Organic Sea Salt Truffles and Organic Salted Caramel Truffles

Product Name: Organic Sea Salt Truffles and Organic Salted Caramel Truffles

Product Manufacturer: Alter Eco

Ingredients: Organic and fair-trade raw cane sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, coconut oil, whole milk powder, natural flavour, sea salt (fleur de sel), vanilla beans

Shelf life: 15 months

Packaging: individually wrapped in a metalised NatureFlex film and then packaged in recycled cardboard pouch.

Brand Website:

What the company says:

Alter Eco, pioneer of globally crafted foods with full-circle sustainability, is thrilled to announce the Australian launch of two new dark chocolate flavours to its line of decadent, organic truffles.

The new Sea Salt and Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles are crafted with a signature Ecuadorian dark chocolate shell, covering a silky centre made with nourishing coconut oil and speckled with prized Fleur de Sel de Guerande, a culinary sea salt hand-harvested from ancient salt villages in France.

The Salted Caramel Truffle has the addition of buttery, caramel blended throughout the creamy filling.

Each portioned treat is organic, Fairtrade and made from the highest quality ingredients. The new truffles also feature new eco-friendly compostable wrappers that are printed with non-toxic ink.


Frosty Boy’s future in Asia looks bright

In not much over a decade, Frosty Boy has increased exports from almost nothing to three-quarters of its business, selling into nearly 50 countries. Brent Balinski spoke to CEO Dirk Pretorius about how they’ve done it, and why he sees 15 – 20 per cent growth per year as sustainable.

Huge export growth

The buzz phrase “Asian Century” was one you couldn’t avoid in 2012, but rarely hear nowadays.

However, the increasing size of the middle-class in the continent still holds huge potential for Australian food and beverage exporters, such as Frosty Boy Australia.

Frosty Boy officially opened a new, purpose-built factory in Yatala at the end of last year, relocating for capacity reasons. Its rapid growth – 18 per cent compound annual growth for the last 14 years, according to the company – has been driven in no small part due to success in Asia.

CEO since 2001, Dirk Pretorius believes there are two parts to the company’s thriving trade in the continent: smartly and effectively serving its existing customer base, and being visible in its market. The latter thing includes putting in time at a lot of trade shows

“What you find in these Asian markets, if you just go and look at your QSR [Quick service restaurant] chain, and the growth rate – because of the acceptability of western foods and the demand of western foods in Asia – is [increasing] so rapidly.

“Combine that with the disposable income [growth in the middle class], you’ve got a sort of natural growth pattern happening in that market with your existing customers,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

The business-to-business manufacturer of powdered soft serve, frozen yoghurt and beverage powders includes Burger King Asia and Wendy’s among its customers.

Frosty Boy exports to 48 countries currently – including the United States, Africa and the Middle East – and all of these are important, but its success and its focus is largely due to its Asian customers.

“We focus on the Asian market in terms of the time that we spend in the market,” said Pretorius, who believes that the business can sustain growth of around 15 to 20 per cent as it continues its Asian Century success story.

“Keep the cost down”

The Yatala site covers 6,000 square metres and has double the capacity of the previous plant. It is the third site the company has occupied since the current owners picked up the company in 1999.

The factory’s current output is the equivalent of two million serves of soft serve per day, running two shifts a day, five days a week.

“With the previous factory we were running seven days a week, 24 hours a day, in the end,” said Pretorius.

“So we’ve made sure we had enough capacity; we’re currently sitting at around 60 per cent capacity on a five day per week production shift. So there’s a little bit more up our sleeve, and that will see us through for the next ten years.”

The site runs two lines. These include the line from the previous site at Loganholme and a new, “super-high-capacity version” of the old line.

The facility is highly automated, from measuring to palletising. Despite the high output volumes, the plant can be run with only six people per shift manufacturing product.

“The key, and the design behind it is: if you compete in Asia, and these markets where we export, you have to keep the labour cost component low if you want to be competitive at all as an Australian manufacturer,” explained Pretorius.

“So that’s the key behind the whole design of the plant. Keep the cost down.”

R&D is key

For Pretorius’s business, research and development means three things.

Firstly continuous improvement involves keeping abreast of trends in the fast-moving food technology market. New technologies are matched to existing recipes, for example.

The second part is the recipes themselves. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for what FB produces.

“When a customer comes to us and says – let’s take India for instance – within the market in India we want to go and supply soft serve ice cream,” said Pretorius.

“We want it to be at the best price point and have specific flavours that will be accepted in the Indian market.”

Recipes must be developed to tastes and/or matched to an existing product.

Finally, and also involving collaboration with the customer, involves matching ideas to customers’ menus and suggesting products that match market trends.

“The investment in that is basically at our new facility we have a really good R&D [capability] in there, for food tech,” he said.

“And obviously getting the best minds in the business as a part of your team to do this work for us.”

Blends and trends

Speaking of trends, one that has influenced a recent addition to the business is around beverages.

According to research used by Frosty Boy, the beverage market is growing sharply worldwide. Just within Australia, it’s worth $542 million, and has grown 10 per cent since 2009.

In view of this, Frosty Boy launched its Art Of Blend brand of premium beverages in September last year.

Aimed at “anyone with a blender”, the investment is much less than equipping, for example, a cafe with a soft serve machine. It does not require milk to be added, and includes Aromatic Spiced Chai, Creative Yoghurt Smoothie, Finest Belgian Chocolate, Exquisite White Chocolate, Premium Mocha Latte, Velvet Dairy Frappe Base and Original Iced Coffee offerings.

“It’s early days though, but it’s definitely taken off much better than expected,” said Pretorius of the addition to the company’s range, which features its own website and brand, distinct from Frosty Boy’s.

"A no-brainer"

As part of the mission to get the new Art of Blend (and the company’s tried and true frozen yoghurt and ice cream formulas) to more and more customers, Pretorius was in India spruiking the new brand when we spoke to him.

“I’m a bit nervous about presenting chai tea to an Indian market,” he offered.

“But they really accepted it very well.”

Going to “a lot” of trade shows is an important part of driving the brand and continuing Frosty Boy’s growth, said Pretorius. Frequent visits to the customer’s valuable Asian clientele is also vital.

The company’s focus on exports, particularly to that continent, has significantly sharpened since Pretorius began in his role.

In 2001, 98 per cent of sales were Australian.

These days, 75 per cent of its business is export. Recognition of its success has included qualifying as a finalist in the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards in both the Manufacturing and Regional Exporter categories.

Its export growth – past and future – seems very much an Asian Century story.

The country’s reputation for high-quality dairy products and shifting demographics are a winning combination for Pretorius’s firm. If it hadn’t latched on to these, things would have been very different.

“If you look at the size of the Australian market and you compare it to, for instance, the size of the market in Asia, where we have 4 billion people, and you look at the middle class in these markets – which is our consumers – and it’s currently more than 600 million people in that middle class,” he said.

“And the projection is that this will grow in the next ten years to over 3 billion people in that middle class. It’s a no-brainer basically, on where the focus should be if you want to expand your business.”


95 made redundant at Betta Foods following sale

Betta Foods’ staff have been made redundant after the company’s administrators, Cor Cordis, entered into a sale of asset agreement with Prydes Confectionery Holdings Pty Ltd (Prydes).

The sale includes plant and equipment assets, intellectual property, business names, stock, and rights of vendor under contracts with customers.

Managing Partner Bruno Secatore said remaining staff at Betta Foods would be made redundant, but would have the prospect of being employed by Prydes in the near future.

“Prydes will begin operating the business later this month under a new structure.”

“We have been in regular contact with the relevant unions. Obviously these manufacturing facilities require trained workers to operate and we understand Prydes will be interviewing the Betta Foods staff next week to see who they may employ going forward” he said.

The remaining staff, comprising 13 administrative and 82 manufacturing staff (57 of who are full time and 25 casual), have been informed and will be made redundant on Thursday and Friday.

Secatore said that staff entitlements are protected under law and through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme.

The sale is due to settle this Friday 13 March 2015.

Prydes is a NSW based confectioner and has been in operation since 2009 and owned by Jose and Daniel Sanchez. The Betta Foods purchase is their fourth acquisition in five years.

Betta Foods is a Melbourne based confectionary manufacturer of liquorice under the Capricorn brand, ice cream cones, marshmallows and jellies.

Bruno Secatore, Daniel Juratowitch and Glenn Spooner of Chartered Accounting firm Cor Cordis were appointed Voluntary Administrators of Betta Foods (Operations) Pty Ltd on January 20.


Cadbury cans grant application, new visitor centre development

Cadbury has withdrawn its application for a controversial $16 million grant, which would have been spent on the Chocolate World visitor centre at Hobart.

The chocolate maker, owned by Mondelez International, said it was unable to meet the conditions attached to the grant by the federal government. These included that production at the site be increased by 20 per cent to 70,000 tonnes a year.

The ABC and others report that, after 18 months, Mondelez didn’t meet the grant criteria.

"Specifically what we couldn't satisfy was the requirement that we were able to sign up to significantly increasing volumes through our plant here in Claremont,” Mondelez’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told reporters.

"That was dependent on us accessing some substantial new export volume orders.

"We don't have those orders today and therefore it wasn't possible for us to sign up to the grant criteria."

Banfield said this was not something the business could afford, and it would instead be investing $20 million in upgrading the factory.

Last month she cited “unprecedented” recent cost pressures in a decision to reduce the size of family-sized chocolate blocks from 220 to 200 grams.

The $16 million federal grant was made by then-opposition leader Tony Abbott during the 2013 election campaign. The co-investment in a visitor centre – claimed to be something that would create 300 new jobs – required Cadbury to spend $50 million of its own money.

The pledge, which some have described as pork barrelling the seat of Denison (held by independent Andrew Wilkie), was criticised after the federal government refused to co-invest in SPC Ardmona’s Shepparton site early last year.

Fairfax notes that the grant announcement was claimed by prime minister Tony Abbott to be supported by a strong business case. The opposition revealed last year, via a Freedom of Information request, that a formal business case had never been made by Cadbury.

Tasmian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said the $16 million would be spent within the state, but did not give details.

The news was welcomed by Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgmann.

"(We) will now work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure that this money is invested in productive infrastructure and job-creating opportunities," The West Australian reports him as saying.


WHO recommendations put the spotlight on “hidden” sugars

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5 percent or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.

The recommendation may have implications for food manufacturers, as the free sugars WHO warns needs to be limited refers to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer. It also includes sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

WHO said much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.

The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.

The release yesterday of the guidelines has prompted a coalition of leading health organisations to call for a national strategy around obesity that includes policies to directly impact the amount of added sugars in Australians’ diets.

Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, Jane Martin said at present, Australians consume far more than the recommended 6 teaspoons of free sugar a day.

Most of the added sugar comes from the sugary drinks and highly processed ‘extra’ foods that make up more than a third of our diet.  

“While sugary drinks have to be the number one target to reduce our sugar intake, we also need to pay attention to the highly processed foods, like breakfast cereals and yoghurts which people often don’t realise are high in sugar.

“There are a lot of inexpensive and effective policies that the government could implement to reduce the sugar-coated environment in which we live – many countries are moving in this direction. They include restricting the sale of sugary drinks in schools and healthcare settings, ensuring that the star front of pack labels are implemented widely for all packaged foods, restricting marketing of foods high in sugar to children, reformulating foods and taxing high sugar drinks,” Martin said.


Global Stevia market registers a robust growth

The global Stevia market is expected to reach US $ 565.2 Million by 2020, due to shifting consumer preference.

According to a Future Market Insights report “Global Stevia Market – Market Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2014 – 2020,” the global stevia market is projected to grow at a single-digit CAGR during the forecast period, accounting for US $ 565.2 Mn by 2020.

Stevia extracts are finding increasing application in soft drinks and juices, ice creams, and various other products. This is attributed to its high-intensity natural sweetness properties. Due to these factors, share of the stevia market is expected to account for around 15 percent of the overall sweetener market by 2020.

The global stevia market is sub-segmented on the basis of the type of liquid, powdered and leaf form. The powdered stevia sub-segment is projected to account for around 65.4 percent share of the total stevia market by 2020, owing to ease of availability and use. The liquid stevia sub-segment, on the other hand, is expected to record a CAGR of around 9.0 percent during the forecast period.

All forms of stevia extracts are extensively used in end-use industries such as dairy, bakery, confectionery, beverages, packaged food, snacks and others.

Increasing introduction of products with stevia-based sweetener ingredients in various end-use industries is expected to bolster growth of the global stevia market by 2020.

Increasing popularity of such products owing to growing modern retail, urbanization, awareness and health concerns and changing preferences of consumers are major factors driving growth of this market.

Apart from the application in the food and beverages industry, introduction of products with stevia-based sweeteners across end-use industries such as bakery and confectionery is expected to bolster growth of the global stevia market by 2020. Furthermore, the global stevia market is driven by the need for effective alternatives for artificial sugar-based products owing to changing consumer lifestyle, increasing product visibility in urban areas and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for rebaudioside A as an ingredient in food products in European countries.


Haigh’s Chocolates to install an interactive production robot

Haigh’s Chocolates will be the first in Australia to install a Baxter robot, which is designed make automation accessible and affordable to Australian Manufacturers.

Until now, production robots have been separated from people by protective cages, programmed by specialised engineers, and affordable by only large scale manufacturers.

Baxter, a ‘collaborative robot’ works alongside people uncaged to complete repetitive production tasks that are typically difficult or expensive to automate, freeing up human operators to focus on more value-added jobs,

Baxter was created by Adelaide born Rodney Brooks in 2012, who had a vision to make robotics more accessible, usable and practical.  Baxter has fast become part of the fabric of the American manufacturing industry.

Pullman Learning Group is the regional distributor for the Baxter Robot and has appointed SAGE Automation as authorised integrator for the Baxter Manufacturing Robot in Australia.  SAGE Automation CEO Adrian Fahey, sees the technology as an enormous opportunity for our manufacturing Industry, “It is putting automation into the reach of all manufacturers, enabling them to achieve new efficiencies and remain competitive”, he said.

“Baxter’s low-cost and high return provides a compelling alternative to offshoring by enabling manufacturers to ramp up production more cost effectively, protect intellectual property and create a more productive, satisfied workforce,” he said.

Baxter is intelligent and intuitive; any worker can simply teach Baxter how to carry out a required task, which is stored in its memory to perform again in the future.  Furthermore, Baxter is mobile and can be retrained and deployed as required throughout a manufacturing facility. 

Baxter works with sensors to provide one of the safety elements which enable Baxter to work collaboratively alongside people. Baxter’s face acknowledges when someone is now close by and also indicates where he is about to move.

When considering Baxter for a company, SAGE first undertakes a review of the current situation of their operations, considers which tasks could be completed by Baxter to optimise their effectiveness, and provides analysis and costing of how Baxter can be integrated and supported within their business. SAGE can also integrate Baxter with other control systems, and providing ongoing support and training.  

The first industrial implementation of a Baxter robot in Australia will be at iconic South Australian, family owned chocolate maker Haigh’s Chocolates.

Chief executive of Haigh’s Chocolates Alister Haigh said “Haigh’s Chocolates is a proud South Australian manufacturer.  We place great emphasis on service and the finest traditional chocolate making. Our vision is that the Baxter robot will enable us to grow our business and maintain our traditions as we increase employment and move employees to higher skilled activities.”

The project for Haigh’s is being supported by the Department of State Development’s Business Transformation Voucher Program, an initiative of the State Government’s Manufacturing Works strategy.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the project was recommended for funding based on its potential to improve Haighs’ manufacturing performance and expand production capability and diversity to meet the growing demand of local and export markets using high-tech processes.

“Technology is a powerful tool for business innovation, and when combined with the right business models has the potential to create and capture new value for existing manufacturers,” he said.

“Transforming South Australia’s economy will be built on the ability of manufacturers to adopt new techniques using advanced technology, so that they can develop high-value products and services.

“The Baxter robot is a great example of innovation in action.”

What makes Baxter different?

Baxter is a solution for manufacturers of all sizes. In addition to its uniquely low price point, Baxter offers six fundamental differences that distinguish it from traditional industrial robots.

  1. No programming: Line workers can train Baxter in minutes, with no expertise in software, robotics or engineering required. In addition, Baxter retrains quickly for fast line changeovers.
  2. No safety cages: Baxter was designed with a comprehensive safety system which makes it feasible for working without barriers and in close proximity to people in a production environment.
  3. Streamlined integration: Baxter is a complete system (hardware, software, controls, UI, safety, sensors) that can quickly and easily be set up, integrated and trained to do its first task.
  4. Works intelligently: Baxter is designed and programmed to perform a wide range of manufacturing and production tasks; it is aware of its environment, and automatically adjusts to changes.
  5. Versatile and capable: Baxter was designed to perform simple, repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently, freeing people to focus on higher-level, more value-added activities.
  6. Extendible platform: Baxter is a complete, yet fully extendible platform which includes all necessary software, with updates provided regularly to enhance capabilities and performance.

See Baxter in action:



Darrell Lea workers face losing $400k in entitlements

Six Darrell Lea workers may be denied $400,000 in redundancy entitlements after a shell company employing them was put into liquidation.

Administrators took control of Darrell Lea in 2012 to try and save it from ruin, and it was sold to Australia’s largest manufacturer of fresh chilled pet-food, the Quinn family.

The deal saw 400 workers lose their jobs, but more than 80 jobs were saved.

Part of their restructure was to move the factory from Kogarah in Sydney's south to Ingleburn on the city's outer south-western fringes. That move has been the source of a fresh employment dispute, ABC News reports.

"Most of the workforce were happy to go. A small number of the employees, this half a dozen, they're unable to travel to Ingleburn for a range of personal, family reasons," said Lucy Saunders, a legal officer with the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), which is representing the six staff.

The union took the employer to the Fair Work Commission arguing that eight workers were entitled to redundancy payments, as they were not being offered suitable alternative employment by being asked to travel to Ingleburn.

The commission found that six of the eight were entitled to redundancies because of their personal circumstances, and the wording of the enterprise agreement.

The employer appealed to the full bench of Fair Work, but the original decision was upheld.

On January 28, the Fair Work Commission gave the employer 14 days to pay the six staff a total of around $400,000 in entitlements that they were owed.

The individual entitlements ranged from more than $50,000 to almost $90,000.

The problem for the workers is that their employer was a labour hire firm, a shell company, called DL Employment.

In the days after the Fair Work decision, a range of corporate actions took place.

"On the 29th of January the Quinns created a new company, it's called KQ Employment Pty Ltd, it's ultimately owned by Klark Quinn, who manages the Darrell Lea site," Saunders said.

"Then on the 30th of January Sinclair Quinn, who is the sole shareholder of DL Employment, placed the company into a voluntary winding up.

"So DL Employment is the company the orders are made against, it's the one that technically owes the money.

"The Darrell Lea business has indicated to us that they will not be paying the redundancies that the Fair Work Commission has ordered."

The ABC spoke with the liquidator of DL Employment, Jason Bettles from the Gold Coast office of insolvency firm Worrells.

He said DL Employment has no physical assets, and that its sole director, Sinclair Quinn, told him that there was no money in any of its bank accounts.

Saunders says that leaves the former employees in limbo.

"The six employees are left with a company with no assets, no hope of recovery in the normal course," she said.

The liquidator told the ABC that he is an independent party whose role is to maximise the return for creditors, including by pursuing directors personally if they have breached their duties.

In this case the main creditors are the six employees, and the union says it is considering Federal Court action if the entitlements are not forthcoming.


Two new flavours for the Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo range

Product Name: Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo

Product Manufacturer: Arnott’s Biscuits


Choc Raspberry: sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil, cocoa mass, milk solids, cocoa butter, golden syrup, food colours, cocoa powder, emulsifiers, salt, baking powder, raspberry powder, food acid and flavour.

Coconut Cream: sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil, milk solids, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, dessicated coconut, coconut milk, golden syrup, food colour, cocoa powder, emulsifiers, salt, baking powder and flavour.

Shelf Life: 6 months

Brand Website:

What the company says:

Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo Coconut Cream: Delicious Coconut Cream sandwiched between rich, dark biscuits and covered in Arnott's famous Milk chocolate.

Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo Choc Raspberry: Irresistible Raspberry Cream sandwiched between rich, dark biscuits and coated with Arnott's semi-dark chocolate.

Adriano Zumbo is an Australian and French-trained patissier known for his elaborate, quirky desserts and has developed a cult following thanks to his work on shows like Masterchef and his growing fleet of eponymous patisseries.

Zumbo says: “This is my second collaboration with Arnott’s Tim Tam and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The new Coconut Cream and Choc Raspberry flavours are bold and authentic additions to the Tim Tam biscuits Australians know and love.”

Following the success of the Tim Tam by Zumbo range launched in 2013, the two new flavours will join the existing Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo biscuits.


35 lose jobs as another confectionery manufacturer buckles

Metford Confectionery revealed to its staff on Friday that has gone into “voluntary liquidation”.

The announcement was made in a letter to staff, the Newcastle Herald reports.

Operations general manager Brent Baillie said it “has not been an easy decision for the directors of this company” and acknowledged it would be a “stressful time for all affected employees”.

“We have found it very difficult to make headway with the required sales volume to support the manufacturing operations on site,” he wrote.

Supervisor Terry Coward was shocked to hear the news after working closely with management since it took on the business 21 months ago.

Metford employees met at the Metford Road site Saturday afternoon (31 January) to discuss the situation.

Coward said the company had told staff it would not pay them a redundancy.

He also said their promised wages from last week still hadn’t been transferred into their bank accounts.

“They won’t pay redundancy payouts and they owe us for last week’s wages and our leave entitlements," Coward said.

“We’ve all got bills to pay, we’ve got rent to pay, loans to pay off, and now we’re out of a job.

“There’s no jobs going in what we’re trained in, so I don’t know what we’ll do.”


Sustainable chocolate key to lucrative mid-lifer market, Canadean

A new report from Canadean has found that chocolate is becoming increasingly popular among consumers aged 35-44, and that the key to capitalising on this trend is to promote chocolate as an indulgent treat with natural ingredients and sustainable production methods.

Canadean's survey finds that 46 percent of consumers aged 35-44 claim that ‘natural products’ are neither important nor unimportant when they look for chocolate. Moreover, 66 percent have never put a confectionery product back on the shelf because it was not natural enough.

In addition only 20 percent of respondents believe that confectionery is artificial, meaning that the majority of consumers see chocolate as a natural product. In order to emphasise the often overlooked natural positioning of chocolate and its ‘better for you and the world’ credentials, Canadean say that marketers need to establish a link between concepts such as ‘natural’ and ‘sustainable’.

“Chocolate can be positioned both as an indulgent treat and a ‘good’ product,” says Raquel Perez-Lopez, analyst at Canadean. “This can be done by positioning a product around the claim of ‘creating a better and sustainable world’. Moreover, appropriate labelling, such as Fairtrade certification, would allow consumers to enjoy a guilt-free moment of indulgence by eating a product that has been produced in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner.”


Mondelez opens R&D centre, adds 63 jobs and increased emphasis on Asian exports

This week Mondelez opened an Asia Pacific Centre of Excellence in Ringwood, east of Melbourne, creating 63 jobs and the largest food R&D team in the country.

Victoria’s manufacturing minister David Hodgett officially opened the site this week, which is the largest R&D centre in the Asia Pacific region for the country.

"In addition to securing the future of one of Australia's largest food manufacturing sites here in Ringwood, the Centre is home to the largest food R&D team in Australia, housing more than 100 food scientists, technologists and graduates," said Hodgett in a statement.

"This state-of-the-art facility significantly enhances our state's food and beverage R&D capability, and will benefit companies across the sector, who will access its education, training and business development programs.

Hodgett said the centre would hasten development of products for export to Asia, and could be used in collaboration with the CSIRO to come up with solutions for the local food and beverage industry.

The centre will will focus on confectionery.

Mondelez International was formerly known as Cadbury and Kraft Foods.

The announcement comes in the same week as Coca-Cola Amatil announced it would be shutting its Bayswater bottling plant, making 57 jobs redundant.


Barry Callebaut switches to RSPO fully segregated CBEs

The Barry Callebaut group has furthered its sustainable palm oil commitment by switching its European supply to RSPO fully segregated Cocoa Butter Equivalents (CBEs).

The chocolate manufacturer, which is a leading supplier in the foodservice sector and the parent company behind the Callebaut and Cocao Barry chocolate brands, will switch its sourcing of core CBEs from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) mass balance, to RSPO fully segregated across its European operations as of 3 November, 2014.

CBEs contain a variety of oils such as palm and shea, and segregation ensures that certified palm is physically kept apart throughout the supply chain, and is fully present in the end product.

“The demand for food products produced in a responsible way continues to grow, and we’re seeing an increasing number of customers requesting sustainable and traceable ingredients,” said Massimo Garavaglia, president Barry Callebaut Western Europe.

“With this move to fully RSPO segregated CBEs, we are taking another pro-active step in meeting customers’ needs and at the same time supporting sustainable agriculture that safeguards the environment in equatorial regions.”


Re:Capital acquires Australian confectionery manufacturer, Betta Foods

International investment specialist, Re:Capital has announced its acquisition of Australian confectionery manufacturer, Betta Foods.

The deal will see Re:Capital – which is the investment arm of British restructuring company Hillco – transfer ownership of Betta Foods to holding company, The Confectionary Innovation group.

The purchase of Betta Foods marks the second acquisition of an Australian confectionery manufacturer by Re:Capital who purchased iconic Australian chocolate brand Ernest Hillier earlier this year.

Newly appointed chief executive of Betta Foods and CEO of Hillier’s Chocolates, Mark Campbell told Smart Company that the two companies offer products which are complementary, and that all 150 Betta Foods staff will be kept on.

“We see food manufacturing in Australia as a good positive moving forward,” he says.

“Part of that strategy is that we think it’s an ideal time for Australia to contribute to being the delicatessen of the world.”

Campbell says that since Re:Captial took over Hiller’s there has been a renewed focus on product innovation and customer engagement leading to an increase in staff numbers and a 20 percent increase on turnover.

Investment director for Re:Capital Australia, James Turner told Smart Company that the decision to purchase Betta Foods steamed from the businesses’ quality product range, experienced staff and good manufacturing facilities.

“For us there are a lot of SME businesses in this space which really do benefit from having size behind them, there are economies of scale,” Turner says.

“These products are being sold to a very similar customer base and to suddenly have a broader sales force combining the two gives a great boost.”


“Chocolate has lost its way”: Q&A with Willie’s Cacao

Chocolateir Willie Harcourt-Cooze bought a 1,000 acre cacao farm in Venezuela nearly two decades ago, and since then has made it his mission to revolutionise how consumers eat and enjoy chocolate.

Only containing three ingredients – cacao, natural cacao butter and raw cane sugar – Willie’s chocolate is manufactured with the help of 100 year old machinery, which he sourced and restored by hand, to process the beans and make the chocolate.

Willie’s Cacao will be available at Coles from 13 October, with the range including single origin chocolate, flavoured ‘inclusions’ chocolate and Black Pearls.

Harcourt-Cooze spoke to Food mag about his unique brand and his perceptions of Australia’s confectionery industry.


My chocolate is all about the flavour of the bean. The cacao has a long journey from ‘bean to bar’ and I choreograph every step to capture the subtle flavour notes of each bean. In the factory some of my machines are the old traditional ones and some are absolutely state of the art. Each has its own role and reason.

For example, I do all my roasting in antique ball roasters. After fermentation and drying, roasting is the next most important stage in developing the unique flavours and aromas of the beans. High quality beans don’t need heavy roasting, so I lightly roast ours in small batches for 20-25 minutes. Our 60 kilo ball roasting machine is almost 100 years old and was produced by Victor Gruber from Bilbao. It has recently been joined by a 250kg 1940’s Bath Sirocco ball roaster. The ball shape gives a more even roast and perhaps less bean breakages than other forms of roasting.

On the other hand, when it comes to tempering and depositing, modern machines are invaluable as they give you complete control and consistency. The tempering machine warms and cools the cacao mass to precise temperatures so that the butter and the solids set together perfectly, and you get chocolate with a beautiful shine and that sharp snap as you break it.

In the Chocolate Factory, I regard my role as Chocolate Maker as being simply to help each bean develop and show its unique flavour as completely as possible. Each different machine has its particular role in this.

For me, making chocolate is all about rediscovering the real tastes, textures and life-giving properties of a food that has been revered for thousands of years, but has somehow lost its way in the modern, commercial world.

Purity of flavour not only relies on ingredients of the highest quality, but also on processes which respect them. Everything I do in the factory creates my particular style of chocolate, with its very pure, long flavours.

For example by batch roasting the beans in my old ball roasters, I can control their flavours and never get the slightly bitter over roasted taste you often get with mass produced dark chocolate. Each bean is then conched for up to 11 days, with the precise length of time varying each time so that I get the exact flavours that I want.

I never use soya lecithin or even vanilla.  Soya lecithin is used to make tempering the chocolate easier and to help maintain shelf life, but I find that it gets in the way of the flavour of the bean.

When people eat my chocolate they say the flavour goes on and on – this is because I use less cocoa butter than most people. The down side is that it makes the manufacturing process harder as the chocolate does not flow so easily and the machines need cleaning more often. But when you let one of my Sea Salt Caramel Black Pearls melt, you first taste the chocolate, then after the caramel has rolled in and out, you are left with the same summer fruit flavours of the cacao that you started with. This would not happen if I used more cocoa butter.


The difference is flavour. I love watching people’s faces as they try my chocolate for the first time and as it melts the realisation gradually dawns that all the flavour comes simply from the cacao.

My beans are not just single origin – which means that they come from one country – they are single estate which means that they come from one particular farm or co-operative of farmers, and have their own very particular taste characteristics and style. Great single estate cacaos really are like fine wines.

I use Criollo and Trinitario beans that are less productive but which produce a much more interesting range of flavours and aromas than Foreastero beans that are the basis of most commercial blends and which are hardy, high yielding cacaos that give a classic chocolate taste, but tend to be rather bland.

Most people sell their bars by the percentage of cocao solids they have in them… so you hear people saying that they prefer 70 percent chocolate or 80 percent. But I describe my chocolate by where it comes from and how it tastes, so the Chulucanas 70 that will be available in Coles comes from Chulucanas in the Morropan province of Peru. It is a criollo bean with soft fruit notes of raisins and plums. The 70 means is has 70 percent cocoa solids, which for me is the perfect balance with sugar, but this is not my focus.


The team at Stuart Alexander in Sydney saw my TV series about setting up my factory and my mission to bring real chocolate to the world. They were inspired to come and find me at an international trade show.

We developed an agreement to work together and in 2014 Stuart Alexander presented the brand and a plan to launch to Coles supermarkets, which they were very excited by as it suited their desire to bring more unique premium brands to their shoppers.

An initial range of products was then agreed, a joint launch plan developed and the chocolate is hitting the shelves in Coles supermarkets for the first time this October.


Chocolate has really lost its way in the modern world. The confectionery industry is what it says, a ‘confection’… something invented, made up. Confectionery bars are stuffed full of sugar and fat and bear no resemblance to cacao in its natural form. But all around the world, food lovers are waking up to real chocolate made from interesting beans.

It is as if Green and Black’s opened people’s eyes to conventional dark chocolate and people want more, they are ready to move on to explore cacao’s world of flavour. I think this is just what is happening in Australia.

Dark chocolate is growing at 10 percent a year compared to the total block market at five percent (Aztec Data(Scan data) MAT 06/07/14) but alongside this there is such a vibrant food culture ready to embrace new things.

Also, I think that people draw parallels with other markets, so it is easy for Australians with their great wine industry to understand the similarities between fine wines and cacao.


Actually one of the things that really distinguishes our chocolate is its amazing value for money. There are just a handful of really beautifully made chocolates in the world, of which we are one, but they are usually sold at almost twice the price of ours, mainly in individual upmarket stores. I am all about trying to let everyone eat real chocolate. I want my chocolate to be affordable and easily available. That is why I am so excited about it launching in Coles.

In Coles our bars sell at $3.99 compared to Green & Blacks at around $3.99 and Lindt at $3.89, albeit for double the size.

When you think of the difference in quality, this is amazing value. It is easy for people to decide to spend the same amount and get something smaller but really special. That is what affordable treats are all about. 

I can sell at these prices because I buy the beans direct from the farmers and make everything myself, even the caramel. Even then we have to work really hard to keep costs down.

Killer Python shrinks as Nestle looks to reduce serving sizes

The size of Allen’s iconic Killer Python has been halved, reducing the confectionery item’s serving size as therefore its sugar and calorie content.

The new Killer Python weighs in at 24g, almost half of the original 47g size. It now contains 336kJ as opposed to 630kJ, but still uses the same recipe, with no artificial flavours.

The move forms part of Nestlé’s efforts to address serving sizes, particularly in regards to confectionery, and the Killer Python will be one of the first products in Nestlé’s range to include a new portion guidance device.

“From my experience people often can’t judge serving sizes. The portion guidance device clearly illustrates serving size and helps people enjoy their food, but know when to stop,” dietitian Melanie McGrice said.

Nestlé general manager – confectionery, Martin Brown said that resizing the Killer Python is only the beginning of this Nestlé initiative.

“We’re now offering confectionery with responsibly sourced ingredients, on-pack portion education and changes such as revised portion sizes and resealable packaging,” he said.

The new, treat sized Killer Python will be in stores this month.

Cherry Ripe launches new campaign [video]

To mark its 90th anniversary, Cherry Ripe has launched a new campaign led by a TV commercial.

Titled ‘Feeding the soul since 1924’, the ad shows a female protagonist through the decades, getting lost in a ‘me time’ moment with a Cherry Ripe while listening to music.

Developed by Droga5, the TVC features iconic fashion trends and home interiors, travelling back in time through the decades to Cherry Ripe’s inception in the 1920s.

Cherry Ripe marketing manager Audrey Green said “The new commercial is a great way to remind people that Cherry Ripe has been providing Australians with an intimate ‘me’ moment for 90 years. No matter how frantic life is, everyone enjoys creating some time to get lost in a really good song with a delicious little indulgence.”



Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate

Product name: Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate family share blocks

Product manufacturer: Well Naturally

Ingredients: Varies according to flavour. The Rich Dark flavour has cocoa mass & cocoa butter, polydextrose, erythritol, soy lecithin, natural flavour and stevia.

Shelf life: Two years

Packaging: Foil laminate

Product manager: Tracy Wong

Brand website:

What the company says
Well Naturally is launching a new range of No Sugar Added Chocolate family share blocks in both dark and milk varieties (available in the health section of Woolworths from mid September and in independent supermarkets and health food stores from October). The 90g blocks are available in Dark Chocolate: in Mint Crisp, Rich Dark and Acai varieties; and Milk Chocolate: in Creamy Milk and Fruit & Nut varieties.

All Well Naturally products have no added sugar and are sweetened naturally with stevia.

Cadbury launches new carnival-themed Marvellous Creations campaign [video]

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations range is continuing to go from strength to strength with the addition of three new carnival-inspired flavours.

The launch is complemented with an integrated marketing campaign inclusive of a new TV spot, out-of-home advertising and in-store activity. The television commercial – which follows the same format as the previous Marvellous Creations ads – includes the Cadbury team inventing the latest flavours with an added touch of carnival-themed creativity.

Marvellous Creations marketing manager, Audrey Green said since range has been hugely successful since its inception in 2012.

“We have continued to look at new ways to provide unique flavour experiences and innovations to delight consumers and bring them into the chocolate category,” she says.

“The launch of our carnival-themed range and the revamp of our packaging continues our mission to share new and wonderful flavour combinations that Australians will love.”  

The new flavours include Cola, Popping Candy and Fizzy Crunch; Orange Lolly, Orange Chew Fizzy Crunch and Toffee Apple Chew, Toffee Apple Chip, Crunchie Bits. 

New miniature formats will also be released as part of the launch and will be available in three flavours: Jelly Zingers, Toffee Nutters and Caramel Shakes.


Connoisseur’s Empire Collection

Product name: The Empire Collection

Product manufacturer: Connoisseur

Ingredients (red bean with coconut flavour): Cream (32%), Skim Milk Concentrate, Water, Sugar, Glucose Syrup (Wheat), Desiccated Coconut (2%), Red Bean Paste (1.5%), Dextrose Monohydrate, Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Origin Emulsifier [471 (Soy)], Vegetable Gums (410, 440), Flavours, Colours (150d, 120, 163), Salt, Food Acid (327)

Packaging:  Tubs, designed by Melbourne street artist, Steve Cross

Brand website:

What the company says
Connoisseur, the creators of luscious ice cream flavours such as Murray River Salted Caramel and Kangaroo Island Honey with Fig, have launched a new range of decadent gourmet ice cream.

The Connoisseur Empire Collection brings the story of ice cream to life with four unique flavour combinations inspired by four historical characters, each of whom had a connection to the very origins of ice cream. In an ode to Italy and Emperor Nero, coffee hazelnut flavoured ice cream has been taken to the next level with the addition of chocolate coated hazelnuts and hazelnut liqueur sauce, while in a homage to King Louis XIV, French vanilla flavoured ice cream gets the royal treatment with the addition of choc flakes and Armagnac sauce.

Taking inspiration from the east and the extravagant Emperor Jing Zong, red bean flavoured ice cream has been paired with coconut; and as a tribute to King Cyrus of Persia, divine pistachio flavoured ice cream has been swirled with a sauce made from cinnamon, honey and dates. These four flavours make up The Empire Collection, a range packed with the signature creaminess of Connoisseur ice cream and indulgent textural extras.