David Jones expands into food convenience with BP

David Jones and BP have today announced a partnership to create all-new centres of convenience and shape the way Australian consumers shop for food.

The partnership combines David Jones Food’s exclusive, high-quality product range with BP’s global expertise in convenience retailing and national footprint, giving customers access to locally-sourced, ready-made meals and other fresh, quality offers at selected BP sites.

Over the next six months, 10 sites strategically positioned around major arterials and key suburban regions of Melbourne and Sydney, will be transformed to showcase the new offer that has been designed with busy, urban, health-conscious customers in mind.

The new range will see more than 350 products on offer, including food-for-now and food-for-later options, as well as a diverse range of fresh items such as sandwiches, sushi and David Jones Food’s top-selling free-range rotisserie chicken, plus pre-prepared meals and long-life groceries. We look forward to welcoming you to a new site soon.

Winners of food safety awards announced

The winners of the 2019 APAC Food Safety Awards were announced at a dinner on August 21 in Sydney. It was part of the annual APAC Food Safety Conference, held on 20-22 August.

The APAC Food Safety Awards recognised winners across three categories: Innovators in Food Safety, Leaders of the Future, and Ross Peters Award for Excellence in Food Safety.

“On behalf of SAI Global and the APAC Food Safety Conference team, we’d like to congratulate these outstanding individuals and organisations for their contributions to ensuring the safety of our food supply in Australia and New Zealand. We think it is important that their work in the industry is recognised and rewarded. We should all aspire and strive for excellence in making a positive impact to improving our food safety culture,” said John Rowley, CEO of SAI Global Assurance.

Allergen Bureau, the peak industry body representing food industry allergen management, was the winner in the Innovators in Food Safety category, which recognises an individual or organisation that has exceled in developing innovations in technology, process, procedure and training in the food safety space.

Hayley Pfeifer, laboratory technician at Riverland Almonds won the Leaders of the Future award, which includes a food safety learning scholarship for food courses with SAI Global to the value of $10,000. Riverland Almonds is a South Australian company, and one of the three major handlers of almonds in the country. Winning this category requires entrants to demonstrate a background or experience that shows a unique perspective on food safety, a drive towards continuous improvement and leadership potential through vision.

Allied Pinncale’s national quality manager, Hazel Hughes, took out the top spot in the Ross Peters Award for Excellence in Food Safety. Allied Pinnacle is Australasia’s largest end-to-end bakery-ingredient supplier and producer of flour, break, cake mixes and cooked bakery products. Hazel wins the Ross Peters Award for her outstanding achievement in food safety. Hazel and her team have worked tirelessly over the past few years to ensure all of their sites and personnel have the highest level of food safety standards and have installed a positive food safety culture.

ABB Australia appoints new boss

Slavko Planinic has been appointed country managing director and head of industrial automation for ABB in Australia.

Planinic’s strong leadership and  experience across all business lines will underpin ABB’s growth momentum in Australia.

He succeeds Tauno Heinola who is retiring. With more than 30 years’ experience in ABB and having served most recently as ABB Australia’s chief financial officer, Planinic brings an understanding of the company’s market and the challenges facing  key industries.
His oversight and involvement in key market segments and account management programs will see ABB well positioned to seize growth opportunities as companies look to improve their productivity and competitiveness through automation and digitalisation.

In his role as Head of ABB Australia’s industrial automation  business, which is ranked number two in the market globally, Planinic will lead a dedicated team with in-depth domain knowledge.

“ABB Australia’s commitment to supporting our customers, and ongoing engagement to grow the business in our identified segments, is stronger than ever,” said Planinic.
“We believe industrial digitalisation and automation is a tremendous opportunity for businesses in Australia to raise their competitiveness globally and to play an important, decisive role for the future of this country.”

“For government, digitalisation offers innovative solutions for sustainable transport, infrastructure and energy challenges. As a technology leader, ABB is working closely with customers and industry to not only drive productivity but do so in a way that reduces environmental impact.”

Planinic has served as a director of ABB companies in Australia for many years and held finance leadership roles in Europe and across South Asia throughout his career with ABB. He holds a Bachelor of Business Degree from the University of Technology Sydney and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. Slavko will continue to be based in Sydney.

Understanding what products consumers want to buy

Most new products only get one shot at the big time when they are launched. All the money spent on marketing, promotions and ad campaigns can go down the gurgler if companies don’t do their due diligence on public perceptions, which can be fickle. Anybody remember Crystal Pepsi? McDonalds’ Arch Deluxe? How about Cosmopolitan yoghurt? Or New Coke?

Well, the last one is certainly seared into the memory banks due to it being a colossal failure back in 1985. The others, not so much. Bringing a new product to market is no easy task. It takes a lot of recipe tweaking, taste tests, and a fair bit of money. New Coke showed that even with the backing of a world-renowned brand, failure is possible.

A key ingredient is market intelligence. Formed in London 47 years ago, Mintel is a company that has pioneered research in many arenas including food and beverage. A conjoining of the words “market” and “intelligence”, Mintel has several consumer insight tools – the latest being Mintel Purchase Intelligence, which is product comparison technology, providing rapid, reliable consumer opinion on every reported new food and drink product in the Australian marketplace.

It was developed because the company knew that manufacturers of food and beverages not only wanted to know what consumers wanted to buy, but why.

“It was developed in-house to help food and beverage manufacturers understand which products consumers want to buy and which product attributes are correlated to a purchase decision,” said Mintel’s senior purchase intelligence analyst, Megan Stanton. “The tool goes beyond purchase intent with data and insight on the key attributes consumers care about. What attributes help them make those purchasing decisions? Quality, taste, the trustworthiness of a brand, how fun, exciting, or environmentally friendly are they – these are some of the 16 product attributes that consumers are asked to rate.”

Manufacturers can use Purchase Intelligence in many different ways. They can analyse how a group of products, a newly launched chocolate bar range for example, compares to the benchmark of chocolate bars already in market. This gives manufacturers an insight on why a new product might be underperforming, and then identify areas of improvement. There might be an issue with the packaging – maybe people just don’t like the look of it.

Perhaps, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way it’s getting their brand message across. This helpful feedback is available through the words of consumers who rate the products on the Purchase Intelligence tool. The other way Purchase Intelligence can be utilised is as a go-to market tool where a manufacturer can buy what Mintel calls “concept intelligence”.

“You can buy the information as ad hoc if you are launching a new product,” said Stanton. “It gives you the opportunity to have a pre-look at what consumers would say about your product before it launches to the public, as well as benchmark your concept against products that are already in the market.”

How does the information get collected, and how does the company get feedback? Mintel has shoppers throughout the different states who look for new products that are being launched. When they find the product, they send it to Mintel headquarters in London where all the information – packaging, nutrition, type of product – is photographed and recorded and added to Mintel’s Global New Product Database. The market intelligence agency then conducts surveys on the new product, with responses then filtered through to the Purchase Intelligence tool.

“We survey 100 people on each product, a statistically reliable number,” said Stanton. “The survey is always based on the general population in Australia. We make sure we use the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures to make sure that we have a representative population.

“For example, we make sure that the population represents a certain percentage from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and other states, and we manage also for age and gender.”

Stanton said food manufacturers want to know about their products, and have an indication of the group of people who are going to buy their products. Purchase Intelligence will give them this information, as well as on other factors that will allow manufacturers to compare their product against that of their competitor’s.

“If a respondent says they would buy the product we ask them why,” said Stanton. “Conversely, if they say no, we ask them why, too. Then, we are able to filter and search through all that information to help manufacturers understand why the respondent has given a particular answer.

“There are 16 questions we ask – eg good value, quality, trustworthy brand, natural, and environmentally friendly etc to give us a gauge of what consumers think of a product. Then, we are able to correlate which of those attributes has a strong relationship to a purchase decision.”

Useful information that Purchase Intelligence will show manufacturers includes how many Australians have the intention to purchase their product; what attributes are correlated to a purchase decision; how does that product, or group of products, compare to their competitors, or how it compares to a category on the whole.

Mintel’s Purchase Intelligence tool enables manufacturers to analyse the numbers or explore thousands of verbatims to learn the context of purchase decisions directly from consumers.

And how do manufacturers feel about their product being on the database? Do they have any issues with it being compared to other, similar products?

“A lot of manufacturers are really interested in Mintel Purchase Intelligence,” said Stanton. “We’ve had a number of our manufacturing customers, including retailers, who are very interested in not only how their product is performing but their competitor’s products, too.”

Overall, the reaction in the market to the product intelligence tool has been good, said Stanton. And she believes its reputation will grow as it gets a foothold in the market research space.

“Mintel Purchase Intelligence has been very successful in the US and we’ve been there for just over three and a half years,” she said. “We launched the product intelligence tool in Australia in November of 2018 and we’ve had fantastic feedback.”

Coles agreement secures three new solar power plants

Solar power plants capable of generating sufficient electricity for 39,000 homes* will be built in regional New South Wales following a landmark 10-year agreement between Coles and global renewable power generation company Metka EGN.

In the first deal of its kind to be made by a major Australian retailer, Coles will purchase more than 70% of the electricity generated by three solar power plants to be built and operated by Metka EGN outside the regional centres of Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee – the equivalent of 10% of Coles’ national electricity usage.

The photovoltaic solar plants will supply more than 220 gigawatt hours of electricity into the national electricity grid. Producing the same amount of power from non-renewable sources would result in more than 180,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions^ every year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of 83,000 cars**.

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the increased use of renewable energy was a major part of the company’s commitment to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia.

“Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century,” he said.

“We are thrilled that with this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve.

“We have already made changes throughout our business to use energy more efficiently, which has enabled us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 4 per cent over the past financial year and more than 30 per cent since 2009, despite growing our store network.

“Over the past two financial years alone we have invested more than $40 million in energy efficiency measures including upgrading all store lighting to LED by the end of 2019 and the installation of solar panels on 30 stores.”

Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve said Coles was the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a Power Purchase Agreement.

“Agreements like this are crucial to growing renewable generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest,” he said.

As well as supporting large-scale generation projects, Coles is working with property partners to increase on-site generation of renewable power at stores and distribution centres.

“We plan to install solar panels on another 38 stores this financial year and we will be working with our landlords and property developers to identify further locations suitable for on-site solar power generation,” Mr Keeve said.

The projects announced today were developed by Australian renewable energy developer Terrain Solar, with the support of advisory firm PwC, as part of a portfolio of renewable generation plants.  Metka EGN acquired the portfolio earlier this year and will build, operate and own the plants.

“Terrain Solar is incredibly proud of this landmark agreement that will underpin the construction of three new renewable energy plants in regional New South Wales” said Terrain chairman David Griffin.

The new solar plants are expected to support more than 250 jobs in regional NSW, including over 240 during construction and 10 ongoing roles.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September and the plants are expected to commence supplying power to the grid in July 2020.

 

Processing and packaging facility offers inclusive working environment

Based in north-east Victoria, Merriwa is a company that specialises in supported employment enterprises. They have hired more than 105 supported employees out of a team of 300. They work across five business divisions – contract packaging, contract processing and packaging, timber beams and flooring and as service staff in the Park Lane Nursery and Garden Centre, as well as child, youth and family services including family support services, assisted living centres and Youth Justice.

Merriwa’s dream is to be part of a future where people of all abilities reach their potential and feel respected, happy and confident.

The company prides itself on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for its teams across each business division. It sees the potential and ability in each of its team members and provides opportunities for personal and professional development, training and upskilling.

Woolworths originally approached Merriwa’s Contract Processing and Packaging (CPP) Division to trial a number of products at its new facility, based on a new concept of bringing the ‘farm gate to the store’.

READ MORE: Woolworths reaches major milestone in fight against food waste

Merriwa’s CPP facility was established in 2009, with equipment and material purchased to suit the needs of the Woolworths’ products and packaging. What started as a trial quickly evolved into a full-time operation. It now processes 15 product lines for Woolworths, including dried apricots (200g and 500g), sultanas (375g and 1kg), desiccated coconut (250g and 500g) and shredded coconut (250g). This range now also includes pitted dates and prunes, cashews, semolina, trail mixes, nibble mixes and nut mixes.

“We value Woolworths’ input into our operations and processes,” said Mark Currie, general manager of operations at Merriwa, Wangaratta. “Our relationship has continued to flourish through consistent communication, site visits and regular meetings in both Wangaratta (Merriwa’s CPP location) and Sydney.

“Merriwa’s relationship with Woolworths has allowed us to build a commercially viable business division, which operates in parallel with our dream to provide an environment which encourages people to reach their potential while delivering quality products and services to our customers and clients.”

Since beginning its partnership with Woolworths in 2009, Merriwa has increased its output from four to six million retail packs annually. It has also steadily grown the variety of product SKUs it offers. This progress has enabled it to upgrade its equipment and expand the number of food-grade packing rooms it has to meet the needs of its growing CPP division.

It currently provides employment for a team of 30 people (equivalent full time). It is now looking to remodel this team to support more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“Our partnership with Woolworths is highly valued by the team at Merriwa,” said Currie. “We feel like a part of the brand and culture, where our team takes pride in packing and processing product for Woolworths. This has helped us to grow as an organisation through strong relationships built on the sharing of knowledge, concepts and ideas. “We are now part of the production planning process and pride ourselves on operating at the highest of standards to produce high quality products. We operate under an extensive Quality Assurance program, developing comprehensive HACCP procedures, conducting internal Good Manufacturing Practice audits and Food Safety audits and have achieved an ‘AA’ Rating under the British Retail Consortium.

“The Merriwa team has built a culture of continuous improvement, celebrating the wins, and being progressive and inclusive, which is reflected in our values alignment with Woolworths,” said Currie.

Why mass flow meters are important in fish farming

Fish consumption is rising. With the increase of the world population and the need for nutritious food, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives to “a nice slice of meat”. And they end up eating more fish or vegetarian food.

Specific species of wild fish are getting scarce in open water due to the impact of industrialised fishing fleets and overfishing. In a trend towards sustainable food production, fish farming is gaining increasingly interest.

Fish farming is the aquatic version of farming cows, sheep or chicken. For many years, humans have been farming food by having it grown in greenhouses, stables, or fields. Fish farming is heading in the same direction.

When people hear about fish farms, they might think of an aquarium, a little pond or a floating net. But in Norway, a major player in fish farming, people think on a larger scale. A typical fish cage near the Norwegian coast has a diameter of tens of metres containing 200,000 to 300,000 salmon. In the near future, these designs will upscale to one or two million salmon. In Norway, at the beginning of 2018, more than 3,500 cages for fish farming were floating in the sea.

READ: Multipoint thermal mass flow meters improve Boiler Air Preheater (APH) system efficiency

The country is expanding its knowledge and technology across the world, where people are interested in large-scale harvesting of fish in the sea – and maybe on land.

Salmon is a typical example of a fish that can be fish farmed. They need cold water – 7˚C-9˚C is what they like most, which is why this aquaculture is happening in the Northern Hemisphere, off-shore in the fjords. Salmon is a popular fish so there is a high demand.

Aeration
In fish farming, aeration is of vital importance. In addition to food, the fish need oxygen that is supplied in the form of tiny air bubbles – aerated – to the water. But aeration has other advantages, too.

In the early days, the salmon suffered from infestations of lice. Since salmon lice had an impact on harvest, the fish farmers had to look for solutions. For some reason – maybe it was an experiment or it happened by accident – the farmers started to purge air from the bottom of the cage.

And they observed that the movement of the fish started to change. Instead of circling day in and day out – as salmon normally do – they started to move around the cage and became more agile. If the salmon are more agile, their muscles have to work more. This results in their meat being of better quality. At the same time, the fish farmers detected that aeration helped them to create a more thermal friendly water environment. With an advantageous temperature, conditions and amount of oxygen, this resulted in a decrease in lice numbers. So aeration had two advantages: improving the salmon quality, and reducing the unwanted lice.

Aeration of fish farms using mass flow controllers
The process of aeration is simple. The air bubbles can be generated by natural water currents (off-shore, down-hill), pumps, impellers, variable area flow meters or by mass flow controllers and compressors.

A compressor generates compressed air from the surrounding atmosphere, and feeds this to the mass flow controller for controlled aeration of the water in the fish cages.

To run fish farms that are remotely controlled and without much manpower, automation is needed. This includes automated feeding. When the fish are fed, the air purging needs to be interrupted to give the fish the opportunity to hunt for the food before it floats out of the cage. In between the feeding periods, the aeration improves the condition of the water and the salmon.

It helps that mass flow controllers are remotely controlled from the control room at land. The aeration is stopped when the feeding starts, and when the feeding is over, the previous set point will automatically return and the water condition is as stable as it was before.
Mass flow controllers provide a potential for saving energy due to better conditions in the cage. The accuracy of the devices is important. Every cubic metre of air saved by the device being accurate – faster control or opening of valves – is of direct influence to the costs for running a compressor. In stormy weather, fish farmers can reduce the aeration, but during a long dry period without water movement, more air bubbles are needed. So essentially, this accuracy and flexibility leads to a better controlled environment.

With Mass-Stream mass flow controllers, farmers have a robust instrument, which is performing well in the harsh surroundings. By the manufacturer’s Bronkhorst’s standards, this kind of aeration is high flow. Typical air flows for a fish cage are in the range between 600 and 1,400 litres per minute.

Mass flow controllers for other types of aeration
Mass flow controllers are suitable for other types of aeration in aquaculture and agriculture. If users farm salmon, they need to breed the fish, which normally occurs on land. Fish eggs and young fish are even more vulnerable to changes, so the environment has to be more stable than for grown fish. Depending on the type of fish, the balance of oxygen in the water is delicate and has to be controlled accurately.

In algae farming, CO2 gas is one of the food components for these species to grow, which needs to be supplied under defined conditions.

A well-known application of aeration is in food and beverage industry. Every soda or carbonised drink is a liquid purged with carbon dioxide gas. Related to that, when packaging food, the packaging is purged with nitrogen to remove the oxygen before the food enters the packaging, as one of the steps to prolong the shelf life of the food.

Bronkhorst is represented in Australia by instrumentation specialist AMS.

Australian Pavilion set to expand by 15 per cent for FHA-Food & Beverage 2020

FHA-Food & Beverage is Asia’s largest food and beverage trade event that brings together the global food and hospitality industry and will be held from 31 March – 3 April 2020.

FHA has over 40 years of success in having the most comprehensive selection of high quality international products – making it the international sourcing platform for buyers in Asia. The event has expanded into two mega events – FHA-Equipment, Coffee, Bakery & Tea and FHA-Food & Beverage, to provide an enhanced experience and personalised engagement, to meet diverse demands of the food and hospitality industry.

FHA-Food & Beverage is the key business platform enabling the growth of the food and industry in Asia and beyond.

Export Solutions is the Australian Representative for FHA- Food & Beverage and have assisted Australian companies with their participation in FHA and coordinated the Australian Pavilion for the past 10 years.

Philip Litton, Director of Export Solutions says: ‘We have secured even more space for the Australian Pavilion at FHA-Food & Beverage in 2020, in the same great location in Hall 8 at Singapore Expo close to major distributors and other key international pavilions. The last edition of FHA in 2018 was a huge success, with the participation of 164 Australian exhibitors including nine state governments, industry bodies and government agencies’.

‘FHA is a must-attend trade show for Australian food and beverage companies looking to export to Asia. Whether you’re a new exporter, or one of the biggest names in the industry, the event provides the opportunity to showcase your products to real buyers from across Asia’.

“Our aim for the upcoming edition of FHA is to redefine participants’ journey at the events to enable more targeted and robust interaction, so that they can focus on strengthening existing partnerships or explore new collaborations. At FHA-Food & Beverage, we have new profiles such as FoodTech, Natural & Organics and Meat, to name a few, and supporting these profiles with conferences and seminars. We have also developed new initiatives such as the FHA Buyers Programme to attract top quality buyers from the region to the event,” says Martyn Cox, Event Director of Hospitality, Food & Beverage – Singapore, Informa Markets.

Australian food and beverage products enjoy an unburnished reputation in the Asian region for their high quality, safety and reliability. We are confident that these new initiatives and activities, coupled with the increasing interest in Australian brands, will ensure the presence of top buyers at the show”, he adds.

If you’re interested in exhibiting in the Australian Pavilion at FHA-Food & Beverage 2020 – click here or contact the Trade Fairs Team at Export Solutions on +61 8 9201 0331.

Terms of reference released for Murray Darling Basin water market

The Coalition Government has today released terms of reference for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin water market.

The inquiry, which delivers on a Coalition Government election promise, will look at options to improve the transparency and efficiency of the water market.

It will also examine changes in water use, carryover water, trade between water valleys and systems and the effect of water speculators on the market.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that water was the lifeblood of communities in the Murray Darling Basin and it was important that the market operated in a transparent and effective manner.

“As with any market it is important to take a look at how it is performing and whether it is operating as intended and to the benefit of communities who rely on the Basin.”

Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Government had listened to the concerns of farmers in delivering on this election commitment.

“I promised this thorough inquiry after hearing from farmers as I travelled up and down the Basin,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Farmers told me they had concerns around changes in water use, trade between valleys and the effect speculators have on the water market.

“It’s important to make sure the market is operating as intended – our regional communities depend on it. We need a transparent market in which farmers have timely access to accurate information.

“I invite farmers to participate in this inquiry.”

The Government has asked for an interim report to be delivered early in 2020 with a final report by the end of 2020.

An outline of the terms of reference for the inquiry can be found via the Treasury website.

FIAL – Food and Hotel China 2019

Food & Hotel China (FHC) Shanghai is the largest specialist trade show for imported food and wines in China. FHC attracts local and international visitors including retailers, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, importers, distributors and more! Building on the success of last year, FIAL will again provide the opportunity for Australian food & beverage suppliers to showcase their products to international buyers at this exciting exhibition.

What is Food and Hotel China?
This show is dedicated to imports, attracting high-calibre buyers who seek quality international food products. Australian suppliers can take advantage of Australia’sglobal reputation for green, clean, high-quality food products, which are of high demand in China. Last year, the trade show comprised of 120,000 sqm of event space with 3,000 companies from 69 countries. The show attracted 118,274 visitors, including trade buyers from major retailers, importers, distributors and e-commerce platforms.

Why should you attend FHC with FIAL?
FIAL has been successfully showcasing Australian food & beverage suppliers at international tradeshows for the past five years. We provide companies with a low-cost pathway to enter new export markets and make meaningful connections with buyers. By participating in our Taste of Australia stand, many Australian companies have successfully negotiated and secured their first orders into China. All companies joining us will be included in our Australian Food Catalogue, a buyer-focused, supplier-sourcing tool which can open up further opportunities to attract buyers.

Trade show options — what’s included?

  •  Product Display
    Showcase your products on our stand and be connected to interested buyers via the Australian Food Catalogue.
  • Trade Show Sampling Pods
    Various pods on offer, including a premium option with a dedicated Chinese interpreter. All pod options include a complimentary ticket to the Market Insights and Retail Tour.
  • Market Insights & Retail Tour
    A guided market insight tour of high-end retail outlets in Shanghai including; Hema Supermarket, G-Super, City Shop, City Super (these are subject to change). Gain insights into the latest technologies used locally, such as facial recognition and virtual wallet payment options; shopper innovation in leading-edge displays and automated ready meal makers.

FoodTech QLD – providing solutions for the food & beverage industry

FoodTech QLD opened to positive reviews from both exhibitors and attendees. Hosted at the Brisbane Convention Centre, more than 130 companies had their wares and services on show aimed at the food, beverage and bulk handling industries.

Event director, Jonathan Wilczek was pleased with not only the quantity, but the quality of exhibitors, plus the different types of businesses on show.

“You have different groups here,” he said. “You have the food and beverage manufacturers who have come down here, which is our key group, and there is a lot of other things on offer here. You’ll see ingredients, processing equipment, packaging equipment – people will be coming for a variety of things. A lot of people will be looking for solutions and our exhibitors will be providing solutions. It’s a place to come and network and matchmake.”

Tony Tate, head of the food division at Total Construction, had a couple of reasons for exhibiting. “We’re looking to talk to new clients, as well as connecting with current clients who are looking to extend the current premises. The stands around us, and the people who are exhibiting, are of very good quality.”

“We’re looking to meeting prospective clients from the Brisbane area or Queensland,” said Aerofloat’s Michael Anderson. “We’ve done a number of projects up here, and it’s always nice to come back here and let them know we are around. You need to be seen. ”

SMC is a first-time exhibitor at the event. National sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, William Lebihan, wants to get a couple of key messages across.

“For us it’s a celebration of 60 years in business,” he said. “What better place than to celebrate it here. We also want to talk about energy savings. It is our first public outing of our energy saving initiatives on a road map. We are going to help our customers optimise their plant and machinery to be as energy efficient as possible. Today has been a good day. Being a Sunday, we’ve seen a few people that we might not have seen if it had been during the week, so it is good.”

“For us it is chance to talk to everyone we already know,” said Rachael Hedges, marketing manager for project specialist’s Wiley. “It’s also a great place to network and meet new people and tell them about our business and how it can help them grow.”

Kelloggs signs PPA with New Energy Solar

Kellogg’s Australia has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Beryl Solar Farm to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of the forecast energy requirements of Kellogg’s manufacturing operation in New South Wales (NSW). Developed and operated by First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), Beryl Solar Farm is owned by New Energy Solar (ASX: NEW).

The agreement allows Kellogg’s to offset the energy generation carbon impact of its Australian manufacturing operations for the next seven-and-a-half years. Based on 2018 production data, the PPA would offset the amount of energy needed to produce an estimated 630 million boxes of Australian-made cereals for the duration of the PPA. The power plant is situated in the central west of NSW and contributes power directly into the National Electricity Market from which Kellogg’s acquires power.

Significantly, the PPA will assist in delivering Kellogg’s broader sustainability commitments by displacing an estimated 139,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the agreement. This is equivalent to planting over 2.3 million trees or taking about 30,000 cars off the road over seven years.

The volume of electricity generated under the PPA and the volume of LGCs sold to Kellogg’s will represent approximately 29 percent of Beryl Solar Farm’s production for 2019, with volumes in later years based on Kellogg’s anticipated electricity requirements.

“We live in a country that is experiencing firsthand the effects of a changing and unpredictable climate, and, as a business that manufactures in Australia, we have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment,” Kellogg’s Australia & New Zealand, managing director, Esme Borgelt. “We’re doing that through both continuous improvements in manufacturing to reduce our energy demand and developing innovative partnerships that help increase the available renewable energy in the system.

“Our partnership with the Beryl Solar Farm enables us to champion and support the clean energy revolution, helping to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from both our head office and manufacturing site in Australia, as part of our broader sustainability commitments.”

The signing of the PPA with Kellogg’s increases the proportion of the output from the 110.9-megawatt (MW)DC Beryl Solar Farm that is committed to long-term PPAs. The total amount of energy generated by the solar farm is sufficient to meet the electricity needs of approximately 25,000 average NSW homes and, annually, is expected to displace approximately 153,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, while saving 37 million litres of water per year.

“We are very pleased to be entering into this power purchase agreement with Kellogg’s Australia,” said John Martin, CEO and managing director of New Energy Solar. “Not only does it increase the proportion of Beryl’s output that is contracted, but it also demonstrates the appetite of Australian corporates for renewable power. Solar-generated electricity achieves both cost and environmental goals for Australian companies and their stakeholders, and we look forward to this partnership with Kellogg’s Australia.

“As an experienced global enabler of corporate solar, we’re pleased that Kellogg’s has joined us on the journey to a sustainable energy future,” said Tom Best, director of project management in the Asia Pacific region for First Solar. “Combining the attractive economics of a commercial PPA with the environmental benefits of zero-carbon power generation is a well-defined path for corporates to achieve their goals.”

The recently commissioned facility is located approximately seven kilometres west of Gulgong, NSW. During its construction, the project provided economic and environmental benefits locally and regionally. In addition to creating direct and indirect jobs during its construction, the project helped develop skills in a growing industry and supported small businesses.

The project, through its Community Engagement Plan, is committed to reinvesting in the local community through the Beryl Solar Farm community fund, a managed development fund supporting community-based initiatives, projects and events that target a range of community needs, including environment, education, youth, social, culture, sport, recreation and economic development.

Arrow Energy set to fix manufacturers’ energy woes

Arrow Energy has announced plans to double the production capacity of its Tipton gas project in Queensland amid an east-coast industrial gas shortage.

The planned expansion of Arrow’s Tipton operations is expected to involve 90 new wells in the initial phase and another 180 wells over the next 25 years.

It will also include new gathering lines, an upgraded water treatment facility and four new compressors.

“This project continues the development of the Arrow resource which will see more gas in the market,” said Arrow Energy CEO Qian Mingyang.

The project follows investment of more than $600 million by Arrow in its Surat Basin infrastructure, including $500 million towards its Daandine expansion project commissioned in late 2016 and more than $100 million to expand capacity at its Daandine and Tipton fields.

“We only hope that the other states follow Queensland’s lead and open up gas reserves to help fix the energy crisis households and businesses, especially manufacturers, along the eastern seaboard are facing,” said Mingyang.

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

Vantage Australia has just been awarded the silver medal in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

More than 2,100 spirits were judged this year, the largest number of entries in the competition’s 17-year history with the botanical Vantage Australia taking home the silver medal in this year’s awards.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 silver medal demonstrates that Vantage Australia is among the finest in the spirits industry, awarded for its ability to show refinement and finesse.

Vantage Australia was recognised for its multi-layered complexity, the smooth yet peppery mixture is made up of Australian botanicals, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian mountain pepper berries with a hint of mandarin oil from Australian produced imperial mandarins.

Complimented with zesty citrus notes, this unique premium Australian tipple has the ability to cut across traditional spirit genres, making it the perfect base for most mixers while also giving life to old classics, with an Australian twist.

Riding on its 2016 success, where Vantage Australia won Best Innovation-Best in Class 2016 from the Australian Drinks Awards, the Aussie spirit was also recognised for strong performance across key measures, including purchase intention, excitement, and relevance.

Vantage Australia was honoured with this prize for having the highest level of uniqueness, reflected through its inspiration of Australian native flora.

The complex flavour comes from only using natural bush foods to create a blend that blurs the lines between sweet and dry, giving this multi-layered spirit the uniqueness that it has been nationally and now internationally, recognised for.

“We are honoured by the international award Vantage Australia has received from the highly competitive San Francisco World Spirits Competition and now having been involved with this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, we appreciate the overwhelming domestic and international support our Australian owned and produced spirit has received,” said Bill Hargitay, Vantage Australia Owner.

Jobs, factories and profits all go as MG battens down the hatches

In a sign of the impact the falling milk price is having on the food sector, food company Murray Goulburn (MG) said it will be closing down factories and reducing its farmgate milk price in a bid to address its “cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings.”

This will include closure of MG’s manufacturing facilities at Edith Creek, Rochester and Kiewa, forgiveness of the Milk Supply Support Package (MSSP), total write-downs of up to $410 million, and a dividend suspension.

The factory closures, the company said, are expected to impact some 360 employees while at the same time delivering a net financial benefit of $40 million to $50 million per annum. Overall, MG said that it anticipates a net financial benefit in FY18 from the closures of approximately $15 million.

However, the dairy company said that it needed to spend $60 million of capital expenditure to enable the closures, which will be largely funded by maintenance capital expenditure no longer required at the sites.

MG also announced that it will write off farmers loans incurred in the MSSP, with all future repayments of the MSSP which were to recommence from July 2017 ceasing, meaning the company will write-down $148 million.

Due to weaker trading conditions, the FY17 forecast available FMP of $4.70 per kilogram milk solids is expected to be fall to $4.60 per kilogram milk solids.

The company said that it remained “committed to paying a FY17 average FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids.”

In order to protect against any potential further losses this financial year, MG has provided access of up to $30 million of additional debt funded milk payments, so as to maintain the forecast FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids up until the end of this financial year, the company said.

Linerless self-adhesive labelling system featured at foodpro

Le Mac are suppliers of the linerless labelling system that is self-adhesive for trays of meats, ready meals, salads etc.

Linerless labels are an environmentally-friendly innovation: they do not use backing liner like traditional labels, which cannot be recycled and does not decompose in landfill.

The system itself is fully automatic and delivers significant efficiency gains over traditional pressure sensitive labelling machines or hand-application of carton sleeves.

It works with heavy gauge cardboard, film or paper labels in 8 formats (top, top & side, top & 2 sides, Full-wrap, C-Wrap, D-Wrap, Skin Packs and Slide Sleeve). It is suitable for stretch wrap trays, top seal trays and vacuum skin packs (with protrusions). To top it, all this can be run on the same machine without change parts.

The La Mac linerless systems are used by a number of major Australian food manufacturers, and they are currently also used on a range of Woolworths and Coles products.

The Le Mac Australia Group will be showcasing the linerless labelling system along with other products at Stand K61 on Level 4 at foodpro,  16-19 JUL 2017 @ the ICC SYDNEY, DARLING HARBOUR.

Australian obesity increases despite lower sugar intake

A new study has found that despite consumers’ decreased sugar intake, Australian obesity rates are higher than ever.

In recent years, scientists have linked excessive sugar consumption with obesity.

This has led to a number of initiatives to decrease added or refined sugars in Australia’s food and beverages.

The nation has recently experienced the biggest increase in adult obesity levels since 1980 (16 per cent). The number of overweight or obese Australians is now 63 per cent, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

This is despite the fact that in Australia, the per capita availability of added or refined sugars and sweeteners was shown to have fallen by 16 per cent between 1980 and 2011, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Specifically, in national dietary surveys in 1995 and 2011-2012, added sugar intake saw a marked decline in men (18 per cent), but little to no decline in women.

However, during the same period, the proportion of sugar-sweetened beverage intake (including 100 per cent juice) fell 10 per cent in men and 20 per cent in women.

The most significant changes were seen in children aged 2-18 (who currently have an overweight/obesity rate of 25 per cent).

According to the study, data from national grocery sales indicated that per capita added-sugars intakes derived from carbonated soft drinks decreased from 26 per cent between 1997 and 2011, with similar trends for non-carbonated beverages.

However, Australia’s childhood obesity rate has also been steadily increasing over the years.

The study suggests that the link between sugar consumption and obesity may not be as strong as scientists initially thought.

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. The Conversation

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself.

Maybe this all seems a little too anthropocentric for your taste? Smacks of literary indulgence on my behalf? Perhaps. But the simple matter is that we can’t avoid the fact of human uniqueness, and explaining it is tied to understanding the evolution of our extraordinary brainpower.

The eighteenth century British anatomist and creationist Richard Owen, one of Charles Darwin’s foremost foes, thought humans were so unusual that we ought to be classified in our own sub-class – the ‘Archenecephala’ as he dubbed it – on account of our highly advanced brain.

It rather conveniently stood us apart from the apes, confirming his view of the specialness of humankind.

By the standards of today’s biological classifications this would place us in a position in the tree of life above all of the orders of mammals, making us about as exceptional as the monotremes are to the placentals.

But with the facts of our evolution now well and truly established we have a much better understanding our place in nature, as members of the primate order, and particularly as African Great Apes.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department.

Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size.

While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began.

How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies.

The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavor, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

Darren Curnoe, Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW

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

Patties CEO says more takeovers on the table

Australia’s ready-meal sector will surpass $1 billion in the near future and a shift towards healthier eating is playing a major part, it has been claimed.

Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Patties Foods, has said the company is seeking new acquisitions with projections showing the huge growth in the market. 

Having recently acquired Australian Wholefoods, he also believes the sector is now providing far more than TV dinners” and told the AFR it will grow by more than 10 per cent annually.

“The category is still relatively new,” Hitchcock told the AFR. “It’s trending toward $1 billion but we’re not there yet.

The chilled ready meals category grew by 13 per cent in the past year for the retailer “as customers continue to look for convenient and affordable meal solutions”, according to a Woolworths spokesman.

“Busy lifestyles mean consumers are attracted to convenience meals by their relatively low cost, ease of use and variety,” a spokesman for Coles added.

Patties Foods was acquired by the provate equity firm Pacific Equity Partners for $231 million last year.

Chinese wine company searches for Australian vineyards

The third biggest wine company in China is planning a $80 million winery based in Australia, which it hope will rival exporters to the Chinese market.

Weilong Grape Wine Company is proposing to expand its Grand Dragon brand to Mildura, only several kilometres from the Karadoc winery in north-west Victoria.

The move presents “one of the largest infrastructure investments in the $4 billion wine industry in the past decade”, according to a report in the AFR.

But it must first overcome roadblocks to get the project up and running after objections were submitted by rivals and a ongoing planning issue including Telstra.

Bruno Zappia, Weilong’s general manager of Australian operations, Bruno Zappia, said he was confident any red tape would be resolved soon so that the 80,000-tonne winery would be in production in time for the 2019 vintage.

“There will be a combination of our own vineyards and external grapegrowers,” Zappia added.