CSIRO maps out Australia’s food future

New technologies could see us eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts and tolerable varieties of lactose and gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging.

Speaking at the launch during the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (AIFST) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy , highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry.

Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.

Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the Roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.

Deputy Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Dr Martin Cole said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.

“Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change,” Dr Cole said.

“Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating.

“Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.

The Roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre: Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).

Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.

“With the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities,” FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said.

“Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs.

“This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products.”

Currently, Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.

Dr Cole explained that Australia is a trusted supplier of sustainable, authentic, healthy, high quality and consistent products.

“We must focus on these strengths and enhance the level of value-adding to our products,” DrCole said.

“Recent Austrade analysis shows early signs of such a shift, as for the first time in Australia’s history value-added foods have accounted for the majority (60 per cent) of food export growth.”

The Roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use less resources.

Five key enablers for these opportunities are explored in the Roadmap: traceability and provenance, food safety and biosecurity, market intelligence and access, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and skills.

These enablers align with FIAL’s knowledge priority areas that are central in helping the food and agribusiness industry achieve its vision and deliver increased productivity, sustainable economic growth, job creation, and investment attraction for the sector.

The Roadmap calls for improved collaboration and knowledge sharing to generate scale, efficiency and agility across rapidly changing value chains and markets.

“To survive and grow, the challenge facing Australia’s 177,000 businesses in the food and agribusiness sector is to identify new products, services and business models that arise from the emerging needs of tomorrow’s global customers,” Dr Cole said.

Arrow Energy set to fix manufacturers’ energy woes

Arrow Energy has announced plans to double the production capacity of its Tipton gas project in Queensland amid an east-coast industrial gas shortage.

The planned expansion of Arrow’s Tipton operations is expected to involve 90 new wells in the initial phase and another 180 wells over the next 25 years.

It will also include new gathering lines, an upgraded water treatment facility and four new compressors.

“This project continues the development of the Arrow resource which will see more gas in the market,” said Arrow Energy CEO Qian Mingyang.

The project follows investment of more than $600 million by Arrow in its Surat Basin infrastructure, including $500 million towards its Daandine expansion project commissioned in late 2016 and more than $100 million to expand capacity at its Daandine and Tipton fields.

“We only hope that the other states follow Queensland’s lead and open up gas reserves to help fix the energy crisis households and businesses, especially manufacturers, along the eastern seaboard are facing,” said Mingyang.

Rugged panel PCs for food makers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freeze dried food could be the answer to food waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hygienic transport system for food makers

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

Vantage Australia has just been awarded the silver medal in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

More than 2,100 spirits were judged this year, the largest number of entries in the competition’s 17-year history with the botanical Vantage Australia taking home the silver medal in this year’s awards.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 silver medal demonstrates that Vantage Australia is among the finest in the spirits industry, awarded for its ability to show refinement and finesse.

Vantage Australia was recognised for its multi-layered complexity, the smooth yet peppery mixture is made up of Australian botanicals, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian mountain pepper berries with a hint of mandarin oil from Australian produced imperial mandarins.

Complimented with zesty citrus notes, this unique premium Australian tipple has the ability to cut across traditional spirit genres, making it the perfect base for most mixers while also giving life to old classics, with an Australian twist.

Riding on its 2016 success, where Vantage Australia won Best Innovation-Best in Class 2016 from the Australian Drinks Awards, the Aussie spirit was also recognised for strong performance across key measures, including purchase intention, excitement, and relevance.

Vantage Australia was honoured with this prize for having the highest level of uniqueness, reflected through its inspiration of Australian native flora.

The complex flavour comes from only using natural bush foods to create a blend that blurs the lines between sweet and dry, giving this multi-layered spirit the uniqueness that it has been nationally and now internationally, recognised for.

“We are honoured by the international award Vantage Australia has received from the highly competitive San Francisco World Spirits Competition and now having been involved with this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, we appreciate the overwhelming domestic and international support our Australian owned and produced spirit has received,” said Bill Hargitay, Vantage Australia Owner.

Jobs, factories and profits all go as MG battens down the hatches

In a sign of the impact the falling milk price is having on the food sector, food company Murray Goulburn (MG) said it will be closing down factories and reducing its farmgate milk price in a bid to address its “cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings.”

This will include closure of MG’s manufacturing facilities at Edith Creek, Rochester and Kiewa, forgiveness of the Milk Supply Support Package (MSSP), total write-downs of up to $410 million, and a dividend suspension.

The factory closures, the company said, are expected to impact some 360 employees while at the same time delivering a net financial benefit of $40 million to $50 million per annum. Overall, MG said that it anticipates a net financial benefit in FY18 from the closures of approximately $15 million.

However, the dairy company said that it needed to spend $60 million of capital expenditure to enable the closures, which will be largely funded by maintenance capital expenditure no longer required at the sites.

MG also announced that it will write off farmers loans incurred in the MSSP, with all future repayments of the MSSP which were to recommence from July 2017 ceasing, meaning the company will write-down $148 million.

Due to weaker trading conditions, the FY17 forecast available FMP of $4.70 per kilogram milk solids is expected to be fall to $4.60 per kilogram milk solids.

The company said that it remained “committed to paying a FY17 average FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids.”

In order to protect against any potential further losses this financial year, MG has provided access of up to $30 million of additional debt funded milk payments, so as to maintain the forecast FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids up until the end of this financial year, the company said.

Linerless self-adhesive labelling system featured at foodpro

Le Mac are suppliers of the linerless labelling system that is self-adhesive for trays of meats, ready meals, salads etc.

Linerless labels are an environmentally-friendly innovation: they do not use backing liner like traditional labels, which cannot be recycled and does not decompose in landfill.

The system itself is fully automatic and delivers significant efficiency gains over traditional pressure sensitive labelling machines or hand-application of carton sleeves.

It works with heavy gauge cardboard, film or paper labels in 8 formats (top, top & side, top & 2 sides, Full-wrap, C-Wrap, D-Wrap, Skin Packs and Slide Sleeve). It is suitable for stretch wrap trays, top seal trays and vacuum skin packs (with protrusions). To top it, all this can be run on the same machine without change parts.

The La Mac linerless systems are used by a number of major Australian food manufacturers, and they are currently also used on a range of Woolworths and Coles products.

The Le Mac Australia Group will be showcasing the linerless labelling system along with other products at Stand K61 on Level 4 at foodpro,  16-19 JUL 2017 @ the ICC SYDNEY, DARLING HARBOUR.

New study to determine supply chain effects on lamb

A new study is underway to determine the effects of long-haul shipping on Australia’s export lamb.

Murdoch University PhD candidate Maddison Corlett aims to determine whether the time spent in transit from Australia to the US changes the quality of chilled lamb cuts. This is in response to reports from American consumers that Australian lamb has a “gamey” flavour.

While these reports could simply be due to Americans’ preference for beef, Corlett believes that the ageing that occurs during long-haul shipping could also be responsible.

Corlett’s project will involve sending lamb aged at five days, 21 days and 45 days to Texas Tech University to be tested. The university will cook the meat and serve it to consumers, asking for their feedback.

WA food stocks hit after roads damaged by flooding

Agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan has called for road repairs in Western Australia after the region was hit by flooding.

She has identified roads in Ravensthorpe, 540km south-east of Perth, as a priority after the collapse of the South Coast Highway has caused stock losses and damage to fences and top soil.

According to a report in The West Australian, MacTiernan said farmers had lost between 5 and 7 per cent of their arable land after the floods.

“It was important to see that damage that had occurred,” she said. “It’s pretty severe.”

Funding is expected to be reimbursed to primary producers which has up to $25,000 after the council collates more data of the damage caused. 

“The Shire wants early sign-off on the ability to use day labour,” MacTiernan continue.

“It was made very clear that the Shire needs to get moving on the roads. We understand time is of the essence, we certainly don’t want to prevent planting season.

“Until those roads are repaired, we can’t get the gear in.”

Mackay meatworks reopens after Debbie’s destruction

The Borthwicks (NH Foods) meat processing facility  meatworks at Bakers Creek near Mackay has reopened after Tropical Cyclone Debbie’s impact last week.

The abattoir closed its business last Tuesday as TC Debbie made landfall near Airlie Beach, said a report in Queensland Country Life.

“What was left in the cold rooms before Cyclone Debbie was processed on Monday and we commenced a normal processing shift on Tuesday,” Borthwicks livestock manager Malcolm Kinman said.

“We lost power for only eight hours, so we were fairly lucky during the cyclone activity this time.”

“Some of the roads in the region are badly damaged and transporting cattle could be difficult in the short term,” he said.

“Numbers will be reduced during the processing shifts, but I think we will battle through until this Friday,” Kinman told Queensland Country Life.

Patties CEO says more takeovers on the table

Australia’s ready-meal sector will surpass $1 billion in the near future and a shift towards healthier eating is playing a major part, it has been claimed.

Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Patties Foods, has said the company is seeking new acquisitions with projections showing the huge growth in the market. 

Having recently acquired Australian Wholefoods, he also believes the sector is now providing far more than TV dinners” and told the AFR it will grow by more than 10 per cent annually.

“The category is still relatively new,” Hitchcock told the AFR. “It’s trending toward $1 billion but we’re not there yet.

The chilled ready meals category grew by 13 per cent in the past year for the retailer “as customers continue to look for convenient and affordable meal solutions”, according to a Woolworths spokesman.

“Busy lifestyles mean consumers are attracted to convenience meals by their relatively low cost, ease of use and variety,” a spokesman for Coles added.

Patties Foods was acquired by the provate equity firm Pacific Equity Partners for $231 million last year.

Rising energy costs put Australia’s meat processors at risk

Rising energy costs and lack of reliable supply are threatening to push Australia’s red meat processing offshore.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) is currently conducting a survey of its members to determine the scale of the problem and help create an energy policy for the industry.

 According to AMIC’s Robert Barker, affordable and reliable energy supply is crucial for Australia’s meat processing sector. Gas in particular is important as a source of reliable energy to maintain the baseload, and for direct input in plant operation.

 Early results of AMIC’s survey have showed that energy costs were up an average of 30 per cent in 2016 when compared with 2010.

Some of the larger meat processors reported additional energy costs of $20 million in the past 12 to 24 months.

“The red meat processing industry in Australia is the largest manufacturer in Australia, supporting over 130,000 jobs, most based in regional areas,” said Northern Cooperative Meat Company chief executive Simon Stahl.

“If Australia wants to stop this industry moving offshore, urgent attention to the cost of manufacturing is required at all levels of government,” he told Fairfax Media.

“Energy is at that critical stage, not only in terms of cost but also continuity of supply. Urgent action is required and serious consideration should be given to taking export exposed meat processing plants off the grid.”

Patties Foods buys up Australian Wholefoods

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

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

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

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

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

Dairy company reduces costs with label management system

NiceLabel, one of the world’s leading developers of label and marking productivity software solutions has helped dairy company Arla Foods find a standardised label management solution for all of its industrial printers.

NiceLabel’s technology enabled this large food manufacturer to significantly reduce costs and increase label accuracy and productivity.

A critical part of Arla’s brand identity is being able to guarantee freshness and provide their customers with accurate product information, according to a company press release.

However the company needed a single solution with a standardised method of integration between each dairy’s label and direct marking printers and the Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

By using NiceLabel’s label management system, Arla said that it was able to automate printing by implementing a standardized integration with the MES at each dairy. Now, master data flows directly from the MES to the printers, eliminating manual data entry errors, mislabeling and the associated costs.

By introducing centralised label management, Arla have a more transparent label management process that helps them ensure accurate product and production data throughout the entire label printing process.

The company’s IT team now provides 24×7 support to each site, rapidly addressing issues before they result in production downtime while also allowing Arla to remotely monitor all activity and diagnose errors.

“Our customers have come to rely on us for accurate labeling and quality product information. NiceLabel helps us to meet their high expectations and we no longer have to worry about lost revenue associated with mislabeling”, said Torben Hattel, Senior Solution Architect at Arla Foods.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in productivity thanks to the solution. Our labeling systems run more efficiently. We no longer spend time mitigating manual data entry errors and we’ve been able to streamline support as well.”

 

Doctors cheer at last drinks for VB and Cricket Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Aussie wines set for German markets

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chinese supermarkets stop selling Brazilian meat

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

New Chilli Beef Pie from Four-N Twenty

 Four-N Twenty is launching its new Chilli Beef Pie, which has been developed for “adventurous eaters who are keen to try a new and exciting flavour”.

 The pie is made from chunks of eight-hour slow-cooked 100 per cent Australian beef, with a spicy chilli gravy, wrapped in a golden pastry.

 “Chilli has been identified as one of the key condiment flavour trends for 2017 and beyond,” said Four’N Twenty marketing manager, Mario Matchado.

 “Creating a spicy chilli version of our eight-hour slow-cooked Real Chunky Pie is sure to prove a winner with pie lovers this winter. So fire up your taste buds, the Four’N Twenty Chilli Beef Pies are hot!”

 The Chilli Beef Pie will be launched in selected petrol and convenience stores nationally from April.

 

 

Tumeric-rich Arkadia Golden Latte released

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

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

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