A pizza vending machine?

First there was a pizza ordering button, now a new video shows a vending machine that makes pizza in under three minutes.

It's unclear if the machines have found any success up to this point, but it’s definitely an interesting concept.

Do you think vending machines like this will eventually make pizza shops obsolete? Would you eat pizza from a vending machine? 

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NSW govt provides wrong egg-labelling info: consumer watchdog

Consumer watchdog Choice has accused the New South Wales’ government of posting incorrect and confusing information about free-range egg labelling on its website.

On Friday the NSW Food Authority confirmed it had responded to calls for more transparent information on egg labelling and farming practices by creating a new page on its website to explain the laws.

But Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said the information was incorrect, and that while consumers are willing to pay a premium of up to $5 for free-range eggs, the standards are lacking.

Producers are certified under a number of voluntary codes, and the lack of regulations mean that those who sell eggs from free-range hens which are housed together with other caged hens can still get the free-range certification.

“If you were going to buy free-range eggs and ensure that they met your expectations of free-range, you'd have to stand in front of the shelves, have a smartphone, navigate the site, expand and collapse the drop-down menus on your phone and read the information,'' Just said.

''Imagine a busy mum, who just wants to buy eggs from hens she believes are happy and scratching around, roaming freely and undergoing normal chook-like behaviours,'' she said.

''Consumers take between three and five seconds to choose a product off the shelf – so whilst it's information, it's not user-friendly and it's not helping consumers at that point of sale when they're making the critical selection.''

The maximum stock density for free to roam hens is currently 1500 per hectare, but the website got those figures wrong too, Just explained.

NSW food authority public affairs manager Deborah Smith disagreed with the claims, saying it would stand by its interpretation of stocking density under the code of practice.

In March Western Australia’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food, Paul Papalia, said  that consumers were receiving misleading information by companies finding loopholes in the ‘free range’ definitions.

"In WA there is no regulation or legislation governing the use of the term 'free range' and as a consequence consumers are being ripped off by some people who are claiming free range status on their eggs," he said.

"That is deceptive behaviour on behalf of some of those producers."

But the Agriculture Minister said it is the state government’s responsibility to create rules around the housing of animals on farms, despite the RSPCA branding the decision by the Australian Egg Corporation to increase stock density from 1500 to 2000 per hectare as inhumane.

"It's not our job to regulate things that sit outside of the formal rules around animal welfare and environmental standards," he said.

While the Commercial Egg Producers Association of WA sid it would welcome more regulation on the housing of animals, President John Simpson believes companies have to be realistic.

"I think we've got to move with the times," he said.

"We need to feed the growing population; a lesser density wouldn't achieve those things."

Do you think we need tougher rules about 'free to roam' claims? Do you buy roam free eggs?

Image: Green Pages

 

AFGC appoints new CEO

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC)’s new chief executive will begin at the end of next month.

Gary Dawson will come to the food and packaging’s peak representative group from Thales Australia, where he is the senior executive in charge of corporate affairs, communications and strategy. 

Prior to this he filled a similar role at the ABC, managing strategy and communications and has also worked at the highest levels of government, spending five years as a Senior Advisor to Prime Minister John Howard, covering both media and policy, and four years as an advisor to ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell.

Carnell stepped down from the role as chief executive of the AFGC in January to take up the same position at the Butterfly Foundation, which provides education and support on eating disorders in Australia.

Chairman of the AFGC, John Doumani, congratulated Gary on his appointment.

 “Gary brings tremendous experience and proven success at senior executive levels in both the public and private sectors, with a career spanning media, politics and business,” he said.

“Importantly, he also has experience in an Industry body, having worked as Director of Communications at the NSW Law Society.

Dawson will officially commence his duties as AFGC chief on 30 July.

McDonald’s takes you behind the scenes, but is is really as it seems?

In an interesting PR move for the fast food giant, McDonald’s has released a video showing why the burgers displayed in its advertising look so different to those actually sold in stores.

As consumers become more aware of the tricks and gimmicks used by food companies to buy their products, McDonald’s Canada has decided transparency is a good move.

The video shows the burger being taken apart and reassembled so that all the ingredients are clearly visible in the advertising.

The appearance of melting cheese is created by a hot iron, and the sauce is carefully placed by a syringe.

The burger perfected by a photographer and food stylist is compared to a Quarter Pounder purchased in a store, and the differences are obvious.

While on the surface, the video is lifting the lid – or seeded bun – on how McDonald’s uses a few tricks to make the food look better, when you dig deeper, their intentions become more obvious.

The tricks that food companies use to make their products look delicious are well known in the industry; everything from nailing pizza to a board, putting marbles in a soup can to make the pasta float to the top and replacing whipped cream with shaving cream to get better peaks went on for years.

The rules surrounding advertising of food products have become more restrictive, but companies all still use some kind of trickery in their ads.

The interesting part of the McDonald’s video is that nothing that is not actually on the burger is placed on the burger used for advertising.

“I think it’s important to note that all the ingredients that Noah [food stylist] uses are the exact same ingredients we use in the restaurant,” Marketing Manager Hope Bagozzi says in the video.

Also interesting is Bagozzi declaring within the first minute, when purchasing a real burger from an outlet, that it is “hot and fresh.”

So, is it a clever marketing ruse in itself, for McDonald’s to proclaim it is being transparent, when there is far more going on under the surface?

You be the judge. Check out the video below.

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We source most of our fresh produce locally: Woolworths

Woolworths has unveiled a new advertising campaign, intended to inform consumers that contrary to widely-held opinion, it actually sources 96 per cent of its fresh produce from Australia.

Most consumers believe half or less of fresh meat sold in Australian supermarkets is locally grown, but Woolworths says all of it is.

Consumers are also increasingly aware of the freshness of products by the time it gets to their shopping trolley.

"There is little doubt that supermarkets can be doing a better job in informing customers about who we are and how we are able to deliver the best fresh food in the country,” managing director of Woolworths supermarket and petrol division, Tjeerd Jegen said.

“That's why Woolworths is embarking on a multi-million dollar brand and consumer awareness campaign.

"As Australia's iconic fresh food retailer we are reaching out to customers. We have a responsibility as Australia's largest national supermarket to better explain to customers where their food comes from and to improve their shopping experience."

The slight change to Woolworths’ Fresh Food People slogan is sure to be met with some scepticism though, as produce growers still struggle to make ends meet.

The new advertising and branding campaign marks "a fresh promise to our customers" to be 'Australia's fresh food people,’ the company said.

 

Australians oppose TV junk food ads, warm to GM foods

More than 75% of Australians support a ban on junk food advertising in children’s television, and almost 20% support a total ban, according to a poll by the Australian National University on attitudes to food security.

The survey of 1200 people also found that nearly 50% of Australians feel genetically modified (GM) foods are safe to eat, and 13% say they struggle to put regular, nutritionally-balanced food on their tables.

The poll, Public Opinion on Food Security and Related Food Issues, gauged views on household food security, eating out habits, health and food safety and GM crops. The results describe a nation that is increasingly opting to eat out rather than cook at home, and one that is concerned about the safety of imported food products but divided about GM foods.

Stewart Lockie, Head of the School of Sociology in the College of Arts and Social Sciences at ANU and lead author of the study, said one of the surprising findings was that the increase in the number of people eating out was driven by time poverty and not socio-economic status. Eight percent of people said they eat takeaway food more than three times a week.

“Consumers of takeaway food were mostly young adults, male, with university educations, whereas we expected it to be lower socio-economic groups, if for no other reason than the takeaway industry really targets those communities with their store locations,” Professor Lockie said.

“The other surprising finding was that nearly half of the population feels that GM foods are safe to eat. If you asked this question 10 years ago, you’d have found widespread opposition. These days there’s a degree of familiarity, and there’s a sense that this stuff has been around for a while and there haven’t been disasters. There’s also a degree of ambivalence – this stuff is in the food system and we can’t do anything about it.”

David Tribe, a Senior Lecturer in Food Biotechnology and Microbiology, Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Melbourne, agreed. “People have been given time to kick the tyres, check the paintwork, and they slowly accommodate something that was once perceived as very different. That’s one thing.

“The other thing is that Kevin Rudd was overseas in 2009 talking to prime ministers in countries that were under threat from a food crisis. He realised that food security was one of the greatest moral issues that we faced. So the message started to get through to people that it was important to think about food availability. The conversation changed dramatically.”

Genetically modified canola is now harvested in NSW and Victoria. AAP/Greenpeace

The ANU poll also uncovered concern among consumers about foods imported from Asia. “It’s a developing part of the world,” Professor Lockie said, “and the finding reflects a concern that some countries don’t have or don’t enforce adequate food safety regulations, and producers may be using excessive amounts of chemicals and not guarding against biological hazards.”

Timothy Gill, Principal Research Fellow and Scientific Programs Manager at the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Sydney, said the push to restrict junk food advertising was not designed to deflect responsibility from parents for the way they raised their children, but to give them more support.

“You only have to experience the trauma of trying to shop with young children in the supermarket, and being pulled every which way by a child demanding a particular food product that has been marketed to appeal to them,” Associate Professor Gill said.

“Pester power is a mechanism that marketers have always deemed legitimate and appropriate. For young children, it’s about creating a sense of desire, fun and familiarity around certain products. For older children, it might be about appealing to the idea that they’ll be more popular or cool if they have some products.”

Professor Gill said it was “absolutely true” that parents should be accountable for the food their children consumed – “and the thing is, parents do want to take responsibility, and the reason why they wish to see less exposure of their children to this sort of advertising is that it goes directly against the influence they try to have and the things they teach their children. [Placing restrictions on ads] is not about taking away the responsibility of parents. Quite the opposite – it’s actually allowing them to take responsibility.”

A range of studies have shown that removing junk food advertising from children’s television has an effect on purchase requests and eating patterns.

Some of the key findings from the poll are:

  • 44% of people surveyed felt that GM foods are safe to eat. Among those who have read a lot about GM foods, 49% felt they were safe to eat.
  • However, 54% of respondents said that it was unlikely they would buy foods that are labelled as genetically modified.
  • 77% support a ban on junk food advertising during children’s television programmes and 18% oppose all junk food advertising.
  • 81% reported that food products in general are safe to eat, but nearly 66% did not feel confident with the safety of food products imported from Asia.
  • 8% eat takeaway more than three times each week, and men are 50% more likely than women to eat takeaway food.
  • Concerns about the economy are not reflected in people’s spending habits, with 37% eating out more than once a week.
  • 16% said they often or sometimes worried that their food would run out before they had enough money to buy more.
  • 13% said they could not afford to eat nutritionally-balanced meals.
  • 4% received emergency food assistance from a charity or other source.

The Conversation

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

Mixed opinions from farmers over Coles’ boutique food plan

Victorian Farmers have criticised a plan by Coles to sell boutique food brands in regional stores, but the representative body for Western Australian farmers has welcomed the idea.

The Victorian Farmers Federation said suppliers will continue to struggle against the major supermarkets, who are able to offer extremely low prices due to their size and, according to industry sources, through their bullying behviour.

Earlier this week, Master Grocers Australia slammed Coles and Woolworths for swooping into small regional centres with stores that are too big for the population, in a bid to wipe out the independents.

But now, the Western Australian Farmers Federation (WAFF) president Dale Park has welcomed the idea, but only if their products are not sold at a higher price than others on offer.

"It's not Coles who are making the final decision on this, it's the people who are actually buying the products from Coles who are making the final decision," he said.

"If the products from Coles are too expensive, people won't buy them and there won't be a market."

"The trick then is to make sure that you can get enough for your product to keep producing it, as I've said more than once the most important people in the whole line of food are the people who produce it in the first place and the people who eat it in the last place," he said.

4 million Aussies struggle to open packaging: how the industry is improving

Evolving lifestyles and an ageing population will force packaging to innovate, as they attempt to meet changing household demographics and more educated consumers.

“The average household has two occupants,” Paul Curtis, chief executive of the Packaging Council of Australia told the AIP National Conference.

“We’re all seeing increased demand for sealable packages to reduce wastage, portion controlled packaging to meet our diet needs, as well as on-the-go packaging to eat when out and about,” he said.

“Packaging will get more and more attention in the future.”

A collaboration between NSW Health, Arthritis Australia and companies including Nestle, is already making significant changes to the packaging industry, particularly with accessibility.

Accessible packaging is a crucial component in packaging nowadays, with a rapidly ageing population, who mostly want to stay at home rather than going into aged care.

But it’s not just older Australians who struggle to open packaging, as Wendy Favorito, Director and Consumer Representative, Arthritis Australia said.

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, Favorito is finds opening a lot of packaging an impossible task.

“When I look at a picture of a jar, you might as well show me a picture of Mount Everest, because it is basically that impossible to me,” she said.

Favorito explained that the impossible task of opening jars, cans and other kinds of packaging takes an emotional toll on the person.

“Every day I struggle to open something and that has a huge emotional toll in trying to live independently and maintain self esteem,” she said.

“I feel angry, I feel frustrated, I feel disappointed and I am not alone.

“I am privileged to tell my story on behalf of about 4 million Australians who are living with some form of arthritis.”

NSW Health has committed to supplying hospitals with easily opened packaging, and Nestle is also working towards improving its standards, as determined by the Accessibility Scale created by Arthritis Australia.

“Accessibility is a key area of development for the NSW Minister for Health,” NSW Health’s Carmen Rechbauer said.

“The issue for food service people is not to go backwards, but to improve the safety of meals delivered to patients.

“They are portion-controlled to ensure patient are their getting their nutrients, but people can’t open the stuff to eat it.

“And I’m not just talking about patients, but staff as well.

“ If you think about hospital patients, they are just the general population, who pass though there.

“It’s exciting to see accessibility is being taken seriously now.”
 

Make sure to check out the in-depths feature on accessible packaging in the June edition of Food Magazine.

Coles and Woollies wiping out regional grocers: lobby group

The Senate Inquiry into Coles and Woolworths’ anti-competitive behaviour is not impacting their mission to take over the grocery sector entirely, and the independents are desperately calling on the federal government to step in.

The independents are banding together to create a lobby campaign group over plans for the big two to increase floor space by over 5 per cent in the next few years.

Coles and Woolworths have undertaken research and development over the last few years which has seen them close dozens of stores and reopen them in other areas.

These areas, the independents say, are usually where they are located.

A local IGA or smaller grocer is then pushed out of business as they find it impossible to compete with the ridiculously low prices the major supermarkets can achieve through their anti-competitive and bullying behaviour.

The Senate Inquiry into the actions of Coles and Woolworths is struggling to get people who will comment on the behaviour of the big two, while factories continue to close and more private label products spring up on shelves.

Last week, Steven Strachan, the outgoing chief executive of the Australian Winemakers Federation, who would only speak once he had left the position, for fear of the consequences if he spoke out earlier, said the major supermarkets are bullying the winemakers too.

''If you're an individual company that speaks out against them or says anything publicly that criticises their tactics, they would have no hesitation in giving you a holiday from their shelves and that is what's creating a culture of fear and compliance in the industry,'' Strachan said

''Whenever I've made comments in the press, I could only talk about retailers in a generic sense, but they [Coles and Woolworths] would religiously follow up on those comments and make it known they were displeased.

The pressure placed on food producers is well-known to everyone in the industry – Food Magazine has spoken to countless manufacturers about the pressures placed on them by Coles and Woolworths, but none will speak on the record – and they have even been accused of contributing to road deaths with unrealistic delivery demands.

A Commonwealth Bank assessment of Woolworths' $1-billion-a-year growth plan, which will see it swoop into more regional centres, including West Dubbo, Ulladulla and Morriset, found the huge supermarkets being developed are too big for the areas.

''Many of the Woolworths developments have been in areas with marginal medium-term economics for supermarkets,'' the Commonwealth Bank analysis said.

''We are concerned that in addition to the poor lending conditions, Woolworths is not helping itself by developing marginal sites.''

The report questioned Woolworths’ ''exceptionally high'' forecast floorspace growth of 3 per cent a year.

Master Grocers Australia, which lobbies on behalf of independents IGA and Foodworks, will use the bank assessment to support its claim that the big two are opening bigger stores than necessary to wipe out the competition.

''Master Grocers Australia believes the strategy is conscious, deliberate and intended to bring about a substantial lessening of competition in those local markets where over-large stores are developed,'' a draft report said, according to The Age.

Master Grocers will use the findings to lobby the federal government and Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), calling for more action to stop the inundation of Coles and Woolworths’ around the country.

It wants MPs and the ACCC to use their powers to probably investigate and assess the profitability of such stores, push for mandatory competition and net community benefit tests in planning stages prior to approval and also legislate that prior notice of proposed property acquisitions by the major chains must be provided.

Coles spokesman Jon Church told The Sydney Morning Herald the claims are ''nice conspiracy theory with no basis in fact''.

''We only open stores where there is a consumer need and we believe we can make a return on our investment,'' he said.

And it’s not just the grocery market the big two are wiping out, they also plan to bring the liquor, hardware, office supplies and gaming, arms of their businesses to “marginal” areas.  

''The effect is the elimination of competition in these local markets,'' the report said.

Master Grocers has identified a number of stores which it says are “oversized,” including a 2383 metre square Woolworths store and liquor outlet in Bright, which has a population of 2100.

There is also a proposed 3100 metre square Woolworths store in Seville, where the population is 1800 and a 2600 square metre store which has opened in Koo Wee Rup, where there is only 2803 people living.

Woolworths spokeswoman Clare Buchanan told The Sydney Morning Herald that the company's competitors would not know the potential profitability of individual stores, but she did admit the company looks to open new stores in growth areas

''Developers look to incorporate amenities such as supermarkets in order to attract people to live in an area,” she said.

“This means we commit to a long-term investment in the future growth potential of a suburb.''

Here at Food Magazine, we've been asking whether we need a Royal Commission into the behaviour of the major supermarkets. Do you think it's come to that?

Marmite gets corgis on board to launch “Ma’amite’ to celebrate Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Marmite has released a limited edition version called Ma’amite, and even gotten her majesty’s famous corgi’s in on the advertising.

Marmite, similar to Vegemite, advertises its product with the tagline “you either love it or you hate it,” which has been changed slightly to "Ma'amite, one either loves it or one hates it," with one corgi seemingly in support of the acquired taste and one not so much in the print advertisement.

In the television ad, things get a bit more obvious, as a corgi sniffs the breakfast waiting at the bedroom door in a palace, and then makes its feelings known with a lift of its leg.

The Ma’amite, named after the Queen, often referred to as “Ma’am,” is just one of the countless ways British companies and stores are celebrating the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Check out the video below. 

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Coles and Woollies are bullying winemakers too: departing Winemakers’ Federation chief

Amid accusations that Coles and Woolworths are intimidating food manufacturers and produce growers so much they are too scared to even speak up at a Senate Inquiry, a leading Australian wine body has publically criticised the big two.

The anti-competitive and bullying behaviours of Coles and Woolworths are well known, and while countless food producers have discussed the damaging impacts of the supermarket duopoly on business with Food Magazine and other media outlets, almost all are too afraid to go on the record with their stories.

After it publically slammed the control the two supermarkets have on business more than once last year, Heinz declared on Friday that the relationships have improved significantly.

The comments come after a Heinz spokesperson told Food Magazine earlier this year that they were “trying to distance ourselves,” from the much-publicised criticism, which included  chief financial officer and executive vice president, Arthur Winkleback labelling the Australian supermarket environment “inhospitable.”

Now it’s the winemakers turn to publically oppose the behaviours of the major supermarkets, while everyone waits with bated breath to see if and how Coles and Woolworths will also punish them.

The supermarkets’ have both been accused of creating a culture of fear and intimidation among local wine producers, just as they have done in the food sector.

Stephen Strachan, who finished his role as the chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia on Friday, would only speak to The Sun-Herald after his position had ended, which is inductive of the silo of silence in the industry.

''If you're an individual company that speaks out against them or says anything publicly that criticises their tactics, they would have no hesitation in giving you a holiday from their shelves and that is what's creating a culture of fear and compliance in the industry,'' Strachan said.

''Whenever I've made comments in the press, I could only talk about retailers in a generic sense, but they [Coles and Woolworths] would religiously follow up on those comments and make it known they were displeased.

According to Strachan, the bullying is not only felt by local winemakers and Coles and Woolworths also flexes its power over foreign suppliers.

Furthermore, he said, they also collect sensitive commercial information from wine producers, and use that information to bully rival suppliers into selling for lower prices during negotiations.

Food Magazine has contacted both Woolworths and Coles for comment on the accusations, but neither has responded at this stage.

 

As supermarket power rises, Heinz praises progress

One of the few companies to be openly critical of the supermarket duopoly in Australia, HJ Heinz, has apparently mended fences with Coles and Woolworths.

Amid a climate of fear and bullying behaviour by the major supermarkets, where even a Senate Inquiry is struggling to get companies to speak up, HJ Heinz’ head of Asia-Pacific, Christopher J Warmoth has discussed the improved relationships.

''In the past eight months, we've seen a stabilisation of this business and that comes down to three elements," he said.

“First, we've improved our relationship with the retailers and they have told us that they have noticed our increased ability to bring them real value,'' he said.

These positive comments come after the company’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, Arthur Winkleback told US analysts in August last year that the demise of many Australian companies can be attributed to the supermarket war and said they have created an “inhospitable environment” for manufacturers.

Then in November its executive chairman, chief executive and president, William Johnston, told investors the company has had to overhaul its business strategy in Australia to deal with the supermarket dominance of Coles and Woolworths.

The comments came amid an announcement by Heinz that it would be closing three manufacturing facilities in Australia meaning more than 300 local jobs would go.

But the food giant has since tried to distance itself from those statements, which earlier this year a spokesperson told Food Magazine had been taken out of context.

The Australian food manufacturing sector is struggling to survive the supermarket price wars, which are driving profits up, pushing products off shelves in favour of supermarkets’ private label alternatives and, according to the Transport Workers Union, killing people on the roads.

One in every four grocery items now sold in Australian supermarkets is private label and of those, about one in two is imported.

Staying on the good sides of Coles and Woolworths is a good business plan in itself, as failure to do so can spell the end of a business.

Countless producers and manufactures have shared their struggles with Food Magazine, but refuse to go on the record with their stories for fear that being critical of the major supermarkets would be suicide.

Australia is one of Heinz’s biggest markets, bringing in an estimated $1 billion last year.

In contrast to the comments made and financial hardship experienced by Heinz last year, Warmoth now says the company is doing well.

''Australia has also reduced cost on every front,” he said.

“We have five factories, we closed one and have downsized three.

“We had a record year by far on the supply chain productivity.

''Now we are not where we want to be in Australia, but we've made significant progress and we enter [next financial year] with a much stronger foundation.''

What do you make of the latest comments from Heinz? Do you think they’re sincere?

Australian food packaging not shelf friendly

More than 70 packaging technologists, engineers and designers came together across three states in one week to look at ways to improve Shelf Friendly Packaging (SFP).

Supported by Woolworths, the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and retail anylists IGD, the in-store training aimed to understand what is currently working on supermarket shelves and how improvements can be made to improve design, functionality, accessibility and appearance on shelves.

James Tupper, ECR Learning & Change Manager, IGD, travelled from the United Kingdom to run the 2012 AIP/IGD hands-on training which was designed to focus on the last 50 metres of the SFP supply chain.

It provided packaging technologists, SFP designers and manufacturers the opportunity to work hands-on in-store and understand the complexities and difficulties that poor SFP design causes for store fillers and staff.

The training allowed the attendees the opportunity to participate in three practical exercises in-store that showed what SFP works, which doesn’t and why.

Attendees soon realised that tape over perforations, poor gluing of boxes, perforations that don’t open, no finger holes, poor design and identification of front edges and poor quality corrugate are just some of the reasons why SFP is not used in-store.

“At the end of the day much of the Shelf Friendly Packaging in Australia is not fit-for-purpose and needs to be redesigned,” one attendee said.

How do you think packaging in Australia needs to be changed to make it shelf friendly?

People in regional Australia more likely to consume alcohol, be obese

A new Australia-wide study has found that people living in rural areas are more likely to consume alcohol and be overweight and obese.

The Roy Morgan State of the Nation Report 11 looked at 10 987 city-dwellers across Australia and compared them to 8 049 living in country regions.

During the study, which ran for 12 months up until March this year,  found 72.2 per cent of people living in the country consumed alcohol in an average four-week period, while 68 per cent of city slickers drank alcohol in the same period.

The availability of new, fancy drinks in the country could be one reason they consume standard beers, spirits and ready-to-drink products (RTD’s).

People living in the cities, on the other hand, have more availability to a range of different beverages and are more likely to drink wines and ciders.

The health and weight impacts alcohol is known to have impact the country drinkers, with 35 per cent of people considered to be overweight, almost five per cent higher than the number of people of an acceptable weight.

By comparison, almost 40 per cent of city dwellers are considered to be an acceptable weight, and there are less people considered to be overweight than in the country.

The availability of public transport in urban areas also contribute to people’s weight and health, according to numerous studies, which show that those who use public transport take, on average, over 200 extra steps than their driving counterparts, meaning they are more likely to reach their recommended daily exercise targets.

Research  by Environment and sustainability expert  and adjunct professor fat Curtin University ,Darren Bilsborough, said public transport has significant economic and health benefits.

'When you get rid of cars, you need fewer roads and you can use that space for other things,” he said.

“The real issue is getting more people more active more quickly and to do that you need to get more cars off the road and get more public transport working.”

Beyond issues of transport and alcohol, the awareness of health and exercise is much higher in city areas, according to Norman Morris from Roy Morgan.

 “The State of the Nation report also identified reduced participation in sport and exercise for country residents compared to those in the city, as well as less agreement with healthy eating attitudes, such as thinking about calorie consumption and concern for holesterol levels,” he said.

“The increased prevalence of drinking, and a larger body mass among country residents is concerning given the reduced medical services available in rural areas.

“Although, as part of the focus on rural Australia, a Roy Morgan Poll telephone survey on country residents found that only 5 per cent considered health to be the most important issue facing Australia today.”

Earlier this week, a nation-wide survey by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) found almost 80 per cent of Australians think that, as a nation, we have a problem with alcohol.

 

Most Australians think we have an alcohol problem

Almost 80 per cent of Australians think that, as a nation, we have a problem with alcohol.

A nation-wide survey by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) released yesterday in Canberra, asked 1041 Australian voters consider our national relationship with alcohol problematic.

Most Labor, Coalition and Greens voters support policies to curb drinking problems, including mandatory warning labels and advertising restrictions.

More Greens voters believe we have a problem than any others surveyed, with 81 per cent saying Australia has an alcohol problem, followed by Labor voters at 79 per cent, and those who vote for the Coalition at 75 per cent.

Late last month there were suggestions that a marketing alcohol in and around bottle shops should be stopped, as teenagers and young adults are more likely to be enticed by competitions and to be binge drinkers.

Almost 70 per cent of Greens voters want a ban on television advertisements for alcohol before 8:30pm, while 65 per cent of Coalition voters and 62 per cent Labor voters also support the ban.

FARE Chief Executive, Michael Thorn said the view that a person’s political preference skews their attitude to alcohol has been proven wrong with this study.

 “The bottom line is that, regardless of how Australians intend to vote at the ballot box, their support for government action to tackle alcohol-related harms is unequivocal,” he said.

In April, the Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) said we’re losing the war on alcoholism and binge drinking and changing the tax system to bump up prices on stronger varieties is the only way to start to improve it.

It wants the government to implement changes to the way alcohol is taxed, which it says should focus more on the strength of the alcohol, to alter binge drinking.

The group, which is made up of VicHealth, the Cancer Council and various drug and alcohol representative associations wants the price of casks of wine and cider to be bumped up, as many turn away from the price-inflated ‘alcopops’ towards the cheap boxed varieties.

Big Olive Company fined for misleading “extra virgin” labelling

A South Australian company has been fined $13 000 for misleading labelling, after it’s olive oil was not extra virgin as claimed.

The Big Olive Company, located in Tailem Bend, produced the oil concerned between December 2012 and March 2011, which was sold in 600ml bottles under the Oz Olio brand.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said consumers are being tricked into buying an inferior product which is falsely labelled as “extra virgin.”

"All we can do is take action against people who are engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct," he said.

"So when someone brings out extra virgin olive oil that fails the fatty free acid standard, we can take action, because in our view, clearly, it's not extra virgin olive oil."

The fine handed down to the Big Olive Company is part of a wider investigation into mislabelling of olive oils by the ACCC.

It is the only company to be fined for misleading advertising so far, but according to South Australian olive grower, Richard Whiting, the $13 000 fine is not enough.

In a protest against the ACCC’s fine, Whiting bathed in olive oil outside Parliament House in Canberra earlier this month.

"The Australian Olive Association has given them many examples of oils that don't meet the standard," he said.

"Both the Australian standard and the International Olive Committee standard, they don't seem to have taken up the testing necessary to check the validity of those oils."

"People think they're doing the right thing by buying extra virgin olive oil, which they are, but sometimes it's not really what they're paying for.

"So to that extent we've all been taking a bath, and I'm here to try to push the point home to the Parliamentarians, and especially the ACCC, for them to start taking some action."

The Big Olive Company is refusing to comment on the fine.

Junk food ads aimed at children fall 60 per cent

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 has today released figures 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.”

AFGC rejects tax on fast food outlets, study finds 20pc needed to make impact

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has rejected a proposal from a suburban Melbourne council that called for major food outlets to be taxed up to 400 per cent more on commercial rates than other businesses.

The Darebin City Council’s proposal became public this week, inspiring comment and opinion from all sides.

Some argue it would be a step in the right direction of tackling rising obesity rates in Australia and, while others, including the AFGC say it would not achieve such an objective.

A report by local councillors said the introduction of the tax on fast food outlets including McDonald’s and KFC would “curb the increase” of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

But the AFGC’s acting chief executive, Geoffrey Annison said the move is “ill-conceived, impractical and would have no impact at all on obesity levels”.

 “Proposals like Darebin Council’s are simplistic and add nothing to either the debate or the outcome. The Henry Tax review said differential taxation was a poor regulatory option for influencing food choice.

“If you were to go down that line, you would have to include a range of food outlets including supermarkets, petrol stations, bakeries, coffee shops, fish and chip outlets, and Thai, Indian and Pizza restaurants as they all sell fast ready-to-eat takeaway foods and not to do so would be inequitable.”

The suggestion of a “fat tax” began last year, when Denmark developed a model to put a tax on foods high in saturated fats.

Many believe Australia needs a similar tax, to address rising obesity rates, and raise funds to prevent and cure obesity-related diseases including Type 2 diabetes.

Australian researchers examined three options for beating obesity and discovered they could prevent about 220 000 cases of type 2 diabetes nationwide by 2025, which was released this week.

https://www.foodmag.com.au/news/220-000-cases-of-diabetes-could-be-prevented-by-20

The team from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute identified a high-risk prevention strategy to begin tackling the obesity epidemic and rise in the number of type 2 diabetes.

They modelled future diabetes cases that could be averted using one of three strategies, the ‘junk food tax,’ counselling and gastric banding.

It found a nation-wide tax on unhealthy foods could lead to body mass index decreasing by around 0.5kg/m2.

A tax on high-sugar drinks has also been suggested, which a study in January found could save 26 000 US lives per year.

But new research out of the UK today has found that any tax on unhealthy foods or drinks would have to be more than 20 per cent for it to have any effect.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that while more countries are introducing, or considering introducing taxes on unhealthy food and drinks, existing evidence suggests that taxes on a vast range of unhealthy foods would be more effective than focusing on just one.

In the UK, for example, the current “fat tax” regulations stipulate that only hot foods high in saturated fat are subject to the tax, leading to the largest baker, Gregg’s Bakery, to contest its application in court.

It says that because it does not make any effort to keep its sausage rolls warm after they are cooked, they should not be classified as ‘hot food,’ and therefore should not be taxed.

The Oxford study found that the most effective food group to be taxed would be sugary drinks.

“For example, a US study found a 35 per cent tax on sugar sweetened drinks in a canteen led to a 26 per cent decline in sales,” Oliver Mytton, leader of the study, said.

“Meanwhile, modelling studies predict a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks in the US would reduce obesity levels by 3.5 per cent, and suggest that extending VAT (at 17.5 per cent) to unhealthy foods in the UK could cut up to 2,700 heart disease deaths a year.

“Opinion polls from the US also put support for tax on sugary drinks at between 37 per cent and 72 per cent, particularly when the health benefits of the tax are emphasised.”

The researchers also found that education surrounding energy intake, exercise and nutritional content is important for policy makers to consider when implementing changes.

Are Coles and Woollies bullying the major TV networks too?

While everyone in the Australian food manufacturing industry is aware of the bullying behaviour of the major supermarkets, it seems they are also now impacting Australian TV networks, which are declining to screen ads criticising Coles and Woolworths’ stake in pokie machines, but refusing to say why.

The advertisement, which point out that Coles and Woolworths own “more dangerous pokie machines than the five largest Las Vegas casinos,” shows a woman unwittingly spending excess money at the supermarket checkout, which has been changed to look like one of the gaming machines.

It also targets the “Fresh Food People,” slogan, changing it to “The Pokies People,” and also uses the Woolworths Everyday Rewards logo, which it launches today.

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The advertisement, created by GetUp! is not being screened by the major TV networks in Australia, but none of the stations have explained why.

A spokesperson from the advocacy organisation told Mumbrella they have not been given a reason why they won’t show the ad.

Food Magazine has contacted Channels 7, 9 and 10 this morning, but nobody was able to provide any answers.

As the Senate Inquiry into the impact of Coles and Woolworths’ anti-competitive behaviour is having on the food industry struggles to get witnesses to comment, for fear of being punished, it seems the major supermarkets are throwing their weight around in an increasing number of sectors.

Calls to Coles and Woolworths have not been returned.

The far-reaching impact of Coles and Woolworths has long been documented, and many are highly critical of the stake they have in various sectors.

The Senate Inquiry is slowly gaining some information about the issue, but most food companies are still too afraid to comment on the actions of the supermarkets.

Do we need a Royal Commission into the power of the major supermarkets in Australia?

Calling time on alcohol taxation in Australia


Australia’s approach to alcohol taxation is riddled with inconsistencies:
  • Alcohol is a prime target for taxation. It’s a good source of government revenue 
  • it allows governments to recoup costs for providing services to drinkers (such as accident and emergency care and policing) 
  • it provides a mechanism for drinkers to pay for the harm they impose on others as a consequence of their drinking
  • it helps discourage excessive drinking due to information failure (not all drinkers are aware of all the risks of drinking and some harms are not yet understood) and drinkers’ tendency to discount the long-term harms of alcohol
  • and reduced consumption of alcohol has known public health benefits.

Moreover, a recent Australian review of the evidence clearly showed alcohol taxation is cost-effective.

Given the utility and cost-effectiveness of alcohol taxation, the challenge is to identify an optimally efficient tax system: one that maximises the potential benefits of restrained alcohol consumption for the least amount of cost to those who don’t consume alcohol to excess.

If an economist was asked to design the least efficient alcohol taxation system imaginable, it would more or less approximate the current Australian system.

It would be blatantly unfair to lay the blame for this situation at the feet of any particular Commonwealth government.

The current system is, ahem, a cocktail of mixed methodologies, ideologies, idiosyncrasies and the remnant battle-lines of long-forgotten policy negotiations.

Essentially, alcohol can be taxed as either a fixed amount per volume of alcohol (a fixed rate of tax per standard drink) or as a proportion of the wholesale price.

Australia has both at the same time. Wine is taxed as a proportion of the wholesale price (called the wine equalisation tax), which means the tax applied to cask wine (around 60 cents per litre) is much lower than bottled wine (around $2.60 per litre) because it has a lower wholesale price.

All other types of alcohol products are taxed as a fixed amount per standard drink, although the fixed rate varies, not only between different types of beverages (beer and spirits, for example) but also between different types of containers (such as kegs and stubbies).

In other words, you pay between 5 cents and nearly $1 in tax on your alcohol, depending on whether you buy draught beer, bottled beer, mid or high-strength beer, cheap wine, expensive wine, cider, straight spirits, pre-mixed spirits or brandy.

Although tinkering with the current alcohol tax system is tempting – because it is easier to negotiate amendments than an overhaul – perhaps it is time to draw breath and go for broke: take the lead from Apple’s army of geeks and scrap the current operating system in favour of a new, more efficient one.

What might this look like?

Let’s go back to our definition of optimal efficiency: maximise the benefits (in other words, reduce harms) and minimise the impact on those who don’t drink to excess.

Since alcohol harm is not beverage-specific (drinking too much is drinking too much), the most efficient method is to tax the alcohol, not the beverage type or its price.

That would remove perverse incentives that currently distort drinkers’ choices between beverage types and would optimise the compensation paid by drinkers for increasing risks of harm and government costs, and reducing public health.

Taxing the alcohol content, known as a volumetric tax, requires a decision about the appropriate rate of tax per unit of alcohol and moving to this system will inevitably create winners and losers (essentially wine and beer would be relatively more expensive, while spirits would be relatively cheaper), but the principle is infinitely closer to optimal efficiency than is currently the case.

Our modelling shows a volumetric tax would deliver both significant health gains and increased taxation revenue, compared to the existing taxation system.

However, a volumetric tax is not the only price control mechanism that could sensibly be utilised, for two reasons.

First, although drinkers are sensitive to changes in alcohol prices, they are relatively price inelastic (that is, demand remains relatively strong despite price rises), which means there is a limit to how high the volumetric tax could be set before it unfairly impacts on relatively light drinkers.

Second, there is more than one type of harmful alcohol consumption: drinking too much on average; and drinking too much on one occasion (getting drunk).

Our modelling suggests that in response to a price increase, Australians will increase the number of days on which they do not drink at all (and reduce the number of days on which they only drink a bit) in order to preserve their financial ability to drink more heavily on the weekend.

This suggests some people just like to get drunk, and you can do that quite a few times and still work out that the most financially savvy way to get drunk is to drink the cheapest alcohol.

A volumetric tax would help inhibit such drinking but could be reinforced by complementary pricing controls, such as a minimum retail price (or floor price). Scotland and England have indicated they will introduce this strategy in 2012.

Unlike the current situation, this mix of price control strategies is not attempting to idiosyncratically amend one taxation system: it is a synthesis of two separate and equitable approaches.

A volumetric tax would effectively transfer funds to the government to compensate them for the cost of mopping up the harms from excessive drinking, while a floor price would inhibit the availability of cheap alcohol.

The practical difficulties of negotiating the introduction of a more optimal alcohol tax system are daunting and will require skilled politics, but it is time to untangle the mess.

And it seems fair that researchers advocating for change ought equally be accountable for measuring the impact of a more optimal alcohol tax system.

To paraphrase Dostoevsky: drinkers, politicians and researchers are all responsible for all.

Anthony Shakeshaft is an Associate Professor at National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

 

Josh Byrnes is a research fellow in health economics at Griffith University.

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

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