Issue 89: 25 June 2010

“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”

Eleanor Hibbert, British author


Food bites… Free choice in food?

Image“This is not a world in which individuals make free, fully informed choices about food. It is a world in which children are targeted by junk-food manufacturers from the youngest age. We live in a culture in which adult appetites are shaped by marketing that preys on our insecurities and emotional needs. It is an environment in which understanding the labels on our food practically requires a PhD in food chemistry. . .  Making healthy and responsible choices about food entails a constant battle against relentless pressures in the opposite direction.”
Felicity Lawrence, writing in The Guardian, read her article “Free choice isn’t healthy for the food industry’s menu”


EBNditor’s Stuff – Revamp of SA’s food composition database


Here’s some good news for those at the coal face of the food industry: the Nutritional Intervention Research Unit of the Medical Research Council has announced a new website for food composition data.


SAFoodsThe South African Food Data System (SAFOODS) website is a fantastically useful tool for those who are involved in nutrition analysis, recipe formulation, new product development, labelling issues and so on – and timeous, too, with the new labelling regulations rolling down to implementation next year. And it’s FREE!


Joelaine Chetty, head of the Food Composition, MRC Nutritional Intervention Research Unit, reports that the new website is the culmination of great team work of many people. Included on the site is a history of food composition; details of the advisory group (SAFDAG) that has drawn up the database; labelling information – when MRC tables can be used for labelling purposes; FAQS and links to other sites.

What an asset for the industry! Bookmark the SAFOODS site at

 IUFoST 2010 logo


See the Full Congress
Programme here


Wedgewood Nougat – a very sweet family affair

One of the best food industry assignments I have undertaken was a couple of years ago to do a story on Wedgewood Nougat. I tootled off to my old university stomping grounds of Pietermaritzburg to interview the Walters family who have created a brilliant niche confectionery business – that started literally on Gilly Walters’ stove – and came away feeling as if I’d known them for years. Nicer people and NICER product would be hard to find!


ImageI love them, I adore their nougat and biscuits and I love their decent and responsible modus operandi. Latest news from Wedgewood is that they’ve just expanded their range with the launch of a new chocolate impulse product and a chocolate gift range – using real Belgian chocolate. Read all about the Walters and Wedgewood Nougat here


Enjoy the read!


Email Brenda Neall, editor and publisher: [email protected]


 See jobs here and here.

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


Mugg & Bean enters forecourt restaurant market

ImageMugg & Bean has launched its Grab & Go concept, initially at a pilot site at the Total Service Station in Sandton Drive in Johannesburg. The restaurant chain, now owned by Famous Brands, has signed an exclusive agreement with Total for the development and rollout of the Grab & Go concept restaurants at Total Service Stations across the country. The concept will be tweaked if needs be before being rolled out to selected service stations across the Total network. Hotel and Restaurant. Read more


SA’s fishing industry: a slippery business

ImageManaging the competing interests in an industry that contributes 0,5% to SA’s GDP but is also a primary source of food and income for dozens of coastal communities is a delicate balancing act. Politics runs through the fishing industry, threatening its survival. This highly informative article looks behind the power struggles to see what needs to be done. Financial Mail. Read more


McDonald’s closes in on local operator

ImageInternational fast food group McDonald’s will appointment a local operator for its South African operations by the end of 2010. The group has also outlined a roll-out plan to add 100 new restaurants to its network of 135 restaurants over the next five years, beginning with 13 this year and 25 next year – a move that will up the stakes in an already highly competitive market. Finance 24. Read more

ImageHealthy snacking with new Safari Just Fruit range

SAFARI, the trusted brand in dried fruit for generations, has recently launched its new Just Fruit snack range, positioned on a strong health platform: all the healthy goodness of fruit without added sugar. FOODStuff SA. Read more



Re-launch of David Frost Signature Series wines

ImagePGA Golf Tour player, David Frost, recently re-launched his Signature Series wine with a new look label. The brand was given a face lift by Somerset West-based Wanted Design, specialising in wine labels, to better portray the brand ethics. Not only does the range of wine appeal to golfers and wine lovers in general, it also supports the development of golf itself. For every bottle of David Frost Wines sold, a R1 donation is given to the Raymond Ackerman Golf Academy.


David Frost is not a celebrity who is using his name for further success. David and his family have been in the wine business in South Africa for over 60 years. His father’s vineyard was the first place where David’s passion for wine and golf started: “With the pocket money I made from picking grapes, I was able to fund my first set of golf clubs and an ongoing supply of balls” says David, “then in 1994, I was able to buy my own vineyard.”

The David Frost Wine Farm is situated in the Agter-Paarl region of the Western Cape close to well known cooperative cellar Perdeberg Winery who joins him in this initiative. [No link]

ImageSA: Protection pitfalls of the CPA

Government created the Consumer Protection Act for good reason. It recognised that vast numbers of people in SA were vulnerable to commercial exploitation and unfair treatment and lacked accessible means of recourse. The CPA was designed to make South Africans “the best-protected consumers in the world”. But it may be that in seeking to do this, our legislature has caused an imbalance in the consumer protection equation that will have unintended consequences for consumers. Financial Mail. Read more


ImageIUFoST 2010: A programme not to be missed! Early bird deal extended but only a few days to go!

The IUFoST 2010 congress Scientific Programme is now almost finalised – and a skeleton has been fleshed out to develop a programme with great body and muscle! It is truly world-class as befits a world-class congress. FOODStuff SA. Read more

Food Industry News


CowsNew battle of Britain over plans for factory farms

A battle is under way in the British countryside to fight off plans for massive factory farms that would house thousands of animals in industrialised units without access to traditional grazing or foraging. Plans for three large-scale units in England have encountered fierce resistance from campaigners who say they would cause extra noise, smell and disruption and cause more stress and disease for animals. The Independent. Read more


Yakult selects California as location for first US factory

ImageRemarkably, for a country that has been slow to adopt the digestive health, Yakult USA, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based company Yakult Honsha Co, is setting up its first US factory in California. With operations set to start in 2012, the facility will produce 250,000 bottles per day of the company’s signature probiotic drink Yakult and spearhead its growth in the country. Read more


ImageCorn Products buys National Starch for $1.3bn

National Starch is to be sold to US-based Corn Products International for US$1.3bn, current owner Akzo Nobel has confirmed. The news ends over two years of speculation over the business’ future and propels CPI into the European market. FoodNavigator. Read more


Developing markets look sweet to Nestlé

ImageNestlé is seeking growth in emerging markets and expects that by 2020 45% of its total sales will be from those regions. The company will “invest massively” in markets including Asia, Africa, India and Latin America, and will be seeking acquisitions, particularly of bottled-water companies, said a company executive. The Wall Street Journal. Read more


ImageNestlé supermarket barge floats to emerging markets

Nestlé is working to reach potential consumers who have no access to branded goods by sailing a supermarket barge on two tributaries of the Amazon River. The boat will travel to 18 small cities in Brazil, carrying items including juices, ice cream and yogurts. Bloomberg. Read more 


Food Trends, Marketing and NPD


Nielsen: Keep the boss out of product development

ImageA first-of-its-kind study unveiled by The Nielsen Company says the secret to a successful product launch appears to lie in the degree of senior management involvement in the creative – it has found that companies with the most successful product launches were the ones with the least senior management involvement in the process. “While we don’t dispute senior management’s strengths and good intentions, they are often too quick to get involved in the creative process, especially when things are not going well, and their mere presence can stifle free thinking,” explained a Nielsen executiveprocess. Progressive Grocer. Read more


The cult of the celebrity chef goes global

ImageIt’s been a few decades since we started turning cooks into stars, and still the phenomenon continues to grow. These days, the Emerils, Marios and Gordons of the world scarcely need the qualifier chef — they are celebrities, plain and simple. But between the television shows, the food festivals, the Vegas outposts, the spaghetti-sauce labels bearing their names and the fans rabidly tracking everything from new dishes to failed love affairs, it’s easy to overlook the impact that fame has had on the once disparaged profession of cooking. In the Food Network era, the phenomenon of the celebrity chef has utterly transformed the restaurant industry and, in the process, changed the very nature of how we eat. Read more


Foodie media explosion: which came first, the supply or the demand?

ImageThere has been an explosion of foodie blogs and now even big media have started to add food-centric sites. News network CNN is the latest to jump on board with their Eatocracy site that launched on June 17.


It is one thing to be immersed in food news if you are a food critic or writer but it has become a media force and the question remains if it is a trend based on interest or whether it’s constructed by the media. Eating and preparing food crosses so many aspects of one’s life whether it be social, health, art, education, sign of love, or familial/cultural tradition so it’s logical that people would want to share the experience virtually and virally. The Independent. Read more


The changes facing fast food

ImageFast food firms have to be a thick-skinned bunch. Health experts regularly lambast them for peddling food that makes people fat. Critics even complain that McDonald’s, whose golden arches symbolise calorie excess, should not have been allowed to sponsor the World Cup. These are things fast-food firms have learnt to cope with and to deflect. But not perhaps for much longer. The burger business faces more pressure from regulators at a time when it is already adapting strategies in response to shifts in the global economy. More than menus need to be revamped if fast-food firms want to keep growing. The Economist. Read more 


Innova Market Insights – Heart health product innovation continuing unabated

ImageDespite ongoing regulatory issues with regard to health claims, the positioning of food and drink products on a heart health platform appears to be continuing unabated. Data from the Innova Database shows that product launches positioned on a heart health platform have nearly tripled over the past five years and accounted for nearly 1.5% of total food and drinks launches recorded over the 12 month period to the end of April 2010, up from less than 0.7% in 2005. FOODStuff SA. Read more


The science of sugar and spice

ImageCoffee and beef, strawberries and basil – understanding the exquisite complexity of flavour pairings can transform the way we cook. This quest led Niki Segnit on a long journey in compiling a thesaurus of flavours: “The Flavour Thesaurus: Pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook” – this review and interview of Niki Segnit is a must-read for those involved in product/flavour development, and perhaps her book is a must-purchase, too. The Independent. Read more


Mars: Choose evolution (not revolution) for NPD

ImageGame-changing innovation is not – and should not – be the top priority for every new product development team, especially in the current economic climate, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest brands. Delivering the British Brands Group’s annual lecture in London recently, Mars Chocolate MD Fiona Dawson said: “The temptation to radically innovate is huge, but you can risk sucking out your technical resources, your financial resources and your best talent from your base business.” Food Manufacture. Read more


ImageMars introduces M&Ms with a salty centre

For those who like a bit of salt and crunch in their chocolate, M&Ms has a new twist on its 69-year-old candy classic. The company put a nugget of pretzel inside its candy, to cater to the growing consumer taste for mixing sweet and salty flavours.


The marketing campaign for its new variety — a pretzel nugget covered in milk chocolate, then coated with a coloured candy shell — has a strong emphasis on digital and social media outlets and caters to younger consumers. New York Times. Read more


ImageNo ice age in frozen foods

Although the frozen TV dinner made its debut in the 1950s, sales of frozen meals and entrees didn’t proliferate until the 1970s, when the home microwave gained popularity. Mom’s new microwave became both a thawing device and cooker, combined for convenience, and set her free from the stove.


The recent tough economy has not hurt frozen foods. As consumers returned to dining at home rather than at restaurants, frozen food sales grew. When consumers do eat out, they favor fast-food dining, which uses heavy amounts of frozen foods, according to Grant Thornton, the accounting and business advisory firm. Slate. Read more


A working life: The food taster

ImageFood taster Kirsten Hoskissen spends her working day sampling muesli and granola for Jordans and Ryvita for flavour and texture, she tells Jill Insley Imagine doing a job where you can eat all you want, all day long, and get paid for it. Then consider that the food range you can indulge in is limited to cereals and ryebreads. Welcome to the world of Kirsten Hoskissen. The Guardian. Read more


ImageIntroducing wine by the (packaged, plastic) glass

Wine has entered the realm of “to-go” – introducing Le Froglet, 187ml of wine sealed with foil in a plastic stemmed wine glass available in Shiraz, rosé and Chardonnay varieties from the Languedoc region in France. The product was created by determined entrepreneur James Nash who was laughed off UK reality television show Dragons’ Den for his pitch of the now-successful invention. UK retailer Marks & Spencer, which bought the concept, reportedly “struggles to keep up with demand,” and the product only hit shelves the week of June 7. The Independent. Read more


Health and Nutrition Stuff

Red wine’s resveratrol neutralises toxicity of proteins related to Alzheimer’s

ImageAn organic compound found in red wine – resveratrol – has the ability to neutralize the toxic effects of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to research led by Rensselaer Professor Peter M. Tessier. The findings, published in the May 28 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, are a step toward understanding the large-scale death of brain cells seen in certain neurodegenerative diseases. Read more

Study: Lowering homocysteine levels doesn’t lower heart-disease risks

ImageFor decades, heart disease has retained the dubious honour of being a leading killer in the Western World. So doctors have long been on the lookout for potential new factors that could help them identify and protect people who are at high risk of the disease. One such promising factor was homocysteine, a naturally-occurring amino acid that previous studies have linked to a higher risk of heart events and stroke. But researchers in the UK now close the book on the usefulness of the marker, finding in a new study that lowering patients’ blood levels of homocysteine did not in turn reduce their risk of heart trouble. Read more

Reduced salt, fat could save 40 000 lives annually in UK

Image“This isn’t some mystery virus which we don’t understand… this is something where we know precisely what the causes are and we know precisely what we can do about it”  . . . Britain’s influential health cost watchdog has called for major changes in food production and marketing and said drastic cuts in fat and salt levels were needed to halt the scourge of heart disease. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said trans fats, which do little more than prolong shelf life, should be banned from all food, saturated fat levels cut drastically and average salt intake more than halved by 2025. Fox News. Read more


Chocolate milk is best post-exercise drink

ImageDespite the general belief, a new study says a glass of fat-free chocolate milk is the best health drink for muscular recovery following an intense workout … According to the study presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Baltimore, post-exercise consumption of chocolate milk is more effective in repairing and rebuilding muscles than the carbohydrate sports drinks. ScienceBlog. Read more


 Food Science, Biotech & Food Safety


Image“Conversations in Microbiology “

Based on the five principles of Good Laboratory Selecting Practice (GLSP), you have confidently selected one of the 46 registered SANAS laboratories to perform your microbiological analyses: But you are asking: “What do I do NOW?” “What do I test?”, “When do I test?”, “What do I test for?”


The small steps you are about to take will empower you to interact with your selected laboratory knowledgeably. This will enable you to understand the laboratory’s requirements and ensure the laboratory meets your requirements. [Part Two of a valuable series of articles, penned by Tracey Botes, “Everything you needed to know about microbiological testing of your products’ and published by The Food Safety Network.] Read more


ImageGut bacteria may affect your weight

Something in your gut could be making you fat — and it isn’t just last night’s pizza. . . scientists are still investigating which bacteria do what in humans. LA Times. Read more

The bacterial zoo in your bowel

ImageYou are outnumbered by a factor of 10 to one, by forces you cannot see. Your body has around ten trillion cells, but it’s also home to a hundred trillion bacteria. For every gene in your genome, there are 100 bacterial ones. Most of these are found the dark, dank environment of your bowel but their incredible diversity is being brought to the surface. Say hello to the gut metagenome. Discover Magazine. Read more


ImageResearchers develop non-chlorine rinse for poultry carcasses

Spray washing chicken carcasses with a solution of lauric acid and potassium hydroxide could help processors design practical and non-chlorine-based sanitisers, said the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Food Production Daily. Read more

How Frankenfood prevailed

ImageBy making an early, successful R&D-heavy bet on biotechnology, Monsanto transformed itself from an agricultural-chemicals company in an increasingly commoditised sector into a cutting-edge seed-and-biotech firm. Because its rivals are still catching up to its prowess in creating biotech traits — the software of seeds — Monsanto has become the standard bearer and lightning rod for the controversial advance of genetically modified (GM) crops, sometimes derisively described as Frankenstein foods. But it looks as if the monster has prevailed, with 25 countries — collectively home to more than half the world’s population — that have planted commercialised biotech crops. Read more


ImageAnalyzing food and beverages with magnetic levitation

Scientists are reporting development of a new use for magnetic levitation, or “maglev,” the futuristic technology best known for enabling high-speed passenger trains to float above the tracks. In ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they describe putting maglev to use in an inexpensive sensor for analyzing food, water, and other beverages. ScienceDaily. Read more


Packaging Stuff


Future trends for active and intelligent packaging

ImageThe focus of active and intelligent (A&I) packaging has shifted from manufacturer concerns such as shelf-life and spoilage to consumer concerns such as freshness, quality and information, according to recently published research. The report – The Future of Active and Intelligent Packaging in Food and Drinks – said that industry leaders had identified freshness indicators as the most important innovations in the field over the next five years. A development on quality was listed as the next most important field followed by temperature and time indicators. Food Production Daily. Read more


ImageTen ways to improve your package design

Package design is no doubt a multi-diciplinary occupation. To succeed you need knowledge in many fields of activities. Here is a summary of the ten most important – from the blog of Lars Wallentin, head of the development of creative design solutions at Nestle for nearly 40 years. Packaging Sense. Read more




Recycling: Profit that takes a lot of bottle

ImageWe wear it, we drink from it, we sit on it – recycled plastic is turning up everywhere. Now, it’s even on the backs of the World Cup players. Nike’s World Cup 2010 kits – worn by England fans and Ronaldinho alike – are being made from plastic bottles sourced from Japanese and Taiwanese landfill sites. And Nike isn’t the only big hitter using recycled plastic in its products. Coca-Cola uses recycled plastic in its bottles and Marks & Spencer has made fleeces from it.


But is this just some handy greenwashing or has using recycled materials finally become an established part of industrial design? The Independent. Read more

OZ: The true cost of our daily bread

ImageA few supermarkets in Australia, such as Aldi, have pledged to start labelling their products with an estimated carbon footprint by next year . . . When the British supermarket giant Tesco decided to start labelling its produce with ”food miles” to let people know how far it travelled before reaching the shelf, the move was greeted with a bizarre mixture of fear, derision and relief. The fear came from the global food industry and many primary producers, who remain worried that people will be put off by finding out how far their food has come. The derision arose because Tesco had wandered blithely into the labyrinth of attempting to accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions. It is so fantastically complicated that a team of Oxford University climate experts commissioned by the supermarket chain to do the maths described their own findings as “highly contentious”. Sydney Morning Herald. Read more




ImageDentyne promises to improve kissing skills in Canada

Dentyne in Canada is launching an online Mouth-to-Mouth Certification program that promises to help users become better kissers. The site uses augmented reality, highlights kissing techniques and allows users to upload videos of their own kissing sessions. Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week!