Newsletter 23 March 2012

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 23 March 2012 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:  “We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.”
~ Seneca, Roman philosopher, statesman and playwright

Bidfood Solutions
Editor’s Stuff: Poking holes in holy cows!
Don’t you love it when hearty holes are poked in well-established ‘truths’? When the ‘common wisdom’ is found to be only common? This is my favourite part of the research I do for my website and e-newsletter – the uncovering and reporting of exciting and provocative findings, research, questioning and arguments that shed new light, or not, on all things related to the huge, dynamic world of FMCG food, and its close side-kick, nutrition science.

One scientist doing this in SA at the moment
is sports science fundi, Prof Tim Noakes, whose advocacy of a high protein-low carb eating regimen has put diet alternatives high on middle-class agendas, and got the dietary establishment all of a-twitter. Everyone’s talking about it, and many are doing it, with successful outcomes judging from anecdotal evidence.

In fact, the article I published on the topic, “Carbo is really a no-no”, has drawn well over 4 000 hits on my small website alone, a number way beyond any other. (Noakes, by the way, has agreed to talk to the Cape Branch of SAAFoST in May which is sure to be a sell-out).

In reaction to the low-carb hoopla, the GI Foundation of SA (GIFSA) released a statement this week….. Glycemic Index and fat differentiation sheds new light on high-fat and low-carbs debate, and you may also be interested to read a review of Prof Marion Nestle’s new book, the well-known New York academic and food industry nemesis, Why Calories Count, which looks at the complexities of diet and weight gain/loss.

One of my favourite holy-cow-poking websites is, and this week it has unpicked the latest red meat scare out of Harvard in its usual intelligent and disarming style. Do read – click here for Food Bites!
What do you think of “Mondelez International”, Kraft’s proposed new name for it global snacks business? Hmmm….

Love this comment (abbrev) from The Guardian: “Mondelez International? Pardon? Mondles? Mondelay? Mandalay? Nope, apparently it’s pronounced “mohn-dah-leez”, “monde” being the Latin word for “world” and “delez” to suggest “delicious”… Might this be a misplacing of marbles (pron. “marb-leez”) at the top of the organisation? But surely we can help by suggesting a snappier, more apposite alternative. How about “Kraftier”?”


Enjoy this week’s read!


Brenda Neall: publisher & editor
 Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Many interesting career opportunities are posted up on FOODStuff SA’s Jobs pages! Click here!

Kerry Citrus

  Local News and Developments
Clover’s business is about adding value – and distribution… an interview with CEO Johann Vorster.
Opportunity or threat?: Insights into Walmart in SA
The pros and cons of the Walmart/Massmart merger have been debated at length and now that the world’s number one retailer is officially in the country, we can expect to see the retail landscape changed forever. While this is a good thing, some pointers on how domestic players can meet – and beat – the Walmart effect.

NGO lobby group, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is has expressed outrage after finding that several food products have tested positive for genetically modified (GM) content, but are all unlabelled as is required by the Consumer Protection Act.

Wet stock products are on an NPD run in South Africa – with Tiger Brands now following NoMU Foods, Paarman Foods and Unilever with its latest launch: KOO Concentrated Wet Stock.

Fairview has recently been awarded as the title of “first carbon-neutral cheesery on the African continent” by the Carbon Protocol of South Africa.

The South African coffee market saw relatively good growth (5.3%) during 2010, where this was driven by mixed instant, mixed ground and pure ground coffee volumes.
In 2010, there was no volume growth in margarines for the first time in more than a decade, despite new players and products in the category. 
Three of South Africa’s Super 15 rugby teams have launched a range of official licensed meat products, exclusive to SPAR Supermarkets, and developed in conjunction with spice giant, Crown National.
Top headline last week:

Talking to Greg Solomon, MD of McDonalds SA
Greg Solomon, MD McDonalds, describes the company as “a family and a family business. Looking outward we want to be talking to a family – a mother, a father, a child – and that’s who we cater for. We are not just a business that caters for kids. One of our fastest growing markets is the young adults.” This article looks at Solomon from a leadership perspective…

International News & Stuff
Kraft Foods has announced a new name for its soon-to-be-spun-off global snacks arm: Mondelez International. “Mondelez” (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) is a newly coined word that evokes the idea of “delicious world”.
Unilever (UNA), the world’s second-biggest FMCG products maker, unveiled a website to gather and assess ideas from outside the company as it looks to bolster sales from new products and improve environmental practices, an extension of its open innovation strategy which it began in 2009.
USDA affirms safety of lean finely textured beef
The ‘pink slime’ saga continues apace in the US… The US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) has affirmed the safety of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) product for all consumers and urges customers to consult science-based information on the safety and quality of this product. But it would appear perception will win over science and fact in this instance.

Thai billionaire, Chaleo Yoovidhya, who created the renowned Red Bull energy drink three decades ago, died of natural causes at the age of 89 on March 17, 2012.

 Food Marketing, Trends and Innovation
Starbucks has begun a new journey to find out just how much it can squeeze out of its brand. On Monday, the world’s biggest coffee chain opened its very first retail store — dubbed Evolution Fresh — that’s centered on the coffee cup, but on the juice bottle.
The Starbucks siren is about to butt heads with the Red Bull. Just as it opened its first Evolution fruit juice store, the world’s largest coffee chain announced at its annual meeting in Seattle this week that it’s about to dip into the $8-billion energy drink category.

Here is the second set of ten products determined by Innova Market Insights as twenty of “the most innovative and on-trend products” that it featured in its database and monthly newsletter in 2011, listed in the order in which they appeared. One of them is from Southern Africa.

Click to read about the first ten here….

Food companies are reaching for the snack bowl. Facing stagnant growth in their base grocery business, packaged-food companies are increasingly turning to snacks as an avenue for growth.

Savannah Fine Chemicals

Food Science, Safety and Ingredients Stuff

By March 31, the FDA will have to determine a significant policy matter based on a judicial deadline – deciding on the use of BPA in food contact applications. Such a scenario carries a significant risk of dangerous and unintended consequences…. Insightful commentary from David Schmidt, president and CEO of the IFIC, Washington DC.

The food safety armoury might soon have another weapon – a new antibiotic discovered by chemists at the University of Illinois that’s an analog of the widely-used food preservative, nisin. It also has potential to be a boon to the dairy industry as a treatment for bovine mastitis.

Can high-power ultrasound protect produce from pathogens?
Advances to date in cleaning salad greens have mostly centered on chlorine-based washes and plenty of testing throughout the supply chain. But the search is on for more ‘natural’ solutions – and one that looks promising is high-power ultrasound. 
Probiotics have a ‘good future’ despite EFSA
Probiotics have a good future, despite the failure of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to approve any dossiers submitted by the food industry for approval under the new health claims rules, leading scientists have claimed.

Air: a useful natural ingredient
Leatherhead Food RA’s NPD expert, Dr Wayne Morley, believes the industry is missing a trick when it comes to an abundant, natural ingredient: air. He argues its use could help introduce delicate textures, lower fat contents, reduce calorie density, and even induce satiety. Gasses could also be used as zero-calorie carrier for flavours and nutrients.

Erythritol crystals may enhance flavour encapsulation: Firmenich
Encapsulating flavors in erythritol crystals may offer food formulators a delivery system with unique performance characteristics, according to ongoing development from Firmenich.

In the search for healthier foodstuffs, scientists have long looked for alternatives to ‘unhealthy’ saturated fats [perhaps misguided now that so much science is rescinding their bad press] – a task problematic because of the texture that they provide to many foods such as ice-cream and processed meats. New research, however, shows that ethyl cellulose has potential to overcome this issue.

 Verni Superflor

 Health and Nutrition Stuff

American eating habits can be categorised into five distinct patterns strongly correlated with factors like age, race, gender, and region, according to researchers who presented their findings at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in San Diego this week.

‘Gluttony gene’ may be behind big appetites
A single gene’s effect on the brain can result in non-stop eating, research has shown. Scientists believe the “gluttony gene” may be responsible for cases of obesity caused by out-of-control appetite.

 Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Stuff

Wednesday 22 March 2012 was World Water Day – an ever-worthy reminder of the scarcity and preciousness of the world’s most precious resource, and the one we perhaps take most for granted.
   If you care about water, visit this great site,, a prime example of social media in action for an essential societal cause. And do check out top SA comic, Nik Rabinowitz’s water story [his weekly radio slot on 702/Cape Talk after 10am on Fridays is not to be missed!]

 Food bites…Red meat is bad for you? Burger off!

What is really striking is that the eat-meat-die-young panic keeps rearing its ugly head so regularly, based on study after study with equally feeble risk ratios and numerous confounding factors.

This suggests that the constant desire to scare those of a carnivorous bent has little to do with the evidence – which is shakier than a cow with BSE – and more to do with the prejudices of those who want us all to live a less red-blooded lifestyle. The particular desire to promote lentil-munching over hot dogs and burgers rather suggests a general sniffiness towards mass-produced food, too.

The most accurate answer to the question of whether red meat and processed meat are bad for you is this: we just don’t know. My hunch is that the health risks are non-existent – in practical terms, they are pretty much irrelevant – but given the difficulties of conducting this research, it’s hard to believe we could ever know if one particular type of food is especially bad for us. Still, that won’t stop the medics and the researchers from trying to enforce their food rules on us anyway.

Rob Lyons,, commenting on the latest red meat scare.
Do read his sage analysis refuting this and other scare studies
DSM Quality for Life
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Swift Micro Labs

Par Excellance
Professional Career Services
The HR Company
Anchor Yeast
ProCert Southern Africa

Progress Excellence
Totally Food Events
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]