Newsletter 22 June 2012

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 22 June 2012 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:   “Innovation is a process that combines discovering an opportunity, blueprinting an idea to seize that opportunity, and implementing that idea to achieve results. Remember — no impact, no innovation.”  Scott Anthony, innovation consultant and writer

Bidfood Solutions

Editor’s Stuff: Unilever’s remarkable CEO Paul Polman
Unilever’s inspirational CEO Paul Polman, isn’t much out of the headlines these days – essentially because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and shake things up, something most business leaders, unfortunately, are ill-inclined to do.
I believe he’s really in tune, and helping to tune, the burgeoning popular zeitgeist of the desire for responsibility, accountability, people power – a mindset that has felled several arrogant politicians, and likely more will follow.

Mostly, his is a trumpet call to capitalism and business that in a world where temperatures are rising, energy is costing more, sanitation is worsening and food supply is less secure, companies can no longer sit on the sidelines waiting for governments to take action.

“We have to see ourselves as part of the solution to these problems. In Unilever, we believe that our future success depends upon being able to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while at the same time increasing our positive social impacts,” he has said, and he’s put Unilever on an ambitious path to walk this talk.

This respected high priest of environmental, and de facto, business sustainability, has been a prominent speaker at the Rio Earth Summit this week. His words are chilling, inspiring, provocative and well worth heeding… do read!

The Rio Earth Summit has been in progress this week – and with the political process at the summit paralysed, if not failed, Unilever’s Paul Polman has urged progressive business to show courage and leadership on the all-important issues of environmental and business sustainability.


Since taking over as CEO of Unilever, in 2009, he has transformed the Anglo-Dutch multinational into one of the world’s most innovative corporations. He did away with earnings guidance and quarterly reporting, and tells hedge funds they aren’t welcome as investors. And last year he launched an ambitious plan to double revenue by 2020 while halving the company’s environmental impact.

Enjoy this week’s read!


Brenda Neall: publisher & editor

Jobs of the week: Loss Control Manager, Gauteng; Junior Brand Manager, Food, KZN!

Kerry Citrus

  Local News and Developments

Most South Africans do not believe tasty food can be made with less salt, and few realise cutting their intake may fend off a heart attack or stroke, according to new research by food giant Unilever. Getting to grips with consumer attitudes to salt is vital for food producers, in light of government plans to introduce regulations restricting the salt content of processed food.

Robust economic growth, urbanisation and consumers aspiring to the better things in life point towards the African dream at last being realised. For brewers this combination is creating a dream market just starting to realise its huge potential, notes a new Financial Mail report.

An interesting article in The Star looks at the social and cultural complexities of eating, healthily and otherwise, in South Africa’s rapidly urbanising township areas. Cheap and ubiquitous fast food is a classic side effect of urbanisation – a phenomenon dubbed the “nutrition transition” by public health experts.

Focus on value to offset sombre retail sales in first half of 2012
“Affordability of consumer goods continues to be under attack… The latest results from the latest Ernst & Young/Bureau for Economic Research (BER) Retail survey reveal that the growth in retail sales volumes slowed notably during 2012Q2.
Shoprite, the largest supermarket group on the African continent, recently became the first South African retailer to enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the opening of a world-class supermarket in Gombe, Kinshasa.

The Spirits Business, a leading UK-based international trade journal and a voice for the International Bartenders’ Association, has named Amarula a key contender in its new spirits survey, Reigning Supreme: Brand Champions 2012, released this month (June).

Last week’s top headline: Aligning the regulations on fat spreads
How much fat is in that marge? Consumers will soon know the percentage of fat in bread spreads they buy in line with revised rules that will be imposed on margarine manufacturers by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

International News & Stuff
Multinational food corporations have a growing influence on the health of people around the world, including obesity, and their actions need greater scrutiny… and they’re getting it in a three-week series of articles looking at “Big Food”, published by the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS).
Tea time is set for a Starbucks-style makeover as the worldwide chain aims to do for the beverage what it has for coffee.
Frito-Lay has long dominated the snack-food business by relentlessly focusing on the middle swath of America that eats chips and pretzels without regard to the effect on the waistline. Now it’s pursuing what might be called a 1 percent-99 percent strategy: creating high-end snacks as well as those that appeal to what it diplomatically calls “value” customers.
New York’s mayor has defended his proposed prohibition on sugary drinks with an appeal to science, but the very people who carried out the studies in question say he’s misread their work.
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent insists his company is not responsible for the rise in US obesity despite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent moves to limit the consumption of sugary drinks.
Last week’s top headline: 2012 World Food Prize Laureate

Dr Daniel Hillel, an Israeli scientist who pioneered a radically innovative way of bringing water to crops in arid and dry-land regions has been named the winner of the 2012 World Food Prize.

 Food Marketing, Trends and Innovation

Got innovation? Just about every company says it does, but the term has begun to lose meaning…

A review of tracked global launch activity in ready meals over the past year has identified some key trends, including ongoing interest in healthy options and more authentic-style ethnic recipes, according to market researcher Innova Market Insights.

Cape Town’s BOS Iced Tea company has hit global beverage marketing headlines with a social media promotion, par excellance, using what appears to be the world’s first Twitter-activated vending machine.

To be successful, manufacturers and retailers must understand what matters most to consumers and which packaging innovations actually impact consumer behaviour, according to “Food and Beverage Packaging Trends in the US,” a new report from Packaged Facts.

Food Science, Safety and Ingredients Stuff

As we want/need to know everything about where our food is from and what’s in it, scientists are hard at work developing ways to measure everything from exactly where a coffee bean was grown to whether that mozzarella is made from cow’s milk.

No source identified in lethal US E coli O145 outbreak – CDC

US investigators are yet to discover the source of an E coli O145 outbreak, which to-date has sickened more than a dozen people and killed one.

3D scanning is widely used in a variety of industries – and the same technology is now being used for meat.
Encapsulation for addition or subtraction
Among the potential benefits of encapsulating ingredients, increasing the omega-3 fatty acid content of products and removing sodium remains near the top of the list.
Last week’s top headline – USDA scraps ORAC database

The USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory  (NDL) has removed the USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Database for Selected Foods from its website due to mounting evidence that shows the values indicating antioxidant capacity have no relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds, including polyphenols on human health.

 Health and Nutrition Stuff
Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. [A fascinating read! Ed]
Celebrating 100 years of vitamins
For 100 years, vitamins have been nourishing children, building strong families and creating vibrant communities. In 1912, the term “vitamin” was coined to describe the bioactive substances proven to be essential to human health. Over the past century, we’ve seen remarkable advancements in our understanding of vitamins. Exciting new breakthroughs continue today as researchers around the world uncover new benefits vitamins have for human health.
Low-carb eating regimens are a topic du jour around the world. Massive Health, a ‘new age’ health organisation that is behind the popular free IPhone app, The Eatery (“Stop counting calories, start eating better”), has created this useful infographic explaining the science behind the low-carb advocacy.
The Kellogg Company is promoting its updated research compendium spanning scientific research that plugs the health benefits of cereals as a breakfast choice. The updated research compendium ‘Cereal: The Complete Story’  is intended to “give people the facts on this nutritious breakfast food”  the firm says. 
Intake of the red wine polyphenol resveratrol could help boost exercise performance by improving strength and endurance, according to new research in rats out of the University of Alberta.
The second episode of the new BBC2 series The Men Who Made Us Fat, an investigation into the obesity pandemic in Britain, looks at how the concept of super-sizing has contributed to change eating habits
The vegetables in salads are chock-full of important vitamins and nutrients, but you won’t get much benefit without the right type and amount of salad dressing, a Purdue University study shows.

Researchers said Wednesday they have produced the first comprehensive genetic map of the microbes that live in or on a healthy human body, laying the groundwork for possible new advances in research and in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

 Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Stuff
Scientists at Leatherhead Food Research in the UK have come up with what could be described as the healthiest meal in the world, proven by science, and the menu looks pretty darn tasty.
In the US eleven consumers have sued ConAgra Food, claiming that the company’s Hebrew National products were inappropriately labelled as kosher. A federal judge in Minnesota will decide what, if any, punishment ConAgra will receive. But what about the Jewish litigants? Are there spiritual or real-life consequences for a Jew who fails to keep kosher?

 Food bites… The four gorillas in the room

“These are: the current rate of population growth is unsustainable; the amount of arable land is essentially at its limit or decreasing; the amount of non-saline water is pretty much at its limit; and the western levels of energy consumption are not sustainable.

“Everything that we do, whether during our careers, our children’s careers, our grandchildren’s careers, is going to be influenced by those four things in big, big ways.”

USDA agriculturalist/biologist, Craig Morris


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Brenda NeallPublished every Friday as part of, this newsletter is a cherry-picking, agglomerating service for all food and beverage industrialists. It aims to be topical, insightful, provocative, intelligent… fast, fresh and full of additives!
FOODStuff SA, stuff about FMCG food-bev manufacture from farm gate to retail shelf, is published and edited by Brenda Neall. You can contact her at: [email protected]