Rugged panel PCs for food makers

B&R has expanded its range of automation-ready Panel PCs with a new series of widescreen formats ranging from 7″ WVGA to 24″ Full HD.

These Panel PCs are suited for use in harsh environments and are the perfect visualisation devices for Box PCs while at the same time offering easy and flexible mounting options.

With a slender design, all models are available with a single-touch or multi-touch screen and connecting the panels to a PC unit turns them into a full-fledged PC, complete with scalable processing power.

The core component of the panel is the widescreen, which ranges from 7″ WVGA to 24″ Full HD, while the panels also have the possibility of adding a modular SDL/DVI receiver that turns the panels into operator terminal.

With SDL3 digital signal transmission technology with standard Ethernet cables, it is even possible for the panels to bridge more than 100 meters between terminal and PC.

The Panel PCs offer scalable computing power by using anything from Intel Atom processors all the way up to the powerful Core i7 family.

The modular platform – consisting of the actual panel, SDL/SDL3 receiver and PC unit are designed to deliver a considerable reduction in maintenance costs, and in the event of an upgrade, there is no need to replace the entire Panel PC.

Added to this, with its uniform interface, B&R has established a flexible system platform for any future and expanded PC architectures.

Since the display and PC components are separate, it is also possible to upgrade the internal PC technology while at the same time, keeping the original display unit.

Freeze dried food could be the answer to food waste

According to a story on ABC Online, freeze-dried food could be the solution to saving billions of dollars worth of wasted produce.

Australians dispose of $10 billion worth of food every year and according to Foodwise, with $2.76 billion of that is fresh produce.

Queensland food processor Freeze Dry Industries has fast become an outlet for local farmers looking to make money off crop that would otherwise go in the bin.

“Freeze-drying is a very scientific process, which has origins with NASA as space food,” CEO Michael Buckley told the ABC.

“My inspiration came from the pure joy of the technology in attacking waste, because I hate the thought of us throwing out beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables.”

However freeze drying is not cheap, with freeze-drying machines starting from $300,000,” he said.

Buckley told the ABC he was convinced that consumers are prepared to pay more for the experience of eating a freeze-dried snack.

For farmers, the option of earning money from a waste product, despite the cost, is an incentive for many growers.

Despite the challenges, Buckley expects the interest in freeze-dried fruits to increase, largely driven by demand from the likes of “the health food industry,’ he said.

Hygienic transport system for food makers

XTS Hygienic, the stainless steel version of the eXtended Transport System from Beckhoff, opens up a wide spectrum of new applications for processing and filling liquids.

 

Allowing optimal cleanability with the high protection rating of IP 69K, very good chemical resistance and without any hidden corners, edges or undercuts, the hygienic design offers maximum production line availability even when the demands made on hygiene are high.

The XTS replaces mechanics with software functionality to allow for a high degree of design freedom in realising completely new machine concepts.

Through a significant reduction in mechanical engineering requirements, machines can be set up with the XTS more compactly, at a lighter weight and with less wiring.

Thus, machine builders can now offer smaller, more powerful and more efficient systems and the end user benefits accordingly from a smaller footprint, higher productivity and quicker product switchovers.

With the XTS Hygienic, which is so much easier to clean compared to more complex mechanical systems, the routine cleaning tasks along with those for product switchover – which are optimally supported by the XTS as standard – can be performed much more quickly. .

It’s full steam ahead for Woolies

FMCG giant Woolworths has posted its strongest sales growth in seven years- with sales rising 4.5 per cent in the March quarter, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

This figure was well above market forecasts between 3.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent and compared is the strongest quarter for Woolworths supermarkets since the first quarter 2010.

According to Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci, “We are pleased with the continued improvement in Australian food sales in the third quarter, particularly the more stable and predictable nature of our daily and weekly sales,” he said.

Banducci also said that he wanted to build on this figure well into the next financial year.

“We are focused on making sure we continue our progress in rebuilding sustainable sales momentum for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018,” he told the AFR.

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.

‘Made in Australia’ label ranked #14 globally

 

A study by statistics firm Statista researched 43,000 consumers from 49 different countries to determine the world’s most respected ‘Made in’ labels. According to the study, Australia ranks 14th.

Germany ranked first, receiving 100 index points, closely followed by Switzerland with 98 index points.

Other nations in the top five include the EU as a whole, the UK and Sweden.

Australia’s 14th place ranking puts the nation just above New Zealand (ranked 15th), and below the Netherlands (ranked 13th).

At the end of the spectrum were China on 28 index points and Iran on 27 index points. Statista noted the irony of the fact that Germany scored the top rank, considering that the

‘Made in’ label was introduced by Britain at the end of the 19thcentury to protect its economy from “cheap, low quality and sometimes counterfeit” imports from Germany.

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.

Patties Foods buys up Australian Wholefoods

According to the AFR, Patties Foods has swallowed up South Australia’s Australian Wholefoods.

In what is looking very much like a pattern, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), which bought out Patties Food in 2016 and then followed that up by buying Leader Foods, has now devoured Australian Wholefoods, thereby allowing it to push into additional categories of the food services sector.

Australian Wholefoods employs about 130 people and its says it produces more than 100,000 chilled ready meals every week.

The company has introduced a number of new product lines like Clever Cooks, a fresh-food brand free from artificial colours or preservatives.

The latest acquisition has triggered speculation that PEP will sell the combined food business it to Asian buyers, which, the AFR noted, have shown a “keen appetite for Australian food manufacturing assets in the last few years.”

Beston brings back its Parmesan cheese

Beston Global Food (BFC) has announced that its Parmesan cheese is back in production at Murray Bridge after a five-year hiatus.

Beston this week began production of its first batches of the popular hard cheese destined for consumers across the country, and overseas.

BFC Chief Executive Officer, Sean Ebert, said while the Company’s specialist cheesemakers were currently busy crafting the first batches of Parmesan, they would also soon be moving into other varieties of hard cheese including Gruyere, Raclette and Tilset.

“Since opening our Beston Pure Food factory at Murray Bridge, we have had numerous inquires from our existing customers in Australia seeking locally made European-style hard cheeses. Hence, we have refurbished and returned the former hard cheese line, with a production capacity of 250 tonnes per annum, back into production and brought it to export standard. This has included the installation of a state-of-the-art maturation room and has created additional employment at the factory,” Ebert said.

“There is strong demand for these top quality cheeses in the Australian market.”

“Not only are we creating great cheese but in the process, we are creating jobs. Parmesan production alone required five additional staff while our wider expansion in hard cheese represents 15 new local jobs,” he said.

In June last year, the State Government announced it was providing $2.5 million to Beston for the development of its state-of-the-art cheese processing facility. South Australian- based Beston provides high-end premium foods in the dairy, seafood, meat and health & nutrition areas.

BFC chariman Dr Roger Sexton said that the recommissioning of the hard cheese facility at Murray Bridge was part of the organic growth strategy of BFC and represented another significant step in the further broadening of the revenue base of the company.

 

 

 

Doctors cheer at last drinks for VB and Cricket Australia

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has welcomed news that Carlton United Breweries (CUB) has ended its VB sponsorship with Cricket Australia (CA).

The demise of VB’s 20-year sponsorship with CA, estimated to be worth $65 million over the past five years is one of more than 20 alcohol-related sponsorships in Australian cricket.

The RACP is on record as saying that it was “unacceptable that young children are being bombarded with alcohol promotion both at the ground and at home watching on TV.”

This sentiment is shared by the majority of Australians, with over 60 per cent concerned about the exposure of children to alcohol promotions in sport, according to a number of recent surveys.

RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said, “A generation of Australians have grown up and become accustomed to a sponsorship that has relentlessly pushed its product and left young Australians as collateral damage.”

“Sadly, we know alcohol marketing leads children and adolescents to start drinking earlier and makes young drinkers prone to binge drinking patterns.”

“Sometimes it starts them on a journey that has a lifelong impact. It’s not surprising that the peak age for the onset of alcohol use disorders is only 18 years old.”

 

Aussie wines set for German markets

 

More than 100 Australian wineries were recently on show at one of the world’s biggest industry events in a bid to further boost surging exports.

The Wine Australia exhibit at ProWein 2017 which was held from March 19 to 21 in Germany featured 500 wines from 76 wineries across 39 varieties and 34 Australian regions, including the premier regions of South Australia.

The Dusseldorf event is considered one of the world’s most important international wine fairs and will include more than 6300 exhibitors from 60 nations.

Australia is the world’s fifth largest wine producing nation in 2016 and is experiencing a strong run of export success on international markets, particularly for premium wine in North America and China.

In the 12 months to December 2016, the value of Australian wine exports grew by 7 per cent to $2.22 billion and volume increased by 1 per cent to 750 million litres.

The average value of exports grew by 6 per cent to $2.96 per litre, the highest level since 2009 driven by a 10 per cent growth in bottled exports, mostly at higher price points.

South Australia is responsible for 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production including about 75 per cent of its premium wine.

Much of this premium wine comes from the South Australian regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale, and South Australian wineries attending ProWein include d’Arenberg, Elderton, Fox Creek, Langmeil.

 

 

 

Chinese supermarkets stop selling Brazilian meat

 

According to a story from the Voice of America (VoA), some of China’s largest food suppliers have stopped selling Brazilian beef and poultry following a scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry.

While Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, fears over Brazilian meat safety have increased since police accused inspectors of taking bribes to permit the sale of rotten and infected meats.

The announcement from the Chinese food suppliers comes days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian all meat imports.

Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Mexico have also announced they were stopping major imports of some Brazilian meat.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said the sale of rotten meat was an “economic embarrassment for the country.”

The Brazilian government has so far barred the exports of meats from 21 plants under investigation, while officials have tried to calm consumers by saying the recent investigation has found only “isolated problems with rotten or infected meat”.

However, the reaction by Chinese food suppliers suggests that the investigation could have a big effect on the world’s top meat exporter, said VoA.

Brazil’s trade associations for meat producers warned that the scandal could affect the economy considering meat exports make up 15 per cent of total exports.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bosch Australia partners with Food CRC

While the recently-announced Food Agility CRC will be funded with $50 million over ten years along with $160 million in commitments from 54 partner organisations, Bosch Australia will be a lead technology partner and will apply its agriculture technology expertise and resource to projects in connected agriculture and automation.

The Food Agility CRC will integrate the agile culture and processes of the digital economy through a whole-of-value-chain lens for fresh and processed food.

“Global food production needs to double by 2050 and the opportunity that presents to the Australian food industry is enormous,” says Mike Briers, CEO of the Food Agility CRC and UTS Industry Professor.

Bosch Australia said it is making significant investments in connected agriculture and food automation oriented activities in this region, including direct investment in Australian start-ups.

Most recently ‘The Yield’, an early stage Internet of Things (IoT) company focused on Micro-Climate sensing technology in Agriculture and Aquaculture. “

The Food Agility CRC will have a direct impact on the food and agriculture sector,” said Gavin Smith, Bosch President with responsibility for the region Oceania.
“There’s no better place than Australia to develop digital and automation solutions in food technology.”

Tumeric-rich Arkadia Golden Latte released

Arkadia Beverages has released a blend of high of turmeric, spices and organic panela sugar and called it Arkadia Golden Latte.

This turmeric blend is designed to be ready to drunk with hot or cold milk.

With no added dairy, vegan friendly and gluten and caffeine free, Arkadia Golden Latte is claimed to imbue the natural benefits of turmeric – often referred to as the most powerful herb on the planet for helping to fight a range of diseases.

Australian fruit destined for Chinese retailers

Winha Commerce and Trade International, the Australian paddock-to-plate Chinese retailer and wholesale food company, has announced that it will use its participation in a new Australian agricultural research centre to help create new products for the Chinese market.

Last month Winha announced it would be a foundation partner in Ausway College to be created in Deniliquin, which aims to become Australia’s leading agricultural research facility in Australia. Winha hopes to ensure that Australian agricultural producers can develop products that will be sought after by Chinese consumers.

“China is the world’s top fruit consuming nation, but at the moment not all Australian fruit is represented in the country. We need to ensure there are more pears, plums, mangos and other specialised fruits like star fruit created and produced for the Chinese market,’’ said Winha Chairman, Jackie Chung.

“Chinese consumers love the quality of Australian produce, but they also have slightly different tastes and likes to Australian consumers, so we must work with Australian fruits producers to create the right looking and tasting fruit to sell into China,’’ he said.

To illustrate its intentions to continue to promote Australian food in China, Winha has also announced it will import locally made Crystal Nest, Australia’s finest bird’s nest, into China.

Crystal Nest founder James Liew said: “We are delighted to be associated with Winha and we are excited to take our quality Australian product to China.’’

Chinese families who appreciate the reported health benefits of bird’s nest are willing to pay up to $US60 a bowl for the product – making the raw bird’s nest one of the most expensive food items in the world.

Australian owned and operated Crystal Nest sells its bird’s nest product all around Australia and now with the help of Winha (and its chain of retail outlets and enormous customer reach in China), Crystal Nest has found the perfect distribution channel into China.

Winha congratulates Crystal Nest for the extra care it puts into the handling and cleaning of its bird’s nests, ensuring it exceeds the highest global quality standards.

Bird’s Nest Soup is considered a delicacy amongst the Chinese upper classes.

Choc & Cream voted Allen’s next lolly

Over 20,000 Australians have voted in a national vote and chosen Choc & Cream as Allen’s next lolly.

A soft dollop of chocolate flavoured jelly on top of a creamy vanilla flavoured base, the Choc & Cream has its own flavour that’s different to the company’s Chicos.

Fans around the country won’t have to wait long as the Choc & Cream lolly will be available exclusively in Woolworths from late March.

The company pitted three remixed classics against each other for the vote – Funny Teeth, a twist on classic Teeth, Ginger Cats, a sweet and spicy ginger twist on classic Black Cats and the winning Choc & Cream, a new twist on old favourite Strawberries & Cream.

With 46 per cent of total votes, Choc & Cream had the slight edge over Funny Teeth, but a huge jump on the polarising Ginger Cats throughout the two-week voting period.

Last year, Australia voted to see Peaches & Cream go solo in its own pack. The new solo edition has proven so popular that the limited edition run has been extended indefinitely.

Custard tart given frozen twist

Bulla Dairy Foods’ innovation centre has unveiled a new flavour ice cream for summer 2017, Custard Tart.

Building on the success of its adventurous flavour and texture-infused ice cream stick combinations – Fairy Bread, Cookie Crumble and Cookies & Cream – Bulla is proud to be launching Custard Tart. One of Australia’s largest family owned and run dairy brand’s newest creation continues to provide happy consumers with real ice cream, made with fresh milk and cream.

The new Bulla Custard Tart features custard tart flavoured ice cream, dipped in a choc coating and smothered in crunchy biscuit pieces.

This new addition to the range of ice cream sticks will sit in the freezer aisle with its sister flavours Fairy Bread and Cookies & Cream. It will be available in packs of six nationally at selected Coles, Woolworths and independent supermarkets from February 2017.