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Newsletter 4 August 2012

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 3 August 2012 | Your weekly food industry news and insights…                                                                 
SmartStuff:   “The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary.”  Vidal Sassoon

Sensient Food Colors

 Editor’s Stuff: Swift takes the high road!
Food safety and quality are top priorities for any food-bev concern, and one company that has made a big name for itself in providing key services in this area is Swift Micro Labs.

From small beginnings in Cape Town 21 years ago, it now has four branches, 170 employees and a turnover of R65m pa. Through savvy marketing and brand-building, as well as an all important focus on service and integrity, Swift has become, by far, the leading microbiology company in South Africa.

This week, it has been celebrating its coming of age with the annoucement that it is joining forces with a global giant, Silliker, a Merieux NutriSciences Company (headquartered in Chicago) and an international leader in food safety, quality and nutrition.

The partnership gives Swift immediate access to the state-of-the-art research, methodologies, and services of Merieux NutriSciences, who employs more than 4 000 people working in 65 laboratories in 17 countries.

Under the new brand name “Swift Silliker”, it will in future act as the African arm of Silliker, and rapidly expand its service portfolio to match the global offerings of Silliker.

Congratulations to Swift MD, Valme Stewart, and her impressive team!

Read all about it here: Swift in JV deal with US’s Merieux 

Enjoy this week’s newsletter!


Brenda Neall: publisher & editor
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! FOODStuff SA is a hub for food industry careers: find a job, or advertise any openings! Click here!

I’m thrilled to welcome a new key advertiser to FOODStuff SA, Sensient Food Colors. Note, that that the top mega banner on the website is now open to other food industry vendors, at a fraction of the cost of print media but reaching a much bigger and broader – and quantified – audience.
FOODStuff SA is bang for buck! Contact Brenda

Kerry Citrus

  Local News and Developments
A recent newspaper article out of KZN highlights the dramatic impact of rising food costs, especially on the poorest South Africans. The latest Food Price Monitor report has revealed the costs of even the most basic foods have increased by up to 56 percent in just one year.
Muslim and Jewish organisations have said they will oppose an application by a Christian group in which it is challenging the government’s regulations allowing a wide range of food packaging to be religiously certified and to carry religious signs.
Beefed-up supply: Red meat
The thousands of tons of beef expected to hit the SA market from Botswana are causing a stir in the local industry. The Red Meat Producers’ Organisation says the imports will have a “drastic impact” on SA producers.
Any limitations or crackdown on liquor advertising will be undermined by the Internet and social media, says Yoav Tchelet, of dotJWT, the digital division of advertising agency JWT.
Kellogg SA has come up with a nice piece of ‘think global, act local’ innovation catering to South African tastes: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Instant Porridge.
Last week’s top headline: Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly hits SA
Kraft Foods has announced the arrival of new Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly, dubbing it a combination of “SA’s best loved chocolate with a burst of bubbles both inside and out. It’s the lighter way to enjoy your favourite milk chocolate”. It’s also a way of taking the cost out of chocolate.

 International News & Stuff
This is a fascinating scenario playing out. The pharmaceutical industry is currently experiencing a rather precarious period: the mass expiry of drugs patents and a dearth of new potential blockbuster drugs. So it is no surprise, in an attempt to compensate for declining revenues, that ‘big pharma’ is looking for new revenue streams. And the prosperous nutraceutical, as well as the functional foods and beverage industries, look ripe for the picking.
US: Unilever sells off frozen foods businesses
ConAgra Foods will acquire the Bertolli and PF Chang’s Home Menu frozen meals businesses from Unilever for a total cash consideration of $265 million. With annual sales approaching $300 million, the two companies are leaders in the frozen multi-serve meals segment.
Tapping into Africa
A BusinessWeek article discusses how US-based restaurant chains and global retailers are moving into Africa to serve and profit from its growing middle-classes.
Meat protein: Can supply match growing demand?
As the global demand for meat protein rises, new and innovative ways to produce the necessary quantities will be required, say researchers.

America’s drought threatens a recurrence of the 2008 global food crisis, when soaring prices set off riots and unrest to parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, food experts warn.

 Food Trends and Marketing

As pharmaceutical companies struggle to devise new drugs to treat symptoms of dementia, a host of supplements and products called “medical foods” purporting to improve cognitive function are advancing toward the market.

Focus on cognitive benefits builds
Interest in cognitive benefits and claims is building in the food industry, with continued work to strengthen the science behind them, according to a leading nutritionist.
With class action lawsuits now possible in SA under the Consumer Protection Act, there are some insights to be learned from Ferrero USA’s recent legal tribulations – in late April, it announced it had settled, for $3m, a class action suit over its marketing of Nutella – the hazelnut spread with skim milk and “a hint of cocoa”. The settlement is a case study in the current risks and pitfalls in marketing processed foods.
Stand-up pouches are an ever popular choice for brand owners looking for innovative ways to market their products. This article takes a look at this burgeoning sector of the flexible packaging market in South Africa.
For the first time, energy drinks have outsold bottled water (in the year ending April 15). During that period, energy drinks garnered more than $6.9 billion in sales for a whopping 19.4% increase over the previous year; bottled water saw $6.7 billion in sales for a 3.4% increase.
The next time you go to the store, pay attention to the long lines of horizontally stacked products on the shelves. Depending on how tall you are, different products fall into your main field of vision. When you look at the cereal shelf, what are you looking directly atnd what do you have to look up or down to see? What are you going to buy?
What is packaging’s role in the obesity epidemic? How does it persuade us to over-eat? It’s a topic of academic study in a new working paper by Pierre Chandon, Professor of Marketing and Director of the INSEAD Social Science Research Centre, part of the famous business university outside Paris. [Excellent paper on the role of packaging as a marketing tool. And you can download the paper free, too. Ed]

 Food Science, Safety and Ingredients Stuff

“As more consumers learn about the various health benefits of daily probiotic consumption, we’ll continue to see strong demand for probiotic-fortified products across all categories,” says Peggy Steele, global business director for Danisco US. This article traces the rise and rise of interest in probiotics, from both scientific-health and commercial angles.
Last June, scientists from Harvard University announced the development of their new SLIPS (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces) technology. When used to coat surfaces, it is highly effective at keeping ice, frost, or just about any type of liquid from accumulating on them. Now, it turns out that SLIPS is also very good at keeping something else from getting a toehold – biofilms.
An article published in Advances in Nutrition explores the role of processed foods in meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Additionally, it aims to address the widely-held misconceptions about processed foods, a situation that presents challenges to both food scientists and nutritionists and public health professionals alike.
The plant hormone ethylene lets green tomatoes ripen even after the harvest, whereas the closely related chilli peppers show no such effect. German researchers wanted to know why – understanding the ripening process is important to minimise the amount of food that festers on the way from the producer to the consumer.
It’s food, but not as we know it: a new processing plant in Norway is set to produce foods packed with deadly E.coli and cheese full of Listeria – all with aim of a better understanding of food contamination and safety.
Last week’s top headline: Germany’s deadly E. coli strain decoded

The secret to the deadly 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany has been decoded, thanks to research conducted at Michigan State University.

 Health and Nutrition Stuff

It sounds like an unfolding epidemic: A decade ago, virtually no one in the US seemed to have a problem eating gluten in bread and other foods. Now, millions do.

Sports drinks benefits are not bad science, say manufacturers
After high-profile scientific papers and a BBC documentary criticised the allegedly poor science behind claims made for a range of sports products, regulators, brands and nutrition experts have defended current research criteria.
A glimpse inside older people’s stomachs reveals how gut bacteria and diet might influence health.
Functional fibres may not boost satiety
The hunger-suppressing effects of functional fibres have been called into doubt after a new study revealed foods containing ingredients like inulin and corn fibre do not increase feelings of fullness in the short term. 
Some 60% of consumers [American] express a high concern about pesticide residues, much of which is based on misleading information. With the aim of putting the facts to the fore, The Alliance for Food and Farming, has devised a very informative and beautifully designed website and resource for science-based information about pesticide residues.
A study of the Hadza tribe, who still exist as hunter gatherers, suggests the amount of calories we need is a fixed human characteristic. This implies Westerners are growing obese through over-eating rather than having inactive lifestyles, say scientists.

 Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Stuff

Suma Kassier, dietician and human nutritionist, launched the University of KZN’s national science week this Tuesday with a titillating presentation “Love Potion No 9: The Science Behind Edible Aphrodisiacs”.

 Food bites…2012: Tapping in to food folklore and tradition

“We have been brainwashed into thinking that we should only listen to men in white coats in science labs because their knowledge is ‘evidence-based’.
“But these are the same people who told us that eggs were bad for us and that margarine with artery-clogging trans-fats was healthier than butter. They have not earned our blind trust. Traditional food knowledge is based on the collective experience of diverse societies down the centuries. We would be stupid to ignore it.

“Increasingly, research is backing up this folk knowledge. For instance, raw Manuka honey has been shown to be remarkably effective in healing wounds and is thought to be effective against certain infections, such as MRSA, that show resistance to commonly used antibiotics. Unpasteurised milk has proved useful in reducing childhood asthma. Fermented foods, such a yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut that feature in traditional diets, have been demonstrated to be good for the gut.”

Joanna Blythman, a British investigative food journalist, wants to dispel the myth that eating well is the preserve of the “neurotic rich”. Read more


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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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