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Newsletter 28 June 2013

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 28 June 2013 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:   “You have to decide if you’re going to wilt like a daisy or if you’re just going to go forward and live the
life that you’ve been granted.”   Kevin Costner, American actor

Sensient Food Colors

Editor’s Stuff: Wine-tasting: it’s junk science!
THERE’s so much stuff, puff and snobby nonsense surrounding the world of wine – of what exactly makes some wines worthy of acclaim, awards and substantial price tags versus those lower down the scale.
To discern between wines, wine lovers, producers and marketers rely greatly on assessment by experts and ratings from wine-tasting competitions. While there’s no question there is biology in taste buds, actual wine testing, however, has proven to be in the realm of astrology when it comes to accuracy.

Most people are not able to discern expensive wine from cheap, and neither can wine sommeliers. That’s why various wine competitions rarely agree on wines – a gold medal at one can yield nothing at another. It isn’t just subjective, argues a small winery owner in America, it is almost random.

The winemaker in question, who has created a furore in wine circles, drew on his background in statistics and approached the organisers of the California State Fair wine competition, the oldest contest of its kind in North America, and proposed an experiment for their annual June tasting sessions.

Each panel of four judges would be presented with their usual “flight” of samples to sniff, sip and slurp. But some wines would be presented to the panel three times, poured from the same bottle each time. The results would be compiled and analysed to see whether wine testing really is scientific.

The Guardian has the fascinating story behind the junk science that passes as wine judging: Wine-tasting: it’s junk science

Enjoy this week’s read…
  • Brenda Neall: publisher & editor
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Kerry Citrus

  Local News and Developments
Rhodes Food Group, following its buyout last October by management and private equity partners, has gone on the acquisition trail as promised, this time buying iconic canned meat brand, Bull Brand, from KAP Industrial Holdings.
The SA food industry will be getting together in October for SAAFoST’s 20th Biennial Congress to be held at the CSIR Conference Centre in Pretoria. The Association (for Food Science and Technology) has issued a list of speakers who, so far, have confirmed their participation in the event, that runs from 7 to 10 October 2013. Early bird registration has also been extended. 
Steers about to open first UK outlet
Steers opens its first UK doors on June 30 in Clapham Junction, and it’s sure to find favour among many expat South Africans who are longing its famous flame-grilled taste of home.
In conversation with Richard Brasher, CE of Pick ‘n Pay
“Pick n Pay lost market share in part because it opened materially less space than some of its major competitors. A significant proportion of its capex was invested in supply chain technology infrastructure in recent years, which by its nature doesn’t drive sales compared to stores. Our capital focus is now on new stores and refurbishment, which will drive sales and, in time, profitability.”
A rare meat success in Africa
The Economist looks at Zambeef, a fast-growing food company based in Lusaka. It operates meat counters at all 20 Shoprite stores across Zambia as well as in the chain’s newer outlets in
Ghana and Nigeria. Zambeef’s eggs, milk and yoghurt drinks are stocked by Shoprite and other local supermarkets.
Eric Todd Homemade Sauces is a new range of “all-natural, locally sourced” products from the heart of the picturesque Elgin Valley in the Western Cape.
McNab’s has launched a high-energy protein bar that contains ‘no nasties’ – the ZolaBar, that ‘keeps you moving’ and mimicking the name of SA’s minibus taxi.
A new FMCG company has been formed through a joint venture of Pietermaritzburg-based Willowton Group, and global commodities giant, Louis Dreyfus.

 Food Trends, Innovation and Marketing
Coca-Cola has announced the immediate launch of a mid-calorie variety of its iconic soda in Argentina, sweetened with a mix of sugar and stevia. Called Coca-Cola Life, it will have half the calories of regular Coca-Cola.
The finalists and winners in the Dairy Innovation Awards 2013 – sponsored by Sidel – were announced on 19 June at a special gala dinner during the 7th Global Dairy Congress in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Junk food aficionados and loyal Twinkie fans can breathe a sigh of relief – Twinkies are set for an official and sweet American comeback.
Several key trends in the UK baking sector have been identified by Mintel: small is good, muffins are on the up, baking at home is growing, and just 6% of Brits haven’t eaten cakes and cake bars in the last six months, despite growing concerns about sugar, fat and cost!
What’s ‘wackaging’? It’s when food packaging treats consumers like idiots or children
Imagine a world where everything you read was trying to make friends with you. This is the world of wackaging. Wackaging, which first reared its fluffy head in 2000 when the saccharine soft drinks of Innocent Smoothies hit the shops, is when “wacky” and “quirky” phrases adorn the packaging of a product. A decade later and the fun-loving phenomena continues to pervade advertising.
Spam, the school dinner horror, the bête noir of healthy eating campaigners and Monty Python’s favourite food, is to come in plastic tubs for the first time.
Cadbury in the UK has been busy in the first half of 2013, with several interesting new launches. Among them is Cadbury Crunchums – a snack of crispy cereal bites coated in Cadbury chocolate.
Lindt & Sprungli is rolling out its premium Hello chocolate collection in the US, following its debut in Germany last September, then the UK and Swiss markets. The brand aims to attact a previously untapped younger audience to premium chocolate.
The wine cork could be set for a return to the mass market with the launch of a twistable and re-sealable version that does away with the corkscrew.

 QPro International

 Food Science, Technology and Ingredients Stuff

The global food safety testing market is projected to grow from $9,2bn in 2012 to $14bn at a CAGR of 7.2% by 2018. In 2012, North America was the largest food safety testing market with 40% of share, according to a new research report.
Smart Freezing Technology from KryoFlash, described as being ‘the world’s fastest and coolest freezing technology’ was recently voted winner of the ‘Best new processing or manufacturing innovation’ category at the 2013 Dairy Innovation Awards in Switzerland.
It’s well documented that many things influence flavour perception – music, colour, altitude, for instance – but now psychologists have found that the weight, type and even the colour and weight of cutlery can change the way people perceive the taste of food.
“Fish leave cows standing”
Cows have been overtaken by fish. For the first time in modern history, the world has been producing more farmed fish than farmed beef.
Mark Lynas, once a leader in the anti-GM camp, now turned advocate for GM, investigates this latest GM scare story…. is it true and ground-breaking, or propaganda dressed up as science?

LRQA South Africa

 Health and Nutrition Stuff
“The American Medical Association’s recent announcement that it regards obesity as a disease is terrible news for food companies, public health advocates, and, most of all, the very people it intends to help, obese Americans. It could ignite new wars between the food industry and its antagonists; provide destructive new tools to hardcore food activists; derail the progress that the food and restaurant industries already have made in introducing healthier and lower-calorie options; and give consumers one more reason not to care about what they consume.”
Google recently added a new feature to its search capabilities: in-depth and accurate nutrition information.
Breast is best for getting ahead: study
Breastfeeding improves a child’s chance of climbing the social ladder and becoming a successful adult, according to a long-term study.
A new US study has found that many of the personal qualities commonly associated with healthy eating — education, interest in nutrition and even income level — don’t have as much impact on our food decisions as we tend to give them credit for.

Food bites…2013: The short-sighted demonising of processed food

“IF THE most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early.

“Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets.

“And many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are, in any case, as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.

“Through its growing sway over health-conscious consumers and policy makers, the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective, near-term steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry.” 

David H Freedman, author of Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them, writing in The Atlantic.


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Brenda NeallPublished weekly 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:

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