New exhibitors sign up for AUSPACK

Processing machinery will again be a focus for AUSPACK 2015 with new exhibitors including exhibitors Viking Food Solutions and Summit Machinery.

Luke Kasprzak, portfolio director – industrial division, exhibition and trade fairs, said “Companies such as TNA Australia, Heat & Control, Walls Machinery, Krones and JL Lennard are just some of the processing exhibitors returning in 2015.”

“In addition we have international processing companies such as Daxner Pacific, Lothar A.Wolf Speizialmaschinen; as well as first time exhibitors Viking Food Solutions and Summit Machinery also exhibiting next year.”

Viking Food Solutions offers food processing and packaging solutions ranging from vacuum packaging equipment and materials, dip tanks, shrink packaging, tray sealers, trays and film and food labels.

Stuart Mead, director of Viking Food Solutions, said “Viking Food Solutions will be showcasing a broad range of solutions on their stand including the A-MAPS Tray Sealer, the Viking XG 680 Automatic Tray Sealer, the Viking 1020, 250 and 423 Vacuum Packers, the Viking Dip Tank 66 and the Viking Planus Hamburger Machine.”

Summit Machinery which has been firmly based in the processing equipment field for over 25 years, is also active in the vegetable, salad, cheese, meat and nut industries across Australia and New Zealand and has its own range of salad washers, spin dryers, trim tables, conveyors, elevators and ancillary equipment. It also represents FAM (Belgium) size reduction machinery, (dicers, slicers, shredders), Stumabo (Belgium) Industrial machine knife manufacturers, Dofra (Holland) processing machinery for the potato, onion and capsicum and Tenrit (Germany) processing machinery for Carrots.

AUSPACK 2015 will be held on 24 to 27 March at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.


Singapore food company exits Victorian dairy sector

Listed Singaporean food company, QAF has sold its Oxdale dairy farm to European pension fund-backed corporate dairy, ACE Farming.

The sale – which went through for close to $5 million – was confirmed by ACE Farming founder, Jeremy Bayard, and marks QAF’s exit from the Victorian dairy industry.

"We are pleased to add this farm to the portfolio," Bayard told The Australian Dairyfarmer.

"We continue to add to our portfolio as part of our ongoing and measured growth program. We firmly believe in the Australian dairy industry, as do our investors."

The Oxdale farm brings ACE Farming’s portfolio up to a total of 17 farms across Victoria, making it the largest Australian mainland dairy producer.

There has been an increase in interest from European pension funds in the Australian dairy industry of late. In August this year, Murray Goulburn confirmed that it had sourced $20m from a Scandinavian pension fund to purchase nine dairy farms which have now been leased to the dairy co-operative.

"The superannuation funds are interested in the sector," Murray Goulburn’s managing director Gary Helou said at the time.

"They like the concept of Australian and New Zealand milk going into Asia."  


Gas price hike to be felt by manufacturers

A recently released report has predicted the rising price of gas will impact upon manufacturing and food processing industries across regional and rural Australia.

The Grattan Institute report said that domestic and international factors are affecting both supply and demand for natural gas, pushing up the price for users

One factor contributing to the rise technological advancements which have made it economically viable for Australia’s east-coast to export natural gas. The price of natural gas has been on the rise in international markets, which has attracted gas producers to move the supply from the cheaper to the more expensive market until prices converge. As a result, the wholesale price of gas will rise, and domestic gas users will pay more.

The report predicts that over time, the price is expected to peak and fall back somewhat, because increasing prices should lead to increased supply, either from higher-cost conventional sources that become competitive or from unconventional sources.

Political factors also play a part in the price rise. For example, Europe imports about a third of its gas from Russia, but political tensions may cause Europe to look elsewhere for a more secure supply – therefore pushing up demand.

For large gas-users, such as manufacturers, some cost pass through may be possible, but these businesses will otherwise absorb a relatively large cost or take the decision to replace existing equipment, which is can be a difficult capital investment decision.

Regional manufacturers, such as Kagome Australia will feel the impact of the rising gas price.

As Australia’s largest tomato processor, Kagome injects more than $24 million a year into the local economy.

Tomato processing requires a large amount of heat in the form of steam, and its production uses more than 280,000 gigajoules of gas a year, most of it from February to April. The cost of gas is significant, representing around 5 per cent of total costs.

Gas suppliers have advised Kagome Australia that its next gas contract will involve a gas price increase that could be as much as 100 percent.

Passing through costs will be hard, as Kagome Australia discovered when the carbon tax added around $500,000 to their annual operating costs, just as imports from places such as California became more competitive.

Alternative energy sources such as coal are cheap but produce pollution and are difficult to handle. LPG is even more expensive, electricity would require major reinvestment and biomass is logistically impractical.

The company’s managers are considering all their options.


Re:Capital acquires Australian confectionery manufacturer, Betta Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Innovation essential for food and ag growth: Rabobank

Global Agribusiness bank, Rabobank says that innovation is essential to achieving growth within food and agriculture.

In its 2014 flagship report, “Unleashing the Potential for Global F&A – A Call for Innovation and Leadership,” Rabobank says that a stronger focus on innovation will provide a bridge between near-term challenges and longer term opportunities within the global food and agricultural space.

The report argues that through innovation, global food and agriculture will be able to essentially achieve more with less – that is to increase food availability and improve access, with minimal environmental impacts. The report also stressed that leadership will be the single most important tool in overcoming challenges and realising the opportunities.

“This leadership will come from CEOs of global and local F&A companies, from investors in global F&A, from scientists with the ability to promote new and improved technologies and practices, from government experts, from NGOs, from international networks, and from international commercial and institutional banks. Where these leaders sit is not what sets them apart – it is their vision, the way they drive the case for change and their ability to inspire action that differentiates them.” says Wiebe Draijer, Rabobank executive board chairman.

The report also argues that harnessing innovation requires mindset shift to accept change. Rabobank says that although global food and agriculture has experienced much change over the past decade, there is still a degree of reluctance to accept how the industries must change in order to successfully respond to the constraints that come with capitalising on long-term opportunities.

In order to achieve this, Rabobank developed ten big ideas aimed at boosting global food availability and improving access to food over the next decade.

Rabobank's 10 big ideas: 
1. Adopt big data in US agriculture 
2. Close the yield gap in Central and Eastern Europe 
3. Improve China's food security 
4. Strengthen South-South trade 
5. Invest in local storage 
6. Boost production in the food and agriculture engine room 
7. Develop cold chains in China 
8. Grow aquaculture 
9. Lift dairy production in India 
10. Raise sugarcane's productivity

Draijer says that while there are some significant hurdles ahead, Rabobank is positive about the sector, and confident in the ability of global F&A to rise to the challenge.


Chobani talks exports, marketing and building a great brand

When it comes to exports in the Australian food and beverage manufacturing sector, dairy is one category that is showing no signs of slowing down.

A recent report from IBISWorld found that demand for milk and dairy is expected to post strong revenue growth over the next five years, reaching up to $4.2 billion by 2019-20 – a trend that yoghurt manufacturer Chobani is well placed to capitalise on.

Food magazine recently caught up with managing director of Chobani Australia, Peter Meek to discuss the brand’s recent export endeavours, together with the success of the brand in Australia to date.

Originating from the US, Chobani first launched its Australian arm two years ago and since then, Meek says that the business has essentially doubled, leading to an inundation of keen distributors wanting to take on the Chobani brand.

On the back of this, Chobani Australia sent its first palette of product to Singapore in April this year, and announced in July that that it will be extending its reach within South East Asia by exporting to Malaysia.

“We were very focused on entering Singapore,” Meek told Food Magazine. “Our view is that it’s the gateway to Asia so we made a very conscious decision to go into that market. We knew that there would be lots of other potential distributors within the broader region that would see Chobani and how well it’s selling… so Singapore was a very conscious decision. And of course the reality is that Malaysia is next door and relatively easy to manage at the same time.”

As far as catering to local tastes in the South East Asian region, Meek says that the brand hasn’t really needed to adapt any of its product offerings as yet, however once the market has matured, the development of more localised flavours may be on the cards.

“The initial point is to use our existing flavours. It’s fascinating if you go into Malaysia and Singapore as the top flavour in both of those markets is still Strawberry. So while the palettes are very different, there are certainly a lot of flavoured products that we’ve already got that are absolutely relevant to them. So we don’t really want to introduce any complexity in the first stages, but in the longer term and as the markets reach a critical mass, of course we will look to localise flavours and bring local propositions to those markets.”

In terms of the brand’s success, Meek credits it towards a number of factors; namely an excellent product. Chobani employs the traditional Greek method of making yoghurt which involves a straining process to remove up to two thirds of the liquid – an additional step that many yoghurt processors avoid due to the associated costs.

“In Australia we are literally the only large scale manufacturer that strains its yoghurt because it’s an expensive process," he says.

"We use over three litres of milk to make every kilo of yoghurt, whereas normal yoghurt uses about one, or one and a half litres of milk… Traditionally, (the Greek style) is how yoghurt has been made for hundreds of years and that’s another interesting point. It’s not as if it’s a new innovation. All we are doing is bringing back the process of how yoghurt was made, and how it should be made,”

“Word of mouth and referral is also such a big part of how we’re building the Chobani brand. Marketing today is really very different to perhaps five years ago… At the end of the day, if you’ve got a great product, people start talking about it, then all of a sudden you’ve got a market success and I think those are the new rules of marketing.”

In addition, Meek credits excellent suppliers to the company’s success. When asked about potential supply issues that could arise in the future due to the brand's continuing growth, Meek is optimistic.

“The South-East Asian market gives us quite a bit of scope. We’re still just one factory so we suspect that if we’re successful with these markets quite quickly, capacity is going to become a bit of an issue," he says. 

"But obviously, if we find that we’re running out of capacity we will categorise that as a five star problem. Our business has been built so quickly because we’ve always invested ahead of the curb for capacity. So I’m sure if we got to the point where we’re saying ‘ok we can’t keep up with all of these new markets’, than we would just invest.”

For a well-established company such as Chobani, the idea of exporting product into new countries may seem like somewhat of a natural progression, but Meek says that smaller Australian manufacturers that are looking to export should simply get the ball rolling – providing that they have a good product.

“You can over research it and worry about if you’ve got it right, but you’ve really got to get into the market and talk to the distributors and they’ll help you craft what you need to do to enter those markets,” he says.

“You’ve also got to have a great product. If your product doesn’t deliver locally, don’t think that Asia is a target for a sub-standard product because it’s quite the opposite. You’ve got to have a great product to start with, and the third point is that you’ve got to be passionate about what it is that you’re doing. You need to find partners that are excited to work with you because then they are going to go the extra mile and make sure that they build that distribution, and represent your brand in a way that creates market success in the new market.”

Overall foodborne illness rates drop but Salmonella cases on the rise

New research from the Australian National University has found while overall cases of foodborne illness has declined slightly, cases involving Salmonella and Campylobacter have increased.

As part of the study, Associate Professor Martyn Kirk from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health tracked changes in foodborne illness in Australia between 2000 and 2010.

Over the period, the number of foodborne illnesses fell by 17 percent, however the number of recorded Salmonella cases increased by 24 percent, and Campylobacter 13 percent – both of which were the two leading causes of hospitalisation.

“On average, each Australian has an episode of foodborne gastroenteritis once every five years,” said Kirk.

“Australian authorities have worked hard in the last decade to ensure a safe food supply, so it is disappointing not to see a decline in Salmonella and Campylobacter infections,” he said.

Kirk said that around one quarter of the 16 million cases of gastroenteritis experienced each year are caused by food contamination.

The Salmonella bacteria can be carried in undercooked chicken or eggs, while Campylobacter is commonly found in raw or undercooked poultry meat and raw milk. Interestingly, Kirk says that Salmonella and Campylobacter cases only accounted for five per cent of foodborne illness and that the microbiological cause of 80 percent of foodborne illnesses remained unknown.

“People often don’t find out the cause of their illness, either because they don’t visit a doctor, or they don’t have a test,” said Kirk.

The researchers also found an 85 per cent decline in cases of the Hepatitis A virus infection as a result of vaccination campaigns.

In March this year, The Victorian health department advised consumers to avoid eggs from the Victorian Green Eggs company which were thought to have been linked to a salmonella outbreak which saw more than 200 people affected after dining at restaurants in Torquay and St Kilda.

A month after the warning the issued, deputy chief health officer, Dr Michael Ackland lifted the warning and the company has since introduced an additional washing step to its egg production.

The research was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the New South Wales Food Authority and has been published in the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.


85c bread unlikely to affect specialist bakeries, Roy Morgan

Despite recent announcements from the nation’s supermarkets that Homebrand bread will be dropping to 85c per loaf, data from Roy Morgan suggests that the price reduction will have no impact on smaller specialist bakeries.

Roy Morgan says that overall, supermarkets account for almost two-thirds of Australia’s total weekly spend on bread. Woolworths holds the largest share of the bread market at 27 percent, representing a mean weekly spend of $5.96 per customer,. Coles comes in second with a 23 percent share representing $5.66 per customer, IGA holds seven percent and Aldi six percent.

Specialist bread shops such as Baker’s Delight, Brumby’s Bakery and Delifrance have a combined share of the market comparable to that of Woolworths at almost 27 percent. However, the mean weekly spend is higher than that of the supermarkets ranging from $6.85 at Delifrance, $7.37 at bakers Delight and $7.58 at Brumby’s Bakery.

Group account director of Roy Morgan research, Warren Reid says that despite claims that 85c bread could impact heavily on independent and specialist retailers, data has shown that consumers who purchase their bread from specialist stores and bakeries are willing to pay more for it and would be highly unlikely to “be swayed by an 85 cent white loaf.”

“People who purchase their bread at specialist bread stores tend to be very different to those who buy it at supermarkets, and although there is some crossover, offering white loafs for 85 cents is unlikely to change this,” says Reid. “Woolies would have been more likely to win over Coles and ALDI customers if these supermarkets hadn’t been so quick to discount their own white loaves in response to the price reduction.

“The real threat will be to the ‘branded’ bread sold through supermarkets, when consumers are forced to compare the two products side by side — one much cheaper than the other.”

Chart: Roy Morgan

Difficulty opening tinned food drives need for innovative packaging

A new study from market research company Canadean has found that one in five consumers consider tinned food to be difficult to open.

Canadean surveyed 2,000 British consumers in October 2014 about their attitudes to packaging in different food categories and of those surveyed, 22 percent of respondents find tinned food difficult to open. Young adults are the most frustrated when it comes to opening these products with 28 percent of 25 to 34 year olds saying that they find tinned food difficult to open. This compares to only 16 percent of over 55s.

“Consumers want instant convenience, particularly young adults looking for a quick lunch or dinner solution,” says senior analyst at Canadean, Ronan Stafford. “While there’s a minimal amount of time saved between opening a food can, and opening a bag or a pouch, young consumers simply don’t want the hassle of finding a tin opener or struggling with a ring pull.”

Stafford says that in addition to studying consumer perceptions of different packaging, Canadean also tracked the influence of different motivators when it comes to what consumers eat. In 2013, British consumers selected over £8 billion worth of food because it was the most convenient product.

“Consumers feel increasingly time-scarce and stressed, which makes 30 seconds saved in the kitchen a big deal. While food cans will remain a staple of supermarket shelves because of their low cost, I expect to see pouches and cartons grow in popularity as an easy to open alternative for office-workers and young families.”

A category that Stafford says is tipped to shift away from cans and into easy open packages is that of ambient fish. Stafford says that demand for pouches in this market will double from 8.7 million packs in 2013, to 15.1 million packs by 2018.

“While pouches’ market share will still be niche compared to the share held by food cans, their rapid growth shows how offering a more convenient pack format can revitalise sales among younger consumer groups,” he says.

“Brands such as Heinz and John West have led the way in developing new pack formats for tinned food, others will quickly follow.”


Productivity Commission’s dairy report findings released

According to a new report from the Productivity Commission, most dairy manufacturing costs are driven largely by market factors as opposed to excessive government regulation.

Last year, the Federal Government instructed the Productivity Commission to compile a report that assessed the cost structures facing dairy product manufacturing businesses in Australia, in addition to identifying areas of cost advantage or disadvantage relative to international competitors, The Weekly times reports.

The report found that while there were certain areas where regulatory amendments by government could be warranted including pricing reforms of electricity markets, the majority of costs are driven by market factors.

Chairman of the Commission, Peter Harris said that research into economies of scale in dairy manufacturing, together with the success of New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra were examined.

Harris said that creating a national dairy champion similar to New Zealand’s Fonterra was not feasible in the current climate.

"While the benefits of scale economies can be significant, suggestions that Australia should adopt an industry structure similar to that of New Zealand, with one dominant dairy manufacturer, appear to be based on a simplistic comparison of the export performance of the two countries' dairy industries," the report read.

"The most beneficial dairy industry structure will be determined by the marketplace. Attempts by government to 'second guess' market outcomes to achieve a particular industry structure are fraught with difficulty, and likely to impose net costs on the industry."

Harris said that the report also found that competition from export markets was “fierce” and tipped to increase further "once EU milk production quotas are lifted in 2015”.

“However, there is considerable evidence that dairy manufacturers and farmers are responding effectively to these challenges,” he said.


Poultry processor reimburses workers $25,000

B&E Poultry Holdings – a repeat offender when it comes to underpaying staff – has again been reprimanded by Fair Work, having to backpay a group of three Taiwanese backpackers.

The backpackers were in Australia on 417 working holiday visas and employed to work at a facility in Ormeau in Queensland.

They started work at 2.30am and regularly clocked up to 60 hours a week for a flat rate of $17 an hour. The Fair Work Ombudsman found they should have been paid between $21 and $33 an hour, depending on their shift.

The workers, employed as casuals, were short-changed $12,347, $7,702 and $5,513 respectively, as well as being underpaid casual loadings, shift penalties, overtime rates and weekend penalty rates.

The employer – B&E Poultry Holdings– has previously been required to back-pay tens of thousands of dollars to other staff members, and since 2012, the Fair Work Ombudsman has required the company to hand over more than $140,000 to 15 other employees.

As a result of the latest contraventions, the company has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman as an alternative to litigation. It has reimbursed all outstanding entitlements, issued a written apology for the breaches, and posted a workplace notice advising other employees of its contraventions, giving a commitment that such conduct will not occur again.

The company is also required to undertake workplace relations training on employee entitlements under the Fair Work Act and to engage independent, external consultants to review and report on its compliance at six monthly intervals for the next two years.

Woolworths to launch WA Farmer’s Own premium milk brand

Two dairy farming families in Western Australia’s Margaret River region will be paid a premium to supply supermarket giant Woolworths for its new localised milk brand.

Woolworths’ new premium Farmer’s Own brand will be launched in Perth today. This follows the successful launch of the Farmer’s Own concept last year which saw farmer's from NSW’s Manning Valley signing up to a similar deal.

Under the deal, Woolworths will be sourcing 10 million litres of milk annually from the Noakes and Evans families to produce three premium milk lines: whole milk, unhomogenised milk and reduced fat hi-lo product, ABC Rural reports.

Peter Evans said that his family will receive a premium for the milk, but added that his primary motivation in supplying Woolworths was to meet local demand for a high quality product.

"The consumer is becoming much more aware of where their food is coming from," Evans told ABC Rural.

"We see that as a continuation on that theme and we're very happy to get close to the customer."

Woolworths fresh food manager, Ziggy Kwarcinski said that the new localised milk brand will encourage consumers to buy local, and that the supermarket giant has plans on expanding the Farmer’s Own product into Queensland and Victoria in the future.


National Heart Foundation tick under review

Now celebrating its 25th year, the National Heart Foundation has decided to review its Healthy Tick trademark.

Mary Barry, the National Heart Foundation’s CEO said that the 25th anniversary of the organisation marks an appropriate time to review the trademark, and hinted that it could conceivably be replaced by the Federal Government’s health star rating scheme.

“Should this system (health star rating scheme) be successful and mandatory … we could then consider the future of the tick,” Barry told The Herald Sun.

The review will take place over a 12 month period and will assess whether the tick can either complement, or add value to the new star rating system.

The Heart Foundation’s ‘Healthy Tick’ program was launched in 1989, and was designed to represent a healthier choice for consumers when compared to other processed foods.

The program came under heat from health professionals in 2008 when it temporarily awarded the tick to selected products from fast-food chain McDonald’s.

The Federal Government’s health star rating scheme was officially signed off by food ministers in June this year.

The voluntary scheme was developed to replace the current daily intake guide and was initially approved by food and health ministers in June last year.

The decision to review the tick comes as celebrity chef and paleo food advocate, Pete Evans along with David Gillespie author of anti-sugar book Sweet Poison slammed the Heart Foundation for awarding the Heart Tick to a host of processed products including frozen pizzas and sugary breakfast cereals.

In a Facebook post, Gillespie wrote: “The program is a nice little earner for the Heart Foundation, pulling in $2.8m in 2013 alone. The only problem is that, through the Tick Program, the Heart Foundation now finds itself in the position of having endorsed hundreds of products that the science says are very dangerous to our health.”

“…We need the Heart Foundation to…immediately trash its Tick program. And we need our dieticians to throw off the yoke of corporate sponsorship and provide evidence based dietary advice untainted by the smell of food industry money.”


Report outlines 14 key trends in the dairy sector [infographic]

New Nutrition Business has released a new report that outlines 14 key trends in the dairy sector.

The report titled Key Trends in the Business of Dairy Nutrition, says that innovation within the dairy sector has led to the creation of entirely new product areas that fit with dairy’s “wholesome image”.

Julian Mellentin, Director of New Nutrition Business says that creative thinking within the dairy sector, including the creation of savoury products such as vegetable flavoured yoghurt, perfectly demonstrates the dairy sectors direction away from added ingredients and towards healthy products.

“Dairy, more than any other category, is perfectly positioned to profit from the most important consumer trends shaping the food industry,” says Mellentin.

“…Science shows that dairy is nature’s whole food, with more benefits that are bringing new opportunities,” says Mellentin.It’s too early for companies to use these benefits for marketing purposes, but over the next decade they will support dairy’s “naturally healthy” identity.”

Mellentin has coined the term “Dairy 2.0” as the industry’s movement away from added ingredients and towards embracing the food group’s health benefits. A major part of Dairy 2.0 is about bringing formats that are established and traditional in one market, and introducing them in a new market where they can be positioned as new and different.”

Protein, digestive health and the ageing population are other areas that the dairy industry has driven product innovation says Mellentin.

“…Dairy will continue to be the most important category for future growth in food and health and the place where you are most likely to find innovation,” he says.

14 key trends in the business of dairy innovation

Demand for healthier energy drinks on the rise

According to a recent report from market research company Canadean, 50 percent of consumers surveyed believe that energy drinks are bad for their health.

Despite this belief, the category is still experiencing impressive growth however, Canadean believe that manufacturers need to develop healthier formulas in order to secure the longer-term success of the market.  

The report revealed that the UK’s energy drink consumption has gone up from 375 million litres in 2010, to 500 million litres in 2013. The report also found that almost one in ten Britons consume energy drinks, with half of them doing so on a weekly basis.

However, the survey also shows that consumers have concerns over the ingredients used in energy drinks. Almost six out of 10 energy drink consumers believe that energy drink consumption is bad for their health and that the ingredients included in energy drinks are worrying. Moreover, 72 percent of all respondents who drink energy drinks think that there should be a restriction on the sale of energy and stimulant drinks to children. 

“More and more consumers exchange reviews and opinions about food and drinks ingredients online and are able to look up dubious additives and e-numbers quickly,” said Thomas Delaney, analyst at Canadean. “This means that manufacturers need to become more transparent regarding their ingredients and react fast to negative news online. For example, some brands have adopted a taurine-free ingredients list after the amino sulfonic acid commonly added to energy drinks had received bad press linking it to increased blood pressure, seizures, strokes and heart diseases.”

Delaney says that it is essential that manufacturers look to developing healthier variants if they wish to maintain their piece of the energy drink market.

“Although the two biggest players in the energy drinks market have not yet incorporated taurine-free energy drinks in their product ranges, Red Bull's sugar-free and zero calories variants and Monster Energy's absolutely zero beverage attest to a trend towards healthier drinks. They are tell-tale signs of a diverging energy drinks market.”


Abbott promises to cut red tape in food manufacturing

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that he will announce more cuts to red tape within the food manufacturing sector over the coming month.

In an address to industry leaders on Wednesday, Abbott said that he recognises the importance of Australia’s food and manufacturing sectors, and that he will work with industry to remove any ‘burdens’ that are preventing manufacturers from prospering, ABC News reports.

"My commitment to you is to keep working with you to remove any of the burdens that are holding you back because I want Australia's food and grocery industry to prosper and succeed,” he said.

"We all need your industry to prosper and succeed.

"And I pledge myself to do whatever I humanly can to make that possible."

Abbott’s announcement comes days after the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) released its annual State of the Industry report which highlights the food and beverage manufacturing industry’s turnover, employment, international trade, capital expenditure and research and development. In the report, the AFGC has re-emphasised its call to reduce regulatory burdens.

During his address, Abbott also backed recent comments from agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce who said that Australia should be focusing on marketing its agricultural outputs as premium products rather than attempting to become Asia’s food bowl.

"Barnaby Joyce has put the case that the market opportunities of Asia are so vast that even if we doubled, tripled or quadrupled our production in fruit, vegetables, meat and groceries, we would still only provide a fraction of the needs for food in our region and Barnaby is absolutely right," he said.

"The market's there are so vast and the opportunities are so great that there really is unlimited potential for this industry.

Abbott said that Australia’s food and agriculture industry is vital to the nation’s economic future.

"You can't have strong communities without strong economies to sustain them and you can't have a strong economy without profitable private businesses."

Earlier this year, the Abbott government took a firm stance against a request from trouble fruit and vegetable processor SPC Ardmona who had been struggling to compete against ‘dumped’ imported products.

The processor had been promised $25 million in funding by the labor government following fears that the cannery would close without government assistance.


NSW food processors shine at Hong Kong Food expo

Following a successful stint at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Food Expo, Lismore based meat processor, Merrick Blok has his eyes set on international exports.

Blok had a place on the NSW Government stand at the expo alongside NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Stoner.

The expo attracted over 20,000 buyers from over 50 countries, and Blok said that the event proved to be an excellent opportunity for him to promote his premium beef products and identify new export customers.

"The government is working hard to help NSW food manufacturers win new business,” Blok told The Northern Star.

"Hong Kong was an ideal opportunity for NSW food makers to show they are ready to explore new opportunities as they come along and confidently venture into new markets."

Blok said that his products proved to be exceptionally popular at the event.

"Everyone asked about our product and the tastings and sampling were very well received," he said.

"But we're in the higher range of the meat chain and a lot of the talks we had always seemed to come down to price."

A series of reports released by peak industry group, The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) in conjunction with Austrade in July this year aimed to deepen the Australian food and beverage manufacturing industry’s understanding of opportunities that exist in a number of key Asian markets.

The reports examined opportunities for specific manufactured food products including snacks, beverages, baked goods and condiments in Malaysia, Thailand and China.

The AFGC’s CEO, Gary Dawson says that exporting to Asia can be highly challenging for Australian manufacturers, particularly SME’s with limited resources, and that it is crucial that the government works with industry to help facilitate trade.


Nestle to sell off German baby food brands

Swiss-based global food manufacturer, Nestle has announced that it will be selling its Alete and Milasan baby food brands.

The brands have been snapped up by an investor consortium inclusive of German investment group BWK GmbH, and a private investor for an undisclosed sum, Reuters reports.

The sale is in line with company’s plan to divest in non-core and underperforming food brands and instead invest in more scientific businesses in the medical nutrition and skin health arena.

Nestle’s chief executive, Paul Bulcke said at the time that the new businesses would require greater investment and resources than food due to its complex nature.

"If you really go into the dimension of science … the promise is big but the pre-investment is a little heavier than reformulating a bouillon cube," said Bulcke.

"We don't allow ourselves to have laggards because we don't have the luxury anymore because we are investing for the future," he said.

Nestle said in a statement that it will now be focusing its baby food business in Germany and Austria on the Beba brand.


Arla to showcase whey protein that cuts exercise recovery times

Arla Food Ingredients has released a whey protein hydrolysate for sports nutrition applications that significantly reduces exercise recovery times.

According to Arla, Lacprodan HYDRO.365 was developed specifically for endurance sport enthusiasts and offers a particularly high degree of hydrolysis which effectively reduces recovery times from days to hours.

Arla says that the Lacprodan HYDRO.365 whey protein is more easily absorbed than intact whey proteins as it has already been ‘pre-digested’ into amino acids and smaller short-chain peptides, providing a much faster recovery after exercise in comparison with standard whey proteins.

The product can be used in a wide array of popular sports supplement product applications including clear beverages, gels, bars, powders and tablets.

Arla will be showcasing Lacprodan HYDRO.365 at the Health Ingredients Europe exhibition in Amsterdam this December.

“Our high quality whey protein solutions are at the cutting edge of innovation and address a wide range of nutrition needs and health concerns,” said Lindsey Osmond, Arla’s business development manager of health and performance nutrition.

“HIE will offer the perfect forum for us to share these advancements with the industry.”


ACCC gives Goodman Fielder takeover bid the go ahead

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will not be opposing the proposed takeover of Goodman Fielder by Wilmar and First Pacific.

Both companies currently overlap in the supply of edible oils including canola, sunflower and soybean oil to Australian retailers. Goodman Fielder is the largest supplier of branded packaged edible oils to retailers, while Wilmar supplies imported packaged oils which are sold in supermarkets under their private labels.

“The ACCC determined that, following the proposed acquisition, Wilmar and Goodman Fielder would continue to be competitively constrained by alternative existing and potential suppliers,” said ACCC chairman, Rod Sims.

“Packaged vegetable oil can be readily imported from international suppliers. Wilmar currently supplies oil from its offshore facilities and there are other international suppliers capable of supplying the Australian market.”

“Industry feedback also suggested that packaged vegetable oil is considered a commodity product with low levels of brand loyalty, making it easier for retailers by bypass their existing suppliers.

Sims also added that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to raise competition concerns in any other markets in which both businesses operate.  Wilmar is a leading agribusiness group in Asia with its key Australian business in the sugar and edible oils markets, while Frist Pacific is an investment management and holding company operating in Australia through Indofood, importing and selling instant noodles, pasts and vegetables.

Goodman Fielder initially accepted the takeover bid by Wilmar and First Pacific in July this year.