Issue 86: 4 June 2010

ImageI think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good . . . Maybe you’re not the best, so you should work a little harder.”

Jay Leno, US TV talkshow host



Food bites… Invent the future

Image“We spend 80% of time on ‘rear-view’ research – brand-health tracking, validation and risk-avoidance research. On top of that, we spend 80% of our remaining time debating report cards. And, whether it’s good data or not, it’s all about explaining the past. No company has become great by using the past to predict the future. Companies become great by dreaming of the future and then taking the company there.”  
Stan Sthanunathan, Coca-Cola’s Vice President, marketing strategy and insights


EBNditor’s Stuff – Starbucks puts its toes into SA waters


Interesting news from two iconic brands crossed my desk this week, one quintessentially American and the other South African. Yes, Starbucks is here – but don’t get too excited! The coffee giant’s appearance, just in time for the non-flood of soccer tourists, is in the food service arena, via a license partnership agreement with select Southern Sun Hotels and Tsogo Sun casinos.

Starbucks Coffee International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starbucks Coffee Company, has entered into a  with Emperica Marketing to distribute Starbucks Coffee in South Africa through its “We Proudly Brew Starbucks” coffee program in the hotel, restaurant catering, hospitality and leisure channels. Is this move into South Africa through the food service channel another sign of Starbucks’ commitment to doing business in Africa? We’ll have to wait and see. 


ImageMore piquancy from Peppadew

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I have long thought Peppadew one of South Africa’s best ‘new’ products and it is indeed now a global superstar. Well, the brand is expanding and moving out of sweet peppers into other produce. Its latest taste adventure is the launch of new and proprietary sundried raisin tomatoes. I’ve yet to try them, but as a concept and culinary adjunct it looks fabulous. Read more 


I was hoping to include details of Woolies’ new range of ethno-yoghurts this week but the launch PR is still not ready. But there is news of several other SA product debuts in this week’s newsletter. Enjoy!

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


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Local Food Industry Stuff


ImageSodaStream leaps on environmental bandwagon for relaunch  

SodaStream’s Israeli owners are repositioning the brand to make a comeback in South African kitchens as a cheaper, healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative to soft drinks but rival beverage makers say South Africans are far more interested in convenience. Business Report. Read more


ImageVoluntary recall of Rhodes Chakalaka

The mild and hot versions of Rhodes Chakalaka have been recalled as a precautionary measure, the Rhodes Food Group said this week. “During a routine pre-labeling quality inspection, Rhodes Food Group technical personnel detected a pH variation,” the company said, adding that in all probability this was caused by a variation in the natural pH of carrots used in the product and/or an over application of carrots in the product made at that time. Business Day. Read more

ImageDenny’s new Soups of the Day

Denny’s brand promise is the production of nutritious and convenient meals for consumers – the latest launch in this mould is its new range of pouch-packaged, ready-to-eat Soup of the Day range. FOODStuff SA. Read more


ImageExotic grinds from So!Go

Iconic condiments’ producer So!Go has created a new ’Grind range of exotic spices drawn from the four corners of the globe – encompassing the flavours of Thailand, the Greek Isles, India, Spain, China and North Africa. FOODStuff SA. Read more


Brown bottles get the green light: Brown is beautiful for Hansa Pilsener

ImageAd agency, Lowe Bull Cape Town has created the advert, “Brown is Beautiful” as part of the marketing campaign for Hansa Pilsener to inform beer drinkers about the science of brown bottle packaging.The campaign kicked off recently  with a 30-second television commercial. Under the tag line “Brown is Beautiful,” the advert explains that the beer is packed in brown bottles because brown glass provides superior protection from the rays of light that are harmful to beer. Read more


ImageWine in PET – a reality in SA

The Polypet division of Polyoak Packaging – a shareholder member of PET plastics recycling company, PETCO – took advantage of the End of Harvest Festival in Rawsonville, Western Cape, to launch its first 750ml PET wine bottle, called the Vinopack. FOODStuff SA. Read more


Keeping the cold in – and electricity costs down

With SA’s soaring electricity costs, food manufacturers are now looking very closely at a utility bill that previously was Imagenot of great concern. Introduced timeously to the SA market are several thermal insulaton systems from UK company, Seymour Manufacturing International (SMI), and introduced here by local agent, Cape Town’s B.R.E. Innovations, and which it reports permit energy savings of up to 25% in chillers and 35% in freezers.


These include alternatives to traditional plastic strip curtains, special bacterial-resistant strip curtains for high-care areas, temporary cold room curtain walls and temporary mobile refrigeration tents and domes. FOODStuff SA. Read more

 Food Industry News


ImageAn insight to the Global flavouring market and the Top Ten players

With the continuously changing fortunes of the leading world currencies, it is not only difficult to estimate the value of the global flavour and fragrance (F&f) market, but tricky to draw up a Top Ten list for one year and compare it to other years. Nevertheless, Leffingwell & Associates have been doing this since 1999, and it is interesting to follow their estimates from time to time.

ImageThis article has the estimates for 2009 – the values and the market shares for 2009 are based on an estimated total value of $20bn. The market in 2008 was estimated to be worth US$20,3bn. The top five are Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF, Symrise and Takasago. Read more

UK: Tate & Lyle shifts focus as profits fall

ImageTate & Lyle has announced a major shake-up of its business, shifting focus to specialty food ingredients and away from its traditional sugar business. The announcement by Tate & Lyle’s new chief executive Javed Ahmed came as the firm reported that profits before tax for the year ended 31 March 2010 fell 7% to £229m (€271m). Sales were down 1%, reaching a total of £3,506m (€4,144m) for the year. Food Navigator. Read more


US: High fructose corn syrup sales down 11%

ImageFans of natural foods have tried for years to push the high fructose corn syrup off Americans’ dinner tables and out of their restaurants and grocery stores. It seems to be working. HFCS producers blame the decline on a campaign that argues corn syrup is behind rising obesity in the U.S. and that favors sugar over the refined product, although most nutritionists find little difference between the two. They also accuse the sugar industry of pushing a campaign that has helped sugar refining increase about 7 percent from 2003 to 2008. Chicago Breaking News. Read more  


US: PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are pouring money into China

ImagePepsiCo and Coca-Cola are planning heavy investments in China aimed at wooing its population of 1.33 billion people. PepsiCo recently announced it would invest $2.5 billion over three years, on top of the $1 billion pledged in 2008, to open a dozen snack and beverage facilities; Coca-Cola plans to invest $2 billion over the next three years for facilities, innovation and distribution. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Read more


US: Why Wal-Mart wants to take the driver’s seat

ImageWal-Mart Stores has become famous and at times infamous for the power it wields over its suppliers. With its $408 billion in sales for the fiscal year ended Jan 2010, the retailer has plenty of clout to persuade makers of goods sold in its big-box stores to create environmentally-friendly packaging and exclusive product sizes, and to participate in joint advertising promotions … The retailer aims to take over US transportation services from suppliers in an effort to reduce the cost of hauling goods … Manufacturers would compensate Wal-Mart by giving the retailer lower wholesale prices for the goods it transports. Wal-Mart isn’t saying how much it hopes to save. Business Week. Read more 


Food Trends, Marketing and NPD

ImageThe hard sell on salt

With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, But the industry is working overtly and behind the scenes to fend off these attacks, using a shifting set of tactics that have defeated similar efforts for 30 years, records and interviews show. Industry insiders call the strategy “delay and divert” and say companies have a powerful incentive to fight back: they crave salt as a low-cost way to create tastes and textures. Doing without it risks losing customers, and replacing it with more expensive ingredients risks losing profits. New York Times. Read more

Natural trumps health claims in adult soft drinks NPDs, Mintel analyst

ImageHealth and wellness positioning based on growing consumer awareness of inherent properties such as antioxidants along with provenance is proving a market driver in the adult soft drinks sector as it navigates the challenges posed by EU health claims regulation, says David Jago, Mintel’s director of innovation and global insight.

 “… health and wellness focused development in this segment is no longer about products with added benefits or plus claims. In fact, the real star performer in the area of on-pack claims are those products positioned as additive-free, organic or natural,” he notes. ‘Natural’ claims consistently lead the market, accounting for 45% of adult soft drink product introductions over the past three years.” Read more

Bio and luxury lead UK yoghurt market

ImageThe UK market for yoghurt products has seen a modest growth over the past year, led by strong sales of bio and luxury products, according to the latest market data. Sales figures provided to from Kantar Worldpanel reveal that the UK yoghurt market is currently worth £1.2bn. This marks a growth of 4.6% in the 52 weeks to 16 May 2010, compared with the previous year. Food Manufacture. Read more


ImageSports nutrition market driven by non-sporty consumers

As global sales of sports nutrition products maintain healthy growth rates, one distinct – and unexpected – group of consumers is emerging as the main driver for the market, made up of people who are not necessarily interested in sports. Tagged as ‘lifestyle users’ by the market research firm Datamonitor, these consumers are “the last group that was expected to embrace sports nutrition products, but in the last few years they have become a crucial part of the market”. Nutra Ingredients. Read more


Health and Nutrition Stuff


ImageCoffee’s stimulating effects may be illusion, study finds

Using coffee for a pick-me-up may be pointless if you drink it all the time, researchers believe. Experts say they have discovered that people who drink a lot of caffeine develop a tolerance to its stimulatory effects. While caffeine can give people a buzz, raising alertness, the effect only works in those unused to the drink, they tell Neuropsychopharmacology journal. They base their assumptions on the results of an experiment that they carried out on 379 volunteers. BBC. Read more


Science picks through the chocolate nuggets

ImageStudies have shown benefits from compounds in cocoa, but they remain unproved, and many of the studies have ties to chocolate makers.It’s every sweet tooth’s dream. A steady stream of studies has linked chocolate to a variety of health benefits, including decreased blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, even effects on mood. But the evidence, all of it, is preliminary.


“I love chocolate as much as the next person, but it’s candy, not a health food,” says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. LA Times. Read more


People who eat ‘junk food’ aren’t junkies

ImageThe idea that the food industry has turned us into fat, helpless beings desperate for our next fast-food fix is based on a degraded view of human beings. . . One of the recurring themes in the current panic about obesity is the attempt to find out what has caused the expansion of our waistlines. Are we eating too much, exercising too little, eating the wrong kinds of things, or is it something else? These explanations tend to both overstate the obesity problem – we seem to be living longer lives despite the apparent surge in weight – while failing to be particularly convincing. While there may be an element of truth to all of these explanations, there is no single ‘smoking gun’ that provides the answer to why we’ve got fatter. Spiked Online. Read more


The hidden health power of spices and herbs is revealed in recent studies

ImageSpices and herbs such as thyme, oregano, turmeric and cinnamon get their singular flavours from compounds that are actually toxic in concentrated doses – and plants probably evolved to express these toxins so their leaves and berries would not be eaten. So why do we humans cultivate and eat them? Nobody knows for sure, but as explained in a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, scientists are starting to discover a whole host of health benefits from common herbs and spices – and it’s possible that we humans evolved a taste for these toxic compounds because they help our bodies function better.


Spices top the list of foods rich in antioxidants , explained Marianne Gillette, a vice president at McCormick & Company, whose background is in experimental taste research. One half teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries; a half teaspoon of dried oregano rivals three cups of raw spinach. Scientific American. Read more


Eat less, live longer?

ImageDreams of eternal youth feature in many cultures throughout history, but it was only in the 20th century that research into longevity really began. Much about ageing is still mysterious – we don’t even know the underlying reasons why we journey into old age. There are many lines of enquiry into how to live longer, though, with one of the most intriguing being calorie restriction: in effect, going on a lifelong diet.

Calorie restriction dramatically extends not only the lifespan of laboratory animals, but also their “healthspan” – how long they live free of disease. On the assumption that it has the same effect in people, some individuals have already adopted a restricted diet. The latest evidence suggests that while calorie restriction is indeed beneficial for humans, when it comes to lifespan extension, it may not be the whole story. New Scientist. Read more


ImageDiet and the evolution of the brain

To pin one big evolutionary shift on a particular molecule is ambitious. To pin two on it is truly audacious. Yet doing so was just one of the ideas floating around at “A Celebration of DHA” in London recently. The celebration in question was a scientific meeting, rather than a festival. It was definitely, however, a love-in. It was held on May 26th and 27th at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss the many virtues of docosahexaenoic acid, the most important of that fashionable class of dietary chemicals, the omega-3 fatty acids. The Economist. Read more



Food Science, Microbiology and Food Processing


Artificial sweeteners, without the aftertaste: Scientists find bitter-blocking ingredient

ImageResearchers have discovered a chemical that specifically blocks people’s ability to detect the bitter aftertaste that comes with artificial sweeteners such as saccharin. The key is a molecule known only as GIV3727 that specifically targets and inhibits a handful of human bitter taste receptors, according to a report published in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.


The finding of what the researchers say is the first commercially relevant small-molecule bitter taste inhibitor also opens the door to further discovery of compounds for other taste-enhancement purposes, such as hiding the yucky taste of medicines or other commonly encountered bitter flavours.  Read more


Research shows some people don’t taste salt like others

ImageLow-salt foods may be harder for some people to like than others, according to a newly published study by a researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The research indicates that genetics influence some of the difference in the levels of salt we like to eat. Those conclusions are important because recent, well-publicised efforts to reduce the salt content in food have left many people struggling to accept fare that simply doesn’t taste as good to them as it does to others, pointed out John Hayes, assistant professor of food science, who was lead investigator of the study. Read more

ImageUnderstanding the relationship between bacteria and obesity

Research sheds new light on the role bacteria in the digestive tract may play in obesity. The studies paint a picture that may be more complex than originally thought. Science Daily. Read more



In E coli fight, some strains are largely ignored

ImageFor nearly two decades, Public Enemy No 1 for the food industry and its government regulators has been a virulent strain of E coli bacteria that has killed hundreds of people, sickened thousands and prompted the recall of millions of pounds of hamburger, spinach and other foods. But as everyone focused on controlling that particular bacterium, known as E coli O157:H7, the six rarer strains of toxic E coli were largely ignored. Collectively, those other strains are now emerging as a serious threat to food safety. New York Times. Read more

Genetic screening detects antimicrobial resistance genes

ImageUsing an advanced genetic screening technique, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have detected, for the first time, more than 700 genes that give microbes like salmonella and Escherichia coli the ability to resist antibiotics and other antimicrobial compounds.


The researchers used DNA microarray technology to find the resistance genes in a wide variety of bacteria such as salmonella, E coli, campylobacter, listeria and enterococcus. These organisms can cause food poisoning and are, thus, a major public health concern.


ARS noted that scientists are concerned that some of these organisms have acquired genetic resistance to the antibiotics used to kill them. Finding the genes that confer resistance is an important step for scientists looking for new ways to control these organisms. Read more


ImagePea drink concept poised to take on soy

Roquette is proposing a new pea-based beverage concept to the industry, which it believes could rival soy products as a source of protein for people who follow dairy-free diets… Food Navigator. Read more


ImageCLA is safe for use in foods, says EFSA

Fat reduction ingredient conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is one step closer to novel food approval in Europe, after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave its stamp of approval for the ingredient’s safety…Food Navigator. Read more



Tetra Pak launches technology to shorten UHT milk processing time

ImageTetra Pak has launched OneStep technology, a Tetra Lactenso Aseptic solution that incorporates UHT white milk production within a single, high-throughput process.

OneStep technology eliminates the need for pasteurisation, pre-treatment and intermediate storage. In one unbroken step raw milk is preheated, clarified, separated, standardised and homogenised, before undergoing UHT treatment and regenerative cooling, and then being transferred to two aseptic buffer tanks. This shortens processing time from as much as two days to just a few hours, cutting operating costs by up to 50 per cent compared with conventional solutions. Food Ingredients First. Read more

Cargill’s creates unique dark cocoa powder

ImageCargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business has made a breakthrough in dark cocoa powder taste with its innovative DB82 10-12% Gerkens cocoa powder.

Until now dark powders provided the much valued intense colour for a range of applications, but with such intensity of colour there can be an off taste, sometimes associated with bitterness. However, Cargill’s specialised application centre in Baupte, France, has made a breakthrough that has produced a unique dark powder with a round, pleasant and smooth chocolaty flavour. Food Navigator. Read more


 ImageFocus: Nanotechnology


ImageThe taste of tiny: Putting nanofoods on the menu

Nothing says “summer” quite like ice cream. On a hot afternoon, there’s little to beat the simple pleasure of a cooling scoop of your favorite flavour. Can food get much more satisfying than this? Vic Morris thinks it can, with the help of nanotechnology. He is part of a team tweaking foods to trick the body into feeling pleasantly full long after the final mouthful – and without overeating. Ice cream that makes you feel full could be just the beginning. Nanotechnology promises even saltier-tasting salt, less fattening fat, and to boost the nutritional value of everyday products. Nanofood supplements could even tackle global malnutrition. New Scientist. Read more 


Nanotechnology: The coolness of tiny things

Nano-this. Nano-that. Nano-the-other. A nanometre is the name given by the scientific-measurement system to a billionth of a metre, and the idea that making things so small you measure their dimensions in nanometres will unlock advantages denied to larger objects has been around for well over a decade. Long enough, in other words, for sceptics to wonder when something useful will actually come of it.


It looks possible, though, that something useful is indeed about to happen. The evidence suggests that adding a sprinkle of nanoparticles to water can improve its thermal conductivity, and thus its ability to remove heat from something that is in contact with it, by as much as 60%. In a world where the cost of coolth is a significant economic drain (industrial cooling consumes 7% of the electricity generated within the European Union) that offers a worthwhile gain. It would, for instance, allow the huge computer-filled warehouses that drive the internet to fit in more servers per square metre of floor space. The Economist. Read more 


Nanotech food struggles to graduate from the lab

There are a myriad of potential applications in the food sector ranging from emulsions and nano-encapsulations on the formulation side to nano-coatings for processing equipment on the factory floor. But despite scientific interest and excitement, the size of the ‘nano food’ market is as small as the particles it deals with. Unsurprisingly therefore little market research data is available. One estimate from the consultancy Cientifica put the global value of the nanofoods market at $410m in 2006 while research group iRAP reported that in 2008 the nano-enabled food and drinks packaging market was worth $4.13bn. Read more 


How to have your cake … and eat it

ImageToday, our food supply has become uncoupled from our ability to hunt and gather, from the season, the weather and where we live. Fast food has removed even the need to prepare meals. But a hunger for certain nutrients endures in our evolutionary memory. Now, in a time of plenty, we are wired for indulgence. This is the theme of Michael Pollan’s new book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual: it’s a simple manifesto for eating healthily and in moderation.


Fact one: Populations that eat a so-called western diet, consisting of lots of processed food and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and wholegrains, invariably suffer most from western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Fact two: Populations eating a remarkably wide range of traditional diets, from diets high in fat, to those high in carbohydrate or protein, generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases. What this suggests is that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of food and diets. Except, that is, for one: the relatively new (in evolutionary terms) western diet that most of us are now following.

To get off the western diet and learn to eat real food in moderation again. These are the rules you need to follow: Times online. Read more

The world’s weirdest dining experiences

ImageOnce upon a time it was enough that restaurants served up mouth-watering delicacies. But as the number of restaurants grows, establishments are seeking ever more unusual ways to draw in the punters and differentiate themselves from the competition.


So as some restaurants follow the more traditional Michelin-star road to success, this photo essay looks at those that have chosen a wackier way to get the public’s attention. For instance, this Belgian company, now with franchises all over the world, offers a truly extreme dining experience and is not for the feint hearted. Diners are lifted 50 metres up in the air by an industrial crane and deposited on a special platform. Once up in the clouds a personal chef and his team of assistants serve up exquisite cuisine of your choice to match the breathtaking views. The Independent. Read more

The new gourmet delight – bottled sea water

ImageCovering nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface to a depth of up to seven miles, it is one of the most abundant natural substances and free to anyone who cares to scoop it up and take it away. Yet if one entrepreneur has his way, gourmet restaurants could soon start stocking their larders with sea water – and paying for the privilege. The Independent. Read more



The truth about cat and dog food

ImageAre people who invest in high-end pet foods getting their money’s worth? Are their pets really healthier and happier? Do they live longer? And are these foods any better than the generic versions sold in supermarkets and big-box stores?


Recognising the high value most owners place on their companion animals, and distressed by recent recalls of contaminated pet foods, two scientists decided to examine the pet food industry and the evidence for the value of its products and the claims made for them. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, and Malden C. Nesheim, emeritus professor of nutrition at Cornell University, have packaged their findings in “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat”. New York Times. Read more


The history of the food processor

ImageMaking salsa for a crowd? Need a pie crust in a jiffy? If you’ve had to do either of these things by hand, chances are you’ve longed for a food processor. A kitchen tool that genuinely changed how home-cooks prepare food, it chops, slices, dices, and blends in half the time. But this reliable instrument wasn’t always a busy home-cook’s best friend — food processors started life as restaurant-only appliances in the 60s. This article looks at the food processor and its journey from Parisian restaurant kitchens to the American home. Eat Me Daily. Read more


That’s all the stuff for this week!