Issue 78: 26 March 2010

“One cannot do right in one department of life whilst occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Business bites… Embrace irreplaceable people

Image“Andrew Carnegie [builder of the American steel industry] apparently said, ‘Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the  factory floors…Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory.’ Is there a typical large corporation working today that still believes this?
Most organizations now have it backwards. The factory, the infrastructure, the systems, the patents, the  process, the manual… that’s king. In fact, shareholders demand it. It turns out that success is coming from the atypical organizations, the ones that can get back to embracing irreplaceable people, the linchpins, the ones that make a difference. Anything else can be replicated  cheaper by someone else.
Seth Godin, US marketing linchpin, writing in his daily blog, and a daily source of provocative inspiration

EBNditor’s Stuff – A delightful look at
how consumers understand SUSTAINABILITY


THERE are surely but a few food industrialists today who are not giving time and effort to strategic thinking and planning around sustainability. But does your company have an understanding of what exactly sustainability means? Is it just about being “green” and “all about the environment”? It’s both of these, actually, but also so much more. The truth is that when consumers and corporations talk about sustainability they may as well be on different planets.

ImageThis week’s newsletter brings you access to one of the most novel and charming items of accessible research that I’ve ever seen, presented by the very clever Hartman Group in the US. In this delightful, insightful and FREE, illustrated digital book presentation, the Hartman Group puts its consumer sleuths, dubbed “Ethgnomes”, to work to uncover consumer interpretations of sustainability from A to Z. Their research concludes that sustainability for consumers begins with concern for personal and family health, extends through to concern for the individual’s community and then moves outward to a larger global or earth concern.

Some of the insights from “Gnomenclature on Sustainability”:
• Consumers are looking for baby steps to allow them to participate in sustainability.
• Messages of carbon emission and carbon footprints are lost on those looking for meaningful and pragmatic information they can relate to in their everyday lives.
• The “green” fees for success with sustainability-oriented products includes meeting basic consumer buying factors, such as efficacy, relevancy, perceived value and quality of production. Once these are met, green attributes can act as a tie-breaker for purchase over conventional products. IUFOST2010
• Packaging initiatives are one of the few areas of common sustainability ground between consumers and industry.

Don’t miss reading this! Click here 

Enjoy this week’s read!


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


ImageClick here …. and here and here …. technical sales reps, auditors, plant managers, key account managers, QC/QA etc

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.

SA Food Industry Stuff

ImageWoolworths launches new budget food range

Woolworths has launched Essentials, a new private label range with ‘everyday’ price points. Essentials includes core basic products across all food departments as well as household cleaning products and toiletries, making it easier for customers to do their full weekly shopping at Woolworths. Read more

Read more on the flight to value and the extraordinary growth of private label food and packaging here.

Diageo to brew Guinness in SA

ImageDiageo plans to brew its Guinness beer in South Africa, as the beverage group’s new joint venture brewery in the country helps it step up efforts to take on SABMiller in its home market. The new brewery at Sedibeng, south of Johannesburg, built by Diageo and Heineken, started brewing its first Amstel and Windhoek beers late last year. As well as Guinness, Heineken’s Strongbow cider will also be brewed there. Read more

ImageFair food pricing outlook

Not so long ago food prices were surging monthly and we were talking about the growing shortage of agricultural land around the world. Two years later, world food production is outstripping demand. And food prices are largely under control. Read more 

SA: Seismic shifts in consumer shopping habits

ImageIt is undeniable that, in difficult financial times, consumers are driven to make lifestyle changes in order to survive – changes which include their shopping behaviour. Qualitative research is now showing that consumer behaviour in shopping aisles is characterised by frugality and focus. Added to this, spontaneous decision-making appears to be a thing of the past and, even when shopping is planned, consumers are continuously evaluating all the decisions they take, as everything must match up against the budget. Read more

ImagePamodzi sells 77% stake in Foodcorp 

AM Pamodzi Investment Holdings has sold its 77% stake in Foodcorp, the maker of Ouma rusks, Glenryck pilchards and Blue Ribbon bread, for more than R500m. The sale sees Foodcorp’s management take control of the company with the backing of a UK funder. Read more

Bill Gates funds search for new African maize varieties

ImageNew maize varieties that are more able to cope with the small amount of fertiliser used in Africa have been developed and will improve South African harvests by up to 50%. Science-based products company DuPont says a new collaboration, Improving Maize for African Soils (Imas), had been set up to assist this development. Imas is led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and funded with $19.5 million (R142.4m) in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAid. Read more

International Food Industry Stuff

ImageMichelle Obama’s chat with America’s grocers

First lady Michelle Obama has told members of America’s Grocery Manufacturers Association that they need to put less sugar and salt and fat in food to help fight obesity among especially children. “We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children,” she told companies including Coca Cola. Read more

Pepsi commits to Michelle Obama’s obesity crusade

ImagePepsi has said it will voluntarily remove high-calorie sweetened drinks from schools for kids up to age 18 in more than 200 countries by 2012. Coke and Pepsi agreed to stop selling sugary drinks in US schools in 2006. Pepsi is responding to demands from activists that food and beverage companies not offer kids products linked to childhood obesity. The action came on the day that Michelle Obama stood before an annual conference of the world’s largest food companies and urged them to “entirely rethink” the products they market to kids. Read more

Kraft also comes to the party with plans to reduce sodium by 10%

ImageKraft Foods has announced plans to reduce sodium by an average of 10% across its North American portfolio over the next two years. This amounts to the elimination of more than 5 million kgs of salt. But sodium reduction is not new for Kraft Foods – it has been working on it for several years and has already reduced sodium in many products between 5% and 30%. Read more

OPINION: Why the food industry loves Michelle Obama

ImageOn the surface, Michelle Obama’s command recently that the food industry “step it up” and sell healthier food to America’s increasingly obese children may look like a stern, whip-cracking admonishment from our new obesity czar. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. Believe it or not, Michelle Obama’s speech at the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s Science Forum in Washington, DC, was actually music to the food industry’s ears, the verbal equivalent of a big, warm, fuzzy hug. Being asked to “step it up” and ramp up “efforts to reformulate your products” is exactly the sort of thing food manufacturers, who’ve been under the gun for years for marketing unhealthy food to kids, want to hear. This is advice they can work with. Read more

ImageAmerica’s new Health Care Bill: includes mandatory calorie labelling

One aspect of Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law is that chain restaurants will be required to prominently display nutrition information. This could be a significant step in changing the food landscape in America. Read more

Greenpeace goes for broke with killer Kit Kat campaign vs Nestle

ImageAre ethical business practices important to a company’s reputation these days? Greenpeace clearly hopes so, judging by its remarkable new attack on KitKat maker Nestlé over its alleged use of palm oil from Indonesian rainforest-trashing suppliers. The new campaign (currently being tweeted around the globe) features a fake KitKat ad in which an unsuspecting office worker crunches down on an orangutan’s figure, complete with spurting blood.

Nestlé has issued a slightly lame denial, arguing that they don’t use this supplier – or at least, not directly. But if the likes of Greenpeace are willing to name and shame, and are capable of running this kind of social-media-friendly brand-bashing campaign, big companies need to be very careful… Read more  

EU: Big food groups win labelling fight

ImageEfforts to introduce colour-coded warnings on food labels were recently defeated at the European parliament. Consumer groups had pushed for a so-called traffic light system as the simplest way to inform Europe’s increasingly obese consumers about the nutritional value of food. Under the system – a version of which is in use in the UK – food companies would be required to label the front of their packages with red, amber or green icons to denote the amounts of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar they contain. Read more

ImageChocolate makers hope for better times

It’s enough to wipe the smile off the face of any chocolate lover. Chocolatiers around the world are battling to hold down prices in the run-up to Easter following a recent surge in speculation in two of their core ingredients – cocoa and sugar. Leading Swiss chocolate-maker Lindt & Spruengli reported Tuesday a 35.4% plunge in 2009 profits as the global economic crisis hit demand for premium chocolates. Read more

Danone says US yogurt consumption to double

ImageDanone, the world’s largest yoghurt maker, expects double-digit percentage dairy sales growth in the United States over the long-term and aims to double per capita consumption in that market within four years. Gustavo Valle, chief executive officer of Dannon, the French group’s US $1-billion-plus yogurt business, said the US market is still very underdeveloped with consumption six times lower than in Western Europe. Read more

ImageUK: Free range egg fraudster sent to jail

Keith Owens eggs, a 44-year-old egg wholesaler who scammed all the major supermarkets and numerous small shops by passing off about 100m battery farmed eggs as free range or organic, has been jailed for three years and forced to surrender the £3m profit he had made by “dishonestly and systematically” mis-describing eggs over a two-year period.  Read more

Food Trends & Food Marketing

ImageUK: Coffee sales full of beans

While the past year may have seen many household economies made, it seems there are some things in life that Brits are simply not willing to cut back on, with research from Mintel finding sales of coffee on a high, as the nation trades up to a posher cuppa. Between 2005 and 2009 the UK market for in-home coffee grew by a steaming 17% in value. Although some of this growth is attributed to the hike in raw coffee and production costs, trading up has been a key feature of the market. And things are continuing to look upbeat. Read more

Healthy coffee drinkers turn from decaf to green bean

ImageDecaffeinated coffee may be able to ride with the health and wellness crowd but sales are falling on both sides of the Atlantic. Encroaching on their monopoly of the healthy coffee concept is a new breed of functional products. An obvious issue in decaf coffee’s decline is a perception that it simply does not taste as good as regular coffee. Read more

Playing the healthy snack-food game

ImageAlongside classics like Lay’s potato chips and Frito’s, consumers can find alternatives claiming to be all-natural and organic, alleviating guilt that comes with buying the salt- and fat-laden treats. While the thought of a “healthy” potato chip would have most nutritionists rolling their eyes, the key to winning the snack game is the packaging … As opposed to “real” food producers such as General Mills and Kraft, snack-food makers have easier access to a lucrative new market spawned by the natural-food craze. Smaller companies have been gaining steam by selling high-quality snack foods with a gigantic price tag, thanks to the “natural, therefore, good for you and worth the extra cost” banner. Read more

Marketers want to get inside your brain. Literally.

ImageIntroducing on “neuromarketing”: measuring consumers’ brain activity to help develop ads and products. The tactic is making headlines for big business. Frito-Lay, for instance, has studied women’s brains to help develop an ad campaign, and Campbell Soup recently unveiled a packaging redesign based on consumers’ “neurological and bodily responses” to different mock-ups. By hooking customers up to EEG or MRI machines, a company can learn about what’s really going on inside a buyer’s brain – possibly even before the buyer knows it. Read more

ImageWhere organic ends and natural begins

The picture for organic and natural is no longer black or white; it is a colorful mosaic where the two intersect and overlap with attributes such as local, fresh, sustainable, safe, green, quality, lack of additives, and many more. But how do consumers view the similarities in natural and organic? And does one end where the other begins? Read more

Diet Coke or Coke Zero? Food marketing by gender

ImageCoca-Cola had years of success with Diet Coke and sister diet cola Tab. Trouble was, men seemed reluctant to buy products labelled “diet” or “low cal”. So, in 2006, the company introduced a sugar-free drink called Coke Zero (dubbed “bloke Coke” by food industry insiders) which came in a more manly black and red can. A TV campaign featured a man’s surprise at finding taking sugar out doesn’t ruin the taste – “Why can’t all things in life come without downsides?” he ponders, “Like girlfriends without five-year plans.”

If you thought food choices had nothing to do with gender – think again. Read more

Sustainability and Green Stuff

ImageThe top 10 food and beverage ‘sustainability leaders’

A new ranking of major food and beverage companies by their corporate social responsibility is published today, with Unilever, Nestle and Danone occupying the top three spots. The rating uses publicly available information to assess how well companies manage the social and environmental impacts of the global food chain. Read more


New report says meat, dairy diet not tied to global warming

ImageForget all that indecorous talk of animal flatulence, cow burps, vegetarianism and global warming. Welcome to Cowgate. The lower consumption of meat and dairy products will not have a major impact in combating global warming — despite persistent claims that link such diets to more greenhouse gases. So says a report just presented before the American Chemical Society.

It is the bovine version of Climategate, complete with faulty science and noisy activists with big agendas. Cows and pigs have gotten a “bum rap,” said Frank Mitloehner, an air quality expert at the University of California at Davis who authored the report. He is plenty critical of scientists and vegetarian activists such as Paul McCartney who insist that livestock account for about a fifth of all greenhouse-gas emissions. Read more


The Environmental And Social Impact Of The ‘Livestock Revolution’

ImageGlobal meat production has tripled in the past three decades and could double its present level by 2050, according to a new report on the livestock industry by an international team of scientists and policy experts … “The livestock industry is massive and growing,” said Prof Harold Mooney, co-editor of the two-volume report, Livestock in a Changing Landscape (Island Press). “This is the first time that we’ve looked at the social, economic, health and environmental impacts of livestock in an integrated way and presented solutions for reducing the detrimental effects of the industry and enhancing its positive attributes,” he said. Read more

Global hunt for phosphates is on

ImageAre we facing a food disaster with catastrophic shortages of fertilisers? Will the world feed the three billion or so more people likely to be added, by 2050, to the six billion already on the planet? The influential magazine Nature may not have set the ball rolling last October when it wrote of looming shortages of fertiliser inputs, but it certainly helped keep the ball in play. And the recent rash of acquisitions and deals over fertiliser resources has added fuel to the fire, while the lack of transparency in the global fertiliser industry has not helped quell concerns. Read more  

Food Science & Nutrition

ImageCloves are the best natural antioxidant

Using spices eaten in the Mediterranean diet as natural antioxidants is a good way forward for the food industry, given the beneficial health effects of these products. New research puts the clove in first place. Read more

UK: Bakers successfully slash salt with ‘micro’ salt particles

ImageLoaves with “astonishingly low levels of salt” could hit supermarket shelves early next year as the UK’s leading plant bakers launch the first products containing microscopic salt crystals from Nottingham-based firm, Eminate. The bakers have all completed technical trials in which they were able to slash salt by more than half (from 1.8% to 0.7%), with the potential to go down as low as 0.5% without impacting volume, texture or weight, claims Eminate technical director, Dr Stephen Minter. Read more

PepsiCo trials designer salt

ImagePepsiCo is reportedly developing a designer salt to cut sodium in its snacks, whose crystals are shaped and sized in a way that reduces the amount of sodium consumers ingest when they munch. PepsiCo hopes the powdery salt, which it is still studying and testing with consumers, will cut sodium levels 25% in its Lay’s Classic potato chips. At an recent investor conference in New York, the company said it is committed to cutting its products’ average sodium per serving by 25% by 2015 and saturated fat and added sugar by 15% and 25%, respectively, this decade. Read more  

ImageSaturated fat vs heart disease: current state of the science Image

Despite recent publications finding no correlation between intake of saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD) – see, for example, the recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – the debates over the role of saturated fat continue. This commentary from Food Politics, the blog of leading food industry critic, Prof Marion Nestle. Read more

Coming soon: A low-heartburn coffee?

ImageFor millions of coffee-lovers with delicate stomachs, scientists may have found a way to enjoy an eye-opening cup of java without gastrointestinal discomfort. European researchers studying stomach-irritating chemicals in coffee have unexpectedly found one that actually inhibits acid production in the stomach. Read more

Tea seed oil may replace cocoa butter in chocolates

ImagePartial substitution of cocoa butter in confectionery products may be achieved with tea seed oil, a by- product of tea processing, says new research with the potential to help chocolate makers cut costs. Enzymatically-treated tea seed oil could replace up to 10% cocoa butter in dark chocolate without detrimentally affecting the sensory qualities of the chocolate samples, according to findings published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Food Science & Technology. Read more

Revealed: the 160 species living inside our guts

ImageA team of researchers has boldly gone where no human has gone before – decoding all the genes of typical bacteria found in the human gut. It is estimated that a healthy human gut contains about 100 trillion microbial cells, about 10 times as many cells as there are in the human body. Yet next to nothing is known about what these bacteria do to maintain health and wellbeing. Read more

ImageOPINION: Curbing obesity in America relies on personal, not government, change

Obesity is undoubtedly a problem in this country. About two-thirds of Americans are considered to be obese, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But obesity is a self-controlled issue. Obesity can be caused or expedited by genetics, medications, economic reasons or certain medical conditions, but the causes are overwhelmingly behavioral. Obesity is an expensive, catastrophic issue. But we have to think about getting to the real root of the problem. Suing McDonald’s, stringent regulation of fast-food advertisements (because they’re making food look irresistible beyond self-control?) and taxing anything and everything else the government thinks is unhealthy aren’t real solutions. Read more

Mass-produced food for thought

ImageReviewing the book: The End of Food, by Paul Roberts
Until the late 20th century, the modern food system was seen as a monument to human ingenuity that was producing more grain, meat, fruit, and vegetables than ever. We were producing it more cheaply and with more variety, safety, quality and convenience at levels that would have bewildered previous generations. Sure there were concerns about farm chemicals and exploited migrant workers, but they were considered a trivial price to pay for a super-abundance that liberated us from hunger and drudgery.

While the food system has evolved like other economic sectors, food is not, according to Roberts, an economic phenomenon, because it does not conform to the rigour of the modern industrial model. Food is so unsuited to mass production that we have had to re-engineer our plants and livestock to make them more readily harvested and processed – but then they have to be amended with preservatives, flavourings, and other additives. Read more  

Packaging Stuff

ImagePackaging and drinks industry dismiss calls to ban bisphenol A

Minute levels of bisphenol A (BPA) detected in drink cans pose no health risk to consumers, say beverage companies and a leading industry body as they have rejected calls from an environmental group to ban the chemical… Read more

Private-label packaging— a ‘flight to value’

ImageIt’s not just the recession that’s causing the current spike in private-label sales. Retailers are growing increasingly sophisticated about positioning own-brand items. According to the Private Label Manufacturing Association, store brands now account for one of every five items sold in US supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers. They represent more than $83 billion of current business at retail and are achieving new levels of growth every year. It’s useful to explore what caused such growth and examine which initiatives have been most successful. Looking forward, what strategies are emerging now or will be used in the near future? Read more

ImagePackaging: Simplicity sells in a crowded marketplace

“Many brands are finding that less is actually more,” says Peter Clarke, CEO and founder of the Product Ventures design firm in the US which has created packaging for brands including Heinz and Folgers. “If marketers can distill things down to less clutter and more of a purity of message and purity of ingredients, that’s what people are looking for now.” Read more  




ImageUK: Ostrich eggs to be stocked by Waitrose – at £18.99 each

Waitrose will stock ostrich eggs, now in season and in time for Easter, in 31 branches after sales increased by 573% between 2008 and 2009. Each egg, costing £18.99, is equivalent to 24 hen eggs and needs boiling for between 50 and 90 minutes, retaining their heat for up to two hours. The eggs are laid by South African Black Ostriches on a farm in Lincolnshire. Read more

ImageSmugglers turn to saffron for quick profits

Organised crime gangs have abandoned drugs and are now smuggling saffron across borders in parts of the world as illegal trade of the spice has become more lucrative than gold. A widening gap in prices of the commodity between countries has fuelled a rise in criminals turning to the seasoning as an easy way to make money. Read more

That’s it for this week!