Core grain food manufacturers’ sign up to voluntary industry code

Goodman Fielder, Sanitarium and Bakers Delight have become the first registered users of the new voluntary industry code of practice for whole grain ingredient content claims.

The Code, known as the Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims, was launched in July this year and was an initiative developed by the peak industry body for the nutrition and health benefits of grains and legumes, The Grain and Legumes Nutrition Council.

As a signatory to the code, food manufacturers have agreed to abide with whole grain content claims levels that align with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. These claims are based on a contribution towards the consumption of 48 grams of whole grains – the recommended Daily Target Intake (DTI).

Both Bakers Delight and Goodman fielder have chosen to use the DTI statement and content claims on a range of their products, and Sanitarium will use the DTI statement across its Weet-Bix range from 2014.

“Goodman Fielder’s sign-up to the Code, initially with Helga’s Continental Bakehouse range, will give consumers greater clarity about the whole grain content of the bread they’re buying,” said Kinda Grange, marketing director for baking at Goodman Fielder.

“We wholeheartedly endorse the aims of the voluntary Code, developed by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. The Code will help consumers to become more discerning, and supports a greater propensity among main grocery buyers to actively seek out whole grain products,” she said.

Managing director of the Grain and Legumes Nutrition Council, Georgie Aley said that the new signatories serve as fantastic news for public health, consumers and brands.

Aley says that the wide adoption of the Code will act as a valuable tool for consumers, enabling them to compare products and choose foods that will contribute to the whole grain DTI.

“For consumers, they will begin to see consistent messages for the whole grain ingredient content of foods on food packaging and advertising. This will bring greater understanding about the value of enjoying grain foods three to four times a day, and legumes two to three times a week.

“As one of Australia’s biggest manufacturers of grain foods, including Helga’s grain bread, Goodman Fielder’s registration to use the Code on pack will pave the way for other major manufacturers to follow their lead,” said Aley.

 

GM golden rice to be launched in the Philippines

The Philippines may be the first country to approve the commercial production of genetically modified rice.

The controversial ‘golden rice’ has been genetically modified to produce vitamin A in an effort to combat widespread deficiencies of the vitamin in many developing nations.

Anti GM activists attacked one of the golden rice test fields in the Philippines in August last year stating that the GM product is riddled with potentially harmful side effects, and will eventually spread to taint non-GMO crops, Yahoo7 reports.

The Philippine government’s agricultural department together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said that despite the vandalism of one of the crops, golden rice has completed the necessary field trials and is now set to undergo tests to determine the safety of the product.

"Golden rice is coming. That is in the pipeline and a lot of the principal development and research has been completed," said Achim Dobermann, deputy director-general of IRRI.

"At the moment, there is no GM rice officially released in any country."

Environmental group Greenpeace has been campaigning against the commercialisation of golden rice stating that effective solutions designed to address vitamin A deficiencies – which can cause blindness and weakened immune systems – are already in place.

"There are already existing solutions and programmes being implemented by the Philippine government to address vitamin A deficiency in the country and these have been in place and are continuing to be effective," Greenpeace campaigner Daniel Ocampo said in a statement.

Depending on the length of the approval process, the International Rice Research Institute says that it could be anywhere between two-three years before the GM seeds are distributed to farmers.

 

MakMak to access international customers with Sydney airport retail store

Sydney based macaron manufacturer, MakMak Macarons has opened its second retail outlet in Sydney at the international terminal of Sydney Airport.

The company’s handmade macarons were declared Sydney’s best in 2012, outshining Laduree and Adriano Zumbo in a blind tasting led by a panel consisting of esteemed judges including Quay’s Peter Gilmore.

MakMak has secured a position within the 247 square-meter concept space know as A Little Something, which showcases high-end gourmet food and wine from Australia. A Little Something includes brands such as Maggie Beer and T2 Tea, as well as international names such as Fortnum & Mason and Max Brenner.

CEO of MakMak, Carlos Heng said that exposure to international customers throughout the terminal was a key factor in the company’s decision to open its second outlet at the airport.

“Half of the passengers moving through the international terminal are foreigners so it’s a great opportunity to introduce MakMak to an international audience. We have long term plans to expand into Asia so this is a perfect first step,” said Heng.

To mark the opening of the new airport, MakMak has created a new lamington macaron flavour to be sold exclusively at the terminal which features cocoa infused shells sprinkled with coconut and filled with rich burnt butter buttercream.

 

Food continues to lead way as manufacturing grows for second straight month

The Australian PMI has recorded a result of 53.2 for October, an improvement on September and the second straight month of growth.

The seasonally-adjusted Australian Industry Group PMI is based on surveys of the group’s members, and a score above 50 indicates growth in the sector. The Ai Group characterised the result as “mild expansion”.

As with September, the food, beverages and tobacco sub-sector led the way, scoring 65.6, the best result since March 2012 and continuing a month-on-month expansion in the segment which began in March this year.

There was also a strong result in the petroleum, coal, chemicals and rubber products sub-sector, up to 54.1 in September.

The metal products sub-sector continues to face difficulties, and “remains close to the historically low levels seen in recent months” according to the Ai Group. It was an improved result from August’s result, but with a score of 32.5 continues to be in a period of contraction that began in August 2010.

The PMI report did, however, note that businesses were cautious about conditions, and members in comments suggested that “this improvement [in sentiment] so far weak but still noticeable.”

This caution in this last observation matches with sentiment recorded in a recent Ferret poll of the readers of Food magazine and other websites in the Cirrus Media Industrials group. This poll found that almost four-fifths of respondents believed manufacturing was still in trouble or that it was too early to tell if things were improving.


 

Thankyou founder named Victorian Young Australian of the Year

Daniel Flynn, managing director and co-founder of the social enterprise, the Thankyou Group, has been named Victorian Young Australian of the Year for 2014.

The Thankyou Group created by Flynn six years ago, manufacturers a range of products including bottled water, muesli, muesli bars and quick/ rolled oats. All profits from the sale of these items (after business expenses) go towards funding aid projects in developing nations.

In June this year, the company launched a multi-layered marketing campaign which included a strong social media presence to encourage both Coles and Woolworths to stock its range of products, and in Flynn’s words ‘help change the world’.

Flynn said that he was humbled to achieve the title of Victorian Young Australian of the Year.

“It’s an honour to be put in a category with finalists of this calibre. When I look at the impressive achievements of each person, it’s safe to say I feel a little undeserving of this award,” Flynn said. 

Thankyou has assisted over 60,000 people gain access to safe water through over 100 projects across Cambodia, Uganda, Myanmar, Haiti, Timor Leste, Kenya, Burandi, India and Sri Lanka.

“It’s a great feeling to go to work every day and know that what I’m doing is helping people in need. Already we’ve been able to make a huge impact overseas through the support of Australians, but the reality is that there is still so much more work to be done. 

“This is the reason I’ve got a passion to see Thankyou become a household name. The more Australians who get behind what we’re doing, the more work we can do for people in need.”

Other finalists in the running for the title included Luke Owens – musician and advocate for homeless people, Benson Saulo – youth representative and Joel Taylor – mental health advocate. 

 

Food manufacturing asks for government intervention

The food manufacturing industry is pleading with the Abbott government to remove burdens and free up investment in new production, following some disheartening figures released by the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

The AFGC will soon released a detailed report showing that despite making up lost ground against imports, growth in the industry has struggled compared to last year.

The Australian obtained the findings, which including that the industry lost around 170 employers in 2012-13 and 1,000 workers. Export growth outpaced imports, narrowing trade deficit to $2.2 billion.

AFGC chief executive, Gary Dawson, said the industry was "running fast to stand still" but if the government removed some of the burdens on business, it could prosper and take advantage of growing export opportunities in Asia.

Dawson said the industry needs better access to trade markets, regulatory reform and targeted investment incentives to help drive capital upgrades.

After receiving a government grant of $500,000 last week for capital upgrades, vegetable processor Simplot announced its Tasmanian Devonport plant, the viability of which has been in question recently, will remain in operation for at least another three years, to fulfil contracts with Coles and Woolworths.

The company did however state that the plant will need to make significant savings or it will potentially face closure by 2019, and that the processor’s casual workforce will experience significant job cuts.

SPC Ardmona, the nation’s last remaining fruit processor has voiced similar concerns, announcing it may be forced to close if the Abbott government refuses to come through with a $25 million grant promised by the former Labor government.

"The situation is urgent. We had a productive meeting with minister Macfarlane (the new industry minister) but we need an answer fast. We understand this is a new government and we need to show some patience, but the board has been holding off on a decision for some time," Kelly told The Guardian.

The funding was meant to be sourced from a clean technology program, which the Liberal government has since pledged to scrap as it was funded by the carbon tax.

Dawson will also address the National Press Club on Wednesday, and has cautioned against limits on foreign investment in agricultural businesses. "A lack of foreign investment could see more domestic production capability move offshore, reducing Australia's long term food security," he said.

The AFGC's report also found that the industry experienced a 0.3 percent fall in turnover to $111.2 billion in 2011-12 compared to a 4.5 percent decline the previous year.

While the sector posted a trade deficit across all its products – including some non-food grocery items – the results countered fears about the nation's food security. In the food and beverage categories, Australia exported $18.8 billion in produce and imported only $11.4 billion before including the vast bulk exports of wheat and other commodities, the Australian reports.

Australia’s food industry needs more skilled workers: AWPA

A report released today by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) has found that Australia’s food industry needs more highly skilled workers to grow new export markets in the Asian region.

The report titled Food and beverage workforce study was developed with industry and educational stakeholders and suggests the Australia’s agrifood industry- inclusive of both agricultural production and food processing – is in transition, furthering the need to employ more skilled workers in the industry.

The industry currently employs over 550,000 people, generating four percent of Australia’s GDP and 11.5 percent of the value of exports.

Philip Bullock, chairman of the AWPA said that despite strong growth, the industry is facing significant challenges.

“Agriculture remains one of Australia’s most productive industries and food and beverage processing is now our largest manufacturing sector in terms of employment,” said Bullock. “However, the reality is that with limited potential to grow domestic markets, the future lies in us finding new customers in rapidly growing and highly competitive Asian markets.

“The ongoing restructure of the industry resulting in larger farms and the growing use of new technologies in the agriculture and food processing sectors is also requiring workers to have higher level skills.

“Growing skills will require attention and focus as, currently, less than 40 per cent of workers in agriculture and fishing, and 45 per cent in food processing, have a post-school qualification, compared to Australia’s all-industries average of 62 per cent.’  

Key recommendations made in the study include:

  • Stronger and more coordinated national leadership to drive the agrifood industry workforce development agenda
  • Establishing an agrifood career promotion strategy, to raise the profile of agrifood careers and attract new skilled workers
  • Developing and using the skills of the existing workforce
  • Encouraging more employers to invest in training
  • Increasing industry involvement to ensure education and training is industry relevant
  • Increasing the diversity of the food workforce, by encouraging underrepresented groups into the industry

 

UN calls for innovative thinking to reduce food waste

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called for innovative thinking in an effort to measure and cut global food loss and food waste.

FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva said that cutting global food wastage is key in the battle to eliminate hunger as an estimated 1.3b tonnes, or one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted – costing up to $750b annually.

“If we reduce food loss and waste to zero it would give us additional food to feed 2 billion people,” said Graziano da Silva at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen yesterday.

“One of my priorities in FAO is opening our doors to potential allies. Fighting food loss and waste is clearly one area in which partnership is needed. Developing a global protocol can help provide clear measurements and indicators on which we can base guidance on how to reduce food loss and waste.”

The FAO states that the majority of food waste occurs during post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage. Food waste and is mainly related to poor infrastructure in developing nations while in developed nations, the problem lies within the marketing and consumption stages.

“We already know a lot about how to cut food losses,” he said. “But we need to invest more in a number of areas, especially in infrastructure such as roads and cold chains, but also improving market information. We also need to close the gap between the knowledge we have and what farmers and other actors in the food chain are actually doing.”

Graziano da Silva stating that innovative thinking from industry is key to encouraging retailers and individual households from throwing out/ wasting food.

In addition to paving the way to ending world hunger, the UN also sights food waste as the third largest carbon emitter.

The FAO released a report last month which provided a comprehensive global account of the environmental impact that food wastage creates along the supply chain with a focus on the impacts on climate, water, land and biodiversity.

 

Too early to celebrate a manufacturing recovery: survey

The second Cirrus Media Industrials online poll suggests that those in the industry believe it’s too early to say that things are improving for manufacturers, despite September being the first month of growth since June 2011.

The Industrials poll asked respondents the question “with the PMI growing for the first time in two years, is this a sign of manufacturing’s revival?”

The Australian Industry Group PMI – a closely-watched, seasonally adjusted composite index tracking the responses of 200 selected companies from a larger pool – for September showed an overall result of 51.7.

Any result over 50 signals an expansion, something that has not been seen in 27 months.

“Manufacturing ends two-year losing streak” offered a headline from The Australian. The unbroken, month-on-month contractions in the survey represented the longest losing streak in the history of the Australian PMI.

Responses from readers at six Cirrus Media titles were largely cautious regarding the news.

From 779 voters, 257 thought manufacturing “still in trouble”, with 366 – for the most popular option – believing it was “too early” to say that the industry had turned the corner.

Though the positive PMI result – led by the food, beverage and tobacco sub-sector – was welcomed, if the results of the Cirrus Media poll are to be used as a guide, they do not indicate confidence in a recovery.

79.97 per cent of the total responses suggest that the industry is either still in trouble or that it was too early to say that it was returning to health.

Only 18.2 per cent believed that “manufacturing is coming back”.

20 respondents selected “other”.

The 779 votes were registered at the Manufacturers’ Monthly, PACE, Ferret, Food Magazine, Logistics and Materials Handling and Factory Equipment News websites.


Image: https://bangforyourbuck.tumblr.com

Simon Johnson pops-up at MLC centre

Simon Johnson launched his first ever Sydney CBD pop-up store on 17 October.

Located on level seven of the MLC centre, the pop-up store features all of the Simon Johnson branded favourites in addition to some of the finest quality domestic and imported food products available in Australia.

The pop-up has a focus on stylish and decadent gift ideas for the festive season including a brand new range of Simon Johnson hampers.

The hampers range from the practical ‘Quick Fix’ hamper which features kitchen cupboard essentials such as the Simon Johnson Green Curry Paste and the Simon Johnson Harissa Paste to the more elaborate ‘Drinks at 6’ package featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Simon Johnson’s Linguette with Seasalt.   

“We are thrilled to be able to open in a seasonal store in this wonderful MLC Centre,” said Johnson.

“The festive season is our favourite time of year at Simon Johnson and we’re really excited to be able to showcase the Simon Johnson range to city folk. It’s the perfect site for food lovers in the CBD to check out our summer entertaining and gift ideas”.

The launch featured samples of exquisite cheeses, crisp breads and crackers, together with the classic combination of Hendrick’s Gin with tonic and cucumber.

The pop-up store will be open until 27 December.

 

Creating a social currency: marketing today’s food brands

Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages 24/7, so for today’s food brands and manufacturers, the creation of successful advertising campaigns has become very challenging.

Consumers are more immune to traditional forms of advertising than ever before, and with the rise of all things digital, they now have the ability to publicise their views on your marketing message.

Love it or hate it, this is where social media – the ultimate word of mouth marketing medium – can make or break you.

In today’s digital age, the importance of advertising through social media cannot be denied. Data is collected from users via their listed interests, enabling marketers to more easily access their target audience. And consumers willingly, and regularly, expose themselves to the varying marketing message, whether it be it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else tickles their fancy.  

However, targeted advertising through social media with ‘suggested posts’ can be completely transparent – not to mention downright annoying – and risks becoming what marketers refer to as ‘noise’; confusion caused by too many marketing messages delivered at the same time.

So how do marketers cut through the noise and launch campaigns that make lasting impressions, encourage word of mouth and are more likely to convert messages into dollars? One way it through effective experiential marketing combined with social media activity.

Now not everyone out there will be familiar with the term ‘experiential marketing’.. Experiential marketing is the combination of experiencing and experimenting – essentially the creation of a campaign that encourages consumers to become active participants in a marketing effort.

Experiential marketing may include ‘touch and feel’ techniques such as unique product sampling efforts, or impromptu events that attract attention in high traffic areas such as the use of a celebrity to endorse a product. The more creatively marketers think outside the box, the more likely they are to encourage consumer participation through organic social media posts – the only thing is, the campaign has to be good enough for people to want to talk (and tweet) about it.

Who’s doing what?

A key part of launching a new food or beverage product is of course getting people to try it. In-store demonstrations can be effective if done properly, but can often be quite disengaging and stale – tending to attract no one other than ‘seagulls’ that feast on the free delights but have no intention of committing to a purchase.

Some recent notable campaigns have come from key players in the industry: Kellogg’s Special K, Unilever’s Magnum, and new entrants to the Aussie scene: Wonderful Pistachios and Thankyou.

Kellogg’s launched Australia’s first ‘social currency shop’ – The Special K Post Office in mid-August this year.

Open over four days in Westfield Sydney, the Post Office offered consumers the opportunity to try the brand’s debut into the salty snacks category – Special K Cracker Crisps – in exchange for a post on social media.

The Post Office featured traditional red post office boxes, fake grass, a barbeque, a bed of fresh chives and an outdoor seating arrangement – an environment which complementedthe Cracker Crisp flavours: Honey Barbeque and Sour Cream & Chives, as well as tapping into Australian consumers’ love for an outdoor lifestyle.

“The Special K Post Office was Australia’s first shop where shoppers didn’t pay, they posted – it’s where they came in and took away a crunchy, new savoury snack simply by posting a picture, comment or by checking-in on social media,” said Nik Scotcher, market manager, snacks, at Kellogg’s.

Scotcher said that the brand was extremely pleased with the customers’ response to the campaign.

“We were hoping to exceed 200,000 in terms of social reach, that was kind of the benchmark that we set ourselves based on the UK and Canadian success,” he said.

“We’ve been able to exceed expectations as far as social reach … We have reached just under a quarter of a million in Australia alone,” he said. “From a reach point of view, we are very pleased with that.”

Consumers like being in control

Although the ever-rising popularity of convenience foods may lead marketers to assume that consumers simply want food manufacturers to do the thinking for them, they should think again.

The pop-up Magnum Pleasure Store gave consumers the opportunity to make their own ice cream by selecting the type of chocolate coating they wanted, along with a wide selection of toppings. The concept engaged consumers by appealing to their individual tastes and creativity, which employing social media as the main vehicle for promotion.

Having successfully been launched in Paris, London, New York, Toronto, Milan and Shanghai, Sydneysiders embraced the concept with salivating taste buds and rampant Instagram posts.

The Pleasure Store created a buzz in Westfield Sydney for six weeks straight. The wait in line was rarely shorter than an hour long, and with ice creams retailing at  $7 a pop – double the recommended retail price – you can safely say this promotion was a  success.

“The Magnum Pleasure Store has proven to be a greatly successful concept, which is adaptable to different markets and opportunities around the globe,” said Cassandra Drougas assistant brand manager, Magnum.

“Ultimately, the key to the success of the launch is that people love the unique opportunity to customise a product they love.”

In addition to a unique concept, organic social posts were a leading contributor to the store’s popularity and on-going success throughout the activation period.

“Australia has the second largest uptake of smart phones and Facebook in the world, so organically, people were photographing their customised Magnums and sharing the photos online through social media. For those without smart phones, we had tablets set-up in-store with hashtag signage to facilitate any customer wishing to share their creation,” said Drougas.

“People were telling the staff that the reason they came to the store was because they saw their friends posting images online; the store is self-generating its own PR, which is a testament to the fact that customising your own Magnum is simply a winning concept.”

What about new market entrants?

Californian-based nut company, Wonderful Pistachios, burst onto the Aussie market in early 2012. Having developed a solid reputation in the US and abroad, Wonderful secured a distribution deal with Australia’s leading grocery giants, Coles and Woolworths, and launched the brand’s popular ‘Get Crackin’ campaign.

The campaign featured television commercials with well known cartoon characters such as The Simpsons family, Peanuts and Angry Birds as well as a host of experiential sampling techniques including one outside Sydney’s Town Hall which featured an impersonator of the Korean pop star, Psy.

Wonderful’s loud approach to marketing attracts attention. Whether it’s from passers-by in high traffic pedestrian areas due to innovative gorilla marketing techniques, or through well devised above the line campaigns – their approach is extremely effective as it gains organic traction through social media and has a tendency to go viral.

The brand employed Psy of Gangnam Style fame (the real one this time) to star in the brand’s first-ever Super Bowl spot which was announced via a flash mob in New Orleans.

"The Super Bowl is the most widely watched sporting event of the year, 'Gangnam Style' is the most-watched YouTube video, and Wonderful Pistachios is the top-selling snack nut item on the market," said Marc Seguin, Paramount Farms vice president of marketing. "It's a powerhouse combination."  

Taking a slightly different approach was Thankyou, the social enterprise behind Thankyou Water. The brand engaged in a host of experiential activities via a multi-layered marketing campaign with the aim of attracting attention from the supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths.

The campaign gained a momentous amount of exposure via social media and included flying two helicopters over Coles’ Melbourne headquarters in Hawthorn, and Woolworths’ Sydney headquarters in Bella Vista. Each helicopter carried a 10,000 square foot banner with messages asking the retailers to “change the world” by stocking their products.

The two week campaign included a mix of traditional advertising, celebrity endorsements and of course an extensive social media presence which included creative videos and thousands of posts by Thankyou fans on both the Coles and Woolworths’ Facebook pages.

The campaign is estimated to have reached over 13 million people.

“It’s been amazing to see thousands of Australians post on both Coles and Woolworths’ Facebook pages in support of the Thankyou range. We’ve been blown away by the level of support,” said Daniel Flynn, co-founder and managing director of Thankyou.“We set a goal to reach 10,000 views of the campaign video by the end of the campaign and we hit that number within the first day.”

Although money helps, of course, and is often a key driver, a brand doesn’t necessarily need a hefty advertising budget to run a successful marketing campaign. Social networking tools are among the most powerful media vehicles, with the potential to connect brands with countless consumers from around the globe. All you need is a good concept and a bit of creativity.

 

Fonterra announces $72m upgrade to mozzarella plant

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has announced its plan to invest $72 million into its Clandeboye mozzarella plant as the company expands its share in the global foodservice market.

The investment marks the final stage of a technology upgrade which will see the capacity of the plant double, enabling it to produce up to 50,000 MT of individual quick frozen grated mozzarella (IQF) per annum.

Fonterra’s Clandeboye plant features patented technology developed by Fonterra that enables frozen natural shredded mozzarella to be made straight from milk in one day rather than two days which traditional mozzarella processes require.

René Dedoncker, Fonterra’s director of foodservice said that strong growth in the foodservice category is being driven by emerging Asian markets where the category is estimated to grow by 13 percent up to 2016.

“Demand for high-value dairy products like mozzarella is being fuelled by changing dietary habits, particularly in Asia where there is a significant move toward more Westernised diets,” she said.

“For example, there has been dramatic growth in the number of pizza restaurants in China where key customers such as Yum! (owners of the Pizza Hut brand) and Domino’s Pizza are undertaking aggressive expansion plans in new and existing markets.”

Docker also says that the foodservice category is one of seven strategic paths identified in Fonterra’s business strategy, and was a standout performer in Fonterra’s annual results released in September.

“Our progress last year shows that our strategy is delivering the results we want in our priority areas. A good example is our Asia, Africa and Middle East business where we achieved a 45 per cent normalised EBIT growth in foodservice. We also achieved double digit growth in China where foodservice grew 28 per cent.”

The upgrade of the Clandeboye plant will commence mid next year and is expected to be completed by September 2015.

 

Manufacturing industry throws its weight behind Abbott government [survey]

A recent survey conducted by Cirrus Media's Industrials Group has confirmed Australia's manufacturing industry believes the Abbott government will be good for business.

The survey, which was hosted on a number of B2B websites targeting manufacturing professionals, including Ferret.com.au, Food Magazine and Manufacturers Monthly, found that the industry believes Tony Abbott and the new Coalition government will help the country's manufacturing industry.

Out of 1,338 respondents, more than 60 percent of respondents are confident that the Abbott government will be good for the sector. Only able to vote for one of four survey questions, 38.42 percent said the Abbott government will be good for business, while just over 23 percent of voters said getting rid of the carbon tax will help the industry.

Just over one-quarter of respondents believe an Abbott-led government will "drive Australian industry into the ground", with 27.06 percent of voters sceptical that the new PM will deliver positive results for the manufacturing sector,  while 11.06 percent said the lack of a manufacturing and mining specific minister will harm business.

Just prior to Australians heading to the polls, Labor's Industry minister (at the time) Kim Carr referred to this year's election as a "referendum on the future of the manufacturing industry."

His comments came as the Coalition released its policy on the industry, which included more modest support than that of the Labor government, but comprised $50 million worth of grants for “Export Market Development” and “Strategic Growth Action Agendas".

"They (the Coalition) have no grasp of what the global financial crisis and the high dollar have done to manufacturing," Carr said.

Despite this, the Abbott-led government prevailed on election day, receiving more than 53 percent of the primary vote and winning 91 seats.

 

Tip Top opens QLD bakery after $9m upgrade

Tip Top Bakeries, owned by George Weston Foods, has completed a $9 million upgrade of its Springwood factory in Queensland.

Ahead of the facility's 30th anniversary next year, the bakery upgrade included improvements to the onsite warehouse and distribution centre, automated packaging and handling equipment; staff amenities including a lunchroom and changing facilities; an upgrade to the engineering workshop and a new wash bay and crate washer equipment.

Officially opened yesterday by Logan City Council Mayor Pam Parker, Tip Top employs 392 Springwood residents, more than 100 of whom have been with the factory for over 10 years.

The Springwood bakery produces 180,000 units per day across eight distribution lines, including some of GWF's leading brands, Tip Top The One, Sunblest, Golden, Abbott's and Gold Max.
 

McCain Foods announces closure of SA potato plant and job losses

McCain Foods has announced that 59 jobs will be lost following the closure of its South Australian Penola potato processing plant.

Louis Wolthers, McCain Foods regional president for Australia/ New Zealand and South Africa said that the decision was made due to unsustainably high input costs coupled with surplus capacity, ABC News reports.

“Australia has one of the highest raw material costs in the world, which is unsustainable in the long term," said Wolthers.

"Cheaper potato imports are seriously threatening the future of the processing industry in Australia, and will place further cost pressures on Australia's growers".

Wolthers said that cheap imports of processed potatoes have risen from 10,000 tonnes to 130000 tonnes within the ten year period between 2002 and 2012.

McCain have said that 59 permanent employees will be offered redundancy packages together with counseling and support.

Peter Gandolfi, Wattle Range Mayor said that the closure of the plant is upsetting both for the local community and for the nation as a whole.

“I think it's further evidence that as a nation, manufacturing is becoming more and more uncompetitive," he said.

"It's pretty sad when we can't compete when it comes to growing our food."

 

Prioritise agriculture and support small producers: lessons on World Food Day

Australia can help alleviate world hunger by investing in its agricultural industries and supporting small-scale producers, says Oxfam Australia's food policy advisor.

Kelly Dent's comments come on World Food Day, 16 October – a global movement to end world hunger.

Dent said although the number of hungry people in the world had recently dropped slightly – from 870 million to 842 million – the challenge of tackling hunger should remain a government priority.

"Despite an overall decline, some regions have experienced a rise in hunger in the past few years because of pressures including repeated food crises and food price rises,” Ms Dent said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) 2011-13 hunger figures, released this month, show that the number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 1 million compared to 2008-10 estimates.  As a region, sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest prevalence of hunger – with an estimated one in four people not having enough to eat.

Closer to home, FAO statistics suggest that 38 per cent of people in Timor Leste  – more than one in three – do not have enough to eat in terms of dietary energy intake, and this number appeared to have increased in recent years.

"According to FAO data, about 22 million people in Indonesia don’t have enough to eat – that’s almost the entire population of Australia,"Dent said.

"Australia has the ability to be a leader in tackling hunger, investing in agriculture and in particular, prioritising small-scale producers, who play a critical role in feeding millions around the world," she said.

Dent said that 80 percent of the world’s hungry were from communities involved in food production, including small-scale farmers, fishers and labourers. 

Meanwhile, women made up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force, and played the greatest role in ensuring that their families had enough food, yet women had unequal access to land, credit, markets, education and support services.

Dent said poor people often spent a large proportion of their income on food, making them vulnerable to high and volatile food prices. 

"In a world that produces enough food for everyone, one in eight people should not be going to bed hungry every night," she said.

"At a time of belt-tightening and budget cuts, the Government must not forget that investments in food security and small-scale agriculture can reap massive benefits in the fight against hunger, which is essential if we are to contribute to a more prosperous region.

"We know that eradicating hunger is possible and we know what needs to be done – the question is whether we are determined to make this happen."

Kellogg Australia is throwing its weight behind World Food Day by asking its employees to take time out of their day to build Christmas hampers for the hungry, which will then be distributed by food relief organisation, Foodbank.
 

The ultimate iron chef – when 3D printers invade the kitchen

Printing food seems more like an idea based in Star Trek rather than in the average home. But recent advances in 3D printing (known formally as additive manufacturing) are driving the concept closer to reality. With everything from printed metal airplane wings to replacement organs on the horizon, could printed food be next? And how will we feel when it’s served at the table?

From sundaes to space food

In some ways we have “printed” food for decades. Think of making a sundae using a self-dispensing ice-cream machine. Building by extruding material through a nozzle is quite similar to how certain 3D printers, called fused deposition modellers (FDM) work today. While FDM is primarily used for prototyping plastics, the technology has been applied in culinary arts for years.

Researchers at Cornell pioneered some of this work, adapting an open source extrusion printer, called the Fab@Home Lab, to work with food in 2007. They’ve gone so far as partnering with the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan to print personalised chocolate and cheese, cookies, cubes of pureed turkey and celery paste, and even tiny spaceships made of deep fried scallops.

Novelty food suppliers have become early adopters of similar technology. Various chocolate printers are on the market, and for Valentine’s Day in Japan this year you could order chocolate made from a 3D scan of your face. Further examples include a Burritobot on Kickstarter last year and Google serving 3D printed pasta.

Other 3D printing technologies have been investigated for use with food. In 2007, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories introduced the CandyFab 4000, a DIY printer based on a modified selective laser sintering technique. The method utilised a focused heat source moving over a bed of sugar to fuse large 3D sugar sculptures. And just a few months ago, a team of students from the University of Waterloo was able to sinter chocolate using a custom built machine.

Established market players in Additive Manufacturing have taken notice as well. In September, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) acquired The Sugar Lab, a startup producing edible 3D sugar confections. The Sugar Lab had adapted 3D Systems' Color Jet Printing (CJP) technology to print flavoured edible binders on a sugar bed to fabricate solid structures.

                              The Sugar Lab

Beyond novelty, printed food could provide serious medical benefits. The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) announced they’ll build printers to reassemble pureed food to look like the original – think 3D printed broccoli florets from pureed broccoli. TNO has targeted printers for nursing homes in order to help elderly people who have chewing and swallowing problems. Beyond medical conditions, TNO has proposed printing customised meals with varied levels of the basic food components like carbs, protein, and fat, for everyone from seniors, to athletes, to expectant mothers.

And NASA sees 3D-printed food as a revolutionary way to make personalised meals for astronauts. They are funding development of a 3D printer that premixes basic food components before spraying the mix on baking tray. Their ultimate goal would be to print a pizza. Beyond providing cosmic delivery, food would also be tailored for astronauts' daily activities.

The ethics of printed meat

Will printed food go beyond novelty value? Should it replace other foods or supplement the nutritional value of existing foods? In this area, one of the most interesting and perhaps controversial areas is the debate about printing meat.

Some suggest 3D printed meat could provide high quality protein for a growing global population without increasing stress on arable land or continually depleting the oceans. It could also answer the problem of methane emissions from agriculture.

In 2011 Modern Meadow took up the challenge, setting out to make ecological and economical leather and meat from bioprinters. They cultured biopsied bovine cells to produce sheets of tissue, eventually forming either meat or hide. They predict cultured leather will be on the market in five years.

Modern Meadow’s CEO Andras Forgacs is a pioneer in the bioprinting field cofounding the tissue printing company Organovo (NYSE:ONVO) with his father Gabor Forgacs. In 2011, Gabor – the Chief Scientific Officer at Modern Meadow, cooked and ate cultured pork live at a TEDMED conference.

Currently, it is very expensive to produce tiny volumes of printed meat, with estimates of thousands of dollars to make a pound of meat in the lab. But could the process be scaled up, and cell cultures made cheaper?

Biopsies aren’t the only sources for culture. The process could potentially use stem cells. Industrial scale printing of meat could additionally use cells grown in an algae-based cell culture and powered by novel processes such as photosynthesis-mimicking solar energy systems.

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In the lab with Fab@Home

For vegetarians, printed meat somewhat circumvents concerns about harmful or destructive use of animals for food. Live animals are used only to provide cells from which cell lines can be grown (though the blood of unborn cows is needed to culture most cells).

Ethical vegans may still object at the use of non-human animals for human purposes; while non-destructive, it is still exploitative.

It isn’t clear whether 3D printed meat is halal or kosher. There may not be an issue if there is no animal slaughter involved.

Will we stomach it?

While we typically “eat with our eyes”, and printed meat could be made in familiar shapes and textures, our palette will be the dominating factor. That is, if printed meat could be proven safe.

Printed meat may result in a debate akin to that on GMO foods. Certainly the public will want to know whether printed foods are safe for human consumption.

Consumers will most likely demand adequate protections to ensure the development of printed foods does not limit their access to or contaminate organic foods. It is reasonable to assume most will want to decide whether they eat “real” meat or try printed meats, so labelling regulation will be important.

Farming communities and those in agricultural food production will also want a voice about if, when and how their industry will be transformed by industrialised printed meat.

Early identification or those affected, and extensive engagement with the range of community concerns about printed foods, is warranted. While no specific printed food exploration exists yet, similar forms of community engagement have been developed in Australia through the Science and Technology Engagement Pathways framework (STEP). They work with communities on a wide range of issues, including synthetic biology and bionic implants.

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Finally, a way to print chocolate.

STEP has supported researchers in the ethics program at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, who are identifying effective public engagement and deliberative democratic processes for uncovering and articulating community concerns about emerging technologies. Other entities like RiAus, an Australian non-profit, has been active in stimulating community debate specifically about synthetic meat.

The proof is in the print

With no slow-down in 3D printing developments, there will certainly be new advances in printed food. Whether the technology can truly move from the novelty sector will most likely depend on the ability to process a wider range of foods requiring influence from both the kitchen and from printer developers.

It is also debatable whether 3D printed food can integrate in the global supply chain, particularly if printed meat can be made economically viable and if consumers will accept it. However, the benefits of 3D printed food could be monumental. Time will tell if the next fad will be the 3D printed diet. Until then, the community should be involved in the discussion of printed food.

Dr. Robert Gorkin is a Strategic Development Officer at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES). He receives funding from the ARC

Susan Dodds receives funding from the Australian Research Council and is a Chief Investigator and Ethics Program Director for the Australian Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES). In 2012 she was the Chair of the National Enabling Technologies Strategy Stakeholder Advisory Council.

The Conversation

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

 

Emotive video shines light on palm oil production [video]

Californian environmental organisation, the Rainforest Action Network has released an emotive video to promote awareness on the realities of unsustainable palm oil production.

The video which spans just under two and a half minutes depicts a young hearing impaired girl communicating with an organutan, one of the world’s most intelligent primates, through sign language over skype.

After a brief polite conversation, the organutan, named Strawberry picks up a banana and tells the young girl, Lena, that this is the food that it eats. Strawberry then asks Lena what her favourite food to eat is.

Lena goes to her cupboard and pulls out a jar of peanut butter. Strawberry then asks Lena what peanut butter is and what it is made of.

“Peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt,” Lena communicates.

Strawberry’s mood instantly turn sober. She stares downward briefly, then looks up at Lena.

“Your food is destroying my home,” communicates Strawberry.

“Organutans cannot speak for themselves,” says a voiceover, the first human voice to be heard in the video. “But if they could, they would tell us that much of the palm oil used in America’s snack food is being grown by cutting down rainforests that are orangutans only home.”

The video is part of a campaign by the Rainforest Action Network called “In your Palm” and encourages consumers to avoid foods containing palm oil.

Palm oil is the world’s most widely used edible oil with an estimated 50 percent of products on Australian supermarket shelves comprising the ingredient. The widespread popularity of palm oil is due to its attractive price tag and the fact that it promotes a longer shelf life when compared to butter and other oil alternatives.

The controversy surrounding palm oil relates to mass deforestation which is taking place in Malaysia and Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations, with obvious implications for native species, especially the endangered orangutan.

Consumer awareness of palm oil production has heightened in Australia in recent years resulting in the boycotting of particular foods including hot cross buns from Australian retail giant, Woolworths earlier this year

Woolworths has now committed to only use Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 in all private label products. The supermarket giant is now a member of the RSPO and has committed to using only certified sustainable palm in their hot cross buns for Easter 2014, following the consumer backlash earlier this year.

Coles, now also a member of RSPO, has made a similar move by committing to use only certified sustainable palm oil in all Coles-branded products by 2015. The retailer said that it has already removed palm oil from some of its bakery products.

 

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Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain launches reality iron man show

Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain together with Sydney based marketing agency Brand Faction, are about to launch a new eight part Ironman reality TV show.

The show, titled Deep Water, will be hosted by legends in the Ironman scene, Zane Holmes and Wes Berg and Joel Parkinson and will see the athletes take on extreme challenges in a bid to win $100k.

Ian Blackhall, marketing manager for Kellogg Australia said that the creation of the series represented new territory for the brand.

 “This is new territory for the Nutri-Grain brand but we wanted to create a platform for the Ironman athletes to showcase their capabilities and personalities outside of the Ironman Series,” said Blackhall.

“They’re phenomenal athletes but they’re also just a great bunch of guys and role models for teens everywhere. We think this reality series will enable consumers to connect more closely with the Nutri-Grain Ironmen.”

During 2013, Kellogg’s has revamped the Nutri-Grain brand with new packaging, branding and advertising as well as taking control of the 2014 Nutri-Grain Ironman and IronWoman Series.

 

UK Food and Drink Federation launches new ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initative

The UK’s peak representative body for the food and beverage manufacturing sector, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has launched a new initiative titled the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ (SIM) program.

The program will invite over 1,600 students, teachers and careers advisors to see the ‘behind the scenes‘ of some of Britain’s top food and beverage  manufacturing companies during October with the aim of improving the image of manufacturing, and encouraging young people to consider careers in the sector.

The program is run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in conjunction with FDF and includes key players such as British Sugar, Coca-Cola Enterprises, KP Snacks, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlè, PepsiCo, Thorntons plc and Wrigley's.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said that the program will aim to inspire many young people to consider a career in manufacturing.

“See Inside Manufacturing gives young people the opportunity to see exactly how manufacturing works on a day to day basis, dispelling old myths about factories and inspiring the next generation of engineers. So far the scheme has been hugely successful in doing this, with nearly nine in ten young participants saying they would now think about a career in manufacturing," said Fallon.

“The food and drink industry houses some of the most recognisable businesses in the UK. I'm pleased that these leading businesses across the country have come onboard together with the FDF to open their doors to the public.”

Simon Baldry, managing director of Coca-Cola said that the program has served as a valuable tool for both Coca-Cola and the schools involved.

“Since the launch of SIM by the Government, we've established a programme of education initiatives to show our commitment to the development of young people. The programmes have involved opening up our facilities by dedicated staff who are highlighting the career opportunities available across the industry, and providing valuable insight into our business and the wider industry," said Baldry.

"…Through these programmes we are hoping to inspire students into manufacturing and lay the foundations for the country's future business leaders.”