Issue 18: 5 December 2008
'People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be more worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.' Anonymous
Food for thought . . . The sane approach to food'Being French, I don’t have any problem with people enjoying lots of foods. Europeans obsess less about nutrition but know what a reasonable portion size is and when they have had too much food, so they’re not as biased by food and diet fads and are healthier. Too many Americans believe that to lose weight, what you eat matters more than how much you eat. It’s the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least.'Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at the Insead Business School, Fontainebleau, France.
Vote for your New Product of 2008!
One item in last week's newsletter made for some perturbing reading: the majority of consumers can’t recall any new products that have been launched in the last year and appear unwilling to risk their money on trying something new. So much for all those hours of toil, sweat, angst and money to launch new products! And no-one can even remember them, no-one will buy them…Eish!
This American survey, conducted by Schneider Associates, Mintel International and IRI, found that Americans are less aware of recent launches than ever before, as 69% of respondents could not remember a single new product launched in 2008. According to the Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey (MMNPL), those that did feature in memory banks were mostly new twists on familiar food and drink items, showing that consumers are guarding their wallets carefully; if they can only afford the basics, they’re sticking to what they know, products and services that bring them comfort.
I would guess that the same dynamic is at play at home. This is indeed something to think about, or not, as you lounge on the beach later this month regenerating your energies for 2009's challenges.
But before you disappear on your holidays, please take a moment to vote for your New Product of 2008. I have taken the liberty of naming those that I think made some impact this year.
KOO Samp & Beans, for instance, was named winning product in SA Food Review magazine's annual New Product Competition, with Maize in a Minute taking second spot. Interestingly, both these products reach out and put a solid hold on that holy grail for food marketers in this country ie they represent a major convenience, time-saving option to traditional staples, successfully crossing the divide between first and third worlds, between Western and ethnic appetites. They also both have the potential to penetrate a wider demographic of purchasers.
My winner's trophy would go to Clover's 'Great Taste, Fat Free' milk, fat-free milk enhanced with milk peptides. In a health- and weight-conscious world, this gets my vote for clever use of ingredient technology to aptly meet two key consumer needs: for tasty, fat-reduced products and for solving a major consumer grudge with skim or fat-free milk: that it's thin and lacking mouthfeel and flavour.
Please vote (the poll is on this page top right), and if you think there is glaring omission to my elite list, please motivate why and I'll add it on. The poll will be posted for the whole of December.
I welcome all your correspondence. Regards, Brenda email
Food Industry News
Pioneer bitten by rising costsRising input costs have hit the profit of Pioneer Foods – a major player in the food and beverage industries in Southern Africa. Read more
SA: BP and PnP launch convenience storeThe new partnership between BP and Pick n Pay has been realised with the opening of the first Pick n Pay Express store, opened this week at a BP service station in Hout Bay, Western Cape. Read more
SA: our changing food basketChanges in domestic consumption patterns since the current consumer basket of goods and services was introduced in 2002 have reduced the role of food in the basket bought by the average consumer. Read more
SA: Unhappy times, as usual, reign in the milk marketSA is experiencing its biggest milk surplus in over a decade. Availability is about 20% above national requirements – the result of increased production to meet a projected milk shortage that never materialised, an economic downturn that has curtailed consumer buying power, and cheap imports by retail chains and milk processors. Read more
SA: In search of more food scientistsThe Dept of Food Science, University of Pretoria invites post-graduate applications from SA masters and honours graduates in food science and related disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry or microbiology.
Research areas include food biopolymers, food phytochemicals and health, nutritional and sensory quality of food, safety of irrigation water and food processing technologies.
Highly competitive bursaries are available. Successful candidates will be expected to commence their studies not later than February 2009. Applications from post-doctoral fellows will also be considered.
Email the head of Department of Food Science, Prof Amanda Minnaar.
US: FDA outlines "hugely ambitious" food-inspection campaignThe Food and Drug Administration has released a report detailing its plans to improve food inspection. "The goal is to radically redesign the process," an official said. For imported food, the new plan calls for trying to detect problems during the production process rather than waiting until products enter the country. Read more
INDIA: Unilever big bosses in Mumbai terrorIncoming Unilever CEO, Paul Polman (left), and current CEO, Patrick Cescau, were in the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai when it was attacked by terrorists last week, trapped there for hours until rescued early Friday morning. Read more
US: No 1 chicken producer Pilgrim's Pride files for bankruptcyLeading poultry company, Pilgrim's Pride, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection. Pilgrim's, which produces 25% of U.S. broilers, suffered a triple whammy of large debt, high feed prices and lower prices for chicken amid weakening demand in the US and abroad. Read more
CHINA: Over 300 000 babies sickened by tainted milkChina has dramatically raised the toll from its tainted milk powder scandal, saying six babies likely died and 300 000 were sickened. Read more
EU: EC bans Chinese imports of infant food containing soya and soya productsThe European Commission has announced plans to ban Chinese imports of food for infants and young children containing soya and soya products, after high levels of melamine were recently found in soy bean meal from China. Read more
UK: M&S set to ditch branded products trialMarks and Spencer's (M&S's) radical experiment to introduce branded lines to its food halls will be "quietly shelved", claim trade sources and analysts. The company remains tight-lipped about the performance of the branded lines, which were launched in 19 stores in Teesside and Tyneside in mid-July. However, analysts say the trial has proved to be a costly distraction rather than the road to salvation for M&S, which posted a 5.9% drop in like-for-like food sales in the second quarter of this year. Read more
UK: Calls for action to save pubsThe rapid decline of British pubs – they are closing at a rate of 37 a week and were hit by a further 8% rise in alcohol duty last week – will accelerate unless the government does more to support them, the minister in charge of licensing has warned.
As more Britons switch from buying beer at the bar to drinking cheap supermarket alcohol at home, there's growing concern about the potential disappearance of an institution at the heart of British community life. Read more
Health & Nutrition
Research: one-size-fits-all diet cannot solve obesity health riskThe results of Lipgene, a five year EU research programme, show that personalised nutrition diets based on peoples genetic make-up will be the way of the future when tackling obesity and its associated health risks. Read more
If you’re a well-informed, health-conscious person who has put on some unwanted pounds in the past year, it might not be entirely your fault. Here’s a possible alibi: The health halo made you do it. Read more
Health halo can hide the calories
Antioxidants unlikely to prevent ageing, study suggestsDiets and beauty products which claim to have anti-oxidant properties are unlikely to prevent ageing, according to new research. Scientists in England say this is because a key 50-year-old theory about the causes of aging is wrong. Read more
Some 'good cholesterol' is actually bad, study showsIf you think your levels of "good cholesterol" are good enough, a new study suggests that you may want to think again. Researchers show that good cholesterol (HDL) has varying degrees of quality and that poor quality HDL is actually bad for you. Read more
World premier of tooth-friendly chocolateTwo Belgian chocolate makers, Daskalidès and Chocolaterie Smet, are the first in the world to release tooth-friendly chocolate products onto the market, a new innovation courtesy of Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading producer of high quality cocoa and chocolate. Read more
Jungbunzlauer honoured for salt replacerJungbunzlauer received the 2008 European Frost Sullivan award in the category “Functional Ingredients” for sub4salt. The ingredient can reduce sodium in processed foods by up to 50%. A Frost Sullivan Research analyst describes it as 'far more superior to the few competing products available in Europe. Read more
Sweetener primed for roll-outAspartame and sucralose could face serious competition in the intense sweeteners market in 2009/2010 if high purity extracts from the stevia leaf gain regulatory approval in the US and Europe. Read more
Solae announces global price increase for soy ingredientsIn order to 'maintain a consistent level of service and innovation', Solae has announced a global price increase, effective immediately, or as contracts allow. Read more
HFCS: How Sweet It IsSince its introduction, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been valued as a versatile, safe sweetener. But recently, it has been mischaracterized by some as being significantly and uniquely responsible for the ongoing obesity crisis. This mischaracterization has been fueled by fundamental misunderstandings about the name, composition, uses and metabolism. Read more
Probiotics should be given more respectThe European Food Safety Authority and the wider medical establishment need to accept the compelling evidence about the disease reduction potential of probiotics – so-called good bacteria – in food for certain vulnerable groups, according to a leading professor of gastroenterology. Read more
Weighing the value of organic foodsFood produced without most conventional pesticides or fertilizers are perceived to be more healthful, but scientists have yet to offer proof. With the recession breathing down our necks, many people are looking for ways to cut the household budget without seriously compromising family well-being. So here's a suggestion: If you buy organic fruits and vegetables, consider switching to less pricey non-organic produce instead. Read more
Most slimming products are a con, claims nutrition expertOverweight and obese people around the world are being conned out of billions of pounds a year by companies selling bogus health foods that do nothing to help them lose weight, a leading scientist has warned. Read more
Thanksgiving turkey tortureLast week millions of Americans gather to give thanks, but the turkeys they feasted on have nothing to be thankful for. [This article will elicit strong reactions, and the responses are perhaps more interesting than the article. Ed] Read more
Fight over adding hormones, labelling milk rages onAnti-biotech forces turned out in Kansas this to argue against a state plan that would limit how dairy products free from artificial hormones can be labelled. The Kansas Department of Agriculture is considering a regulation that would ban dairy product labels from stating the product as "rBST free." The law would take effect in January 2010.
In addition to banning "rBST-free" claims, the rule would require that labels declaring products to have been derived from cows not supplemented with the growth hormone to carry companion disclaimers saying "the FDA has determined that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-supplemented and non-rBST-supplemented cows." Read more
Myths about food safety instill unwarranted fearsWhen all food seems scary, a kind of apathy sets in. We fail to distinguish real frights from bogus ones. And we forget about a little thing called pleasure. Read more
In search of cheap foodHundreds of items in your grocery store depend increasingly on an oil harvested half a world away. But with world populations surging and increasingly adapting a western diet, the breakneck growth of palm oil production seems unlikely to slow. The quest for cheap food has helped transform palm oil from an inexpensive cooking oil used mostly in developing nations to an all-but-invisible staple of the western diet. Read more
New Product Stuff
SA: Brutal Fruit’s new makeoverBrutal Fruit has launched its new-look products to South African consumers as part of an exciting makeover for the brand. The brand’s range of real fruit juices with a flirt of alcohol has been completely restyled in colourful and striking packaging ahead of year-end holidays.
SA: More fruity Safari innovation from SAD
Pioneer's SAD has come up with a stream of dried fruit innovation this year as a means to healthy, guilt-free snacking, and simultaneously proving that you can add new vigour to old concepts. Two new additions are Safari Super Moist Sun-Dried Fruits and Safari Fruit Zingers, a lunchbox eat that 'contains all the healthy goodness of fruit, with the great taste of a sweet'. Read more
US: Embodi captures scientifically proven red wine health benefits in non-alcoholic beverageEmbodi is claimed as the first beverage to offer the health benefits of red wine, without the alcohol – available in three delicious and tangy flavors: Citrus Resurgence (citrus fruits), Berry Renewal (blueberry and goji berry) and Tropical Revival (pomegranate). Read more
US: Coca-Cola files patent for rice-thickened beverageCoca-Cola appears to be working on a desert-on-the-go product, according to recent filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filing describes a broad swath of beverages that include rice extracts or derivatives to create mouth feel similar to cream or custard. Read more
US: PepsiCo is ready for stevia product launchesPepsiCo said it is poised to launch two drinks sweetened with stevia in the US as soon as it is given the green light by the FDA over its GRAS status. The beverage giant has two brands – SoBe Life Water and Trop 50 – ready to hit the market assuming the FDA sends a letter of no objection for the natural, zero-calorie sweetener to be used in food and beverages. Read more
Caffeine-infused chip adds a kick to the snackfood aisleNew York snack company, Rudolph Foods, has launched Engobi, a caffeine-infused munchie maize snack. Engobi – code for Energy Go Bites – is available in two flavours: Cinnamon Surge and Lemon Lift.
According to the chip's maker, a 1.5-ounce, single-serving bag contains approximately 140mg of caffeine, roughly the same as a cup of brewed coffee and significantly more tna leading energy drinks. Read more
Boxed soup convenienceMaybe it's snob appeal. Maybe it's a longing for something more sophisticated than a can of watery chicken noodle soup. Whatever the reason, shoppers are increasingly likely to think inside the box when buying soup. Sales of boxed soups have quadrupled in the past five years, growing 26% just in the past year, according to the Nielsen Co which tracks consumer purchases. Read more
McCormick flavour forecast 2009 identifies Top 10 flavour pairings"Whether it's a mix of culturally diverse tastes – like smoked paprika and agave nectar – or a discovery of pure ingredients – like mint and quinoa – this year, we see excitement in the blending of the new and the familiar," says Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick. Read more
Man as scavengerThere's something deeply satisfying about searching for what civilization casts about.
A farm couple in Colorado opened their fields last month to gleaners, giving away what was left of their harvest. Expecting about 5 000 people to show up, they were shocked when 40 000 arrived. This may be a sign of the times. As the economy plummets, we enter an environment ripe for scavengers. From field gleaners to garage-sale aficionados, they are everywhere and are coming from everywhere. I am one of them, a modern hunter-gatherer. Read more
Italian truffle fetches $200 000 at Macau auctionDefying the economic downturn, an Italian white truffle weighing just over 1 kg sold at an international auction Saturday for $200 000. The prized tuber went for the second year running to Hong Kong-born casino mogul, Stanley Ho, after an auction held simultaneously in Rome, London, Abu Dhabi and Macau.
Last December, Ho bought a 1.5-kg specimen – one of the biggest truffles unearthed in half a century – for a record $330,000. Read more
Nando's new ad – don't miss this for a good laugh with Tannie EvitaAbout time political satire was used effectively by South African brands. Read more and view the ad
That's it for this week, folks!
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