Natural Evolution to benefit from $18b food waste opportunity

A scorching afternoon in far North Queensland, boiling bitumen and a hand of green cavendish bananas crushed into dust by the wheel of the tractor. This was how Krista and Rob Watkins drove head first into an innovative use for the 500 tonnes of bananas destined for landfill in North Queensland each week.
Krista and Rob Watkins’ company, Natural Evolution is the first company in the world to commercially produce gluten-free flour from bananas. It now has an ever-growing range of highly nutritious food products produced from waste bananas and sweet potatoes. Ranging from its signature Green Banana Baking Flour, through to baking pre-mixes, health supplements, skincare, and now vodka.
According to a recent report published by the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, trading as Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), by creating value-added products from food waste, food and beverage businesses such as Natural Evolution could be contributing $18 billion in economic value by 2030.
“Being able to undertake scientific research was essential to our ability to scale up, increase our production capacity and expand our product range. I really encourage other businesses to tap into the collaboration and resource-sharing that FIAL makes possible” said Natural Evolution founder and managing director, Krista Watkins.
FIAL supports businesses such as Natural Evolution to innovate through connecting them with the funding and collaborative research expertise needed to commercialise innovative products and services.
“With the majority of Australian food and beverage businesses being small-to-medium enterprises, providing these businesses with access to the expertise needed to innovate is critical,” said FIAL general manager innovation, Dr. Barry McGookin.
Krista Watkins will be taking part in a live Q&A on collaborative innovation platform, the Food Matrix, on Thursday 19 November. Register via the Food Matrix. Natural Evolution was also featured in the fifth edition of FIAL’s Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book.
 

Calabria Family Wines buys brands

Australian winemaker Calabria Family Wines has bought three Australian wine brands –  Deakin Estate, La La Land and Azahara. The formal agreement is a brand-only sale and transfers ownership of these brands from the Wingara Wine Group, part of Henkell Freixenet, to the Calabria family.
Calabria Family Wines will now produce all of the wines across each of the brands’ portfolios from their Griffith, NSW winery as well as manage marketing across all markets. Calabria Family Wines will continue the current distribution partnership with Red & White for all three brands in Australia.
“Each of these brands brings something new to the table for the team at Calabria and we are eager to welcome them to the family as we diversify and broaden our wine offering,” third-generation general manager Michael Calabria said.
Read More: Deal activity slows
“Deakin Estate, with over 50 years of winemaking history behind it, has achieved outstanding distribution, particularly in challenging export markets where many haven’t. That can only happen with a good quality product and dedicated team behind it.
“Both La La Land and Azahara, while newer to market, are unique brands with well-established portfolios and market presence, both domestically and overseas. We look forward to relishing in La La Land’s dedication to emerging wine styles with our own Italian alternatives and celebrating Azahara’s effervescent flare and sophistication.”
Wingara Wine Group is part of Henkell Freixenet, a global market leader in sparkling wine, which was formed in January 2019 from the legacy Henkell & Co. Group and Grupo Freixenet.

Surging demand for plant-based meat

The global meat sector at present is facing unprecedented level of disruption and competition, due to mounting growth of plant-based meat alternatives across many categories, according to market research company Future Market Insights. Earlier, plant-based meat alternative products warranted limited shelf space and were meant for niche consumers. With increased awareness of “Veganuary” multiple manufacturers have expanded new product line for plant-based products owing to increased vegan or indeed flexitarian diet.
The global food and beverage recent industry changes illustrate the growth in plant-based alternatives that has brought disruption. Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products.
Key point from the plant-based beef market study

  • A latest study by an ESOMAR certified market research and consultancy company, forecasts impressive growth of the Plant Based Beef market at over 22.7% CAGR between 2020 and 2030
  • Based on the source, the soy-based protein segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef, while wheat-based protein segments are expected to grow prominently in the forecasted period of 2020-2030
  • Based on the product type, burger patty segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef
  • As alternate protein gains traction in the market owing to the increasing awareness about the environmental impact of food choices consumers make, the majority of the population is shifting towards plant based beef and is expected to gain traction in near future
  • Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products

New product development fuelling plant-based products demand
Increasing demand for innovative products has paved the way for product development across frozen, chilled and ambient segments. This innovation helps consumers with a wider choice of brands and products, and allows plant-based beef to advance improved shelf space and recognition.
Read More: A bearing for all harvest seasons
UK is the global leader for vegan food launches. In 2019 approximately 18% of new food launches were vegan. Tesco has developed wicked kitchen range of meat-free products.
Who is winning?
A few of the leading players operating in the Plant Based Beef market are Impossible Foods, Gardein by Conagra Brands, MorningStar Farms, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Symrise, Roquette Frères S.A., Kellogg’s, Tyson Foods, Sotexpro SA, Crown Soya Protein Group, Puris Proteins, Ingredion, Beneo GmbH, Glanbia, Fuji Oil Co., and other players.
Several leading manufacturers of Plant Based Beef are focusing on partnering with prominent players in the market to increase its business footprints and to increase their production capacity. Leading players of Plant Based Beef are investing in research and development to produce organic, non-GMO ingredients for plant-based beef.

Beer consumption suffered during lockdown

Across the globe, beer consumption suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic in the early stages of 2020. In some countries – such as South Africa – alcohol consumption was restricted, while others – like Mexico – classified brewing as a non-essential activity and ceased beer production.
“In most countries, consumers faced a lockdown and the on-premise channel was closed, creating varying degrees of pain for nearly all brewers,” according to Francois Sonneville, Senior Analyst – Beverages at Rabobank .
“In North America, the overall market has held up relatively well, helped by its reliance on off-trade sales and stellar e-commerce growth. Brewers large and small have proved surprisingly nimble and adaptable – which may lead to notable changes to the on-premise moving forward,” says Sonneville. Craft brewers, who are more dependent on the on-trade, have so far avoided closures, although the winter might impact those dependent on outdoor seating.
Read More: Food fraud being uncovered
In Europe, on-trade markets have been hit hard, especially in tourist areas, and beer
going stale in kegs has caused additional problems. As new Covid cases are on the
rise and the risk of a second lockdown increases, chain integration might help to
lower costs.
Despite a sharp recovery in China, the loss of summer sales will hang over 2020
Asian beer volumes. As China comprises 70% of total Asian beer consumption, it is
critical to recovery. Thailand and Japan have shown smart recoveries in Q3 2020. For
the rest of Asia, specifically, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, there are mixed
fortunes.

Woolworths to use Primary Connect platform

Woolworths has unveiled another step in its journey to become a Food and Everyday Needs Ecosystem with the launch of its Primary Connect supply chain platform.
This will see Woolworths’ internal supply chain function rebrand to Primary Connect as it begins to evolve into an end-to-end service provider not just for Woolworths Group retail businesses, but an increasing number of partners.
A key catalyst for the move is the proposed separation of Endeavour Group from Woolworths Group. This has seen the platform become the full-service supply chain service provider to BWS and Dan Murphy’s.
Primary Connect managing director, Paul Graham, said: “Establishing the Primary Connect platform is a key step in our ambition to build Australia’s next generation supply chain.
“We run the largest and most distributed retail supply chain network in Australia. This size and scale provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver a lot of value to business partners both within our group and beyond.
“But it’s not enough to have a best-in-class network. To be successful in growing the platform, we need to deliver world-class customer service and build on our digital offering to deliver safer and smarter supply chain solutions for partners. We’ve never been better placed to do so.”
Read More: Combatting supply chain talent shortage
Woolworths’ existing Primary Connect transport business currently services more than 1,000 external customers, including Ingham’s, Kimberly-Clark, Marley Spoon and Diageo. All team members within Woolworths Group Supply Chain will now form part of the expanded Primary Connect team.
Primary Connect’s transport business works with more than 70 trusted carrier partners to optimise freight movements and improve utilisation across its end-to-end network. In FY20, the platform moved more than 8.4 million pallets across 4,000 locations for more than 1,000 suppliers with high service levels.
Tasmanian-based salad grower Houston’s Farm has been using the platform  since 2017. Primary Connect transports bagged salads and ready to eat salad bowls from Houston’s Farm’s Tasmanian, Western Australian, South Australian and Queensland processing facilities to Woolworths distribution centres across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Launceston. The salads are stocked in all Woolworths supermarkets and replenished daily.
“Primary Connect is a premium supply chain service provider with a vision similar to our own,” said Houston’s Farm CEO, Richard Hopkins.
“We’ve established a close working relationship with them over the years and are able to share and implement ideas to improve our offering for customers.
“Working with Primary Connect has made transport and logistics much simpler for us to manage, and allowed us to focus on what we do best – growing the best quality fresh produce for Australian families.”

The growth of the Australasian Recycling Label on-pack

Every week when I receive my grocery delivery, I am starting to notice that more packs are including the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) and I can’t wait for the day that it is on all consumer-facing packaging. I opened a pack of pork steaks the other night and followed the ARL instructions and I have to say it was the most intuitive pack I have experienced in a long time. The ARL made it easy to understand which bin I was placing each component in.
What is the Australasian Packaging Recycling Label (ARL) Program? The ARL provides designers and brand owners with the tools to inform responsible packaging technologists and designers and helps consumers to understand how to correctly dispose of packaging. Led by APCO, in collaboration with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program aims to reduce consumer confusion, increase recycling recovery rates, and contribute to cleaner recycling streams. The two elements of the program are the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) and the ARL.
Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP)
What makes the program unique is the PREP Tool component, which provides packaging technologists and designers with the correct information on whether their packaging format is recyclable in the majority of household kerbside collection systems and then how it will be handled and recovered by the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). The PREP Tool also indicates if there are other closed-loop recycling systems that the majority (80 per cent) of the population has access. i.e. “soft plastics”, which can be returned to a Coles or Woolworths store via the REDcycle program.
The PREP tool then works hand-in-hand with the second part of the process which is the ARL program. The ARL symbol represents how the MRF recognises materials, inks, weight, shape, adhesives and how each component will behave in the recycling ecosystem in Australia and New Zealand. Using the datasets from the PREP tool the ARL then identifies the correct symbols to use on-pack for all components of the product e.g.: lid, tray, cap, bottle, box, film etc. It is not possible for a piece of packaging to have the Australasian Recycling Label without a PREP assessment that backs up disposal claims.
The ARL is an evidence-based standardised labelling system for Australia and New Zealand that provides clear and consistent on-pack recycling information to inform consumers of the correct disposal method. As packaging is made up of separable components, each with differing recyclability, the ARL will identify each item as either recyclable, conditionally recyclable or not recyclable. The ARL is designed to ensure that consumers can understand the true recyclability of all packaging components that are disposed of in Australia and New Zealand.
The ARL symbols used on-pack in turn help consumers understand which packaging components belong in the recycling bin, or the general rubbish bin, or which parts should be returned in Australia to a Coles or Woolworths store through the soft plastic collection bins.
Consumer education
There are many brands busy updating their artwork to incorporate the ARL on pack, and I would encourage everyone to consider a strong consumer-facing marketing campaign to let everyone know that you are adding the ARL on-pack, why, and what the benefits are.
Showcase the use of ARL on your packaging as a part of your sustainable packaging journey.
Start talking to your family and friends about the ARL and encouraging your own community to look out for the ARL on-pack and teach them the benefits of the new symbols. The more consumers see the ARL and understand why it needs to be on all packaging, the better the acceptance will be across Australia and New Zealand.
Once consumers become more aware of the ARL symbols on packaging, they will gain confidence in the program and recognise that the labels are an important link to the current recycling capabilities of Australia and New Zealand. In turn, the use of ARL symbols on-pack should encourage consumers to become more active in disposing of waste correctly, which will limit contamination in our waste streams and keep recyclable material away from landfill.
The AIP has also developed a number of training courses that will greatly assist your sustainable packaging journey including Tools to Help you Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP and ARL, Introduction to Sustainable Packaging Design, Lifecycle Assessment Tools for Sustainable Packaging Design, Flexible Packaging: Now and Into the Future, Plastics Technology: Introduction to Polymers and Recycling, How to Implement Sustainable Packaging Guidelines into your Business, Suitable, Functional and Sustainable Labelling and The Future of Bioplastics and Compostable Packaging, which are run on a regular basis across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Free trade agreements and stability key reasons to invest in agricutlure

The commitment of Federal and State governments to make infrastructure spending a priority to stimulate the economy through COVID-19, is key to attracting investment into the agriculture sector, according to a new report from MinterEllison called Ahead of the Harvest, 2020-2022.

MinterEllison commissioned Acuris to survey 100 domestic and international investors in agriculture assets to gauge their appetite for investment in the sector and the most favourable conditions that attract investment. The survey was conducted pre-COVID-19, however many of the investors’ observations point to a sector that has strong foundations for attracting investor confidence as Australia rebounds from the economic downturn.

“The fast-tracking of infrastructure projects by State Governments and the Federal Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors (including agriculture) will contribute to a stable climate for future investment,” said MinterEllison partner Matthew Cunningham.

In particular, infrastructure investment will help with agribusiness’s market distribution. Also required is stable, reliable internet. It is encouraging that before those factors came into play, the infrastructure currently in place was considered more than adequate by respondents, with 65 per cent nominating it as a reason to invest.

“Superannuation funds have also expressed an appetite for investing in infrastructure, further demonstrating confidence in infrastructure as an important driver of economic recovery for the economy at large, and specifically the agriculture industry,” Mr Cunningham added.

Australia’s success in negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) is highly regarded by investors with 72 per cent citing FTAs as Australia’s top advantage when considering agribusiness investment.

Crucial to Australia’s international competitiveness is its 14 FTAs in key markets across the Asia Pacific (including China, Japan and South Korea) and the United States. Australia also has signed and concluded, but not yet put in force the PACER Plus FTA between New Zealand and eight Pacific Island countries (Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu) and is pursuing a further six (United Kingdom, European Union, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Pacific Alliance and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) that will open Australian agribusiness to export opportunities.

“Short term, these opportunities have been paused as global economies suffer the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, longer term, Australia’s negotiations to open more markets in the Asia Pacific region will be good news for agribusiness investors and mergers and acquisitions.” said MinterEllison partner, Glen Sauer.

Another key reason to invest in Australia’s agriculture sector is our political stability and legal certainty. Sixty-three per cent of respondents say governance, stability and transparency make Australia attractive for agribusiness investment. The cohesion between Federal and State governments in their response to COVID-19 through the National Cabinet has further emphasised Australia’s political stability during a time of crisis.

“Australia’s strong foundations, sound governance and transparency make it one of the safest places in the world to do business and with the politically bipartisan approach to infrastructure investment, this is unlikely to change in the near term,” said Mr Sauer.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has put a pause on the world’s focus on new M&A transactions and while it’s clear there will be significantly-reduced volumes of activity in the agriculture sector for the remainder of 2020, our expectation is that there will be a modest recovery in 2021, with further strengthening in 2022,” said Mr Sauer.

Medicinal cannabis was the sub-sector identified as having the most investment potential (85 per cent). The investment potential of viticulture was favoured by 74 per cent of investors.

Climate change and natural disasters were identified by 82 per cent of respondents as the main barrier to investment, closely followed by wage and other input costs (72 per cent). Australia’s ageing farmer population was identified as a challenge for the sector.

Montague constructing expansive fruit processing facility

Fruit Grower Montegue is  constructing a new fruit processing facility in Narre Warren North. It is a multi-use facility located on a 12-hectare plot of land at the boundary of Lysterfield Park and Horswood Road. The complex will process over 260,000,000 pieces of fruit annually, which will be distributed to markets across Australia and the world.  The project will also comprise a café, retail space, apple and stone fruit sales, public picking orchard, seasonal exhibition space, bike shop and open space lawns available all of which will be open to the public.

The project is planned to launch in phases with the build of the 53,200m2 fruit processing facility set to complete at the end of this year. Installation of packing equipment is scheduled to commence in mid-September, which will mean the new stone fruit grader will be operational from mid-January 2021 and all apple production lines fully operational from mid-March 2021, in time for next year’s apple season.

The development showcases local construction materials including recycled timber from the original barns that were located on the property and features natural products with distinctive earthy tones to reflect the surroundings flora from the recreational reserve and orchards. The internal and external concrete slabs will be completed in September with the main building structure and roof completed in early October.

The Montague hospitality development, which is the first public access amenity created by Montague, will be open by mid-January 2021. The name of the café and public orchard will be unveiled in November.

“Consumer research shows  that Australian’s want to know where their food comes from and how it is handled before reaching the retail stores,” said Rowan Little, chief innovation officer. “From February 2021, visitors can join us to learn first-hand about fruit production while enjoying a coffee and pick some apples for themselves.”

The project had been impacted by the stage 4 restriction in Victoria, with construction operating at a limited capacity since the 5th of August. However, the Victorian State Government recognised Montague as critical and essential providers of fresh fruit to Australians and granted special permission for construction to resume at an increased capacity.

Montague has implemented a High-Risk COVID-Safe plan and continue to adhere to all ongoing directions, recommendations and guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding recommended measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission and ensure a safe working environment for everybody working on the project.

Cobots – a much-needed shift in productivity

Australia has some of the highest labour rates in the world, so naturally, optimising processes and using skilled labour where they are most valuable makes sense. While some are still of the opinion that automation is costing jobs, automation is in fact creating jobs and enhancing productivity.

As production increases, it requires more people to manage the up and downstream of the process increase and allows businesses to make more profits. This gives businesses more time to train and upskill their team members in areas more useful to the company.

Adding to the complexities of manufacturing is the need for stringent health and safety requirements which remains a key focus for food and beverage manufacturers of all sizes, as well as those processors in similar industries.

Universal Robots recently helped a global healthcare brand, Sanofi to free up time where it was needed most.

Seven UR10 collaborative robots (cobots) were deployed at Sanofi’s Tours site in France. The integration into packaging lines was used to meet new productivity requirements, that optimised the organisation and reduced load carrying and operator movements in palletizing boxes with tablets and capsules. Thanks to the installation of the UR cobots, Sanofi has increased its production and improved health and safety related to the reduction of MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) of its operators. These employees are now able to focus on higher value-added tasks.

Darrell Adams, head of South-east Asia Oceania for Universal Robots, believed that the same level of success can be experienced in our local markets, including food and beverage manufacturing and processing.

“Sanofi wanted to reduce the load carried by the operators working on the line. While one cardboard box wasn’t very heavy, lifting a total of around 300 to 700 kg per person per day quickly added up!”

Compact, safe and flexible
Used for palletising, these seven UR10 cobots offer a payload of 10kg and a reach of 1300mm. According to Sanofi Tour’s new works manager, Giles Marsal, these compact cobots were ideal for this application where an arm needed to be installed between two pallets.

“The team were pleased with the ease of programming and the cobots’ flexibility, making it possible to add various sized grippers in just a few seconds,” said Adams.

“The cobots continue working hard, loading and unloading pallets at the end of the line with no strain at all. The application also offers the possibility to change pallets next to the palletising robot safely”.

Sanofi also noted that the integration of these cobots has brought ergonomic benefits in terms of load carrying, travel and a notable reduction in the work time one the line for its operators.

Marsal was quoted saying that thanks to ‘cobot discovery days’, Sanofi employees have now bought in and the cobots are well received. They now look to these cobots as a good collaborator rather than a threat. They are easy and safe to work with and have helped avoid long-term health risks for Sanofi’s employees.

 

 

Enmin Hopper Feeders optimise food production process

When the accurate delivery of product is required or a controlled method of introducing a secondary product onto a production line, Enmin electromagnetic vibratory hopper feeders provide a proven reliable solution. 

These robust, yet compact units hold bulk dry food products and ingredients and consistently deliver the product at a metered rate.  The hopper has a manual gate on the front that controls the product bed depth, and the controller speed adjustment provides very specific product rate accuracy.

The Hopper Feeder is suitable for a variety of food production facility needs. Designed for mobility and to take up minimal floor space, it can be used as a stand-alone unit or as part of an integrated-modular turnkey system. The Hopper Feeder significantly reduces manual handling and food wastage by hygienically storing and accurately delivering product to a secondary process.

Designed and built in Australia, Enmin’s Electromagnetic Hopper Feeder range can be customised to meet customer specifications, require minimal maintenance, and are built to withstand the demands of food production and handling. The units are fully constructed with 304 stainless steel, providing excellent durability and reliability.

An example of Enmin’s custom design skills in this area is a recently built unit for one of Australia’s leading contract manufacturing and packing companies. The requirement was for a unit that would accommodate two position dosing of dry ingredients into a cup filling line using twin vibratory feeders. This company has been purchasing equipment from Enmin for over 25 years.

One of the requirements was to enable production line staff to access the hopper easily and safely. To facilitate this, Enmin designed a mobile unit with retractable operator steps. When not required these steps can be folded out of the way quickly and with very little effort thanks to pressurised struts on each side.

Another feature of this unit is that the controls are integrated within the existing master control system for simple line integration. The unit features Enmin’s proven LD3 electromagnetic drive in conjunction with a multi-function controller that tunes to accurate frequency bands, enabling high speed filling coupled with pinpoint accuracy.

All of Enmin’s electromagnetic drives offer low maintenance combined with minimal power consumption.

“Coming up with custom designed engineering solutions to solve a customer’s particular issue is something that we excel at and why so many of our customers return to us time and time again,” Enmin general manager, Anthony Gallaher said.

“Our compact electromagnetic hopper feeders are engineered to optimise a company’s food production processes. Our ability to custom design units to customers’ exact specifications ensures that production efficiencies and staff productivity is maximised,” Gallaher summed up.

Enmin’s extensive range of product handling and vibratory equipment includes the revolutionary Mi-CON modular conveyor – the first ever hygienically designed full wash down system to offer multiple standardised components – plus an extensive range of hopper feeders and screeners, spiral conveyors, conditioning conveyors and more.

Provisional programme released for AIP Conference

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) released their provisional program today for the biennial 2020 AIP Australasian Packaging Conference which will cover a broad range of topics relating to the theme PACKAGING: FIT FOR THE FUTURE and include 60 speakers from nine countries across two days. The event will be held on the 1 and 2 April at the Crown Promenade in Melbourne.

The packaging industry is facing many challenges at the moment with global plastic pollution and recycling issues and transformational changes to value and supply chain models, resulting in negative government and consumer perceptions. These challenges are requiring packaging companies, manufacturers and retailers to re-think their approaches and undertake strategic changes to address the challenges of meeting global and domestic Sustainable Packaging, 2025 National Packaging Targets, transform supply chains; all the while having clear parameters for driving the 4R’s.

Now more than ever is the time to collaborate, share ideas, success stories, discuss the challenges and journeys the industry is facing openly and what we can do collectively to work towards the same targets.

Keynote speakers will include Pete Ceglinski, CEO & co-founder, Seabin Project, Martin Orzinski, director operations, Coca-Cola Amatil, Siobhan McCrory, executive general manager, marketing and innovation, Pact Group, Jaideep Gokhale, cluster leader for sustainability, TetraPak, Nicole Ohm, senior marketing manager, Brownes Dairy, Jean Baillard, general manager, TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand, Barry Cosier, director, sustainability, Australian Food & Grocery Council and Brooke Donnelly, chief executive officer, APCO and more.

To see the program and to book your place today to secure the early bird rate click here. All of industry is invited to attend.

 

 

How will the coronavirus affect agriculture in Australia?

The coronavirus outbreak is already having a severe impact on China’s foodservice and on-trade channels and this could become “more serious and longer-lasting” if the virus is not contained in the next six to eight weeks, leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has warned.

But the extent of the impact on Australia’s agricultural sector will be limited in the short-term and will depend on how quickly the virus is contained, it says.

In a just-released report by the bank’s China-based research team, Recent Coronavirus Impacts on Chinese F&A, Rabobank says “disruptions are being experienced across the entire F&A (food and agri) supply chain” with the virus – which has infected more than 40,000 people to date – disrupting trade, production and supply chains as well as having a significant impact on out-of-home food consumption with the closure of many foodservice outlets.

With the virus outbreak arriving at the peak of 2020 Chinese New Year activities, it has had a large impact on out-of-home dining in the country, the report says.

“Given what we have seen on the ground, along with news received from major chains – for example, the closure of stores by Starbucks, Haidilao, McDonald’s, and Yum China – potential revenue losses for both retail and foodservice for the Chinese New Year week could range from 20 per cent to 80 per cent”. A loss of between USD 31 billion to USD 124 billion across retail and foodservice, it says.

While the report says a quick and effective containment of the virus could lead to a rapid bounce-back, the longer the virus is uncontained beyond March, the more extensive, sustained and structural the impact will be on the F&A chain.

For Australia
Regardless of when coronavirus is contained, Australian-based head of Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research, Tim Hunt says it will “almost certainly” have a larger impact on food and beverage industries than the global SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003 – including in Australia.

Discussing the current and potential impacts of the virus on Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries in a podcast, Coronavirus: How worried should we be, Mr Hunt says coronavirus has already spread more widely than SARS but it is Australia’s “much larger exposure to China” that is the biggest difference between current events and SARS.

“If we go back to 2002 just before the SARS crisis, Australia sent eight per cent of its ag exports to China”, Mr Hunt says. And this was largely in the form of fibre to be processed for export.

Fast forward to 2020, he says, and Australia sends around 28 per cent of its food and agricultural exports to China, much of which is consumed within China. “Add to that, the stronger links that have been developed between Australia and China in terms of exports, tourism, education and investment, we have a very different environment in which we might see the potential impacts of coronavirus this time compared to SARS in 2003.”

There are likely to be both first and second-round impacts of coronavirus on the Australian agricultural sector, Mr Hunt says, with the first round already being felt by any food and ag business relying heavily on the food service channel in China, particularly perishable goods.

“For example, rock lobster shipments to China have all but ceased in the last couple of weeks,” he says, “while chilled meat shipments for food service are also a risk category given a lot of hot pot restaurants are closed at the moment.” And while wine isn’t perishable, Mr Hunt says, sales are also likely to be low for those focused on the Chinese food service industry.

While Chinese consumption of meat, dairy and grains is unlikely to fall in the short-term, Mr Hunt says if the virus continued for many months to come, second-round impacts –“likely to hit our F&A industries” – would come into play.

“Hopefully we won’t get to ‘round two’,” he says, “but if we do, incomes may fall in China and we may eventually see less growth in sales of premium food and beverages as that wealth effect starts to kick in.

“And this may start to go beyond just food service sales and logistical disruptions to potentially impacting consumption in general of meat, dairy, grains and seafood.”

That said, Mr Hunt says, in the event coronavirus has second-round effects, the currency exchange rate would act as an “important stabiliser” for Australian agricultural exporters, with the Australian dollar likely to depreciate significantly as the market responded to slowing economic growth and rising risk concerns. And this, he says, would “somewhat offset” any fall in global commodity prices when expressed in local currency terms.

Going forward, Mr Hunt says, it will be important to closely monitor developments, including this week’s return to work in China after the extended New Year holiday and how the Chinese government continues to manage the outbreak including restrictions on the food service sector.

“But the most important development will be when we see a slowdown in the rate of infection,” he says. “SARS took around three and a half months for the infection to start slowing but after that, it didn’t take long for infections to cap a few weeks later.

“While we have no idea how this virus will behave compared to SARS, there won’t be any easing of restrictions until it does.”

Mr Hunt says it will also be critical to monitor the spread of the virus to other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and other parts of South-East Asia, because if it spreads “we will start to see the same set of impacts in a second very large set of export markets for Australia”.

By Commodity
Rock lobster – likely to be the most exposed sector, with 95 per cent of sales going to China. While rock lobster sales from WA have ceased for now, fishermen can leave the lobsters in the ocean and catch their quota later if quota windows allow.

Read meat – short-term disruption is likely given logistical disruption and reduced eating out by Chinese consumers. The general shortage of protein in China as a result of African Swine Fever is still expected to result in ongoing strong demand from China once the short-term impacts of coronavirus are overcome.

Grains – limited impacts are foreseen both initially and in the event of a second round phase.

Dairy – at this stage, limited first round impacts as most of what is shipped (i.e. powders and infant milk formulas) have a good shelf life and are consumed at home. That said, cheese consumption could be impacted as it is mainly used in food service (for burgers and pizzas).

Sugar – very little disruption is expected to impact sugar trade flows, processing and consumption. But indirectly, the dip in the oil market – associated with concerns on the impact of the outbreak on global growth – could push Brazilian millers to produce more sugar this season which would lead to a softening in global prices, and ultimately, Australian prices too.

Wine – On-premise consumption of wine in China in 2019 accounted for around one third of total wine sales. Sales into this channel are expected to fall in the short-term while restrictions on group dining remain in place. That said, volumes of wine sold via e-commerce are likely to rise as distributors attempt to push more product into, and invest more money in developing, this sales channel.

Horticulture – Fortunately the cherry industry had air freighted most of its crop to China before the virus hit, something that would have been highly problematic a month later. In the next two to three months the main threat to export fruit and vegetable crops will be logistical, with demand from Chinese consumers for quality imported fresh produce not expected to fall from current levels.

 

Software unleashes inventory solution for liqueur manufacturer

When coffee nerd Tom Baker joined forces with Philip Moore in 2013, they probably didn’t realise within five years they would have an award-winning product on their hands.

Moore, the distiller, and Baker, a designer by trade, both loved coffee and decided that consuming it in a liqueur form had yet to be perfected, and thus Mr Black was born.

Brewed on the Central Coast of New South Wales at Distillery Britannica, Mr Black has not so much found a niche in the coffee liqueur market but taken it by storm.

Mr Black is a cold brew that has made headway into the UK and US. Five years ago it won a gold medal at the London Spirit Show and has continued to collect silverware on a regular basis. Mr Black operations manager, Rick Roper, can see only good things in the future for this Australian-based beverage.

“In 2017, Mr Black was launched in the US and has now established itself as the biggest selling Australian spirit there,” said Roper. “It is highly regarded and is developing a strong following coast-to-coast.” The product itself is cold-brew, pressed coffee using speciality lot Arabica beans from Colombia and Kenya blended with high-quality grain spirit to make the final product that you see today.”

However, with that growth came logistics issues. In order to keep on top of the bureaucracy of running the business, Roper knew the company needed something to complement its simple inventory system, so decided to invest in Unleashed Software. Like Mr Black, Unleashed has a good reputation within its market. Roper said Mr Black needed a system that would handle the increased throughput, product size and range as it started to grow. This was because it became apparent that if something wasn’t put in place soon, the ability to keep on top of the increasing volume of product could get out of hand.

“Prior to implementing Unleashed, we were only using Xero but found it inadequate for the business because it couldn’t handle manufactured items,” he said. “Xero is a great accounting system but without a bill of material structure, it can’t assemble finished product from components. There was a need to have an inventory system that integrated with Xero in the cloud that was easy to use and could handle manufacturing to grow as the company did. Unleashed immediately gave us control and accuracy of materials and costs.

“In our case, we convert varieties of coffee, speciality sugars, bottles, and packaging into Mr Black in different concentrations and sizes and we have to have accurate inventory transactions at every step,” he said. “Unleashed does that and keeps track of inventory down to batch and unit of measure with ease.”

Ease of use has been one of the key benefits of Unleashed along with the ability to be partnered with other software. This was why Mr Black management decided the software solution was the right choice for them. In addition to Xero, Unleashed has partnered with other third-party vendors. Users can use their accounting system with an easy-to-use integration module in the integration store.

“You can also custom integrate other software via programming interfaces (APIs), that Unleashed can assist with,” said Roper. “Otherwise, to access support to use Unleashed, with clients like us, you can choose an integration partner. Ours is Cloudsolve in Sydney. Besides providing support to get us up and running between Xero and Unleashed, they also provide ongoing support and some outsourced financial services.

“Unleashed is continually adding modules and capabilities outside of pure inventory management. For example, the integration store offers more sophisticated material planning and eCommerce solutions. We have also integrated Unleashed with Shopify allowing efficient online sales fulfilment and billing.”

The key to any type of integration software is not only how it can streamline processes but also the ease of set-up and use. Roper said that Unleashed was not hard to set up or use and has been ideal for getting on top of manufacturing and inventory.

These integration capabilities have made Unleashed a widely used inventory software that is adaptable to many companies’ different needs, according to Roper.

“They are not trying to be a SAP or Microsoft Dynamics or anything like that,” he said. “It is inventory management software in the cloud and is simple to use.”

Roper said the core modules are great to use when it comes to raising and completing sales and purchase orders. For example, orders can be cloned from an earlier order and emailed from the screen. With some background setups in customers, suppliers, pricing, items, document templates and so on, transaction efficiency is high. Users don’t have to do excessive manual steps. In other words, there are less errors and it saves time, according to Roper.

“The dashboard set up displays relevant data such as period to date sales revenue and margins, purchasing and sales transaction status, inventory levels and stock turn KPIs,” he said. “Data access and exports are straightforward. Standard reports are all there and custom reports can be set up.

“While they are adding new features all the time, many features that are nice to have are there. One is that relevant information is displayed in various formats depending on the screen. For example, in Purchases, order minimums are made visible and supplier prices auto-populate” said Roper. “It has a pricing module by group, customer and product, enabling pre-setting of customer sales terms. Again, this helps with the accuracy and efficiency in order processing. It also has min/max stocking levels that can be set for alerts and reordering, as well as a simple replenishment function, which we use for reordering some items.

“For us it’s a one-size fits all. Set up was fast and no customisations were necessary. Even though we started small, all the modules are available to all users whether it is a one-user account or a larger multi-user account. For us, as we have grown, we didn’t need to upgrade do get additional modules. It’s scalable.”

Nestlé announces collaboration with Burcon and Merit for plant-based ingredients

Néstle has announced a collaboration with Burcon and Merit, two key players in the development and production of high-quality plant proteins. This partnership will enable Nestlé to further accelerate the development of nutritious and great-tasting, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives with a favorable environmental footprint.

The partnership combines Nestlé’s expertise in the development, production and commercialization of plant-based foods and beverages with Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification technology, while leveraging Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities.

“Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology,” says Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. “The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages.”

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers and product developers located in 8 R&D centers that are dedicated to the research and development of plant-based products. To complement its internal capabilities, the company also strategically collaborates with researchers, suppliers, start-ups and various other innovation partners.

Nestlé’s plant-based product range includes pea, soy- and wheat-based burger patties, sausages, mince meat, chicken filets and various prepared dishes. The company also developed pea and oat-based dairy alternatives, almond-, coconut- and oat-based creamers, plant-based coffee mixes as well as a range of non-dairy ice creams. It also recently announced its plans to launch vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon, designed to complement its existing plant-based burger patties.

Burcon Nutrascience is a global technology company with a portfolio of patents related to composition, application, and manufacturing of novel plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soy, hemp, sunflower seed and various other crops.

Wholefoods online store packages its commitment to environment

An Australian online wholefood store is upping the ante on reducing its carbon footprint by moving to compostable packaging made from 100 per cent vegetable material.

Lismore-based Affordable Wholefoods sells quality bulk organic, non-organic and gluten free wholefoods in resealable, reusable packaging but wanted to offer a more environmentally friendly option.

Mark Evans, owner of Affordable Wholefoods, said customers are happy with the current option, “But we wanted to give them a choice. More people are looking for ways to reduce waste. That is why we are seeing people move towards reusable and compostable packaging,” he said.

“Since we opened in 2008, we have been searching for a more eco-friendly packaging option. But nothing we tested made the grade. Our packaging needs keep the products fresh from the time of packaging to delivery. With many of our customers in rural and remote areas, that’s important.”

Evans and his team’s search lead them NatureFlex; based on cellulose, which is one of the most naturally abundant organic materials derived from renewable resources such as wood pulp from managed plantations.

“We heard great things about its ability to keep items fresh, which was exactly what we were looking for. Being 100 per cent home compostable, now that was speaking our language,” Mark said.

Affordable Wholefoods did not rush the packaging to market. “We tested it over and over, sending parcels to ourselves and back again to see how well the food travelled,” Evans said. “The results were spectacular. Every single time, the wholefoods arrived fresh.

“This is another way we commit to sustainability. Whether our customers use our soft zip lock bags that can be reused repeatedly for food storage or the new NatureFlex bags, which can be disposed of in worm farms, green recycling bins or home composting systems, it’s another step towards reducing plastic, which is important for the environment.”

 

 

Unifying control systems in the food and beverage industry

Many food and beverage plants have incrementally upgraded their systems over the years, with them now being a complex network of distributed control systems (DCSs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Connecting a mix of DCS and SCADA systems into one master system can have multiple benefits. Here, Darcy Simonis, Industry Network Leader for ABB, explores how a single integrated system architecture can benefit plant operators and managers alike.

The first SCADA systems were independent, with no connectivity to other systems and were traditionally used for operating and monitoring production in a plant. The evolution of SCADA capabilities means that the new generation are now more advanced.  Modern systems can remotely monitor and control operations with coded signals over communication channels and log data for auditing purposes

The importance of collecting, storing and analyzing data is crucial, but this increase in data raises new questions of cybersecurity. If systems are not maintained and software becomes outdated, SCADA-based systems can be left open to vulnerabilities. For this reason, operators should regularly review their systems to protect them against cyber-attacks.

With an increasing amount of data, a DCS system can process a large amount of current information, however the failure of one controller affects more than one loop and requires a skilled operator to minimize downtime. In the food industry, any period of downtime can have catastrophic effects and can result in lost production. With new challenges faced by SCADA and DCS systems, unifying all operations into one master system is key to improve efficiency.

Coupled with technological advancements, rapidly changing consumer demands in the food and beverage industry have forced manufacturers to adapt quickly to retain a competitive edge. Consumers expect traceability throughout the entire supply chain, meaning the need for real-time continuous data is essential. Digital transformation in the food industry continues to be driven by these two key trends. So, what do these shifts mean and how can a move towards an integrated digital operating environment benefit food manufacturers?

Control system modernisation
Unifying control systems into one fully integrated system provides the synchronization of all applications and devices involved in the manufacturing process. This allows for the successful merging of information flow from DCS and SCADA systems, so that it is available in one interface in real-time. And one of the best means of unifying these communications is by using a single industrial software system.

ABB’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is an award-winning solution that allows users to optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance as well as a host of other benefits. These include powerful data analysis, improved quality, targeting areas for efficiency improvement and business-wide visibility. ABB’s system allows users to visualize pending tasks, work instructions, materials, equipment and quality test specifications, all of which are particularly important in the food and beverage sector.

Environmental factors such as trade instability, tightening industry standards and changing consumer preferences mean that manufacturers must ensure their MES is effective and secure to allow swift adaptation to new challenges.

Improved performance
The full integration of systems allows actionable information to be available in real-time to operators, often across multiple plants. Greater control and visibility of data improves security and allows for targeted improvements to processes. It also makes digital twinning feasible, where plant managers simulate plant operations virtually to achieve full plant visualization, support proactive maintenance and aid the decision-making process, not only from an operational but also from a cost-cutting perspective.

Secure reliable processing and an increase in manufacturing flexibility can boost efficiency and productivity, letting users optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance to the maximum.

Meeting industry standards
The food industry has been hit with numerous safety scandals, resulting in former UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove announcing a new law that will require manufacturers to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods from 2021.

 

Working to rigorous industry standards, key regulations and new manufacturing practices is vital. Plant managers in the food and beverage sector can improve the safety and quality of their operations, reduce unplanned downtime and mitigate food emergencies by viewing all data points in one place. Faster reactions to any manufacturing process anomalies can improve quality standards which also cuts down on wasted ingredients.

An integrated master system also allows for a shorter time to market for new products due to less delay. If less stock is held up at different stages of the process, this can reduce inventory levels and help raise quality standards.

The future of the digital factory
The successful integration of all systems in the manufacturing process means that plant operators can leverage the diverse capabilities of each system to improve productivity, cost-effectiveness, meet price competition, launch innovative products, and enter new markets. The consideration of multiple data sets with interconnected factors allows for businesses-wide improvement, which is essential in the current climate.

With many food and beverage companies now embracing an integrated control system, the future of manufacturing is digital.

Importers of high dose caffeine products on notice

Anyone who knowingly tries to import pure and highly concentrated caffeine products into the country for retail sale could face up to 10 years jail if convicted.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said it was an offence to import food into Australia that posed a risk to human health.

“Our government has amended imported food legislation to target and prevent entry of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products, intended for retail sale,” Minister McKenzie said.

“This is in support of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) action to amend the Code to ban the retail sale of these products, which are a threat to human health.

“The ban applies to food intended for retail sale where total caffeine is present at a concentration of five per cent or more in solid or semi-solid foods, like powders, or one per cent or more if the food is in liquid form.

READ MORE: Nestlé uses blockchain to authenticate coffee origin

“This is a significant dose at which the risk of serious health effects start to increase and should not be available for retail sale—let alone be allowed into Australia.

“The safety of Australians is paramount and that’s why I have amended the Imported Food Control Order 2019 to classify pure and highly concentrated caffeine products as risk food.

“It is an offence to import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health. Importers who knowingly import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health can face a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.”

The Government tightened regulations following the death last year of a New South Wales man that was attributed to acute caffeine toxicity associated with the consumption of a caffeine powder product.

Minister McKenzie said the ban would not affect caffeinated products like coffee, energy or cola drinks, which had much lower concentrations, or the import of commercial quantities by manufacturers for use as ingredients in these types of products.

FSANZ will soon be starting a campaign to educate Australian consumers about the risks of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products and the dangers of purchasing these products online.

How to grow overseas market share

Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Fiji, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam – if there is one thing Trisco knows about, it’s exporting.

The Queensland-based company is a fifth-generation company that has been producing food and beverage products for more than 140 years and is always looking for new markets in which to expand.

CEO Mike Tristram has a plethora of dealing with the red tape and bureaucracies when sending products overseas. The first thing he points out is that no two countries are the same – whether they be first or third world. With some countries, getting approval is easy, another might be require more time, while yet others may rely on another country’s approval system.

READ MORE: Anthony Pratt: Value added food will pave way for Australian exports

“For example, the US,” said Tristram. “Officials in another country might say ‘well, if you’re approved by the FDA in the US, there’s no problems here’. Every country has its own little idiosyncrasies. In Pakistan, you need to have specific approval by some office that has to have a physical stamp. Trying to get that physical stamp instead of a photocopy and approval is very difficult. Dealing with those sorts of idiosyncrasies from country to country, can be interesting.”

One of Tristram’s favourite quotes is from LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, who described start-ups as like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.

“Exporting is a little similar but not quite as dramatic,” he said. “It is one of those things you have to figure out on your own depending on your market and depending on where you are going and what you have to sell. It is how unique or not unique it might be and where your strategic advantage is.

“You need the boldness to be able to go into the adventure and find your own pathway within that and be prepared to solve those problems as and when you see them. Even with speed bumps along the way, you need to keep going and learn from them and not give up.”

He believes resilience is the biggest thing that gets a company through the export journey. Also, it is important to get someone on the ground. It is not something that can be discovered, nurtured and expanded upon while sitting in an office in Australia.

“That is the hardest thing – staying on the path and keep slogging,” he said. “You can’t follow a market you don’t understand so you have to go there. And if you are not prepared to go there on a regular basis, then don’t attempt that journey. If you are not prepared to leave the country – at least initially and put a good bedrock down – you will not be successful.”

However, once the connections have been made, it is possible to tone down the travel schedule as long as there is someone on the ground that can be trusted. These are usually locals who know how local regulators and the laws surrounding imports work.
“Some of those places you can handle through agents once you have forged a relationship,” said Tristram. “As long as you have a trusting relationship with the local agent you can pull back a little on those sorts of visits.”

What does help is Australia’s reputation not only as a quality food producer, but as being upfront and honest.

“Australian products are recognised throughout the world as high quality,” he said. “And being relatively clean and green, we’re recognised as being reasonably easy to deal with and we are straightforward. There are a lot of advantages to being Australian.”

The main reason companies try and get into exporting is to grow their company financially. Australia has a finite number of markets within the continent, so expansion is the only way to grow. And while Trisco is happy to manufacture in Australia, the company is going one step further to magnify its footprint in the US – building a plant over there.

“One of the disadvantages is we are still one of the highest costs of manufacturing in the world,” said Tristram. “Until we solve some of these issues, such as energy and utility costs, we are going to continue to struggle. And until we are competitive with the rest of the world on red tape and tax and that sort of thing, there’s not a huge incentive to come to Australia and manufacture. We need to change that.”

One of the products that the company produces is Thick-N Instant, which is under the company’s Precise brand. It has been on the market for three years and doing well. It is designed for those who have dysphagia, which is a condition whereby people have difficulty swallowing. There are many different types of dysphagia, but it usually impacts on those who are aged over 65. It also has a high correlation with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, motor neuron issues or are a victim of a stroke.

“The market that manages the condition, thickens products to four distinct levels that are internationally recognised as part of the diet,” said Tristram. “We take those products up to those viscosities depending on what the problem is. Then they can swallow safely, which means the food goes into their digestive tract and not into their lungs, or into other areas that can cause fluid on the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.”

It is this demand for the product stateside that lead the company to build a plant over there. Thick-N Instant is protected by intellectual property including patents, some of which are still pending.

“We need to build a plant a little closer to one of our largest customers in the US,” said Tristram.

“And we’ve done that for a couple of reasons. First, Thick-N Instant is a product that is unique and is for a vulnerable population and there is nothing like it in the world that we compete against. Nobody makes anything like it.

“The other issue for us is that you have to have some redundancy, so if something catastrophic happened to the plant we would be in trouble. You have to have that redundancy. Plus of course, seven to nine weeks on the water to another country is a long time for something that only has a shelf life of 12 months.”

Does Tristram feel the company has reached the apex of its export potential? No, but there are other issues he can see on the horizon

“The food industry is contracting a little bit,” he said. “What we are seeing now is ingredient suppliers not being as flexible as they used to be. The variety of the products on offer are there. They’re bringing them in from all over the world – Europe, Asia, US – everywhere.

“But getting consistent supply and variety that we can use to draw off the same sort of spec is becoming more difficult. For example, if you have 40 tonnes of strawberries and you need another 20 tonnes, trying to find it locally is going to be difficult.”

How bearings help in the sugar cane production process

Australia produces about 35 million tonnes of sugar cane every year, with 80 per cent of it exported. Sugar cane farms run from the north of New South Wales through to northern Queensland, mainly on the east coast.

Sugar cane came to Australia via South Africa on the First Fleet in 1788. It is a hardy ingredient, made for hot, humid conditions with plenty of rain. In other words, the northern climate of Australia’s east coast is ideal for growing the plant.

Over the years, the industry has become part of the Australian industrial landscape, providing much needed foreign currency as well as jobs. Those in the industry work hard, and expect the equipment and machinery they use to do the same.

In order to process the cane into raw and then refined sugar, plant and machinery needs to be top quality and able to handle the rigours of working day-in and day-out to process the product. A whole range of equipment needs to be utilised to make the industry run. This includes crystallising machines, material handling equipment such as conveyors, fume extraction systems, as well as a raft of other tools. The companies involved in the industry need to know they can rely on certain brands and back-up service in order to ensure their operations run smoothly.

Schaeffler is one such company that has an excellent reputation when it comes to plant equipment. High-end brands such as INA, FAG and LuK are included in the Schaeffler portfolio. German-based, Schaeffler is renowned for producing high-end, long-lasting industrial products that can handle the pressures that the sugar industry brings to bear.

One of the company’s products is its FAG spherical roller bearings, which are ideal for the sugar processing industry, where the factories themselves create harsh conditions. These products come into their own by not only being high performing due to their engineering, but handle high loads – something that is a necessity in this industry.

Junior Eltagonde is a regional manager for CBC Australia and is based in Townsville, which is right in the heart of the sugar industry. As a distributor of Schaeffler products, he can testify not only to the quality of the product, but how it keeps industry moving.

“The products have a great reputation and many customers know the quality of them,” he said. “They are well-known and well-regarded throughout the sugar processing industry.
“They have been tested over time and last as well as any other product. With bearings, it’s all about different applications. Schaeffler would be in the top five brands in the world when it comes to this type of gear.”

These bearings have a design in which the inner ring that runs inside the outer ring on two rows of rollers. They also have an angular adjustment of up to two degrees, which not only helps when it comes to the aforementioned high-load carrying capacity, but it also can compensate for misalignments.

Schaeffler spherical bearings also offer increased operational reliability and raise the average service life by up to 60 per cent. They save on space because smaller sizes deliver the performance of larger bearings.

Eltagonde said that another key to using Schaeffler products is that the company doesn’t rest on its laurels. It offers great local support, but also on a developmental level, the company knows that moving ahead is important when it comes to making sure they are at the cutting edge of these technologies.

“They’re always upgrading their technology and the materials they use,” said Eltagonde. “They’re constantly looking at upgrading the coatings they use on their bearings, especially the ones they use in gearboxes.”

Schaeffler’s bearings are but one of its reliable products. They offer an array of solutions to the sugar processing industry where hard-working machinery is a necessity.

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au

                           

Patented technology supplies Australian pet food ingredients to the world

Pet owners are constantly assessing the many food choices available to feed their furry friends. Prepared pet foods are becoming an increasingly popular choice, offering a variety of food types and flavours while meeting nutritional requirements.

With a growing reputation for providing safe, consistent and nutritious pet food, the Australian pet food industry is valued at approximately $1.6 billion with opportunities growing within both Australian and export markets.

Cool Off is the pet food raw material manufacturing division of Staughton Group, which is an Australian, family-owned company with manufacturing facilities in Walget, New South Wales, St George in Queensland and its head office and main manufacturing plant located in Howlong in southern NSW.

Staughton Group oversees the manufacture of bulk raw materials for the pet food industry, as well as retail pet foods and supplements for domestic and export sales. Staughton Group also sources and processes wild game proteins through its recently acquired Wild Game Resources Australia.

Offering unique access to Australian raw materials for pet food manufacture, Cool Off delivers high-quality products including: lamb Mechanically De-boned Meat (MDM), plate-frozen offals, boutique meat meals and natural dried treats – sourcing its red meat offal raw material from more than 30 abattoirs across Australia, processing more than 150 tonnes of raw material per day.

As market opportunities continued to grow, Cool Off designed innovative new technology to help meet this increasing consumer demand.

Automated plate freezing
To help maintain a high quality product, Cool Off developed a unique offal collection process that involved installation of a customised collection and chilling unit onsite at the abattoir. This enabled Cool Off to control all aspects of quality from the onset, providing a dedicated focus on quality of the pet food products, with minimal abattoir labour input. This system has been installed at over 30 Australian abattoirs.

Once the offal was processed, it was pumped into large plate freezers, with the capacity to hold 2000 kg of product, and frozen at -20˚C. The product is then unloaded and palletised for delivery to pet food manufacturers. In the past, this was a labour-intensive process that required manual handling by operators. To increase throughput and limit manual handling requirements, Cool Off, together with VK Logic, designed a new automated plate freezing system. VK Logic has a longstanding relationship with Cool Off, resulting in a detailed understanding of the plate-freezing process. Justin Van Klaveren, managing director at VK Logic, explained that in order to meet increasing customer supply contracts, Cool Off undertook some expansion work at the plant that included building works and new freezer panel rooms.

“There wasn’t a simple, automated unload process for the large plate freezers so together with Cool Off, we placed an arrangement of pneumatically actuated panels and built plate freezer apparatus to utilise the existing infrastructure to release each block one by one down the plate onto a common conveyor belt, eliminating the requirement for manual handling,” said Van Klaveren.

“Given that margins for pet food are not near margins for human consumption, the opportunity for automation becomes more important,” Van Klaveren added.

High-performance architecture
Combining integrated control and safety, the Allen-Bradley GuardLogix was selected as the most appropriate choice for this application. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system, including PowerFlex 527 drives with safety over Ethernet, offered an innovative, modular design to support fast and easy installation and configuration. These compact drives also offered embedded EtherNet/IP communications and standard safety features.

The Allen-Bradley Kinetix servo drives provided advanced motion control for the system and the capability to standardise on a single communications network for easier commissioning, configuration and start up. A FactoryTalk View SE human machine interface (HMI) was used to monitor and control the plant. To help with remote assistance and maintenance, VK Logic had VPN access to the site.

“We saw an opportunity in terms of that single platform with safety over Ethernet. The PowerFlex drives provided an integrated solution with motion, drives and safety all on the one common platform. This helped reduce engineering time and ongoing maintenance requirements,” explained Van Klaveren.

Rockwell Automation authorised distributor, NHP Electrical Engineering, supported this project by identifying the most appropriate equipment to meet the application requirements. According to Jason Campbell, business development – automation at NHP, “There’s no technology that rivals this new patented system. The solution allowed Cool Off to increase throughput, reduce downtime and redeploy operators that were doing manual labour.”

The new automated plate freezing system improved throughput and reduced manual handling requirements.

Patented innovation to meet consumer demand
Cool Off’s patented plate freezing technology was the product of intelligent engineering and problem solving – resulting in an increase in plate freezing capacity by 120 per cent. The technology and innovation around the plate-freezer design was developed together with VK Logic, a business with a growing reputation for “out of box” thinking for large and small projects alike.

The plant is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week as there is significant demand for the product. With consumer demand continually increasing, Cool Off was recently awarded a government grant to double capacity of the plant.

Edward Staughton, managing director of Cool Off and Staughton Group, highlights the significant advantages the company enjoys over international and domestic competitors via its technology: “The quality and freshness of red meat offal products collected from supplying abattoirs and delivered daily to Cool Off at Howlong is guaranteed via the unique chilling system installed at supplying abattoirs. This patented system was developed by Cool Off and VK Logic, using experience gained over 20 years of collecting offals from abattoirs located throughout Eastern Australia. The system ensures all product from abattoirs in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia can be delivered in any season over long distances and maintain its freshness.”

Staughton has inspected many plate freezing systems throughout Europe and America. “The development of our patented automated plate freezing system, in combination with the abattoir chilling system, has given the Cool Off production team a massive international competitive advantage in quality and processing efficiency,” said Staughton.

“Three staff are able to fill, freeze, palletise and warehouse 50 tonnes (pallets) of product in an eight hour shift, which, combined with freeze time of two and a half hours, ensures maximum freshness of all products. With the plate freezers being fully Cleaning in Place (CIP), cleaning time is minimal. I have seen nothing internationally that compares with this system.”

“Cool Off is highly appreciative of the combined efforts of VK Logic and Rockwell Automation in enabling the development, and now the ‘bedded down’ operation, of technologies which are unmatched by international competitors. Cool Off looks forward to working with both these innovative and progressive companies to roll out further R&D projects that currently sit in the company’s pipe-line,” said Staughton.

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