Oxfam urges beverage giants to proactively address sugar land grabs

International aid agency, Oxfam has commissioned a new report titled ‘Sugar Rush’ which accuses beverage and food manufacturing giants including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo of not being proactive enough in stopping land grabs and conflicts throughout their networks of suppliers.

The report highlights examples of land grabs (large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries) and disputes that are linked to companies that supply sugar to both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as well as allegations of land disputes among suppliers of Associated British Foods including Ovaltine and Twinings.

Kelly Dent, Oxfam Australia’s acting public policy manager said that the world’s increasing appetite for sugar – an industry which is worth over $50b annually – is helping to fuel the problem of land grabs.

Dent says that 31m hectares – an area which is larger than Victoria – is currently being used to grow the world’s sugar in developing nations.

 “Sugar is not only bad for our health, it’s bad for the communities around the world that have been forcibly removed from their land without their consent or compensation,” Ms Dent said.

“Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods are the world’s biggest producers and buyers of sugar, but they are doing little to ensure the sugar in their products is not grown on land grabbed from poor communities.

“The people who love their products expect better. We are calling on them to join us in demanding that Coke, Pepsi and Associated British Foods act now to stamp out land grabs. These three companies have a huge amount of power and influence. If they act, they could transform the industry.”  

Oxfam has listed evidence of land grabs and disputes within Brazil and Cambodia that have forced communities out of the area and have destroyed forests that people have relied on for food. The agency also provides direct links that prove that some of the sugar sourced by Coke, Pepsi and Associated British Foods are from these devistated communities.

Oxfam has called upon Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods to commit to zero tolerance of land grabs throughout their supply chain and have urged consumers to play an active role.

“Consumers also have an important role to play, by urging the big companies to do what is right,” said Dent.

Since the release of the report, Oxfam has recieved statements from ABF, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. 

Food leads manufacturing growth:PMI

The Australian PMI has recorded its first positive result since June 2011, recording an overall score of 51.7 points for September.

The seasonally-adjusted Australian Industry Group PMI, which is a survey-based composite index released every month, has 50 as the score that separates expansion from contraction.

September was led by the food, beverage and tobacco sub-sector, which recorded a score of 60.1, its strongest result since March last year. Petroleum, coal, chemicals and rubber products also recorded a strong result (54.1), its best since April 2011.

The metal products sub-sector had a result of 32.5 for the month, and has been in negative territory since August 2010.

The overall result is up from 46.4 in August, which, according to AAP when the survey was published, was the 26th straight month of contraction. This was the longest streak in the 21-year history of the PMI.

For a summary of the September PMI, click here.


Why we made the switch to solar: Spiess Australia

Tony Klausner, managing director of Spiess Australia Smallgoods, explains why the company, which specialises in air-dried meat products,switched to solar power. 

A 100 kilowatt commercial solar energy system was installed in April by Sun Connect to power Spiess Australia’s 4000 square-metre, small goods production plant, an hour west of Sydney. 

Innovation and long-term sustainability are top priorities in the running of Spiess Australia. The installation of solar power to run our manufacturing plant ticked both of these boxes. 

Spiess Australia began its operation in 1996 under the supervision of our parent company Spiess Schiers AG in Switzerland – a company with over 105 years of experience in smallgoods production. We have remained at the forefront of smallgoods production through continuous investments in innovative manufacturing techniques. Switching to solar power and installing a 100 kilowatt commercial energy system to power our production plant here in Australia was in keeping with this. 

However, most importantly, our research in adopting solar energy showed it was worth the investment – foremost because it made economic sense – but also for many other reasons.

To begin, solar power has a tried and proven track record in manufacturing businesses overseas. Solar energy was already giving many international companies a competitive advantage. If large corporations, like IKEA and Toyota, install solar systems in much cloudier countries around the world, surely Australia is a more than appropriate candidate for utilising solar power. We have an abundance of sunlight here in Australia and with Spiess Australia being so reliant on refrigeration and electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the switch to using clean and abundant energy from the sun during the day made sense. 

The switch to solar power would also help to turn a profit for our prosciutto and smallgoods manufacturing. Our main impetus was to turn environmental and social responsibilities into a valuable asset to our business. The decision to embrace solar technology proved economically viable for the business’s bottom line. The cost benefit analysis showed a reduction in our electricity costs of about 22 percent and a depreciable asset in the balance sheet.  

Solar installation would also provide protection against electricity price hikes. Not only would Spiess Australia save many thousands of dollars in the future, it will reduce our exposure to future electricity price rises. 

Finally, there were also environmental benefits due to the reduction of greenhouse gases emitted from our manufacturing. It gives us a great deal of pride to own one of the largest private solar installations in NSW. The community and our customers recognise us as a sustainably-managed Small to Medium Enterprise (SME).

We don’t know of any other company that can offer its customers carbon neutral, Australian-made smallgoods.
Installing solar power is a long-term sustainable and profitable investment for us at Spiess Australia. I would recommend it to similar food manufacturing businesses that are reliant on steady electricity consumption, as the way forward.  

If you’re interested in making the switch to solar, the following tips should help:

  1. Own your building. A commercial solar installation adds value to your building by reducing your energy and running costs. A building with its own solar energy system is likely to fetch  higher re-sale or leasing prices. 
  2. Orientation of your building and sunlight makes a difference. It’s important that your building has no shade and that your rooftop has ample access to sunlight.
  3. Use all the electricity produced by your solar system for your own business. By not feeding electricity back into the grid, you do not depend on government policy and set tariffs. You know what you get and can calculate returns independent of government policy.
  4. Do your research and only used a reputable commercial energy company. We used the services of Sun Connect, a multi-award winning commercial-grade solar panel design and installation company.
  5. Price alone should not be a driver. The quality and longevity of the solar panels should be a priority. Installing a solar system should be a long-term proposition. A quality commercial-grade solar panel should last 25 years. Granted, you don't have to wait 25 years for a return, it should start returning you dividends from year one, but you want to receive a return for 25 years – so with that in mind, don't be fooled into looking at a cheap system, because you'll get a cheap return from that.
  6. Make the most of your solar energy system, it's a cost benefit and is good for your brand. And of course, Use electricity wisely to ensure you are conserving energy as well as generating your own energy. 


Multi-national food companies accused of undermining health policies

Governments across the world are being called on to counteract the influence that multi-national food companies are having on stalling healthy food policies.

In June, a meeting on the progress of obesity prevention efforts in low and middle income countries was held in Bellagio, Italy. The Bellagio Declaration was released yesterday at the International Congress of Nutrition in Granada, Spain, calling for greater efforts from organisations and governments to protect healthy food policies from the lobbying efforts of large food corporations, or 'Big Food and Big Soda.'

Professor Barry Popkin from the University of North Carolina said, "Governments see the rising tsunami of obesity flooding over their countries, but as soon as they put up serious policies to create healthier food environments they get hammered by the food industry."

The policies which provoke this response are regulations to reduce the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, front-of-pack labelling systems to help consumers readily assess the healthiness of the food, and taxes on unhealthy foods like sugar-sweetened beverages, said Professor Carlos Monteiro, University of Sao Paulo, a co-convener and one of Brazil's leading public nutrition researchers.

Different countries' experiences were published this week in Obesity Reviews, and showed that the obesity epidemic is rising very fast in many developing countries, rapidly catching up or overtaking undernutrition as the dominant nutrition problem.

"This is creating a double burden of co-existent overnutrition and undernutrition within many populations or even within households," reads a statement from the International Association for the Study of Obesity.

The director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan, has recently called the lobby forces of 'Big Food and Big Soda' one of the biggest challenge that countries face as they try to reduce obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.

She outlined some of the tactics the food industry has been using such as lobby groups, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research. The Bellagio Declaration calls on WHO to develop norms for government engagement with the private sector so that partnerships are not detrimental to nutrition goals.

"The first priority for food policies is to improve nutritional outcomes for the population, not the bottom lines of multi-national corporations," said Professor Boyd Swinburn, co-chair of the International Obesity Task Force.

Earlier this week Oxfam updated its Behind the Brands scorecard ranks, and found that leading food brands are being very sluggish in improving their social and environmental policies.

No company performed better overall than the 'fair' category, with companies including Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Danone and General Mills experiencing slight increases in their scores. Associated British Foods, General Mills and Kellogg's are at the bottom of the scorecard with few signs of progress.


Food manufacturers welcome new government’s reforms: AFGC

Finalising free trade discussions, cutting red tape and reducing energy costs are at the top of the list of priorities food manufacturers hope the new Abbott Ministry will commit to.

With the new Ministry to be sworn in today, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed the new government's focus on growth, trade and regulatory reform.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson congratulated all new minister, especially those working more closely with food and beverage manufacturers, including Industry minister Ian McFarlane, Trade and Investment minister Andrew Robb, Small Business minister Bruce Billson, Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

Dawson said manufacturers are hoping the government will offer certainty and stability and will focus on boosting confidence, investment and jobs by "getting the policy settings right."

"To that end we strongly support priorities including the finalisation of stalled Free Trade Agreement talks, a rollback of costly unnecessary regulation, action to reduce energy costs, a tax reform white paper and a review of competition laws to help level the playing field where there is an imbalance in market power," he said.

"Food and grocery manufacturing is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, directly employing around 300,000 people and with annual turnover of $110 billion.  It is the lifeblood of many regional economies, with numerous major food processing plants located outside the metropolitan areas, and makes up half the total industry employment in regional Australia."

Dawson said the manufacturing and agricultural sectors has struggled of late, with the high Australian dollar, retail price deflation and high costs all being significant burdens.

"It is also an industry with massive growth potential for the future provided we can boost competitiveness and productivity, and open up market access in the growing economies of Asia," he added.

"AFGC looks forward to working with these experienced ministers in establishing a coordinated and disciplined approach to policy making, to ensure a competitive Australian food and grocery manufacturing sector."


Fonterra Australia secures government grant to expand production at Stanhope site

Fonterra Australia will be investing $6m into its Northern Victorian site of Stanhope to support the manufacture of a ricotta cheese processing facility with additional help from a Victorian state government grant worth $250,000

The state government’s grant which comes under the Industries for Today and Tomorrow program, is designed to support manufacturing investment in regional Victoria.

Deputy Premier of Victoria, Peter Ryan MLA, announced the grant this morning at the Stanhope site, stating that the investment will include new cheese making, processing and packaging equipment.

The expansion of the site will create six new jobs and is part of a plan to transfer production from Fonterra’s Cororoohe site which is due to close early next year.

“This is a great example of Government and industry working together to ensure we deliver on the global opportunities for dairy. By focusing Stanhope’s production on high-value products, like ricotta cheese, we are able to increase the site’s productivity, efficiency and competitiveness,” said Judith Swales, managing director of Fonterra Australia.

“This investment will help ‘future-proof’ the Stanhope site and strengthen our presence in northern Victoria. It is another step towards achieving our goal of having the most competitive and sustainable dairy supply chain in Australia.”

The Cororooke site will continue to make ricotta until April 2014, with the rest of the site (which includes shredded cheese, cream and blending and packing functions) due to close in October.


Nestle commits to clean water and sanitation pledge

Global food manufacturing giant Nestle is one of the first signatories to a new pledge designed to commit business to the supply of clean water and high levels of sanitation in all of their operations

The pledge know as the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Implementation at the workplace” (WASH) was created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The pledge challenges companies to provide access to safe water and sanitation, as well as appropriate facilities to ensure personal hygiene at all premises in their direct control within three years of signing.

Carlo Galli, Technical and Strategic Advisor for Water Resources, Nestlé, said that although Nestle already provides access to clean water throughout its direct operations, the company hopes that its support of WASH will encourage other businesses to make a similar commitment.

"We already commit to providing access to clean water to our employees at all of our direct operations, including our 468 factories worldwide, as part of our existing commitment on water stewardship", he said.

“We hope that together with the other companies that have already signed up, we can encourage more businesses to do the same.”

Peter Bakker, President of WBCSD said that by signing the pledge, businesses have the opportunity to show their commitment to addressing one of the world’s most pressing socio-economic challenges.

“Today, millions of people are still without access to safe drinking water and billions lack access to adequate sanitation,” said Peter Bakker, President, WBCSD.

“There is a compelling and clear economic case for businesses to demonstrate leadership in addressing this social imperative and one of the most pressing socio-economic challenges of our times.

“The WASH pledge is a direct and tangible contribution they can make to this.”

In addition to Nestle, other companies that have signed the WASH pledge include Deloitte LLP, EDF, Greif, Hindustan Construction Company, Roche Group, and Unilever.


Vegetable derived food colours take preference over synthetics

In response to consumer preferences, food manufacturers are increasingly looking to source naturally occurring colours from vegetables including purple sweet potatoes, as opposed to synthetic colours and those derived from beetles.

Research conducted by a host of scientists including Stephen T. Talcott, Ph.D, was presented at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, (ACS) in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Speakers at the event highlighted the benefits of reverting back to using natural colours including evidence suggesting that these natural antioxidant-rich colours derived from vegetables including purple sweet potatoes, black and purple carrots and other heirloom vegetables, may have health benefits in addition being a vibrant colour enhancer.

“The natural colours industry for foods and beverages is gaining in value as U.S. and international companies move towards sustainable and affordable crop alternatives to synthetic red colours and red colours derived from insects,” said Talcott.

“In addition to adding eye appeal to foods and beverages, natural colourings add natural plant-based antioxidant compounds that may have a beneficial effect on health.”

Talcott says that a range of colours from light pink to rose, red and deep purple can all be obtained through the use of pigments in purple sweet potatoes called PSPs anthocyanins.

Talcott says that PSP anthocyanins have proven to be amongst the best food and beverage colorants on the market for the food and beverage industry, in particular for fruit drinks, vitamin waters, ice cream and yoghurt. He credits their popularity stable nature of the colours (they do not break down easily), coupled with superior colouring properties and a relatively neutral taste.

The only downside that Talcott mentions is that PSP anthocyanins are quite difficult to extract.

Talcott spoke of the development of a new process that extracts larger quantities of the pigment from purple sweet potatoes and that by-products from this new process which includes starch and fibre could be used as compost, animal feed or for biofuel production amongst other applications.

He says that such developments could reduce the country’s reliance on imported natural food colourings, and instead promote the development of a domestic natural food colouring industry where certain crops would be devoted to producing vegetables used specially for that purpose.


Garlo’s Pies launches new ordering app

Australian pie maker, Garlo’s Pies has launched a new iPhone and Android App designed to make ordering easier for the company’s office and wholesale customers.

The free App has been designed to ensure fast and convenient delivery, and to meet the demand for large orders. Managing director Sean Garlick, says that customers who have trialled the app were impressed with its ease of use.

“Offices supplying staff with lunch also benefit,” said Garlick.

“With the App, it is even easier for workplaces to provide staff with a tasty lunch for less than $5. We deliver the pies cold, so they can sit in the fridge or freezer until the office is ready to eat.”

The application also saves each purchase, making it easier for customers to place repeat orders instead of having to enter in values every time they wish to place an order.

The addition of the App adds to the success of the family-operated pie business this year, who recently moved into a new manufacturing facility in St Peters to keep up with the demand for its product.

Garlo’s also signed a lucrative deal with supermarket giant Coles earlier in the year resulting in a significant increase in production.


Ballarat hurt by manufacturing job losses

Ballarat and its surrounds have suffered a loss of industrial activity recently, as tough economic conditions force companies to cut staff or reduce their hours.

Goodman Fielder announced earlier this week that it would shut its Ballarat factory by November, with baking shifted to its Forestville and Clayton facilities and 34 jobs shed.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision as part of our ongoing strategy to create a more efficient manufacturing footprint in our baking business,” the company’s managing director  in Australia Andrew Hipperson said, according to the Ballarat Courier.

Rail manufacturer UGL has also announced 11 redundancies in the suburb, with weak demand and the economic downturn blamed.

"The company is working hard to secure new orders and looks forward to the ongoing support of its workforce and customers," UGL said in a statement about the cuts.

The Ballarat Trades and Labour Council has blamed the Victorian government for not bringing train maintenance forward and protecting the jobs.

"As a government, they're in a position where they could make a decision to save jobs in the rail industry or alternatively if they choose not to make those decisions those job losses fall directly on their heads," the BTLC’s Brett Edgington told the local ABC station.

The ABC reports that AME Systems at Ararat, about 90 km away by the Western Highway, was reducing the number of days open at its factory to four.

"It completely revolves around the market conditions, so if we saw an upward trend in sales, that would allow us to negotiate to try to go back to a five day week," general manager Dean Pinniger told the ABC.

New food friendly ducting released from Eximo

Eximo have released Liquiflex, a food friendly ducting manufactured from food grade PVC.

The ducting features high resistance to both internal and external pressures and is used for a number of applications including the transfer of liquids in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Liquiflex is designed to withstand both hot and cold temperatures with a range between 0 and +60 degrees celsius.

The product is also crush-resistant, and can be used for the delivery and suction of liquids including beer, milk, fruit juices, wine, and spirits amongst other liquid products.

Karen Browne, General Manager of Eximo said that Liquiflex has been purposefully engineered to maximise efficiency in liquid transfer applications.

“Liquiflex is specifically engineered to handle all of your liquid transfer needs, everything from water to wine at a 50% volume,” said Browne.

“It is resistant to microbes and bacteria with a smooth bore. With a minimum wall thickness of 4mm, it’s manufactured to withstand high pressures.”


Recipe to Riches – the new Aussie food reality show debuts on prime time

Recipe to Riches, Australia’s new food reality show, aired last night on channel ten.

The show takes a fresh new look on popular cooking shows such as Masterchef and Ready Steady Cook by creating an entire product launch plan around a home cooked recipe.

Each episode sees three contestants battle it out to create commercial quantities of their home created concoctions, with the winning product adorning Woolworths supermarket shelves the very next day.

The products can essentially be anything from a ready meal solution, snack product or confectionery item – basically anything that is tasty, can be created in commercial quantities and marketed successfully to the masses.

The first episode saw three hopefuls, Casey, Matt and Connie compete to create commercial quantities of their creations to present to the panel of judges consisting of Muesli queen Carolyn Creswell of Carmen Fine Foods, advertising specialist David “Nobby’ Nobay, and former head chef of Tetsuya’s, Darren Robertson.

Each contestant received help from three assistants as well as professional tips from the face of M&J Chickens, renowned chef, Eddie Coffey.

Matt’s boneless chicken wings were first to be turned away due to a significant Tabasco miss-measurement issue, which left Casey and her cheesy, potato and pumpkin bake to battle it out with Connie’s croquettes which were derived from a traditional Italian family recipe.

Each creation was then presented to Nobby for a branding assessment where the target audience was established and a brand, logo and package created.

Both Connie and Casey then took their creations to the street where consumers had the opportunity to sample each product. This element served as a valuable market research opportunity for the judges, allowing them to assess the commercial viability of each product.

In the end, Connie’s croquettes won as they were deemed to be the most commercially viable product.

The show, like many others of its nature, definitely paints a fanciful picture of what in reality would takes months or even years of pitching and tinkering with the recipe to achieve.

What the show didn’t go into however was whether ingredients would be altered to maximise shelf life, where the ingredients would be sourced from, and issues relating to the price and profit margins of the products. Which in business terms, are what will make or break the idea.

If a product isn’t financially viable, it’s not going to make it onto the shelves – also the reality of pitching a product to Woolworths is no walk in the park.

But hey, I guess all that financial talk and sourcing of ingredients isn’t what get’s rating is it?


Abbott promises $16m to upgrade Cadbury factory

Coalition leader Tony Abbott has announced that the Liberal government will contribute $16m towards a $66m upgrade of the Tasmanian Cadbury chocolate factory should the party be elected.

Abbott says that the upgrade had the potential to create 200 new jobs and around 120 indirect jobs by 2017, The Mercury reports.

In addition, the leader of the opposition said that the contribution would also secure 600 existing direct jobs as well as 340 existing indirect jobs, providing an invaluable boost to the Tasmanian economy.

"This commitment is about my top three priorities for Tasmania — jobs, jobs and jobs," said Abbott.

"It is about supporting manufacturing, fostering innovation and boosting tourism in Tasmania."

Tours of the Cadbury Factory which once served as a valuable tourism attraction for the state were halted in 2008 due to health and safety concerns.

The investment from the coalition would see the creation of new hygiene systems which would allow tours to resume. The additional funds would also include the development of a new visitor centre designed to accommodate large tour groups.

"Our commitment is aimed at boosting tourism and innovation in Tasmania, as well as to boost the competitiveness of export-oriented businesses in the Apple Isle."


Springhill Farm wins Prepared Foods category at Food awards: video

Springhill Farm's Real Bread Mix took out the top spot in the 2013 Food magazine award's Prepared Meals category.

Springhill Farm originated on a sheep and grain farming property near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, where the Barber family farmed for two generations. The family hosted kindergarten and school children for a country experience, where they could feed the animals, watch sheep being shorn and collect stalks of oats to observe, taste and smell the grain being transferred into flour.

The muesli slice was their final taste of the country before heading home, and it was this modest muesli slice that won the hearts of these school children and fuelled the idea of moving the focus of the business to baking.
Now, 25 years later, Springhill Farm has been passed on to the next generation of family bakers, the Whatleys, who have spent years determining the right ingredients, flavours and textures to create a range of slices, biscuits and gluten-free products for consumers, both with and without food allergies.

With its Real Bread Mix, Springhill Farm wanted to prove that, despite what many think, gluten-free products aren't always dry and tasteless. To do this, the company added flaxseed flour, psyllium and pea protein to its bread mix, ensuring the resulting bread is not only gluten-free, but also has a fluffy texture and what the company refers to as "as-good-as-the-real-thing taste."

In early 2012, Springhill Farm further developed its range, adding 'Seed' and 'Fruit' varieties to The Real Bread Mix foundation, with the added benefit of also being wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free. 

These mixes can not only make bread, but can also be substituted for traditional wheat or fruit flours to make hot cross buns, a variety of puddings, biscuits and cakes.

Accepting the award for the Prepared Foods category at this year's Food magazine awards was Fiona Whatley, co-owner of Springhill Farm. She said "We've got three flavours: Original, Fruit and Seed. It's gluten-free, egg-, wheat-, nut-, dairy- and soy-free. It can be used for bread, pizzas, biscuits, cakes, muffins – all sorts of things. So it's really versatile and applicable to lots of lots of different people."



CO YO named most innovative at Food mag awards: video

For the second year in a row, CO YO Corporate has taken out the Food magazine awards' Ingredient Innovation category. 

Last year, the praise went to its Coconut Milk yoghurt, but this year the focus was well and truly on the new Coconut Milk Ice Cream Alternative.

Manufactured from pure coconut milk instead of dairy milk, the Coconut Milk Ice Cream Alternative presents consumers with a dairy-free and vegan alternative to a dairy-based ice cream. 

Traditional ice cream must contain 10 percent milk from a mammary gland in order to use the product name "ice cream", so CO YO had to name its new product an "ice cream alternative." 

The company describes the Coconut Milk Ice Cream Alternative as "almost velvety in texture, with a unique smoothness on scooping." 

It's available in Natural, which is just pure coconut cream without any additional flavouring, as well as seven other flavours including Cacao; Acai and Blueberry; Mango and Lime; Pina Colada; Sticky Date and Tamarind; Cherry and Raw Choc Nibs; and Vanilla and Nutmeg. 

CO YO also uses tapioca and pectin instead of the usual egg and gum emulsifiers and where possible uses coconut nectar to sweeten the dark flavours, and organic raw cane sugar for the lighter coloured flavours.

In its award nomination form, CO YO said, "There are many consumers in our population who have been deprived of the pleasure of eating ice cream because of an intolerance to dairy products and now, finally CO YO provides that choice. The flavours are innovative and exciting; the texture is smooth and velvety. The use of pectin and tapioca as an emulsifier is safe for those with allergies and the use of unrefined sweeteners makes for a guilt-free treat, well almost!

"The challenge for CO YO's Ice Cream Alternative was to produce a smooth product with good scoop ability. This was difficult because coconut has a low freezing point and is inclined to be very hard unless large quantities of gums are used and we didn't want to do this, so finding the right balance of tapioca, pectin and the nectar was very important. The fruits we use help the texture, particularly the mango and lime and sticky date and tamarind which provide more natural sugar."

CO YO's Ice Cream Alternative is distributed throughout Australia and will soon be exported to New Zealand.

In other exciting news for the company, the product will also soon be on shelves in the US, in a deal similar to that in the UK, where since 2011, a company has manufactured CO YO products under licence in London and distributed them throughout the UK and Europe.



Man suffers suspected spinal injuries after becoming trapped at chicken factory

A worker at a chicken processing factory in Perth has been freed after becoming trapped in a cooling machinery silo.

The processing factory which is located at Wangara in Perth’s industrial area, had 25 fire fighters called to the scene to free the man, The West reports.

The man became trapped when 2-3 cubic meters of ice fell on him at 1.50pm yesterday, with an alarm only raised once a fellow worker noticed that the man was missing from a production line.

It took the fire fighters around 45 minutes using specialised equipment to free the worker which involved cutting a hole in the side of the silo.

The man was taken to Joondalup hospital and is suspected to have suffered spinal injuries. 


New facility puts food on the menu for Multipack

Contract packager, Multipack, is celebrating the opening of its new accredited food facility, allowing the company to expand its offering to include primary and secondary packaging for FMCG food brands.

Extending its footprint at Sydney's Moorebank, Multipack now has a fully commissioned, fully functioning food facility to complement its non-food packaging lines.

The facility comprises a washroom and three clean rooms, each independently air-conditioned with positive air pressure to ensure contaminants are kept out. The three separate areas mean Multipack can also run different food products with different packaging requirements at the same time.

Brad Devine, sales and marketing manager at Multipack, told Food magazine, "This new facility represents the future for our business. It’s the culmination of several years of investigation and testing of our strategy in the FMCG food area."

It means Multipack is now accredited for secondary and primary food packaging, and further down the track the brand also plans to expand into liquid filling and wet fill products.

Multipack's key clients in the food space include multinational brands such as Unilever, Nestle, Wrigleys (the Mars Group) and Lion Dairy and Drinks.

The new facility is expected to inject new life into Sydney's contract packaging industry, which historically has been overshadowed by Melbourne.

"It's been a long time since we've seen any significant investment in food contract packaging in the Sydney market," Devine said.

"We'd like to think that this now gives those guys – the FMCG brand owners – an opportunity to package their product in Sydney without having to do it in Melbourne, which is what they seem to have done for a long time."

It's also a good news story for Australia's manufacturing industry in general, which hasn't been short of struggles in recent times. Devine hopes Multipack will now be able to capitalise on Australia's food-producing potential.

"We've been in business for more than two decades and we've seen in that time vast amounts of business go offshore, particularly to China. We recognise that Australia is still a large food producer, and we figured that food that's grown and processed in Australia is very, very likely to be packaged in Australia, and very unlikely to be lost offshore to China.

"That's not to say that Australia isn't under pressure from imports, it certainly is, but Australia produces some of the best food in the world and it gets processed and packaged right here in Australia, so we figured that one of the least at-risk categories for us to invest in would be Australian grown and processed foods," he said.

Promoting Australia's top quality food products and partnering with leading food manufacturers is a top priority for the brand moving forward, Devine added.

"We're in it for the long haul. We wouldn't have gone and invested like we have if we thought it [food manufacturing] was a fleeting opportunity or a fad. We've seen a long term trend and we want to provide a long term, viable, low cost solution to FMCG food companies."

Food magazine visited Multipack's new facility in Moorebank. Click here to see the pics on our Facebook page.


Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Safety released

The 2013/14 Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Safety has been released by Pro-Visual Publishing.

The guide is designed to improve safety and hygiene awareness throughout the food manufacturing and processing industries with a strong emphasis on the importance of effective microbe management.

The guide focuses on how to prevent the entry of microbes, dirt and dust in the production facility, and provides industry members and managers with valuable advice and information on how to manage these events within the workplace.

The guide also supplies information and advice on dealing with ambient temperature and humidity, surface water and airborne dust.

An outline of how Australia’s food recall process works is also included, along with the key points that manufacturers need to address when conducting successful food recalls.

John Hutchings, CEO, Pro-Visual Publishing said that the guide would not have been made possible without support from key stakeholders.

 “I would like to thank all of the sponsors of the Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Safety 2013/14. Their support has made it possible for the guide to be distributed free of charge,” he said.


Junk food linked to behavioural problems in children, study finds

New research from Deakin University in Victoria has found links between the consumption of highly processed junk food while pregnant to behavioural problems in children.

The findings demonstrate that young children who consume a diet high in salt, sugar and fat are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and mood swings than children who eat healthy foods.

The study, which was part of the ongoing Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, gathered dietary information from 23,000 mothers during pregnancy, followed by detailed information on their children’s diets at 18 months and three years.

The results revealed that diet during pregnancy played a role in a child’s mental health development and also that young children who ate unhealthy foods, or did not consume enough nutrient rich foods, displayed concerning behaviours.

Lead researcher, Professor Felice Jacka said that the study is the first of its kind show a clear link between diet during pregnancy, early childhood and mental health.

"We've known for quite some time that very early life nutrition, including the nutrition received while the child is in utero, is related to physical health outcomes in children – their risk for later heart disease or diabetes for example," said Jacka.

"But this is the first study indicating that diet is also important to mental health outcomes in children."

Jacka also said that additional factors such as socioeconomic circumstances and the metal health of parents – which remained independent of the study – could also explain the link between consumption of junk food and behavioural issues.

“It is becoming even more clear that diet matters to mental health right across the age spectrum,” she said.

“These new findings suggest that unhealthy and ‘junk’ foods may have an impact on the risk for mental health problems in children and they add to the growing body of evidence on the impact of unhealthy diets on the risk for depression, anxiety and even dementia.

"There is an urgent need for governments everywhere to take note of the evidence and amend food policy to restrict the marketing and availability of unhealthy food products to the community," she said.


ReCoila’s reel trial proving positive for Tassie salmon industry

Salmon fishing company, Tassal is currently testing ReCoila’s heavy duty reels at two of its 11 Tasmanian ports.

Positioned on custom built skids, the reels are being used for refuelling salmon fishing vessels and ReCoila believes that the harsh Tasmanian environment his the ideal testing ground.

Michael Pawson, managing director of ReCoila says that high quality, durable options are essential for such volatile environments.

“ReCoila has been around for more than 20 years, but in recent times, with the influx of much cheaper options, companies are tempted to sacrifice durability and quality in some instances, so it is pleasing that Tassal is thinking long term performance,” said Pawson.

“This industry is very time sensitive because fish spawn at certain times of the year, so having top notch equipment at its refuelling stations means Tassal is highly unlikely to suffer any downtime at this point of its operations, which would otherwise prove costly.”

The trails are currently performing well and if successful, similar solutions will be customised and manufactured for the other nine ports around the state.

“We believe the quality of our hose reels is second to none,” said Pawson.

“Ours have a serious level of strength and longevity that is expected by the fishing industry and other operators in the marine and offshore sectors.

 “ReCoila units, however, 10 years down the track, even in this salt water environment, are likely to still look and perform as if they were brand new.”