Tuna Spam?

Tripacific Marine, based in Fiji, are patenting a smooth flakeless pressed tuna product, which will provide an alternative to flaky canned tuna.

The seafood manufacturing company has an EU-approved and HACCP-certified, state of the art factory, in which tuna fresh from the Pacific is combined with salt, sugar, starch and spices, and is packed in cylindrical or square plastic casing.

The product is cooked and ready to eat and is said to have no smell. It is available in retail packs for restaurants and the food service, as well as for consumers.

The product is awaiting its patent from New Zealand.

Robotic palletising system wins APMA award

Foodmach, a provider of material movement solutions, won an Australian Packaging Machinery Association (APMA) design award for the Robomatrix, a high-speed palletising system.

The award was presented at AUSPACK and received by the system’s principle inventor Peter Marks.

The Robomatrix system was developed in response to an industry-wide need for increased flexibility and speed to handle the introduction of new and more complex packaging configurations.

Seeing the system work at AUSPACK was impressive.

It is controlled from a central control panel, where the user can input the specifics of a job including the pattern of the palletising.

As an analogy for how the Robomatrix system works, Foodmach recalled to mind the game Tetris.

In other words, the system incorporates robotic pattern forming.

Robotic tools and software make Robomatrix easy to use.

Foodmach national marketing and sales manager Dr Robert Stojanovich said the key to the system’s success was close partnership with customers to create a global technology.

“It’s always nice to win an award and be recognised by your industry colleagues and peers” he added.

First organic Standard developed in Australia

A new Australian Standard is currently being developed for organic products, including processed foods, to govern the production, processing, marketing and transportation within the industry.

Standards Australia deputy chief executive Colin Blair said the new standard will provide clear definition of what is organic, as well as specify requirements for primary production, transport, storage, preparation, packaging and marketing of organic products.

Australia’s $500 million organic industry is currently self-regulated, with different groups adhering to variations of a standard developed by the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service for export.

The Standard is expected to be finalised in 2008 and will be initially introduced as a voluntary scheme.

The Council of Australia Primary Industry Ministers has indicated the new Australian Standard will form the basis of industry regulation.

AFGC’s new deputy chief executive

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has announced the appointment of Dr Geoffrey Annison to the position of deputy chief executive.

According to the AFGC’s chief executive Dick Wells, Annison will bring a wide range of experience to the position, particularly in the areas of regulation and innovation.

“Dr Annison’s career, which spans a number of sectors including the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Goodman Fielder and the AFGC; the rural sector with organisations such as Australian Pork; and research providers such as Massey University in New Zealand and the CSIRO, provides him with the background needed to work in this challenging field,” Wells said.

With a BSc in Food Technology and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of New South Wales, Annison will take up the position in October, replacing Dr David Roberts who leaves the AFGC after six years.

Wells also announced two other appointments to the AFGC.

Kim Leighton has been appointed director of food policy and regulation, and will work closely with Annison to manage the health, nutrition and scientific affairs agenda; and Tony Mahar has been appointed director of sustainable development and will manage the industry’s enhanced program of sustainability, including issues of water, climate change and packaging waste.

Ibex nominated for business awards

Ibex Group has received two nominations in the Westpac Manukau Business Awards, in New Zealand, for Excellence in Exporting and Excellence in Manufacturing and Services.

Having been started fifteen years go by Manukau City Council to recognise, encourage and assist business growth and development, the Manukau Awards is now one of the country’s biggest business excellence awards.

Thirty five finalists, in ten categories were announced at a ceremony in July, sponsored by Westpac.

“We have many of the leading companies in New Zealand based here in Manukau and they contribute greatly to the city, (creating) thousands of jobs a year and helping to drive our local economy,” Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis said.

“The awards highlight the best of these businesses (and) I congratulate all the 2007 finalists.”

Supply Chain & Logistics Conference

The 2007 Queensland Supply Chain & Logistics Conference will be held on August 2nd and 3rd at the Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane. Supported by the Australian Institute of Packaging, the conference will enable members of the food industry to widen their view of how a supply chain works and the role it plays in packaging.

Guest speakers will include G Peter Dapiran, a senior fellow of the freight and logistics group at the University of Melbourne, who will discuss issues of change and collaboration, including supply chain managers’ strategic plans for the coming decades; and Paul Driver, the national transport safety manager for Woolworths, will look at the Retail Logistics Supply Chain Code of Conduct.

To view the conference program or to register, visit the conference website.

Meat processing Award up for grabs

Australian meat processors should encourage their staff to enter the Barry Johnson – Cryovac Young Achievers Award 2007, a $12,500 study and travel grant enabling people working in the red-meat processing industry aged 18 to 39 to advance their technical knowledge and learn at first hand global developments in the packaging arena.

Entries for 2007 close August 3, 2007.

Established in 2001 by Cryovac Australia to recognise the achievements of Barry Johnson in his 40-year career in the local meat industry, the Award supports aspiring achievers in the meat processing and retail industries to develop their career through investigations into the packaging of fresh, frozen and processed meat products, enabling them to make ongoing contributions to meat packaging technology in Australia.

Last year’s grant winner, Michael Connors from Cargill Beef in Tamworth, NSW, recently returned from a one-month study tour to China, which allowed him to expand his knowledge of the meat industry beyond the Australian market.

“To now understand how other cultures use and distribute meat products allows me to utilise this knowledge in a production sense in Australia,” Connors said.

“The real benefit was an appreciation of how different Chinese processing techniques are (to Australian). There is an enormous gap in consumer education about the quality of chilled beef as the Chinese culture has always had fresh product.”

Connors said he envisions there will be future market opportunities for chilled beef products in China.

Given Cargill Beef has customers in China and Hong Kong, the study tour provided significant benefits to Connors’ employer.

Entries for 2007 close August 3, 2007.

For more information on the Awards visit the Sealed Air website or contact Les Muscat for application details.

Big thank you for Awards support

The 2007 FOOD Challenge Awards would not have been such a success without those who contributed their time, expertise and support in the lead up to, and at, the presentation ceremony.

FOOD Magazine thanks the judges, Associate Professor Suku Bhaskaran, director of the food marketing research centre at Victoria University; Dr Anthos Yannakou, Food Science Australia chief executive officer; Dr Ajay Shah, AAS Food Technology consultant; and Mr Neil Funston, Topgun Investments consultant, for assessing all the entrants.

Thanks also to the guest speakers, Mr Dick Wells, the AFGC chief executive officer; Mr Marcus Lui, The One Centre creative director; and Mr Peter Baron, Uni-Straw chief innovation officer, for their insightful and enjoyable presentations.

FOOD Magazine also thanks companies that contributed to the goody bags.

Finally, thank you to everyone that attended for making the event a success.

Improving Australia’s food innovation

A new $54.2 million Food Innovation Grants Programme (FIGP), launched by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to increase innovation in the food industry, is currently accepting round one applications.

The FIGP, which will fund approximately three projects every year until June 2011, aims to assist Australian-based food and beverage businesses undertaking research and development (R&D), innovative programs or developing cutting-edge products and technology.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a project’s ability to add competition and profitability to the Australian food industry in areas of production, processing, packaging, storage or logistics.

The potential of the project and/or its resulting commercial activities to achieve national productivity and economic growth; diffusion of knowledge and skill to other parts of the Australian economy; or other societal, community or ecological benefits, will also be considered.

Proposals must address a technical challenge in the Australian food industry and/or how the uptake of new technology will deliver significant benefits, either on a national, sectoral or regional basis.

The FIGP will contribute, on a matched funds basis, up to half of the eligible project costs for R&D, the movement of innovation towards commercialisation, and the introduction of cutting-edge technology.

Projects are not eligible if they present no element of technical risk, are food product line extensions, involve the purchase of land or infrastructure costs; or are activities related to food processing inputs rather than outputs, among other things.

Interested applicants can download and complete the self-diagnostic eligibility check to ensure they satisfy eligibility criteria.

Potential applicants must then complete a preliminary application form.

Round One submissions are due by August 9, 2007.

An Advisory Group, consisting of technical, industry and business specialists will assess applications.

Food industry to benefit from RFID

The results of a pilot program to test integrated electronic product code (EPC) and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology across a number of industries, including the food industry, were presented at a seminar in Sydney as part of the SMART 2007 Conference.

The National EPC Network Demonstrator Project Extension, carried out by a multi-industry Australian consortium, including MasterFoods and Procter & Gamble, demonstrated how RFID using the GS1 global standards can provide opportunities for streamlining operations and improving supply chain collaborations.

The consortium achieved a 100% EPC/RFID tag read rate and reported customer productivity gains of 22.2%.

While the technology is relatively new in Australia, results of the recent RFID pilot, including improved productivity, delivery processing times and visibility throughout the supply chain, point to numerous advantages for the food industry.

As well as improving logistics efficiency, the implementation of RFID technology will allow for on-shelf tracking of individual consumer items that is not possible with barcoding.

According to a new report by IDTechEx, the use of RFID technology within in the food industry is expected to rise in the next 10 years.

GS1 chief operating officer Mark Fuller said the food industry will benefit from using RFID.

“As well as increasing the visibility of stock and being able to physically track pallets and cartons as they move from one site to the next, RFID will improve the management of products, on-shelf replenishment and tracking promotions,” Fuller said.

Food manufacturers and retailers can also expect this technology to improve food safety and product recalls.

“What is important for consumers is that the products they are eating are safe,” said Fuller.

“RFID allows manufacturers and importers to ensure the ingredients being used are what they should be, which is of particular importance considering the counterfeit products entering the market.

“In terms of recalls, individual tagging of consumer items in the future will allow for selective removal of spoilt products as opposed to clearing entire shelves,” he said.

Despite obvious benefits, there are factors impeding industry-wide implementation of RFID including the cost of tagging, currently around the 7.5 cents mark for bulk purchases, as well as the cost of software, process changes and weighing up the return on investment.

“Implementing RFID is not a simple thing to do, it is a major move for an organisation but a move that is inevitable,” Fuller said.

“The major retailers have said for certain it is going to come and it’s not far away.”

The GS1 advisory group, comprised of industry leaders such as Woolworths, Coles and Visy, are currently devising a road map to assist the food industry in implementing RFID over the next few years.

LabWare wins award

Laboratory Automation software specialists, LabWare, has won the Scientific Computing and Instrumentation’s Readers’ Choice Award in the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) category for the eighth consecutive year.

Labware’s flagship product, the LabWare LabStation, which is built into LabWare LIMS’s, was also awarded the Instrument Integration category award.

As the leading LIMS journal, Scientific Computing and Instrumentation conduct an annual Readers’ Choice Award survey, asking readers to rate various laboratory applications and instrument categories.

With its ability to provide a wide range of support for instruments, combined with its advanced connectivity features, the LabStation proved more popular than other Instrument Integration products in the market.

Cheese exports to South Korea increase ten-fold

There was a ten-fold increase in cream cheese exports from Australia over the three months to the end of June, resulting from a strategic shift to non trans-fatty foods across South Korea’s 420 Dunkin’ Donut stores, says Austrade.

With the core of its product being fried, Dunkin’ Donuts revised its menu and recently developed a bagel and cream cheese menu for its Korean customers.

Austrade senior business development manager, Hae-Sook Chung said the Australian cream cheese deal with Dunkin’ Donuts was the result of the company purchasing cream cheese from WhiteCheese, a Korean company that had bought the cheese from Australia’s leading dairy manufacturer, National Foods.

Austrade maintains it was instrumental in introducing National Foods to the Korea-based suppliers of the cheese to Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Austrade’s Seoul office has worked for ten years with National Foods providing in-market support,” Chung said.

National Foods cheese export manager Tony Gunnis said specialty cheese products were an important part of the company’s international growth strategy, together with its milk and juice categories.

“The partnership with WhiteCheese to supply Australian cream cheese to Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Korea has represented an extraordinary growth opportunity,” Gunnis said.

According to Austrade, Australian products are making a significant impact in South Korea; currently Australia’s third biggest merchandise export market.

As a highly brand-oriented society, ‘Brand Australia’ is an important marketing and business platform in Korea.

Innovative closure technology for beverage industry

Erie Plastics has launched an innovative closure technology and turnkey solution for the beverage and health drink markets. The Pop N’ Shake is an advanced, dispensing closure technology, allowing consumers to create their own blended drink on demand.

A range of flavours, ingredients, vitamins and minerals are dispensed into a bottled drink with the turn of a tamper-evident dust cover and ‘pop’ of an inner-cap chamber. The closures are customised to meet a wide range of beverage needs across the bottled water, juice, dairy, tea, coffee and health drink markets. The closure is also well suited for nutraceutical and organic applications.

Key features of Erie’s Pop N’ Shake closure include a PET chamber that works with both liquid and powder; dual tamper-evident design; and an innovative patent-pending moisture and oxygen barrier, providing secure separation from active and inactive ingredients.

“Our strategy was to focus on superior design and full functionality, and to launch the closure once we established a vertically-integrated closure system and turnkey solution for beverage producers,” Erie’s chairman and CEO P.C. Hoop Roche said.

“From what we’ve already heard from a number of global beverage and nutraceutical companies, the Pop N’ Shake closure is in the lead when it comes to both functionality and readiness for market.”

To provide a turnkey solution for beverage manufacturers, the company recently developed and installed a fill, seal and assembly production line in a food-grade processing/filling white room, which is also equipped to run leak testing and metal detection operations. The Pop N’ Shake closures are currently available in a 26mm size, with development of a 38mm closure in its final stages and due for release in late August.

Unistraw’s Sipahh straws an international success

Unistraw International’s Sipahh Milk Flavouring Straws have gained international success since its launch 18 months ago. Since late 2005, contracts with food and beverage distributors in more than 100 countries, including all the G8, have been successfully negotiated.

Austrade’s regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Leith Doody said Austrade has been working with Unistraw in many markets.

“The G8 economies are all large, highly competitive and established markets, so innovation and tapping the resources that exist for companies in those markets will help your business achieve success in these regions – as Unistraw has discovered,” Doody said.

Unistraw’s CEO, Martin Chimes said the company is determined to make history by changing the way people flavour and fortify beverages globally.

“The Unistraw Delivery System straw technology has a multitude of applications. It also fits with the current growing consumer trend for products that combine health and convenience,” Chimes said.

According to the company, the research and development team are finalising a number of unique products including straws that will flavour water, as well as deliver medication, probiotics and neutraceuticals.

Unistraw’s trading model has attracted interest from overseas partners who represent Unistraw branded products in a specific country or market. In the near future companies will be able to license the Unistraw Delivery System to deliver their own product formulations and brands in new ways. Several international market leaders are interested in engaging Unistraw as a platform to revolutionise their own food, beverage and pharmaceutical product brands.

George Weston Foods strengthens portfolio

Leading Australian food manufacturer, George Weston Foods (GWF), announced earlier this month that it acquired Australian Garlic Bread (AGB) in Capalaba, Queensland.

Having commenced operations in October 1994, AGB is now the largest producer of garlic bread products in Australia, with customers including Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Woolworths, ALDI, Coles and Franklins.

“The acquisition of AGB will provide GWF with an opportunity to extend into the chilled bread category — strengthening the company’s existing portfolio comprising some of the nation’s most loved brands,” GWF’s banking divisional chief executive, Richard Meagher said.

The company maintains the acquistion forms part of their committment to the growth of the Austalian bakery industry and intends for business to continue as usual for all staff and suppliers at AGB.

Innovative solution for LCL frozen cargo

Shipping and logistics provider, OOCL will launch Reefer LCL Plus in mid-August, a service for transporting less than container load (LCL) quantities of frozen cargo to Hong Kong and Tokyo.

For many years exporters and importers of frozen cargo between Australia and Asia have not had a regular, scheduled sea-freight service for LCL quantities and have had to opt for more expensive options such as airfreight or freight full-sea freight container loads.

OOCL said the Reefer LCL is a new opportunity for exporters and importers of small loads of frozen cargo to ship them on a regular basis at economical costs, meeting the needs of a growing frozen cargo market with Hong Kong and Japan.

“Operating through our accredited and approved cold stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Tokyo, our customers are assured of a first class professional service”, OOCL Australia’s national sales manager Tim Mason said.

“Customers can be confident that their cargo is in good care as OOCL will be managing their shipments from time of receipt to the time of delivery”, he said.

Weekly services will be available from both Melbourne and Sydney on an alternating basis.

Interested customers can access this service by phoning OOCL customer service on 1300 662573.

Register now for National Retail Forum 2007

Australia’s leading retail conference, National Retail Forum 2007, will be held from 14 to 16 August at Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Featuring more than 25 leading industry experts and strategists from across the retail spectrum, including Peter Alexander, founder of Peter Alexander Pyjamas; Bernie Brookes, CEO of Myer; and Pierce Cody, director of Macro Wholefoods; the forum will cover topics including the retail environment, the consumer and differentiation in a crowded retail segment.

National Retail Forum delegates who pre-register online before Tuesday 24 July will receive a voucher for a free pair of Peter Alexander pyjamas.

The National Retail Forum will run concurrent to Retail Expo Australasia, Australia’s largest retail exhibition.

14th Annual HACCP Conference approaches

The 14th Australian HACCP Conference Series will take place at the Radisson Resort Gold Coast from July 30th to August 3rd, 2007.

Issues to be discussed at the Conference include foodborne pathogens, food hygiene and safety, food labelling, food packaging to ensure food safety and pest management.

The Conference will include Lectures/Discussions, Workshops, Conference Dinner, HACCP Awards, Inaugural HACCP Golf day, Trade Exhibitions and the two day conference.

Download the Program and Registration Information or Register online.

For further information, email conference@haccptown.com or call 02 9898 0344.

Royal Melbourne Wine Show gets underway

After thousands of bottles of wine from wineries across Australia were delivered to the Melbourne Showgounds for The Royal Melbourne Wine Show, judging started yesterday, July 16.

The Royal Melbourne Wine Show is one of Australia’s largest and most prestigious wine shows and the annual awards are recognised by the wine producers as an important competition in which to benchmark their produce.

More than 490 Australian wineries sent in whites and reds amounting to more than 3,845 entries.

The Royal Melbourne Wine Show is introducing two new classes of white wine and a single vineyard class to the award categories in 2007.

Amcor’s new retail packaging initiative

Amcor Australasia has launched a new retail packaging initiative to showcase emerging technology and innovation in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.

Retail 2010 — Packaging the Future, is a physical and virtual tour of a simulated retail supply chain from the perspective of a package, presenting Amcor’s unique capabilities to create integrated packaging solutions including packaging design and development, retail-ready packaging, point-of-sale displays and RFID.

Simulating communication between Amcor, its customers and other members of the retail supply chain, the Retail 2010 demonstrates the latest in retail solutions, while facilitating the development of practical solutions to meet changing retail packaging requirements.

Based at Amcor’s Research and Technology centre in Alphington, Melbourne, Retail 2010 makes use of Amcor’s world-class packaging design and testing services including virtual computer simulations, primary and secondary packaging prototyping, forensic laboratory testing and transport simulation.

A scaled-down physical retail environment was also purpose-built by Amcor, including back-of-store, a mini-supermarket and point-of-sale check-out portal. A guided tour takes less than three hours and is divided into four key elements, including design, manufacture, distribution and sale, each held in different locations throughout Amcor’s Research and Technology unit.

Believed to be the first of its kind outside Europe and the USA, Retail 2010 was officially launched in early 2007 and feedback from retailers and customers has been positive.