Food cold chain education needed and is coming soon

A new training initiative based on the thermometer is about to be introduced to the Australian cold chain industry. It is seen as a practical move to help combat the country’s serious food loss and wastage problem, estimated to cost the country nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate value.
The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), the peak advocacy body comprising concerned industry leaders covering refrigeration assets, transport and food distribution, will release an online education program, Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner this month.
The program is aimed squarely at those the AFCCC regards as the super heroes of the food cold chain process – the people who oversee the movement of food through refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.
Industry research convinced the AFCCC that Australia desperately needed a new Cold Food Code that should be adopted by industry to stimulate a nation-wide educational push to bring Australian cold chain practices up to the much higher international standard.
The educational program starting with temperature measurement is the first of a planned five-code series.
The AFCCC has invested in new online education software that will be used to develop training programs to support the release of the actual Code document that will cover temperature technologies and how they should be used for monitoring a variety of foods carried in the cold chain.
The initiative runs alongside the work being done by other authorities, including Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) and the Commonwealth Government, which has signed up to a United Nations treaty to halve food wastage by 2030.
Some of the rising levels of national food wastage is considered to be the result of poor temperature management, and poor understanding of how refrigeration works in a range of storage environments. This includes from cold storage rooms through to trucks and trailers, and even home delivery vans.
Australia has world-class refrigeration and monitoring technologies, but the AFCCC believes industry will have to adopt serious training programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the available technologies.
Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stake holders.
Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400 km journey to Melbourne.
If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill.
People working at the coalface of the industry can sign on independently to do the course, which the AFCCC believes will be an important next phase in their professional journey. Kindred organisations involved in the cold chain will be encouraged to become retailers of the education program. Many industry groups have already signed up to help drive cold chain practitioners to the training program from their own websites.
There will only be modest charges for the course, which will help fund AFCCC’s continuing work on assembling the research and expertise to complete further parts of the overall Code of Practice. This will ultimately be gifted to the cold chain industry for the purposes of universal adoption.
The extent of food wastage in this country should not be under-estimated.  It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten and end up in land fill or rotting at the farm gate. This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion.
A government-sponsored study released earlier in 2020 revealed that meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.
It’s not just the wasted food at stake. The impacts on greenhouse emissions, water usage and energy consumption will end up being felt nationwide.
The AFCCC was formed in mid 2017 by a cross section of industry leaders covering manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
The Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
The new Council is not about promoting an industry – it wants to change the industry for the better. It acknowledges that Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.

How bearings help in the sugar cane production process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Halewood buys Yardhead Whisky

Halewood Australia has added Yardhead Whisky to its ever-expanding portfolio of premium alcohol brands, in a move set to disrupt the spirit’s category.

Distilled in Scotland, Yardhead is a single malt Whisky and the first non-age declared spirit of its kind from the John Crabbie & Co Company.  Each bottle of Yardhead is matured in 100 per cent ex-bourbon casks, sourced from the original sites frequented by founder  John Crabbie in the 1800s, during his time as a blender and bottler.

Despite its rich history, the brand is set to revolutionise the way single-malts are enjoyed. Created for the younger generation, the spirit’s distilling process produces a light flavour, making it the perfect entry-level whisky for traditional bourbon and rum drinkers.

Kelly Coughlan, Marketing Manager of Halewood Australia, said of the launch: “Yardhead is the newest whisky brand on the market to be discovered. A brand steeped in heritage and Scottish distilling expertise, with a modern edge. We’re breaking boundaries within the category, by providing an accessible price point and an approachable way to enjoy the spirit. We recognize that dark spirits and classic cocktails are making a comeback, which is why we’re launching a single malt, made perfectly for mixing.”

Halewood International’s launch of Yardhead also sees the production of single malt whisky brought back to its origins in Edinburgh this month, after a 93-year break. The new Bonnington distillery will be the new home for John Crabbie & Co. Situated only a few hundred metres from the original site where John Crabbie matured, distilled and blended his whisky, the new site will produce 3,500 casks of single malt a year.

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.


Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

In Australia, producers of frozen vegetables are missing an opportunity to help consumers create high-quality, home-cooked healthy meals without sacrificing time. More Australians are starting to prioritise eating more healthily, and to do so, market research specialist Mintel has information from its surveys that points to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This is done by following a balanced diet, and cooking more at home, as key steps in this journey.

At the same time, Australians want to make room in their lives for other priorities, such as cultivating strong personal relationships and enjoying social occasions – activities that they understand are important to their health in other ways.

Currently, Australians tend to have frozen vegetables on hand for side dish emergencies. However, these products can actually be promoted to do more – frozen vegetables can act as a shortcut for consumers who are trying to balance many things in their limited time, including eating well. Frozen vegetables provide a solution for time-strapped, yet health-focussed consumers, to create semi-scratch meals that contain lots of vegetables, while still eschewing the processed foods that they seek to avoid. Frozen vegetables are the solution to helping Australians achieve their goal to cook at home more often.

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While Mintel research shows that almost half of urban Australians say they like to cook, the time taken to prepare for cooking, especially when using whole, fresh vegetables, could be better spent on other pursuits.

Enter speed-scratch or “semi-homemade” cooking. This concept, championed in the US by Food Network host Sandra Lee, instructs home cooks to use partially prepared foods to create dishes that feel like they are scratch-made.

Frozen vegetables are suitable for this, especially as they are already washed, peeled and chopped, and often come without the need to be defrosted before being added to a recipe. Positioning frozen produce as a partially prepared ingredient offers consumers a way to prepare something convenient at home without relying on processed foods – something that over two-thirds of urban Australians say they are looking to avoid.

Frozen vegetables can help home cooks in Australia create inspired, intentional meals that are rich in plant-based ingredients by clearly showing consumers the different ways that they can be used. Adding recipes and usage suggestions on pack is an approach that has worked well for the frozen fruit category. For instance, frozen fruit brands have included recipes and usage suggestions for smoothies on pack. These suggestions give consumers more ideas on how to use frozen produce, and they position frozen fruit as a product that consumers would purchase for this purpose.

By taking on a similar strategy, frozen vegetable brands can encourage consumers to buy their products more often than just something to have at home as a backup or emergency side dish.

In addition to helping consumers see frozen vegetables as a speed-scratch solution, brands need to overcome the perception that frozen is lower quality than fresh. This is especially true as Mintel research indicates the importance of freshness to Australians, with over half of them ranking it as the top attribute they seek in food.

However, according to Mintel Purchase Intelligence, a tool that measures consumer reactions to and purchase intent of food and drink products, Australians are unconvinced by the freshness of frozen vegetables. This reflects how frozen vegetable brands are not telling a strong story that communicates the freshness that these products can offer. While many brands use snap-chilling, and do mention this on pack, most are not using their packaging to talk about the benefits of quick freezing in preserving the quality, flavour and nutrition of vegetables. Telling a more dynamic story about freshness and quality can raise the value perception of frozen vegetables, especially when combined with convenience messaging.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Goodness Kitchen offers a good example of how these types of vegetables can communicate freshness and quality. The product uses bright colours and a see-through cut-out that reveals the product inside, which are aspects that set this packaging apart from the many bags and boxes in the frozen aisle. In addition, it uses the back of the pack to tell a full and engaging story about the company and its practices.

Goodness Kitchen talks about organic farming, freshness, nutritional quality and how frozen veggies help to reduce food waste. In an aisle where low price drives purchase intent, communicating the added value one product offers over another could open consumers’ minds to the fact that price is just one element of the value equation.

Brands in Australia have not fully exploited the chance to communicate the freshness and quality of frozen vegetables. There is the potential for these brands to show consumers that frozen products can empower them to achieve their health goals by helping them eat more vegetables, avoid processed foods and cook at home more often with less effort.

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.”

Nestlé commits to zero net emissions by 2050

Nestlé has announced its ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It embraces the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Ahead of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit this month, Nestlé will sign the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ pledge.

With this announcement Nestlé is accelerating its climate change efforts. This builds on a decade of work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past four years, Nestlé has aligned its objectives with science-based targets to keep the temperature increase below 2°C. The company is determined to play a leading role in tackling climate change. Over the next two years, it will lay out a time-bound plan including interim targets consistent with the 1.5°C path. Nestlé will review its progress annually to ensure it is on track.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face as a society. It is also one of the greatest risks to the future of our business,” said Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO. “We are running out of time to avoid the worst effects of global warming. That is why we are setting a bolder ambition to reach a net-zero future. Deploying Nestlé’s global resources and industry know-how, we know we can make a difference at significant scale. Our journey to net zero has already started. Now, we are accelerating our efforts,” he added.

To achieve its 2050 ambition, some of the company’s specific actions include:

  • Speeding up the transformation of its products in line with consumer trends and choices. Nestlé will launch more products that have a better environmental footprint and contribute to a balanced diet. This includes more plant-based food and beverage options. Nestlé will also look to reformulate its products using more climate-friendly ingredients. Consumer demand for such products is rapidly increasing, and Nestlé’s core strategy is in line with this shift. The company is also moving to alternative packaging materials.
  • Scaling up initiatives in agriculture to absorb more carbon. Nestlé will strengthen its programs with farmers to restore land and limit greenhouse gas emissions. This includes improved management of its dairy supply chain. Nestlé will step up efforts to protect forests by replanting trees and enhancing biodiversity. All of these initiatives will help build resilient agricultural communities.
  • Using 100% renewable electricity in Nestlé factories, warehouses, logistics and offices. A third of Nestlé factories (143) are already using 100 per cent renewable electricity. Nestlé will continue to increase the use of energy from renewable sources. This will enable suppliers to invest in new infrastructure such as wind and solar farms.
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires transformational change across industries, governments and society as a whole. Nestlé will continue its advocacy for government policies to ensure all sectors move faster towards 1.5°C. Supportive legislation could help to reduce barriers to expanding renewable energy markets, incentivize innovation in the agriculture and forestry sectors to capture more carbon, and help to establish carbon pricing.

FIAL celebrates Australian food innovation with book launch

As the wise Nelson Mandela once said, “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”

That’s precisely what Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has done for the past four years with its book Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations. The FIAL team has searched far and wide to find some of the best innovations in the country — from small businesses to multinationals, the new 2019 book edition showcases 50 innovations from across the whole value chain.

The exciting innovations featured in the book are aligned to the five global food and agribusiness megatrends identified by CSIRO. These are; a less predictable planet, health on the mind, choosy customers, one world, and smarter food chains.From sugarcane packaging to bone broth crisps, FIAL is confident that these stories will encourage Australian businesses to continue innovating and find their niche.

Chef Adam Moore, who features in the book, said, “As a chef, I am excited to be a part of such an inspiring book which shares Australia’s innovation successes. These stories are a great insight into all the work that goes into bringing together the products that grace restaurant menus, supermarket shelves, and consumers’ tables.“

FIAL managing director, Mirjana Prica, is delighted to launch the 4th edition at Global Table in Melbourne. “In this years’ edition, it’s wonderful to see that technology underpins many of the innovations, a true sign that our industry is evolving. I hope that companies will use this book as inspiration to create something new for the world to eat.”

Sarah Leung, founder and chief dietitian at Alg Seaweed shared her excitement for the book, “Alg Seaweed is so excited to be recognised and published in FIAL’s Innovation Book alongside so many amazing Australian innovations. We are very proud.”

Australian food start up selected for accelerator program

The Australian Superfood Co has been selected to take part in the Mars Food Australia’s inaugural Seeds of Change Accelerator program.

Hayley Blieden, founder of The Australian Superfood Co is thrilled to have been chosen as one of six start-ups to participate in this prestigious program.

“We are so excited to work with Mars to increase awareness and accessibility of Australian native ingredients. Having access to their team of experts will enable us to fast track growth and build a healthier, more sustainable food system,” she said.

The Australian Superfood Co was one of 224 national applicants. TASC was chosen as one of the 15 finalists and then as one of the six start-ups selected for the Accelerator.

TASC will receive a grant of up to $40 000 and will undertake a four-month program to tackle business challenges and to increase business growth.

The SEEDS of Change Accelerator is designed to help early-stage Australian food-focused start-ups fast-track growth and build a healthier and more sustainable future.

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The finalists have access to an extensive support system to help them become the next generation of food businesses transforming the way Australians eat and share meals. The Accelerator program also offers a series of face-to-face workshops and access to a team of expert mentors and advisers from within the Mars business and across the wider Australian food innovation network.

Hayley Blieden and Ralph Wollner produce a range of food products from Australian native bush foods such as native fruit powders, herbs, and spices, fruit and granolas. As well as having their own product range, they supply ingredients to food, beverage and beauty manufacturers as well as chefs, cafes and bartenders. Their goal is to increase accessibility and affordability of Australian native produce to enhance respect for Australia’s indigenous culture and foster the local food movement.

“By increasing awareness, accessibility and affordability of Australian superfoods, we aim to increase demand and encourage Australians to cultivate our own native plants rather than import foreign varieties. In supporting local communities and growers we wish to refashion what is currently a cottage industry, into a booming trade,” said Blieden. “Aboriginal people have been generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise about the bounty and treasures of their native land.The Australian Superfood Co aims to enhance respect of the traditional practices and culture of Indigenous people and to promote their communities through the growing awareness of Australian Superfoods.”

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.

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.

Australian researchers find way to stop food mould

West Australian researchers led by Dr. Kirsty Bayliss have discovered how to stop mould growing on fresh food.

Dr. Bayliss will be presenting her technology, titled ‘Breaking the Mould’, a chemical-free treatment for fresh produce that increases shelf-life, prevents mould and decay, and reduces food wastage, in the US.

“Our technology will directly address the global food security challenge by reducing food waste and making more food available for more people,” Dr. Bayliss said.

“The technology is based on the most abundant form of matter in the universe– plasma. Plasma kills the moulds that grow on fruit and vegetables, making fresh produce healthier for consumption and increasing shelf-life.”

Dr. Bayliss’s Murdoch University team has been working on preliminary trials for the past 18 months and are now preparing to start scaling up trials to work with commercial production facilities.

Dr. Bayliss said the LAUNCH Food Innovation Challenge was a “huge opportunity.”

“I will be presenting our research to an audience comprising investors, company directors and CEOs, philanthropists and other influential people from organisations such as Fonterra, Walmart, The Gates Foundation, as well as USAID, DFAT and even Google Food.”

“What is really exciting is the potential linkages and networks that I can develop; already NASA are interested in our work,” she said.

In an interview with ABC Online, she said “Food wastage contributes to a lot of the food insecurity as the US and Europe wastes around 100 kilograms of food per person every year.

“If we could reduce food wastage by a quarter, we could feed 870 million people.”

Dr. Bayliss said the technology also kills bacteria associated with food-borne illness, such as salmonella and listeria.



New Chilli Beef Pie from Four-N Twenty

 Four-N Twenty is launching its new Chilli Beef Pie, which has been developed for “adventurous eaters who are keen to try a new and exciting flavour”.

 The pie is made from chunks of eight-hour slow-cooked 100 per cent Australian beef, with a spicy chilli gravy, wrapped in a golden pastry.

 “Chilli has been identified as one of the key condiment flavour trends for 2017 and beyond,” said Four’N Twenty marketing manager, Mario Matchado.

 “Creating a spicy chilli version of our eight-hour slow-cooked Real Chunky Pie is sure to prove a winner with pie lovers this winter. So fire up your taste buds, the Four’N Twenty Chilli Beef Pies are hot!”

 The Chilli Beef Pie will be launched in selected petrol and convenience stores nationally from April.



BCDS appointed master distributor by FOX IV Technologies

BCDS Group has been appointed by automation manufacturer FOX IV Technologies as their master distributor for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim region.

“FOX IV’s automated print and apply labeling systems have been a reliable addition to Australian manufacturing facilities for the past 20+ years,” says Rick Fox, president and CEO.  “The addition of the BCDS Group enables FOX IV to continue to provide reliable equipment  sales and service to the market.”

“This new appointment by FOX IV comes with much excitement within the BCDS Group, allowing us to further succeed on our business purpose of making our clients lives easier,” says Ian Jefford, managing director of BCDS.

FOX IV systems will be offered through ALS (Auto ID Labelling Solutions), a BCDS company, which is headed up by Bill Boursianis who has had more than 10 years experience with both FOX IV products and other printing and labelling equipment.

Over the past 20 years, more than 1000 FOX IV print and apply systems have been installed in Australia.  BCDS will provide parts and service for existing FOX IV equipment as well as supply new FOX IV equipment, including the 2010 Series and FOX IV’s innovative Zebra based print and apply systems.

Management education, not just tax cuts, needed to create jobs and growth

Company tax cuts are a key component of Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plan to drive growth in jobs and wages, spurring on the Australian economy.

There’s no question that tax cuts and lower energy prices will enable companies to keep more of the money they make. But it’s not more money per se, but what they do with that money that will enable them to grow.

Should they spend money on hiring more people, developing new products, do more marketing, change the packaging, or expand the factory to manufacture more product for export?

These are the kinds of decisions all CEOs of medium-sized companies must make. But many CEOs are uncertain about what to do to grow and are fearful of making wrong decisions. No CEO wants to make a decision that sends the company into decline, so there’s a tendency to “circle the wagons” and try to protect what they have or make incremental moves from which they can quickly retreat if things go wrong.

In these situations, lack of money is less of a gating factor than lack of knowledge. The good news is that when CEOs are taught the basics of growth, understand how to create a growth strategy, and are given tools that enable them to simulate the impact of a decision, they make decisions quite rapidly and begin to grow – and then they hire people and jobs are created.

Two years ago we launched our first growth program and began working with a group of 10 companies from all over Australia representing ten different industries. They had revenues between A$5 million – A$50 million, 5 – 200 employees, and the CEOs wanted to grow but weren’t sure how. Over the two years since they entered our program, they increased their aggregate revenue by 93%, profit by 100%, and are exporting into 12 new countries.

But, most importantly for policy makers wanting to create jobs – these ten companies have added 146 new jobs. That’s an average of 14.6 jobs, over two years, per company.

What if each of the 220,000 medium enterprises in Australia added half as many jobs over the next two years? That would result in more than one million jobs.

Promoting company growth can be achieved by helping managers figure out:

  • What’s the best growth strategy for this company?
  • What changes are needed in marketing and sales?
  • What changes are needed in the way we lead and manage?
  • Are the right people in the right positions to drive growth?
  • What kinds of people, with what kinds of skills and experiences, are needed for future growth?

Although a tax cut could be the fuel for the growth, company leaders come to our growth program because they need help thinking through which growth strategy makes sense for their business. They want to learn how to improve their leadership, tune their organisation, become more efficient, and rev growth.

Money alone will not create the numbers and kinds of jobs required to boost the economy. CEOs and MDs in our programs tell us that learning what to do, when, why, and in what order has given them the confidence to take the risks required to grow their companies and hire more people.

In short, we need to focus as much attention on the management education of founders, CEOs and MDs of medium-sized companies as we do on providing them with more money. Once they learn how to grow their companies, they will definitely need money to become the engines of growth, and they will certainly hire more people, creating the jobs we all want.

The Conversation

Jana Matthews, ANZ Chair in Business Growth, Director, Centre for Business Growth, University of South Australia

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

SA wine industry leads way on solar uptake

Dozens of wineries in Australia’s premier wine state are harnessing the sun’s power for purposes beyond growing grapes.

South Australian wineries are embracing solar energy at twice the rate of other business sectors, installers say. Yalumba Wine Company in the Barossa Valley is just weeks away from completing one of the largest commercial solar system installations in South Australia and the largest to date by any Australian winery.

It will have taken more than three months to put the 5384 individual panels in place at three sites: Yalumba Angaston Winery, Yalumba Nursery, and the separate Oxford Landing Winery.

When fully operational, the 1.4 MW PV system will produce enough renewable energy to reduce Yalumba’s energy costs by about 20 per cent and cut its annual CO2 emissions by more than 1200 tonnes, equivalent to taking 340+ cars off the road.

“It is an exciting project and one that will deliver us significant savings, as well as being consistent with our corporate focus on sustainability,” said Managing Director Nick Waterman. Yalumba is currently the leader of the pack, but it is an increasingly large pack.

No one keeps a detailed list, but wineries with systems in excess of 100kW include D’Arenberg, Seppeltsfield, Peter Lehmann, Angove, Torbreck, Wirra Wirra, Jim Barry and Gemtree. Many smaller wineries are installing smaller systems.

In the Adelaide Hills, Sidewood has flicked the switch on a 100kW solar system as part of a $3.5m expansion project at its Nairne winery.

With the support of an $856,000 grant from the South Australian Government, the system will provide more than 50 per cent of the winery’s annual consumption.

Sidewood has also become the largest sustainable winery in the Adelaide Hills after receiving full Entwine Accreditation for all four of its vineyards in September.

There was a brief lull in solar installations after the current Federal Government scrapped the financial support provided under the previous government’s Clean Technology Investment Program (36 of the 80 projects funded in South Australia in 2012-13 were in wineries) but things are moving again.

David Buetefuer is Director of Sales and Business Development for The Solar Project, which has worked with a number of local wineries including D’Arenberg, suggests four reasons for this: the wine industry is starting to recover from a slow patch; the price of electricity is at an unprecedented high; the cost of solar is coming down; and there are new ways to get started.

Yalumba, for example, has signed a 10-year power purchase agreement with energy supplier AGL, which is installing and maintaining the system and will own the energy produced.

This will be sold to Yalumba at a rate comparable or lower than its current per kilowatt hour rate. Another alternative is a rental model under which, as Buetefuer puts it, the bank owns the system. In both cases, the winery does not have to find the capital up front and the system is off balance sheet.

“It’s an interesting time because all three models now work – power-purchase, rental and straight purchase – whereas not that long ago the only people buying solar were those who had the available capital and could justify payback times of five, six or more years,” Buetefuer said. “It’s opened up a lot more opportunities.”

Buetefuer said the wine industry recognised the benefit of harnessing solar power at its most productive period of the year, which coincided with the summer to autumn vintage when the demand for electricity was at its peak in wine production.

“One of the defining features of the industry is the long-term planning that goes into establishing vineyards and infrastructure to support wine production well into the future,” he said. D’Arenberg’s chief winemaker Chester Osborn agrees.

He said one of the important things for the winery last year was reducing peak demand from the grid. “A big portion of our electricity cost comes from our peak requirements which we only need for a couple of months a year, but get charged for every month,” he said.

“We have reduced our power bill by 40 per cent and we are hopeful that the advances in battery technology will lead to further efficiency improvements.”

D’Arenberg’s 200kW system in McLaren Vale was the largest in a winery in South Australia when installed at the end of 2013.

The company made the investment so it could generate 20-30 per cent of its power from solar energy and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent. Among the most publicly visible solar installations in South Australia are the two arrays that line the road to the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre in the Barossa.

They not only produce all the energy the winery needs, they feature in quite a few visitor photographs.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production, including iconic brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys and Wolf Blass. From The Lead

Small manufacturers will get into the zone at foodpro

Australasia’s iconic food manufacturing event, foodpro, will be partnering with Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) in a brand new initiative: The Supply Chain Integrity Zone.

Security in the supply chain is vital to the food manufacturing process with traceability and audit compliance a priority; however smaller manufacturers often find it costly to comply.

The majority of technologies for traceability are often geared to larger manufacturers, which causes obstacles and barriers for smaller players in the industry.

In response to this, foodpro and FIAL have launched the Supply Chain Integrity Zone, a new initiative focusing on solutions available for small manufacturers who produce pre-packaged goods for sale to the consumer.

Companies across the various stages of the supply chain will be represented, allowing visitors to discuss end-to-end solutions with suppliers best suited for their business.

The zone will also include a series of seminars covering the latest technology, capabilities and insights.

“The Supply Chain Integrity Zone is a really important and exciting addition to foodpro” says Peter Petherick, foodpro Event Director.

“Foodpro has supported Australia’s manufacturing needs for 50 years, and it’s important we continue to respond to the industry as it changes. It’s become clear that there are an increasing number of smaller manufacturers whose needs, although similar to the bigger companies, must be met in more specific ways. The new zone serves a purpose for solutions and importantly, for discussion and engagement. With a focus on improving traceability and supporting audit compliance, the benefit to the industry will be incredible.”

The zone will feature companies that offer solutions specifically for smaller manufacturers who produce less than 10,000 units a week with a focus on areas including: materials in, processing integrity, packaging integrity, shipping & receivables and quality management solutions for traceability. FIAL is directly supporting the zone with the objective of increasing industry capability and compliance.

FIAL was established to foster commercially driven collaboration and innovation in the Australian food and agribusiness industry.

They are industry led and take a collective approach to ensure productivity, profitability and resilience in the food and agribusiness sector. Along with the partnership with FIAL, foodpro 2017 will also host wider discussions around innovation and the food industry with the annual AIFST (Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology) Convention.

Over 400 delegates are expected to attend the Convention’s 50th year to hear about topics such as the future nutritional needs, technology driving innovation, regulations related to imports as well as a roundtable discussing financing innovation and growth in the food industry.

For more information see: