Auto or manual: size matters

Arguments surrounding operator safety, food safety and plant efficiency point to the benefits of an automated bulk materials handling system over a manually operated one.

But factor in the cost equation, and the apparent benefits of automation are overridden by the large expense involved in equipment upgrades, maintenance, and hardware and software platforms, despite claims by suppliers that automation offers a fast return on investment.

From the point of view of many small and small-to-medium enterprises with relatively low outputs, a manually operated system offers a cost-effective solution to many materials handling requirements such as storage and retrieval, weighing and recipe formulation.

Larger manufacturers, on the other hand, are increasingly discovering the benefits of automating.

Jarrod Edward, operations manager at Byron Bay Cookie Company (BBCC), a medium-sized manufacturer with 70 employees, says large companies will always try and automate where they can.

“If money is not an option then automation will always win over manual,” he said.

BBCC currently employs a manual bulk materials handling system, receiving flour, sugar and other ingredients on pallets in 25kg bags.

However, the company plans to implement an automated bulk materials handling system in coming years in line with its growth predictions.

The company values the simplicity of manual operation while also regarding the move to an automated system as inevitable to ensure future plant productivity.

In light of this, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the two competing systems.

Manual handling

The manual handling of materials in bulk bags is commonplace in smaller manufacturing plants and can simplifying the tracking of stock.

“With our current system, which involves receiving ingredients like flour and sugar inmanually handled 25kg bags, it is easy to keep track of what we are receiving and using,” BBCC’s Edward said.

“A pallet with X amount of bags weighs X amount, which is quite simple.”

If, and when, the company moves to having its ingredients delivered on a truck it anticipates significant costs associated with purchasing a weigh bridge, among other equipment.

He adds that the manual handling of bags, including the emptying, weighing and pouring of different dry ingredients into mixers, can reduce product waste compared with an automated approach using conveyors that can be prone to product loss.

The most obvious and immediate benefit, however, is the cost effectiveness of manual handling.

It does not involve the upfront cost of equipment, and hardware and software platforms like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other electrical controllers, making it an ideal solution for smaller companies that might find it difficult to achieve a fast return on investment.


A manual system also offers a significant amount of flexibility in recipe formulation without the capital investment of automation.

For instance, a recipe containing 10 ingredients involves a worker sourcing ingredients from 10 different bags, weighing off the correct amounts and tipping them into a mixer.

If another recipe needs to be made with 10 different ingredients, the same process is simply repeated in another mixer, or in the same one after cleaning it.

With automation, a recipe containing 10 ingredients would require 10 separate feeders to draw the ingredients from the hoppers to the mixer.

If another recipe containing 10 different ingredients was called for, another set of equipment would be needed, adding to the system’s expense.

“The system could be cleaned out but that causes production downtime issues and also increases the risk of cross contamination,” Fresco Systems general manager Ken Hetherington said.

While the initial upfront cost of implementing an automated system may be daunting, Hetherington comments that smaller manufacturers are discovering the benefits of automating parts, or a part, of their process.

“A dairy manufacturer that uses a high content of milk powder could choose to automate the handling of that product exclusively,” Hetherington explained.

“This would cover off 90% of its manual handling requirements for significantly less capital cost.”

Manual bulk materials handling solutions have a place in food manufacturing plants, though its benefits are relative, depending on the size of the company and its output requirements.


An automated system boasts numerous benefits with few drawbacks for the operator.

Cost considerations aside, BBCC realises the significant productivity gains associated with going auto.

The most notable benefits are those to do with operator safety, food safety and recipe accuracy, says BBCC.

In fact, it is these factors alone that have lead BBCC to consider implementing a semi-automated system in the future.

“We have some occupational health and safety issues that we want to address such as the lifting of heavy bags,” Edward explained.

“Currently our workers are lifting X amount of 25kg bags of flour and sugar all day which means, depending whether they are rotating or not, an individual could be lifting upwards of 225kg per day which increases the risk of worker injury.”

Workcover New South Wales’ Manual Handling Risk Guide states that in NSW alone approximately 17,000 workers are injured as a result of materials handling each year, resulting in $370 million being paid out in compensation claims.

Despite large upfront costs, improving worker safety by employing machinery to replace manual handling can result in significant savings for the company.

“By reducing the amount of OH&S issues you have and claims through workcover, you can reduce your workcover premium and insurance costs,” Edward commented.

Accuracy and food safety

As in any process, the fewer steps there are in processing and human handling, the less chances there are for mistakes and cross contamination to occur.

George Weston’s Tip Top bakery in Sydney uses an automated bulk delivery system that offers reliability, speed and accuracy of weight and recipe specifications.

“Using an automated weighing system we are able to achieve an accuracy of 0.001%, which is important for product consistency as well as ensuring you are not wasting product,” Tip Top Bakeries Sydney manufacturing manager Adrian Smith said.

BBCC, on the other hand, relies entirely on the operators who prepare batches to take an ‘honesty approach’ to ensure recipe accuracy.

“If someone makes an error like adding an extra 10kg of flour we depend on them coming forward,” BBCC’s Edward said.

“But this will not always be the case and could result in food safety and productivity implications.”

Human involvement also increases the opportunity for foreign-matter contamination, particularly while opening bags and transferring product into the mixer.

PC integration

An effective bulk materials handling solution is one which assists in the productivity of plant integration.

By integrating its materials handling system with a Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition system (SCADA), the Tip Top bakery is able to keep track of equipment operation, ingredient and product quality, and general plant activity.

Batch coding also gives the company track and trace capabilities throughout an entire line and automatic reporting contributes to overall efficiency.

BBCC regards PC control and integration as one of the main benefits automation offers over manual handling, signalling the end of human interface monitoring and paper trails.

Manufacturers and suppliers alike say automation is gaining momentum in the food industry and that demand will continue to grow in line with OH&S concerns, labour issues, food safety issues and to enhance overall plant efficiency.

However, the growth of automation in bulk materials handling will not render manual systems obsolete, as smaller companies find them more cost effective.

Many companies also find benefit in semi-automating their plants and keeping systems like sieving manual, in order to exercise greater control.

Most importantly, the system should be well supported by a high level of competency from both supplier and manufacturer, and be geared towards company growth.

Fresco Systems on bulk handling

Whatever the system, having a thorough understanding of a products specifications before commissioning and being competent in the running of the system after implementation are vital.


As a supplier offering customers specialist knowledge and turnkey solutions, Fresco Systems believes a major problem with designing and maintaining efficient bulk materials handling systems is the fact companies do not know enough about their products.

Turnkey solutions are highly specific and specialised to a company’s particular needs. Different types of sugar, for instance, require different hoppers depending on the flow rate.

“The ingredients size, shape, flowability and density will determine the solution put in place,” Fresco System’s Ken Hetherington said.

“Many companies will just tell you that they are supplied sugar, but will not know whether it is icing or granulated.”


Once installed, operator competency is essential. Taking the time to read the system’s manual and develop a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) will help to ensure the system optimises production efficiency, whether manually or automatically driven.

Turnkey solution providers like Fresco Systems benefit manufacturers as they not only custom design systems but provide valuable after sales support, maintenance and training of staff.

Fresco Systems

Mixed feelings on GM

A spokesperson for Goodman Fielder said it was clear to the company that consumers would have concerns about possible unknown effects of genetically modified (GM) crops and, as a result, it was strongly against GM food products.

The lifting of the moratorium on the growing of GM canola in Victoria and New South Wales had caused the company some concern as it could lead to the food industry being unable to maintain segregation of GM and non-GM crops, as had happened in other countries.

However, this view is not shared by other members of the food industry that regard gene technology as having many benefits for manufacturers, consumers and the environment. It has been suggested that farmers’ costs might be reduced as crops with higher resistances to disease and weather conditions would need reduced amounts of pesticides, herbicides and less irrigation.

“This may have a flow-on effect to other areas of food production, reducing costs for manufacturers,” AFGC deputy chief executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said.

He added that benefits for consumers are said to include the ability to modify foods so they either taste better or promote and protect good health.

The AFGC did not anticipate that growing GM crops in Australia would result in notable changes to food production and consumption since only one crop, Canola, is likely to be planted in the next year and most of it will be exported.

“We are not going to see a radical change overnight in our food supply which will signal great regulatory or consumer interest,” Dr Annison said.

“In fact, there will be a system where both conventional and GM canola is available for some time, offering manufacturers and consumers a choice.”

A report released by Biotechnology Australia last year said public support for GM crops had risen to 73% in 2007, from 46% in 2005 as consumers had become more conscious of the effects of climate change on food supply.

Unilever commented that while it supports the use of modern biotechnology it will only begin introducing GM products if, and when, consumers are ready.

GM crops, sourced from overseas, have been used as ingredients in a variety of foods in Australia for over five years, having undergone rigorous safety assessments and been approved for sale by a council of Australian and New Zealand health ministers.

A total of 30 GM ingredients covering seven key commodities including corn, canola, sugar beet, potato and soybean have been approved for sale and consumption in Australia despite claims by The Greens that the safety of GM ingredients has not been proved.

The AFGC recognises the concerns over GM products but considers gene technology as one of a suite of technologies available to food manufacturers that can offer benefits in food production and for consumers.

Goodman Fielder sells non-GM products sourced from Australia in line with consumer demand. Should consumers accept GM products, a spokesperson said Goodman Fielder would respond accordingly.


It is likely that current food labelling regulations for foods containing GM ingredients will also remain unchanged, Food Standards Australia New Zealand has said.

Labelling regulations passed in 2001 state GM foods must be labelled as such if the DNA or protein in the final product is altered or they have an altered characteristic. Highly refined products like oil or corn starch that have no altered DNA or protein in the final product do not need to be labelled as GM, although manufacturers may choose to implement voluntary labelling systems.

Unilever said while it is not using any GM ingredients at present that require labelling it would be transparent if the situation changed, allowing consumers to make informed decisions.


Goodman Fielder


Bulk solution for coding and labelling

Imaje has responded to the call of bulk handling and processors with the release of the I2000 pallet and I9000 I4000 Series.

The I2000 print and apply label applicator provides a fast, fuss-free print and apply solution that runs with minimal human interaction and training, while delivering a high standard of performance under various environmental conditions.

The bulk handling industry has key criteria when acquiring new technology, primarily: simplicity of operation, robustness and reliability to ensure maximum up-time.

The I2000 combines revolutionary technologies with a user-friendly interface to optimise usability.

This approach to styling has won two worldwide design awards for its superior modular design and simple operation, as well as the innovative I9000 range of inkjet printers identifiable by their very friendly interface and no-fuss, no-waste and no-error cartridge system.

Some of the features that the I2000 has to offer are that the consumable’s service life is synchronised to minimise interruption to the customer’s workflow.

The I2000 is flexible enough that the rest of the production line can be designed without being limited by the positioning of labels onto the packaging.

Imaje 2000 Series is extremely versatile with tamp, wipe and blow applicators, with the ability to place labels onto the front, side, or on two adjacent sides of a case or pallet.

Keeping in mind the various products handled in bulk processing, the applicators work with extreme precision and handle all packaging, including fragile goods and pallets.

The compact design of the I2000 allows it to fit into tight spaces and the systems operate as either stand-alone applications or as part of a network.

With a print speed of up to 300 mm per second, the I2000 offers a complete print and apply solution suitable for demanding bulk handling conditions.

Being proactive and future-ready by nature, the design is able to adapt to the use of RFID labels for even faster handling and traceability.

Wal-Mart suppliers must comply

Wal-Mart has announced that suppliers of its private label and other food items, like produce, meat and fish, must comply with standards recognised by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Wal-Mart said the four GFSI-approved standards go beyond the current audit process required by the US FDA and Department of Agriculture, according to a report by Reuters.

GFSI is a group of international retailers committed to strengthening consumer confidence in food safety, which counts Wal-Mart among its members.

Wal-Mart’s requirements will extend to subsidiaries Asda in the UK and Seiyu in Japan.

GFS1 is a CIES initiative.

CIES – The Food Business Forum is the only independent global food business network. It serves the CEOs and senior managementof nearly 400 members, over 150 countries, with retailers being the largest single group.

For further information, email Anne Malbrancq.

Masterpieces made from milk

Tasmanian Heritage Traditional Camembert and Connoisseur Caramel Honey Macadamia ice cream were named 2008 Grand Champions, along with 18 class champions from almost every Australian state.

Premium dairy foods from across the country were celebrated at an awards ceremony at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on February 5.

Now in their ninth year, the awards presented by Dairy Australia have become the foremost honour of the dairy foods industry.

This year, Roland Perrin, Professor in Food Technology at France’s National Dairy School, was on the judging panel.

Chief judge Neil Willman, supported by highly qualified technical experts, cheesemakers, providores, food media and chefs undertook blind tastings to ensure the credibility and integrity of the awards.

This year’s awards comprised more than 360 entries representing 90 Australian dairy manufacturers.

Australian Grand Dairy Award winners have the right to incorporate prestigious symbols on their packaging – helping consumers identify the ‘best-of-the-best’.

For further information, click here.

Guinness ensures a great craic

In the run up to St Patrick’s Day, Diageo Australia, owner of the Guinness brand, will invest over $300,000 in brand activities.

More that 50,000 Guinness hats will be given out to consumers in 800 venues nationally, throughout the month of March.

Further increased visibility will include outdoor banners and Guinness branded t-shirts for bar staff in supporting venues, as well as high visibility display materials.

St Patrick’s Day is on March 17th, 2008, and the lead-up is a key sales period for Guinness with 21.5 per cent MAT volume sold in February and March, 13 per cent of that in March.

Incremental Guinness sales versus baseline sales over February and March account for 29%, while in March alone incremental sales account for 56% versus baseline sales.

The “Great Guinness Pour” Trade Competition will see bar staff judged in state heats around the country in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day with state winners flown to Sydney for the national final on March 3rd.

The national champion will win $1759, symbolic of the year Guinness was established in Ireland.

A comprehensive overview of all St Patrick’s Day Guinness promotional activity and participating venues can be found on the new Australian Guinness website, live on February 18th, 2008.

It pays to climb the career ladder

Danny Neale of Trafalgar in Gippsland has won the national Dairy Australia Education Excellence Award — Manufacturing, sponsored by Dairy Australia.

The win was announced at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards in the National Gallery of Victoria on February 5th, 2008.

Neale, 39, worked his way up the ranks from a casual cleaner at Fonterra, Cobden, to site operations excellence co-ordinator at Fonterra’s Darnum plant.

Along the way he worked as an evaporator and dryer operator, and in the warehouse and packaging departments.

In the previous 12 months, as a Production Technologist, Danny was responsible for process and plant optimisation and improvement, along with process troubleshooting and special projects.

In developing his dairy manufacturing career, Danny successfully completed Certificate II and III Studies in Food Processing and he recently completed the Diploma of Food Science and Technology at the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia (NCDEA), where he maintained a continually high level of academic achievement.

He was awarded the prize based on academic achievement and his potential for future development within the Australian dairy industry.

Danny received his $1000 award from Dairy Australia’s managing director, Dr Mike Ginnivan, at a ceremony attended by representatives of the dairy processing industry.

National Centre for Dairy Education Australia (NCDEA)

Dairy Australia


Network communication software

Key Technology introduces new OPC-compliant network communication software for all G6 optical sorters and automatic defect removal (ADR) systems.

These are the only sorters in the food processing industry that provide OPC-compliant communication software for plant-wide networking, allowing processors to improve operations.

The new software allows the G6 systems to easily interface with plant networks, extending machine monitoring and communication control capabilities beyond the plant floor to the control room. According to the company, interfacing G6 sorters and ADR systems with the plant network increases automation, reducing operator error.

Machine monitoring allows the plant network to read various settings on the user interface, monitoring both machine status and product data.

The quality of incoming product, as defined by the rate of occurrence of any number of specific defect categories, can be monitored over time and charted to identify trends.

The new communication software provides data to the network, so that networks can be programmed to alert operators or administrators if certain predefined conditions occur.

Specific machine functions can now be controlled remotely or automatically. Product changeovers can be automatically achieved via the network by recalling the product set-up file from memory.

The new OPC-compliant network communication software is available immediately for all G6 sorters and ADR systems, which include the company’s current family of Optyx and Tegra sorters and ADR, 5 as well as legacy sorters and ADR systems, and other company’s sorters that have been upgraded with the G6 electro-optical platform.

According to the company, applications include fresh, frozen, and dried fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, potatoes and potato strips, snack foods, confections, coffee, and seafood, as well as tobacco and recycled plastics.

Click here for further information

Leaders in fish

The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program 2008 commences on 15th of April 2008 in Port Lincoln and concludes on the 17th of September 2008 in Canberra.

The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program 2008 is delivered through funding from The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and developed by Leading Industries.

The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program 2008 is the only national industry specific leadership program and was initially designed in consultation with seafood industry people.

The course focuses on developing skills that participants can apply at three levels — personal, business and national industry, they will be encouraged to implement plans associated with these areas and will work on a nationally strategic project.

The content of the program ensures that participants are exposed to handling conflict, effective communication, efficient meetings, high performance team building, managing change and media training.

Participants will develop an understanding of how to impact positively, resulting in constructive outcomes for the national industry.

In program 2008 will be delivered through three residential sessions:

  • First Residential, 15th to 17th April 2008, Port Lincoln
  • Second Residential, 15th and 16th July 2008, Sydney
  • Third Residential, 15th to 17th September 2008, Canberra

Program costs are $500.00 per participant, which includes most meals, training materials and learning support throughout the six months of the program.

For further information, contact Jill Briggs.

IBC system helps coffee producer

Matcon was awarded a contract for the supply of the Materials Handling System for Chek Hup, a Malaysian company that owns the Chek Hup brand of White Coffee popular in over 15 countries, and when they experienced great international market demand.

This interest from the international market has caused an upsurge production, which has increased to over 80 tonnes per month, and Chek Hup needed to implement new systems.

Matcon used their regional experience in 3-1 powder processing to implement a Smart Drum IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container) system of 300L capacity.

The Smart Drum system is a closed system in which the batch is contained in a sealed IBC. Each Smart Drum IBC incorporates cone valve technology, which is used to provide the necessary controlled feed into the packaging lines without the risk of segregation of the 3 to 1 after blending.

The Smart Drum system is used to transfer batches between the process steps, which include:

Bulk and minor Raw Material dispensing to an IBC

  • IBC Blending
  • Discharge of 3-1 Coffee into the Packing lines
  • IBC Cleaning – off line

The IBC system is a modular approach, which can be added to later, and this was an advantage to the coffee producer. Now that the Matcon system is in place, the Chek Hup factory output has increased from 80 tonnes to 110 tonnes per month and the factory is cleaner, reducing the time needed for cleaning and mopping.

Click here for further information.

National Packaging Covenant explained

If you are confused by, or would like to know more about, the National Packaging Covenant this is the course for you.

It sets out to clarify and demystify the National Packaging Covenant and explain a company’s obligations when becoming a signatory to the Covenant.

A large number of signatories are food processors, manufacturers or retailers.

Course outline

The course will primarily focus on what is required to fulfill the requirements of the National Packaging Covenant with particular emphasis how to create an acceptable Action Plan and subsequent Action Plan Reports.

In addition to discussing in depth the objectives of the Covenant, the course will workshop an actual Action Plan and Action Plan Report that has been assessed and placed on the National Packaging Covenant website for public view.

Some of the key elements to be discussed on this course include:

• National Packaging Covenant (NPC) Mark II Background and targets

• Product Stewardship

• Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

• Environmental Code of Practice for Packaging (ECoPP)

• Action Plans

• Online KPI Survey

• Annual Reports

• National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM) for Used Packaging Materials

• The Assessment Process

This course would ideally suit those packaging professionals working at food manufacturing companies or at any point in the packaging supply chain that require a better understanding of the National Packaging Covenant and their obligations as signatories to the National Packaging Covenant.

The course will be presented by Robin Tuckerman FAIP who has more than 30 years experience in the Australian packaging industry and last year judged the Packaging Evolution Awards.

When: Tuesday 11th March

Where: Australian Industry Group, 20 Queens Rd, Melbourne

Time: 12.30pm arrival for a 1.00pm sharp commencement

Booking form.

Australian Institute of Packaging

Health and wellness trend not slowing obesity

In a report entitled ‘Obesity, Dieting, Exercise And The Future Of Food And Drink — Understanding consumer attitudes and behaviours’, independent market analyst Datamonitor explores the contradiction between consumers’ attempts to eat more healthy foods and the rising obesity levels.

Datamonitor’s survey of European and US consumers reveals approximately 65% of Europeans and Americans made active attempts to eat more healthily in 2005 to 2006.

Rather than focusing purely on the elimination of ‘bad’ nutrients from their diets, consumers are also embracing the concept of ‘positive nutrition’ — focusing on the inherently good content within food and drinks.

Indeed, while consumers do not underestimate the importance of cutting down on fat, sugar and salt, they also believe a healthy diet involves eating fresh food and drink (90%) and eating from a diverse range of foods (66%).

Although consumers want to eat healthily, they do not want to sacrifice taste and pleasure. This attitude, in part, is driven by the widespread belief that healthy food tastes inferior. This is especially relevan, as consumers are eating out of home with greater regularity — a time when the desire to eat healthily is most likely to be compromised.

Datamonitor’s Productscan tracking reveals dietary products and healthy alternatives are witnessing the largest growth in the food and drink market, in terms of new product releases.

In particular, products in 100-calorie-pack formats are becoming increasingly popular, allowing shoppers to enjoy great taste without having to worry about the consequences of bad nutrient consumption.

Simultaneously, indulgence-based products continue to be popular in the food and beverage market, as manufacturers recognise that the inability to compromise between health and enjoyment means eating and drinking is becoming more occasion orientated.

For further information, contact Denis Mason.


Detect metal contaminants

Sartorius has produced a metal detector sensitive to all types of metal, including magnetic particles, high-alloy steel particles and non ferrous metals (copper, brass, lead etc), in a diverse range of products to help minimise the risk of metal contaminants being found by consumers in food or damaging process machinery.

The detector works through a relay activated when metal is detected and its potential-free switch-over contact can be used for any control processes, such as stopping the processing machine or conveyor belt, activating marking devices or ejectors. Once a particle is detected the contaminated product is ejected.

According to the company, the automatic self-monitoring and quality assurance routines ensure the highest possible safety and the stainless steel housing (AISI 304/BS 304) meets the highest requirements of hygiene in accordance with HACCP.

For further information, click here.

Sartorius AG

Sensors for food processing

Balluff-Leuze provides optoelectronic sensors with seal protection and material resistance to modern industrial food systems (food processing, filling and packaging), and certified to ECOLAB and IP69K standards, that can withstand a exposure to high-pressure equipment and aggressive cleaning and disinfection agents.

The IP 69K protection rating guarantees seal-tightness against sprayed water, but does not encompass the use of chemical additives such as alkalis or acids. In contrast, the Henkel-ECOLAB-Test F&E no. 40-1 encompasses the immersion of sensors in cleaning agents for several weeks, using a wide-ranging portfolio of different cleaning products.

According to the company, Series 3B, series 8, series 18, series 25B, series 46B and series 96 Metal sensors are ideally equipped to meet increasingly stringent hygiene requirements in the food industry, including ever shorter cleaning intervals, longer application periods and higher concentrations of cleaning agents but also new cleaning procedures such as gassing with H2O2.


Baristas champion coffee in Asia

In testimony to the rise of Western style coffee in Asia, the first ever Asia level Barista Championship will be held in Singapore from April 22 to 24, 2008.

Participants from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand will compete for the title of ‘Asia Barista Champion’.

The baristas will be judged by a panel including four sensory judges, four technical judges and a head judge.

During the Championship, each competitor will be required to serve each of the four sensory judges, a single espresso, a single cappuccino and a single blended signature beverage of his/her choice, for a total of 12 drinks during the period of 15 minutes or less.

The Asia Barista Championship is jointly organised by Singapore Exhibition Services, organiser of FHA2008; Kerry Ingredients Asia and the Singapore Coffee Association.

Coffee is a growth market in Asia, with consumers showing an ever greater appreciation and demand for specialty coffee.

NZ report on Australian food & bev

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has issued a report on Australian food and beverage trends and concerns, highlighting how manufacturers in New Zealand can benefit.

The report — Market Profile – Food and Beverages in the Australian Market — says New Zealand products that can deliver fresh, healthy, natural snacks and meal solutions are well placed to tap into the Australian trends and concerns.

As well as the well known trends towards convenience, health and wellness and casual dining, the report links the demand for healthy products to the rise in demand for organic products.

Sales of organic food are estimated at about $500 million a year, the report states, and the Organic Federation of Australia estimates that the sales are growing at 24% to 40% a year, while Australian production is only growing at 6% to 15%.

As well as market entry strategies, the market profile includes information on the market structure, the regulatory environment, the competitive environment and further sources of information.

Click here to read the report.

Insulate wine and other perishables

Ospack, a shipping container insulation specialist, has developed a new thermal liner to regulate the temperature and humidity that wine and other perishables are exposed to during transport in non-refrigerated shipping containers.

The company learnt of the Foster’s Group’s need to insulate its wines throughout all changes in climatic conditions, as they are transported between continents.

The first Insul-Dri container had used polymer coated bubble wrap, rayon and food-grade LDPE laminated corrugated board, so the two companies then worked together to improve the quality for exports.

Food Science Australia leant their support and helped with the testing of the new insulators at the test facility in North Ryde.

The insulating containers were then tested shipping wine from Australia to Oakland, California, proving that the containers were successful, and robust enough to be reused.

The company can tailor the product to different needs and environments.

Pouch-cooling success

A company with a pasta cooling challenge has used Lyco Manufacturing’s equipment to solve their problem.

21st Century Foods in the US produces fully cooked, microwaveable main courses, catering to the time-poor families of today.

The company’s meals consist of pasta or rice in a pouch, and a pouch containing the sauce. The consumer then microwaves both and mixes them together.

Once the meals have been cooked, both the pasta or rice and the sauces must be cooled. However, the pouches containing the meat sauces are relatively small and delicate, and require gentle handling when being cooled from 170 degrees to around 20.

21st Century Foods used Lyco’s pouch cooler as it gently agitates the pouches and mixes the sauce within them, eliminating hot spots, while also keeping the pouches of sauce intact.

For the accompanying pasta, the company chose the supplier’s cooker-cooler, which can both cook and cool in one machine.

For further information, click here.

Colours prevent contamination

Food safety and hygiene in food processing areas extends further than just bacteria and pathogens.

With food safety and hygiene the number one issue for food processors, Fletcher International provides a new range of coloured food handling equipment, particularly useful in the baking industry, as well as other food industries.

A range of strong and durable plastic products including wheeled ingredient bins, tubs, mobiles, dollies and troughs, and sundry equipment are now available in a wide choice of colours.

The products assist companies in product segregation, for example in the case of nut and non-nut products.

The coloured tubs and lids mean that should the lids of one tub containing nuts/nut products be switched with that of another tub containing nut-free products it would be clearly spotted by workers, avoiding contamination of the nut-free product and a product recall situation.

The company says it is able to produce coloured containers in small quantities quickly and competitively.