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Newsletter 30 March 2012

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DairyPack Tubs

 30 March 2012 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:  “Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.” Josh Billings, American humourist

Bidfood Solutions
Editor’s Stuff: The tsunami of public opinion!

Have you been following the “pink slime” hoo-haa in the US? In case you haven’t been, this awful and irretrievably unfortunate term is that adopted by opponents of “lean finely textured beef”, processed trimmings sanitised with minute quantities of ammonia and commonly mixed into ground meat as a perfectly safe ingredient, and one that has been consumed in volumes for decades.

Federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety, that it is a nutritious product backed by sound science. Critics liken it to pet food – and their battle has gone viral amid intense media attention and a snowballing online petition.

Restaurant chains and retailers have dropped LFTB like hot cakes, and the main producer, Beef Products Inc, has shut down most of its plants. The company is probably not going to survive this, and the saga is further going to afffect other meat companies, and could eventually hurt the price that ranchers and feedlots receive for cattle, never mind what consumers pay for the gazillions of burgers eaten by the US public as costlier alternatives are found.

RIP, LFTB, dying at the hand of public misperception and viral social media, at a price of hundreds of millions of dollars and countless jobs.

How scary the power – and a lesson for all ingredient vendors and food manufacturers that, these days, there are no corners to hide if you are exposed, wrongly or justifiably, by an indignant or ignorant public.


Is a tsunami going to hit SUGAR, I wonder? I came across this very interesting and pertinent analysis of this hot topic, and some of the criticism seems very “unwhacky”. Included is a YouTube link to a most engaging presentation by one of sugar’s harshest opponents, Dr Robert Lustig, that’s well worth listening to.

Enjoy this week’s read! And happy Easter break – I’ll be back the week following the long weekend.


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

Prof Tim Noakes has moved from advocating carbo-loading to suggesting that carbohydrates are an addiction posing severe health risks. But while his revised recommendations are couched in the language of science, does the science support them? [Excellent opinion piece from the Daily Maverick].

The Economist looks at how brewers are racing to capture beer drinkers among Africa’s growing middle class.

ncreased imports of processed food, despite SA’s own capacity to manufacture food products, have dampened the rate of expansion in the sector, leading to slower job creation over the past decade, says Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies.

While Woolworths has come under fire from some Christians for putting the halaal certification mark on hot-cross bun packaging.

Malawian Minister of Trade and Industry, the honourable Johan Bande, presented a SADC Quality Award (in the category Service of the Year for Large Enterprises) to Anza Bester of Swift Micro Laboratories at a ceremony at the Sunbird Capital Marquee in Lilongwe, Malawi, last week.

Top headline last week: Clover: Milk delivers the goods
Clover’s business is about adding value – and distribution… an interview with CEO Johann Vorster.

International News & Stuff
Now we’ve had some time to think about Kraft’s name change, we still think it’s awful!
Last week Kraft Foods announced that it is changing the name of its snacks division to Mondelez International when it splits the company into two separate organisations later this year. “Yikes! Are they kidding!”, exclaims a marketing expert on Business Insider
On Monday March 26, PepsiCo released Pepsi Next, which as  it hopes will be “a game changer in the cola category”. It has 60% less sugar with the “real cola taste”.

While putting on a big public showcase of its “existing-tweaked-future” technology at the triennial Anuga FoodTec expo in Cologne this week, it has been reported that Tetra Pak is developing a smart carton that will alert consumers when milk is past its best consumption.

Designed to reduce the use of pesticides, is this wheat the first of a new, eco-friendly generation of genetically-modified crops, one that scientists hope will be more acceptable to the fiercely-resistant British public?

If genetic modification is agriculture’s Ford Cortina, synthetic biology could give us Ferrari crops that feed the world without harming the planet…. fascinating stuff!

Savannah Fine Chemicals

 Food Marketing, Trends and Innovation

Many people won’t have heard of chia, but this ancient seed is fast becoming a superfood craze in the US and Europe.

“What’s Cooking? Trends in Food” is a brilliant FREE downloadable presentation by JWTIntelligence on the key trends driving food, from both FMCG and culinary perspectives. It surveys what’s changing when it comes to how we find, cook and eat food, how we think about what we eat and how brands are marketing food.

Every day, Nestlé sells more than 100 million cubes and tablets of its Maggi bouillon seasonings in Central and West Africa – now it has announced the product’s fortification with iron.

Coca-Cola Great Britain is launching a brand new pack size across the MyCoke trilogy, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. The pocket size 375ml PlantBottle plastic bottle represents the brand’s first new on-the-go pack size launch in almost 20 years.

US: Craft beer sales brewed up $8.7 billion in 2011
Sales of craft beers reached $8.7 billion in 2011, up from $7.6 billion in 2009. Increased retail sales represented 9.1% of the $95.5 billion US beer market, as Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.
Cans that heat themselves up. They’ve been around for 30 years in niche-fashion but a UK company, Heat Food & Drink, believes its Hotcans have a brilliant future.

Verni Superflor

Food Science, Safety and Ingredients Stuff

The road to market for health ingredients is typically a long one and, at times, frustrating. Suppliers first have to show their client’s NPD or R&D teams what their ingredient does and convince them it adds value to a finished product. Ingredient vendors perhaps should look to ‘proof of concept’ in their bid to win over food marketers.

The market for hydrocolloids
The drive to clean-label is helping to add value to an otherwise relatively static food ingredient market. However, beneath the surface rising raw material costs are forcing food manufacturers to reformulate and, while new thickeners are being developed, even hydrocolloids from natural sources are no longer considered ‘clean-label’ enough.

Study flags up texture challenges for sweeteners in baked goods
The use of alternative low-calorie, high-intensity, sweeteners in bakery products has to face several important challenges in terms of texture before it can effectively replace sugars, say researchers.
LycoRed targets soup makers following trials with tomato-derived salt replacer
Israeli company LycoRed said it has carried out focused research in the past six months to optimise a clean label and tomato-derived salt and MSG replacer, with industrial scale trials showing its effectiveness in a range of soup applications.
Vitamins doing gymnastics: Scientists capture first full image of vitamin B12 in action
It may not sound too exciting when it’s listed on the side of your cereal box and your multivitamin bottle. But when vitamin B12 gets inside your body, new research suggests, it turns into a gymnast.

 Health and Nutrition Stuff
Popcorn’s reputation as a snack food that’s actually good for health popped up a few notches as scientists recently reported that it contains more of the healthful antioxidant polyphenols than fruits and vegetables.

Scientists have just reported striking new evidence that green, or unroasted, coffee beans can produce a substantial decrease in body weight in a relatively short period of time.

Chocolate may not be as hazardous to your waistline as you think — at least in moderation. A new study shows that people who eat chocolate frequently have lower body mass indexes than those who eat it less often.
Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate every day can help reduce the hormones in the body that make us feel stressed, according to a Nestlé study. Scientists from the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland examined the biochemical basis for chocolate’s reputation as a comfort food.

 Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Stuff

Japan is renowned for its prodigious and eclectic-to-bizarre product innovation when it comes to food and beverages – and recently, giant beverage maker, Kirin, has announced that it will be releasing the “first-ever” health food cola on April 24.

Why do kids tend to hate ’em? Because Brussel sprouts are bitter, and kids generally don’t like bitter tastes. It’s not their fault. Human aversion to bitter and sour (generally a heightened gag reflex) is a survival instinct since most toxins taste that way, too.

Making quality coffee on the road
Imagine the convenience of brewing a creamy, steaming cup of espresso right in your car and you’ll get a sense for the impetus behind the latest creation from Handpresso.

 Food bites…Science, the media and an undiscerning public!

The lean finely textured beef (LFTB) debacle that’s played out over the past weeks demonstrates the dominance of media bias, public relations spin and the power of blogs and social media over science.  Because of the way the issue has been framed, anyone from the scientific community or anyone at all who tries to interject facts into the discussion is put in the position of defending “pink slime”.

Most retailers and restaurants have bowed to consumer pressure and announced that they will no longer use LFTB. Unfortunately, they have little choice. The issue has become so sensationalised that consumers are demanding that it be removed from ground beef.

This issue hit home because we understand how the product has been misrepresented. We can see how the misrepresentations may cause irreparable damage to the manufacturers of LFTB and result in the loss of jobs. The issue is a setback for food safety and beef industry as a whole.

Dr James Marsden, Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security,
Kansas State University

DSM Quality for Life
QPro International

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:

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