Grain power: how Carman’s became a $50m empire

Ask Carman's founder Carolyn Creswell how she turned a tiny muesli producer that she bought for $2,000 into a $50m global brand and she'll say all it took was a bit of luck and a lot of guts.

"When I was at school my parents worked hard for my education but didn't give me any pocket money, so I had lots of part-time jobs, and one of those was making muesli one day a week. After about six months the owners said they were going to sell and whoever bought it might keep me, or might make the muesli themselves and I'd lose my job. So I thought 'well, I know the product, why can't I buy this little business?"

So as a complete business novice, that's exactly what 18 year old Creswell did, together with her workmate Manya van Aken – each paying just $1,000 for the business.

This was in 1992, and two years later Creswell bought out van Aken. Ever since she's been at the helm of Carman's Fine Foods, which manufactures muesli, nut bars, oats and biscuits.

"It was really hard. It took a long time to be able to earn money myself. For a while I had to keep having second jobs, as well as trying to do the muesli. It was hard. It was shocking. The first five years I was so broke, and I thought 'what am I doing? this is crazy," Creswell told Food magazine.

But this must be a distant memory now. Today Carman's Fine Foods is turning over an average of $50 million a year, and is exporting to 32 countries including the US and the UK, as well as being used by leading airlines and having a presence in Coles and Woolworths. Not to mention the fact that earlier this year Creswell was named Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

Private labels
While it's no secret that many Australian food and beverage manufacturers see supermarket private labels as a serious threat to their own livelihood, Creswell doesn't believe her business is threatened.

"I think anyone that put their head in the sand and didn't think that private labels were coming was just being unrealistic. I think we all knew they were coming – it was just about how you adjusted.

"For us, it's about owning that premium brand and offering a point of difference. There are a lot of people that think private labels are evil and terrible, but if I was in their shoes I'd be promoting them as well. There is absolutely still room for brands. People don't buy private label products to feel warm and fuzzy and to feel that they've got the depth and integrity that a brand they love gives them," she says.

Creswell insists private labels give manufacturers the chance to be more innovative about how they promote their products.

"Private labels are not in the most innovative space. They're much more mainstream and that gives this clear niche to other players," she says. "It's never going to be a situation where we walk in and the whole supermarket is private labels."

Building trust
So what makes Carman's products stand out on the shelf? According to Creswell it's all about building a story and creating trust. Making your customers aware that you're there for them is imperative, she adds.

"If something goes wrong, how do you deal with it? The greatest opportunity for us is when someone rings up and says "I only got five muesli bars in my box and not six". All of a sudden we're able to prove to them what kind of company we really are, and so from that customer interaction you can build a very loyal customer who loves you for life.

"It's not about having a 1800-number or treating everyone in a cookie-cutter way, it's about saying 'we hear you, we are talking to you and we are here for you.'"

Carman's, a Cheltenham-based business, also builds trust by marketing itself as a 100 percent Australian owned company.

"We've now got a new logo, which is a family owned Australian business logo [from Famliy Business Australia].

"Everything is manufactured here and we're 100 percent Australian owned. The only thing is that not every single ingredient is Australian. As much as we can we source Australian but it depends if it's something that we manufacture here in commercial quantities at a reasonable price," she says.

Add to the mix that the Carman's range is actually good for you and you've got a brand – already 20 years old – which is well positioned to stand the test of time.

"It's about saying that our products taste good and are good for you. We don't say that we're the most cutting edge health food company. We're saying that we'll try and keep numbers out as much as we can, we'll try and keep ingredients lists as simple as we possibly can. We say your food should come from the kitchen and not the chemist, so we're very conscious of using ingredients you might have in your pantry at home.

"I've been very careful about what Carman's will and won't do."

Text image: atablefortwo.com.au

 

The importance of traceability in your supply chain

Traceability is now taking centre stage as a vital component of an organisation’s supply chain process.

In September 2012, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) provided updated information for Australian food businesses regarding their requirements for food product traceability and product recall obligations in the supply chain process. It is important that all food and beverage suppliers understand their obligations in these two critical areas.

According to FSANZ, traceability in the Australian food sector should enable businesses to identify the source of all inputs such as raw materials, additives, other ingredients and packaging on the basis of one step forward and one step back at any point in the supply chain.

Traceability enables food businesses to target the product(s) involved in a food safety problem, thereby minimising disruption to trade and reducing potential public health risks.

FSANZ stated that an effective product traceability system will not only help isolate and prevent contaminated products reaching consumers in the event of a product recall, it will also help Australian food businesses protect their brands. FSANZ also requires food businesses to be able to provide information about the food it has on its premises and where it came from. This important information must be produced on request from an authorised officer of FSANZ.

As traceability professionals, GS1 Australia welcomed the FSANZ announcement and its recognition about the importance of traceability, particularly in the event of a product recall.

Marcel Sieira, GS1 Australia’s general manager, business development, said an organisation’s requirement to track and trace a raw material, ingredient or packaging material through all stages of its production, processing and distribution to the end consumer as a fully packaged item is an often undervalued and unrecognised ability within an organisation.

“The increasing demands for food product safety for consumers, major supermarkets and regulatory authorities can only help Australian food businesses focus on the need for an improved ability to track and trace products up and down their supply chains,” he said.  

Traceability is an important part of an organisation’s product recall management plan, said Steve Hather, managing director of the RQA Product Risk Institute.

“Where we see companies struggle with recalls is often in those first critical stages of investigating incidents and making the decision to recall,” he said.

“Not having effective traceability processes and people trained in using them can often lead to delays in actioning a product recall. This is one of the leading causes of incidents escalating into a crisis.

”Roughly one-third of the total cost of a recall is in business interruption. Companies should have effective business continuity programs in place to minimise disruption and get back into business as soon as possible after a recall or other disruptive events.

“Being out of the market for an extended period of time can lead to loss of shelf space for a period of time, or worse – loss of key customers. The ability for a company to successfully track and trace their products through their supply chain and retrieve them from the marketplace is a key component in the decision by the relevant regulatory authorities to finally close out an organisation’s product recall.”

This is why GS1 Australia includes traceability as a key component of the “Effective Product Recall Management Workshops” held jointly with RQA Product Risk Institute.

As well as examining risk management, incident identification, escalation, the product recall management plan and business communications, the workshops provide training on GS1 Recallnet, which eases traceability and the process of delivering information to trading partners and regulatory authorities.

GS1 Recallnet is GS1 Australia’s secure web-based portal for the management of recall and withdrawal notifications. Based on global GS1 standards and best practices, GS1 Recallnet simplifies and automates the exchange of information between suppliers, distributors and retailers as well as government agencies such as FSANZ and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

By increasing the speed and accuracy of recall and withdrawal notifications, GS1 Recallnet significantly decreases business and consumer risk, reduces costs, protects brands and ultimately, helps improve food safety in Australia.

The Effective Recall Management Workshops (GS1/RQA workshops) for 2013 will take place as follows:

• Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Melbourne
• Thursday 7th March 2013 in Sydney

 

“May Contain” warnings … What do they really mean?

The injudicious use of 'may contain' warnings and the proliferation of their usage has resulted in the creation of yet another hazard for the allergy sufferer, writes Food Assist's Ron Cossen.

Today, no one questions the importance of labelling food products in a way which ensures that those suffering from a food allergy are warned about the possible presence of allergens. However, it wasn’t always like that. Until the late 1980's, products could contain peanuts without any mention of peanuts on the label; because, allergens could be hidden in so called ‘compound ingredients’. Simply, if compound ingredients were present in quantities less than five percent, allergens could be hidden and consumers none the wiser.

In the mid 1980’s, it was clear that regulators, the food and beverage industry and the medical profession were disinterested and unaware of the needs of allergy sufferers.

In 1991, regulators took their first steps toward recognising the predicament of allergy sufferers. In that year, the Australian Food Standards Code was amended to read “the presence of peanuts  shall  always  be  declared”.

For those allergic to other food ingredients, the wait would be a number of years before they were accorded the same treatment.

As we are aware, allergens can be inadvertently introduced through ingredient supply or through processing. About 15 years ago, when manufacturers voluntarily introduced the statement “may contain nuts” (or "may contain xxxx") on labels for products that were at risk of cross contamination, it appeared to be a good idea.

For example, a processing line that has been producing chocolate coated peanuts is cleaned and then commences production of chocolate coated sultanas. In this situation, one can appreciate that there is a possibility of traces of peanut material being present in packs of chocolate coated sultanas.

However, unfortunately, the injudicious use of this warning and the proliferation of its usage has resulted in the creation of yet another hazard for the allergy sufferer.

We have reached the situation where more than 50 percent of foods in the supermarket have “may contain” (or similar) warning statements.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand conducted a survey to assess the value of the words "may contain" and reported that 54 percent of allergy sufferers found the statement to be not very useful.

Further, many respondents added that they feel:

  • the "may contain" statement is  overused, and
  • manufacturers are just covering themselves legally.

The diversity and vagueness of these “may contain” statements has created a situation where many allergy sufferers disregard them. Add to that the voluntary nature of such statements and we could be confronted with the following situation.

If “Smith's” Biscuits includes a statement on the label “may contain traces of nuts” and Brown’s Biscuits do not have a statement regarding possible nut contamination, which is safer for a person who has a nut allergy?  Brown’s?  Of course, it is? Not necessarily.

Consider the excellent work of the Allergen Bureau and its initiative called VITAL, which stands for Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling.

The Allergen Bureau was established in 2005 with the objective of sharing experience within the food industry on the management of food allergens. The aim is to ensure that consumers receive relevant, consistent and easy-to-understand information on food allergens.

As we are aware, food allergens may be present in a food due to unintentional cross-contact  –  even sometimes under conditions of good manufacturing practice.

VITAL assesses likely sources of cross contact, evaluates the amount present and reviews the ability to reduce the presence of allergens.

The Allergen Bureau has established a Scientific Expert Panel that reviews and monitors food allergen thresholds. This expert panel consists of world leading scientists specialising in food allergy, allergen management and risk assessment.

The threshold is the amount of allergen required to provoke a reaction.

The Allergen Bureau's recently released VITAL 2.0, replacing the original VITAL guide, addresses threshold levels. It's also stepped into the world of "May contain" labelling.

The guidelines that the bureau has released are as follows:

  • The precautionary labelling statement [‘May be present’] is used only when the cross contact allergen is at Action Level 2 on the VITAL action level grid.
  • The precautionary statement is declared as ‘May be present: xxx’, where ‘xxx’ lists each of the cross contact allergens present at VITAL Action Level 2.
  • The statement [‘May be present’] is placed below the summary statement on a separate line in bold print.
  • The allergen cross contact statement text must be declared using the same font size as the ingredient list information or at the minimum print size of 1.5mm.

It is important to note that the core message of VITAL 2.0 is to reduce cross contact allergens wherever possible and the core focus is on meaningful and consistent precautionary labelling.

The initiative of VITAL has been recognised internationally and other countries are now seeking to adopt the program. The Allergen Bureau is currently responding to requests to endorse VITAL trainers in European countries and South Africa, with interest being shown by America and countries in Asia. Approximately half the traffic to the VITAL website is from outside of Australia and New Zealand.

The  VITAL initiative is excellent.  However, "V" stands for Voluntary.

We have made progress over the years. Certainly, with regard to the presence of allergenic ingredients in labelled food products. However, there is more work to be done.

Ronald Cossen, Principal of Food Assist, a firm that provides consulting and recruitment services to the food manufacturing industry. Cossen will be presenting seminars on food labelling at next week’s 14th Annual Food Regulations & Labelling Standards Conference, at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel.

How much is your supply chain’s carbon costing you?

It is no secret that the Australian food and beverage manufacturing sectors are suffering.

This has been well documented here by the Food mag team and also by the 2012 State of the Industry report, referenced here. The main reasons cited for causing hardship are the high exchange rate, the increase of private labels (in high proportion imported) and taxes. The recent introduction of a carbon price has been the latest addition to the sector’s costs.

According to a study commissioned by the AFGC, Impact of Carbon Pricing 2011, the effect of the carbon price is equivalent to reducing food and grocery’s operating profit by an average 4.4 percent before tax. The study identified the Meat and Meat Product, Diary Product and Paper Stationery and Other Converted Paper Product subsectors to suffer an impact on operating profit before tax equivalent to 11.6 percent, 11.5 percent and 15.6 percent respectively.

Edge Environment has undertaken a large number of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and has found that medium sized producers typically purchase goods and services which emit between 4,000 and 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses in their supply chains each year. This translates to between $100,000 and $1m, using the current carbon price of $23 per tonne of CO2. While not all of this carbon is liable under the carbon price mechanism, some businesses may choose to absorb the cost associated with the carbon price, while most others will pass them on.

However, every threat also poses an opportunity, or at least it can be managed if it is understood and acted upon. The impact of carbon price is not evenly distributed across subsectors or along supply chains. As a general rule, businesses with energy intensive supply chains will face a higher impact. Businesses in these subsectors’ supply chains should make sure they understand their supply chain carbon liability, as upstream companies may chose (or be required) to pass on the carbon cost.

Understanding the carbon in your supply chain can deliver several benefits for your business and/or product. For example:

  • You will be able to validate and prepare for carbon pass-through costs from suppliers. Again, not all carbon supply chains should have a price and companies will be in a stronger, better informed position to defend costs passed on
  • Manufacturers/growers will understand their carbon liabilities on their agricultural division which could result in participation in the Carbon Farming Initiative and the generation of revenue from carbon credits
  • You can substantiate the carbon cost that legitimately can be passed on to customers. A business that makes a good faith, reasonable approach to calculating the carbon price for their business has nothing to fear from the ACCC, which is watching these claims closely
  • You can provide information and education on the real effects of carbon price in your supply chain and on your bottom line, including the ability to budget and forecast appropriately
  • You will be able to develop products with the carbon cost in mind, considering such things as packaging, energy requirements and alternative supplies (inputs)
  • You will understand that the carbon liability of a company sets the baseline for any reductions and applications to grants such as the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Grant.

Regardless of where a company is positioned in a supply chain, the old saying “information is power” is still valid. Carbon prices are another area of business which managers need to understand to ensure the competitiveness and viability of their brand.

Edge Environment is a research, consultancy and education business.
Jonas Bengtsson is director at Edge Environmental.

 

 

Energy drinks and sudden death: US regulators investigate

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a series of deaths reportedly linked to the consumption of energy drinks and shots. The investigation comes amid a growing number of reports of various adverse events related to energy drink consumption.

Energy drink consumption has grown exponentially over the past five to ten years. The main active ingredients of such drinks, which include Red Bull and Mother, are a combination of varying amounts of caffeine, guarana extract, taurine and ginseng. Other additives include carbohydrates, amino acids and vitamins.

The intended purpose of these drinks, according to the manufacturers, is to sustain alertness, so their target markets are athletes, students, and people in professions that require prolonged alertness. Energy drinks are also commonly consumed at nightclubs and dance parties, where they are often combined with alcohol, and recreational drugs, such as ecstasy.

The adverse effects of these energy drinks, either alone or in combination, are being increasingly reported worldwide, and recently in Australia.

Caffeine and other additives

The main component of energy drinks is caffeine and it has been associated with many adverse health outcomes in susceptible individuals. In terms of heart health, there are three main effects – increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and evidence of increasing blood viscosity that can lead to clots forming in the heart and beyond.

Three independent cases where consumption of energy drinks led to catastrophic consequences, including cardiac rhythm disturbances and cardiac arrest, have recently been described in medical literature.

To be clear, these are life-threatening cardiac rhythm disturbances that can lead to sudden death, particularly in young people. And these effects have been observed with the consumption of as little as one can of energy drink.

Energy drink consumption has also been linked to anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, nervousness, addictive behaviours, and panic attacks. In pregnant women, caffeine consumption is associated with risk of late miscarriage, stillbirth, and small-for-gestational-age infants.

The other additives in energy drinks exacerbate many of these effects. And the manner in which these drinks are marketed – to be drunk fast and in high concentrations for a quick energy boost – magnifies their adverse effects. Indeed, the introduction of “energy shots”, the small volume, high-concentration shots of caffeine, guarana and taurine, available at petrol stations and the like, support this marketing strategy.

What to do?

The major challenges for both health professionals and the general community is the vast array of energy drinks on the market, the differences in their content, and that overall, the industry is largely unregulated. And the fact that the target of these types of energy drinks clearly includes children, adolescents and young adults is cause for great concern.

It’s likely that people will be unaware of the variations in the chemical composition and caffeine dosage in energy drinks. And with minimal and poorly stated warnings on energy drink cans, the potential for adverse effects, overdose, poisoning, and potentially death all remain distinct possibilities.

In Australia, energy drinks are regulated under Standard 2.6.4 of the Code by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and the maximum amount of caffeine allowed is 320 milligrams per litre. But because many energy drinks are sold in small volumes, their numerous additional additives exceed this limit.

A typical can of energy drink contains up to 300 milligrams of caffeine, from added caffeine and natural sources such as guarana, but importantly, in volumes far less than a litre – usually 200 millilitres or less. This includes “energy shots”, which clearly also don’t meet the requirements of Standard 2.6.4. Many energy drinks are also marketed as “dietary supplements” or “conventional foods” in an attempt to circumvent standard requirements of both the FDA and FSANZ.

Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of energy drink consumption in susceptible young people, we clearly need greater community education and awareness. This may require somewhat drastic measures, such as clear, graphic warnings on energy drink cans to warn people of their potential dangers (much like the highly successful packaging of cigarette cartons which include images of the consequences of smoking, such as cancer).

Another initiative may be to restrict the sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents, who are often the target of energy drink advertising and who face significant peer influence. The collective goal of such measures is to protect the young by raising community awareness of the potential detrimental effects of energy drinks.

Needless to say, the outcome of the current FDA investigation into the 13 reported deaths will be followed in Australia with great interest.The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Food for thought: key challenges for our industry

Australia is well into deficit when it comes to its food processing trade.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council's annual State of The Industry report (using ABS figures and KPMG's research) released in September showed we imported a net $2.8 billion worth of food and beverage, grocery and fresh produce.

More worryingly, total industry output dipped 4.5 percent for 2010-11 and its number of employees went down by 2.2 percent.

"The sector's growth, competitiveness and ability to create jobs are under threat," Gary Dawson, the AFGC CEO, said when the report was released.

"The findings of State of the Industry 2012 serve as a warning to policy makers at all levels of government that the Australian food and grocery manufacturing sector – Australia's largest manufacturing sector – is facing an environment where input costs are rising on everything from commodities to labour to energy, and retail price deflation continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure".

Why are things in such an apparently bad way?

The high dollar – as has been the case with almost every segment of manufacturing – has presented problems. Terry Davis, the CEO of Coca-Cola Amatil – the parent company of SPC Ardmona, Australia's biggest fruit and vegetable processor – has said that supermarket private labels, the high dollar and taxes were driving many in the industry out of business.

"We all know high labour costs are an issue," he told a Rabobank agribusiness event, while pointing out the payroll taxes were a massive pain. "Tell me how a tax on employment fosters sustainability?"

Dan Tehan MP, a federal Liberal backbencher, is another outspoken critic of taxes on food manufacturers.

Tehan, the member for Wannon and a former adviser to federal Nationals leader Mark Vaile, believes that the carbon tax risks sending industries such as diary overseas.

"In recent government policy, obviously the carbon tax harms our international competitiveness and the government has hung the food manufacturing sector out to dry," Tehan told Food magazine. He compares it unfavourably to the EU's treatment of its food processors.

"The European Union not only gives its agricultural slash food processing sector subsidies, it also allocates them with free permits under their carbon tax."

Tehan also believes that the National Food Plan, which is in the green paper stage and ended its consultation period on September 30, will do nothing to address the problems food manufacturing faces.

"We've seen job losses in this area and yet government hasn't done anything to help what is key part of the whole food chain, where you value add, add additional income and employ people.

"At this stage it just seems to be a lot of motherhood statements. And one would hope that it would address the tough issues that need to be addressed if we are to ensure the long-term future of food manufacturing in Australia."

The food manufacturing industry's malaise isn't exactly news. The AFGC and consultants AT Kearney released 2020: Industry at a Crossroads report a year ago, predicting 130,000 jobs in the sector would disappear by 2020 if nothing was done, and that 55 per cent of manufacturers were pessimistic about the future.

The SPC Mooroopna plant's closure last year made big news. The beginning of the year saw Heinz stop tomato sauce production, closing its Girgarre factory, which also had people talking about the decline of local food processing. As did the announcement that Kerry Ingredients would close its Altona factory.

What's behind the industry's woes? Of course, exchange rates hurt. Others have pointed to the rise of private label brands in supermarkets.

In-house supermarket products have been around for three decades or more, but has only recently become so popular. IBIS World research published this year suggested a quarter of groceries were private labels.

Critics, such as the AFGC, say that private labels are getting in the way of Australian products getting to consumers, robbing Australian makers of shelf space, being increasingly produced offshore, and forcing them to whittle their margins away to compete on price.

"The Australian food processing sector is being destroyed," said David McKinna, a food industry consultant and principal of McKinna et al.

"Australia is going the same way as the UK and US where private labels are up to 70 per cent of the supermarket range."

For all the pessimism, are there many opportunities for Australian food and beverage manufacturers?

Certainly, with the Asian Century singled out as a big potential boost for future sales. Wine exporters are seeing excellent improvements in sales to China, the fastest growing market for Australian wine. The growing Asian middle class was singled out as a huge opportunity for Australian processed food in the recent Prime Minister's manufacturing task force report, describing it as "one of the few areas of manufacturing where high distance costs are outweighed by other factors, in this case Australia's natural resource advantage."

The task force report recommended initiatives like a Food Industry Innovation Hub to best identify what the market's marketing and taste needs might be.

"Food is singled out, it's something that's a comparative advantage in Australia," Professor Roy Green, a member of the task force, told Food magazine. "And food manufacturing is an important value adding element of food production."

Our biggest manufacturing segment has a huge potential to do well, despite the current difficulties around cheap imports, input costs and taxes, and the purchasing habits of supermarkets.

"If we can't do that, well, what can we do? That's a kind of basic product that we really have to be successful in," said Green.


 

Here’s a meaty question – are barbecues bad for your health?

As we settle into the barbecue season, it’s time to consider whether the meat on your grill is harming your health. Conflicting messages in the media certainly don’t help. On one hand are advertisements with Sam Neill claiming red meat is the reason that humans are smarter than orangutans.

On the other, the prestigious World Cancer Research Fund reports that red meat may cause colorectal cancer. Whom to believe?

The good bits, and bad

Some red meat does contain fats our brains need. Omega-3 fats form part of the structure of brains and eyes, and may also help reduce blood pressure and modify inflammation. But meat isn’t the only food containing omega-3 fats. In fact, the richest sources are oily fish.

And if you buy grain-fed steak, you may be getting hardly any omega-3 fats at all. Grass-fed meat (and wild meats, such as kangaroo) is not only better for the environment, but better nutritionally, containing healthier fats and a lower fat content overall.

Red meat also contains decent amounts of zinc and protein, as well as iron, which is one of its big nutritional selling points. Indeed, the iron in red meat is in a form that our bodies absorb easily – “haem” iron.

Meat producers are fond of producing colourful ads that equate the iron content of a bucket-load of spinach with that of a small juicy-looking nugget of lean beef. And iron deficiency is an important issue – but that same haem iron may be harmful in fatty processed meat as you will see.

As well as beneficial nutrients, meat also contains saturated fat, the kind that promotes increased cholesterol levels in the blood and blocks blood vessels that the heart relies on to keep working.

The fat content of meat varies markedly with species and cut. If you buy untrimmed brisket, chuck or shoulder, or luxury marbled meat, such as wagyu or kobe beef, your meat will be around 10% to 20% fat. Ribs, neck, pork belly, and the cheapest minced meat can be up to 50% fat. You can get down to 3% to 5% fat if you trim your meat well of all visible fat and choose leaner cuts, such as loin and round steak, flank and shanks.

Meat and cancer

The cancer risk associated with high consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, is definitely cause for concern. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) produced an expert report that assessed the evidence for causal links between food, lifestyle and cancer, based on data from all studies that met quality standards.

In the report, the WCRF concluded that there was “convincing” evidence (that is, evidence of both the mechanism and the effect) for a link between colorectal cancer and high intakes of red meat. The link was strongest for processed red meat – bacon, salami, sausages and hot dogs, which contain curing agents such as nitrates and nitrites.

The studies’ data indicated that cancer risk continued to rise with higher meat intakes. This rise appears to start once red meat consumption exceeds 300 grams in a week. The WCRF’s recommendation is that people who eat red meat should consume less than 500 grams a week, including very little if any processed meat products. There was no data to indicate that any level of processed meat intake was free of risk.

Eating fish may help reduce colorectal cancer risk, and some studies indicate that a high fibre intake, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables, are associated with reduced cancer risk.

How it works

How red meat causes the increase in cancer risk is still a question in search of a complete answer. Many different components of meat have been suggested as a mechanism, including the curing agents nitrate and nitrite that are present in processed meat; the fat or the haem iron in meat; the excess protein load that big meat eaters might often consume; and the carcinogens, such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs)and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), that can be formed during the cooking of meat.

Protein doesn’t appear to be the culprit, despite the fact that the end products of excess protein intake are quite toxic (these are excreted if the kidneys are working normally). Unlike high-protein diets, high-fat diets have been shown in animal studies to increase cancer risk, apparently promoting gut cancers through their damaging effects in the gut as well as contributing to obesity, which itself is a cancer risk factor.

But studies of low-fat diets haven’t shown a reduction in risk, so other factors may also be involved. The problem with processed meat seems mainly to stem from its salt content (associated with risk of stomach cancer) and its content of nitrates and nitrites, which are added as part of the curing process and can be converted to carcinogens.

 

Carcinogenic substances HCAs and PAHs are produced when you cook your meat at a high temperature or on an open flame. jo/Flickr

 

And unlike the iron in plant foods, the haem iron in meat seems to help produce mutagens and carcinogens in the meat and in the gut by reacting with the fat in the meat, and by helping to convert nitrates and nitrites to their carcinogenic form.

There are a lot of studies showing that the carcinogenic substances HCAs and PAHs are produced when you cook your meat at a high temperature or on an open flame, and that colorectal cancer risk increases when you consume a lot of these. Some people have a genetic sensitivity to HCAs and they’re at even higher risk.

Mysteriously, although barbecuing chicken and seafood produces large amounts of HCAs, these don’t seem to be associated with increased cancer risk, perhaps because they are different types from the ones that red meats produce. And perhaps their lower iron content has something to do with it.

Cooking for shorter times, or at lower temperatures, produces smaller amounts of HCAs and PAHs. Raw meat, surprisingly, is no less digestible than meat cooked briefly either at high or low temperatures. What really makes a difference in digestibility is overcooking until meat is tough. This reduces digestibility significantly but that increases again in long, slow cooking.

 

Marinating meat with certain ingredients may be a good idea for health as much as for flavour. exceptinsects/Flickr

The magic of marinades

Interestingly, marinating meat may be a good idea for health as much as for flavour. A Portuguese study found that several hours’ marinating in beer or red wine significantly reduced the production of HCAs in beef, perhaps by reducing movement of precursor substances to the surface of the meat, or by adding antioxidants that inhibit the reaction.

Other studies have successfully used garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage, and olive oil with garlic and lemon. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil had a similar effect. But adding sugar or fruit to marinades appears to increase the risk of burning and forming more carcinogens.

So, as you wheel out your barbecue this summer, consider serving sustainable seafood or organic chicken some of the time instead of red meat; stick to smaller serves of grass-fed lean meat, marinated without sugar or salt and cooked to a juicy medium-rare, away from a bare flame; and have plenty of salad with your meal. Food for thought?

Suzie Ferrie does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Image: Supermarket News

The rise and rise of niche brewed beers

With beer consumption in Australia at a 50 year low and mainstream beer manufacturers suffering a drop in sales, micro-breweries have noticed a gap in the market and working over-time to fill it.

Interest in high-quality craft beer is gaining momentum and as a result, production is increasing.

According to brewer Will Tatchell, his production has increased from less than 30,000 litres each year to more than 100,000. Tatchell explained that craft beer is currently the only sector of positive growth in Australia’s beer making industry.

"More and more micros are popping up, and they're getting bigger and bigger all the time," supplier Sandy Ross said.

Craft beer consumption in Australia has continued to rise, and currently accounts for about one to two per cent of the total beer market.

Once a favourite for beer elitists, specially-brewed beers have flooded the market with a wide range of hops, syrups and flavours being sourced from all around the world.

As the weather heats up and the time comes when most of us will start thinking about what we’ll be drinking come boxing day, we look at some of the best products on the market and talk to industry experts about what’s next for this exciting industry.

Kosher beer
Old Time Brewing is a company operating out of Victoria which says its range of premium lager would win hands down against the competition.

Marketing manager, Mike Fennel says the beer, which has no preservatives or additives, is smooth, easy drinking and easy on the palate, which makes it different from other lagers.

“People don’t want to buy bitter beers. The market is changing,” he told Food Magazine.

While lager may not be the first product to come to mind when we think about specially crafted beverages, Old Time Brewing has a distinct point of difference, being the only kosher certified beer on the market.

Fennel says that being kosher certified is no mean feat and that the guidelines are “the most strict in the country ” and involves going to the field where crops are grown to ensure guidelines are met ‘from the ground up.’

“We got involved with Kosher Australia because they have quality products that are safe and taste great,” he said.

“If you’re going to make a beer, why not make it the best beer you can taste?”

Next for the company is a pear cider with reduced levels of sulphate, with production due to commence before Christmas.

Fennel is also keen to tap into the mead market and expects the product to be the next big success story in the Australian beverage market.

Old Time Brewing is currently distributing right across Victoria and is also selling into bottle shops in New South Wales.

Pressure from the big boys
Japanese owned giant Lion’s recent takeover of Little World Beverages shows how the niche market is susceptible to the pressures of market competitiveness, and that even with great-tasting products, expansion and marketing are the key to long-term success.

The Australian company, which brews brands including Little Creatures and White Rabbit beers, was created 13 years ago and co-founder Howard Cearns said the takeover process was an emotional one.

"I think there's a little bit of emotion amongst the guys affectionately remembering how the staff tended to call themselves ‘creatures’."

Small breweries are also expected to feel the pressure as Coca-Cola Amatil announced they will move towards expanding into the premium beer market.

CCA is currently subject to a restraint not to sell, distribute or manufacture beer in Australia until 16 December, 2013.

However, an agreement with the Australian Beer Company will see CCA lend up to $46 million to the company which will be used to assist with the acquisition and expansion of brewery near Griffith, NSW.

CCA’s group managing director, Terry Davis said, “This new agreement with Casella will give CCA the opportunity to access a world class, low cost brewery which will enable us to re-enter the premium beer market in Australia after 16 December 2013 with sufficient initial manufacturing capacity to cater to approximately 15 percent of the premium beer market in Australia.

“CCA’s large scale sales and distribution expertise and experience, combined with the draught and packaged brewing capability of the Australian Beer Company, will provide international beer companies after 16 December 2013 with a uniquely independent route to market in Australia and the ability to partner with the leading non-alcoholic beverages and spirits partner for the licenced trade.”

However, the decision does not seem to be scaring away the niche crafted brewers from entering the market.
The Morpeth Brewery and Beer Company, run out of a small room at the Commercial Hotel, produces 200 litres of beer a brew their micro brewery.

Brewer Dave Allen says that the “move to craft beers and speciality beer is growing.”

“It is a sector that is growing faster than the mainstream,” he said. 

And while Allen’s beer might never reach the scale of other specially crafted brands, his story shows how consumers are responding positively to pushes from the smaller players by giving crafted beer space to flourish in a saturated market.

 

What does ‘free range’ mean? Why the ACCC was right to knock back egg trademark

On November 2, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued an initial assessment knocking back a certified trademark application by the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL). The decision is here.

The key element of the trademark relates to the use of the term “free range” for eggs. The supporters of the trademark have been fighting back. In my view, the ACCC is right and the AECL is wrong.

There are currently a range of uses of the term “free range” for advertising eggs to customers. The words mean something. The benchmarks used by the ACCC were the dictionary definition of the words, existing standards put up in both legislation and by other farming bodies, and the submissions to the assessment. Let’s ignore the latter and assume (as The Land article does) that these are all biased chook-huggers.

The standard of stocking in the AECL trademark is given in paragraph 46 of the ACCC initial assessment:

Outdoor stocking density can be up to 20,000 birds per hectare

This number is significantly more than other approaches to the term “free range”. There is a model code of practice that has the stocking density at 1,500 birds per hectare. There is Queensland legislation that states:

A person must not keep more than 1500 laying fowl in a hectare in the outdoor range of a free range system.

The same stocking density for free range eggs is incorporated into legislation currently before the NSW and SA parliaments. There are other standards set by bodies such as the RSPCA and the Victorian farmers federation as well as overseas bodies. Indeed, of twelve other comparisons, the highest number for stocking density reported by the ACCC is 2,500 hens per hectare for ‘free range’. So the AECL is out by a factor of eight!

The ACCC concludes at paragraph 142:

The ACCC is therefore concerned that the AECL Standards governing free range egg production … has the potential to mislead or deceive consumers.

Damn right!

The AECL’s attempt to weaken the meaning of the term “free range” is just one example of an all-too-common practice. Individually, sellers have an incentive to devalue words in their promotions in order to raise sales. This can lead to a race to the bottom, where the meaning of the words gets reduced until they are meaningless. But this harms all sellers as devaluing language reduces the ability to communicate with customers.

That is why we have standards and these standards benefit sellers as a whole, even if individually they would like to ‘cut corners’ on language.

So the party that should really feel aggrieved by the AECL attempt to devalue the term “free range” is the egg farmers themselves. If the AECL standard is approved, then it simply means that the term “free range” is devalued. Egg producers who want to distinguish their product will have less ability to do so and there will be a race to the bottom in terms of production quality and price. And turning eggs back into a commodity product does not benefit egg farmers.

Egg producers should be thanking the ACCC for protecting their standards. And they should be telling the AECL in no uncertain terms to “back off” from devaluing their ability to differentiate their product.

An earlier version of this article was originally posted at Core Economics.

Stephen King was a Member of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from 2004 to 2009.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

In vino veritas

Last year Penfolds released its most expensive wine ever, the Bin 620 cabernet shiraz blend.

The price tag of $1000, a bit rich for most, created some interest, as did the choice of city – never before had Penfolds launched a wine outside of Australia – for the unveiling, Shanghai. 

The Asian Century gets talked about a lot in terms of what it'll mean to Australian food and beverage makers.

The type of manufacturer that is expected to excel in the future is seen as one with a high value-add, high-quality product that appeals to the increasingly affluent Chinese middle class with a growing appetite for the finer things in life – such as wine.

Wine Australia released their Wine Export Approval Report last week to the sound of cheers from vintners who'd been putting more and more resources into the Far East. Sales to China were up 16.3 per cent by volume, and, much better still, 23.1 per cent by value, for the year to September. 

"China's demand for premium wine continues to drive strong growth in the higher price segments, with the above $10.00 per litre segment a stand-out, up 37 per cent," Wine Australia's chief executive Andrew Cheesman said.

"The average value per litre of Australian bottled imports to China is now for the first time higher than the average for French wines," Cheesman explained.

The boom in sales of big, highly-alcoholic red wines to the United States starting in the late 1990s (encouraged by uber-influential US wine critic Robert Parker) has well and truly tapered off, and the Australian wine industry has shrunk significantly in the last few years. 

China's appetite is, however, on the up and up. Since 2005-2006 we've grown exports to that market from $21 million a year to more than $200 million a year.

Earlier in the month CRI English, a Chinese news service, noted the increasingly prestigious image of Australian wine among the Chinese.

Australia is seen as an exporter with a unique, clean product, with innovation in growing techniques and packaging on its side.

"You know it's an enormous market, but the adoption of wine as a product beyond the novelty stage, which it is currently at, is going to take a while," Professor Tony Spawton of University of SA told CRI. 

"The return from China, I would suggest, is going to be a long time in the future."

Red wine is seen as a mark of sophistication, a status symbol, especially if it's expensive (and, some have noted, especially if it's in a bottle sealed with cork). Cheap wine just won't do, explained  Zhang-yue Zhou, director of the AusAsia Business School at James Cook University.

"As a country we are not doing a good job of promoting our wine to the Chinese market, I think that's damaging to our wine reputation. In China, if (a product) is cheap, normally people will believe it's not good," he said earlier this year.

"They often associate their consumption to status, not to whether they enjoy the quality of the product."

And, perhaps highlighting the interest in expensive Australian reds, our higher end wines are good enough to copy, with bottles labelled "Benfolds" (an apparent aping of Penfolds) and "Hill of Glory" (a near-facsimile of Henschke's $600-a-pop Hill of Grace) spotted, and Grant Brinklow of Sandalford Wines last week suggesting the Federal Government needed to do more to combat Chinese piracy.

With China the fastest-growing market for wine in the world, the opportunities are strong for Australian winemakers to capitalise, so long as their product isn't driven downmarket where it's being sold.

And what can be learned from the gains being made in the Chinese market? It seems to be a case of a segment of Australian manufacturing playing to its strengths. 

Our wines – and our food and beverage products in general – are seen as clean, innovative, high-quality products.

The variety of climates and soil types in Australia offer a wide variety of wine styles. 

And it seems that the times very much suit winemakers. 

Wine manufacturers are well-placed to take advantage of the Asian Century.

And it's not just winemakers, with cheese producers, for example, seeing massive recent jumps in Chinese sales.

As long as quality and costs aren't cut, then our food and beverage makers can potentially do well out of the growing number of Chinese citizens who are able to afford – and who demand – top-shelf stuff to take away their hunger and thirst.

Where’s the freedom to choose free-range?

Consumers are increasingly concerned about how farm animals are kept, raised, transported, and slaughtered. Most people show their concern by buying “ethical” farm products, such as free-range eggs and organic meats. Consumers should not have to undertake extensive research to get a general idea of where their food comes from, but can they trust – or even understand – product labelling?

The chicken industry and labelling issues surrounding chickens raised for meat and eggs have been a fixture in the news lately. Late last year, two major chicken producers were taken to the Federal Court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for using advertising and promotional activities to mislead consumers on the welfare of broiler chickens.

The outcome of the case is pending but is likely to hold huge implications for consumers and chicken farmers in Australia.

More recently, the Australian Egg Corporation (AEC) applied to the ACCC to allow producers within the corporation to advertise eggs as “free-range” under a certified trade mark.

The AEC’s proposed stocking density to meet the free-range certification is 20,000 birds per hectare. This represents a huge increase from the 1500 birds per hectare recommended in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals.

 

Where did they come from? Plonq/Flickr

 

It is likely that the majority of public comments submitted in response to the AEC’s application will be strongly opposed to the suggested standard. Opposition from animal protection groups is due to a concern for the animal welfare implications following such a dramatic increase in stocking density. Groups such as the Free Range Farmers Association feel that the AEC’s suggested trademark undermines consumer trust in the free-range label in order to charge a higher price for eggs.

Consumer preference for free-range eggs is what compels industry bodies such as the AEC to market their products as animal-friendly. But in doing so there is the risk that the animal-friendly label will become meaningless.

The AEC’s attempts to find consumer support for the increased stocking density has been shrouded in controversy after claims that the organisation hid results of a preliminary survey revealing consumer support of just 7% out of 5000 participants.

An online survey I distributed earlier this year (results soon to be published) to 840 Australians revealed that 68% look for a free-range label when buying eggs and 32% also preferred a free-range label on meat products.

Yet almost 70% of those surveyed said it is difficult or extremely difficult to identify animal-based foods that promote the acceptable treatment of animals.

If this is what you think free range looks like, think again. deepwarren/Flickr

 

More than 30% admitted to have limited or no understanding of the label meanings on animal-based foods. When asked if labels for meat and eggs (such as free-range) are defined in legislation, only 29% correctly said no.

Furthermore, when asked if broiler chickens each have approximately one square metre to move around in, 81% were either unsure or incorrectly said yes.

The connection between consumers and farm animals is weakened by the commercial interests of producers. It is in the producers' best interests to have consumers satisfied with a free-range label rather than being aware of the intricacies of farming methods. As a result, there are sharply polarised perspectives on the ethics of modern farming methods.

We have a situation where an industry group wants to describe a stocking density of 20,000 birds per hectare as “free-range”, set against the opposing views of animal protection groups such as Humane Choice, who strongly believe that the conditions included in the AEC’s Certified Trade Mark proposal do not take hen welfare seriously. The RSPCA highlights the impacts of beak trimming and increased stocking density on hen welfare in their response for the ACCC. In the middle are a lot of well-meaning yet confused consumers.

If the AEC is permitted to increase stocking density of hens by over 1300% and stamp a free-range label on it, are consumers going to be aware of this from the label?

The findings of my study and others of similar nature demonstrate that the message of animal welfare is out there: caged eggs are more frowned upon than ever. But consumers are having a hard time putting their dollar to good use.

We may want farm animals to have sufficient space and resources to lead relatively stress-free lives, but if we allow industry bodies such as the AEC to cash in on the feel-good quality of labels such as free-range, we are doing a disservice to both the animals and ourselves.

Sally Healy was the 2011 recipient for the RSPCA Australia Scholarship for Humane Animal Production Research.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Changes at the chocolate factory

Nothing untouched

“Look, in the last 12 months, there won’t be nothing we don’t touch and improve with efficiencies in manufacturing,” Klark Quinn, the 30-year-old in charge of overhauling the iconic confectionary maker Darrell Lea and making it profitable again said.

Quinn, the son of VIP Petfoods owners Tony and Christina (whose fortune BRW this year estimated at $350 million), is no stranger to getting his hands dirty and to turning a factory’s operations around.

At the time of writing, Darrell Lea has just started to be stocked on the shelves of selected IGA supermarkets, and the Quinns are trying to get DL into Coles and Woolies, too. Are deals with other supermarket chains just waiting to be inked?

“Pretty much; first thing of all we set up meetings with all Australian retailers and we’re pretty open and public with the future of Darrell Lea,” said Quinn when Food Magazine visited the Kogarah plant, which opened in 1962, in Sydney’s south.

“The need for Darrell Lea from the Australian public – the prime minister talking about it on national TV [when it went into administration in July], the amount of media attention, proves how iconic and strong the Darrell Lea brand is. So we need to capitalise on that.”

When the 85-years-old, fourth-generation family-owned Lea – famous for products like its soft eating liquorice and Rocklea Road bars – announced its collapse in July, everyone from prime minster Julia Gillard to septuagenarians who had grown up with the brand were disappointed. Comments on another Australian icon gone and the sad end of an era – and more headlines involving a pun on “rocky road” than you could possibly count – were hard to miss. Sales of their products all shot up as consumers flocked to the closing retail outlets to stock up in what they thought was their last chance to do so.

Saving an Aussie brand

But in early December, DL found a buyer: the Quinn family, who stumped up an undisclosed sum (estimated at $25 million) to rescue the brand and its manufacturing operations. Not surprisingly, there was a lot that needed changing and will require further changes.

First of all, getting Lea into the supermarkets is a big step. Refusing to be a supermarket brand but not quite positioning itself as a premium confectioner (like Haigh’s, for example) meant Lea limited itself.

“Yeah, tradition killed them to some extent,” explained Quinn.

Further than that, there was a mountain of improvements that needed to be made to the way Darrell Lea cranked out its sweets.

“It was very fat and inefficient before, so we need to make it into a lean manufacturing process. With a mind to

looking after the brand and not compromising the quality or upsetting any of the loyal Darrell Lea customers.”

What to keep?

When we spoke to Quinn last week, it was early days in the company’s revamp. He says they’ve only retained 186 out of 700 products, with many performing poorly and some, for example boiled lollies, being produced at a considerable loss. Despite the aggressive shedding of loss-making product lines, he’s moving cautiously in other ways.

“You can’t build Rome in a day, and you can’t make too many changes,” he explained. “You have to be mindful as well, that a lot of people have been here for over 40 years, and an exceptional amount of people have been here for 30 years, so people are part of the furniture, and if you start changing the furniture too quick, you’re going to upset a lot of people.

“But at the same time we have purchased machinery and equipment. And as soon as last week we started setting new equipment to help product efficiencies… So in the next six months we’re planning to touch 50 per cent of all production lines and improve them by 20 per cent. So that’s already happening. We don’t want to make too many quick decisions, too early.”

Also part of the rationalisation process was doing away with anything that wasn’t completely Australian-made. Quinn gave the example of Bo-Peeps. Despite their sentimental value with some, the foreign-made sweets aren’t part of the new Lea.

“And the way they’re produced and having them produced overseas is not part of our vision. So firstly, to keep them Australian-owned and Australian-manufactured is our number one priority.”

Getting involved

Quinn, who begins his day at 7 am and who often retires to his bachelor loft (the ironically-named “Penthouse”) around midnight, is currently spending as much time as he can, involving himself in all the aspects of the factory’s operations. “It’s extremely important that I understand every facet of the business.”

The general manager considers his experience in 2009, when VIP bought Bush’s International (now Australian Pet Brands) for $45 million, a valuable lesson. The family placed Klark at Bush’s Dubbo factory and brother Kent (at the Ingleburn site) in charge of reviving the troubled manufacturer.

“Being on the floor certainly helped and straight away we gained a lot of respect from the employees on the floor, and that helped change the business,” he stated.

“With that culture change, getting people to trust and respect you goes a long way. And that’s really important in any takeover of a business; you need to very quickly gain the respect and trust from the employees. And that, just by our natural demeanour that the family has; we’ve all worked on the floor, we all know what it takes to pack product into a box and drive a forklift and run a machine – we’ve all done this before – so we have a very healthy respect for what it takes to do that.”

After throwing himself into Bush’s, the Quinn brothers managed to stem the bleeding (the company was losing $400,000 a week, says Klark after five months. Within a year, it was turning a tidy profit again.

The future

The Quinns now plan to relocate the factory’s operations. The factory, which currently sees 160 tonnes of liquorice (and is the largest liquorice producer in Australia) and 20 tonnes of chocolate produced each week, on a site with a 5,000 pallet storage capacity, won’t be doing what it does now in 18-24 months.

“Part of our sale and purchase agreement was to purchase the Darrell Lea site at Ingleburn, which it previously planned to relocate many, many years ago, but they had had the opportunity to.

“So we’ve got about a 7,000 pallet controlled environment warehouse on a 40,000 square metre block of land. We plan to build a world-class facility. And that will be a far more efficient and ergonomic plant.”

For the time being, Quinn will continue learning about the Kogarah site. He admits his current schedule is unhealthy but necessary for getting the job done properly. And for the time being, chocolate lovers should keep an eye out for Darrell Lea on supermarket shelves when they’re shopping for Christmas supplies.

 

Water water everywhere: should Australia adopt WHO bottled water standards?

Australia’s bottled water representative body wants local producers and sellers to adopt the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits for chemicals in bottled water.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received an application from the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) to adopt limits to the amount of chemicals, as set out In WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality.

The ABWI said the move would benefit the packaged water industry and bring Australia and new Zealand onto the same international playing field.

“This application will reassure consumers that chemical constituents in packaged water are regulated on a mandatory level to the same levels as those set internationally,” the submission said.

“The inclusion of such limits will also enhance the ability of the industry to compete in export markets overseas.
If the changes were to be adopted in Australia, there would be six times more mercury allowed in bottles water sold in Australia.

Arsenic and lead levels accepted would drop significantly though, and organic matter would be less acceptable.
Dr Chris Schyzens, Senior toxocoligst and risk manager at FSANZ told Food Magazine the changes would put the Australian industry at the same level as other developed countries.

“Very simply, currently we have 17 chemical analysed in the standard, WHO’s limits has 90, so there is a large increase in chemical detections required.

“Having 90 tested as opposed to 17, from talking to industry, and they are the applicants, they’ve said that their voluntary code, the model code, already follows WHO guidelines, and they’re testing about 49 chemicals.”

Ben Dutton, general manager of brand marketing at Noble Beverages, which captures and distributes H2O water brand, told Food Magazine that tightening the code will not make any difference to companies doing the right thing.

“Consider the landscape three or four years ago, the industry was almost non-existent compare to now.

“The point is that we do have some smaller bottled water companies that might not be taking quality control as seriously as they should be so if WHO standards makes these operators lift their game, that’s a good thing for food consumers.

“Maybe, and only maybe operators that are drawing tap water off, putting it though filters and bottling it, would have problem if they had to ensure they met these standards.

“If it means these companies have to life their game, overall it is good thing.”

“We’ve seen over the last four years or so that it has been a race to bottom as far as price is concerned and most manufacturers are cutting prices dramatically to maintain their place in the market and smaller companies have felt a lot of pain.

As to whether the adoption of WHO standards would improve the waters that are imported to Australia, Dutton was cautiously optimistic.

“I don’t know, I do know [Australia is] importing water from Indonesia and Malaysia and certainly we have mineral water imported from Europe and the US, but I would be inclined to see most bottled water imported would be regulated.

“The challenge in Australia is that even though the bottles water industry has gone through a huge period of consolidation over the last three years, we have this situation now where a lot of small operators have gone out of business or been bought by major companies.”

Schyzens agrees that the huge increase in the bottled water market in Australia has led to some smaller, dodgy companies creeping into the sector, but for the most part, Australian water companies are all doing the right thing and just want to ensure the industry is regulated.

“I think that’s the intention and this has been a call from the industry body the  industry are the ones who have come to us and said ‘here’s a set of values we think would be good for water and that gives consumers peace of mind’”.

“They are the ones who want this, because they already highly regulate themselves, so they want to ensure everyone else is doing the same.

Dutton told Food Magazine that for the companies doing the right thing, which most of them are, there is nothing to be concerned about if the WHO standards are introduced.

“In the Australian industry, there are a lot that are already testing to quite high specifications, whether that’s because they’re trying to get into supermarkets or retailers, they have so many reasons, including the safety of consumers, to do so.

“One New Zealand company is trying to enter the New York market, for example, and their specifications are incredibly high.

While Dutton and Schyzens both agree on the vast majority of the potential new guidelines, there is one issue where their opinions differ.

FSANZ wants to accept all the chemical standards except for the fluoride standard, which it wants to maintain at the current Australian level.

“There’s probably two main reasons for that, and it is important to note that the [WHO)] document allows for nations to make a call based on local consumption of fluoride so we’re not ignoring WHO advice.

“In 2009, after a lot of research and consultation, we determined the maximum should be 1.0 milligrams per litre, which is the same as one part per million.

“So we thought if you have fluoride in packaged water, fluoride is fluoride, wether it’s naturally occurring or added.
“Everyone should be confident standard is at 1.0.”

Dutton explained Noble’s stance on fluoride is about offering consumers choice.

“Our brand is a 100 per cent fluoride free brand and the reason we remove it is because we believe people should have a choice whether they drink fluoride or not.

“People don’t have a choice with government water, but we believe naturally occurring fluoride, not added fluoride, should be the only kind.

“Mass medication is an interesting exercise, but when you deploy mass medication through water, people don’t have a choice as to whether they take the medication or not and there are a million and one studies done into this and the way you look at them can support or disagree with fluoride.

“FSANZ has already allowed bottled water companies to add fluoride but I don’t believe any brand has gone ahead and done that.

“Which makes sense, because consumer are buying it because they don’t want added fluoride, however, naturally it can occur in some streams.”

Schyzens did assure, however, that FSANZ would not be implementing minimum fluoride standards, only a cap on the maximum allowed.

“Added fluoride is just for dental reasons, and is such an incredible public health utility, whilst at same time, we recognise some people are strictly opposed to it, and we’re not saying people have to add fluoride to water, just that they can’t go over one part per million.”

Do you support the tougher regulation of the bottled water industry in Australia?

The new Sicily: DPI heat maps used to produce quality blood oranges in Australia

The Italian influences on Australia’s eating habits have become so ingrained in our diets that we forget where they started.

There have of course been positive impacts felt elsewhere throughout the country since our European football-lovers began immigrating to Australia, but the biggest difference to our society has been with food.

Prior to Italian people setting their sights on these sunburnt shores as a new place to call home, the diets here were boring at best.

Meat and three veg was the way of life, not just an option for nostalgic or laziness reasons.

When you think about how extremely diverse our food offerings are nowadays, it is almost an unfathomable concept.

While Aussies have countless countries to thank for this widening of not only our palates but our culture, the Italian influence has been one of the most significant.

Pasta (including the modern staple of Australian households, spaghetti bolognaise), espresso, pizza, lasagne, garlic bread and different cheeses just were not eaten prior to Italian immigration.

Imagining a life nowadays without these options we now almost consider our own is extremely difficult, and makes one grateful for the diversity brought to Australia by these cultures.

Where did you come from, where do you grow?

Blood oranges are a staple of Italian food, which until recently, we have been unable to enjoy in the same way they do across the pond in Italy.

RedBelly Citrus was more serious about ensuring authentic blood orange offerings for Aussie consumers than Leonardo De Vinci was about painting.

Not only did they decline to work with a marmalade manufacturer because its processing wasn’t in keeping with Grandma’s traditional recipes, but they even got the government involved in selecting the best climate in Australia to grow the fruit before settling on land north of Griffith.

“Sicily is renowned for their blood oranges, they are the biggest growers around the world,” Vito Mancini, Director, Redbelly Citrus told Food Magazine.

“The weather gives them the growing benefits compared to other countries that grow them, like Brazil and Florida because they need a very big differential between day and night temperatures.

“The weather in Sicily can go from nights down to about 2 degrees whereas in the day it gets up to 14, 15 [degrees Celsius] and that difference, the trees don’t like it, and it causes stress and that is why it what comes out in the fruit.

Mancini assured Food Magazine that the “stress” the trees face in the extreme variables of the weather does not damage the tree or the fruit at all, and is necessary to create the colour of the fruit.

“It’s just like growing wine grapes, you get a better wine grape with temperature differences like that too.

“Orange trees aren’t as tolerant as grapevines, if it gets too cold, it will damage the tree.

“So we worked really hard at finding the perfect balance.

“If I go towards Victoria, way in the high country it will get too cold and damage the trees and if I got to northern New South Wales, to Bourke or up to Queensland, it gets too warm and the tree doesn’t develop enough stress.”

“They’ll look like a Valencia, and generally you won’t get typical blood orange.

“It’s taken eight years to get to this point, we worker with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) for a couple of years to work out best variations in temperature and they did heat unit mapping to work it out.

“They grabbed the temperature data from Sicily and overlayed it over southern Australia, over New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and there is a very distinct band which passes close to where we are that had similar temperatures to the growing areas in Sicily.

“So with that data, we could see the similarities.

“We always knew blood oranges grew in this area, but with that data were more confident we could match the Italian version.”

For health's sake

The reasons for ensuring the similarities in temperature between traditional growing regions in Italy and those in Australia was simple, Mancini told Food Magazine.

“Were farmers, not multimillionaires, and had to borrow cons money so needed guarantee that it would work,” he said.

Beyond the need to ensure the venture would be successful for business reasons, Vito Mancini and his fellow Director (and brother), Leonard Mancini are passionate about the benefits of the fruit and sharing the taste and health properties with Australians.

“The best way to put it is to think of a mix between an orange and a berry, like a blueberry,” he said.

“You get all the vitamin C and folate that you get from citrus fruits, which also have lots of other benefits,

“But grapefruit, for example, is really good, but they don’t recommend having them when on certain medications because it has high amounts of hesperin, which interferes with blood pressure tablets because it is a natural blood press regulator.

“Blood oranges don’t have the same level [of hesperin] as  grapefruit, but has got the Vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, but an added benefit they contain belongs to the berry family chemicals, the main one being anthocynanins, which is a group of plant chemicals that have shown a lot of benefits.

“They’re called Neutrogenicals because of their benefits for the skin; they save against UVA and UVB damage, but another added benefit is the angiogenic inhibitors,” Mancini explained to Food Magazine.

Angiogenic inhibitors are molecules that prevent the growth of new blood vessels, which fights against ageing, obesity and most cancers which are dependant on new blood vessels.

Blood orange brothers Len and Vito Mancini

Just like Nonna used to make

Once the Mancini brothers had decided on the very best spot in Australia to grow their blood oranges, they set about making the fruits come to life in the same way their family had done for generations.

But it wasn’t a job that any average company could do, because they were determined not to sacrifice the quality, flavour or process of their marmalades, cordials and syrups.

“The recipes are quite basic, like any good Italian recipe,” Manini told Food Magazine.

“It’s about the quality of the ingredients, rather than quantity.

“We don’t make the product selves, we got contractors to do it because we don’t have bottling facilities and things like that.

“So we went through the receips with them, and some didn’t want to do our recipes, or didn’t have the gear.

“The marmalade for example, the way my Nonna used to make was with long thin strips of marmalade, but we found one company that wanted to run it through a machine to cube it up, so we said no to that.

“A lot of people we spoke to said they had to use preservatives, and I think that by using more natural and basic ingredients, sure we may not have a shelf life of a hundred years, but we have the quality products and the story behind it that’s going to help push it.

“We could use preservatives so that my great grandchildren can eat that jar, but it’s probably not good for them,” Mancini laughed.

With over 40 hectares to take care of and more than 30 000 tress in the ground, the Mancini brothers have a lot of work to do running their business.

Mancini told Food Magazine he pruned 16 000 tress on his own last year alone.

During picking season, the company will hire a few extra sets of hands to help out, but for the most part, they do it on their own, and are enjoying the ride.

Despite the company’s success and a reputation as the expert on all things blood orange, Mancini is humble about their story.

“We will be the biggest producers around Australia, but it’s not about that, we just want to make produce that consumers can understand and appreciate,” he said.

“What we’ve done here, I call it a prototype farm, a huge prototype.

“I believe the world would be able to accept about 1500 tonnes of blood oranges, and if you look at the largest four producers in the world, Morocco, Spain, Turkey and Italy, we’re able to compete here in Australia, being an alternate season.

“What I’m trying to do is open up opportunities for citrus growers in Australia.”

Olive you glad it's authentic?

Another quintessential Italian product Australians have embraced wholeheartedly is olive oil, and according to Paul Berryman, Chief Executive for Bertolli Australia, consumers are much savvier these days when choosing their ingredients.

“Consumers are becoming more and more aware of how the flavour of olive oil helps enhance their dishes,” he told Food Magazine.

“The good quality Mediterranean olive oils are rich, full of flavour but smooth and not too acidic or grassy.”

He explained that in the last 20 years especially, consumers have redefined what they are looking for, and can tell authentic products from the imitations.

“Australians are generally accepting of foreign flavours and this has certainly developed further in the past two decades,” he said.

“We have such a wide range of cultures making up the Australian culture.

“Italians are a big part of Aussie culture and this contributes to this acceptance of Mediterranean food.

“We must also recognise that the Australians of today are also quite different to 15-20 years ago.

“We are a much more multicultural society and many people have grown up with foreign flavours being considered the norm.

“This leads to a greater acceptance to trying new things and a reliance on the products’ country of origin to produce the best.”

The Bertolli range of olivefg oils are still manufactured in Italy to ensure their authentic taste and production, but when asked by Food Magazine whether the company would ever manufacture in Australia, Berryman did not rule it out.

“It is believed that the Mediterranean countries produce the best olive oil,” he said.

“The olive oil for our spray products come from our growers in the Mediterranean but are packed at a local company in Sydney’s west.

“Since the introduction of sprays on the market, we have seen demand growing.

“However, consumers will always want the option of bottled olive oil as this suits other purposes.

“Bertolli is part of a global olive oil company.

“While we have an Italian heritage, we are always looking for new possibilities.”

Accessing the market with innovation

Over 60 years ago, expert psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, a crucial breakthrough for understanding human behaviour and requirements, and it is still used today.

The most important of the needs outlined in his pyramid are the ‘Basic,’ or ‘Physiological’ needs: food, water, shelter and warmth.

Basically, the things essential to keep you alive.

But why is this relevant to packaging? Because what we’re talking about here is how everyone gets some of these most important requirements.

If a person can’t open the package to consume food or water to keep them alive, it is more than a little problem.

Without being dramatic about this, it is a matter of life and death, or at the very least nutrition.

Even the most able-bodies and healthy people know the frustration of not being able to open a package, whether it be food or electronic goods or a packet of pens.

But for an increasing number of Australians, the ability to open many packages is impossible.

“In packaging, there has been a shift towards portion control items andsmaller pack sizes.

“Statistics show that there are 6.4 million people with arthritis or a disability in Australia, seven million people are 50-plus, 1.7 million have problems with their eyesight,” Fergal Barry from Arthritis Australia told Food Magazine.

“If you combine the over-50’s with the number of people with arthritis or a disability, that means one in two are facing some kind of restriction with opening packages.”

“When you to open a jar if pickles, for example, you’re actually performing several tasks at once.

“You’ve got to pick it up and hold it, so the weight and shape of the jar impacts that.

Then there’s the friction, if it’s damp for example, it might be more difficult to hold.

“Then there is the labelling and font size and the effectiveness with how messages are communicated.

“And then the lid!

“The width and the depth of the lid will come into play, as will breaking the seal and resealing it.

“So because it is a combination of tasks, it becomes more difficult.”

Dealing with an ageing population

Our ageing population is growing quicker than medical and assistance services can keep up with, and a recent report found that more than 40 per cent of older Australians living in community housing are “malnourished or at risk of malnourishment.”

Much of this malnourishment can be attributed to the quality of food elderly Australians have access to, how easily they can prepare it, but most importantly, if they can open the packaging it comes in.

And it’s not only in their homes that elderly people are struggling to open food packaging, with those in hospitals often not much better off, as Jacky Nordsvan, Packaging Specialist at Nestlé, told Food Magazine.

“The report by the health services basically showed that poor ease-of-use food packaging is a significant contributor to malnourished elderly in public hospitals,” she said.

“Particularly in public hospitals, where the food is bought in packaged meals, this obviously makes it more difficult for patients to feed themselves.

Nestlé is leading with way in accessible food packaging, to address the needs of not only elderly Australians, but everyone who has ever struggled to get a package opened.

“As they get older, people are less likely to want to ask people to do stuff for you, so it is a real problem we need to address.”

This is where a bunch of Maslow’s other needs on his hierarchy come into play, including safety needs on the rung up from the most basic of needs, all the way up through the self-esteem needs including achievement and respect, to self actualisation needs at the top of the pyramid, which includes talent and fulfilment.

When you look at it like this, and think that packaging is often overlooked by the majority of society, it makes you realise that more has to be done in this market.

1 in 2 Australians struggles to access packaging

“It’s not just focused on that [elderly] part of the population, anything that is hard to open that we can make easier is good for all consumers,” Nordsvan said.

“The reason we’re seen as leaders in the area is because at a packaging conference a couple of years ago, we laid out our packaging and asked people if they could open it and they could use their hands or a knife of hammer and we even had a little mannequin of a husband when it got that hopeless and I think that had our packaging reps been there they would have been mortified about how hard it was.”

Nestlé is one of the partners in Arthritis Australia’s mission to improve packaging accessibility, which Barry points out is about more than just getting a package opened.

“The British use the term ‘openability,’ but I think it suggests by its very nature that it is just about opening packaging, whereas the term we use, ‘accessibility’, is much broader than that,” he said.

“There is more to ‘accessibility,’ there is the openability requirement, which is about being able to open a package.

“There’s the labelling, and people’s ability to read messages and other communications, and lastly the cognitive elements, which is the ability for the consumer to understand messages.”

The collaboration of Arthritis Australia, NSW Health and a number of other manufacturers is a huge step forward for not only developing accessible packaging, but making consumers aware of the importance of doing so.

Fighting for a spot

With all the mandatory information, such as nutritional guides and ingredient lists, added to the essential marketing aspects, on packages which are frequently being cut down to create portion-sized offerings, it’s very crowded place these days.

Add to that the pressures of the high Australian dollar and its impact on exports as well as the strain placed on companies through the supermarket price wars, and you have a very competitive, difficult situation for manufacturers and suppliers.

But if companies are willing to innovate their packaging, like Nestlé has, they will find that they have an extra selling point in the market.

While there will be some costs to changing current packaging to make it accessible, Nordsvan explained that the most crucial way to cut those costs is to consider these needs in the design stages, not when it has been launched and problems identified.

“If you put the consumer in the front of your mind when designing packaging, it is a driver for innovation and when we compare designs, we come up with improvements,” Barry explained to Food Magazine.

“For manufacturers and brand owners in this country with private label increasing in the way that it is, how do you compete with China on cost in Australia?

“We have the Accessibility Benchmark Scale which ranks packaging from a plus eight to minus eight, so if a supermarket is trying to decide between two companies supplying private label packaging, and these isn’t much difference on food quality or price, but the packaging is higher on the accessibility scale, it could win the contract.”

“Now you can say ‘ours is a plus-six and there is a plus-two so ours is far easier to open and will make more sales because unlike us, they have already eliminated parts of the market.’

“It could be your brand that gets deleted from shelves.

“Failure to act when the competition is innovating will lose you the business.

“It will help win business for some, but it will lose it for others.

“And if anyone is sitting there saying ‘that won’t happen,’ well it already is.”

 

Whispering sweet nothings: the evolution of the confectionary industry

Willy Wonka was really onto something with his candy factory.

Not only did he realise that making confectionary will bring a smile to the faces of those who eat it – hell, it will get a bedridden man dancing around like he’s Patrick Swayze at the mere idea of it – but he was also an innovator.

Yes, you read that right, this article is singing the praises of Willy Wonka (“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it, anything you want to, do it…wanta change the world? There's nothing toooo it”) because confectionary is a beautiful thing.

It is one of the most innovative, creative and interesting industries, filled with people just like Willy Wonka, who unfortunately don’t have his chocolate factory, but on the upside do have his imagination and passion for invention.

“Australia has a very good confectionary industry, we have great products and some really good marketing and there are some fantastic smaller brands bubbling away which is a great thing,” Anne Barrington, Product Manager at Keith Harris Flavours & Colours, Bronson & Jacobs told Food Magazine.

“There are some really great gourmet items coming up through the really boutique brands.”

Three dimensional confectionary

The confectionary industry is always expanding, becoming more creative and experimenting with different flavours.

“The main trends we’re seeing are in the chocolate and gummy lolly markets at the moment, which are both pretty dynamic,” she told Food Magazine.

“We’re seeing a lot of sensory things coming through that give you multi dimensional textures and flavours, like the tingling cooling effect and fruit pieces coming through.

“Things that are giving the consumer almost a three dimensional experience with a products are certainly being seen in the chocolate market, which is really tapping into that gourmet part of the market and very much capitalising on very good media on antioxidants with the dark chocolate. 

Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations, which combines a number of different textures, flavours and experiences in one mouthful, launched this month, bringing home Barrington’s point about the increase in sensory experiences in the confectionary market.

“Marvellous Creations was developed in response to Australians telling us they want a chocolate experience to share as part of the family occasion, which is fun, magically exciting and unexpected,” Ben Wicks, General Manager Chocolate, Kraft Foods, told Food Magazine.

“We identified a real opportunity to create a product that is ideal for family sharing and brings everyone together at the end of the day.

“We know that families love the occasional surprise and delight in the unexpected. Marvellous Creations is the ideal way to bring a moment of unexpected joy in the everyday.”

The Marvellous Creations range offers consumers three variations, which may seem like strange combinations at first, but have been met with intrigue in the consumer market.

There’s the peanut, toffee and cookie combination, the jelly and Crunchie bits blend and the jelly, popping candy and beanies offering, all covered in famous Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate.

“We tested a number of different flavour combinations with consumers, and had overwhelming positive response to these,” Wicks explained.

“All three variants are performing extremely well, however Jelly Popping Candy Beanies is proving to be particularly popular after just four weeks on shelves,” Wicks told Food Magazine.

The strangest of combinations

Barrington explained that often, combinations of flavours that might sound odd or a little off-putting, in fact turn out to be very popular.

“Certainly the celebrity chef’s and the food shows are bringing a lot of interest into flavours and how they can work together, which means a lot of consumers are more willing to try new things,” she said.

“What we’re also seeing is a lot of different flavour trends coming through, we’re seeing savoury flavours coming into chocolate, thinks like bacon and lime and salt, salted caramel.

“We’re talking about pretty gourmet boutique brands here, but often what we see is that these things bubble away in the boutique market for a while and then it hits the mainstream once it has been accepted and received by consumers.

“It’s how the consumer accepts those new flavours, and often the gourmet boutique brands are the testing ground for new flavours.

“We’re seeing spices coming into chocolate and even into the gum lolly market, as well as some cinnamon and herbs even!

“Herbs and spices are pretty new, but people are familiar with new things coming into chocolate, we’ve seen some floral flavours, like rose. as well.

And while the confectionary industry often seems to stand on its own and march to the beat of its own drum, Barrington explained to Food Magazine that it is not actually as isolated you may think.

“There confectionary industry also often looks to the beverage markets to see some of the flavour trends going on there, because there is quite a lot of alignment,” she said.

“You might see a lot of berry flavours making their way into the beverage market and being very popular and them confectionary makers might try them in their products.

“One of the biggest trends is the expansion of berries of all types, cherry, blackberry, blueberry.

Food scientists and confectionary experts are always hard at work trying to perfect the flavours available to consumers, ensuring they are as realistic as possible.

“There will always be the favourite flavours, which are the basic flavours in confectionary; raspberry, vanilla, lime, but a lot of those flavours have gotten a  lot more sophisticated in their profiles and particular in the flavour experience, they are much truer to type nowadays,” Barrington said.

“Twenty years ago, mango flavour was what they determined mango to be, which was actually nothing like what a mango tasted like.

“Now that mangoes are so readily available and so popular here, the flavour is more true to the fruit, because it has to be.”

How flavours are changing

Beyond the creativity of the industry, and the seemingly endless combinations thought up by confectionary producers, Barrington told Food Magazine the biggest change has not been about adding things, but rather removing.

She’s talking about artificial colours and flavours, which have almost ceased to exist in not only the confectionary industry, but throughout much of the food sector.

“The biggest change across all sectors has been the natural flavours in products aimed at children,” she said.

“Twenty years ago I would say the bulk of flavours were artificial, or synthetic.

“So absolutely, the natural flavours have expanded.

“Back then, the availability to raw flavours was poor but over the last eight to 10 years, the situation has reversed and the major developments in the industry are focused on natural flavours.”

Barrington said greater understanding of the impacts of additives on health has led to widespread developments and improvements to how the flavours are colours are made.

“Now we have a lot more access to natural flavouring materials, whereas before it was very difficult.

“There is a code for how it is determined and there are very strict laws around natural flavouring and labelling your product as such.

“FSANZ [Food Standards Australia New Zealand]has changed the terminology so it is now referred to as a ‘synthetic’ flavour, rather than artificial.

The Australian confectionary industry follows the International Organisation of the Flavour Industry (IOFI) Code of Practice to ensure the health, quality and ingredients of products.

The health factor

While the enjoyment of confectionary cannot be understated, the industry is, understandably, scrutinised as the rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases rise.

In a move sure to upset chocoholics everywhere – but perhaps please their doctors – Mars announced plans in February to stop shipping chocolate bars that exceed 250 calories per portion.

It will mean the king sized chocolate bars made by the confectionary giant, including Snickers, M&M’s, Mars, Milky Way and Dove will effectively be unavailable by the end of 2013.

Even a regular sized Snickers contains 280 calories, but the company advises that it includes three serving sizes.

A king-sized Snickers contains 510 calories.

The family sized blocks of chocolate produced by the company will still be available, as they are intended to be shared.

Some critics came out swinging, accusing Mars of reducing chocolate size to save money on expensive cocoa, but the company said in a statement that it is another move by the company to create healthier products for its consumers.

The company has previously announced aims to reduce sodium levels in all Mars products by 25 per cent from 2007 levels, stop marketing chocolate products directly to children under 12 and it also started displaying calorie counts on the front of packages, eliminating trans fat and reducing saturated fat.

"Mars has a broad-based commitment to health and nutrition, and this includes a number of global initiatives," the company said in a statement.

Initiatives like Mars’ are increasing fast, but not as fast as people’s waistlines.

Of the most pressing concern is the rapidly increasing occurrences of childhood obesity, and as such, there have been calls from medical associations and parenting groups to have all advertising of junk food to children stopped.

A report in May found that children are seeing 60 per cent less junk food advertising during their television programs, following suggestions from the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) that the practise should be stopped, and calls from health groups to ban ads aimed at those under 12.

In 2009 the AFGC suggested that high sugar, fat and salt (HFSS) foods should not be advertised during television programs aimed at children.

Following the suggestion, however, HFSS advertisements aimed at children did not decrease, but rather in some instances actually increased.

The AFGC maintains this rise was the result of scheduling error, but health groups including the Cancer Council, Parents Jury, Australian Medical Association and the Australian Greens called on the government to step in and ban the practise.

The AFGC said the suggestion to ban cartoons in advertising HFSS foods to children was “unnecessary” last year.

The AFGC then released figures in May to support its suggestions, which found the advertising of HFSS foods during children’s programs has fallen to 0.7 per cent between March and May 2011, down 60 per cent from the previous year.

The independent research by the Australian advertising information service Media Monitors was revealed in the RCMI Activity Report 2011, monitored free-to-air television – including digital channels – across Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney 24/7 for 92 days.

The figures prove that the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI), which was started in 2009, is working, according to AFGC Acting Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison.

Under the RCMI, 17 leading food manufacturers have committed to no advertise to children under 12, unless the ads are promoting healthy dietary choices and a healthy lifestyle.

 “The latest advertising figures confirm that adverts are not running during TV programs aimed at children,” Annison said.

Annison said the AFGC is pleased the food industry has made decisions to protect children with industry codes.

“Industry looks forward to continuing discussions with Government and public health advocates to ensure the RCMI is aligned with community expectations, remains practical for industry to implement and is successful in supporting better diets and health outcomes for all Australians.”

Barrington said that while the health and nutrition, particularly of children, is always of concern, confectionary should always be seen and marketed as a ‘sometimes’ food, and should be enjoyed at those times.

“Confectionary is a hard one because if people want chocolate, they want chocolate!

Certainly in that category, consumers won’t compromise on that.”

Well then, back to the factory for the Oompa Loompas!

 

The problem with gluten is…

One in every hundred Australians are affected by Coeliac disease, but 75 per cent are undiagnosed, meaning that about 160,000 Australians have coeliac disease but don’t yet know it.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and outs, which causes small bowel damage in people with coeliac disease when consumed.

They experience what is referred to as villous atrophy, where the tiny, finger-like projections which line the bowel become inflamed and flattened and the surface area of the bowel available for nutrient absorption is markedly reduced, causing various gastrointestinal and malabsorptive symptoms, according to Coelic Australia.

There are a number of serious health consequences can result if the condition is not diagnosed and treated properly.

How is coeliac disease different to gluten intolerance?

People are born with the genetic predisposition to develop coeliac disease but environmental factors play an important role in triggering coeliac disease in infancy, childhood or later in life.

“We know one per cent of the population has coeliac disease, but the issue is that only 25 per cent of them are diagnosed at the moment,” Penny Dellsperger, Accredited practicing Dietician told Food Magazine.

“I think there are better ways to diagnose, and it’s being picked up on because of the increased awareness, so it’s difficult to know if the rates are actually rising, or if we’re just better at picking up on it now.

“In terms of how quickly it is rising, we believe one in 100 Australians has coeliac disease at the moment, but it could be more than that,

“In terms of gluten intolerance, there is not enough evidence out there to know how many people have that.

“I did hear a figure quoted recently that about 10 per cent of the population is on some sort of gluten restriction, but I don’t know if that is right or necessary.

“It might just be a bit of a fad, and it is a bit of a double-edged sword, because for those who do suffer from coeliac disease it’s good because there is more gluten free food available and having that awareness is good, but on the other end of the sword they may be down-playing the real implications of having coeliac disease.”

Part of the reason for the number of undiagnosed cases of celiac disease is the varied symptoms that come with the condition.

Some people suffer severe symptoms, while others are symptom free and there is also a lot of confusion about coeliac disease and gluten intolerances, as Dellsperger told Food Magazine.

“Obviously ceoliac disease is quite different to being gluten intolerant, there are specific medical tests to diagnose and manage celiac disease and we know exactly how to manage it, whereas gluten intolerance is not well decide and it hasn’t even been officially decided if there is a separate gluten intolerance to ceoliac disease,” she explained.

“If it does turn out that there is a separate condition, that will have implications on how it is dealt with, because at the moment there is no valid test and there is not any damage long term as there is for is no long term damage like there is with coeliac disease.

“Because of that, the actual management could be quite different, with coeliac disease we know people must follow a strict gluten-free diet for their entire lives, whereas with gluten intolerance, as long as the person is feeling fine, then they are fine.

“There certainly is research going into gluten intolerance or sensitivities and hopefully there will be developments on that.

The warning signs

Coeliac Australia says if a person is suffering more than one of the high risk factors, they should not be ignored.

The high risk conditions include Iron Deficiency, Anaemia and other Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies, Autoimmune Disease, Weight Loss, Infertility and Gastrointestinal Symptoms.

 

Those with a family history of the disease should also get tested, as it is a genetic condition.

Other less common symptoms, which are often thought to be unrelated, but could point towards a gluten intolerance include altered mental alertness and irritability, bone and joint pains, fatigue, weakness and lethargy, easy bruising of the skin, recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue and skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis.

In children, failure to thrive or grow normally can be indications of celiac disease.

There is no cure for the condition, and those who suffer from ceoliac disease are sensitive to gluten throughout their lives.

But as the rates of coeliacs rises, so too is the number of gluten-free options available.

As long as the gluten free diet is strictly adhered to, problems arising from coeliac disease should not return.

Advancements in food testing

If a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, they may not suffer any symptoms, but they will do damage to the small bowel.

This is why the testing capabilities for gluten are continually undergoing improvements, as the impacts of coeliacs consuming gluten become more apparent.

Andrew Odd from Australasian Medical and Scientific Ltd told Food Magazine the improved testing capabilities for gluten “has been a long while coming but finally getting there.”

He said the two new gluten testing kits launched by Romer Labs make it simpler and more accurate for manufacturers to ensure there are no traces of gluten in its products.

The AgraStrip Gluten G12 is a lateral flow device for onsite factory testing and the AgraQuant Gluten G12 is an ELISA for quantitative testing in the laboratory.

The brand-new test kits use Romer Labs proprietary gluten detection technology, which employs a next generation antibody, called G12.

“Essentially, it is a colour-change device which can be used on surfaces for environmental monitoring purposes or areas or materials with cross-contamination issues with batches of products, it and can also be used in testing raw materials and finished products,” Odd explained.

“There are some very basic tests involved, but at the end you’ve got a strip which has come colour lines appear which give a visual indication of whether a sample was positive of negative for a particular allergen, in this case gluten.”

He said the new technology affords food manufacturers peace of mind and quality assurance.

“For starters it gives them good confidence in the products they’re manufacturing and they don’t have to run the risk of undeclared allergens being present in products and having to possibly recall a batch,” he told Food Magazine.

“It gives greater control over quality-control programs and allows action to be taken immediately, in real time, because they don’t have to wait for it to be sent to laboratories.”

“The sensitivity levels are very high.

“It detects down as low as five parts per million and currently, there is a lot of international consensus that 20 parts per million and above is considered a problem, so it can beat that level.

“But the levels can also be customised so it isn’t too sensitive.

“Previously the tests to do this sort of analysis were really only available to laboratories, but these strips are making it a lot easier for manufacturers to do the testing on-site, and they don’t need any equipment to run them.”

Children with undiagnosed coeliac disease can suffer lack of proper development, short stature and behavioural problems.

Coeliac Australia works to raise money and find better treatment for children with the condition, by studying the immune responses to gluten in children and working towards new treatments, including a coeliac vaccine.

They also aim to establish effective treatments to prevent or control the acute “food poisoning” that can be experienced in coeliac disease following accidental gluten consumption and develop a diagnostic test for coeliac disease that is effective in people already gluten free without requiring a prolonged gluten challenge and potentially avoid the need for an intestinal biopsy altogether.

Good culture: how the rise in yoghurt consumption is helping Aussie farmers

Yoghurt is one of the fastest-growing food categories in Australia, and the increased consumption is not only improving health, it's helping Aussie farmers.

Whether its health consciousness on the part of consumers, or the range of flavours and types that manufacturers are producing, the rise in popularity cannot be ignored.

A mere few years ago, the Greek yoghurt category was almost non-existent in the Australian market, but the current demand is something that is not being ignored by manufacturers.

As dairy farmers struggle to survive the milk price wars and more dairy products become private-label domain, yoghurt and in particular, Greek yoghurt, is offering Aussie dairy farmers some hope.

“Greek yoghurt uses about triple the amount of milk compared to other yoghurts and the hope and expectation is that this will change the local milk consumption drastically,” Peter Meek, Managing Director for Bead Foods, which is launching Chobani Greek yoghurt in the Australian market, told Food Magazine.

Since launching Chobani in the US five years ago, the consumption of Greek yoghurt has risen dramatically, and Meek anticipates a similar story in Australia.

“There really wasn’t a Greek yoghurt category back in 2007, there were a couple of small niche players and then Chobani came along and almost created the mainstream category,” he explained.

“It’s gone from one per cent of the total yoghurt market to about a third of the market in five years.

“In Australia the greater yoghurt segment is not tracked by retailers, but based on our estimations, we think [Greek yoghurt] is about 15 per cent of the market, and it has seen strong growth in the last few years, mostly the plain variety because people like to add it to cooking and other things.”

Back to basics

The difference is the way the yoghurt is made, which takes on an old-fashioned, traditional approach to making Greek yoghurt, which Meek believes is the main reason it has been so widely adopted in the US and will also be in Australia.

“I think firstly because almost all of it is natural and organic and properly strained. We call ours ‘Greek yoghurt,” not ‘Greek-style” because we strain our yoghurt and it takes three litres of milk to make one litre of our Greek yoghurt,” he told Food Magazine.

“The standard Greek yoghurt available in Australia is 10 per cent fat because it is just full cream milk with cream added and then it is fermented.

“But we start with lots of skim milk, we strain it and remove the fat, which makes it incredibly thick and creamy naturally because there are tons and tons of proteins in there.

“I think the health and wellness trend is growing and consumers are looking for products that are authentic.

“Our yoghurt is milk and cultures, what we don’t use is the stuff consumers are saying they don’t want: gelatines and thickeners and artificial additives.

Chobani has invested $20 million into building what Meek describes as “basically a whole new factory alongside our existing [Gippsland] one,” to make the Greek yoghurt locally.

“We’re putting in a whole processing plant to make the base yoghurt, as well as new filling lines, warehousing and storage capacity to store and ship,” he explained to Food Magazine.

“In the process, we’re also recruiting people for the development and there will be about 25 more peopled when it’s up and running, so we will have an impact on the wider community with employment too.

Milking the dairy industry

“The hope and expectation is that this will change the local milk consumption drastically.

“We currently source all Gippsland dairy from Victoria, so we’re already buying that and once we start making Chobani locally, we will obviously increase the amount we’re buying dramatically.”

“Anything that uses local milk has got to be a great thing.

“One reason we will make the milk here is that we will have access to a wonderful quality of milk.”

When Food Magazine asked Meek for his take on the supermarket price wars and its impact on the dairy industry, he was hesitant to comment.

“It’s a very complicated issue and I don’t have all the information on it,” he said.

“All I know is that for my business to be successful, I need a viable farming community behind me anything that will support that, I am definitely in favour of.”

Dairy farming second worst job in the world

This month, a US survey rated dairy farming as the second worst job you can have.

The findings of the American survey might not come as a surprise to most Australian dairy farmers, who are facing a slump in profits as the major supermarkets continue to sell milk for $1 per litre, despite a Senate Inquiry and an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into what the industry calls “unsustainable”prices.

Australian Dairy Association president Chris Griffin told Food Magazine earlier this year that farmers are leaving the industry in droves because they cannot manage to make a profit, or in many cases, break even.

“We know there’s been at least 30 leave the industry in Queensland alone, and the majority are sighting the uncertainty of milk prices as the reason,” he said.

Following the intense debate about the cost cutting by Coles and Woolworths and the ruling that $1 per litre was acceptable Food Magazine asked Griffin if the chances of the big two supermarkets increasing the price of milk to help with the increase in farmers’ costs would most likely be slim.

“That’s a question for Coles,” he said.

“We believe the tactic all along by Coles was just to get people through its doors, and since dairy products are in 97 per cent of consumers homes, it’s a draw card they’ve used.

“It’s always at the back end of the supermarket, so you have to walk through all the other products and displays to get to it, so it is simply a marketing ploy they’ve implemented at the expense of the dairy industry.”

When contacted by Food Magazine to find out if they would consider absorbing the cost increase, Jim Cooper from Coles said "we are not speculating about the potential impact the carbon tax will have on retail pricing."

The only profession deemed to be worse than dairy farming is being a lumberjack, according to the results collated by American HR group, CareerCast’s.

The five key categories were used to determine the best and worst jobs were physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.

The importance of five

With Greek yoghurt going from strength to strength, one may wonder whether there is any room left in the market for more mainstream varieties. And the answer is ‘yes there is.’

So much so, that from a big idea became an even bigger development for an entrepreneur and his yoghurt brand, which had a buyer before he even had a working factory.

David Prior has a unique take on the adage ‘make the most out of your day’.

Having started his day at five o’clock in the morning for over a decade, Prior treasures this moment each morning where he feels he can pause and create his day.

It was this philosophy that fuelled Prior to capture what he calls this ‘five:am-ness,’ and bottle it.

And so, the five:am organic yoghurt brand was born, but Prior also wanted to ensure his operation was environmentally sustainable.

At this stage of pipe dreams and grand ideas, the unimaginable happened: a major Australian supermarket decided to buy his product.

Only problem was, they wanted it by March 2011 – just eight months later – and at this stage Prior didn’t even have any equipment, let along a sustainable manufacturing operation.

“When the contract was signed to produce and distribute our yoghurt within an eight month timeframe, all we had was a 35,000 square foot site located just south of Melbourne, Victoria,” explained Prior.

“Our site had no manufacturing system in place, inadequate air flow and water supply, and none of the technology needed to produce organic yoghurt.”

Despite the short time frame, Prior did not want to sacrifice the environmentally sustainable factory he had dreamed of for his yoghurt brand.

In May 2010, five:am engaged Process Partners, a specialist dairy engineering and process improvement group, to help manage and execute the project, who conducted a detailed audit of five:am’s requirements, taking into account its need to produce more variations of the product than was initially required to meet its March 2011 distribution deadline.

From this, they developed a manufacturing strategy for the plant and evolved the strategy based on budget and business objectives.

Process Partners joined forces with Schneider Electric to provide a full suite of automation and control technology in the small timeframe.

“Nobody can believe how quickly we got it up and going,” Craig Roseman, Schneider Electric’s food and beverage specialist, told Food Magazine.

He agreed that the focus on health has opened up doors for more players in the yoghurt category, including Prior.

“I guess why there has been such an increase in the market in Australia versus the UK is that our consumption per capita is less than them so there was always scope to increase it.

“There is definitely a trend towards more wholesome foods and yoghurt is one example of that.

The milk used in five:am’s yoghurt is an important part of it’s organic processing, which Roseman said is sourced from a farm in Victoria.

“It is a certified organic farm, and it went through rigorous process to get it that certification,” he said.

Roseman told Food Magazine that while the supermarket duopoly is impacting the market, the yoghurt sector is proving to be a hopeful case.

“I guess we have, apart from the independents, a strong duopoly between Coles and Woolworths so they are always going to have pretty strong market power and I think basically having market power means they can dictate a lot about what they want.

“There is that element of end users, some are more susceptible to that [supermarket power], while some can push back a little.

“I certainly agree that it’s not conducive to a healthy local sector in the long run, it is going to put strain on the businesses that are already struggling.

“We’re not that different to ‘a dollar a litre’ farmers, a lot of our business is cut out or improved on too.

“Fortunately the yoghurt sector is one of the few dairy derivatives that is not home branded to the extent that milk and cheese.

“The profit is driven out for manufacturers when a category becomes dominated by private label, but yoghurt has somehow managed to stay strong.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How one little ingredient is reducing spina bifida rates in Australia

Imagine a life where you were paralysed below the waist, you couldn’t go to the bathroom on your own and your brain did not allow you to function normally for your age.

This is the reality of someone born with significant spina bifida.

Derived from the word for ‘split spine’ in Latin, Spina Bifida is one of a class of serious birth defects, called neural tube defects (NTDs), which involve damage to the bony spine and the nervous tissue of the spinal cord. 

The neural tube defect, which involves damage to the bony spine and nervous tissue or the spinal cord and some vertebrae not closing properly, affects one in approximately every 1000 births.

Nerve signals to most parts of the body located below the level of the ‘split spine’ are damaged and a wide range of muscles, organs and bodily functions are affected.

Because the spinal cord does not develop properly, and vertebrae remain open, children born with this serious birth defect often face worsening health throughout their life spent in a wheelchair.

The parents of children with the worst cases of spina bifita often need to attend to their child like they are a baby, even as they grow into adulthood, which poses inherent problems as they become bigger and more difficult to manage.

The impacts of spina bifida

“The one thing that is constant with spina bifida is that there is a huge variety of impacts associated with it,” Bill Shead, Manager, Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Queensland told Food Magazine.

“You get people who can walk and function relatively fine, and on other hand there are people so badly affected they can’t function at all.

“There are a small number of people who pass away from the affects of it.

“It’s usually around the time of birth and then there seems to be another danger period in the teens.

“The reason seems to be from associated brain malformation.”

Removing the chances

So what if we could prevent children being born with this debilitating condition? Luckily, we can.

A woman who consumes a 400 µg folic acid per day in the lead up to her pregnancy can essentially eliminate the risk of her baby being born with spina bifita.

Fantastic, take a supplement once a day for a month before you start trying to fall pregnant. Simple, right?

Not quite, because the problem is that a huge percentage – which nobody seems to be able to provide an exact figure on – of pregnancies in this country are not planned.

Therefore, those expectant mothers who weren’t planning on a pregnancy are not only looking down the barrel of a monumental change to their life they aren’t sure if they want, but they’re also more likely to end up with a child with spina bifida.

How many times have you heard someone say “we just stopped trying, and then next thing we knew, we were pregnant”?

Spina bifida is a life sentence for most children born with the condition, and also for the families whose lives are thrown into a spin by their child’s condition, so if there was a way to ensure children wouldn’t have it, would you support it?

It seems like the obvious reply would be a resounding “yes!” but when the suggestion of mandatory folic acid fortification in breads sold in Australia was suggested in 2007, many people were against the idea.

Rising awareness

Food Magazine has spoken to several organisations that educate and treat children with conditions including spina bifida, and all agree that the rate of the neural tube defects are tending down, due to the rising awareness of the importance of folate for women.

Robyn Brice Director of the Orange Early Childhood Intervention told Food Magazine the suggestion of folate in bread was met with some criticism, because “when anything is made mandatory, people don’t like it, they want to feel like they have a choice.”

It has been mandatory for Australian millers to add folic acid, which is a form of the B vitamin folate, to wheat flour for making bread since September 2009.

It means nearly all bread in Australia will contain added folic acid, besides those with flour represented as “organic,” though many of those bakers will add it voluntarily.

A spokesperson from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the body that regulates the mandatory fortification, said the initial opposition also came from within the industry.

“There was initial opposition from the flour milling industry as they believed it would add considerable costs to their operations for new facilities, and increased ongoing operating and verification costs,” she told Food Magazine.

During the two-year consultation period, FSANZ comprehensively assessed the potential health benefits and risks from increasing intakes of folic acid across the population and based on all available scientific evidence, adding folic acid to wheat flour for making bread in Australia is safe for the whole population.

It says it is “continuing to monitor emerging scientific research on folic acid and public health and safety,” and that “no new evidence has emerged to change our original conclusion that mandatory fortification with folic acid is safe.”

How do you get folate?

The mandatory fortification was a desperate attempt by Australia and New Zealand to ensure women were getting enough folic acid, because despite recommendations, most women were not consuming enough, particularly those who had no conscious plans to fall pregnant.

“For many years, Australia and New Zealand had introduced a number of initiatives to increase the folic acid intake of women planning to or who may become pregnant to reduce the risk of their children developing neural tube defects,” the FSANZ spokesperson told Food Magazine” 

“For example, a health claim on labels of foods containing a minimum amount of folate including folate-fortified food, education programs, voluntary folic acid fortification of foods (breakfast cereals and bread) and encouraging women to take folic acid supplements. 

“Despite these initiatives, most women of child-bearing age were still not consuming enough folic acid. 

“Mandatory fortification of wheat flour provides additional protection against neural tube defects.

“Mandatory fortification is one initiative to reduce neural tube defects and other initiatives will continue to be important. 

“These include existing voluntary fortification measures in other foods and encouraging women planning to or who may become pregnant to take supplements.”

Thankfully, regulation was introduced in 2009 after a two year consultation period, despite the opposition, and spina bifita rates in Australia are consequently on the decrease.

“There has been an enormous decrease in the number of children we treat for spina befita,” Brice, who has worked at the Orange centre for 18 years, told Food Magazine.

“I can hardly remember the last time we had a child with spina bifita,” she said.

“We have about 80 families who access our centre and I have not seen a child with spina bifita in at least five years.

“Awareness has been raised about folate and how important it is and I believe it was a fantastic move by the regulators to make it mandatory.”

 

When it comes to juice, keep it simple, stupid

Fruit juice used to be simple. You got some fruit, squeezed it until liquid ran out and then drank it. But then, things got complicated.

Somewhere along the way, juice producers realised they could make those expensive fruits go further: put less of it in the bottle, but sell it for the same price. Genius!

Often additives like water, sugar and orange flavouring are mixed with the real stuff that looks like juice, and is stocked in supermarkets with all the other juices, but can only technically be called a "fruit drink."

Then there's "reconstituted" juice, which is a way of adding water to dry solids from which the water has been evaporated.

Taking the moisture out of the fruit, by using heat, is a way to make transportation easier and ensure availability all year round, but can result in many of the nutrients being extracted.

But as people become more aware of the impact of obesity and the part that food and drink consumption plays in that, there is more demand than ever for proper, traditional fruit juice.

Its juice like it used to be, only better.

When nudity is perfectly acceptable

Ten years ago, Nudie Juice was launched by a man affectionately known as 'Tall Tim," and since its initial days, which came off the back of Tim Pethick's obsession with making fresh juices for his family, it has grown into a well-known and trusted brand with state-of-the-art juicing facilities, thousands of stockists and countless "Nudie addicts."

"Our proudest moments are often the unprompted bits of feedback that we receive from our consumers," Richard Glenn, Nudie's National Sales Manager told Food Magazine.

"We are continually amazed by the amount of people who take the time to contact us and tell us how much they love Nudies, their experience of their first nudie, or what they think of our new products.

"We call these people 'Nudie addicts'.

"Last week we even received a picture from a lady who had embroidered a quilt with pictures of all of our nudie characters on it, impressive stuff!"

The ever-increasing number of 'Nudie addicts,' is clear evidence that consumers are looking for quality products, free from preservatives but full of goodness.

Before Nudie entered the market, there weren't any mainstream juicers doing what Pethick was in his kitchen each morning, when he rose early to make up fruit juice and smoothie concoctions for his wife and daughters (and of course, himself), and so an opportunity was born.

After some deliberation, Pethick decided the best name for his company was one that summed up what his fruit was all about: nothing but the fruit, hence 'Nudie.'

From little things, big things grow

In 2003, when the company launched, there were only three people, including Pethick, one stockist, one blender and one small office in Sydney's Balmain.

They went through 256 pieces of fruit in the first week, and sold 40 bottles, mostly to family and friends.

They even went doorknocking, gave out samples and delivered Nudies personally so people could taste the goodness for themselves.

Now, more than 70 people are employed by the company, and it has over 5000 stockists throughout the country, including supermarket, cafŽ and convenience store chains, as well as independent retailers and food service operators.

Nudie goes through about 3 000 000 pieces of fruit per week these days and has a state-of-the-art juicing facility in South East Sydney.

And they're not stopping there.

"Within the last 18 months we've delivered some really strong innovation to the market," Glenn said.

"We spend a lot of time speaking to consumers and identifying trends to ensure that our product offering remains relevant.

"Our Nothing But range which was launched to address the growing consumer concerns around the use of concentrates and added ingredients in many of the other juice products on the market at the time.

"We launched with Nothing But 21 Oranges and Nothing But 20 Apples, taking nudie into the larger 'take home' segment of the market for the first time.

"In addition to the Nothing But message, we are also able to make the claim that we can get the product from farm to bottle in 72 hours, and that it is 100% Australian.

"For every 2L bottle, our farmers in regional NSW pick 21 oranges (give or take a few) and squeeze them, they then deliver this juice to our factory in Sydney where we lightly pasteurise the juice and bottle it.

"We add nothing else to the juice and the whole process from beginning to end takes no more than 72 hours.

"We believe that the quality of the fruit we use and our strict discipline around this process allows us to have such a great tasting juice, which is currently the most popular chilled juice in the Australian grocery market.

"Based on the success of these lines we have since expanded the range into a 1L and 500ml offering and have also added 3 new variants to the range."

A more informed consumer

Glenn told Food Magazine the company is always looking to innovate their products and ensure they are delivering what consumers want.

"We then became the first beverage company in Australia (and possibly the world) to add chia seeds to a beverage," he continued.

"As well as being the highest plant based source of Fibre and Omega 3, chia seeds also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

"We saw this as a great opportunity to create a nudie with chia seeds as a way of providing breakfast for people on the go, and have partnered with The Chia Co in Kimberley, WA to create the product."

Glenn believes the always-increasing demand for Nudie products is proof that consumers are becoming more educated about additives and their negative impacts, and turning towards healthier options.

"There has certainly been a lot of media coverage surrounding some of the added ingredients which exist in the market, and consumers seem to be better educated when it comes to choosing beverage products.

"A lot of food brands do seem to be increasing their focus on communicating what their products do not contain, which tends to suggest that this message is resonating with consumers across many areas of their grocery shop."

Keeping the good stuff

Another juice producer that is listening to the consumer demand for more fruity goodness and less additives is the Wild About Fruit Company, which produces two ranges of Low GI juices that are free from any nasties and full of flavour and health benefits.

The Wild Child "super-juices" and Wild About Juice ranges are based on apple juice sourced from orchards in the Yarra Valley and created with a "pure fruit" philosophy.

"There are no preservatives, no added sugar or water and no trendy boosts," the company told Food Magazine.

A few years ago a third generation orchardist in Victoria's Yarra valley, Ben Mould, wondered:  "Could an apple juice be made that actually tasted like a crisp orchard fresh apple, and also contain as much of the nutrients from the apple as possible?"

Knowing that crushing the apple caused oxidization, damaging the apple's delicate nutrients, which are found mainly in the skin, Mould had to develop something pretty clever.

Mould said that while most people have experienced the taste of commercially made apple juice – sickly sweet confectionary flavour that leaves a nasty after-taste, few had experienced good quality, sustainably juiced, delicious tasting real apple juice.

Even many home juicers damage the cells of the fruit and remove a lot of the apple's antioxidants.

Then, Mould's patented juicing process, which uses the whole apple, maintains the antioxidants of the fruit and has a low glycemic index (GI) was born.

Well, an apple a day does keep the doctor away!

The company says its Wild about Juice contains twice the nutritional value of the fruit than any other fruit juice on the Australian market and an independent nutritional analysis on apple juices and apple-blended products in Australia confirmed that the unique processing method employed by Wild about Juice which processes the whole fruit retains the naturally occurring phytonutrients and flavonoids contained in apples.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

The company's  Wild about Juice  range of healthy juices straight from the Yarra Valley are 100 per cent Australian, with absolutely no additives and is the first and only juice in Australia to be given a low GI rating.

The GI rating refers to the different ways certain carbohydrates behave in the human body and their effect on blood glucose levels.

Low GI foods and drinks  produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels,  which  helps people lose and manage weight,increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve blood cholesterol levels.

They also leave you feeling fuller for longer, give added endurance for exercise and help re-fuel following exercise.

This 100% Australian, family-owned and operated business has been growing apples & cherries in the Yarra Valley since 1930.

Owner-operator Mould said the patented juicing process is healthier and more environmentally friendly than other juicing techniques.

"This special process extracts and retains the goodness from the fruit by also juicing the skin which contains more fibre and antioxidants than the flesh," Mould Explained.

"Wild about Juice promotes natural nutrition, as it has no preservatives or additives, and this juicing process also leaves minimal waste, making it highly sustainable."

The four powerful antioxidants that remain in the fruit through the revolutionary juicing process are catchins, a potent form of antioxidant which are good for coronary and cardiovascular health, flavanols that help in the protection of cancer and supports cardiovascular health, chalcones, known for their anti-inflammatory attributes and Phenolic Acids (Chlorogenic),  one of the most potent natural antioxidant groups known.

The Wild Child flavours consist of Green Cleanse; Antioxidant Energy; Mango Passion Veggie Detox, which are all made with using nature's own superfoods, and nothing else.

The Green Cleanse, for regeneration and rejuvenation contains apple, mango, banana, spinach, wheatgrass and spirulina to naturally detox and cleanse the body, while the Antioxidant Energy contains apple, pomegranate, blackcurrant, acai, and goji berries, in what the company describes as "the ultimate blend of the world's finest super-fruits and a natural source of antioxidants to boost energy and fight free radicals."

As these companies continue to grow, and the demand for proper, healthy juices increases, the market will see more innovation and creative combinations, and as Glenn told Food Magazine, the most important aspect for Nudie moving forward is commitment to what they do and why they do it.

"As a relatively young business just in our 10th year now, it's hard to say what the next 10 years hold in store.

"We will just make sure that we stick to the values which have got us to where we are today and continue to do what's been working for us so far."

As people become more aware of the impact of obesity and the part that food and drink consumption plays in that, there is more demand than ever for proper, traditional fruit juice.