Beef – during and beyond COVID-19

As parts of the world cautiously ease out of lockdown and reassess COVID-19’s impact on the beef sector, Rabobank’s latest global Beef Quarterly has revised down its global beef production outlook, and forecasts slowing beef demand in a declining economy.

However, the Q2 report said the Australian cattle market was more favourably placed –limited supply and improved seasonal conditions continuing to dominate the local sector and maintain strong cattle prices.

Beef processing disruptions
Beef supply chains and distribution channels emerged the major casualties of COVID-19 during March and April, particularly in the US, where, Mr Gidley-Baird said, cattle slaughter dived almost 50 per cent below 2019 levels following beef processing plant closures and slowdowns.

“This limited capacity placed enormous pressure on beef supplies and fed cattle numbers, with prices adjusting accordingly,” he said. “Beef prices jumped to record levels – the comprehensive cutout reached USD 470/cwt in early May – and fed cattle prices dropped.”

Although US production was now improving, with plant capacity, as of mid-May, down only about 10 per cent, Gidley-Baird said the backlog of cattle was not expected to be cleared until late 2020 or early 2021.

Globally, the spread of COVID-19 continues at pace in a number of countries – Brazil’s processing sector is currently on high alert – and he said Australia had been fortunate to avoid any major disruptions to beef processing capacity, its production constrained only by the limited national supply.

Production outlook
The report’s revised-down forecast for 2020 global beef production dropped about one per cent on 2019 levels, with a number of factors beyond COVID-19’s disruption affecting the outlook, Gidley-Baird said.

High levels of female slaughter in Brazil and Australia in recent years had reduced breeding herds, Australia’s current rebuilding efforts reducing the number of cattle sent to slaughter.
Australia’s east coast cattle slaughter for the year to date was down eight per cent, while female slaughter was down 13 per cent – demonstrating producer demand to rebuild herds.

This reduced slaughter had, Gidley-Baird said, reduced exports by one per cent, year to date, with disruptions also shifting export markets – reducing numbers into China during February and March, before a recovery in April, and decreasing exports into the US throughout March and April.

In Brazil, he said, cattle slaughter was believed to have fallen by nine per cent in Q1.
However, a reduction in imports from China – down 29 per cent month on month in February – and a decline in domestic consumption had weakened demand, so supply and demand was balanced, maintaining cattle price stability.

“Brazil is currently experiencing drier conditions, so we expect the supply of animals for slaughter to increase, and with domestic consumption continuing to decline, we forecast Brazilian exports to increase, particularly considering the strong devaluation of its currency, down 40 per cent since the start of the year,” Gidley-Baird said.

Processing slowdowns in the US, plus Argentine tax regime changes and a softening of demand in its export markets, also contributed to the lower production estimate, Mr Gidley-Baird said.

Slowing economic outlook
With Rabobank forecasting a severe downturn in the global economy – with world economic growth contracting 2.6 per cent in 2020 – Mr Gidley-Baird said there would be repercussions on beef demand.

“As a perishable product, there is a consistent relationship between production and consumption – whatever beef is produced will be consumed relatively quickly,” he said. “The question then becomes ‘at what price will we consume the given quantity?’.”

He said past economic downturns suggest beef demand declined – with consumption during the global financial crisis and past European downturns stimulated through discounting.

“With economic stress there is also the risk that consumers shift to cheaper animal protein, such as pork and poultry, or to less expensive beef cuts,” Gidley-Baird said.

This trend, he said, was expected to continue throughout a deep recession, with a change in consumption patterns likely to evolve over the balance of 2020.

Disruption still felt in supermarkets due to Covid-19

To navigate the world beyond COVID-19, innovation that improves life for all rather than playing by the rules to manage risk is imperative to growth in the food and beverage industry. Speaking at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Convention, Kantar Australia’s head of sensory, Dr. Denise Hamblin says that “brand loyalty has been disrupted and there has never been a more important time to ensure our products are as good as they can be.”

In April, 93 per cent of Australians were unable to find their usual grocery brand or product in store. “This happened across an average of 13 grocery categories, and when it did, 9 out of 10 people chose a different brand. Where a home brand alternative was chosen, 78 per cent were ‘as satisfied’ or ‘more satisfied’.”

As product availability returns to pre-crisis levels, 3 in 10 Aussies continue to buy alternatives.

Thirty per cent of Australians surveyed as part of  Kantar’s Covid-19 barometer between May 22-26 plan to continue to buy the new brands they purchased during product shortages, with 27 per cent also continuing to shop at new stores they’ve discovered in the height of the pandemic. Over half are paying more attention to products on sale and on price.

“Ultimately, building value around the products and experiences we curate are vital in this climate.​ As concern around getting sick has reduced, the worry has increasingly turned towards the future, especially around an economic recession – and this brings more aversion to risk,” said Hamblin.

“For older Australians and those in a ‘conformity’ mindset, this may mean demand for the same brands and products for a lower price; but younger generations and those in a ‘rebellion’ mindset are more likely to try new and different things that provide better value for money.”

The coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity for brands to gain new consumers

“As we navigate our way towards a ‘new normal’ this is anticipated to continue, particularly in households with children,” says Hamblin. “In April, over half of Australians reduced their frequency in supermarket visits from an average of 2.5 to 1.7 times a week. At the same time, the propensity to shop online has increased for a third of us, with the purchase of food and beverages increasing the most of all categories.”

“This is a huge mass trial of a service,” said Hamblin. “Clearly unexpected in its widespread nature too as only just over a third of Aussies felt that grocery shopping online yielded an excellent user experience.”

Kantar’s qualitative studies also reveal the biggest pain points for online grocery shopping during the pandemic is the absence of sensorial stimulation as a motivator and for enjoyment. While an added cost at a time when price sensitivities prevail, doubt around product freshness and the inconvenience of imprecise delivery slots take strong reign. Price and provenance are also key to what brands should be thinking about to put the consumer at the heart of what they do.”

“With 57 per cent of Aussies paying more attention to homegrown products, if your product is owned, made or grown in Australia, then it’s a great time to ensure consumers know about it.”​

Forty-two per cent of Australians say they will maintain most lockdown behaviours – especially food and wellbeing

As lockdown measures began, Aussies began to cook more frequently and more often from scratch. Fresh ingredients, healthy meals and new recipes were key.​ As lockdown progressed – and has now eased – Aussies are still increasingly trying to gain consistency with eating habits.

“While the crisis has forced many to do more to look after physical and mental wellbeing, it has also beckoned us to snack more and seek out treats,” said Hamblin. “This creates new opportunities for the food and beverage industry, just in a different environment.”

Return-to-work trends also provide opportunities for the food industry to innovate

Only 57 per cent of Aussies have a return-to-work timeframe in mind given concerns about hygiene and social distancing, as well as the commute and public transport. For the food industry, this may mean less reliance on office-provided snacks and ‘on-the-go’ solutions but opens the opportunity for supporting workers to prepare their own lunches.​

“Safety is paramount, and this extends into buying products to protect ourselves – especially important to households with children. We’re seeing an increased propensity towards vitamins and supplements. This also indicates a real opportunity for food and beverage innovators to develop functional and fortified products,” said Hamblin.

“Considering the consumer’s need for more considered, purposeful activities and connections as we emerge out of isolation; along with a renewed focus on health, a desire for local, an eye for value and new confidence, shopping online will stand any brand in good stead. Brands should also pay heed to what Aussies increasingly want from them at this time – to guide the change, use their knowledge and inform. The new normal presents opportunity for brands innovating to leadership.”

Red meat exports to China remain strong due to swine fever

African swine fever remains the key driver impacting the global animal protein market, despite the effects of COVID-19 on demand, Rabobank’s latest African Swine Fever Update has shown.

And this is being borne out in Australia’s red meat exports to China, which remain strong, according to latest figures.

The Rabobank update said African swine fever was still the major influence on global pork markets, and it continued to impact pig herds and restrict pork production in China, Vietnam, the Philippines and parts of eastern Europe.

Despite Australia’s total red meat exports being down 16 per cent year-on-year in May, exports to China are down only four per cent – reflecting strong Chinese demand in the wake of African swine fever, despite disruptions due to COVID-19.

Rabobank senior proteins analyst, Angus Gidley-Baird said considering Australia’s reduced production, current export figures highlight China’s strong appetite for Australian protein.
“While exports into China are not quite at the levels they were at the end of last year – when African swine fever-driven pork shortages were driving strong Chinese demand and Australian production was much higher – they are close to levels seen at the start of 2019, which is a positive outcome for the domestic industry,” Gidley-Baird said.

China’s pork production is expected to decline by a further 15 to 20 per cent in 2020, while in Vietnam and the Philippines, declines are expected to be close to 10 per cent, prompting further import demand from these countries.

In China, Mr Gidley-Baird said, pork imports were expected to reach record levels, while imports of other animal protein types would also be strong.

“China’s pork import growth accelerated in the first four months of 2020, with meat imports up 180 per cent, year-on-year, and variety meat imports up 29 per cent year-on-year,” he said.

Rabobank maintained its view that China’s pork imports would reach a record level of about 3.5 million metric tonnes in 2020, with the majority of product supplied from the US, under the US/China ‘phase one’ trade deal.

However,  Gidley-Baird said imports for the rest of 2020 were still full of uncertainty, with disruptions to pork production and logistics in exporting countries, and movement in China’s domestic pork prices.

He said imports could ease through the current quarter, picking up again in quarter three and quarter four.

“But, COVID-19 and slower economic conditions aside, the protein gap created by African swine fever provides a strong demand force that will help support prices for Australian red meat exports for the remainder of 2020,” Gidley-Baird said

“African swine fever will continue to underpin Chinese demand for Australian sheep and beef exports, as consumers look to substitute pork with alternative protein options.”

Bundaberg commits $11 million to help during COVID pandemic

Queensland brand Bundaberg Rum, owned by parent company Diageo, has announced the creation of ‘Raising the Bar’, an $11.5 million fund that will support Australia’s bars, pubs, and clubs as they rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any licensed venue in Australia, whether they’re regional or metro, and regardless if they’re a Bundaberg Rum or Diageo stockist, can apply for support through the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative that will fund a two-year programme rolling out from July 2020.

‘Raising the Bar’ will directly support jobs, recovery, and innovation in the Australian hospitality industry. Pre-COVID-19 Australian pubs, bars and clubs employed more than 500,000 Australians and contributed $17.2 billion in revenue.

“Our hospitality industry sits at the heart of our community and Australian culture. The joy of being able to connect with friends and family down at the ‘local’ has been sorely missed throughout this pandemic, while the economic impact on the industry has been unprecedented,” said Angus McPherson, managing director at Bundaberg Rum’s parent company Diageo Australia.

“Many in the hospitality industry are small businesses that employ thousands across the country and as we start to recover and rebuild, Bundaberg Rum wants to stand by their side and support them in getting back on their feet just like any Australian would do for a mate.”

Both Government and industry have come out in support of the fund and how it will help this critical industry that accounts for 8 per cent of Australian jobs, get back on its feet.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Seeing the resilience, innovation and spirit amongst Australian small business operators, including in the hospitality sector, as they have faced the challenges this year has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Hon. Michaelia Cash Senator and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

“Businesses and workers in the hospitality industry have shown great ingenuity by innovating and adapting as the devastating effects of COVID-19 have impacted us all.

“I welcome the introduction of the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative. These support measures will provide additional support to Australia’s bars, pubs and clubs which have all been severely impacted by the social distancing measures required to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

 ‘Bundaberg Rum, through their parent company Diageo, stepped up for Queensland when we needed it most, generously donating 100,000 litres of ethanol to produce hand sanitiser to ensure our front-line workers were kept safe at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland,” said Queensland treasurer, the Hon. Cameron Dick.

‘Once again, Bundaberg Rum has proven their commitment with the ‘Raising the Bar’ recovery fund for Australia’s hospitality sector, which has been so hard hit by the pandemic.

‘Like the Queensland Government, Bundaberg Rum knows how important it is to support and create jobs, and we thank them, once again, for investing in Queensland.’

‘Doing business in a post-COVID world is a new challenge for every industry and it is initiatives like this that will allow more businesses to keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said NSW treasurer, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet.

‘These support measures will allow more pubs and bars to open safely, directly supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the country as we move from the response to recovery phase during this pandemic.

‘The hospitality is a key contributor to the NSW and national economy and it is important businesses continue to adopt innovative approaches such as these, which I have no doubt will provide not only short-term gains but long-term benefits.

‘The NSW Government is doing everything we can to support all sectors of the economy to keep more people in jobs and businesses in business.’

From 24 June 2020, venue operators can register their interest for ‘Raising the Bar’ funding via http://www.diageobaracademy.com. The industry can also register to receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses.

This announcement is part of a broader commitment by Diageo to invest US$100 million globally in ‘Raising the Bar’ programmes that will support venues as they recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector has been widespread, with the closure of venues the world over. As governments begin to ease lockdown measures, the public want to come together again to connect with their community and socialise safely. Through the establishment of ‘Raising the Bar’, Bundaberg Rum and Diageo aims to help any licensed venue anywhere in Australia open its doors again and welcome back their patron

A guide for returning people to work safely

With COVID-19 restrictions easing in some states in Australia, a workforce that has spent a lot of the past couple of months at home, is now starting to return to work. Here are some practical steps to take into consideration, especially if you are in the food and beverage processing and manufacturing sector.

  • Manage employee expectations. To ensure a successful transition back to the office, employees need to feel their employer has done everything to maximise their safety at work. Before you re-open, organise a full disinfection coronavirus precautionary clean, which includes a precautionary cleaning of all personal spaces in addition to shared touchpoints, such as door handles, remotes, kitchen taps, microwaves, fridges, and coffee machines.
  • Plan your space using the four-square metre rule. The existing seating or working plan of your workplace may no longer be viable for the distancing rule of four-square metres per person. To determine how many staff you can have on the premises at once, calculate the area of the workspace in square metres and divide it by four. To allow for objects, such as desks and boardrooms, divide the space by eight. For example, if your office is 160 square metres, you could only have up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have four square metres of space.
  • Initiate a rotational working system. Once you have calculated how many employees you can have on site, create a roster system that includes all relevant employees. For example, if you employ 100 people, divide that by five working days, and you’ll find yourself with a 20 person ‘team’ that can come into the office on a set day per week. However, don’t forget the four-square metre rule, which can be achieved by re-configuring furniture to increase physically distancing or getting staff to ‘own’ a different desk to what they are used to. Lisa says: “Whether your employees are rostered on weekly, fortnightly, on a ‘team’ basis, or an every-other-day basis, once you have your roster in place, I strongly recommend that each person uses the same desk or workspace each time they are at work. Hot-desking and shared workspaces present too much of a risk.”
  • Appoint an on-site COVID-19 champion. Select an appropriate person in your organisation to be the ‘champion’ of keeping employees’ hygiene levels on tracks. Someone with Workplace Health and Safety knowledge, such as a human resources team member, would be ideal. They would become the go-to person for other employees to ask questions about how they can navigate the ‘new normal’ working environment. For instance, the champion would check in with each team member to gauge what’s working, what’s not, and if they require any additional information or support. They would also manage the upgraded cleaning schedule for your office or workspace and ensure team members remember to wipe down and clean their equipment after use. Lisa says: “Choosing a champion that keeps everyone aware of best safety principles – from good respiratory hygiene to encouraging people to stay home if they show any flu-like symptoms  – will reassure staff that their health and safety is the priority. It also has the benefit of making them feel like their organisation is ‘there’ for them, and that they have the emotional comradery they need in our new style of working environment.”
  • Create a plan for ongoing sanitisation. Consider equipping each employee with their own bottle of hand sanitiser, hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant, and cleaning cloth when they return to the workplace. Having individual sanitary equipment will also alleviate any worry that multiple people are handling the disinfectant.
  • Assess and determine how to use shared meeting spaces. Up until the outbreak of COVID-19, open-plan offices with shared desks and ‘pod’ meeting areas were becoming the preferred way of working for many organisations. However, for the foreseeable future, these more casual meeting spaces with soft furnishings – surfaces that need to be steam-cleaned, often at a considerable expense – should be avoided, as a virus has the potential to last on these surfaces for up to 24 hours. If you can, choose a more traditional meeting room with hard surfaces. Although the virus can live on glass, plastic, and stainless steel for up to 72 hours, these surfaces are much easier to clean and disinfect.
  • Incorporate company vehicles into your cleaning schedule. If you have company vehicles, forklifts, or trucks, these now also need to be included in your cleaning schedule – especially if multiple people use the vehicles. A minimum of one precautionary COVID-19 clean a week will ensure all surfaces within the vehicle’s interior are fully cleaned, and all external touchpoints are also cleaned, such as door handles and side-view mirrors.
  • Consider a cleaning concierge service. Most organisations – especially larger ones – have high-risk shared touchpoints used by site visitors and staff. These are best managed by a fully trained day-cleaning team who are uniformed and equipped to sanitise and disinfect touchpoints all-day long – whether they be kitchens, bathrooms, or meeting rooms. Though some might regard it as extreme, having an on-demand cleaning service will restore stakeholder confidence in your organisation’s hygiene standards day-in and day-out.
  • Hire a commercial cleaning specialist. Some cleaning companies have had to adapt quickly to the new COVID-19 risk environment, while others, especially professional commercial cleaning services, have been cleaning to a hospital standard for many years. Lisa says that organisations, especially those who have committed to additional safety standards, such as ISO 45001, should seek cleaners whose services are ISO certified. She says: “Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, Cleancorp – which is one of the few Australian cleaning companies to have achieved three ISO Certifications – was using vacuum pumps with HVAC power-operated scrubbers, and chemical foggers, to keep workplaces free from virus

Manufacturers should rethink global operations in face of COVID-19

Manufacturers must redesign and reform their Global Supply Chains or Global Production Networks (GPN) if they want to survive and prosper in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study reveals.

The virus’ impact demonstrates that global manufacturing concerns must switch from large production sites in a single location, such as China, to numerous smaller facilities around the world to reduce business risk.

Stability, reliability, resilience and predictability are critical in the design of global production networks that balance risk versus reward and harmonise economic value with values related to reliability, resilience and location.

There is a real tension between optimization of GPN and risks which ripple out across the globe. COVID-19 is the first time that these ripples have impacted on every country and the majority of people living on this planet,” said report co-author Professor John Bryson, from the University of Birmingham.

“It is unfortunate that companies, governments and geographers did not consider the outbreak of SARS in late 2002 as a testbed to develop new approaches to the management of risk. GPNs and offshoring, come with many risks that have been ignored.

“There is a critical social science debate within geography that must move from celebrating the dominance of GPNs as an organisational form to an on-going critical reframing that accepts that a fundamental rethink is required by global manufacturing concerns.”

Researchers used a database of 91 American companies to show that current dominant account of globalisation cannot explain the international strategies of 25% of these firms.

However, they found coronavirus highlights that the most effective GPNs balance cost control against risk – balancing production facilities in core markets against over-reliance on facilities located in lower-cost locations.

The rapid speed and economic impacts of COVID-19 have shifted the balance between state, citizens and businesses within national economies. During the pandemic, the state has engaged in a process of nationalisation with its exceptional degree of support for businesses and employees – becoming a key consumer and surrogate employer.

Researchers highlight that the most common operational response among American firms to the China-US trade war involved relocating suppliers from China to another low-cost country.

However, the impact of COVID-19, has seen firms beginning to develop strategies dealing with supply chain disruptions – with larger firms building regional supply chains, leaning more on technology for smaller firms, and focusing on efficiency and resilience.

“Globalization is not a novel concept, but COVID-19 has highlighted the risks associated with increasing interconnectedness of people and places through economic, political, cultural, and environmental changes,” Bryson added.

“Existing thinking on GPN design minimises costs and maximises economic ‘value’ rather than balancing profit against risk reduction – a high-risk approach that must change. We must reframe the debate on globalisation around the benefits and risks associated with deepening globalisation.”

 

Scientists find cheaper way to find outbreaks in wastwater

Tracking community outbreaks of COVID-19 through wastewater can happen faster, using more cost-effective tests, according to new research published by the Australian national science agency, CSIRO.

The new research builds on the world’s first peer-reviewed proof-of-concept trial run in Brisbane by CSIRO and The University of Queensland which tested untreated sewage and found fragments of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Scientists have now refined their methods of concentrating and recovering the virus from wastewater samples, which can indicate the presence of COVID-19 carriers in the community, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

Seven methods were tested in the latest study, confirming the most cost-effective and rapid virus recovery process which extracts virus information from wastewater, so it can be tested, with each sample now taking between 15 to 30 minutes to process.

Worldwide wastewater monitoring could save up to $1.47 billion for national monitoring programs depending on frequency of sampling and population, according to research. Wastewater monitoring has been shown to be significantly cheaper and faster than clinical screening for COVID-19, but would be used as an added diagnostic measure.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said that as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, science has found a way to help individual communities avoid a second wave of the pandemic.

“This unique monitoring breakthrough will ensure each suburb gets the medical support it needs so all of us, as a nation, can stay healthier,” Marshall said.

CSIRO researcher Dr Warish Ahmed led the findings published in The Science of the Total Environment, which evaluated the concentration, recovery and detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA (its genetic code).

“We will keep refining the virus concentration and detection methods to provide more sensitive and accurate results of the viral load in wastewater,” Dr Ahmed said.

“This will provide information on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community so public health officials can have as much information as possible to manage an outbreak in a timely manner.”

The results will be shared with a new global scientific collaboration, COVID-19 WBE Collaborative, which brings together more than 50 global experts in water-based epidemiology (WBE) to share testing methods and data on wastewater-based surveillance for the current and future disease outbreaks.

The wastewater testing is conducted on untreated sewage, collected as it enters a water treatment plant to provide community-level results.

Based on our knowledge of the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in  wastewater, drinking water is very well protected against all viruses, including the new COVID-19.

Insights and best practices for maintaining clean, healthy environments

Know the difference: COVID-19 & SARS-CoV-2
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has caused some confusion with nomenclature. COVID-19 is the pandemic disease that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 is the abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019. SARS-CoV-2 is the abbreviation for Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The EPA has published a list of disinfectants only, not sanitisers, that can be used to control the SARS-CoV-2 virus on hard non-porous environmental surfaces.

Know the difference: clean, sanitise and disinfect
The spread of COVID-19 has put a new spotlight on the importance of maintaining clean, healthy environments. The best practices for doing this are well established. Cleaning is the fundamental first step in this process. It cannot be skipped and it must be well-executed to get the results you want.

Additional steps of either sanitising or disinfecting can take place after cleaning has been accomplished. In most cases, sanitising is done where there is low risk of contamination from bloodborne pathogens or bodily fluids and generally refers to lessening or reducing the presence of bacteria or viruses. Hospitals, clinics, schools and other organisations that have higher risks of blood and other bodily fluids need to disinfect surfaces to almost eliminate or kill viruses and bacteria. This is especially true for patient rooms, emergency rooms, restrooms, surgical suites and other areas where people frequently introduce both airborne and blood-borne pathogens to the environment.

Often times, cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting are used interchangeably as these words have different meanings in different parts of the world. It’s important to know the difference to plan, communicate and execute processes correctly and to accomplish desired results.

  • Cleaning: cleaning is the physical removal of soil, debris, residues and organic substances from the surface. On a hard non-porous floor, this process is best performed with a walk-behind, ride-on or robotic auto-scrubber that applies fresh cleaning solution and provides agitation and vacuum recovery as it removes contaminants from the floor. This process doesn’t kill germs, but it helps remove soil and other physical contaminants on the surface. In 1959, Dr. Hubert Sinner discussed four basic elements of cleaning and how they interrelate with each other. The four basic elements are chemical, heat, agitation and time. Cleaning performed with an auto-scrubber provides strong cleaning results due to high level of “agitation” and a consistent flow of “chemicals” in fresh cleaning solution. This first step is essential, as sanitisers and disinfectants perform better when soil has been removed from the surface before application.
  • Sanitising: a sanitiser is “a substance, or mixture of substances, that reduces the bacterial population in the inanimate (hard surfaces) environment by significant numbers, but does not destroy or eliminate all bacteria”. Non-food contact sanitisers are used on surfaces, such as floors, that do not contact food. These types of sanitizers “demonstrate a reduction of ≥99.9 per cent in the number of specific microorganisms within 5 minutes”.
  • Disinfecting: a disinfectant is “a substance, or mixture of substances that destroys or irreversibly inactivates bacteria, fungi and viruses, but not necessarily bacterial spores, in the inanimate environment”. Traditional chemicals or device disinfectants are used on hard non-porous surfaces. In general, disinfectants demonstrate a reduction of >99.9999 per cent in the number of specific microorganisms within “≤ 10 minutes of contact”.

Points of interest when sanitising or disinfecting a floor

  • Generally speaking, floors are deemed non-critical surfaces for most environments and disinfecting them has a limited effect.
  • Make sure the product this is being used has the desired efficacy claims and is appropriate for the floor type.
  • Take steps to avoid slip and fall accidents, such as immediately restricting traffic from the area and using proper safety signs; keep the signs up until the surface has dried completely after the required contact time.
  • Apply sanitiser or disinfectant according to label dilution using a procedure, which allows the floor surface to remain wet for the required contact time stated on the label for that organism.
  • Sanitisers and disinfectants are often dispensed through dilution systems. Make sure the dispensing system is properly diluting to proper concentration.
  • Ensure that cleaning professional staff is aware of the required contact time for each product as sanitisers or disinfectants with different contact times could be used in the same facility.
  • Take care that proper personal protective equipment is worn throughout the process.

Dangers of the increased use of disinfectants
There are risks when using disinfectants — potential for chemical exposure, accidents and damage to physical assets. It’s critical to review labels and safety data sheets for protection requirements. Some of these risks to review include:

  • Improper applications of disinfectants that don’t provide adequate contact time i.e. auto-scrubber in traditional mode.
  • Increased inhalation and skin and eye irritations from chemicals and safety equipment.
  • Dangerous reactions created when mixing chemicals, especially chlorine containing products like bleach.
  • Corrosivity to equipment, tools and building material.

The role of an auto-scrubber in a well-designed process
An auto-scrubber is an effective tool that replaces the inefficiencies of a mop and bucket. Some are small enough to clean in tight areas, while others are large enough to ride. Additionally, some facilities may be able to use robotic cleaning solutions that automate auto-scrubber operation. This provides more benefits than traditional auto-scrubbers already offer, including redeployment of employees to more critical cleaning/disinfecting and validation of cleaning performed and consistency of clean.

In operations relying on mop and bucket usage, incorrect use can lead to cross-contamination as soils and dirty mop water are spread around rather than being recovered. Auto-scrubbers provide operators with a continuous fresh source of cleaning solution. They also reduce hazardous slip and falls caused by wet mopping as solution and soils are automatically and quickly recovered.

Auto-Scrubbers: ideal for cleaning, not sanitising or disinfecting.
Auto-scrubbers offer an ultra-efficient solution for the first “cleaning” portion of the disinfection process. They often are used incorrectly in the disinfecting process, though. Sanitisers and disinfectants require specific contact times to work effectively. Surfaces must remain wet for a range of 2-10 minutes. Auto-scrubbers are designed to dispense cleaning solutions and vacuum them from the floor in just a few seconds. While this amount of time is ideal for protecting against slip and falls, it does not provide the contact time required for disinfecting. Thus, if a disinfectant is put into the machine and used conventionally, the floor is being cleaned but not disinfected.

In order to disinfect with an auto-scrubber, operators can use the double-scrubbing technique to ensure that floors remain wet for the proper allotted time. To accomplish this, the operator simply leaves the squeegee in the up position and turns off the vacuum during the first scrubbing pass or removes the squeegee. This prevents immediate recovery of the disinfection solution while it sits on the surface. After the contact time has been met, the operator can then lower the squeegee and turn on the vacuum to recover solution and soils if not allowed to air dry.

Double-scrubbing is an easy technique to use, but does come with a few extra precautions. Machine safety and care are critical, so make sure all of the non-porous surfaces of the machine are 5 thoroughly cleaned after use. After cleaning, allow enough time for the machine surfaces to fully air dry and store auto-scrubbers in a dry area with squeegee, scrub head and sweep head in the up position.

Explore an alternative to detergents and other chemicals
If you’re wondering about the cost or environmental impact of using detergents or other chemicals in the floor cleaning process, the Tennant Company offers cost-effective and environmentally responsible alternatives, ec-H2O NanoClean and ec-H2O. These technologies electrically convert water into an effective cleaning solution that saves money, improves safety and reduces environmental impact compared to traditional cleaning chemicals and methods.

Benefits of electrically converted water

Clean effectively
Scrubbing with ec-H2O NanoClean and ec-H2O effectively removes soil without leaving chemical residues based on third-party and customer testing.

Save money
Reduce costs and improve productivity by eliminating purchasing, storage, handling and chemical mixing tasks. With cleaning requirements increasing dramatically, eliminate your additional daily floor detergent costs. Get additional productivity gains by reducing the amount of dump and fill cycles with a reduced solution flow rate.

Enhance safety
As you and your staff are asked to expose yourselves to more chemicals while combating SARS-CoV-2, use this technology to reduce chemical exposure in your normal cleaning operations. Reduce exposure to chemical fragrances with fragrance-free ec-H2O NanoClean and ec-H2O. Confidently clean with technology registered with the NSF for cleaning in food and beverage environments and certified by the National Floor Safety Institute as not impacting floor friction.

Reduce environmental impact
Auto-scrubbers equipped with these technologies use less water so they can scrub up to three times longer between non-productive dump and fill cycles. Also, according to a third-party study by EcoForm, ec-H2O NanoClean and ec-H2O impact green cleaning operations in seven key categories: energy, CO2 emissions, ozone, smog, acid, eutrophication, and particulates.

Do I need to disinfect my floors?
Ordinarily, facilities like shopping malls, factories and office buildings can maintain clean and healthy environments by regularly cleaning their floors. Floors have been typically referred to as non-critical surfaces that don’t commonly come in direct contact with human skin. However, the spread of COVID19 creates a unique situation. Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is contagious, and because it appears to live on hard surfaces for several days, many organisations are taking or asking that the extra step of disinfecting their floors to be completed as more studies are provided regarding the spread of pathogens. Others include this in their protocols based on existing health code or industry standards.

If this is a new step in your SOP, review why this task is being asked. Is this a quick response to try and disinfect all surfaces? Is there an increased concern of COVID-19 in the facility? Do I have the ability to procure enough disinfectant to complete disinfection on floors vs the smaller project tasks? When is there an available time when I can shut down the area where disinfectant can sit on the floor for the required amount of time?

Additional floor cleaning frequency using an auto-scrubber is often a more viable option for facilities looking for an increase in hygiene that don’t have a specific reason to disinfect the floor.

Best practices for disinfecting
If you are implementing a new protocol, due to the current SARS-CoV-2 contamination concerns, disinfection with an EPA SARS-CoV-2 listed disinfectant, where possible, is best practice. See https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2. Review contact time on list for proper time required for SARS-CoV-2.

  1. Make sure the products you’re using offer the appropriate efficacy outcomes you desire.
  2. Plan to immediately restrict traffic from disinfected areas using prominent safety signs and take other precautionary safety measures.
  3. Apply disinfectant according to label dilution instructions. Use a procedure that allows the floor surface to remain wet for the required contact time.
  4. Disinfectants are often dispensed through dilution systems. Make sure the dispensing system is properly diluting, per label instructions. Check end concentration frequently.
  5. Review all safety data sheets with staff and users. Review PPE, incompatible materials, hazards to avoid. Different disinfectants may be used in the same facilities and have different requirements.
  6. To learn more: Environmental Protection Agency, epa.gov; Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov.

Best practices for cleaning and disinfecting auto-scrubbers
Cleaning floors may result in contamination of Tennant auto-scrubbers with the virus that causes COVID-19. Tennant recommends routine cleaning and disinfecting of equipment surfaces and parts.

Before selecting a cleaner or disinfectant, review labels to determine if the chemistry is compatible with the auto-scrubber surfaces and parts. Some disinfectants, just like some cleaning products, can corrode metals, plastics and types of rubber.

Thoroughly clean all hard, non-porous surfaces of the machine. After cleaning, allow time for surfaces to completely air dry prior to disinfection. Thoroughly apply the disinfectant by wiping or spraying and carefully follow contact time and PPE instructions.

If some surfaces cannot be reached via wipe or spray, it may be necessary to dissemble and immerse the parts in disinfectant.

Wipe and rinse equipment with water to remove disinfectant residues from machine, paying specific attention to the scrub deck, squeegees and other areas prone to chemical corrosion in order to reduce the potential for damage to your equipment. Take care not to spray electrical components of the machine.

We want to help you achieve your goals. If you need help building a long-term cleaning plan or if you want near-term insights for managing through the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to contact a Tennant Australia & New Zealand cleaning expert.

Shoppers change behaviour as COVID-19 takes hold

New research from consumer intelligence specialists, Mintel, shows that there has been changes in consumer sentiment and behaviour as a result of the spread of COVID-19 across Australia and New Zealand.

“With the COVID-19 novel coronavirus continuing to spread in Australia and New Zealand, government-imposed social distancing measures and a stimulus package to safeguard jobs, the impact of the virus on the economy is already starting to show. However, effects vary by sector; while some industries are fighting for survival, others have proven their quick adaptability to the new environment,” said Elysha Young, Mintel trends manager for APAC.

“Our research shows how changing consumer sentiment and behaviour in reaction to the virus is having profound effects on certain sectors. In response, we’re seeing some companies and brands adapting to meet new – or newly important – consumer needs.”

Concern is on the rise
Mintel research shows that over half of Australian consumers (63 per cent) are concerned about the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. In the 48 hours from 25-27 March, Google Trends reported the search “symptoms of coronavirus” by Australians had spiked by 1,180 per cent. However, as the curve begins to flatten, there is an expectation that concern around exposure will similarly ease off, replaced with concern over the effect the outbreak will have on lifestyles. Australian consumers are worried how the outbreak might impact their lifestyle, with over one third (36 per cent) saying they are “extremely worried”.

Given the speed of the crisis, it was noted that almost one quarter (24 per cent) of Australian consumers remained unsure whether to be worried about exposure, even as they entered the third week of restrictions. As government shutdowns remain in effect indefinitely, the lack of a clear end-date left many consumers concerned about both their day-to-day lifestyles and their longer-term economic prospects.

Good hygiene and avoiding crowded places are top priorities
“Mintel research shows that the majority of Australians are making changes in light of the virus, with increased hand washing, use of hand sanitiser, and avoidance of public places the biggest behaviour shifts,” said Young. “Within a week of restrictions, we saw personal hygiene behaviours increase, with 80 per cent saying they washed their hands more often and 75 per cent reporting they used hand sanitiser more often, up from 64 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.”

Consumers are also increasing their use of household disinfectants and cleaners, with 45 per cent reporting they had done so in response to the outbreak. Moving forward, as social distancing becomes further normalised and consumers continue to stay indoors as much as possible, we expect to see consumers continue to look for products that help them keep their environments as hygienic as possible.

Changing behaviours around grocery shopping and online shopping
Consumers aged 35-54 were most likely to indicate that they are stocking up on groceries and other supplies with two in five (38 per cent) saying they have changed their purchasing behaviour in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Non-perishable items were cleared from the shelves almost immediately as consumers swept through in search of staples to stock up on,” said Young. “As a result, purchases of rice, pasta, canned vegetables, tinned meals and fish, breakfast cereals, biscuits, coffee and yeast were all restricted early by supermarkets. As shortages continued longer than many had predicted, both younger and older cohorts have similarly adopted more of a stockpiling mentality. For many millennials (b. 1980-99) this could be their first real experience of planning out and bulk buying groceries, as we’ve seen a preference for smaller, more frequent shopping trips over the past few years.”

From in-store to online shopping, while millennials led the eCommerce charge with 23 per cent of those aged 25-34 saying they have increased the amount of shopping they do online in response to the outbreak, older consumers followed suit – 16 per cent of those aged 45-54 and 12 per cent of those aged 55 plus have increased online shopping due to the spread of COVID-19.

“We also found that family health and high living costs are of top concern to Australian consumers,” said Young. “Twenty-one per cent of Australian consumers expect to spend less on food (excluding takeaways/delivery) in the next month, and that 44 per cent of Australians are expressing little confidence that their financial situation will improve over the next few months. Overall it seems that while fresh will be important, especially as it relates to health, what will be of highest consideration is value, whether that is fresh or non-perishable.”

Twenty-six per cent of respondents also expressed concern about the safety of their food products, which could contribute to a broader trend we’re seeing around localism – potentially a way for products to demonstrate their value will be through local/provenance claims for greater transparency.”

Lessons learned from China
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation that will impact the Australian population and economy. China was the first to deal with the crisis, hence, it is worth looking to China to see what lessons we can learn to help Australian businesses find ways to deal with the immediate impact of the crisis,” said Young.

“Speaking to our colleagues in China, once the initial consumer panic of stockpiling groceries and other supplies faded, they observed a counter trend: the aforementioned increased emphasis on fresh food. More people working at home means more time for home cooking, and there’s an inevitable tendency for people to try to eat as well as possible during a time of elevated fears over health and well-being.”

A desire to support local businesses was clear in China, and Young is expecting to see the same thing in Australia and New Zealand.

“As shoppers, we are entirely reliant on businesses’ ability to supply the goods and services that allow us to survive and thrive,” she said. “And as businesses, we are entirely reliant on our customers’ support. Post-isolation, expect to see Australian consumers focus more on supporting their communities in search of authenticity, transparency, and sincerity. A move towards more human connections will influence Australians’ perception of value in their interactions with every brand.”

Why the food and beverage industry is vital during COVID-19

The global spread of COVID-19 has been unprecedented. Its impact on economies has been more profound than any other crisis in recent history. And its ramifications on the freedoms we take for granted swift and paralysing.

But in this uncertain time one thing is assured – that Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector will continue to operate, keeping the nation fed.

The food and grocery manufacturing sector – including the whole food and grocery supply chain, from the inputs that go into making the products, workers on the factory floor, packaging and maintenance providers, and logistics networks – is an essential service in Australia. All components, inputs and services are vital to keep the sector functioning to provide consumers with the products they need.

In towns and cities right across the country, food and grocery manufacturing sites are literally operating 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, to make sure supply continues to flow. The logistics, cost and human capital involved are tremendous, but the sector’s reaction has been extraordinary. Businesses have faced the challenges head on and, despite the difficulties, have continued to produce the high-quality products Australians know and love.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed assurances provided by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that the sector is essential and must continue to operate. This should provide businesses with the confidence and reassurance to continue production in this time of uncertainty. This also means that, while some states have closed their borders for non-essential travel, this will not impact food and grocery freight services.

But, as we all know, this is not business as usual. Businesses need to ensure they have sufficient and appropriate measures in place to mitigate COVID-19 exposure and infection. Businesses must review their practices and put in place strict protocols regarding hygiene and social distancing.

As an essential service, it is important food and grocery manufacturers take necessary measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on their workforce, to ensure the ingoing production and the supply of goods. Therefore, it is vital essential processing plants have continuity plans in place so operations can continue relatively unhindered in the event of a COVID-19 case on site. By developing and implementing an appropriate plan, and with good record keeping, companies can protect businesses by reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission to their workforce.

The Federal Government, as well as its state and territory counterparts, has moved swiftly and decisively to help cushion the economic blow of COVID-19 to Australian businesses and the community more broadly. This has come in the form of extensive – and unprecedented – economic stimulus packages to help keep people in jobs and businesses in operation.The establishment of the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit in Treasury builds on existing efforts to support confidence, employment and business continuity. The unit will engage with peak business groups such as the AFGC on systemic issues relating to COVID-19 to ensure these are being addressed. It will also be a source of information for business groups on the Australian Government’s response to COVID-19 and the actions that agencies are taking to support business at this difficult time.

This will allow information to be disseminated quickly and effectively across the business community. The Federal Government has also created a National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) to coordinate advice on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to provide comprehensive advice to reduce impacts of the virus and help plot a path to recovery. The NCCC will work collaboratively across private-to-private and public-to-private networks to unlock resources, break bottlenecks and fix problems so Australian families, businesses and communities are supported.

During this time, the primary focus of the AFGC remains advocating for our sector. We are working with all levels of government and other stakeholders, taking part in key forums to provide information on challenges our sector is facing and also seek insights and assurances from government.

The AFGC is represented on the Food and Grocery Sector Group (FGSG) of the Federal Government’s Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN), which is designed to prioritise and protect the integrity of ‘critical infrastructure’ across six sector groups. During this time, the groups have been very active, providing key information to government that has helped keep the supply chain running.

In Australia we are lucky because most of what we consume is grown and produced here. Nationally, we produce enough food to feed 75 million people – that is enough to feed our entire population three times over. We have a very safe, reliable and efficient food supply chain from the farm gate to the manufacturer and on to the retailer.

While international supply chain interruptions are being experienced in the current environment, the AFGC is working with key stakeholders, including suppliers and government, to ensure these are mitigated as much as possible. Their impact at the consumer level is anticipated to be negligible and the re-opening of China for business is a silver lining at this difficult time.

The great unknown in all of this is that we simply do not know how long social isolation measures to control the spread of COVID-19 will stay in place. There is no silver bullet, nor a crystal ball. But the commitment of the food and grocery manufacturing sector to provide Australians with the essentials will be a constant, even if it means changing the way we work.

At the other end of this, Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector will be stronger, illustrating that no matter what the crisis, our supply chain does not simply cope – it thrives.

Optimo Designs wins exclusive rights to deliver market-leading FMCG data and insights from the COVID-19 crisis

Optimo Designs (Optimo), a leading Australian brand and creative agency, has been granted exclusive rights to a world-leading technology platform that will deliver data and insights from the COVID-19 crisis.

Optimo is partnering with Black Swan Data, a London-based global technology and science company, which is at the forefront of using Artificial Intelligence to unlock real time discussions within social, review and blogging platforms. It can then accurately predict the future needs and wants of consumers. Optimo already conducts extensive customer and consumer research within the

Snacking and Non-Alcoholic Beverages categories.
Updated every two weeks, Black Swan Data reports the impact of COVID-19 on the Snacking and Non-Alcoholic Beverages categories. By analysing millions of real-time conversations, brands receive a unique insight into the immediate conversations and preferences of Australian consumers.

The report provides regular insights into category-specific trends and the changing consumer sentiment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the report is to better inform brands of immediate trends and opportunities for growth as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Chelsea Parkinson, managing director of Optimo Designs said, “This campaign is about giving marketers real data and insights into consumer behaviour in the snacking and non-alcoholic beverages categories as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.

“We are combining Optimo’s expertise in these categories with Black Swan’s state-of-the-art data and insights derived from millions of real-time online consumer conversations.”

Steve King, Black Swan Data’s CEO said, “Brands are not short of conjecture and opinion about the impact on consumers of COVID-19, but what they need is data. In this artificial environment there is a temptation to react to what feels like a trend, identified using tools like social listening or traditional research, only to discover it was a passing fad. It is crucial therefore to identify the trends and cultural drivers that will emerge, grow and sustain as COVID-19 plays out in a more sophisticated way. Surfacing these requires structured scientific analysis, using the tools and techniques of Social Prediction and crucially a robust time-series dataset.”

The report package consists of six reports over 12 weeks. A typical two-week period will cover up to 70 million conversations and will detail the exact number of conversations monitored during that period. The social media platforms observed include Twitter, Reddit, news sites, product reviews, forums and blog comments. The unique proprietary Artificial Intelligence tools are used to scrutinize, clean and enrich all conversations to ensure the underlying data is relevant and robust.

Global trends from the US and European markets will also be available to Australian brands.

For more information click on this link: https://www.optimodesign.com.au/blackswan/

Yoplait number one in yoghurt

Yoghurt brand, Yoplait, is the number one yoghurt brand in Australia, according to the latest IRI Scan weekly data for week ending 10 May 20201.

According to IRI shopper panel data from the first quarter of 20202, 20.8 per cent of all households (or approximately 2.04 million households) opt for Yoplait (up by 1.8 pts same time last year). This equates to 11.9 per cent value share of the dairy yoghurt category.

The new data shows that Yoplait is the leading brand in the category, holding 11.9 per cent value share of the dairy yoghurt category as of scan data week of 10 May 2020.

With the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions and periods of home isolation, families have been required to juggle more than ever before. From adapting to working from home, to facilitating at home learning with children, grocery buyers have been on the lookout for no-fuss, value for money solutions in the home.

In response, the market has seen a steep shift from impulse, single serve formats to bigger pack sizes such as bulk tubs and multipacks. Buyers are choosing the Yoplait brand, for a healthy, conveniently sized, wholesome snack solution with the added bonus of real fruit pieces, stirred through for added goodness and taste.

Lion Dairy & Drinks marketing and innovation director, Darryn Wallace, said he was humbled to see the enduring popularity of the Yoplait range.

“In these times of crisis, we’ve seen a shift in customers moving to known and trusted brands like Yoplait. We’re incredible proud to hold pride of place as the nation’s number
one yoghurt brand, and look forward to offering great value for many years to come,” he said.

Yoplait is manufactured in Gippsland Victoria.

Supporting industry during COVID-19 crisis

As early as March this year, Australian governments recognised mounting pressure on supply chains to meet the surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). As national infection rates accelerated, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it best when she gave a run down on what was needed to make sure Australia got through the crisis as best it could in terms of PPE gear. “The world is running short on hand sanitiser, hand wash, soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing, masks, eye wear and paper products.” It was an industry call to arms.

The food and beverage industry wasted no time. Entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country rose to the challenge.

These included the likes of former Australian cricketer Shane Warne’s gin distillery situated in Western Australia, through to stalwart Tasmanian whisky makers at Lark Distilling Co. promptly setting about pivoting their production lines to address the shortage of essential PPE products.

In early April 2020, GS1 Australia launched a program to provide Australian companies who were re-tooling to meet the national need for PPE, with supporting services at no charge.
This includes membership, identification numbers for barcodes, assistance in creating and testing new barcodes, and access to national registries to enable their quick transition into the new market. Over 30 companies registered in the first 24 hours.

One of the firms GS1 Australia has been able to assist through the program is Lark Distilling Co., manufacturers of world famous ‘Lark’ branded whisky, who took decisive action in response to the demand for PPE products in Tasmanian hospitals.

“As soon as the COVID-19 crisis hit we made a very fast decision to pivot into sanitiser production, with the express aim of alleviating the shortage for frontline medical and emergency services,” said Dan Knight, head of hospitality at Lark Distilling Co.

“However, once we began production we were overwhelmed with enquiries from people and businesses across the entire state. The world was scrambling to find sanitiser, but being on an island, that is cut off from the mainland, our supply shortage was even more pressing.

“After our first batch of sanitiser, we set the goal of ensuring the continuous supply of World Health Organisation-approved sanitiser to all of Tasmania, for the length of the crisis and beyond. The challenge has been to ensure the supply of raw materials and packaging, and it has taken the collective resources of an entire community to make this happen.
“I am forever grateful to our suppliers and organisations like GS1 for their support, and I am in awe of what we have been able to achieve in such a short time, by working as one in the face of a common threat.”

“We want to ensure that new suppliers to the health industry who are re-tooling to manufacture PPE products get express but comprehensive support for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis in Australia,” said Maria Palazzolo, GS1 Australia’s chief executive officer and executive director.

“Our priority right now is to support the sector that is supporting our community,”

What does coronavirus mean for food company strategy?

Consumers are taking to baking in a big way – mostly banana bread – and flour is disappearing from supermarket shelves as soon as they’re restocked. Sales of vitamin C-rich oranges are up and consumers are increasingly searching online for probiotics for immunity.

It’s little surprise that food companies are wondering what coronavirus will mean for levels of demand and for consumption patterns in the future.

“From Australia to America, Portugal to Scotland, companies have been contacting us to ask what they should be thinking about, what are the lasting changes are that being wrought by the pandemic, and what they might mean for their strategies,” says Julian Mellentin, food industry expert and director of consultancy New Nutrition Business.

In a new report, Food & nutrition strategy in a coronavirus world – 20 questions to help shape your strategy, Mellentin sets out, and responds to, the most common questions including:

  • Will there be fewer brands and fewer start-ups?
  • What will happen to the big consumer trends?
  • Will local become more important?
  • Will packaging stage a comeback?
  • Is there a place for indulgence?
  • Will immunity dominate NPD and innovation?

“Immunity is certainly coming back as a significant consumer interest in the west (although in Asia it never went away),” said Mellentin.

Consumers’ Google searches for immunity were flat for a long time, and always lower than popular subjects such as digestive health. But recently there has been a surge in consumer searches that use terms such as “immunity boost” and “immunity foods”.

Among foods and ingredients there will be both winners and losers. “In the short term (12-18 months) the biggest winners are likely to be any ingredients that support the microbiome – and particularly probiotics – and any nutrient or food that has an established link with immunity in people’s minds,” Mellentin said.

“Consumer motivation to boost their immune health has for many years been an element in the success of many products in Asia, such as chicken broth and kiwifruit (Zespri, the world’s biggest kiwifruit grower, markets its fruit in Asia for its immune-boosting high content of vitamin C).

“Covid-19 has now provided a sharp reminder to western consumers, too, that there are good reasons to carefully choose items that contribute to the health and well-being of the individual and the family.”

“There has never been a more promising future for immunity and probiotics,” Mellentin added.

Product developers also need to monitor what solutions are being proposed on social media. Influencers are often as powerful as traditional beliefs – as seen by the recent surge of interest in elderberry, which has enjoyed a 137% increase in Google searches. Among internet influencers it has been one of the most-mentioned “foods for immunity”.

There are also strong growth prospects for plant-based. “There was a surge of interest on Instagram and other social media about plant-based in March 2020, illustrating that the already-positive image of fruits and vegetables will continue to benefit,” said Mellentin.

Mellentin’s report doesn’t set out to predict exactly what is going to happen or what companies must do – as the global pandemic steadily morphs into an economic crisis, no one can forecast the future with any certainty. Its purpose is to:

  • set out what the most likely impacts on strategy will be
  • enable companies to think in a structured way about what might change for their business, and how their strategy should evolve to respond to the changes. It includes several “what does it mean for business” check-lists to help companies large and small to think through the next 12-18 months.

 

WineDepot helps struggling wineries

With alarming reports that one-third of Australian wineries could go under from COVID-19 closures, WineDepot is throwing a lifeline to struggling wineries as they quickly pivot to online direct-to-consumer sales.

Australia’s 6,000 grape growers and 2,500 winemakers have been hit hard this year by bushfires, smoke taint and the lowest yield in seven years. On top of this, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on export markets, trade distribution, and cellar doors.

In response to these challenges, WineDepot has announced that it will be providing wine producers a support package of subsidised services to help them maximise their ability to trade during this challenging time.

“Never before have Australian wine producers faced a challenge like this,” said WineDepot founder and CEO Dean Taylor. “The silver lining is that consumers across the country are rushing to order wine and other essentials online for home delivery.”

This has certainly been true for Tasmania’s Josef Chromy Wines, who has been working with WineDepot to maintain strong sales during covid-19 closures.

“We saw a little bit of panic buying happening, particularly when the alcohol limitations started in some states,” said company spokesperson Amy Russell.

Other wineries, however have been slow off the mark. “We know of smaller producers who aren’t selling online and all of a sudden find themselves with no outlets at all.”

To support as many wineries as possible from going under, WineDepot is offering a support package that allows them to maximise their margins from online sales during this once-in-a-100-year event.

“Our platform allows wineries in regional areas to provide a fulfillment service that competes with that offered by the major retailers. With physical depots in each state of Australia, we manage everything so that a winery in Tasmania like Josef Chromy, can deliver the same or next day to customers in Sydney or any other capital city in Australia,” said Taylor.

WineDepot Cellar Door Support Package is valued at over $5,000 per winery and includes the following benefits:

  • $500 free credit
  • 3 months free storage
  • Free initial stock transfer into bulk storage
  • Delivery from just $7.95/case for metro areas
  • Waived platform access, set up and integration charges, usually $995

This is available to all Australian owned and operated wineries, who establish an account and move inventory in before the end of April, with no lock-in contracts or requirements to continue using WineDepot services after the free storage period ends.

“Partnering with WineDepot means we’ve avoided quite a few overheads,” said Russell. “Sitting down here on an island, we have additional challenges trying to get freight off Tasmania, especially at critical times like Cyber Monday and Christmas. Now we have that little bit of an edge in terms of already having stock in market that we can quickly dispatch and distribute.”

The direct-to-consumer sales market is estimated to be worth over $1 billion per annum and employs tens of thousands of people around the country. WineDepot hopes to also help protect this source of jobs, revenue and amenity in regional areas.

 

Showcasing hero clients to promote your business

Prime Creative Media offers this advice on how to use case studies in a B2B marketing strategy.

In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, print and digital marketing has never been more important in driving sales. Prime Creative Media continues its Engine Room series, offering this advice on how to best use case studies in a B2B marketing campaign.

Case studies are the ideal way to explain how your products or services work and the positive impact they can have on a business, by having your clients do the talking for you. It’s that all important social proof, showing prospects that working with you could improve their business too. It’s a win-win because it also gives your clients exposure.

In our experience, working with thousands of companies in Australia, case studies should form a key component of any B2B marketing strategy.

Download the complimentary guide below on the four steps to creating a successful case study.

Packaging industry facing disruptions amid COVID-19

COVID-19 and its impact on the packaging industry has forced consumers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to be more mindful of their safety and well-being. They are likely to change their views about packaging in response to the spread of COVID-19 to protect themselves getting infected by the virus.

Shagun Sachdeva, consumer insights analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, highlighted the key trends and developing insights impacting the packaging industry in the APAC amid COVID-19.

Health and protection over sustainability
Just before the COVID-19 outbreak, sustainable packaging was one of the key challenges on every fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company’s agenda. However, consumers’ sentiment is now significantly shifting to ‘health and protection first’, and this will potentially change consumers’ views on packaging to be more hygiene-focused rather than sustainability.

Packaging in foodservice
As the virus can spread from touch, consumers have been reconsidering their preference for recycled and sustainable packaging; many foodservice chains have already stopped using personal and reusable packaging. Given the current situation, building up capabilities in this area, right from packaging know-how to online ordering and delivery (or using third parties), will  provide the building blocks for the  future growth. Even after the pandemic, consumers will continue to look for the positive food delivery experience they encountered while stuck at home. Hence, operators should look to focus on building better facilities in this area.

Trust and Safety
Issues around eco-friendliness and recycling are coming to the fore. After the initial effects of the pandemic, packaging companies are urging governments to ensure that rubbish collections and recycling are maintained. Due to COVID-19, traditional packaging formats and single-use plastics are receiving a short-term revivified status to ensure the safe and sanitary distribution of vital products.

GlobalData’s COVID-19 week-4 consumer survey shows that almost 43 per cent of Australians agree that they are concerned about the safety of the packaging of the products they purchase. Also, consumers are seeking long- term solutions that also meet the sustainability agenda.

Technology-enabled packaging
The product packaging is crucial for various reasons; customer knowledge is one of its most important factors. With the growing number of COVID-19 positive cases, smart packaging continues to gain traction, as it gives greater transparency. Technology can now be incorporated directly into the product to provide better protection and knowledge to the user. Block-chain technology, QR codes and smart labels are implemented into the packaging sector and can be scanned by smartphone for further product details.

Such systems may also be used not only to ensure product protection and quality, but also to minimise waste and increase productivity in the supply chain. Manufacturers must engage in technologically enabled packaging to gain consumer loyalty.

Sterile and antiviral packaging
GlobalData’s COVID-19 week 3 consumer survey reveals that 70% Indians and 63% Chinese are influenced by how the product impacts their health and well-being. Anxiety to avoid germs and other contaminants leads to increased demand for better packaging. Immediate consequences would be the fear of consumers about the ability of the virus to live on the packaging surface and this would increase the market for sterile and antiviral packaging.

Research is underway into the antibacterial and antiviral polymers and biopolymers packaging – materials that are enhanced with effective, active drug elements and display low toxicity. Demand for these materials in everyday consumer products may rise dramatically after COVID-19.

How to get the most out of digital marketing during Covid-19

We outline the two key drivers marketers should focus on in aligning their digital strategy in the face of the Coronavirus crisis.

It’s not uncommon for B2B companies to rely heavily on in-person meetings and trade events in their sales process. Not many people buying industrial equipment, commercial vehicles, or medical devices will do a quick Google search and click ‘add to cart’ when spending tens of thousands of dollars on these high-value items.

The journey starts months, and even years, before the purchase. Your future clients have read about you in trade media, built up brand recognition overtime, informed themselves about what’s in the market. None of this has changed in the Coronavirus crisis, so it’s important not to abandon the long-term marketing strategy that takes into account the full buyer journey.

What has changed is the direct lead generation done in person at meetings and trade events. Sales teams find themselves at a loss without being able to “get out there” and find leads. It’s this part of the sales process where you should now be directing your digital marketing efforts. Forget about traditional trackers like click rates, overall traffic, and impressions. These do little to help your sales team right now. Instead, direct your efforts into generating quality leads.

In working with hundreds of B2B companies, our clients have found the most success in generating leads when they focus on these two drivers.

Driver Number One – Quality Traffic
Many companies marketing high value products and services make the mistake of investing too heavily in Google Ad Words and SEO, assuming that the more traffic there is to a website, the more sales they will make. The challenge is, there is no guarantee that the traffic will be of quality and will lead to sales. Even the most carefully thought out search words don’t assess whether a person is a real decision maker, if they are in a relevant industry, and if they are ready to purchase. It’s also an expensive exercise, with the most popular search terms attracting the highest price, and that price only ever goes up as those terms get more traffic.

You can achieve better results by purchasing some traffic in partnership with a reputable industry resource of engaged readers. This can look like: promoting your websites and whitepapers as digital display ads, direct solus EDM mailouts, sponsored content, and links on articles which can provide ongoing SEO. You should pick a publication that has the same readership as your ideal client. The quality of leads for your sales team is more important than the volume when you want to convert those leads to sales.

You can achieve even better results by combining a qualified audience with an investment in quality content that drives organic traffic. By providing decision makers with high quality, targeted resources, you have a much better chance of attracting the right people to your site. If you’re selling conveyor belts, work with a quality content marketing writer offering tips on how to choose the right conveyor belt. The only people that will read the content are those who are looking to purchase. Even if the article only attracts a fraction of the traffic that it would from purchasing the words “conveyor belt” on Google, it’ll lead to many more qualified leads. Importantly, at a time when we’re all looking closely at cutting costs, it’s a one-off investment that will keep delivering.

Driver Number Two: Quality Data Collection / Lead Generation
Once you get people to your site, it’s imperative that you collect the data of who is visiting. Don’t rely on contact us forms, or simply having your phone number and email displayed everywhere, unless your strategy is for your sales team to wait for incoming calls and emails. If your sales team is to make outgoing calls and emails, you need to give them a list of qualified leads.

To do this, you need to use a CRM that can integrate with an online form to capture the data of people visiting your website, including their emails and phone numbers. Because people are reluctant to give them up, you need to give them a reason, with a piece of gated content. It could be a special offer, an informational video, a guide to purchasing, or a technical whitepaper. Ensure that what you offer is of value by working with a specialist trade journalist or content marketing expert. You’ll immediately lose trust if you don’t come through with a quality piece. Also, by offering quality content, when your sales team goes to make outgoing calls, the prospective lead will already have had a good experience with your company.

Download our guide, for more about the many traffic and lead generating tools Prime Creative Media have to offer.
 

Coles and Woolworths collaborate to guarantee grocery supply

Supermarket giants are coordinating immediately to ensure consumers have reliable and fair access to groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted interim authorisation that will allow supermarkets to coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.

The purpose of this is to ensure the supply and the fair and equitable distribution of fresh food, groceries, and other household items to Australian consumers, including those who are vulnerable or live in rural and remote areas.

This authorisation applies to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash. It will also apply to any other grocery retailer wishing to participate. Grocery retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and transport groups can choose to opt out of any arrangements.

Rod Sims, ACCC chair said Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services.

“This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem,” he said.

“We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic buying,”

“We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time.”

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on Monday afternoon after receiving the application last Friday.

The authorisation allows a range of coordinated activities but does not allow supermarkets to agree on retail prices for products.

Rod said the ACCC have worked “very swiftly” to consider this interim authorisation application, because of the urgency of the situation, and its impact on Australian consumers.

Coles is dedicating two Community Hour shopping periods per week to emergency services and healthcare workers, who are essential to protecting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coles is also spending an additional $1 million per week to extensively clean its stores and is in the early stages of rolling out our new Coles Online Priority Service and is looking to bring this service to as many vulnerable customers as possible.

On Tuesday 24 March, Woolworths has has announced its committed to the installation of protective plexiglass screens at the manned checkouts of each store across Australia in the coming weeks.

“Our stores remain open and we will continue to stand by the Australian community through this health crisis,” Claire Peters, Woolworths supermarkets managing director said on Tuesday.

The Department of Home Affairs has convened a Supermarket Taskforce, which meets regularly to resolve issues impacting supermarkets.

Representatives from government departments, supermarkets, the grocery supply chain and the ACCC are on the Taskforce.

The interim authorisation applies to agreements made as a result of Taskforce recommendations.

The ACCC will now seek feedback on the application. Details on how to make a submission are available on the ACCC’s public register along with a Statement of Reasons.

Federal government stimulus package for SMEs including F&B sector

The Morrison Government has announced a $17.6 billion economic plan to keep Australians in jobs, keep businesses in business and support households and the Australian economy as the world deals with the challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus. The package is aimed mainly at SMEs, with a large number of such enterprises being in the food and beverage industry.

The package has four parts:

  • Supporting business investment.
  • Providing cash flow assistance to help small and medium sized business to stay in business and keep their employees in jobs.
  • Targeted support for the most severely affected sectors, regions and communities.
  • Household stimulus payments that will benefit the wider economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as part of the plan up to 6.5 million individuals and 3.5 million businesses would be directly supported by the package.

“Just as we have acted decisively to protect the health of the Australian people, based on the best evidence and medical advice, our support package responds to the economic challenges presented by this pandemic in a timely, proportionate and targeted way,” he said.

“Australia is not immune to the global coronavirus challenge but we have already taken steps to prepare for this looming international economic crisis.

“The economy needs temporary help right now to bounce back better so the livelihoods of all Australians are protected.”

Delivering support for business investment

  • $700 million to increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. For example, assets that may be able to be immediately written off are a concrete tank for a builder, a tractor for a farming business, and a truck for a delivery business.
  • $3.2 billion to back business investment by providing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 per cent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.

These measures start today and will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 per cent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees or three in every four workers. The measures are designed to support business sticking with investment they had planned, and encouraging them to bring investment forward to support economic growth over the short term.

Cash flow assistance for businesses

  • $6.7 billion to Boost Cash Flow for Employers by up to $25,000 with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. The payment will be tax free. This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people. Businesses will receive payments of 50 per cent of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
  • $1.3 billion to support small businesses to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.

Stimulus payments to households to support growth

  • $4.8 billion to provide a one-off $750 stimulus payment to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that will benefit are pensioners. The payment will be tax free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments. There will be one payment per eligible recipient. If a person qualifies for the one off payment in multiple ways, they will only receive one payment.

Payments will be from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90 per cent of payments expected to be made by mid-April.

Assistance for severely-affected regions

  • $1 billion to support those sectors, regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education. This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Commonwealth National Parks. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism. Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed and delivered in partnership with the affected industries and communities.

The Government is also offering administrative relief for certain tax obligations, including deferring tax payments up to four months. This is similar to relief provided following the bushfires for taxpayers affected by the coronavirus, on a case-by-case basis.  The ATO will set up a temporary shop front in Cairns within the next few weeks with dedicated staff specialising in assisting small business. In addition, the ATO will consider ways to enhance its presence in other significantly affected regions to make it easier for people to apply for relief, including considering further temporary shop fronts and face-to-face options.

 

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