Why send 750 million soiled absorbent pads to landfill if there is a better way?

Reducing the use of packaging materials is one of the aspects that will help lead to a sustainable future. When re-designing plastic trays for ANZ’s fresh red meat sector, Sealed Air Australia ventured beyond “reduce” and found a way to “eliminate” the need for absorbent pads. Sealed Air’s Kevin Taylor is the APAC portfolio leader for the company’s trays, films and absorbents business. Here, Taylor spoke to Food & Beverage Industry News about some of the new technologies behind the latest meat-packing developments from the company.

Why was HydroLoQ developed?
While absorbent pads solve the problem of retaining product purge, they can also be problematic for food processors and our planet.

HydroLoQ was developed to eliminate lost time associated with pad related issues for moist protein Modified Atmosphere Packing (MAP) applications that are estimated to contribute to three per cent of overall down time. Furthermore, pads comprise ‘end of life’ challenges. In fact, each year, more than 750 million absorbent pads used across ANZ’s fresh red meat sector end up in landfill.

Meat discolouration is also a challenge for retailers. Meat in direct contact with an absorbent pad is not experiencing the full colour preserving benefits of the surrounding modified atmosphere and thus can undergo product discolouration causing subsequent product mark downs.

Furthermore, the removal of the pad eliminates any risk of ingesting the contents of the pad if it leaks.

What were some of the issues when developing the products?
MAP technology has been used for more than 20 years. Forgetting what we already knew and addressing supply chain challenges with a fresh view was one of the biggest challenges. Understanding surface tension science and redefining absorbency requirements for MAP applications was critical to success.

The shape of the base design was important. Not only was it required to hold a specific volume of purge, but it could not leave any imprint or indentation on the protein which would lead to consumer rejection and product mark downs. This problem was overcome with some adjustments to tooling.

HydroLoQ is a recyclable pack. How hard was that to incorporate into the design?
All Cryovac polypropylene trays are recyclable in accordance with the APCO PREP tool. It was important in the redesign that the tray components did not compromise this. Also important was ensuring that the new design did not require the use of additional resin to perform suitably across the supply chain.

Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand food packaging is renowned for maintaining freshness and reducing food waste. Does HydroLoQ still enable this?
Yes. Cryovac HydroLoQ continues to deliver high oxygen barrier performance to keep proteins fresh across the supply chain. We all know extended shelf life means a less wasteful food supply chain. With HydroLoQ, the processor benefits by eliminating pad related downtime and product contamination due to pads breaking open during packing. Estimates suggest 500kg of meat is removed from the supply chain and down-graded to pet food every time pad related contamination occurs.

Is HydroLoQ 2025 ready?
Absolutely. HydroLoQ is fully recyclable and has no separable components that consumers need to work with. Each tray contains up to 8g of recycled resin that is recovered from Sealed Air’s “Zero Waste” tray making facility based in Tullamarine, Victoria.

How is the introduction of HydroLoQ impacting the Tullamarine plant, which also produces absorbent pads?
Sealed Air’s sustainability vision is ‘to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges, and to leave our world better than we found it’. In this case, developments such as Cryovac HydroLoQ changes the way we do things and allows our processors and supply chains to evolve. The sustainable advantages for our processors and planet are significant.
After all, HydroLoQ allows us to leave our planet better than we found it.

What has the feedback from clients been like?
Soiled absorbent pads dampen the consumer experience. Because consumers dislike touching a soiled absorbent pad, they avoid separating the pad from the tray and dispose of fully recyclable trays to landfill.

This tray is the first of its kind into Australia’s retail environment. Customer acceptance has been positive and Cryovac HydroLoQ can be found at retailers including Aldi and Coles. At this stage, retail acceptance has been limited to fresh red meats, but proteins including poultry and seafood are also on the radar.

Brand owners can also leverage a strong sustainability story by making the switch to HydroLoQ and meet consumers’ growing demands for sustainable packaging.

What makes these products different from similar offerings in the marketplace?
This tray design is new for ANZ, and padless tray formats have been used in Europe.
This is the first padless barrier tray used for ANZ’s modified atmosphere packaging market. The base design not only retains purge, but offers additional rigidity which is an important design parameter for our distribution chain. Rigidity is also important for packs using retail lidding film – get them both wrong and lid film energy can distort the shape of the tray.

Is there a limit to the size of the produce that can be used with these products?
We have matched the retention capacity of the base of the tray to the current retailer specifications for the products the trays are used for. Water purge for poultry is higher because it uses water chilling technology and subsequent tray designs will take this into account.

Sunny Queen celebrates 50 years

When Sunny Queen Australia managing director, John O’Hara, joined the company more than 17 years ago it was predominantly a one-channel, one product business, selling shell eggs primarily to Queensland supermarkets.

Today it is a multi-faceted business that turns over $350 million and employs 140 people.

The Sunny Queen Farms brand is represented in every Australian state. Its diversified Meal Solutions product range of innovative value-added, egg-based products for food service channels now represents around 20 percent of the business.

In 2017 Sunny Queen invested $40 million in a food service factory at Carole Park near Brisbane to begin producing omelettes, fritters, patties, poached eggs, and egg bakes for the out of home breakfast market.

In June 2019 Sunny Queen finished commissioning a new $800,000 robotics line for omelettes that was specifically designed for the company.

In April 2019, Sunny Queen was recognised as the winner in a Canstar Blue survey of 2,000 Australian adults, which recognised them as the number one egg brand in Australia for consumer satisfaction, achieving five-star reviews on taste, freshness, packaging and overall customer satisfaction.

Celebrating 50  years of the Sunny Queen Farms brand, John O’Hara says the it has come a long way in the last five decades.

“Providing Australians with a hearty egg breakfast has always been part of Sunny Queen’s DNA, but when I came into the role, I thought there had to be more to eggs than just a shell,” he said.

“We looked at supplying to the ingredients market for manufacturers with other companies such as biscuits and cakes.

“But the great opportunity we saw was for convenience; portable, nutritious food because no one is really presenting a healthy breakfast alternative.

“We pushed into hospitals and aged care and eventually airlines and quick service restaurants for people looking for quick simple solution to their cooking needs.”

He said the fact that so many people don’t have time to eat breakfast at home has seen Sunny Queen set its sights on the out-of-home breakfast market, which is worth $7.4 billion.

“So, we just think there’s a fantastic opportunity for great protein products for breakfast through our value added business offering convenience, food safety and taste.

“French Toast is our newest product offering for Foodservice – a café breakfast favourite, made easy for food service outlets by Sunny Queen. It is the only snap-frozen French Toast option currently available in the Australian market.”

O’Hara said Sunny Queen were continuing to invest in free-range egg farms to meet increased consumer demand.

Getting the specifications right for an F&B build

For food and beverage facility owners, navigating compliance requirements when building or renovating a new building can be tough at the best of times, especially in a constantly changing regulatory environment. Bill Franks is a founding shareholder of food and beverage construction specialist Total Construction and is also member of the Australian Institute of Building. He has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years, and has some interesting insights on how some of these pitfalls can be avoided, especially for some of the smaller, up-and-coming food and beverage enterprises.

“Whereas a big multinational company has a team of people checking compliance, if you’re a mum-and-dad business, or own an industrial unit where you want to produce food for sale, you don’t have access to that kind of resource,” he said. “For starters, it’s important to understand which regulations you need to comply with. A commercial building comes under the Building Act and National Construction Code (NCC); what was known as the Building Code of Australia.”

A couple of regulations in particular, can cause issues because people don’t know some of the minute details – the fine print – that can be hidden in the regulations.

“For example, Section J (energy efficiency) of the NCC, along with essential fire services, have been catching people out for a number of years now,” said Franks. “Plus, with the ‘Access to Premises’ standard, a minor addition or alteration to a commercial building can now involve some serious upgrades to services like water, electricity and insulation just to mention a few.”

Franks adds that, while a lot of people know that buildings require fire sprinklers, there are other accessories that need to be added, too. “For example, water pressures have changed, and sprinklers now require water storage tanks and a set of pumps, which can sometimes cost around a half a million dollars.”

Then there is disability that needs to be added to the mix of potential changes some sites that are being renovated. In some cases, councils will require a lift to be installed, doorways and corridors widened and disability amenities added to satisfy current building codes.

Other considerations that need to be considered when planning to convert a brownfield site into a food and beverage facility include the noise and odour impacts. Many councils insist on obtaining noise and odour statements as part of the any submission. Although the consultant fees to produce these statements can be relatively low, the resulting adaptions to the building can be significant. In one instance a client was required to install 6.2m high exhaust flues to ensure that odours from their cooking processes were dispersed effectively and not impinge on neighbouring residential properties.

“You may say that is fair enough,” said Franks, “however, the residential properties were almost a kilometre away, yet the odour report indicated that with the right conditions the cooking odours could travel that far.”

Any new facility in the industry will need to comply with a Council’s Health Department requirements, so this means effective drainage, washing and waste disposal areas need to be well-defined to comply. Generally, to accommodate new drainage runs and wash areas in brownfield sites, a company needs to cut into the slab. Also, depending on the amount of drainage required, the existing slab could end up looking like “swiss cheese”. These drainage runs will then need to be reinstated and pinned back into the existing slab. In some instances, combining this with set down areas for any freezers, it can be cheaper to lay an entire new slab.

Apart from Council and NCC requirements, brownfield sites can also have issues with the roof weight capacity, as the majority of industrial units available are only designed to support roofing sheets and not much else. To enable the roof to support numerous services and insulated panel ceilings etcetera, the roof structure generally needs to be strengthened – sometimes dramatically.

Then there is another set of key criteria in deciding on premises to convert – power and gas availability. Again, the majority of industrial units only have access to approximately 100amps supply and no gas feed. Food and beverage facilities can require in excess of 500amps and a reliable gas supply to effectively run their operations. The time and cost associated with upgrading and installing these feeds can be exorbitant, and have caught out many proponents, causing delays in establishing operations.

So, what can you do to make sure your building ticks all the boxes? “The first thing is to establish the scope of the development, then work out where it might be non-compliant and if your budget stretches to bringing it up to standard,” said Franks. “You can find a copy of NCC online, but it can be difficult to make sense of it if you’re not a lawyer or building professional. My advice would be to get a report from a building certifier and engage an appropriate food and beverage builder to advise. By enlisting theservices of professionals, you can avoid a host of problems in the future.

“The key to ensuring you mitigate risks in your project is to involve your builder early in the process commonly known in the construction game as early contractor involvement or ECI.”

According to Franks, having a builder involved during the scoping and design stage can allow critical cost items in any build/fit out be identified and alternatives discussed.

“For instance, you may have a plan to construct a mezzanine level in your operations, this although perfect for the intended process flows can be extremely costly to construct,” he said. “Sometimes, a client cannot see the forest for the trees so to speak – they are so intrenched in their business that they only see one aspect of the project – being to increase efficiencies in their production.”

Involving a builder with process engineering capability in the food and beverage industry, such as Total Construction, can allow a different set of eyes to see the requirements and suggest alternatives to the building layout that just don’t reduce the need for costly building works, but can improve the process flow overall.

How ECI works to develop an achievable budget.
First, a site investigation is carried out by the builder on the existing and proposed facilities to detail and identify all services required and what is available at the new site (power, gas capacities). It is important to note that to increase power or gas supply to a site can be very costly to the project and create delays. Another area that needs consideration in the case of an existing building to be fitted out is the structure’s integrity. Having to strengthen this to cope with the additional weight of fit out and services can often blow out project costs.
Then a workshop is carried out with all stakeholders to identify required efficiencies, confirm proposed outputs and flag any potential limitations. As part of this workshop, all production processes are mapped and detailed for both the existing and proposed operations.

A list is made of the capacities and dimensions of all equipment both existing and new is developed. This helps to identify all utilities and services that are required. It also sets the benchmark for power and gas requirements at the proposed site.

This process helps identify potential bottle necks in current processes and helps highlight any potential hygiene requirements in the new fit out. Getting all this data captured is critical in maximising efficiencies of the new facility.

A review of the buildability of the facility is done and sketch design layouts are completed to optimise process flows to best fit the client’s objectives. A building/fit out SWAT analysis is carried out and build/fit-out costs are derived. Through close consultation between the builder and client, this process allows savings to be identified early on in the design and layout of the facility.

A detailed design including all services and requirements is then developed and put to the market for live market costing. This will give the client a firm understanding of what they can get for their dollar.

Finally, this is where working to a budget comes in – once the ideal building and fit out costs are established it is possible to derive further reductions in the overall project spend through rationalising the design. This includes, but is not limited to, reducing the number and sizes of rooms, freezer/cool room capacities and locations, and finishes in the design. This can be done while keeping future expansion capability intact in the design and maintain the client’s required production output for the new facility.

Why the food packaging industry needs to sell itself better

Keith Chessell is a packaging evangelist. Being in the industry for the best part of 50 years, he was there at the beginning when consumers and manufacturers alike knew that packaging sustainability was going to be an issue going forward for many industries, including food and beverage. He was there when the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign was launched and knows that the image of the packaging industry isn’t what it could be.

As well as being a consultant at Sustainable Packaging Design, Chessell is also heavily involved with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) – you could say that packaging and all its issues are in his blood.

Generically, packaging doesn’t have the greatest of reputations among consumers these days. At best, it’s seen as a necessity to transport products from the factory to the retail outlet, while others at the other end of the spectrum see it as an unnecessary pollutant that chokes our waterways, oceans, parks and other recreation areas.

Being in an industry for five decades gives Chessell a unique insight into the issues, not just on what they are now, but how far the industry has come. And while he’s not about to sell packaging as a brilliant accessory to human endeavours, he said that the industry itself needs to do a better job of informing the public of its true role in the wider scheme of things.

At a recent SAI Global Food Safety conference held in Sydney, Chessell outlined some of the issues facing the packaging industry. One of the key discussions at the moment is in the area of reducing packaging. For example, Chessell compares opening up some toys to that of unpacking a piece of IKEA kit. While some may nod in agreement, a large number of companies have spent years reducing the amount of packaging in a product – not that the public would know.

“The focus from many in industry over the past 20 years has been on removing and reducing packaging where possible,” said Chessell.

“ Some companies are now at the stage where they have reduced everything they can. I can remember eight years ago saying, ‘I can’t take any more out of my packaging with my products’. If the boss wants me to save another $2 million, I’ll start having other issues, such as maintaining the integrity of the packaging.”

Chessell also pointed out that most companies now do not want to overpack a product because it is becoming economically unviable to do so. This is where it is necessary to start educating people on the why. He cites the examples of cucumbers and bananas that have plastic packaging.

“Why are some cucumber wrapped in plastic? I know the answer, but most people don’t. Why not put a sign above that cucumber saying, ‘We’re doing this because it extends the shelf life of this cucumber’. It’s the same with wrapped small bananas. People ask ‘why?’ Well, it protects the fruit, stops it from bruising and is designed to reduce food wastage and spoilage.”

However, lauding the innovations that packaging can sometimes have unintended, negative consequences. He talks about a recent entrant into the AIP’s Packaging Innovation and Design (PIDA) awards.

“One of the companies that entered this year’s awards was a fish company with a fabulous innovative pack that extended the shelf life by 15 days,” he said. “But the company chose to not communicate this significant benefit to the consumers on-pack as they did not want a perception that their fish wasn’t fresh. For this company by promoting the extension of shelf life to the customer potentially offered a negative connotation.”

And it’s when Chessell starts throwing out stats on food waste that you begin to appreciate his frustration at how packaging is undersold. Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted at an estimated cost of $1.3 trillion.

According to the National Food Waste Baseline Executive Summary, Australia generates about 7.3 million tonnes of food waste annually. Of that, 1.2 million tonnes is recycled, 2.9 million tonnes is recovered, while the remaining 3.2 million tonnes is disposed of at landfills. Households contribution is 34.3 per cent and primary production 31.3 per cent, while manufacturing comes in at third with 24 per cent. With figures like that, it is no wonder Chessell is passionate about reducing food waste.

“Unfortunately, many consumers see all packaging as a negative. They don’t see any useful purpose for it and don’t understand the true role of packaging. I believe we can change that if we start to communicate better to customers about why we use certain types of packaging. They might then understand there are other benefits of packaging if we start to put more information on our packaging.”

Are there other answers? How can food and beverage companies sell the role of packaging in the food chain to the public? How do we better communicate that packaging plays a huge role long before the pack needs throwing away once the food has been extracted? There are several things, according to Chessell, and it’s all about education, education and education.

Packaging’s main role is to contain and protect goods and keep them in perfect condition until they are consumed. It also carries important information on the label that gives insights into the ingredients. Adding the Australasian Recycling Label on-pack to communicate the true recyclability of the pack is also important.

The final part of the jigsaw is the on-pack communication, that allows the manufacturer to expound the virtues and benefits their food or beverage encompasses. These criteria need to be explained loudly and often, said Chessell. Getting the public educated is one way of reducing stigmas surrounding packaging, and Chessell points out the AIP itself is taking the initiative by developing a set of Save Food packaging design criteria for reducing food waste for the industry. This criteria includes improved barrier packaging and processing; retaining nutrition; active and intelligent packaging; utilising skin (vacuum), MAP and EMAP packaging formats; portion control packaging; easy opening/resealable packaging; and controlled dispensing, which will mean all the product will be consumed as opposed to leftover product being thrown out (i.e. sauce bottles etc).

Chessell believes that the AIP has started the conversation and he wants it to continue.
“Packaging is a difficult topic these days and the important question we need to ask is, ‘What is the consumer’s view on packaging and how can we help change the perception so that they start to understand that intuitive packaging can actually help minimise and prevent food waste?”

This is something the AIP and Chessell are well on the way to doing.

Coca-Cola soft drink and water brands now produced in 100 per cent recycled plastic

Coca-Cola Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil have announced that all Coca-Cola soft drink brands (600ml and below) and all water brands (600ml and below) in Australia are now being produced in 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. This includes Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Mount Franklin and Pump.

This follows the announcement earlier in the year that Coca-Cola Amatil will make 7 out of 10 plastic bottles from 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of 2019. Coca-Cola’s juice and dairy brands are on track to transition and complete the goal before the end of the year.

Committed to helping close the recycling loop, Coca-Cola Australia has also ramped up its efforts to promote recycling to all Australians, announcing its sponsorship of Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, now in its 24th year.

Russell Mahoney, director of sustainability at Coca-Cola Australia said; “The plastic waste crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time – one that we’re committed to help solve.

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“We know actions speak louder than words, which is why together with Coca-Cola Amatil we have made a landmark investment in recycled plastic in Australia to help support a viable domestic recycling economy.

“The other important piece of the puzzle is supporting initiatives that encourage Australians to recycle, which is why we’re proud to be working closely with Planet Ark as the major sponsor of National Recycling Week.”

As Australia’s biggest beverage company, Coca-Cola’s move to recycled plastic will significantly reduce the environmental impact of its operations; ensuring plastic from existing bottles is repurposed, while decreasing demand for new plastic.

Peter West, Managing Director of Australian Beverages at Coca-Cola Amatil, said: “Earlier this year we took our strongest step forward in reducing packaging waste by making recycled plastic the norm in 7 out of 10 products in our portfolio.

“Today we are well on track to meet that target and become a market leader in innovation as the first country in the world where all Coca-Cola bottles 600ml and under are made from recycled plastic.

“We’re meeting our target to bring our total use of recycled plastic to 16,000 tonnes this year,” Mr West said.

Ryan Collins, head of sustainability resource programs at Planet Ark and spokesperson for National Recycling Week said, “By using more recycled plastic and encouraging Australians to recycle, Coca-Cola is leading the way and taking responsibility for the end of life of its products. We know this will help stimulate a viable local recycling industry, enabling highly valuable material like PET plastic to be meaningfully repurposed.

“Just like Planet Ark, Coca-Cola does not want to see valuable resources go to waste. It’s a perfect match for National Recycling Week, and we’re thrilled to be working together for the first time this year,” Collins said.

China helps Murray River Organics grow

Murray River Organics today announced that exports of its products had increased by 27 percent year to date over FY2019 for the corresponding period and anticipates this trend will continue for the rest of FY2020.

China has been a major contributor to the increase, with sales to Chinese customers more than doubling in FY2020 since the same time last year, as MRG leverages the increasing demand in China for healthy foods.

Chief executive Valentina Tripp said there is more potential for MRG to grow exports to China following MRG’s recent launch on the WeChat platform in October 2019.

“WeChat is a very powerful tool used by more than a billion users each month which enables us to communicate directly with Chinese consumers, build brand awareness and share the Australian Organic Dried Vine Fruit provenance story as the largest Dried Vine Fruit grower in Australia,” Tripp said.

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MRG has been able to increase its market share [in Asian markets] with the introduction of its new branded product range across Greater China and South East Asia, which is part of the company’s “Taking Australia to Asia” growth strategy which was launched in 2018.

With ongoing concerns about food safety in Asia MRG believes Australia’s trusted clean and green reputation is also helping it to win new contracts.

The company has also re-entered the European market with high-quality Australian sultanas now being exported into the premium baking industries across Germany and Italy.

Tripp said that global demand for organic and conventional dried fruit remains strong and growing exports has been a major focus for MRG and the industry over the last 12 months.

“We have received significant support from Dried Fruit Australia, with its chairman, CEO and key board member, who are also growers, attending trade shows in China, Japan, Vietnam and Germany. They have been a great support in building international awareness of our high quality Australian sultanas. The feedback from those trade forums was that demand for Australia’s Dried Vine Fruit will continue to accelerate.”

Murray River Organics offer price increases

Murray River Organics has announced up to $200 per tonne increase in prices for third party grower dried fruit as part of their Sunraysia Grower Water Support Package for 2020 Crop.

MRG chief executive Valentina Tripp said given the severe drought conditions in Mildura and the increasing expensive price of temporary water the Company wanted to provide Sunraysia growers with certainty for the coming season.

“We recognise the impact that the ongoing drought and water is having on growers in the Mildura area and as significant grower ourselves we understand the issues they are facing. As a result, at this critical time, we have decided to initially offer up to $200 per tonne on top of last year’s pricing increases to source irrigation water for key in demand varieties. We believe this will deliver much needed confidence to our growers.”

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Last year Murray River Organics led the industry when the Company increased prices to third party dried vine fruit growers by up to 25 percent as part of its plan to ensure a fair return for fruit commensurate with global pricing trends.

The price increases are part of the “Growing Together” program which has been very successful for MRG, with the intake of third-party grower dried vine fruit reaching 1240 tonnes in 2019, an increase of 15% on 2018.

This was a significant achievement considering the challenging growing conditions in Sunraysia in 2019 with many growers experiencing lower yields of up to 40 per cent.
Valentina Tripp said the current water issues in Mildura are still challenging for the agriculture industry with irrigation water from the Murray costing up to $950 a megalitre nearly double the average price paid last season.

“Encouragingly, demand fundamentals for dried vine fruit remain strong, with the global fruit market experiencing growth in demand.”

MRG is the largest dried vine fruit grower in Sunraysia with over 1000 hectares planted and is part way through a major transformation and turnaround journey. It has identified significant sales growth opportunities in Asia, Europe and the USA.

MRG’s Sunraysia Grower Support Package is open to Sunraysia Dried Vine Fruit Growers who sign up prior to Friday, 29 November 2019.

MRG also commits to hold 2019 pricing for the 2020 Harvest.

Mars’ Heague returns home to take up GM role

Mars Incorporated has appointed a new general manager, Bill Heague, to lead Mars Food Australia.

Heague originally joined the Mars company in 2008 as sales manager for Mars Food Australia, the manufacturer of food brands such as Masterfoods, Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Kantong, Promite and Seeds of Change.

Following a successful five-year stint with Mars Food in Australia, delivering continuous growth and gains in market share, Heague relocated to Europe to take up the role of Market Director, Multisales, for Mars in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In this role, which was part of the newly formed Central Europe cluster, he played a central part in the transformation of the cluster and the integration of Wrigley into the Multisales business.

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Heague has managed Mars’ Irish Multisales business since 2018 in a challenging business environment which included managing the uncertainties generated by Brexit.

Heague said he is thrilled to be returning home to Sydney and taking up his new role with Mars Food Australia.

“I’m a foodie at heart and very excited about the major advances and significant challenges we are seeing in the food industry, both in Australia and around the world, and the innovation that our business can bring to the table,” Heague said.

“I’m a firm believer that dinner time matters, and we know that finding opportunities to cook and share meals with family and friends is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It’s the foundation of our business, side by side with providing healthy, easy, affordable and tasty meal options.”

Heague will take up the new role from today, 1 November 2019, and is currently in the process of relocating back to Australia. He will be working out of Mars Food Australia’s head office and manufacturing plant at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, and its satellite North Sydney office, from 13 November 2019.

Macadamias aim to disrupt chocolate category

Australian Macadamias has today released findings from independent research agency, GalKal, revealing macadamias are an underutilised ingredient in the traditional chocolate and nuts pairing. As consumers constantly crave new and creative confectionery, macadamias can bring excitement and interest to commonplace product formulations.

While chocolate and nuts are an established pairing, the space is dominated by nut varieties such as peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Over 13,000 chocolate products were launched globally in the past year; more than 1,400 (11 per cent) featured hazelnuts and a further 485 (4 per cent) featured peanuts, while only 75 (0.5 per cent) products launched featured macadamias.

Be it to unwind, de-stress, uplift or re-energise, consumers around the world crave chocolate confectionery to bring a sense of indulgence and escape from the everyday. There is a global demand for new flavour and texture combinations that inject luxury and surprise into the everyday chocolate experience.

READ MORE: The macadamia challenge returns

Lynne Ziehlke, general manager, marketing for the Australian macadamia industry said, “While consumers are very familiar and comfortable with the idea of nuts in chocolate, the current pairings have become quite commonplace and expected.

“The research showed that macadamias are the ideal ingredient to disrupt the tried and trusted nut-chocolate relationship and help create more exciting, novel and unique expressions of chocolate.”

The findings also brought to light the notion of ‘permissible indulgence,’ meaning consumers seek out chocolate that justifies the indulgence they crave either because it is perceived to be high-end or contains ingredients that are healthy. However, consumers do not want to compromise by settling for products that don’t deliver on the inherent pleasure of eating chocolate.

Ziehlke adds, “We continue to see the concept of ‘health as the new form of wealth’ dominating the consumer landscape. Macadamias are recognised as a guilt-free ingredient due to their nutritional value but at the same time are recognised as a premium product that will add luxury and deliver an indulgent eating experience.”

“The distinct, rich and creamy taste and texture of macadamias means they are the ideal ingredient to inspire chocolate innovation and bring excitement to a category in need of disruption. Macadamias also have a unique ability to balance out very sweet or very savoury flavours and create a harmonious overall taste profile. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for new product formulations.”

Methodology
Interviews were conducted with influencers in Germany, China and the US, followed by an online community with prosumers in Germany and the US and focus groups in China

Roots targets the high growth organic plant-based ‘meat’ market

Consumers are quickly waking up to the fact that consuming meat — especially highly processed meat — can have negative health outcomes and is contributing to the destruction of the environment.

Recognising both the health and environmental upsides of eating plant-based meat alternatives is translating to commercial success for businesses savvy enough to capitalise on this early trend.

With a market cap of almost US$7 billion, none have been more successful than Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND).

Beyond Meat’s burgers and other plant-based products appeal not only to vegetarians, vegans, and the environmentally conscious, but they have now received official kosher certification. In a major coup, last month the company was selected by McDonald’s to supply the patties for burger its burger chains. The burgers will be known as P.L.T. burgers.

Also capitalising on the trend is the Bill Gates backed Impossible Foods, which just raised US$700 million from US venture capital firms to further its plant-based meat offerings.

Impossible Foods’ sells its burgers in US supermarkets and supply a number of major fast food outlets, including the country’s second largest fast food company, Burger King.

Its plant-based Impossible Burger “bleeds” like the real thing. Yet, it’s made from soy and potato proteins and its signature ingredient — the iron-rich compound, heme. Heme is produced when soy leghemoglobin is cooked and gives the veggie burger a meat-like flavour and its bleeding look.

However, plant-based meats may not be as healthy or environmentally friendly as its seems.

The industry relies heavily on industrially grown, high protein crops including soy, pea and potatoes, which require heavy use of herbicides and pesticides. This is the case for producers Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and is one of the major criticisms they face.

For that reason, there’s growing demand for organically grown and environmentally conscious options for consumers.

Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies addresses critical problems being faced by agriculture, including plant climate management and the shortage of water for irrigation.

Importantly, its technologies can assist in growing high-end organic meat replacement crops.

Roots has expanded into the plant-based meat market, initiating a planting program to examine the effects of its Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) and Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) technologies on several protein-laden crops to increase the content of leghemoglobin.

Its technologies work to increase a crop’s leghemoglobin – also known as “heme” — a form of haemoglobin in plants and the key ingredient in what makes plant-based meats so tasty.

Stabilising plants’ root temperatures stimulates their immune systems, reducing susceptibility to pathogens and increasing the total biomass, and therefore potentially increasing total protein content.

Off the back of this discovery, ROO intend to lead the organic segment of the artificial meat replacement industry.

Roots is examining crops with a high protein content, either in the roots or in the canopy, which can be grown year-round using its RZTO technology. High end protein laden crops can be grown indoors where organic methods and cater for a lucrative organic meat replacement niche.

Roots will formally test the concept on high protein crops already planted at the company’s farm in Bet Halevi, Israel. Two high protein crops were planted in September 2019 using three configurations of the RZTO technology — horizontal, “Stub T-shape”, and a control group.

Top food trends for 2020

Increased consumer interest in the stories behind their food and beverage products and their notable influence on purchasing decisions has resulted in companies increasingly paying attention to storytelling in branding strategies.

“Storytelling: Winning with Words” leads the list of Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2020. The top five trends for 2020 are:

  1. Storytelling: Winning with Words
    Although ingredient provenance has always been important, consumer interest in discovering the story behind their foods has risen further and increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. Consumers’ attention is piqued by opportunities to learn more about how products are produced, which promotes an understanding of product benefits and helps build all-important trust in the brand.As a result, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on ingredient provenance platforms in order to highlight the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, including flavor/taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, as well as the more obvious geographical origin.

READ MORE: Consumer trends and the ‘new food world’ of 2015

  1. Plant-Based Revolution
    Plant-based innovation in food and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living. As the use of the term “plant-based” moves more into the mainstream, the industry and start-up companies in particular, are taking up the challenge to deliver more clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles.
  1. The Sustain Domain
    Consumers increasingly expect companies to invest in sustainability, with Innova Market Insights research indicating that 85% of, on average, US and UK consumers expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64% in 2018. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to follow a zero-waste approach by creating value from by-products. Meanwhile in packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.
  1. The Right Bite
    Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as consumers manage careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally. Responses to this vary, although the majority of consumers aim to balance the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable.Indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.
  1. Tapping into Texture
    Last year’s leading trend “Discovery: the adventurous consumer” is still prominent, with consumer demand for something new and different being reflected in more product launches with textural claims. Consumers increasingly recognize the influence of texture on food and beverages, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova Market Insights research, 45% of, on average, US and UK consumers are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, while 68% share the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

The other top trends for 2020 identified by Innova Market Insights are:

  1. Macronutrient Makeover
  2. Hello Hybrids
  3. A Star is Born
  4. Eat Pretty
  5. Brand Unlimited

Glen Grant wins Scotch Whisky of the Year for fourth year in a row

Glen Grant once again is awarded top honours for its category in the latest edition of Jim Murray’s perennially anticipated Whisky Bible – the world’s most-influential Whisk(e)y guide. Glen Grant 18 Year Old, the rarest variant in the Glen Grant single malt range, has once again been named “Scotch Whisky of the Year”, “Single Malt of the Year” and “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 16-21 years” by the esteemed whisky writer and reviewer, taking home the top prize in the category for a stunning fourth year in a row.

After sampling 1,200 whisky entrants for the 2020 edition of his influential guidebook, Jim chose this winning expression to represent his number one rated whisky from Scotland. Building on last year’s remark that the 18 Year Old single malt “carried the banner for Scotland,” and “displayed Speyside Whisky in its most sparkling light,” Murray this year that that he could find no faults in the liquid, and called it, “As usual, sublime,” adding that he “didn’t think it possible. But this distillery has just upped its game. Though, perhaps it does have two new challengers now: The Glen Grant 15 and The Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven.”

Reinforcing that the entire range of casks is exquisite, The Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven (a Global Travel Retail exclusive) has been awarded “Best No Age Statement”.

READ MORE: Food and Beverage Award winners announced

Calling this particular expression “technically perfect” Murray explains it as “a malt which takes ‘understatement’ to a new level,” and remarked that it leaves the drinker “spellbound as its secrets slowly unfold. To do descriptors barely do it justice.” Cask Haven joins the already-decorated Glen Grant 15 Year Old this year, which takes the prize for “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 11 to 15 Years” in its category. Additionally, The Glen Grant 10 Year Old wins in the “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 10 Years and Under” category for a remarkable 7th time.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is the world’s biggest-selling and most influential annual whisky guide. Industry renowned, the compact guide contains roughly 4,500 detailed, professionally analysed and easy to understand tasting notes on the world’s leading and lesser known whiskies. Each whisky is tasted by Murray himself and graded with an overall score out of 100.

Founded in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant in Rothes, in Speyside, Scotland, Glen Grant boasts a remarkable, double distillation process, which sets its award-winning single malts apart from the competition. Introduced over a century ago by the ingenious James ‘The Major’ Grant, these hand-designed, tall, slender stills and distinctive purifiers capture only the finest vapours. Still used to this day, the result is a refined and seductively smooth taste for which Glen Grant is renowned.

Dennis Malcolm, Glen Grant’s Master Distiller, commented, “To be awarded ‘Scotch Whisky of the Year’ for a record fourth year with our 18YO is an incredible honour. Unprecedented! With all of the remarkable whiskies that come from our corner of the world, we are thrilled to share this news, in addition the accolades again this year on our 10 and 15YO expressions. To add, we couldn’t be more pleased that an exclusive offering like Cask Haven is recognised for the complex, beautiful liquid that it is. We take so much pride in creating our unique expressions, and we’re delighted and humbled to see that the consistent quality of these beautiful products continues to be recognised by industry legends like Jim Murray.”

 

Industry 4.0’s firm hold on iconic Australian brand

Aeroplane Jelly is a national treasure. Created in a bathtub in 1927 in Sydney, it was once one of Australia’s largest family-operated food manufacturers. Even today, hearing the old jingle, “I like Aeroplane Jelly, Aeroplane Jelly for me, I like it for dinner, I like it for tea, A little each day is a good recipe” creates a strong feeling of nostalgia.

Acquired by what was McCormick Foods in 1994, today, more than 20 million packets of Aeroplane Jelly are consumed each year. Now incorporated as McCormick & Company, the nostalgic jelly brand’s owner is no stranger to large-scale food production, as it is a global flavour company that manufactures, markets and distributes an extensive range of spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavourful products to the food industry.

McCormick & Company’s enthusiasm and appetite for innovation is now taking its operations into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.

READ MORE: Bosch and Billerudkorsnas intensify innovation collaboration

The teams at McCormick & Company and Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions have commenced an Industry 4.0 pilot project in conjunction with Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) and Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), which will start at the McCormick facility in Clayton South. As the lead technical partner, Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions is responsible for implementing the project across the three existing Aeroplane Jelly automatic packaging lines.

“Instead of interfacing with McCormick’s existing machines, we are strategically placing sensors onto the line that can detect the parts going past. With this simple and cost-effective solution, these sensors are counting parts going into and out of machines,” said Bradley Trewin, national sales and business development manager at Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions.

“This simple solution will eliminate McCormick’s existing manual data collection process, and by doing so, will remove possible errors in data collection and give them real-time insights into what is happening on their lines. Now, instead of collecting manual data, they can focus on analysing this precise cloud-based data to make improvements to their production,” continued Bradley.

Currently, McCormick’s factory is similar to many other manufacturing facilities across Australia – there are multiple operational shifts, with different operators manning each shift. Under the existing system, if there is a machine breakdown on one shift, incoming operators have no knowledge about the reason behind the break and whether there have been solutions implemented. With the Industry 4.0 project, the factory will now centrally control all machine data, providing a fault tree of reasons, which will also include a finite set of solutions for technicians to reference as they troubleshoot.

With this pilot programme in place, McCormick & Company has begun to add transformation to its local operations.

With successful implementation underway, the company continues to seek future implementation for Industry 4.0 practices to solve other pain points.

“Through this first level Industry 4.0 pilot project, McCormick & Company will see the benefits of real-time visibility of accurate, reliable data. This allows them to identify where there might be problems and solve them, quickly and easily,” said Bradley.

For Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions, the recipe for success is combining the best data and machines, with people being the secret ingredient. The solution created for McCormick is the perfect example – by recording and providing meaningful data and insights, the solution enables the company’s people to make critical decisions and actions required to improve production.

“Through our ‘Journey to Excellence’, reliable production performance data plays a critical role in supporting loss analysis and continuous improvement,” said Stewart Dwelly, operations manager McCormick Foods.

“The production team needs real-time information to enable this at the shop floor level. This project is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how a simple solution can improve operating efficiencies.”

Aeroplane Jelly has a special place in the hearts of all Australians. By embracing digital transformation and paying attention to the trends leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it will remain competitive long into the future.

At the heart of tables across Australia – building Ingham’s state-of-the-art feed mill

What goes into producing the delicious roast chicken at the heart of dinner tables across the nation?

It fries down to an impressive facility that produces 12,000 tonnes of chicken pellets each week to cover South Australia’s feed requirements and service the state’s main hatchery.

This is what the team at Ahrens Design & Construct delivered, proudly creating a landmark multi-million dollar facility for Ingham’s – Australia’s largest integrated poultry producer.

In a move by the poultry giant to meet the nation’s growing demand for Australian-produced chicken, Ingham’s chose Ahrens to build their hi-tech feed mill at agricultural hub, Murray Bridge in South Australia.

As a national full-service construction, engineering, mining and rural infrastructure solutions company, Ahrens were the perfect fit to deliver this complete project.

Their broad in-house capabilities and experience, from design, steel fabrication and procurement through to construction and project delivery, ensured consistency and the maintenance of high standards across the duration of the project.

Scope of works were extensive and complex for this project, consisting of multiple silos of varying sizes, associated structural steel, steel support structures, tower building, warehouse, materials handling equipment and all associated mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and controls services.

Ahrens designed and manufactured all 45 silos required for the facility at their Sheaoak Log factory in South Australia, to suit Australian standards.

This included eight grain silos, 16 meal silos and 21 pellet silos for the storage of various raw materials and grains used for making the many different variations of chicken pellets.

Ahrens also integrated, installed and performance tested all specialised machinery and major equipment that made the journey from overseas.

Having originally produced 500 tonnes of pellets on a weekly basis, the new facility increased operational capabilities to produce a massive 12,000 tonnes each week, and is open around-the-clock.

The project continues an excellent relationship between the two 100-years-plus Australian companies with Ahrens’ wide-reaching footprint seeing them previously complete projects for Ingham’s in Australia and New Zealand.

Ingham’s Executive General Manager Commercial & Trading Graeme Dillon said the facility was ‘fantastic’ and he was more than happy with how Ahrens performed and delivered on this milestone project.

The end result is a perfectly hatched facility that will feed the tables of Australians for years to come.

 

Neousys’ PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series – standalone Intelligent

Backplane Systems Technology has released the Neousys’ PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series, standalone intelligent supercapacitor-based uninterruptible power backup Module.

The PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA are standalone power backup modules that can protect your box-PC against power outages. Utilising supercapacitor technology, it can operate in harsh environments from -25 to 65°C and have extremely high durability lasting over 10 years.

PB-9250J-SA is composed of Eight 370F/ 3.0V supercapacitors and PB-4600J-SA is composed of Four 370F/ 3.0V supercapacitors, which offers much longer lifespan than its 2.7V counterpart. PB-9250J-SA stores 9250 watt-second energy and PB-4600J-SA stores 4600 watt-second energy to offer extra extended operation time to backup your system.

Due to Neousys’ patented CAP Energy Management Technology it can reliably supply 180W power to the back-end system and automatically manage boot and shutdown without installing additional drivers/ software.

In addition to UPS-like power backup mode, they also offer two advanced ignition control modes for In-Vehicle usage. PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series can work with either standard box-PC or in-vehicle controller to provide stable power supply and execute user-configurable power-on/power-off delay according to IGN signal input.

Featuring various modes, automatic shutdown control and up to 180W output power, this series can work with most off-the-shelf box-PCs. With properties such as maintenance-free energy storage and uninterruptible power supply, can prevent the connected back-end system from data loss during power outage in harsh industrial environments.

Key features:

  • Universal standalone power backup module compatible with all box-PCs
  • Supercapacitor-based, -25 to 65°C wide temperature operation
  • 9250Watt second energy capacity (PB-9250J-SA series)
  • 4600W second energy capacity (PB-4600J-SA series)
  • Maximum 180W output power for the connected back-end system
  • Over 10 years lifespan, and 500,000 charging/discharging cycles
  • Patented CAP energy management technology
    • Extending back-up time in the event of an unforeseen power outage
    • Monitoring energy and power consumption to extend operation time for safe system shutdown
  • Versatile operating mode
    • Normal backup mode
    • Ignition control mode for standard box-PC and in-vehicle controller
  • EN50155 certificate
  • R.O.C Patent No. I1598820

Kellogg’s joins Yume marketplace

Kellogg’s Australia and Yume, an online B2B marketplace for the sale of quality surplus food, have announced a new partnership that enables Kellogg’s to list any surplus raw materials that become available during the manufacturing process exclusively through to the Yume platform.

The Yume platform enables food suppliers such as primary producers and manufacturers to safely sell their quality surplus products directly to buyers in the ­food service industry.

Kellogg’s is the first Australian manufacturer to take the Yume Pledge, helping to ensure that the company continues to find innovative ways to help reduce food waste in Australia.

Tamara Howe, director of marketing and corporate affairs, at Kellogg’s Australia and New Zealand, said that partnering with Yume is another way for us to continue tackling the issue of food insecurity, and ensure that no food or ingredients we purchase go to waste.

We know that the ingredients that go into our foods use our natural resources – including water and energy, plus our farmers work incredibly hard to grow these foods for us. Therefore, we need to make sure all of that hard work and resources don’t go to waste.

We have a multifaceted approach to minimise food waste in our business. This includes prevention through processes to reduce the risk of surplus stock & ingredients through to donating finished foods that are nearing their best before dates, but still good to eat, to people in need through our charity partners.

“The Yume partnership will make it easier for others to get access to any excess ingredients we may have from time to time, and re-use these for other foods.”

“There are many reasons why a manufacturer like Kellogg’s can have surplus ingredients. Either imperfect goods, deleted product lines or raw materials that are no longer needed for production. Due to  Yume, Kellogg’s can continue to focus on creating high-quality breakfast products we all know and love, while Yume can focus on finding a new home for their surplus ingredients.

It is great to see a market leader like Kellogg’s walking the talk and taking direct bold action into fighting food waste” says Katy Barfield – food waste leader  and founder of Yume.

4.1 Million tonnes of food goes to waste every year in Australia in the commercial food sector*, Yume exists to prevent all of quality food from going to waste.

Already, Yume – which works with hundreds of leading food manufacturers – has sold over 1,100,000kgs of quality surplus food, returning over $4.5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers. In doing so, the award-winning social enterprise – one of only three companies globally using technology to offer an innovative market for surplus food – has saved 72,123 million litres of water and prevented 2,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released

Don’t let building regulations bring you down

Red tape, bureaucracy, standards and regulations – all can be a bugbear for any company thinking of building or expanding their food and beverage processing plant. Total Construction specialises in total builds – from the ground up and that includes getting all the right approvals.

Food and beverage processing factories especially have a range of rules that dictate what they can and can’t do due to food safety issues.

Problems arise when the correct planning hasn’t been taken into account, or even ignorance of what is required when building a premises. However, the latter is never an excuse for putting up a building without consent, although that doesn’t stop it from happening.

It’s not lost on Total Construction’s design operations team, who has have seen their fair share of projects go pear-shaped due to naivety, poor planning, or disregard for building and council regulations.

Total cites a recent example with a client that wanted to expand its premises and had done so already without getting the correct building consents. They were told to dismantle the illegal structures. The company came to Total Construction for help.

READ MORE: Total Tips – design and building advice

“The client had put an awning structure out at the back of the property to protect their roller shutter opening when they were loading and unloading food products,” said Rob Blythman business development manager F&B. “And then they built another structure to store equipment that needed to be protected from bad weather. You can typically put up a small tool shed in your back yard, but when it comes to a commercial enterprise, you can’t do that without the correct approvals.

“We understood what the issues that were raised by council and by the owner – what they needed to achieve and what they wanted from a building point of view,” he said. “To do that, they needed to amend the building considerably and make about a 30 per cent increase in the building footprint.”

The client used its own architects, who managed to get the necessary approvals. However, the client soon realised that it still wasn’t big enough for what they actually needed. The Total Construction team helped to get the amended development approval through. If the client had done it correctly the first time, they might have saved themselves the best part of $25,000, according to Blythman.

But it just wasn’t the footprint of the upgraded facility that needed attention. There were other aspects of the build that needed to be taken into consideration. For example, there needed to be enough room for trucks to turn around in while loading and unloading produce. That in itself holds a lesson for those looking at building or revamping a plant.

“The number of carpark spots that the original architect put onsite was over and above what the council minimum requirements were,” said Blythman. “Here’s a bit of advice – if the council says you only need 15 carparks, only provide 15. The reason being? If you provide 20 and you are going to do more works in the future, those 20 carparks can become your baseline. It is part of the development control plans that have been in play with any development project with councils.”

When a company decides to modify and carry out remedial works to buildings, they open themselves up to fire upgrades and compliance with current codes. The essential services for emergency requirements need to be upgraded as well. These are potential costs that clients may not be aware of that get triggered by council. Then there are the accessibility issues that able-bodied people forget about – planning authorities don’t.

“If there is an employee, employer or visitor in a wheelchair, you can’t discriminate against them according to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA),” said Blythman. “If you walk down the street and you see a vacant shop, and you go, ‘that’s a nice shop. I might rent that shop out and make it a café’, and the front door requires you to step up, then you have considerations to think of. If you took on that lease, straight away the council would very likely invoke that you need to put accessible ramp in that building to allow accessibility for all persons wishing to enter that business.”

Not to be overlooked, but often can be, are the issues of acoustic requirements for the reduction of noise transferring out of the factory to adjoining properties. Some industrial properties cut across residential boundaries.

When such a factory has hours of operation that can potentially go on 24/7, the sensitive nature of the equipment and the noise needs to be able to be retained within the industrial boundary. It is not allowed to creep over and impact on the sleep of the nearby residents.
“If you can imagine the amount of mechanical plant that’s needed to air-condition a large refrigerated space, then there is a lot of noise,” said Blythman. “There has to be acoustic screens specifically engineered by an acoustic engineer to make sure that the noise doesn’t leak out to disturb residents (i.e. sleep).

“Clients have to understand the legislation framework that goes around all projects.”
Blythman imparts a couple of pieces of advice to those that are thinking of upgrading or building a new facility. The very first port of call if they are unsure about anything, is to go and talk to the local authority on what is possible for the site and speak to the local planner for that council.

“You are a rate payer, so you are entitled to go and get help from your local authority,” he said. “Also, if you are unsure, or don’t know where to start, we can provide means to navigate you through all these issues. We can work in collaboration with a client’s architect or the clients can engage us directly and we can manage the process for them.”

Tracing every last drop of cooking oil

Oil – in all its forms, including vegetable – doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to sustainability and the environment. It takes a long time to break down, can have a disruptive impact on habitats, and can take on toxic forms once used.

With tens of thousands of eating establishments throughout Australia – all of which use one form or another of cooking oil – it is an issue that bulk oil specialist Cookers Bulk Oil knows all too well. When it comes to sustainability, traceability and how vegetable oil can affect its surrounds, the company has processes in place aimed at keeping the environment free from any negative outcomes caused by vegetable oils. National quality and safety manager for the company Hari Srinivas makes no apologies for the standards the company sets when it comes to where it sources its vegetable oil supplies.

“To deal with Cookers, you need to be an approved supplier, which means we look and see what sort of practices and standards you are following,” he said. “Suppliers need to meet minimum standards. And it means we don’t go to any supplier who hasn’t got a certification/traceability system in place that is not internationally recognised.”

READ MORE: Sustainability at core of bulk oil business

He cites the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which is a private organisation, established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum in Belgium. It maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers.

Certification can be achieved through a successful third-party audit by schemes recognised by the GFSI, including the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, IFS Food Version 6 and SQF Safe Quality Food Code 8th Edition to name a few.

“Without those types of certifications we don’t even entertain any supplier,” said Srinivas. “We are stringent with our suppliers. If you look into the way the industry is going now, the majority of the supply chains are going through some sort of certification system including HACCP. These sorts of certifications are one of the core fundamentals for traceability. The product could be coming from anywhere in the world nowadays. It may be via an underdeveloped country, a developing country or a developed county. Also, most of my customers whom I supply to have at least some food safety certification. Cookers ensures product integrity with no dilution as we provide Certificates of Analysis to meet specifications. ”

He said that although 99 per cent of the oil is refined locally, even the small amount of product they source from overseas has to have a certain standard of certification. This includes where the seed has been sourced, where it is crushed and even the batch number it came from.

“If they give us a batch number you can trace it back to the farm,” said Srinivas. “This is why farm to fork is the new mode that everybody follows, including us. We make sure we go back to the beginning and we use GSFI-certified refineries where they can trace backward from their end, too.”

Srinivas doesn’t want to tempt fate, but he is proud that the company has yet to have any of its products recalled. He puts it down to not only the standards it sets, but also compliant suppliers, and their own end users as well. This doesn’t mean the company is complacent. In fact, far from it. Frequently, they do an exercise where they have a mock recall, which involves checking its suppliers’ traceability to make sure they have the correct systems in place, and that they are working. This is because he knows that if there ever is a recall, they need to know where every drop of oil they have distributed has ended up. The good news for end users is that if that does happen, Cookers Bulk Oil will be able to trace the batch number and know where the offending product is very quickly through their centralised system.

Traceability is also key when it comes to dealing with customers in case things go wrong once the oil has been distributed. As mentioned, Cookers makes sure its customers also comply with standards and regulations, too. This is important to ensure customers are getting the product they paid according to specifications.

“We get audited every year, and our auditor checks things like how long it takes to check something, and the accuracy of our traceability,” said Srinivas. “If we have an issue we can compare it with the same batch delivered nationally to different customers,” said Srinivas. “We can get a sample and test it with same batches from other customers who have used the same batch.”

And the environmental side of the equation? Well, it is simple really: the customers who they supply their fresh oil to are also their used oil suppliers. The Cookers Bulk Oil truck fleet is divided into two types of vehicle. The stainless-steel trucks deliver fresh cooking oil, while the blue ones pick up the used product. Cookers not only supplies fresh oil and pick up used oil, it provides separate purpose built storage equipment used on-site by the customer, one for fresh and another for used oil. Not only does that help the customer, but it allows Cookers to make sure that they know what is happening with the oil.

“Once a customer uses the oil, we provide the equipment to transfer the used product into our on-site mobile storage units, which are emptied at regular intervals,” said Srinivas. “We get the oil back and we have got mechanisms to handle the oil in such a way it can go into biodiesel production. It means that with every drop of oil we sell, we make sure not a single drop goes into the drain.”

But what about the client? How does Cookers know that the amount of oil they delivered and collected is roughly the same? Sure some, might get absorbed into food, but there could be huge discrepancies between the amount delivered and what they pick up after use, right? Not so, said Srinivas.

“We measure UCO, which is collected,” he said. “We do all the calculations, so if there are any big variations, we will go and speak to the customer to see if there is anything going wrong and find whether we can help with oil management.”

He said another reason to use a company like Cookers Bulk Oil is that, due to its tanker delivery method, there are no empty oil tins heading to the local landfill. If a customer needed 100 litres of oil per week, that would usually consist of five 20-litre drums, which may end up in land fill. With Cookers’ tankers, the drums are redundant.

And where exactly does the company source it oils from? Srinivas is quick to point out that they don’t use palm oil, and their main oils are canola, sunflower and cottonseed.

“We get most of our oil in Australia, and over 90 per cent is refined in Australia,” he said. “For example, the canola oil we sell is 100 per cent Australian. Other oils, depending on the cropping situation, are imported in crude form from reputable suppliers who have proper certifications in place – usually from Argentina and European countries.”

At the end of the day, traceability is one of the key planks upon which Cookers Bulk Oil has built its reputation – thus the plethora of certifications and processes it has in place to make sure its meets its customers’ needs.

“The traceability is so important,” said Srinivas. “When you think about it, it is important in anything you do. If you are buying a piece of land you have to have documentation to see who the previous owner was, and the owner before them, and before them and so on. It is the same with anything that you are putting into your mouth, which is going to impact your health – we need to know the traceability and this is why we have these processes in place.”

AIP heads to Perth with National Packaging Targets initiative

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is heading over to Perth on the 29th and 30th of October to run our ‘Tools to Help you Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP & ARL training course + Cleanaway Materials Recovery Facility Site Visit’ and participate in the ‘WA food and beverage packaging forum’ being held on Wednesday the 30th of October.

Event 1. AIP Training Course | Tools to Help You Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP & ARL – 29 October 2019

Overview of course:

  • Is your business doing enough to ensure that 100% of your packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025?
  • Have you audited your current packaging for recyclability?
  • Have you started using the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) during your design process?
  • Are you looking for a way to validate your on-pack recyclability labelling?
  • If a consumer picked up your product, would they easily understand which bin to put it in?
  • Are you shifting your packaging design to incorporate the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL)?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then this training course is for you.

Course Objectives:

This training course will enable participants to gain a better understanding of how using PREP and applying the ARL can help your business to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. The course will also enable participants to have a better and more realistic view of what packaging is truly recyclable and being recycled in Australia. Understanding these tools will enable agencies and marketers to provide verifiable and consistent recyclability information to their consumers.

Limited spots available so don’t miss out! Click here to register.

Event 2. WA Food & Beverage Packaging Forum: 30 October 2019

Presented by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in partnership with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST), this forum will bring you up to speed with the latest in packaging design to impact sustainability, food safety and shelf life extension. With an expo showcasing local packaging suppliers, attendees will be given the opportunity to bring their own packaging and book in a brief 1:1 consultation session with a packaging expert. Consultation places are limited and bookings are essential.

Secure your place and attend presentations on:

  • Global Packaging Trends
  • Packaging Design & Consumer Insights
  • Sustainable Packaging, E.g. Food waste and packaging design criteria to save food; Plastic, glass and metal packaging and their impact on the environment; Understanding the full life cycle of packaging: Non-renewable resources, plant-based bioplastics, compostable and recycled alternatives; Reusable packaging and related food safety; Sustainable packaging design; Recycling in Western Australia.
  • Food Safety & Shelf Life Extension, E.g. Food safety; Shelf life and design elements; Current technologies for shelf life extension; Selecting the right label to suit the package.

AIP Members receive a discount to attend. Click here to register.

Why St.George funds food and beverage enterprises

With interest rates at an all-time low – and some industry pundits stating they might go lower – the opportunities for growth, especially for an industry like food and beverage, are enormous.

Mark Burgess is the experienced and affable relationship director – consumer goods leader at St.George Bank. His portfolio of customers are in the food and beverage arena and he sees solid opportunities within the industry over the next 12-18 months. It is one of the bank’s growth sectors, mainly propelled by the domestic and global demand for quality Australian produce. He’s also a good gauge of what other factors are propelling the market at the moment, and Burgess cites new technologies and food trends as being market drivers.

At a recent St.George Signature Food Event, Burgess talked of not only how the food and beverage sectors are looking healthy, but how the role of banks has changed over the past decade.

“I think within the last few years – the banks have shifted away from being what I would call ‘order takers’ – like at McDonald’s – to that of being more trusted business advisors. That is one of the reasons St.George moved to an industry model four years ago because we wanted to have industry experts to not just be there to take orders from customers, but also have insightful discussions with them about their industry as well as their growth plans and where they see themselves going. Then talking to them about how we can support them to grow and prosper. It’s really about that. It is one of the reasons I joined the bank.”

READ MORE: How a 1960s cartoon predicted the future of food

Having been a director at Ernst and Young and a senior corporate advisor, Burgess likes helping businesses grow. It’s another reason he likes the food and beverage industry.
“While we are seeing growth with our customers who are the larger players in the market, as a bank we also focus on family businesses and the middle marketplace, too,” he said.

Why? Burgess sees them as lean, hungry and leading the charge when it comes to some of the newer market sectors within food and beverage.

“Those companies are really nimble, and quite dynamic and they are looking at new areas that they can diversity in,” he said. “For example, a lot of my customers look to supply Coles and Woolworths, and it is those customers who are leading the charge in the healthy alternatives market. Then there is a push for the vegan movement, as well as alternative substitutes for meats and other core products.

“Some of those businesses are ahead of the curve and have a huge focus on innovation within their organisations. I’ve got one customer who is a traditional meat supplier and they are now getting into non-meat products.”

Although Burgess is excited about the market and where it is headed, this doesn’t mean the bank has a laissez-faire attitude towards doing business. There are still systems that have to be followed. A large portion of food and beverage businesses involve the manufacture of perishable items, not exactly great assets to put in the ledger when talking to your bank.

So what does a company have to do with regard to getting a loan if they need to recapitalise, or more often than not, expand their business?

“If we’re doing cash flow lending as opposed to bricks and mortar property lending in the food space, we look at your working capital cycle. We are relying on your debtor book to fund your business,” he said. “We look at the strength of your relationships and what your terms are like with those debtors. We then look at how efficient your supply chain is. It’s also about the experience of the management of the company, too.”

And how does the bank find the attitude of the big players like Woolworths and Coles when it comes to helping out not just those who are regular brands on their shelves, but those new to the market? Burgess works closely with them and said they are very supportive of entrepreneurs because they want to see new products on their shelves.

“They want to get onboard because an entrepreneur could produce a new product that might fly off the shelves, and that product might also be a reason why consumers go to a Woolworths store instead of Coles or vice versa,” he said.

New technologies are also a driver for the industry, and Burgess and his team are seeing those innovations first-hand from their customers.

“I was talking with a customer today who specialises in ready-made meals, and he has
been flat out,” said Burgess. “His product had a shelf life of three to four days, but because a packaging specialist brought out a new technology, his product now has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Something as simple as that has made a huge impact on his business in terms of wastage and time savings from deliveries.”

Burgess loves the industry, not just because he’s a foodie, but because it is dynamic, ever changing. He is very excited about the future of banking in the sector, and the industry itself.

“The thing I love about this role is that it is all about seeing the customers grow and prosper and supporting them in their growth plans,” he said. “Given my corporate advisory background, I can provide meaningful insights around business strategy and direction. The food and beverage space is a rapidly changing environment and it’s exciting.”