AOL partners with ABC Organic Gardener to promote organic principles

Industry body Australian Organic (AOL) is pleased to announce its partnership with magazine ABC Organic Gardener for 2020 to promote organic principles and educate consumers around making informed choices when it comes to organic products.

ABC Organic Gardener magazine is Australia’s largest organic gardening publication and is an essential companion for anyone interested in organics, gardening and a healthy, balanced lifestyle. It provides inspiration, information and practical how-to advice and solutions on all aspects of organic gardening and a holistic lifestyle.

The magazine publishes eight editions annually, and has a popular presence in print, digital and social media platforms. The Organic Gardener website provides readers with insightful articles on growing and tending for your garden, with inspiring recipes for homegrown organic produce.

Australian Organic CEO Niki Ford said the partnership provides AOL with another avenue to connect directly with organic consumers or those interested in learning more about organics in Australia.

“AOL’s 2020 partnership with ABC Organic Gardener provides an exciting opportunity for us to educate readers already invested in an organic lifestyle but for those wanting to assist consumers to make more informed choices when it comes to organics – such as looking for a certification logo on organic products,” she said. “Our partnership with ABC Organic Gardener is highly valued, with both partners committed to promoting and growing awareness surrounding organic products in Australia.”

ABC Organic Gardener editor Steve Payne said, “We are very excited to team up with AOL to help promote organic food and living to our readers and the wider community. With the planet in a perilous state, more than ever, we need to be supporting cutting-edge organic farming and sustainably produced products.”

The partnership is part of AOL’s step forward in becoming the peak industry body for the organic industry in Australia by promoting organic products and producers, and educating consumers with a wide range of lifestyle resources. AOL actively lobbies government on key regulatory matters supporting industry growth and development. It also advocates and educates consumers to recognise organic certification logos such as Australian Organic’s ‘Bud’ logo – now recognised by more than 50 per cent of Australian shoppers on products. The logo is a guarantee of a product’s true organic authenticity as opposed to various ‘fake’ organic products in the marketplace.

As part of the agreement, AOL and ABC Organic Gardener will support each other by providing content and trusted information for readers and consumers surrounding organics in Australia

Policy makers need to lead the way with circular economy transition

In 2020, we are going to hear a lot more about the circular economy. While it is a catch cry that has existed for years, across the globe the push to embrace circular economy principles is accelerating with unprecedented pace. And, while Australia’s food, beverage, and grocery manufacturing sector is working hard to embrace the change that comes with the circular economy, policy makers also need to ensure appropriate time frames and incentivisation schemes are in place to help business transition.

What is the circular economy?
Establishing a circular economy means much more than recycling – that is only a small part of the equation. It is restorative by design, focused on extracting maximum value from resources through continued re-use, using as few resources as possible.

Central to the concept is the idea that things should be designed to be maintained and reused and, when no longer useful in their original form, can be used for something else. The loop is closed. In terms of the food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector, the obvious area where the concept of the circular economy can be applied is in regards to packaging, especially plastic packaging. And in Australia, the sector is collaborating to make it happen.

Food waste
With a rapidly growing global population, a reduction in agricultural land, and increasing climate change concerns, reducing food waste is now a global priority. If food waste was a country, it is estimated it would be the world’s third largest carbon emitter (after the USA and China) and utilise a cropland area the size of China. Currently, Australia generates an estimated 11.3 million tonnes of food waste per year, with 2.3 million and 2.5 million tonnes being generated on farm and in the home respectively. Currently a mere five per cent of household food waste is diverted from landfill, presenting an opportunity to embrace circular economy principles.

Food manufacturers are leading the charge and have focused on reducing food waste. Currently, they divert 95 per cent from landfill to higher order uses such as food rescue, animal feed, application to land and composting, which are already driving significant circular economy outcomes.

2025 National Packaging Targets
Across the board, Australian food, beverage and grocery companies are working hard to increase the recycling rate of packaging and reducing the impacts of litter. Many are playing an important part through their commitments to the 2025 National Packaging Targets, led by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

The four targets, which were set in 2018, are:
to make all packaging 100 per cent recyclable, re-usable or compostable;
to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or compostable;
to ensure 30 per cent average recycled content in packaging; and
to phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.

Recent research undertaken by APCO has confirmed that industry has already exceeded the recycled content target and is now collaborating with Government to set a more ambitious target to stimulate demand in the circular economy.

As members of APCO, companies are collaborating to reduce the harmful impact of packaging. Membership extends across organisational size and industry and enables “the sharing of best practice resources and strategies to improve packaging design, optimise waste management processes and reduce business costs relating to packaging waste”.
There is increasing demand for packaging that includes recycled content and some of the largest companies are leading the way. For example, Unilever has committed to halving its use of virgin plastics, Coca Cola is using 100 per cent recycled plastic content in 70 per cent of its bottles, and Lion Dairy & Drinks’ Dairy Farmers Heritage 1.5L milk bottle is already made with 50 per cent recycled content, with all Juice Brothers 1.5L bottles to be made using 50 per cent recycled content by end of March. There is also a focus on consumers, with the increasing adoption of the Australian Recyclability Label on packaging helping guide them on what can be recycled.

While the industry is wholly supportive of the national packaging targets, achieving them is not without its challenges.

Barriers to achieving 2025 National Packaging Targets
The key barriers facing the industry as it strives to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets are many and varied. They include: the lack of clean glass from kerbside collections, which limits the recycled content in local bottles; the lack of availability of recycled food-grade plastic packaging; a need to review quality standards of recycled content to ensure food safety is not compromised; the ability to ensure traceability around the packaging supply chain to prevent modern slavery; and a general lack of local processing infrastructure.

Rectifying these issues requires all stakeholders to collaborate and mandating targets for one stakeholder group will not go far in achieving a circular economy. The responsibility must be shared by the food and grocery manufacturing sector, the packaging industry, retailers, the waste sector, government and APCO. Working together the actions required to address these barriers can be adequately addressed, National Packaging Targets reached and, ultimately, a circular economy achieved.

APCO recognises an interrelated, whole-of-supply-chain approach is needed, and has established working groups, comprising of industry and other stakeholders, to address specific issues identified with the recoverability of ‘problematic’ packaging materials.
Collaboration between all levels of government and jurisdictions, all stakeholders along the packaging supply chain, and secondary processors is required. As highlighted in the recent APCO baseline report, 86 per cent of packaging is currently recyclable, yet only 49 per cent is actually recycled. This is due to a combination of factors ranging from product design, community education and collection methods, to a lack of specific local recycling infrastructure. APCO is playing an active role in facilitating this collaboration and encouraging whole-of-supply-chain enablers to meet the targets.

Moving towards a circular economy
While there is ever-growing momentum within the sector to embrace circular economy principles, there are several key barriers standing in its way.

Currently, the demand for recycled plastics exceeds the supply, resulting in a lack of availability and inflated pricing. Increased availability of post-consumer plastics and increased competition in its supply is required to reduce costs for brand owners procuring recycled plastic. This will protect local manufacturing jobs and assist Australian companies to compete with low cost imports.

Incentivisation from state and federal governments through capital funding assistance will be essential moving forward.

This is because:

  • Recyclers need funds to install improved optical sorting equipment to increase the availability of clean uncontaminated PET and HDPE.
  • Packaging companies need funds to install decontamination infrastructure in order to meet food grade packaging specifications.
  • production lines.
  • Fiscal support for research and development into alternate uses of plastics, such as chemical recycling or use in roads, is also necessary.

Finally, there is need for a nationally consistent approach.

While the independence of the states allows governments to implement waste policies tailored to their needs, it can also produce adverse impacts that ultimately produce commercial inefficiencies, undermine commercial confidence for circular economy stakeholders to invest, and reduce potential environmental gains. Nationally, consistent kerbside collections will allow brand owners to design products to a national recycling specification and allow recyclers to design recycling infrastructure to sort a set of common household materials into high-value commodities for further processing and ultimately manufacturing into new products.

Provisional programme released for AIP Conference

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) released their provisional program today for the biennial 2020 AIP Australasian Packaging Conference which will cover a broad range of topics relating to the theme PACKAGING: FIT FOR THE FUTURE and include 60 speakers from nine countries across two days. The event will be held on the 1 and 2 April at the Crown Promenade in Melbourne.

The packaging industry is facing many challenges at the moment with global plastic pollution and recycling issues and transformational changes to value and supply chain models, resulting in negative government and consumer perceptions. These challenges are requiring packaging companies, manufacturers and retailers to re-think their approaches and undertake strategic changes to address the challenges of meeting global and domestic Sustainable Packaging, 2025 National Packaging Targets, transform supply chains; all the while having clear parameters for driving the 4R’s.

Now more than ever is the time to collaborate, share ideas, success stories, discuss the challenges and journeys the industry is facing openly and what we can do collectively to work towards the same targets.

Keynote speakers will include Pete Ceglinski, CEO & co-founder, Seabin Project, Martin Orzinski, director operations, Coca-Cola Amatil, Siobhan McCrory, executive general manager, marketing and innovation, Pact Group, Jaideep Gokhale, cluster leader for sustainability, TetraPak, Nicole Ohm, senior marketing manager, Brownes Dairy, Jean Baillard, general manager, TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand, Barry Cosier, director, sustainability, Australian Food & Grocery Council and Brooke Donnelly, chief executive officer, APCO and more.

To see the program and to book your place today to secure the early bird rate click here. All of industry is invited to attend.

 

 

Food and bev fit out brought in on time and under budget

Most construction builds have challenges. But when there are a few hardcore caveats attached that will have an impact on getting the job completed on time and within budget, it is important to have people on the ground who are not only experts but can perform under pressure.

Food and beverage construction specialist Total Construction found this to be the case when it tendered and won a contract to complete a considerable alteration at an infant milk powder processing plant.

Total Construction’s national manager for food and beverage, Tony Tate, knew it would be a hard job, but one that the company and its staff would be up for. It would also prove that the commercial building specialist had what it took to turn a job around quickly and to the client’s specifications.

Tate and his team knew from the outset that if the job wasn’t finished on time, it would cost not only the client, but Total Construction, a lot of money. This was due to the penalty clauses in the contract. The main issue of concern was that the plant might become contaminated during the build, which means it would not meet Australian standards when it came to producing foodstuffs. This entailed a whole raft of restrictions to be put in place that meant Total Construction had to carefully plan and execute the build so as not to be liable for any overruns or contamination of the factory.

How does a company meet strict criteria, all the while completing a job to its own high standards?

Experience and planning were the two main components, according to Tate. They also had to persuade the milk powder manufacturer that Total’s methods of tackling the job were the best way forward.

“The plant had a shutdown period of only one month. For them to shut down for a month, meant they were losing a lot of revenue. It was a big deal for them,” said Tate. “The key driver for us was the plan of action. We had to incorporate building work, which can get messy, in a pharmaceutical area, which has to be spotless. The last thing that we want is any dust or contamination in a milk powder plant.”

There were five work zones at any one time with each of those work zones going from low to high care. Workers could walk around the low-care part of the facility – the warehouse – which was where the milk powder was already in sealed packaging, so there was little chance of contamination. It was the high-care areas where caution needed to be taken.

“Every day we were to make sure all the foreign matter – cable clips, cable ties, any debris that was left on the floor – was cleaned away thoroughly,” said Tate. “We had to captive vacuum every day and had to wear captive footwear. Even the builders had to change from safety boots to captive safety boots.”

When it came to making sure the project was going to come in on time some lateral thinking was required. Tate’s initial scope said the job would take 42 days. Even the independent design consultant could only see the job being completed within 46 days. The client initially thought that throwing more bodies into the project would help bring the alteration in on time. But as the Total Construction team pointed out, there were restrictions on space. Tate and his team came up with a solution that would make the job a little more costly, but not as costly to the client if they took an extra two weeks to complete.

“We started working with the design consultant and said we could expedite the process by putting two shifts on,” said Tate. “That is when we really started working with the client. You want to make sure you can take the client on the journey and build confidence with them. As you build confidence, you know what you are doing and you are then helping the client. So, we got the two shifts going as well as working Saturdays and Sundays.”

And while it was a precise process, there were a few issues that did arise along the way. At one stage, they managed to be three days ahead of schedule but the client delayed sign off on the HVAC installation, which put them back to the original schedules timeline. When the sign off was sorted out, there was an issue with the digger that was going to be used to dig out the new floor. It wasn’t cleared as a hygienic piece of equipment. It wasn’t until the Total team pointed out that the soil they would be removing would not be hygienic that it was decided that the digger – under amended conditions – could be used.

Another lesson learned was that even working under stringent conditions, the unexpected can occur. It pays to think laterally, and help the client out the best you can, said Tate.
“After we started, the client realised that once we finished up, they would only have five days to train on the new plant,” said Tate. “The staff not only had to be trained in the new equipment, but they had to validate the new equipment, too. They realised that the time they had allocated themselves to do this was not long enough. They then had to clean the facility and make it suitable to occupy.”

The client asked Total if they could use certain areas of the facility to do the training, but the penalty clauses in the contract made Total reluctant to do so. Total was within their rights to refuse but knew that it could cost the milk processing plant literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“So, we came up with a sequence on how to do the job and accommodate them,” said Tate. “First, we did the epoxy floors in the different areas on different dates. Once we completed certain areas, the hygiene teams went in and cleaned them up so they could be utilised. They then taped off the finished areas and they could go from there.”

And when it came to commitment, nobody was more invested in the project than site manager Craig Harkins.

“Craig lived and breathed it from six in the morning until eight at night,” said Tate. “There were times when we had to make sure that he was given time off because he was getting fatigued. When you’re struggling with fatigue, you get injuries and there are mistakes.”

It was a closely monitored build. The site manager knew at each stage exactly where the build was up to. If they weren’t up to where they should have been, all parties agreed on an action plan for the following day so they could catch up. They also had daily tool box talks to discuss contaminants and hygiene.

And the client’s reaction to the final product?

“If you look at the hygiene standards of the build, you could eat your dinner off the floor – it is that clean,” said Tate. “I think that because we have been retained for Stage 2 of the project means they were happy. It was a hard job, but we learned a lot from it. More importantly, we came in on time and on budget in what was a challenging build, so it was good news all around.

Apple flour making inroads into commercial baking applications

Forbidden Foods Group was launched in 2010 by Jarrod Milani and Marcus Brown who both share a passion to provide some of the best health foods across Australia and internationally. Forbidden Foods flagship product of Black Rice was released to the retail and foodservice market nationally and internationally.

Since launching, Forbidden Foods have expanded into supplying a range of speciality rice flours to food manufacturers. Its bespoke rice flour range has been used in baked goods, soups, baby foods, snacking and plant-based foods. Having success with their rice flours, Forbidden Foods explored the potential of releasing a range of Australian-made, new and exotic flours that are not offered in the global market.

In 2019, Sensory Mill was created under Forbidden Foods Group, to provide ingredients for the food enthusiast. Sensory Mill offers a range of alternative products for use in manufacturing including powders, grains and blends and its newest release of an exotic flour range.

The flour range accentuates the core belief of Sensory Mill, which is to strive towards improved sustainability and traceability of products, while providing enriching ingredients.
The company’s newest standout product – which was released in January 2020 – is its apple flour, which is available in the retail and foodservice market.

To promote the idea of Farm-to-Plate, Sensory Mill has collaborated with Bellevue Orchard and Australian Dehydrated Food (ADF) to promote and introduce Australia’s first apple flour to the market.

Bellevue Orchard is a third-generation, family-run apple orchard located in Victoria, Australia and have been producing apple juice since 1998.

The orchard is owned by two brothers, Robert and Joe Russo, who continue to work there, however now run by Joe’s daughter Bernadette and Robert’s son Nick.

ADF is an Australian company that specialises in advanced and rapid dehydration technology to produce the dried foods sourced from Australia.

ADF’s Chris Mamas worked alongside Forbidden Foods and Bellevue to meet outlined requirements and specifications.

“Our aim is to work with natural, unadulterated raw material inputs, resulting in the most aromatic, tasty and nutrient-rich powdered foods on the market, which I believe we have achieved with the apple flour,” he said.

Forbidden Foods, Bellevue Orchard and ADF all have a strong ethos against food wastage, which was the basis upon their collaboration for Forbidden Foods to release, market and promote the apple flour to the retail and foodservice market. Nick Russo indicated that food wastage avoidance has always been a priority of theirs.

“Our goal has always been to make use of every part of the apple. Working with Forbidden Foods and ADF is the final piece of making this a reality with Bellevue being a zero-waste facility,” he said.

“We hope to divert over 800,000kg of wastage per year, into a premium product for market,” said Russo.

Bellevue worked alongside Forbidden Foods and ADF, to initiate production of apple fibre from the pomace in a patented process.

Bellevue realised the apple pomace wastage remaining after the juicing process was becoming costly to re-distribute to farmers for feed, or to move to landfill.

Moving the apple pomace was starting to take a strain on the local environment surrounding the orchard, with potential of having widespread effects.

After 18 months of trials, technology was developed for efficient dehydration of apple fibre to produce a food ingredient for human consumption.

The wasted apple pomace from juicing was drained and ground into a thin layer to be dried out and dehydrated. Once the pomace was efficiently dried, it enters the multi-step milling process that produced a fine flour ready for packaging and manufacturing.

Incorporating apple flour into products on an industrial scale can reap many nutritional benefits to the population.

Finished products with apple flour acting as a core ingredient will provide a nutritionally rounded profile.

Due to the high dietary fibre content of the flour, it has a wide range of antioxidants that are believed to assist in the reduction of cholesterol. The soluble and insoluble fibre within the flour will regulate the digestive system while promoting bowel health and growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Milled apple flour is extremely fine, allowing it to be versatile in manufacturing and production.

It has many applications ranging from acting as a thickening agent in sauces and mixes, to being incorporated into bakery and snacking products.

The by-product flour is a great absorber of liquid causing this product to be an efficient binder in recipes, particularly in raw snack products that undergo minimal heat exposure.
Having a low sugar content accompanying the high soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, this flour can help control blood sugar levels.

Having low-fat content, it is a suitable ingredient when manufacturing low fat products for consumption.

The properties of the flour allow it to act as a replacer while extending shelf life for long-lasting and shelf-stable products when stored in ambient temperatures.

Apple flour is said to have a naturally sweet flavour that is not overpowering to the palate. The inclusion of the apple flour in baking may avoid the need for additional sweeteners.

Being gluten free, apple flour can be blended with all-purpose gluten-free flour to become a baking staple for the gluten intolerant community. This product can be blended with an array of flours for usage in baking to create high fibre goods.

Global dairy commodity update first quarter 2020

The fundamentals underpinning the global market outlook remain positive but may weaken with improving expansion in milk supply and a slowing in trade in milk powders. However, the outlook for commodity product values is mixed as butterfat values have stabilised, while increased cheese capacity in Europe will keep supplies abundant and may cap values.

Skim milk powder
SMP fundamentals recently improved with lower EU and US output and sustained export demand. Going forward, this is new territory with SMP fundamentals no longer driven mostly by the EU stock turn. Prices should remain relatively firm, despite improving fresh product availability from Europe and the US. SMP demand in Asian markets has slowed but is likely to revert to trend.

Whole milk powder
China and Hong Kong helped the overall numbers look better and added the most trade in the month – up 69.4 per cent YOY or 14,000t. YOY shipments to this key market have now increased in 11 of the last 12 months for which data is available. Demand for milk powders remained resilient with the changes in China’s internal milk use.

Cheese
The disparity in cheese prices should correct. EU commodity cheese values may be influenced by SMP/butter stream returns, but more milk will be diverted to increased plant capacity, which will keep a lid on values. EU exports again rose more than 8,000t YOY in September – the growth in the latest month was driven by stronger shipments to the US and South Korea.

Butter
Butterfat prices have remained steady with improved domestic EU seasonal demand. The EU balance sheet should improve but demand and supply growth will be closely aligned. Overall demand in developing markets remains price sensitive and may continue to pressure NZ prices. NZ exports of fats continued to shrink, but at a much slower rate – both AMF and butter were down YOY in September, 2 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, the EU expanded butter exports in September by 74 per cent, despite shipping butter at prices still higher than NZ.

Whey
US exports continued to shrink, down 13 per cent in September, while the EU grew shipments by 3.2 per cent. Meanwhile, NZ trade rose 14 per cent YOY in September – this followed consecutive monthly falls and was driven by stronger sales into the North American market. US product remains competitive as prices have weakened since September while EU and Oceania prices remained steady.

Dustin Boughton, procurement, Maxum Foods

How will the coronavirus affect agriculture in Australia?

The coronavirus outbreak is already having a severe impact on China’s foodservice and on-trade channels and this could become “more serious and longer-lasting” if the virus is not contained in the next six to eight weeks, leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has warned.

But the extent of the impact on Australia’s agricultural sector will be limited in the short-term and will depend on how quickly the virus is contained, it says.

In a just-released report by the bank’s China-based research team, Recent Coronavirus Impacts on Chinese F&A, Rabobank says “disruptions are being experienced across the entire F&A (food and agri) supply chain” with the virus – which has infected more than 40,000 people to date – disrupting trade, production and supply chains as well as having a significant impact on out-of-home food consumption with the closure of many foodservice outlets.

With the virus outbreak arriving at the peak of 2020 Chinese New Year activities, it has had a large impact on out-of-home dining in the country, the report says.

“Given what we have seen on the ground, along with news received from major chains – for example, the closure of stores by Starbucks, Haidilao, McDonald’s, and Yum China – potential revenue losses for both retail and foodservice for the Chinese New Year week could range from 20 per cent to 80 per cent”. A loss of between USD 31 billion to USD 124 billion across retail and foodservice, it says.

While the report says a quick and effective containment of the virus could lead to a rapid bounce-back, the longer the virus is uncontained beyond March, the more extensive, sustained and structural the impact will be on the F&A chain.

For Australia
Regardless of when coronavirus is contained, Australian-based head of Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research, Tim Hunt says it will “almost certainly” have a larger impact on food and beverage industries than the global SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003 – including in Australia.

Discussing the current and potential impacts of the virus on Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries in a podcast, Coronavirus: How worried should we be, Mr Hunt says coronavirus has already spread more widely than SARS but it is Australia’s “much larger exposure to China” that is the biggest difference between current events and SARS.

“If we go back to 2002 just before the SARS crisis, Australia sent eight per cent of its ag exports to China”, Mr Hunt says. And this was largely in the form of fibre to be processed for export.

Fast forward to 2020, he says, and Australia sends around 28 per cent of its food and agricultural exports to China, much of which is consumed within China. “Add to that, the stronger links that have been developed between Australia and China in terms of exports, tourism, education and investment, we have a very different environment in which we might see the potential impacts of coronavirus this time compared to SARS in 2003.”

There are likely to be both first and second-round impacts of coronavirus on the Australian agricultural sector, Mr Hunt says, with the first round already being felt by any food and ag business relying heavily on the food service channel in China, particularly perishable goods.

“For example, rock lobster shipments to China have all but ceased in the last couple of weeks,” he says, “while chilled meat shipments for food service are also a risk category given a lot of hot pot restaurants are closed at the moment.” And while wine isn’t perishable, Mr Hunt says, sales are also likely to be low for those focused on the Chinese food service industry.

While Chinese consumption of meat, dairy and grains is unlikely to fall in the short-term, Mr Hunt says if the virus continued for many months to come, second-round impacts –“likely to hit our F&A industries” – would come into play.

“Hopefully we won’t get to ‘round two’,” he says, “but if we do, incomes may fall in China and we may eventually see less growth in sales of premium food and beverages as that wealth effect starts to kick in.

“And this may start to go beyond just food service sales and logistical disruptions to potentially impacting consumption in general of meat, dairy, grains and seafood.”

That said, Mr Hunt says, in the event coronavirus has second-round effects, the currency exchange rate would act as an “important stabiliser” for Australian agricultural exporters, with the Australian dollar likely to depreciate significantly as the market responded to slowing economic growth and rising risk concerns. And this, he says, would “somewhat offset” any fall in global commodity prices when expressed in local currency terms.

Going forward, Mr Hunt says, it will be important to closely monitor developments, including this week’s return to work in China after the extended New Year holiday and how the Chinese government continues to manage the outbreak including restrictions on the food service sector.

“But the most important development will be when we see a slowdown in the rate of infection,” he says. “SARS took around three and a half months for the infection to start slowing but after that, it didn’t take long for infections to cap a few weeks later.

“While we have no idea how this virus will behave compared to SARS, there won’t be any easing of restrictions until it does.”

Mr Hunt says it will also be critical to monitor the spread of the virus to other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and other parts of South-East Asia, because if it spreads “we will start to see the same set of impacts in a second very large set of export markets for Australia”.

By Commodity
Rock lobster – likely to be the most exposed sector, with 95 per cent of sales going to China. While rock lobster sales from WA have ceased for now, fishermen can leave the lobsters in the ocean and catch their quota later if quota windows allow.

Read meat – short-term disruption is likely given logistical disruption and reduced eating out by Chinese consumers. The general shortage of protein in China as a result of African Swine Fever is still expected to result in ongoing strong demand from China once the short-term impacts of coronavirus are overcome.

Grains – limited impacts are foreseen both initially and in the event of a second round phase.

Dairy – at this stage, limited first round impacts as most of what is shipped (i.e. powders and infant milk formulas) have a good shelf life and are consumed at home. That said, cheese consumption could be impacted as it is mainly used in food service (for burgers and pizzas).

Sugar – very little disruption is expected to impact sugar trade flows, processing and consumption. But indirectly, the dip in the oil market – associated with concerns on the impact of the outbreak on global growth – could push Brazilian millers to produce more sugar this season which would lead to a softening in global prices, and ultimately, Australian prices too.

Wine – On-premise consumption of wine in China in 2019 accounted for around one third of total wine sales. Sales into this channel are expected to fall in the short-term while restrictions on group dining remain in place. That said, volumes of wine sold via e-commerce are likely to rise as distributors attempt to push more product into, and invest more money in developing, this sales channel.

Horticulture – Fortunately the cherry industry had air freighted most of its crop to China before the virus hit, something that would have been highly problematic a month later. In the next two to three months the main threat to export fruit and vegetable crops will be logistical, with demand from Chinese consumers for quality imported fresh produce not expected to fall from current levels.

 

Software unleashes inventory solution for liqueur manufacturer

When coffee nerd Tom Baker joined forces with Philip Moore in 2013, they probably didn’t realise within five years they would have an award-winning product on their hands.

Moore, the distiller, and Baker, a designer by trade, both loved coffee and decided that consuming it in a liqueur form had yet to be perfected, and thus Mr Black was born.

Brewed on the Central Coast of New South Wales at Distillery Britannica, Mr Black has not so much found a niche in the coffee liqueur market but taken it by storm.

Mr Black is a cold brew that has made headway into the UK and US. Five years ago it won a gold medal at the London Spirit Show and has continued to collect silverware on a regular basis. Mr Black operations manager, Rick Roper, can see only good things in the future for this Australian-based beverage.

“In 2017, Mr Black was launched in the US and has now established itself as the biggest selling Australian spirit there,” said Roper. “It is highly regarded and is developing a strong following coast-to-coast.” The product itself is cold-brew, pressed coffee using speciality lot Arabica beans from Colombia and Kenya blended with high-quality grain spirit to make the final product that you see today.”

However, with that growth came logistics issues. In order to keep on top of the bureaucracy of running the business, Roper knew the company needed something to complement its simple inventory system, so decided to invest in Unleashed Software. Like Mr Black, Unleashed has a good reputation within its market. Roper said Mr Black needed a system that would handle the increased throughput, product size and range as it started to grow. This was because it became apparent that if something wasn’t put in place soon, the ability to keep on top of the increasing volume of product could get out of hand.

“Prior to implementing Unleashed, we were only using Xero but found it inadequate for the business because it couldn’t handle manufactured items,” he said. “Xero is a great accounting system but without a bill of material structure, it can’t assemble finished product from components. There was a need to have an inventory system that integrated with Xero in the cloud that was easy to use and could handle manufacturing to grow as the company did. Unleashed immediately gave us control and accuracy of materials and costs.

“In our case, we convert varieties of coffee, speciality sugars, bottles, and packaging into Mr Black in different concentrations and sizes and we have to have accurate inventory transactions at every step,” he said. “Unleashed does that and keeps track of inventory down to batch and unit of measure with ease.”

Ease of use has been one of the key benefits of Unleashed along with the ability to be partnered with other software. This was why Mr Black management decided the software solution was the right choice for them. In addition to Xero, Unleashed has partnered with other third-party vendors. Users can use their accounting system with an easy-to-use integration module in the integration store.

“You can also custom integrate other software via programming interfaces (APIs), that Unleashed can assist with,” said Roper. “Otherwise, to access support to use Unleashed, with clients like us, you can choose an integration partner. Ours is Cloudsolve in Sydney. Besides providing support to get us up and running between Xero and Unleashed, they also provide ongoing support and some outsourced financial services.

“Unleashed is continually adding modules and capabilities outside of pure inventory management. For example, the integration store offers more sophisticated material planning and eCommerce solutions. We have also integrated Unleashed with Shopify allowing efficient online sales fulfilment and billing.”

The key to any type of integration software is not only how it can streamline processes but also the ease of set-up and use. Roper said that Unleashed was not hard to set up or use and has been ideal for getting on top of manufacturing and inventory.

These integration capabilities have made Unleashed a widely used inventory software that is adaptable to many companies’ different needs, according to Roper.

“They are not trying to be a SAP or Microsoft Dynamics or anything like that,” he said. “It is inventory management software in the cloud and is simple to use.”

Roper said the core modules are great to use when it comes to raising and completing sales and purchase orders. For example, orders can be cloned from an earlier order and emailed from the screen. With some background setups in customers, suppliers, pricing, items, document templates and so on, transaction efficiency is high. Users don’t have to do excessive manual steps. In other words, there are less errors and it saves time, according to Roper.

“The dashboard set up displays relevant data such as period to date sales revenue and margins, purchasing and sales transaction status, inventory levels and stock turn KPIs,” he said. “Data access and exports are straightforward. Standard reports are all there and custom reports can be set up.

“While they are adding new features all the time, many features that are nice to have are there. One is that relevant information is displayed in various formats depending on the screen. For example, in Purchases, order minimums are made visible and supplier prices auto-populate” said Roper. “It has a pricing module by group, customer and product, enabling pre-setting of customer sales terms. Again, this helps with the accuracy and efficiency in order processing. It also has min/max stocking levels that can be set for alerts and reordering, as well as a simple replenishment function, which we use for reordering some items.

“For us it’s a one-size fits all. Set up was fast and no customisations were necessary. Even though we started small, all the modules are available to all users whether it is a one-user account or a larger multi-user account. For us, as we have grown, we didn’t need to upgrade do get additional modules. It’s scalable.”

ELGi determined to make impact on the industrial compressor market

Being a lesser known brand in a competitive industry can be an issue. But if there is a sure way to prove to an industry that you are serious about being a point of difference, while also trying to build your brand, then winning a prestigious award is a good start.

That is what happened to ELGi, the Indian-based manufacturer of high-quality industrial air compressors. When the biggest competitor is German engineering in the form of Kaeser, it can be a hard row to hoe when trying to convince potential clients about the comparitive benefits of your gear. However, winning the coveted Deming Prize for Total Quality Management – the first industrial compressor manufacturer outside of Japan to win the award – goes a long way to show how committed ELGi is to making a dent in the market, including in food and beverage manufacturing plants in Australia.

Having bought Pulford Air & Gas and its subsidiary Advanced Air Compressors in 2018, the company has an ambition to become the second biggest compressor company in Australia.

It concedes that number one, Atlas Copco, is almost unreachable, but the company is keen to get higher on the ladder. ELGi national sales manager, Greg Gillespie, and business development manager, Brian Vegh, both know that they have a hard job ahead of them going from sixth in the pecking order up to number two. However, they also have a belief and confidence that the product not only has the ability and technology to do the job, but the manufacturing process is second to none.

“Atlas Copco is the Empire State Building on the graph you see on a piece of paper,” said Vegh. “We are number six at the moment, but there is not much difference between number six and number three.”

And in order to get up the pecking order, ELGi’s strategy is to espouse the benefits of its products such as the standards they are manufactured to, and the importance of the total quality management measures it has in place when it manufactures the compressors.

“ELGi compressors meet every international standard that any other company meets,” said Gillespie. “They control 100 per cent of the manufacturing process, from the sand they collect for the castings right through to the final product.”

Both Gillespie and Vegh know that there is a perception that compressors not manufactured in the US and Europe are somehow not up to scratch. This is why the company introduced Total Quality Management processes, which culminated in winning the Deming Prize in 2019. Not only that, the company has so much faith in its compressors it offers a 10-year warranty, something most of its opposition don’t do. There is also the perception that their compressors are made to Indian standards, which can sometimes be at odds with Australian regulations.

“A domestic product in India will have a metal starting box on it, which is acceptable over there, but you can’t have a metal starter box here in Australia,” he said. “The ones that arrive on these shores are all up to Australian standards already.”

Two of the key attributes of the compressors are the aforementioned 10 year warranty and their operational efficiency. Gillespie said the efficiency is about 10 per cent better than most similar products that are on the market. There is a reason for this.

“ELGi manufactures all the main components themselves. They mainly use Siemens motors and contactors,” said Gillespie. “We manufacture our own air end, which is the most expensive part of the machine – from the sand to the finished product. The design work they put into the air end to make it more efficient is top notch.

“Then there is the efficiency. Over a five year period, the cost of compressed air is 85 per cent of the cost of electricity/power. If you get a machine you start talking about 200kW of installed compressed air, and they run 24/5 days a week or 24/7 – which is anywhere between 5,000 and 8,000 hours a year. We can supply customers with a machine that is going to be anywhere between 3 and 8 per cent more efficient than some other machines out there. That is a lot of money over five years.”

The most expensive part of compressor is the air-end, which is important when it comes to the 10-year warranty. This is the actual screw where the air gets compressed, and in the case of ELGi, it is one the company has designed itself. It is for this reason they are happy to offer such a long warranty period for their compressors.

“We have heard of situations where only a 12-month warranty on air-ends was offered,” said Gillespie. “The warranty ended on midnight of that day. If it failed the next day, you have got nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

And how suitable is the company’s range for the food and beverage industry? When you’re talking its oil-free range, they are perfect, said Gillespie.

“When it comes to working in food and beverage, our compressors are Class 0,” he said. “With the quality system we use, everything is 100 per cent trackable and traceable. If you open up a machine you will see every screw, nut and bolt hallmarked in yellow.”

“That means every part has been checked. Every single one,” said Vegh. “If you have been in the factory, everyone who works at the foundry is on a production line. They go through a comprehensive checklist when the machines are being manufactured.”

The company is also aware of the impact its manufacturing will have on the environment and have measures in place to make the least amount of impact as possible.

“The sand they use to do their casting will only come from a reputable source and they recycle over 90 per cent of it because of the environmental issues,” said Gillespie. “It is also cost-effective. They’ve built the plant around that supply so they only have to use the minimal amount of sand they need.”

Finally, there is the back-up service that is available. Both Gillespie and Vegh point out that while the product is very good, if there are not people on the ground to help customers, then that can cause a whole range of problems.

“One of the hardest issues with industrial compressors in Australia is retaining and getting good service personal,” said Gillespie. “Most of them started out as fitter and turners. That is what I started out as and there are not of lot of us that stay on the tools their whole career.”

He believes one of the reasons it is hard to employ service technicians are the specifications of the job.

“Being a service technician means you are on the road a lot,” said Gillespie. “You have to like that. Some guys get sick of the travelling and driving. You have to be very autonomous.
“You do routine maintenance of products but then you have to walk into a business where everybody is looking at you. There’s 30 people standing out on the street like there is a fire drill waiting for you to fix it for them. When that machine is down, the down time is so costly to a company they want it fixed now. And some tradies are just not interested.”
Vegh reiterates that you can’t underestimate the back-up service.

“Some of the bigger air compressor manufacturers, for want of a better description, are just selling boxes. That is all they do,” he said. “Once that is done, they are onto the next customer and that’s it. One of our biggest selling points is our after sales service. We have the Advanced Air and ELGi distribution network. We have 52 service technicians nationally, as well as New Zealand.

“If you need help at 11.59pm just before the whole country is waiting for the fireworks to go off on New Year’s Eve or 9.32am on Christmas Day, we will be there to help you. It’s the 24/7, 365 days a year help and support that we pride ourselves on. Selling a compressor is not the hard thing, it’s what you do for the customer in three years’ time that makes a difference.

“Each person who works in the plant prides themselves on the quality of the product.
“We have a rigorous checking process here in Australia when it comes to the ELGi gear we bring into the country. If it is not up to scratch we send it back.”

iBase’s IB995-based PICMG 1.3 full-size CPU card

iBase’s IB995-based PICMG 1.3 full-size CPU card is a slot-card server designed for the 8th Gen and 9th Gen (codenamed “Coffee Lake Refresh”) of Intel’s Core Processors with support for up to 8 cores and CNVi architecture for wireless connectivity devices. The new CPU card delivers cutting-edge performance with intelligent security and hardware monitoring features for real-time applications in process control, surveillance or Imaging in the field of automation, transportation, medical technology and digital surveillance markets.

This full-size CPU card is currently available in three models, integrated with different chipsets: C246 (IB995AF-C246), Q370 (IB995AF) and H310 (IB995EF) – all of which feature an M.2 storage interface with NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) that enables rapid storage with write speeds of up to 3500MB/s (7 times over SATA SSDs), and up to 32 GB of DDR4-2166/2400 memory.

Additionally, the board offers advanced TPM 2.0 to provide a high level of hardware-based security that carries out cryptographic operations for access control and authentication and prevent phishing attacks. With Intel AMT 11.6, remote maintenance of operating systems and Hardware enables IT managers to protect networked computers to improve service quality and reduce service operation costs.

The IB995 provides a wide range of interface and expansion flexibility. These include DVI-D, DVI-I and 24-bit dual channel video outputs, and three USB 2.0, five USB 3.0, five SATA III with RAID, four serial ports and two M.2 sockets (M/E key). It also comes with two Gigabit Ethernet, a PCIe x16 (from backplane), and four PCIe x1 expansion slots (configurable as one PCIe x4). The number of USB 3.0 and SATA varies, depending on the IB995 series.

Key features include:

  • 9th/8th Gen Intel Xeon E / Core i7/i5/i3 Pentium QC/DC processor, up to 4.7GHz
  • 2x DDR4 DIMM, max. 32GB
  • 2x PCI-E Gigabit LAN
  • Intel processor integrated graphics, supports DVI-I / DVI-D / LVDS
  • 3x USB 2.0, 5x USB 3.0, 5x SATA III, 4x COM
  • 2x M.2 socket (M/E key)

 

 

BioPak develops packaging using sugarcane pulp

New South Wales-based packaging specialist, BioPak, has developed a sustainable alternative to conventional plastic packaging, which delivers a positive environmental impact.

When we buy a product, we also buy any waste associated with it. In 2016, Australians sent 2.2 million tonnes of plastic and another 1.6 million tonnes of paper to landfill. The environmental impact of packaging waste, plastics, in particular, has become a global issue.

Public demand for improved sustainability and climate change action has resulted in the regulation and banning of single-use plastics in many countries and regions worldwide. This is placing pressure on the food packaging industry to switch to more sustainable options and is driving innovation in packaging.

An example of a high-volume single-use plastic is a disposable food container. It is convenient, safe, hygienic and commonly used for takeaway food. However, when made from conventional plastics, these containers are unsustainable and pollute the environment at every stage in their life cycle. Alternative single-use food-service packaging options with reduced environmental impacts are desperately required. These options need to be easily collected and recycled.

BioCane packaging is made from sugarcane pulp, also known as bagasse. It is the stalk residue remaining after the sugar has been extracted from the cane. Instead of burning this material, BioPak converts the bagasse into an easily moulded packaging raw material. This versatile material is suitable for creating packaging for a wide range of hot, cold, solid, and liquid products and it is ovenable up to 200°C.

The sugarcane packaging is certified home and commercially compostable, is free from contamination and is recyclable in the paper co-mingled recycling stream — making it a sustainable effective replacement for the ubiquitous plastic takeaway container.

BioPak has developed a range of popular sizes and has displayed its solutions at many consumer events and industry trade shows.

Tea bag plastics cause for concern

After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. It is estimated 281 billion litres were consumed in 2019 and this is a trend that is destined to continue to rise.

Around the world, teabags are becoming a staple in many markets. For example, in the UK 96 per cent of tea is purchased in bag form. Even in countries where leaf tea is still commonly consumed, the bag is now the primary method for launching new hot tea products onto the market. In 2017, these amounted to 87 per cent of launches in the North America, 75 per cent in Europe, and even 45 per cent in Asia-Pacific. The key to its success is its convenience.

Teabags have a problem – roughly 25 per cent of the teabag, excluding contents, is plastic. Global Plastic Action Plan (GPAP) estimates 8 million metric tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year and that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our seas. Thanks to programs such as BBC ‘Blue Planet’ the issue of plastic is now being recognised by governments and consumers around the world. Currently, the focus is on more obvious sources of plastic – single-use straws, water bottles and other food contact products. Stakeholders need to be aware, however, that the focus could soon shift towards items such as teabags.

READ MORE: Plastics save on wear and tear

In the UK, around 60.2 billion cups of tea are estimated to be consumed every year, with most being from teabags. Roughly 96 per cent of UK teabags use non-biodegradable polypropylene in their construction. This will be released into the environment if the teabags are not incinerated after disposal.

As a substance, polypropylene is already targeted in many markets to reduce its use. Under the EU’s ‘Single-Use Plastics Directive’, (EU) 2019/904, plastic use is already being addressed in food contact materials such as cutlery, plates, and straws. The ban will begin in 2021. No national ban exists in the US but several local jurisdictions have introduced bans. Even China has begun to introduce measures to restrict the use of single-use plastic, starting with straws.

Teabag manufacturers and brands should be aware of the way regulations are being used to reduce plastic use and stay alert to the possibility that it will affect them in the future. At the same time, they need to be aware that consumers are increasingly demanding more environmentally friendly products with less plastic.

The difficulty for manufacturers is that the meaning of ‘plastic-free’ is not always clear. Some brands are already claiming their teabags are ‘plastic free’ but this could refer to the use of polylactic acid (PLA), an alternative to polypropylene. PLA is a bio-plastic made from plant materials instead of oil. The problem is, many experts, and Directive (EU) 2019/904, consider bio-plastics to still be a form of single-use plastic.

True alternatives to plastic are, at the moment, rather limited. Obviously, there is the option to use leaf tea. Manufacturers can also stitch their bags together using cotton thread. Other attempts have so far proved to be problematic. One manufacturer is currently working with Sheffield University to design a teabag that will be classed as ‘industrially compostable’ but not ‘plastic-free’. This means it could go for food and garden waste recycling, but the heat generated in a domestic compost heap would not be high enough to break it down.

Creating a truly plastic-free teabag is proving to be difficult but that does not mean regulators and consumers will not begin to turn their attention to the amount of plastic in teabags in the future. There is already a clear advantage among consumers in being able to promote a product as ‘plastic-free’, even if this means free from oil-based plastics.

Stakeholders are now advised to consider the way markets are likely to develop in the future in order to remain compliant with regulations and gain competitive advantage.

Nestlé announces collaboration with Burcon and Merit for plant-based ingredients

Néstle has announced a collaboration with Burcon and Merit, two key players in the development and production of high-quality plant proteins. This partnership will enable Nestlé to further accelerate the development of nutritious and great-tasting, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives with a favorable environmental footprint.

The partnership combines Nestlé’s expertise in the development, production and commercialization of plant-based foods and beverages with Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification technology, while leveraging Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities.

“Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology,” says Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. “The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages.”

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers and product developers located in 8 R&D centers that are dedicated to the research and development of plant-based products. To complement its internal capabilities, the company also strategically collaborates with researchers, suppliers, start-ups and various other innovation partners.

Nestlé’s plant-based product range includes pea, soy- and wheat-based burger patties, sausages, mince meat, chicken filets and various prepared dishes. The company also developed pea and oat-based dairy alternatives, almond-, coconut- and oat-based creamers, plant-based coffee mixes as well as a range of non-dairy ice creams. It also recently announced its plans to launch vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon, designed to complement its existing plant-based burger patties.

Burcon Nutrascience is a global technology company with a portfolio of patents related to composition, application, and manufacturing of novel plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soy, hemp, sunflower seed and various other crops.

Onsite injury prevention and management: beyond the treatment room

According to the latest update from SafeWork Australia, body stressing injuries topped the list as the most common injury resulting in a claim (36 per cent).

Taking a proactive and preventative approach to musculoskeletal injuries onsite is proven to affect the duration of an injury, while also reducing the risk of it going to claim. This is great not only for your employees, as they remain productive and at work, but also for your business.

READ MORE: The four steps of food safety systems

“The World Health Organisation (2008) has clearly identified the workplace as an important area of action for health promotion and disease prevention.” – Comcare, Effective Health & Wellbeing Programs

What should you look for in an onsite health provider?
An onsite healthcare provider is more than just ‘the person who comes to you’ for injury treatment. A qualified and experienced allied health professional will partner with you, fully integrating with your workplace.

With a focus on injury prevention and management, an onsite health provider will:

  • Identify how a worker is using their body to perform their role
  • Understand the injury and health risks associated with each task being performed
  • Identify underlying health conditions that may affect injury recovery and outcomes (diabetes, for example)
  • Develop tailored return to work programs

Learn more about Work Healthy Australia’s approach to Onsite healthcare here.

A physical presence onsite, dedicated treatment / rehabilitation space and key stakeholder engagement are key to a successful onsite program. But the proactive and preventative elements of an onsite system of care will be informed by the valuable treatment data and health insights that are gathered along the way.

Data example: Body region by length of service
In this example you can see that the top 3 body regions being treated are shoulder, lower back and neck.

Data Source: Work Healthy Australia

If we look closer, we can see that 85 per cent of these injuries have occurred in workers who have been with the business for under three years.

Data Source: Work Healthy Australia

Why is it important that an onsite health provider records this information?
A skilled onsite provider will be able to use and interpret treatment data to help you improve your processes, programs and ultimately help you reduce your risk of injuries in the workplace.

The example given above could form the basis for your approach to your induction program, a targeted strengthening and exercise program, or it may even inform your pre-employment medical process.

“Work health and safety improvements are best achieved when health and safety is supported by the organisation’s culture and embedded in its procedures and processes.

–SafeWork Australia, Australian Work Health & Safety Strategy (2012-2022)

Everyone wins with an onsite program
Engaging workers is key to maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. When a successful onsite system of care is implemented, workers can:

  • Better understand the importance of adhering to health & safety processes
  • Contributed to a positive safety culture
  • Utilise treatment services at the appropriate times
  • Safely perform their duties; and
  • Feel valued in the workplace

By utilising specialist onsite services to develop an effective system of care, businesses can experience positive change in the health and safety of their workplace.

Onsite care, including the integration of onsite treatment, provides:

  • Easy access to allied health professionals
  • Less disruption to worker schedules
  • A close-up and unique understanding of the workplace environment
  • Positive employee morale and workplace culture
  • Direct communication lines with relevant safety supervisors and management
  • Tailored data driven solutions
  • A focus on productivity efficiencies

If you’d like to find out more about implementing an onsite system of care in your workplace, contact the team Work Healthy Australia.

Wholefoods online store packages its commitment to environment

An Australian online wholefood store is upping the ante on reducing its carbon footprint by moving to compostable packaging made from 100 per cent vegetable material.

Lismore-based Affordable Wholefoods sells quality bulk organic, non-organic and gluten free wholefoods in resealable, reusable packaging but wanted to offer a more environmentally friendly option.

Mark Evans, owner of Affordable Wholefoods, said customers are happy with the current option, “But we wanted to give them a choice. More people are looking for ways to reduce waste. That is why we are seeing people move towards reusable and compostable packaging,” he said.

“Since we opened in 2008, we have been searching for a more eco-friendly packaging option. But nothing we tested made the grade. Our packaging needs keep the products fresh from the time of packaging to delivery. With many of our customers in rural and remote areas, that’s important.”

Evans and his team’s search lead them NatureFlex; based on cellulose, which is one of the most naturally abundant organic materials derived from renewable resources such as wood pulp from managed plantations.

“We heard great things about its ability to keep items fresh, which was exactly what we were looking for. Being 100 per cent home compostable, now that was speaking our language,” Mark said.

Affordable Wholefoods did not rush the packaging to market. “We tested it over and over, sending parcels to ourselves and back again to see how well the food travelled,” Evans said. “The results were spectacular. Every single time, the wholefoods arrived fresh.

“This is another way we commit to sustainability. Whether our customers use our soft zip lock bags that can be reused repeatedly for food storage or the new NatureFlex bags, which can be disposed of in worm farms, green recycling bins or home composting systems, it’s another step towards reducing plastic, which is important for the environment.”

 

 

Unifying control systems in the food and beverage industry

Many food and beverage plants have incrementally upgraded their systems over the years, with them now being a complex network of distributed control systems (DCSs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Connecting a mix of DCS and SCADA systems into one master system can have multiple benefits. Here, Darcy Simonis, Industry Network Leader for ABB, explores how a single integrated system architecture can benefit plant operators and managers alike.

The first SCADA systems were independent, with no connectivity to other systems and were traditionally used for operating and monitoring production in a plant. The evolution of SCADA capabilities means that the new generation are now more advanced.  Modern systems can remotely monitor and control operations with coded signals over communication channels and log data for auditing purposes

The importance of collecting, storing and analyzing data is crucial, but this increase in data raises new questions of cybersecurity. If systems are not maintained and software becomes outdated, SCADA-based systems can be left open to vulnerabilities. For this reason, operators should regularly review their systems to protect them against cyber-attacks.

With an increasing amount of data, a DCS system can process a large amount of current information, however the failure of one controller affects more than one loop and requires a skilled operator to minimize downtime. In the food industry, any period of downtime can have catastrophic effects and can result in lost production. With new challenges faced by SCADA and DCS systems, unifying all operations into one master system is key to improve efficiency.

Coupled with technological advancements, rapidly changing consumer demands in the food and beverage industry have forced manufacturers to adapt quickly to retain a competitive edge. Consumers expect traceability throughout the entire supply chain, meaning the need for real-time continuous data is essential. Digital transformation in the food industry continues to be driven by these two key trends. So, what do these shifts mean and how can a move towards an integrated digital operating environment benefit food manufacturers?

Control system modernisation
Unifying control systems into one fully integrated system provides the synchronization of all applications and devices involved in the manufacturing process. This allows for the successful merging of information flow from DCS and SCADA systems, so that it is available in one interface in real-time. And one of the best means of unifying these communications is by using a single industrial software system.

ABB’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is an award-winning solution that allows users to optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance as well as a host of other benefits. These include powerful data analysis, improved quality, targeting areas for efficiency improvement and business-wide visibility. ABB’s system allows users to visualize pending tasks, work instructions, materials, equipment and quality test specifications, all of which are particularly important in the food and beverage sector.

Environmental factors such as trade instability, tightening industry standards and changing consumer preferences mean that manufacturers must ensure their MES is effective and secure to allow swift adaptation to new challenges.

Improved performance
The full integration of systems allows actionable information to be available in real-time to operators, often across multiple plants. Greater control and visibility of data improves security and allows for targeted improvements to processes. It also makes digital twinning feasible, where plant managers simulate plant operations virtually to achieve full plant visualization, support proactive maintenance and aid the decision-making process, not only from an operational but also from a cost-cutting perspective.

Secure reliable processing and an increase in manufacturing flexibility can boost efficiency and productivity, letting users optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance to the maximum.

Meeting industry standards
The food industry has been hit with numerous safety scandals, resulting in former UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove announcing a new law that will require manufacturers to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods from 2021.

 

Working to rigorous industry standards, key regulations and new manufacturing practices is vital. Plant managers in the food and beverage sector can improve the safety and quality of their operations, reduce unplanned downtime and mitigate food emergencies by viewing all data points in one place. Faster reactions to any manufacturing process anomalies can improve quality standards which also cuts down on wasted ingredients.

An integrated master system also allows for a shorter time to market for new products due to less delay. If less stock is held up at different stages of the process, this can reduce inventory levels and help raise quality standards.

The future of the digital factory
The successful integration of all systems in the manufacturing process means that plant operators can leverage the diverse capabilities of each system to improve productivity, cost-effectiveness, meet price competition, launch innovative products, and enter new markets. The consideration of multiple data sets with interconnected factors allows for businesses-wide improvement, which is essential in the current climate.

With many food and beverage companies now embracing an integrated control system, the future of manufacturing is digital.

What to consider when choosing lubrication systems for food and beverage processing equipment

When it comes to balancing between food and beverage productivity and compliance with safety regulations, selecting the right lubricant system for use with food and beverage processing equipment such as chain driven roller conveyors, is highly critical and can be challenging. By using proper lubrication procedures, businesses can reduce the risk of contamination and optimise their operations in the long-term. Contamination of food or beverage products can have a negative impact on manufacturers, leading to a substantial financial loss, lower productivity, and irreparable damage to business reputation.

John Sample Group, through its JSG Industrial Systems business, holds the distribution rights to SKF Lubrication Systems across the Asia Pacific. JSG Industrial Systems has been providing access to products and solutions from SKF which has the engineering competence to design state of the art bearing assemblies, incorporating customised lubrication systems that greatly extend maintenance shutdown periods.

For businesses within the food and beverage processing industry, JSG offers the SKF ChainLube systems for chain driven roller conveyors. Dependent on the application, this can incorporate either air assisted nozzles or airless oil projection type nozzles. These systems can be configured to ensure a food-safe, reliable, and easy-to-use solution.

The SKF Chainlube systems can be designed to operate in low and high temperatures between -25°C to 220°C, and high humidity as well as in applications where condensation might occur. In particular, the oil projection type nozzle system is specifically developed for food and beverage applications such as baking plants, proofers, cereals processing, freezers in ice-cream and frozen food processing, conveyors for calibration, washing, cooking and pasteurization, and conveyors for fruits, vegetables and meat processing, among others.

An example of the wide range of systems that are available is the SKF Model CLK Chainlube system, which includes a central unit with an oil reservoir of 7.5 litres capacity that precisely delivers a metered volume of lubricant to the points of friction of each chain link whilst the chain is in operation. This solution also uses double projection nozzles to project the lubricant on the lubrication points; a chain roller sensor that emits a signal used to control the volumetric piston pump when the system is in lubrication phase; and two stainless steel tubes to deliver the metered lubricant quantity from the central unit to each nozzle. All of these features make this solution suitable for the particular requirements of the food and beverage industry.

Some advantages found by companies when using the SKF Chainlube systems are that these systems help prevent foreign body ingress and reduces energy consumption and maintenance costs compared to manual lubrication. Additionally, the system eliminates the risk of lubrication points being missed through human error, decreases chain wear, improves productivity by eliminating unplanned downtimes, and enhances operator safety by reducing intervention for maintenance.

JSG Industrial Systems designs, develops, and supplies engineered industrial systems which increase assets lifetime, reduce operational risk and contribute to environmental sustainability. The company has paved the way to growing the lubrication systems business in Australia and other regions. It provides access to products and services for a variety of global sectors including food & beverage, mining, transportation, agriculture, marine, energy, construction, and manufacturing.

 

AIP offers the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Program

In today’s challenging packaging environment, you can’t afford to make mistakes or overlook the critical details that cost precious time and money. You need the knowledge—from materials properties and selection to transport packaging issues—that can help you make better decisions regarding your company’s packaging dollars—now.

The Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course content is developed in consultation with packaging subject matter experts at leading global consumer packaged goods companies who face packaging challenges just like yours. Undertake the complete course and learn about all the major segments of packaging—and beyond.

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), in partnership with the IoPP, are bringing the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course to Australasia as a residential course for the first time in 2020. The residential course is divided into semesters to provide maximum flexibility around your work schedule. This course is also the basis for the examination side of the Certified Packaging Professional Designation; bringing you one step closer to becoming an internationally recognised CPP.

Take the entire course
Participate in the full Fundamentals of Packaging Technology residential course which will be broken up into 8x classroom days

as 4x semesters over 12 months.

OR

Attend Semesters relating to your subject-interests or knowledge gaps
Content is divided into 4x Two-Day Semesters with each semester focussed on specific areas of packaging. You have the choice

to enrol in one semester, or as many as you wish based on your professional development needs & knowledge gaps.

The Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential course will be broken up into 4x Two-Day Semesters over a 12 month period. An extensive array of packaging topics will be covered including graphic design, market research, printing, lithography, gravure, labelling, barcoding, paperboard, folding cartons, corrugate fibreboard, box compression, supply chain and logistics, polymers, extrusion moulding, flexible packaging, thermoforming, blow moulding, injection moulding, closures, bottle design, metal cans, adhesives, containers, glass packaging, packaging machinery, filling machinery, production line equipment and more.

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester One
Day One – 29 April
Day Two 30 April
Viewpoint, St Kilda, Melbourne

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Two
Day One – 22 July
Day Two – 23 July

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Three
Day One –16 September
Day Two – 17 September

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Four
Day One – 18 November
Day Two – 19 November

Industry 4.0 delivers opportunities to manufacturing in 2020

2019 was another interesting year for the manufacturing sector. Competition and cost cutting forced manufacturers to operate more efficiently and as a result, the industry turned to Industry 4.0 for its long-term benefits.

More than a fad or buzzword, Tim Keech, Sales and marketing director for SMC Corporation says that Industry 4.0 is here to stay, and it’s set to have a major impact on the industry in 2020.

“Manufacturing has become increasingly competitive. We’re competing both locally and on an international front where many manufacturers are already advanced in the implementation of IoT (the Internet of Things) solutions,” said Keech. “Australia should leverage the benefits of implementing Industry 4.0 solutions to remain competitive.”

Keech notes that challenges around cost reduction, energy savings, compliance with environmental initiatives, effective supply chain management and stringent health and safety standards can be alleviated through the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.

READ MORE: SMC’s smart thermo-chillers for peace-of-mind

“Some of the most recent challenges addressed by Industry 4.0 solutions is meeting the evolving expectations of consumers, such as immediate access to products and services and access to more detailed information about the products. Smart manufacturing helps to meet this demand and we see this trend continuing to grow and influence production in 2020.

“With changing technology comes a change in job skill requirements. Both production and people need to evolve at a rapid pace. “We need people who can interpret and utilise the data which Industry 4.0 will bring. This is one of the major challenges facing the industry,” said Keech. “This skill can only come through on the job experience, making it critical for STEM undergraduates to be closely aligned and integrated with industry.”

Developing talent
SMC has been evolving not only as a business also as an employer. The company has a keen focus on upskilling and developing their workforce to meet the needs of the changing economy.

SMC has developed a Cadet Program to attract and retain talent. “Through much-needed skills transfer, we are training technical people in sales, operations, logistics and administration to ensure they have a comprehensive overview of the business. These cadets are earmarked for future roles in the business and will be highly adaptable to changing economies,” said Keech.

In addition, SMC is placing more engineers in the field of energy savings and has been setting up digital transformation departments. “Our clients look to us to provide them with insight into automation trends. As a multinational with over 60 years’ experience, we draw on global expertise and skills to ensure that our local teams are trained up and ready to add value.”

Security and IOT
Keech believes that no one company is immune to cyber security threats and that these continue to have major implications on business. “Fear of such risks may initially hamper the appetite for investing in Industry 4.0 technology. It is however a matter of educating customers with industry proven solutions and processes that are available to limit exposure and protect their business.”

The challenge of our environment
Keech notes that shrinking resources, climate change and power hikes continue to affect business. “We cannot ignore this factor. It puts pressure on the supply chain and impacts our ability to compete – both locally and globally. Drought conditions continue to affect our farmers and we are now finding that reduced access to reliable water is having similar impacts on the mining and manufacturing industries.”

Supporting Australia’s 2030 climate change targets, SMC’s energy saving efforts remain active and continuous. “Many manufacturers are starting to realise the hidden costs of compressors running inefficiently throughout their plants. The recent success of SMC with several multinational manufacturers demonstrated real savings at the compressor.”

According to Keech, SMC’s team of engineers work closely with customers to meet their energy saving mandate. “We have the ability to identify areas of savings, from something as simple as identifying excessive leakage through to optimising the pressure and flow through the use of regulators, boosters and more.”

“2020 promises to be an interesting year but manufacturing is gearing up for the changes that are required to remain competitive,” said Keech.

Sustainable packaging extends the pomegranate season

Consumers can enjoy pomegranates for an extended season due to StePac., which has been pioneering advances in pomegranate packaging since 2003. The company introduces its latest range of sustainable packaging solutions for preserving the freshness and extending the shelf life of pomegranates and their extracted arils.

StePac has expanded its range to include new recyclable solutions, as well as packaging formats tailored to automation of both bulk and retail packing.

In spite of their tough exterior, whole fresh pomegranates host a range of challenges that arise with prolonged storage. In the absence of proper protection, the fruit can suffer significant dehydration and weight loss, causing it to shrivel. This may be accompanied by the development of skin blemishes and crown decay that eventually leaches into the fruit and impairs the quality and taste of the arils.

From orchard to table
StePac’s pomegranate packaging portfolio incorporates long storage packaging formats to meet the requirements of growers seeking glut management solutions for post-harvest bulk storage.

Pomegranate growers and packers are now able to load fresh-picked pomegranates directly at the orchard and store up to 400kg of the fruit in each specialized StePac Xtend® bin liner for periods of three months or longer, with no negative effect on the fruit. This is in addition to storage liners for weight of 10-80kg that are already widely used in many countries.

The Xtend line also includes unique carton liners that offer the ideal solution for maintaining fruit quality during the lengthy shipments to distant locations.

Leaner flowpack packaging for whole fruits
StePac developed film structures containing a unique sealing layer that facilitates leaner packaging and induces savings of up to 40 per cent in material use as well as reduced labor costs, by enabling pomegranates to be flow-packed in both bulk and retail formats.

100 percent recyclable retail packaging for arils
The company recently finalized development of fully recyclable Xgo lidding films and standing pouches to add to this category of retail-packaging products. These solutions are designed to inhibit postharvest microbial decay and extend the shelf life of extracted pomegranate arils for up to 17 days, preserving the fruit’s organoleptic properties. The lidding films are available in lean easy peel and resealable formats.

The company’s comprehensive range of lean and sustainable packaging solutions is designed to maintain pomegranate freshness throughout all stages of the supply chain. The technology is based on a unique modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system that reduces respiration rates and ethylene production for a combined effect of slowing down ageing and ripening. It also inhibits the proliferation of pathogens.

Water vapour transmission technology enhances performance
StePac has developed a comprehensive repertoire of films with built-in abilities to regulate water-vapor transmission rates as well as provide optimal modified atmosphere conditions. The films incorporate distinct properties to cater to a range of pomegranate packaging applications.

“During prolonged storage of this fruit, it is paramount to strike the perfect balance between eliminating excess free moisture to mitigate the risk of microbial decay and to concurrently avoid excessive product dehydration,” said Gary Ward, business development manager for StePac. “Such balance depends on multiple synergistic factors, including surface area to volume ratio, produce weight, supply chain length, and shipping and storage conditions.”

“Pomegranates are in demand in every continent.” Ward enthuses. “The global reach of our technology is instrumental in addressing the challenges facing the pomegranate industry and for ensuring that both the whole fruit and the extracted arils reach the consumers— wherever they might be — in prime condition, while keeping waste to a minimum. Our holistic vision and pragmatic approach are embedded in a range of complex structures and packaging formats that deliver the extended shelf life and sustainability principles our customers seek. This approach evolved from our deep-rooted understanding and 25-year history of researching fresh produce pathology and physiology and its interaction with packaging design.”