Issue 105: 22 October 2010

 “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

Heny James, novelist

Food bites… The ultimate food marketing challenge

Image“The [American] food-and-drink market is always open to new tastes and flavours, but the challenge is getting people to try something more than once. Will they do it again when it’s no longer just new? And beyond the taste, does it make my life easier, and does it make my food costs cheaper? If it doesn’t do one of those two things and certainly doesn’t succeed on the first one, then forget it – it’s a one-time buy. For it to thrive, to capture more people, it has to be more than just providing the novelty of new.”
Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst with NPD, Chicago-based market research firm

Editor’s Stuff – Happy 50th Birthday, Orley Foods!



Yesterday was a special and sweet day for Orley Foods, the quietly iconic food ingredients company based in Cape Town, as it celebrated a half century in business with a large gathering of colleagues, family, suppliers and customers.

I say ‘quietly iconic’ because, while most wouldn’t know it, Orley products are simply everywhere. Sure its retail brand, Orley Whip, a non-dairy cream, is legendary, but this once-flagship product now sits on the backend of a considerable chocolate, confectionery and other specialised ingredient portfolio that’s produced at its huge factory campus in Montague Gardens, Cape Town. That choc chip in your biscuit? The strawberry pieces in your muffin? That yoghurt-coating on your energy bar? That vermicelli and fondant on your cupcake? The sweet sucker punch in that fruity alcoholic beverage? Yes, they all probably come from Orley.

Orley logoOrley is a remarkable success story (outlined in more detail here), a family business that’s now moving into a new era, and its future prospects are described by outgoing chairman, Seymour Abrahams as “unbelievably exciting – watch this space”. He and Andrew Janik, whose father-in-law and uncle respectively got the business off the ground back in the 1960s, have jointly guided and built the company over the past three decades. The duo is retiring in confidence at the end of the year, and handing over the reins to its top management team to be headed by incumbent commercial director Craig Henry. This follows Orley’s acquisition just over three years ago by the private equity Libstar group and which boasts an impressive stable of entrepreneurial food companies.

I have had many occasions to observe and report on Orley over the past ten years and can only echo what many at yesterday’s party voiced: that Orley can be immensely proud of its achievements, that it is a role model when it comes to business values and ethics and that the new Libstar team and shareholders have been handed a “precious baby in good shape” as Andrew Janik aptly put it, to take forward with new energy.

Enjoy this week’s read!


Email Brenda Neall: [email protected]

Publisher & Editor


FOOD INDUSTRY JOBS ADVERTISED THIS WEEK! Tongaat Hulett is looking for technical sales staff – equity employment opportunities!
 See jobs
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Afrikaans translation: To translate this page, go to, 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.

Local Food Industry Stuff


Farmers warn of ‘dirty-water’ risk for produce exports

ImageSA’s water crisis has been back in the headlines, with farmers warning that SA’s deteriorating water quality could put European export markets at risk. The warning throws a harsh light on the state of SA’s water quality and the African National Congress’s policy of cadre deployment at local government level.

A 2009 Green Drop report found 55% of SA’s 900 water treatment plants attained a score of less than 50%. The farmers’ warning also echoes the concerns of retailers Pick n Pay and Spar, who said yesterday they are concerned about declining water quality. Woolworths dismissed a widely reported supplier’s claim that it has rejected produce contaminated with Escheria coli, a pathogen found in sewage. Business Report. Read more


No going back to old spending ways for SA consumers

ImageHas the recession permanently changed consumer behaviour in South Africa? Times are still tough and money is tight. Businesses are battling to survive as consumers’ notch in their belts and decrease their spending, monitoring their expenses, budgeting like mad to make ends meet and generally changing their spending behaviour dramatically.

But this will change, right? The economy will continue to improve as the recession recedes and people go back to the way they were, spending like crazy, and keeping businesses in the black. Wrong! Recent research done on consumer strategies has shown that the behavioural changes brought about through these tough economic times may very well be permanent and irreversible ones as people hold onto the lessons learnt and refuse to go back to their previous ‘reckless’ spending. Marketingweb. Read more


Pick n Pay boosts sustainable fishing

ImageAfter a year of joint strategic planning, Pick n Pay has signed a partnership agreement with WWF’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme in a bid to support the conservation organisation’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme. Says Pick n Pay CEO Nick Badminton: “As one of the country’s largest retailers, we cannot ignore the fact that seafood is inextricably linked to food security and that it provides the primary source of food or income for 2.6-billion people globally. It is no secret that consumers drive trends and as the country’s greenest retailer, we believe it is our duty to assist them in making informed purchasing decisions.” Cape Business News. Read more


Wal-Mart set to spark price war

ImageMarket share are two words that get South Africa’s retailers very hot under the collar, being the ultimate battle for the biggest piece of the pie in a highly competitive landscape. But with a possible new player in the form of Wal-Mart eyeing the block, the already intense competition in the food retail industry could get cutthroat. FastMoving. Read more

Liquor industry provides 4.4% of GDP – study

ImageBrewing giant SAB is one of South Africa’s biggest contributors to gross domestic product (GDP) and providers of employment, despite the adverse impact that alcohol abuse has on the country’s fiscus. Last year SAB’s economy-wide contribution to GDP was about R66.2 billion, or 3.1 percent, and it broadly supported 355 000 jobs, according to a study by independent economics group Econex. FastMoving. Read more


ImageWORKSHOP: “How to survive a retail audit”

Do you need to comply with retail food safety requirements. Will you survive an audit? The Food Safety Network is hosting this informative training workshop aimed specifically at small suppliers. It takes place on Weds 17 November 2010, 9-4pm, in Woodmead, Jo’burg. Click here for all the details.


Food Industry News


ImageSIAL 2010: The best of the best

From Canada, the Honibe – Honey Drop has taken the top award in the SIAL d’Or awards, being named as the winner of the Global SIAL d’Or 2010, at one of the world’s largest food tradeshows, held in strike-bound Paris this week. FOODStuffSA. Read more

EFSA health claims: winners and losers in the latest batch

Amongst EFSA’s latest batch of 808 article 13.1 generic opinions, konjac wins the first ‘yes’ on weight loss and DHA gets a string of thumbs ups – but it’s hard luck for prunes on bowel function, and many, many others… The latest batch is the last that will be published before June 2011 FoodNavigator. Read more


Probiotic drinks do not aid health, Europe say

ImageProducts such as Yakult, which are sold at a premium over standard yoghurts, cannot be proved to either boost the immune system or aid digestive health, it has been ruled. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has examined more than 800 health claims from food companies, including those submitted by the multi-billion pound probiotic industry.
EFSA’s independent panel of scientists found that the claims that these products could strengthen the body’s defences, improve immune function and reduce gut problems were either so general as to be inadmissible, or could not be shown to have the claimed effect. The Guardian. Read more


A food fight over nutraceuticals

ImageAt first glance, the food and drug industries have very little in common. One is a relatively slow and safe business, the other a high-risk, high-reward venture. Yet these days, they seem to be moving in a common direction… straight towards the clinical nutrition and nutraceuticals business … Basically, nutraceuticals take the fortified food market – worth an expected $175-billion worldwide this year – up to the next level. About five years ago, energy drinks mainstreamed the sector, but it still has a lot more to grow. Knowing that, who can blame multinational food companies and the drug industry for wanting a bite? Read more


US: Front-of-Package labelling under the microscope

ImageThe Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released its first Front-of-Package (FOP) labeling report. Phase I is a tough, detailed examination of about 20 of the existing FOP schemes along with some recommendations about what such schemes ought to do.

FOP labels are those little spots, check marks, and tokens that are all over food packages these days and that are supposed to indicate that the product is especially healthy for you. They may seem utterly trivial, but they are of desperate importance to food companies. FOP labels sell food products. Food marketers love them and need them.  The FDA worries that having so many of them confuses the public, and that the schemes are based on criteria that serve industry purposes more than to promote public health. Food Politics. Read more


UK: Pepsi takes fight with Coca-Cola into potato fields

ImageThe consumer war waged between Pepsi and Coke has taken a new twist in Britain with PepsiCo pledging to reduce the carbon emissions and water consumption of its UK operations by an ambitious 50% in five years, in the process leapfrogging Coca-Cola’s plan to improve its ecological efficiency by a similar amount. PepsiCo, the parent company of Walkers crisps, is Britain’s biggest crisp maker, buying more than 350,000 tonnes of potatoes a year. The Guardian. Read more


Oktobergloom: producing too much, consuming too little: beer is a microcosm of Germany

ImageThe morning after the night before is a time for reflection. Waking this week after the 177th Oktoberfest, Müncheners were not alone in nursing a hangover. Although festival-goers downed a record 7m litres of beer this year, Braumeisters are left with a painful headache of their own: the shrinking German appetite for beer. In 1991 the average German quaffed 142 litres of the stuff, but intake has declined every year since. By 2009 German consumption per head had fallen below 110 litres, less than in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Austria. Another fall is expected this year. The Economist. Read more

South Korea’s kimchi crisis: forget mad dictators, the price of cabbage is what really worries Koreans

ImageIn Seoul, the South Korean government is staring nervously across the border, wondering about the succession under way in North Korea. The city is also preparing for a G20 summit in November. But the word on everyone’s lips is cabbage. The price of this humble vegetable, which forms the basis of kimchi, the Korean national dish, is soaring. Everyone from the president to the commonest crook and blogger is getting in on the act.

It is hard to exaggerate the importance to Korean life of kimchi, which is usually made of fermented cabbage. Its presence at every meal, as well as its health benefits, give it an almost religious status. It is a national symbol, and the one food item that a majority of Koreans “cannot live without”. The Economist. Read more


Food Trends, NPD and Marketing


EU: Big plans for France’s mini-kiwi fruit

ImageIt’s smaller than a kumquat – about the size of your thumb – and smooth-skinned like a tomato. But this rare fruit flourishing in orchards by the Adour river in southwest France is neither. It’s actually a tiny kiwi fruit, but with an edible green peel. The award-winning mini-kiwi bears little resemblance to the fuzzy brown specimens we know. Initial market studies have shown that the little fruits, sweeter than regular kiwis, will widen the horizon for the kiwi itself, attracting different consumers and consumption habits than their larger cousins. The Independent. Read more

For more on the kiwi fruit, read this whacky, wonderful article…


ImageUK: Red Brussels sprouts to be sold at supermarkets

Christmas dinner tables could be brightened up with red Brussels sprouts for the first time this year after a supermarket announced it will stock the new variety of the seasonal vegetable. The Telegraph. Read more


US: Red celery coming to grocery aisles

ImageDuda Farm Fresh Foods is trying to make veggies more appealing to consumers with the introduction of its Celery Sensations’ Red Celery, just launched at the 2010 Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. The red celery variant, which features the same crisp, fresh flavour as regular celery is a culmination of nearly 20 years of research the company.

Very intesetingly, Duda’s commitment to innovation is not only in the field, but can be evidenced in its smart packaging too. Celery Sensations will be sold with Microsoft® Tags. Placed directly on packaging, this high-capacity color barcode (HCCB) contains encoded information that consumers can easily access by scanning the URL Tag with a mobile device like their cell phone. The encoded information consists of product information, storage and usage tips and even recipes and meal suggestions. Read more


UK: Muscle-building ice cream to hit shelves

ImageIce cream which encourages muscle growth, a coffee flavoured drink containing no coffee but which is fortified with calcium, and unique new fruit juices are just a few of the latest consumer goods identified by Product Launch Analytics which could soon be available in the UK.

The ice cream, which claims to encourage muscle growth, has already been launched in the US by Pro Foods. New Pro ice cream comes in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours, hoping to appeal to a wide variety of consumer tastes.
Unusually for an ice cream product, usually consumed as a luxury, indulgence food, Pro ice cream is pitched as a high performance product. The ice cream contains minerals, fibre, milk, whey and egg proteins, all the typical ingredients found in protein shakes and bars. FDIN. Read more

Nutrition and Health Stuff


Cancer is a modern-day disease

ImageResearchers looking at almost a thousand mummies from ancient Egypt and South America found only a handful suffered from cancer when now it accounts for nearly one in three deaths. The findings suggest that it is modern lifestyles and pollution levels caused by industry that are the main cause of the disease and that it is not a naturally occurring condition.
The study showed the disease rate has risen dramatically since the Industrial Revolution, in particular childhood cancer – proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer. The Telegraph. Read more


Right foods aid memory and protect against disease

ImageFor the first time researchers have found out what effect multiple, rather than just single, foods with anti-inflammatory effects have on healthy individuals. The results of a diet study show that bad cholesterol was reduced by 33%, blood lipids by 14%, blood pressure by 8% and a risk marker for blood clots by 26%. A marker of inflammation in the body was also greatly reduced, while memory and cognitive function were improved.

“The results have exceeded our expectations. I would like to claim that there has been no previous study with similar effects on healthy subjects”, says Inger Björck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University’s Antidiabetic Food Centre. Read a more


ImageObesity costs U.S. $168 billion, study finds

Nearly 17% of US medical costs can be blamed on obesity, according to new research that suggests the nation’s weight problem may be having close to twice the impact on medical spending as previously estimated. One expert acknowledged that past estimates likely underestimated the costs. USAToday. Read more

Folic acid no benefit to heart, analysis finds

ImageDespite reducing levels of a protein associated with heart disease, supplements containing the B vitamin folic acid don’t reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, death or cancer, according to a new large-scale analysis of studies on the issue.


Folic acid helps prevent devastating neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Since it also lowers blood levels of the protein homocysteine, which is linked with heart and blood vessel disease and other ills, some scientists hoped that the powerful vitamin might lower the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer. The current meta-analysis suggests that even taken at high doses, folic acid supplements don’t have that effect. HealthDay/USA Today. Read more


Sprite can enhance effect of oral anti-cancer drug

ImageSprite, the popular soft drink, can enhance the effectiveness of an oral anticancer drug, it seems. In a study appearing in ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal, notes that efforts are underway to develop more anticancer medications that patients can take by mouth. However, biological variations among patients — due to variations in stomach acidity and other factors — can reduce the effectiveness of oral anticancer drugs. Read more


Danisco launches vitamin K brand

ImageDanish ingredients giant Danisco has entered the vitamin K space with a branded version of long chained menaquinone vitamin K2 called ActivK. In making the announcement this afternoon the company highlighted the “emerging” nutrient’s link to bone and cardiovascular health, along with ActivK’s bioavailability.

Vitamin K won a positive generic article 13.1 opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last year linking vitamin K and the maintenance of normal bone and normal blood coagulation. Danisco is sourcing ActivK from natto, the Japanese fermented soy bean dish and it will take up a position in Danisco’s Health & Nutrition portfolio. NutraIngredients. Read more

EU: DSM and BRAIN team up for soluble vitamin research

DSM Nutritional Products has entered into a new collaboration with Biotechnology Research and Information Network (BRAIN) to develop new ways of producing water-soluble vitamins by fermentation. BRAIN is an industrial biotech company which discovers and develops novel bioactive compounds and proprietary enzymes for partners and customers in the food, feed, pharma and cosmetics sectors. The new project aims at solutions for the food and feed sectors. NutraIngredients. Read more


‘Drunken’ gene discovered by scientists

ImageA gene that controls how quickly drink goes to your head has been discovered by scientists. People with the gene are more likely to get drunk quickly but because they cannot take their alcohol are actually less likely to become alcoholics

The gene, CYP2E1, provides the coded instructions for making an enzyme that breaks down alcohol. Scientists found that 10% to 20% of the population possess a particular version of the gene that causes them to get drunk easily. The Telegraph. Read more

ImageHow chemicals control your thoughts and feelings


Fascinating stuff from Gary Wenk, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology &  Neuroscience & Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University.


Donuts and coffee, they’re what your brain wants

ImageSometimes, what our brain wants is not always good for our bodies. Donuts are a good example. It is early morning and you’re driving to work after a nice breakfast of black coffee and two eggs, easy-over, with bacon. Yet, you’re still hungry and having difficulty paying attention to the traffic. Why? Your brain is not cooperating because it is not satisfied with that breakfast because it lacked one critical ingredient that your brain urgently needs, sugar. You have been fasting since dinner last night and your blood levels of sugar have fallen to very low levels. From your brain’s perspective, sugar is indispensable. It will do whatever is necessary to convince you to eat sugar as often as possible. Psychology Today. Read more

Why do we overeat at the buffet table?

ImageStanding next to the buffet table and mindless eating commences. We repeatedly tell ourselves that we should stop eating and move away from the buffet line …. Our bellies are full to the point that it hurts to breath. Why can’t we stop eating when standing next to a long table set out with a delicious and beautifully arranged selection of foods?

Neuroscientists have some interesting explanations. One of these is call ingestion analgesia. The role of ingestion analgesia is to defend eating from ending. Even though continued eating becomes unpleasant because your stomach is painfully stretched to its full capacity, you’ve reached the point where you cannot unbutton anything else in public, you’ve embarrassed yourself in front of the relatives or co-workers by your voracious appetite, etc.; yet, you still keep noshing. Essentially, we block out the painful feedback from these feelings by releasing endogenous opiates into our brain and body. Psychology Today. Read more

Food Science Stuff


A historical timeline of food processing

ImageIn celebration of its 70th birthday, US trade magazine, Food Processing, has published a fascinating timeline of food processing, starting in the 1940s. Back then, America was recovering from the worse recession in history. It wasn’t long before the US entered World War II, and the government suspended production of most food equipment. Instead, production turned to war machinery. But the technology created to help win the war spurred the largest and most successful addition to the US economy – the processed food industry. Fascinating stuffdo read more here


Prediction that polyols could soon outsell artificial sweeteners

ImageSafety concerns over artificial sweeteners and the expiry of patents mean that sales volumes could soon be overtaken by polyols, says a leading market research firm. According to a September 2010 report ‘Artificial Sweeteners’ from US-based Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the market for high intensity [artificial] sweeteners is likely to be affected by dwindling price, the entry of new market players, particularly…in developing nations, expiry of patent protection and growing concern about their use.” FoodNavigator. Read more


Arla Foods launches first functional milk protein solution for gluten-free bread

In an interesting development, Arla Foods Ingredients reports that trials are underway to replace gluten in bread with a combination of functional milk proteins – so far with highly promising results.

Through simulating the protein structure and functionality of wheat gluten, the aim is to create solutions for gluten-free bakes of a much higher quality than the typically dry, crumbly products on the market today. One of the quality benefits of functional milk proteins is their neutral taste an improvement on those solutions based on vegetable protein that have a distinctive off-flavour. The gluten-free project builds on the initial findings of a food science student, who conducted study-related research in the Arla Foods Ingredients bakery lab. Source: FoodIngredientsFirst. [No link]


ImageIllinois scientists promote soy by currying favour with Indian taste buds

University of Illinois scientists think they have solved an interesting problem: how to get protein-deficient Indian schoolchildren to consume soy, an inexpensive and complete vegetable protein. What’s more, they’ve joined forces with an Indian foundation that can get the high-protein soy snack they’ve developed into the hands of 1.2 million hungry kids who need it. EurekaAlert. Read more

Green Stuff


COMMENT: Sun Chips and the power of the consumer

ImageCrunch, crunch, crunch. By now you’ve probably heard that Frito-Lay [in America]has decided to discontinue production of its 100% compostable chip packaging due to overwhelming complaints from consumers that their SunChips bags are too noisy. Sales of the chips have declined since the introduction of the new bags last December and consumers have taken to YouTube to air their grievences about the tasty noisemakers.

Now, we’re hearing that the bags may not live up to their compostable promises in the first place. Frito-Lay’s claims that SunChips packaging will break down in fourteen weeks has been met with cynicism from expert composters. One blogger writes: “A good sixteen weeks after we composed the bag, I pulled it out and…I’ve been accused of being cynical, and I think that the real problem is that the bag doesn’t work as advertised. To be even more cynical, most of the people who bought SunChips for their environmental benefits don’t know this because they don’t compost.”

Perhaps the worms found the noise off putting as well?

The larger lesson here of course is that consumers increasingly have the power to call companies out on their claims. With increasingly powerful results.

The Hartman Group blog link

Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!

ImageThe secret to the immortality of McDonald’s food

Ever since Morgan Spurlock held up that jar of mysteriously well-preserved fries in “Super Size Me,” the list of exhibits in the McDonald’s museum of food-that-refuses-go-bad has grown exponentially. The latest entrant is the Happy Meal Project, a burger and a packet of fries that have soldiered on undecayed for 143 days. The chain’s burgers can resist rot for years. Scientists explain why they have the shelf life of the undead. Salon. Read more

The pill that seriously kills your sweet tooth

ImageLast week, we had a little fun partying with Miracle Fruit, which tricks your taste buds into thinking that sour things taste sweet. Tra-la-la! Isn’t life grand, all rose-coloured glasses, when you can nibble on a lemon and have it taste like candy? Unicorns and ponies and kitty kitty kats yay!

But then – boom! – here comes Miracle Fruit’s evil Bizarro-twin brother, Gymnema Sylvestre. Yes, that’s right, he’s so bad he doesn’t even need a name you can pronounce. And his magic power is similarly antisocial: A little sprinkle of his putrid powdery self on your tongue, and you will lose the ability to taste sweetness. Which means that Coke will taste only of its flavouring agents, oranges will taste as sour as lemons, and sugar won’t taste like much at all.

If you’re thinking that doesn’t sound very delicious, well, you’re right. But the ability to turn off one of our tastes offers a unique look into how we respond to the others, how important sweetness is to flavour, and, conversely, what we can taste in food once the masking effect of sweetness is taken away. Salon. Read more


Consider the kiwi fruit

ImageDoes the idea of a fresh, ripe kiwi fruit have you brimming with excitement or leave you cold? … I’ve never felt a joy within, a sense sublime at what is basically a hairy, swollen ball, tough-skinned and acid-fleshed. Kiwis are among the more curious fruits: while there’s a pithy citrus family, while the peach is the fuzzy cousin of the nectarine, while apples and pears offer comparable joys, while the merry cherry seems to me different only in degree from, say, a plum or grape, there’s nothing remotely like the kiwi. The Guardian. Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week, folks!