep the system going, much less expand production. But as is so often the case, a crisis provides opportunity for reform, and the current food crisis presents opportunities that must be seized…’ Read more
This is a very provocative article, published in the New York Times, by Michael Pollan, the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’.
What a week it has been!
I have had such a heartening response to the launch of www.foodstuffsa.co.za! Thank you all for the emails and your support of this new venture, especially and most importantly, told by the encouraging number of hits the site is getting at this early stage of its history. Please continue to alert your colleagues and friends to this new resource. Now, managing my own evidence here, this is what some kind supporters had to say:
Welcome back, I’m very impressed, congratulations and all of the best with this. Dries Pretorius, Director, Food Safety, Dept of Health
Just wanted to say congratulations on an excellent website – it’s about time we had our own South African website. I look forward to reading it every week! Kate O’ Dowd, Jannderree
Congratulations on your new venture I am sure it will be a success. We have missed your editorial style and will be pleased to advertise and to contribute articles. We wish you all the very best and look forward to regularly receiving what I am sure will be an interesting and informative read. Don’t lose the humour, Lord knows we need it. Ian Ward, Hulamin
Congratulations and well done on the initiative taken. Looks like a great start already from what’s been circulated to me here at Parmalat. Brenda’s Back with a Bang! It can only grow from strength to strength, so I wish you well. Bruce Volmink, Parmalat
I am particularly thrilled to have had a sparkling boost on Wednesday from Bob Messenger, one of the foremost and outspoken food industry observers in the US, whose website and daily newsletter, The Morning Cup, is read by 25 000 American food industrialists. He has long been a source of information and pithy commentary for me, and certainly helped inspire this venture, and will continue to do so. You can read what he had to say here on The Morning Cup about www.foodstuffsa.co.za, but I find this point of his particularly cogent:
…. sites like this are the future of information communication in our industry, and in the world. Trade journals still have their place, but in the ‘Age of Immediacy’, sites like www.foodstuffsa.co.za keep readers on top of the news as it happens.
Tiger hunts down AVI: Turning to other matters – the big food industry news of the week has been that Tiger Brands is readying to pounce on AVI (National Brands, Snackworx, Denny, I&J etc), luring shareholders with an offer of R24/share. A 62% premium is going to be hard to resist for those holding AVI scrip, but I agree with the commentators, including AVI itself, who view this as a bad move. The result may or may not be in the best interests of shareholders, but it would certainly see massive consolidation of our food production in one company’s hands and that’s a threat to competition, for competitive manufacturers and consumers alike. And, of course, Tiger has not exactly proven an outstanding corporate citizen of late in this regard, and new management still has to prove its credentials.
Time will tell how the competition authorities and AVI shareholders will spin this one. And, don’t know about you, but I am grown very wary, and weary, of big: big bankers and their big bonuses who would push us into the abyss; big-boot political parties who would do similarly; bigwig, big-mouthed ‘leaders’ who are big on power and puny on delivery; big men in big black sunglasses and big black cars who think they are bigger than us and the law; big corporates whose only concern is big profit. What do you think?
I welcome all your correspondence. Regards, Brenda email
Food Industry News
SA: Tiger will need long claws to snag AVI
Tiger Brands could be in for a long battle to buy rival AVI, which has rejected its R8-bn bid, saying it does not make commercial sense and was not in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. The offer, says AVI, is the third attempt by Tiger Brands, SA’s largest food manufacturer, to buy the company. Read more
SA: Processors fail to halt price-fixing hearing
Eight milk distributors will appear before the Competition Tribunal on January 19 next year on charges of anti-competitive behaviour. They are Clover Industries, Clover SA, Parmalat, Ladismith Cheese, Woodlands Dairy, Lancewood, Nestlé SA and Milkwood Dairy. Read more
SA: Rainbow vs Astral: contrasting takes on the chicken business
Rainbow Chicken has just issued a gloomy profit outlook, in contrast with an upbeat forecast its closest rival, Astral Foods, produced last week. Read more
SA: South Africa bags three global food industry awards
This news is a little dated but worth repeating here, namely that three South African food products recently won awards at the first International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) Global Food Industry Awards in Shanghai, China, in October. A total of ten products were awarded. Read more
SA: South Africa to host 2012 World Dairy Summit
South Africa will host the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) annual World Dairy Summit in 2012. “This is really good news for South Africa and the South African dairy industry, and bears testimony to our industry’s stature in the world,” says Bertus de Jongh, of the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) in South Africa. The IDF is represented in 55 countries and membership is growing. The IDF accounts for approximately 85% of the world’s milk production at present. Read more
The ‘World Dairy Situation 2008’ looks at driving forces in dairy
Staying with dairy, the IDF has announced the release of its comprehensive annual report, ‘World Dairy Situation 2008’. This major publication comprising statistics on production, consumption and trade, and aims to assist researchers, policymakers and economists in providing an exclusive tool for strategy formulation.
This new IDF publication is available in electronic form, price: 75 Euros. Read more
UK: Unilever ditches Hoodia plans
In a carefully-worded statement, Phytopharm, the UK biotech company that holds the IP to the active ingredient in hoodia, says it is in discussions with Unilever, its partner for the development of hoodia extract as a functional food targeting weight management, with a view to ‘mutually terminating their agreements’.
Data from a recent clinical study using hoodia extract in a drink-based product has led Unilever to conclude that it is unsuitable to be taken forward, says Phytopharm. However, it believes that the pre-clinical and clinical data of hoodia extract encourage further study of the plant for obesity, as well as for pharmaceutical and veterinary applications. Read more
US: FDA to detain food shipments from China
Federal health officials on Thursday slapped a sweeping detention order on dozens of imported food products from China, from snacks and drinks to chocolates and candies. It’s unusual for the FDA to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. Read more
CHINA: Beijing home to FDA’s first overseas office
The FDA has opened in Beijing its first overseas office, the first of three stations the agency plans to set up in China to validate inspections of food, drugs, medical devices and other products bound for the US. The FDA will allow third-party certifiers from Chinese government agencies or private commercial facilities to assist. Read more
WORLD: Time to count the burden of foodborne disease
Many people suffer or die from foodborne disease each year — but how many? We can assume that billions of people fall ill every year, and that many die, because they ate food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals. But no-one has ever quantified the problem comprehensively. A WHO initiative intends finding out. Read more
JAPAN: Japan firm recalls eight million bottles of US mineral water
Ouch! Otsuka Beverage in Japan says it is recalling the Crystal Geyser mineral water after receiving 75 complaints in October about its smell. Read more
EU: Unilever says it’s geared to weather the recession
Unilever believes it is in a ‘relatively’ better position than many of its competitors. Read more
AUSTRALIA: Food giant Nestle takes sugar hit to sweeten image
A report from DownUnder says the world’s largest food manufacturer has reduced sugar levels of some of its top-selling kids’ foods — such as Milo cereal and chocolate milk — and will stop advertising non-nutritious products under a plan to improve its image worldwide. Read more
AUSTRALIA: Coca-Cola rejects Australia takeover bid by Lion Nathan
Lion Nathan’s $8-billion bid for Coca-Cola Amatil faced immediate opposition from the target and its key shareholder … The play would mean that Lion would overtake Foster’s as Australia’s biggest beverage company. Read more
AUSTRALIA: Throw another roo on the barbie
Is it a lasting stigma from the days when roo was considered dirty and only fit for pet food? Regardless, there’s no doubt kangaroo as a food continues to battle an image problem in some quarters. Read more
UK: Phasing out of six artificial food colourings
Foods containing any of the six artificial food colorings highlighted in a study by Southampton University as affecting children’s behaviour will be required to carry warning labels under new EU regulations by the middle of 2010. The six food colorings are: E102 Tartrazine, E104 Quinoline Yellow, E110 Sunset Yellow, E122 Carmoisine, E124 Ponceau and E129 Allura Red AC. Read more
JAPAN: Still hooked: time runs out for Japan’s dangerous obsession with the bluefin
Global stocks of the highly prized fish have plummeted by 90% in the last 30 years, and much of the blame rests with Japan, by far the world’s biggest consumer. Every year the Japanese get through about three-quarters of the world’s bluefin catch; 80% of tuna caught in the Mediterranean ends up on the Japanese market. Read more
ISRAEL: Researchers identify new bacteria in raw milk
Israeli scientists have discovered a new species of bacteria, Chryseobacterium oranimense, which can grow at cold temperatures and secrete enzymes that have the potential to spoil milk even when refrigerated. “When we looked at the bacteria living in raw milk, we found that many of them had not been identified before…” Read more
Mintel unveils 2009 flavour forecast
Persimmon and masala are among the flavour trends that Mintel has named in its new forecast for 2009, which focuses on exotic fruits and ethnic influences. Mintel predicts that food and beverage manufacturers will reach for exotic fruits and “fresh, soothing flavors with a touch of spice” to liven up their new products and move away from what it describes as “bland, mild or boring” tastes. Read more
Wine prices go into the red
It is enough to make the super rich cough into their carefully cellared claret — prices of some of the world’s most revered wines are falling sharply.
The latest indication that the global economic slowdown is hitting the spending power of even the most wealthy, certain fine wine prices have declined by a quarter since the summer. Read more
US marketers try to promote value without cheapening image
As consumers increasingly put a death grip on their dollars, marketers of food and packaged goods — even household staples such as milk, cereal, soup and laundry detergent — are wrangling with how to make their products into shopping-basket survivors. And here’s a telling sign about the state of the economy: the US marketers behind the famous milk ‘Got Milk’ moustache ads with glamorous celebrities are now are featuring financial adviser, Suze Orman. Read more
Consumer cereal-eating boom
It’s a good time to be in the cereal business. As the recession wallops consumers’ wallets, they are buying more staples such as cereal. That has helped Ralcorp, the US marketer that recently acquired Post Foods, to report more than a tripling of earnings… Ralcorp isn’t alone. General Mills and Kellogg also have enjoyed impressive earnings this year. Read more
Dairy ingredients look set to stay costly, says Fonterra
Volatile dairy prices are likely to continue in the mid term at least, New Zealand Fonterra has warned, signaling a need for on-going margin vigilance for food makers using dairy derivatives. Read more
Cargill introduces exceptional grade sunflower lecithin
Cargill is introducing Topcithin SF, a clean label, non-GM, sunflower lecithin that does not require labeling as an allergen. Topcithin SF is commercialised in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, with distribution in the Americas following soon. Read more
Diet and Nutrition
Healthful plant nutrients also found In meat and milk
Counterintuitive as it may seem, those healthful phytoestrogen nutrients that consumers usually associate with fruits and vegetables also exist in foods of animal origin. After all, “phyto” means “plant.” Now the first comprehensive study of phytoestrogen content in foods, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, has identified the best sources of these nutrients. Read more
Belly fat linked to high risk of diabetes, premature death
Belly fat may be a better indicator for the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes including premature death, according to a new study of about 360,000 Europeans. Read more
Broccoli comes to the aid of smokers
The cancer preventive properties of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables appear to work specifically in smokers, according to new research. Read more
Fruit, veg and livestock boom needed to feed Britain
It is an image worthy of a Keats poem or a Constable landscape: great orchards bursting with fruit, fields crammed with ripening vegetables and hillsides covered with sheep and cattle. But this is no dream of long-gone rural glories. It is a vision of the kind of countryside that Britain may need if it is to survive the impact of climate change and higher oil prices, according to leading agricultural experts. Read more
That burger you’re eating is mostly corn?
The bulk of a fast-food hamburger from McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s is made from cows that eat primarily corn, or so says a new study of the chemical composition of more than 480 fast-food burgers from across the US. And it isn’t only cows that are eating corn. There is also evidence of a corn diet in chicken sandwiches, and even French fries get a good slathering of the fat that makes them so tasty from being fried in corn oil. Read more
Pollinator decline not reducing crop yields just yet
The well-documented worldwide decline in the number of bees and other pollinators is not, at this stage, limiting global crop yields, according to an article in Current Biology. Read more
Attack of the tiny particles – be slightly afraid
The British government has been urged to begin a “major and urgent” effort to assess the safety of nanomaterials, the tiny particles commonly used in products as varied as sun creams, sports clothing and medicine, leading experts warn today.
Hundreds of consumer products made with nanoparticles, which can be 100 times smaller than a virus, are already on the market, despite an almost complete lack of knowledge of the dangers they may pose to human health and the environment, according to a report by the royal commission on environmental pollution. Read more
Guide to sustainable packaging
The UK’s Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) and UK government agency, Envirowise, have collaborated on a new design guide aimed at helping product and packaging designers, as well as marketing and procurement managers, improve the sustainability of a package’s design. The guide explains how to minimise the total amount of resources consumed. The guide covers all stages of the packaging lifecycle from production to end-of-life management. Read more
Spectacular packaging get Pentawards
Most in the food industry would concur that innovation today is largely packaging based, and it remains one of the foremost communication tools in global business.
Aimed at promoting packaging design, the Pentawards is a worldwide competition exclusively devoted to packaging design in all its forms. It is open to anyone in all countries associated with the creation and marketing of packaging and judged by an international jury that will select the winners in accordance with the creative quality of the work submitted. Check out some really special designs with the 2008 winners. Read more
Cereal container named ‘Package of the Year’
US trade mag, Food and Beverage Packaging magazine, has named the sleek-shaped Linearpak package, designed by Sonoco, as its package of the year. A significant first for the breakfast cereal category where bag-in-the-box flexible packaging has long reigned supreme, the Linearpak container is certainly something different.
New Product Stuff
SA: Sizzling sauces for summer
With the braai season in full swing, Heinz has stepped in with four flavours to add a saucy “something extra” to summer mealtimes. Read more
UK: BakeMark UK introduces Toblerone cookies
BakeMark, a leading UK supplier of bakery ingredients and products, is building on its successful relationship with Kraft Foods and has extended its licensed cookie range with the introduction of Toblerone Cookies. [We can but eat our hearts out! Ed] Read more
US: Favourite New Food Products of 2008
Food Processing magazine’s annual, unscientific picks for the best new products of the past year. Freewheeling and fun would define its choices… How do you get a customer’s unique message and even his or her face onto a product that’s normally produced by the billions (My M&M’s Faces)? How can you store beef tips and mashed potatoes at room temperature for weeks (Hormel Compleats)? How can chewing gum recalcify teeth (Trident Xtra Care)? Read more
Simba’s new eyes on quality control
Simba is currently installing three, state-of-the-art optical inspection systems, the new Optyx for kettle chips. Read more
Watching the wine with new technology
Steeped in tradition, Europe’s vintners have found themselves hard pressed to compete with the modern processes used to produce New World wines. Now European researchers are offering the continent’s winemaking industry the opportunity to improve quality, save water and reduce pesticide use without giving up age-old practices.
An automated wireless precision monitoring system that uses sensors to check soil moisture, air temperature and humidity is being commercialised in Italy. Read more
Knobbly veg are back, which is good news for Prince Charles
Hilarious column by Victoria Coren of The Guardian…. Looking at a wonky parsnip, the other day, I thought of Prince Charles. The parsnip did not particularly resemble him – although it could have. Misshapen vegetables are back! The European Commission is finally scrapping those unpopular regulations about the straightness of cucumbers, smoothness of root veg, and so on. Uniformity is out, hilarious shapes are in. From July next year, the magic returns to supermarket shopping as married couples regain the opportunity to wave a knobbly turnip in the air, shouting: ‘It’s the image of your mother!’ Read more
Nasa’s taste test – astronauts will soon drink their recycled urine
Astronauts currently flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour delivered a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if Nasa is taking recycling too far. Among the ship’s cargo, which will help prepare the station for an expanded six-person crew, is a water regeneration system that, as one astronaut puts it, “will make yesterday’s coffee into today’s coffee”. Read more
Hazardous alternatives to alcohol still a favoured Russian tipple
Non-beverage alcohols such as medicinal tinctures, aftershave, alcohol-based anti-freeze, antiseptics, and eau-de-colognes are still widely available and consumed in Russia, and much cheaper than standard Russian vodka. Read more
Scotland’s ‘aggressive’ Punk beer faces ban
An “aggressive” beer sold under the name Punk IPA faces being banned after a ruling that it would promote irresponsible drinking. The drink and two others made by BrewDog in Fraserburgh, Hop Rocker and Rip Tide, were found to have breached marketing rules in a provisional decision by the Portman Group, a self-regulating industry body. Read more
That’s it for this week, folks!
Tags: Agave Distillery, allergies, AMD, BioGaia, China Premier, coconut water, Coke, Danone, diabetes and engergy dense foods, DSM Tensguard, Earlybird, emerging markets, energy drinks, Firmenich, Glowelle, Goldi Toast'Em Toastees, hardboiled eggs, Hartman Group, hen cages, HiEurope, kombucha, Kraft, Laurie Demerrit, Nestlé, New Nutrition Business, Pepsi, probiotics, salt, Senomxy, Shrinking packaging, SIAL D'Or, Starbucks, vitamin C and heart disease, watermelon, Willowcreek., Woolworths, young boozers
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