Frozen foods can help reduce waste

Over one billion tons of food is wasted every year. The Food and Agriculture Organization also estimates that in developing countries, up to 40 per cent of total food produced can be lost before it even reaches market. As such, implementing methods of safely storing and transporting food is crucial for being able to continue to feed the planet. Here, Darcy Simonis,  food and beverage group vice president at ABB, explains how frozen food can help reduce food waste.

Food and beverage manufacturers understand that they must reduce food waste to improve profitability and their environmental impact. Freezing is a simple way to preserve food for long periods of time, particularly as food can be frozen either directly at the source or once it has gone through processing. This flexibility to preserve perishable food at the source is crucial across the globe. For example, in developing countries it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of root crops, fruits and vegetables are wasted due to improper transport and storage.

However, this is not to say that producing frozen food is simple. There are many different and complex processes that must work together to deliver frozen food to the consumer market. For example, freezing, storing and maintaining temperature during transportation all require specialist technology to properly maintain the product and ensure that it is kept safe for consumption.

Freezing methods
Freezing is a well-established food preservation method. However, it is a delicate task. If large ice crystal form within the products cells it can easily destroy the cellular membrane of the product, which can not only alter the thawed products taste but can potentially make it unsafe for consumption.

There are three main freezing methods; air blast, contact and immersion freezing. Each of these methods has a number of additional variants to cater for specific food types or cellular structures, which can affect the ability to freeze and subsequently thaw food correctly.

Air blast freezing works by passing products through below-freezing air flows. Since air blast can freeze products on the move, this method benefits rolling production. Contact freezing is when products are placed between two metal plates with internal cooling systems. This method is three times faster than air blast but is only suitable for products with two flat surfaces, such as prepackaged items.

Immersion freezing requires products to be immersed or sprayed with liquid refrigerant. There are a variety of different refrigerant liquids available, however, the most common are liquid nitrogen or a mixture of ethanol and dry ice.

Regardless of the method, freezer components must be tough to cope with the drastic temperature shifts between their insides and outsides. Furthermore, to keep up with hygiene requirements in the food industry, freezers must be regularly and thoroughly cleaned. This can mean that certain parts, such as paint, can corrode which could contaminate the food products.

For this reason, at ABB we provide motors that have been designed from the ground up to only include unpainted components. These motors are made for use in freezer applications where the rapid changes in temperature — from 25 degrees to minus 30 degrees Celsius — and humidity from 0–50 per cent, can lead to flaking and chipping on painted motors.

Cold supply chains
Cold supply chains are the leading modern method for transporting items that must be kept at a constant cold temperature. In a cold supply chain, every part of storage and transportation is temperature controlled to stop products from decaying. Food products can be very sensitive to temperature fluctuations, with sudden changes often leading to premature spoilage.

In fact, research demonstrates that there are several key variable factors in the food spoilage process: pH, water activity, salt content, gas composition, pressure, humidity and temperature. Of these, temperature is the main instigator, as when a product is stored above its individual temperature limit it can encounter rapid bacteria growth, which accelerates decay.

Modern food supply chains are also long, meaning that keeping produce at a constant temperature is vital. However, due to the rigorous standards that implementing a cold supply chain requires, not everyone is able to use them. This is because the window of temperatures at which products must be kept is very narrow, so any deviation and the produce will be deemed unsafe and rejected. As such, the cold system must be able to be monitored and controlled from start to finish.

Therefore, paper controls and monitoring cannot keep up with the precision needed for cold food supply chains, because they can only register an average temperature. Accurately controlling the temperature inside cold storage requires a smart system, because multiple sensors can record and analyze a constant temperature.

For example, imagine a refrigerated container being kept at minus eight degrees Celsius to store frozen fruit. If one of the cooling systems was to malfunction, a paper-based system would only register a slight anomaly in temperature variation. A smart sensor-based system would be able to identify exactly which cooling system was malfunctioning and directly identify the affected packages as well as alert maintenance and monitoring teams.

ABB’s ControlMaster range offers a choice of communications options. Ethernet communications provide the ability for users to be automatically notified of critical process events via email. The systems also allow for remote monitoring through the ControlMaster’s integrated webserver, or by simply using a standard web browser.

Overall, freezing is an extremely flexible method of preventing food waste. It can cater for all types of food and, though intricate, the tools for implementing cold supply chains are prevalent and widely accessible.

As food consumption and the global population continue to grow, food waste must be reduced. One easy method of achieving this is extending the life span of the products on the market. Freezing food is a well-developed technique that can reduce food waste in all parts of the food chain and hopefully, the one billion tons of food wasted every year will be reduced.

iBase launches new IoT gateways with TPM security

Backplane Systems Technology has released iBase’s New AGS100T/AGS102T IoT Gateways with TPM Security.

The AGS100T/AGS102T compact fanless platforms offer maximum reliability and longevity support, featuring wide-range operating temperature ranging from -40°C to 70°C depending of CPU required with dimensions of 160 x 110 x 44mm. Both models are suitable for space-constrained applications in harsh environments that require devices equipped with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology.

Powered by Intel’s Apollo Lake Atom x7/x5 series, Pentium N4200, and Celeron N3350 SoCs, the systems enable seamless and secure data flow to the cloud in IoT-focussed applications with enterprise-grade security, and easy manageability.

AGS100T/AGS102T gateways come with an extra advanced security TPM 2.0 chip to provide a high level of hardware-based security. By using TPM together with Windows 10, these devices carry out cryptographic operations for access control and authentication. TPM enables integrity measurements during system boot and makes TPM-based Key unavailable outside the TPM to prevent phishing attacks and authorization value guesses.

The Rugged AGS100T feature 4GB DDR3L-1866 DO-DIMM, 64GB MLC industrial-grade mSATA SSD, dual-display ports (DVI-I and DisplayPort), 4x USB 3.0, 2x GbE, 2x COM, DC-in Terminal block for 9V~36V Input and over/under/reverse voltage protection. The AGS102T has the same features as the AGS100T but has two extra serial ports for COM3/COM4 and GPIO 4-in & 4-out multi-purpose interface.

Expansion are available with a full-size Mini PCI-E, 2230 M.2 E-Key Socket for WLAN & BT, a 3042 M.2 B-Key Socket for WWAN & SSD, mSATA Socket (Mini PCI-E), and a 2242 M.2 B-Key Socket for mSATA SSD.

Features of the product include:

  • Intel Atom x7-E3950/x5-E3940/x5-E3930 / Pentium N4200 / Celeron N3350 Series processors
  • Rugged and fanless design
  • Over/under/reverse voltage protection
  • Wide-range operating temperature from -40°C to 70°C (12W Max. CPU) and -20°C to 60°C (6W CPU) (E Series CPU)
  • 9V~36V DC wide-range power input
  • Supports DIN-Rail mount and wall mount & TPM 2.0
  • 2x RS232/422/485 (AGS100T) / 4x RS232/422/485 (AGS102T)
  • GPIO 4-In & 4-Out with isolation (AGS102T)

Of seahorses, eczema and organic food

After growing up on a property in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and being involved in growing food from a very young age, Emma Greenhatch’s career was always going to involve food. How a nominee for Social Leader of the Year at the 2019 Women in Industry Awards came to be working in the Sunshine Coast after nearly a decade working for the Victorian Government in a range of food industry-related roles, is a compelling story.

“My daughter had severe eczema since she was a baby,” explained Greenhatch. “We had a holiday on the Sunshine Coast four Christmases ago and after a week in Mooloolaba, her skin was completely clear for the first time in her life. Despite having just moved from Gippsland to Central Victoria, the prospect of her not having to battle this condition made it an easy decision and off to the Sunshine Coast we headed.”

And it wasn’t as if there was a job waiting for Greenhatch when she arrived in sub-tropical South East Queensland.

“I was completely open to what I would be doing up here,” she said. “Before the Victorian Government, I had been involved in micro businesses, developing export markets for live seahorses believe it or not – so I have an affinity for small businesses and start-ups.”

After spending the first few months exploring the beautiful beaches and hinterland, Greenhatch was engaged by Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) to write their inaugural Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book. One of the companies she interviewed was Gourmet Garden for their lightly dried herbs and their head of Innovation – Jacqui Wilson-Smith, who is a founder of the Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) and the current chairperson – invited Greenhatch along to a FAN networking event in March 2016.

“I was amazed by the openness in the room that night. There was an energy that’s hard to describe until you attend a FAN event. Collaboration has become such a buzz word but here it was happening right in front of me and it was real. I was so inspired that I joined the FAN board as a director for six months, before moving into an operational role and being appointed general manager,” said Greenhatch.

Established by the industry for the industry, FAN is a not-for-profit food industry cluster that has been operating for 3.5 years. It was founded on the basis of larger food companies “giving back” by sharing their knowledge, experience and resources with small businesses.

FAN’s mission is to empower the food industry to grow together, and today, they have 280 members from across the Greater Sunshine Coast including input suppliers, growers, manufacturers, retailers and service providers. Greenhatch said that this is purposeful because if the industry is growing, then the whole value chain is growing. This has a positive ripple effect throughout the wider economy. On clusters, Greenhatch says that they can address opportunities and develop solutions to problems that individual businesses may not be able to solve on their own. They foster a culture of co-opetition, where businesses simultaneously compete and collaborate in non-threatening areas.
Europe has a long history of businesses clustering, in Australia it is relatively new.

Greenhatch is excited about the prospect of FAN creating a sustainable cluster model that can be used as a benchmark for new clusters starting out.

“For the first two years, we focussed on building a culture of collaboration by bringing members together as much as possible to learn and share. As relationships and trust developed among members, they started working together and coming up with ideas for FAN programs and services. An example of this is 10 of our members share a national relationship manager who helps them to increase their sales and distribution.”

There have been hundreds of member collaborations – everything from developing new products and utilising each other’s waste, to sharing freight and supporting each other at trade shows.

This time last year FAN was very much in start-up phase, with the majority of FAN’s revenue coming from FAN’s members, sponsors and partners. It was fortunate to receive matched industry funding under FIAL’s Cluster Programme, which has transformed the business. It has gone from a team of two to six and expanded its member services.

One of these was Meet the Makers, FAN’s own mini tradeshow that was held in March this year. More than 400 people attended this event to sample products from 65 FAN members and hear their stories.

Although FAN is not-for-profit, Greenhatch sees it as an entity similar to an SME. And it’s not just because of the size of the cluster, but also the similar dynamics that both it and small businesses share.

“We are a small business like 85 per cent of our members. It is a rewarding job going on the journey together because we really understand the challenges of running and growing a small business,” she said.

FAN has had a strong community of supporters from the outset including local councils, corporates and research organisations.

“We are led by our industry members but those relationships with different levels of government and other industry stakeholders is vital,” said Greenhatch. Not only do they contribute funding that helps FAN to grow, they offer many programs and services that are relevant to our members. And because we work so closely with our members, we can provide valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that our food and agribusiness industry is facing and play an important advocacy role.”

Greenhatch says that critical to FAN’s success has been retaining an industry-led focus, consistently engaging with members and being very agile to quickly respond to an opportunity or member need. “We have a whiteboard wall in our office that’s covered in ideas from our members and we always have members popping in to our office at the Big Pineapple to share their news and ask for help.”

When asked what she loves most about her role, Greenhatch was quick to respond. “The people. The food industry is so diverse and full of incredible businesses and individuals with stories that most people never get to hear. We do and it’s such a privilege to be in a position to share these. We also have a unique opportunity to influence how the industry grows. We have recently formed a partnership with EPIC Assist to support more people with disabilities to work in the food and agribusiness industry.

“I believe that clusters like FAN are key to ensuring that we have a healthy, competitive and sustainable food industry into the future. In the words of Helen Keller: ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’”
www.womeninindustry.com.au

Sustainability at core of bulk oil business

While food safety is first and foremost a priority, conscientious consumers are increasingly calling for products that also meet rigorous environmental standards.

For nearly 20 years, Cookers Bulk Oil has placed sustainability at the core of its operations. The company has made it its mission to minimise its impact on the environment at every step of the supply chain. This is not just a case of making sure it reduces the amount of waste it creates, but that its running operations are also made as sustainable as possible.

With this in mind, the company provides a complete oil management solution across the broader food services industry. Its diverse customer base ensures it is able to service small to medium businesses, right through to major corporations, with high-quality cooking oils that meet industry standards. This includes an array of outlets that serve the food and beverage industry, such as restaurants, casual dining, cafes, takeaway, hotels and fast food establishments.

The two major products sold by Cookers are canola oil and a premium frying oil branded XLFRY Oil. In addition to a suite of other products, the company is able to manufacture blends that can suit the needs of individual customers.

The businesses’ lifecycle solution sees it source fresh Australian oil that meets industry standards. It delivers the oil via a fleet of trucks, which also pick up used oil that is converted into other, reusable commodities, such as biodiesel.

Garry Nash, general manager of sales at Cookers Bulk Oil, said the business initially started out with a focus on kitchen efficiencies. Over time, Cookers Oil increased its scope with recyclable solutions for oil management as sustainability became a focus for procurement.
“It’s really important for our customer base that they not only know where their oil has come from, but also where it’s going,” said Nash.

“When we pick up customers’ oil, they know that it’s coming back to our depots to be refined and given a second life in the biodiesel industry. That full circle approach helps a business understand and implement best practice.”

The company works with Australian oil manufacturers to refine products locally. One of the company’s key offerings is the use of storage units instead of tins, preventing 300 tins from ending up in landfill for each truck of oil delivered. Nash said that there are a couple of benefits to this outcome – less impact on the environment, plus cost savings by not having to pay gate fees at the local landfill.

“Procurement teams in this day and age want a more sustainable approach to how they deal with their oils,” he said. “So, the fact that our model removes packaging and tins of oil from the supply chain is a really big tick.”

Each delivery is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to support traceability for customers. Food service organisations are supplied with purpose-built storage units and a business development manager to meet their requirements.

“We batch track every drop of oil that we deliver knowing the date we delivered it, what the product was and what the batch was, all the way back to when we received it.”

Cookers’ key point of differentiation in the food market is that it holds Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation for oil supply in Australia. SQF is a globally recognised food safety program that reinforces its commitment to safety standards in the industry.

Nash said SQF holds Cookers to a high account for its product traceability – an issue that has become topical with product recalls. He says product dilution is also another food industry issue that Cookers seeks to alleviate with transparent processes, as the company allows unannounced audits.

“Our business policy is our doors are always open to our customers and that means if they were to knock on the door unannounced, our warehouses can be walked through and viewed by anyone at any time and that is a requirement of SQF,” he said.

“It’s one thing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, but we feel that SQF is one step above that.”

Cookers also holds an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC). ISCC covers comprehensive sustainability requirements to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and ensure products are traceable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The used oil that returns to the depots is decrumbed, dewatered and heat treated to create a finished product sold off into biodiesel.

The company ensures its own operations are sustainable by harvesting and reusing rainwater at its sites, measuring and analysing its greenhouse emissions and using a wind turbine at its head office to supply 30 per cent of its factory power needs.

“We don’t just talk about sustainability, but live it and breathe it as a business ourselves,” Nash said. Nash also said that Cookers offers a national footprint with nine depots across Australia and the same service model and offering available around the country.

He said that Cookers Bulk Oil will continue to evolve its business to ensure it keeps pace with the ever changing industry practises and expectations.

“We think the amount of experience we have in the industry, and the investment that’s gone into the business to attain the certifications we do have, ensures customers can be comfortable that we will look after their oil management,” Nash said.

Mastering the complexities of supply chain data accuracy

The complexity of managing data integrity and alignment between trading partners often results in inefficiencies for both retailers and suppliers across operational and cost considerations. This issue is likely to grow in importance as supply chains become more complex through advanced automated distribution centres and new routes to market in an omni-channel environment.

Shoppers, consumers and regulators are demanding ever-more transparent product and value chain information in a digital format, underpinned by data in real-time context, at more granular levels than previously considered. The information must be correct and consistent at all times, and throughout the many sources of access available to these stakeholders.

Recognising, considering and discussing the challenges faced by trading partners is a first step towards retailers and suppliers raising awareness and levels of collaboration required to bring new products or product changes through the supply chain effectively, and to mitigate risks during this process.

Suppliers and retailers face a variety of challenges to achieve required levels of supply chain data integrity and alignment. Key challenges to suppliers include those driven by lack of certainty around final data points where products are still under final development through the pre-launch period. This could be through human error in interpretation, capturing and applying data. Or it could be through lack of visibility into the current specific data in retailer or other stakeholders’ systems to check if it is indeed correct and aligned with the supplier.

Retailers face further challenges as they rely on suppliers to keep them updated on the status of the data points, and their own internal functions to maintain alignment across a variety of data repositories, which can be amended by various parties. There is an increased risk that interpretation and re-measuring by various distribution centre functions could lead to even further misalignment. This is particularly relevant in an automated environment where measurement of dimensions is critical to operational effectiveness.

To further complicate tasks associated with supply chain data management, shipper/carton dimensions can be impacted by issues such as crushability of packaging in transit, variability in specifications and dimensions supplied by upstream contractor (including internationally) and the weather and air moisture content. It is therefore necessary to introduce tolerances to avoid bringing processes to a halt every time a slight variation to a dimension occurs on any given package.

The Australian Food & Grocery Council’s Trading Partner Forum is a combined FMCG supplier and supermarket retailer body focussed on delivering end-to-end supply chain efficiency. It has released the first in a series of modular guidance documents to support improved accuracy and alignment for supply chain product master data in the industry.

The Supply Chain Master Data Integrity and Alignment Guide describes the complexities of managing foundational data points such as shipper and pallet dimensions and weights, and coordinating data management between trading partners. It is useful in the lead up to new product launches or product changes. The guide provides advice and support information to help FMCG suppliers and their supermarket retailer trading partners achieve better levels of data accuracy and alignment using easy-to-understand language and promoting best practice collaboration.

The Guide is freely available at https://bit.ly/2KAicxx

How to make money from your wastewater

We often hear about innovation in the food industry as it relates to core business. Whether innovation is thought of as new product development, packaging design, or adoption of concepts like automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) or even blockchain, it is easy to focus on the glamorous, as opposed to the pragmatic aspects of future business.

Wastewater ranks among the most important sustainability challenges facing our agri-food system. As populations increase, product demand grows, as does the need for effective wastewater solutions. In the hope that ground water salination and ocean acidification won’t be our leading legacy, innovators are working to transform wastewater from a hazard into a profit-generating asset that works with the environment.

Industry is now entering an era where wastewater is seen as an asset of a mature sustainable business. It’s time for wastewater to contribute to the bottom line. Project delivery company, Wiley, has explored how to stop money from going down the drain and to make money off wastewater.

An example of next-generation wastewater treatment comes from the Norwegian company BioWater Technology. Its unique biofilm carrier blocks are designed to grow micro-organisms that efficiently absorb pollutants from the water. This process has proven effective in treating biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), a characteristic of food wastewater, which makes it harmful to the ecosystem.

Key to BioWater’s success is the ability to work with food processors. With outflows varying in richness, volume and temperature, it is easy to kill or overwhelm bio-wastewater processing organisms. BioWater can keep up with this fluctuating input and delivers excellent water processing outcomes in a cost-effective and energy-efficient way.
BioWater’s approach is a good solution for removing pollutants, however, it doesn’t transform wastewater into a revenue-generating asset.

To produce revenue from wastewater, algae is the food industry’s secret weapon. Algae has been used in two distinct ways in the management of waste. First, algae can be grown off the nutrients in wastewater, producing high-value bioproducts as the nutrients are extracted, cleaning the water. Second, algae can sequester carbon from the exhaust of coal and gas boilers, directly reducing the emissions of energy generation, while producing the same high-value bioproducts.

The opportunity for the food industry is that food processors bring together both a nutrient-rich wastewater stream and CO2 rich smoke. With these two resources at hand, it is possible to provide everything an algae culture needs, giving a unique edge to the food industry in profitable waste management.

If successful, this concept means food processors may cease to pay for wastewater treatment and will instead profit from their nutrient-rich waste stream by selling valuable bio-products. As a bonus, this will slash their direct CO2 emissions.

This kind of cooperation with biology is indicative of how industrial waste could be processed in future. The algae-based value generation concept is effective because it works with the organism, providing everything it needs through combining multiple waste streams. In this way, a small but complete ecosystem can be created, developing untapped value and transforming the food system from – an impost, to a constructive piece of the sustainability puzzle.

These ideas are still at the early stage, but conceptually speaking, it is certainly possible to grow algae and produce bioproducts directly from industrial waste streams. The economics of these solutions may take some time to develop but investment continues to flow into these areas and more solutions will begin to surface. As innovative companies enter the market, one thing is certain – profiting from waste streams will be too compelling for the market to ignore making this approach part of the future of responsible food businesses.

Getting milk from farm to fridge quickly

Swinburne will lead a research project valued at over $2 million to develop new technology that will get milk from farm to fridge more quickly, enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of Australia’s $13.7 billion dairy industry.

The ‘Live Inbound Milk Supply Chain Monitoring and Logistics for Productivity and Competitiveness’ project (Milk Supply Chain Project) has just received $600,000 under round 7 of the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P).

CRC-Ps are designed to improve the effectiveness of Australian research by bringing researchers and industry together to solve real-world problems and deliver tangible outcomes.

Swinburne’s two-and-a-half-year project will develop an Internet of Things (IOT)-based system that links dairy farms, milk carriers and a milk processor, and allows live monitoring of milk supply chains. The data collected will enable highly accurate milk supply forecasting.

Swinburne’s Milk Supply Chain Project will be conducted in collaboration with Bega Cheese, Telstra and three Australian milk suppliers.

Director of Swinburne’s Internet of Things (IoT)  and project researcher,  Professor Dimitrios Georgakopoulos, says the project will improve operational efficiencies and create opportunities to generate revenue.

“We will be using cutting-edge technology, including over 700 sensors, to measure specific aspects of the supply chain. We will also use Telstra’s newly-deployed Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network, which is Australia’s largest IoT network and one of the largest in the world,” Professor Georgakopoulos says.

“The data collected by the IoT sensors will find trends to make production schedules more efficient and enable highly accurate milk supply forecasting. These collectively enhance the chain’s productivity and competitiveness,” Professor Georgakopoulos says.

Swinburne continues to celebrate industry research success
This Milk Supply Chain Project is the fourth Swinburne project to receive funding under the CRC-P grant scheme since it was introduced in 2016.

Separate rounds have allocated funding to:

  • develop a new and unique biodegradable and renewable bio-based oil
  • introduce an Australian graphene characterisation and certification capability, and
  • investigate high-performance energy storage alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.

Swinburne 4.0
This project is part ogF Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 Initiative, which helps global industry solve challenges and create opportunities from the profound changes wrought by the industrial revolution.

Swinburne is the only university in Australia with a holistic Industry 4.0 strategy and recently won the Australian Business Award for business innovation.

Palm oil-free certification trademark goes global

The Palm Oil-Free Accreditation Program (POFAP) has launched the world’s first Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in Australia. Now, two years on, POFCAP celebrates its second birthday with 1,088 products having been Certified Palm Oil Free with hundreds more currently under assessment. The trademark is approved in 19 countries – Australia, Scotland, Spain, N. Ireland, Austria, England, Wales, Sweden, the USA, Italy, France, Finland, NZ, Singapore, Norway and India with three others to be announced soon.

Jabrick – the cheeky little orang-utan featured on the certification trademark who was herself a victim of deforestation, will soon be seen on packaging globally.

Since inception, there have been many World Firsts for POFCAP. In particular, the world first assessments of a Vegetable Oil Producer and Manufacturer (MSM Milling/Australia), a Vitamin Brand (Viridian Nutrition/England), a ‘Free From’ Snack Company (Enjoy Life Foods/ USA), an Infant Formula (LittleOak/NZ), a Café (El Piano/England), a Cooking School (Squaw Pies/Scotland), a Cosmetic Brand (Sugar Venom/Australia), a Skincare Brand (Amaranthine/Scotland) and a Raw Material Manufacturer (Afyren/France).

READ MORE: Nestle pledges to user only certified sustainable palm oil

Palm oil use is widespread with the majority of supermarket products containing either palm oil or one of its many thousands of derivatives. The topic evokes robust discussion around both health and environment. With over 80 per cent of palm oil being produced unsustainably the concerns surrounding the impact on rainforests, wildlife and the climate crisis has seen many more people seeking products which are genuinely palm oil free, but, unless the product has been assessed by an independent and approved certification program it is almost impossible to tell which palm oil free claims are correct as many are not.

About the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP)
POFCAP the only International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in the World launched in Australia in late 2017 and is now Global with approval to certify brands in 20 countries. POFCAP assesses products as to their palm oil free status. Two of the programme’s aims are to assist consumers who wish to avoid palm oil for allergy, dietary or ethical reasons when shopping for genuine, independently assessed palm oil free products and distribute 100% of profits to POFCAP’s Partner NGOs working to protect rainforests

Xplanar streamlines drive systems for the modern era

The ground-breaking XPlanar system from Beckhoff offers boundless potential for streamlining production machines and plant design. It utilises planar movers that float freely over floors of planar tiles that can be arranged in any kind of pattern.

What characterises the new XPlanar drive system is that it is based on the principle of flying motion. Like the XTS linear transport system, XPlanar is much more than just a drive system – it’s a solution designed to make product transport flexible. Compared to XTS, XPlanar adds movement in a second dimension and allows the movers floating over floor tiles to overtake one another and to be held in buffer zones or to bypass them. The free-floating planar movers also have a further important advantage – because of the contactless drive principle, they are silent and completely wear-free.

So, what kind of functionality does this system provide for implementing transport tasks?
“Basically, a transport system simply moves products from one processing station to the next – from A to B, then from B to C, from C to D, and so on,” said Prüßmeier. “With XPlanar, these stations need neither to be in a linear arrangement, nor visited in a fixed sequence.

This means that a given product need only travel to those stations that are essential for processing it. By incorporating the second dimension, XPlanar opens up several other options, too, including the ability to discharge individual movers from the production flow, or to create special waiting zones in order to optimise processing sequences. Enabling faster movers to overtake slower movers is also important, as it allows sub-processes to be executed swiftly, in parallel. Not only is each planar mover controlled individually, as a single servo axis, it can also be synchronised precisely with other movers if necessary.”

The movers can also travel with six degrees of freedom. They not only travel to processing stations, they can also move into them. They can turn, rotating the payload they are carrying through all three axes so that it can be processed or inspected easily from any side. The movers can also be raised or lowered slightly and even tilted. For example, a little tilt can be useful to prevent spills when accelerating quickly while carrying a container full of liquid.

In spite of all the complex motion options that XPlanar supports, the system is simple to set up and deploy from a user standpoint.

“Right at the start of the development process, we decided it was important that the system should be highly integrated and that users would only have to plug in two cables – one for data communication over EtherCAT G and another for power supply,” said Prüßmeier. “As a result, all other functionality has been fully incorporated into the modules. Design-wise, they are also extremely compact – the distance between the working surface of each planar tile and the carrier frame beneath it is just 4cm.”

The system builds on one basic component – a planar tile measuring 24 x 24cm. The tiles can be arranged in any floor or track layout. In addition to this standard tile, there will be another version in the future, identical in shape and size, over which planar movers can rotate through a full 360 degrees – that is to say, infinitely. The movers available differ only in terms of their size and their load-carrying capacity. They currently range from 95mm x 95mm for payloads up to 0.4kg, through to 275mm x 275mm, for a maximum payload of 6kg.

The TwinCAT software also plays a key part in the system’s ease of use.

“Our main objective is to make sure that users find the planar motor system easy to manage,” said Prüßmeier. “In TwinCAT, the planar movers appear as simple servo axes, capable, in principle, of supporting all six degrees of freedom. However, given that the degree of flexibility available with six axes is not always needed from a practical perspective – or, at least, not throughout the XPlanar system – TwinCAT provides a way to reduce this complexity. It does this by representing each mover as a one-dimensional axis capable of optional additional movements in other dimensions – lifting, tilting and turning, for instance – that are available when it reaches a processing station. This means it’s enough, initially, to just set the desired route, or track, across the XPlanar floor. This simplifies operation significantly.”

And how important is TwinCAT Track Management when implementing complex motion sequences?

A key factor in XPlanar’s flexibility is that its ability to transport products is not confined to the aforementioned single tracks, according to Prüßmeier. Users can define additional tracks, and movers can switch between them. To keep things simple for users, even when operating multiple tracks, TwinCAT offers Track Management, a user-friendly tool designed to support complex motion sequences, including the ability to overtake slower movers on the same track, or to accumulate movers in waiting zones. To do this, it allows users to define parallel lanes, bypasses, or tracks to other plant areas on the XPlanar floor.

Track Management allows movers to switch smoothly from one track to another via a short parallel segment. All this takes is a “switch track” command, without users having to deal with the specifics of merging in and out of the flow, or avoiding collisions. Movers can also be positioned with freedom, without having to follow any preset tracks. Using Track Management, they are sent to specific coordinates within the defined XPlanar floor space – again, without any risk of colliding with other movers.

According to Prüßmeier, there are plenty of advantages for the users for building a XPlanar floor from individual tiles.

“Here, too, we put flexibility front and centre,” he said. “The tiles can be arranged in any shape – and even wall- or ceiling-mounted – so the XPlanar system can be configured to perfectly suit a given application’s requirements. For instance, you can leave gaps within the tiled floor to accommodate processing stations, or lay tracks around plant components. This means users can set up a transport system in a cost-optimised fashion and, at the same time, reduce machine size to a minimum. In addition, it’s easy to modify the planar motor system subsequently just by adding more tiles when necessary, that is, to accommodate new processing stations or gain extra space to optimise motion through curves.”

And how can users best exploit this innovation’s potential? According to Prüßmeier, XPlanar opens up new avenues in machine and system design. Users need, literally, to experience the system’s new possibilities hands-on in order to grasp them, so at market launch Beckhoff is offering easy-to-use starter kits, just as it did with XTS.

“These consist of 6 or 12 planar tiles installed on a carrier frame, along with 4 movers and a small control cabinet with an industrial PC, complete with preinstalled software, and the requisite electrical components,” said Prüßmeier. “This offers machine builders an ideal basic kit on which to trial XPlanar in their own environments and then go on to use later in real-life applications. In addition, offering this kind of preconfigured system makes it a lot easier for the Beckhoff support staff to answer any questions that might arise.

Prüßmeier also said that there are almost no limits on using it with production plants and machines. The only requirement is that a product’s weight and volume are within the limits of what the planar movers can carry. Where this applies, users can benefit from all the system’s flexible positioning capabilities. These are particularly interesting in sectors with special requirements in terms of hygiene and cleanability, zero emissions, or low noise.

This is the case in the food and pharmaceuticals industry, as well as in laboratory environments or processes that require a vacuum (in semiconductor production, for instance). The latter two sectors in particular can benefit from the fact that products are carried on floating movers, abrasion- and contamination-free. Depending on the needs of a given application, users can also apply plastic, stainless-steel foil or glass plates to the XPlanar surfaces to make them easy to clean without residue.

XPlanar was first exhibited at the SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg in November 2018, with the product attracting interest among visitors.

“It also spawned lots of ideas for possible applications, because many users have been looking for a flexible solution to solve specific transport problems in their production facilities for years now,” said Prüßmeier.

He gives an example from food processing.

“In the production of high-quality confectionery, there are always minor deviations in the colour of chocolate coatings,” he said. “This is not a problem as such, provided there’s no variance within individual boxes of chocolates. However, at a production rate of 100 chocolates per minute, selecting 10 individual chocolates with the same colour for each pack is difficult using conventional means. It would require using several pick-and-place robots to check and sort all the chocolates, which would be costly in terms of time, floor space and throughput rate. The problem can be solved much more efficiently using individually controlled planar movers operating on a single floor. Movers transporting individual chocolates could easily sort themselves at the end of the production line according to the chocolates’ particular shade of colour. Or, if movers were designed to carry an entire box at once, each mover could automatically travel to the system ejection point for the appropriate colour of chocolate to pick up the products. Both of these approaches could be implemented much faster and, importantly, with lower space requirements than, for example, the robot solution I mentioned.”

Beckhoff has already received specific inquiries from the laboratory automation sector, where there’s interest in maximising the flexibility of analyses. For the most part, samples are tested for the same substance content, but less common analyses also need to be carried out for the purpose of individualised diagnostics.

Even with mass analysis methods, XPlanar offers a way to extract individual samples; it also creates additional quality assurance advantages by making it easy to discharge or exchange particular samples. There’s similar demand in the cosmetics industry, too. For example, in one particular case, fragrances need to be filled into selectable, customer-specific bottles that are individually labelled and packaged.

“The main difference is that the XPlanar movers don’t need a mechanical guide rail, so the system offers greater flexibility in terms of movement,” said Prüßmeier. “At the same time, though, the mechanical guidance in XTS can be an advantage. Compared to the magnetic counterforce of the planar movers, a guide rail allows better dynamics and higher speeds in curves, especially in very tight curves, and even when carrying a payload. The specifics of a given application will ultimately determine which of the two systems is the better option. The bottom line is that XPlanar and XTS complement each other perfectly.”

Breakthrough development in commercial production of natural aromatic compound

Conagen, a US-based biotechnology company focusing on research and development, announced today its breakthrough development in the commercial production of natural aromatic compound, γ-Decalactone from natural substrates using its proprietary technology. Found in many ripe fruits and particularly peaches, γ-Decalactone is a versatile compound used commercially in formulations with distinctive fruit flavours of peach, apricot and strawberry in food, beverage, fragrance, nutrition, renewable materials, and pharmaceutical markets.

The technology created for the γ-Decalactone product provides for more than 20 different lactones, many of which have not been available commercially because of a lack of reliable sources.

“The strengthening and expansion of Conagen’s lactone production platform will better meet consumers’ demand for nature-based, clean ingredients,” said Oliver Yu, Ph.D., co-founder, and CEO of Conagen.

The compound is a member of a much larger family of lactones. Variations in the structures of lactones define their unique sensory properties with mainly fruity and buttery characteristics. These diverse characteristics create a wider spectrum of application options for manufacturers that use lactone flavours in their products.

“Conagen’s lactone products are natural and non-GMO, making them ideal for use in a variety of consumer products,” said vice president of research and development, Casey Lippmeier, Ph.D.

McCrometer FPI mag, a new approach to accurate water flow measurement

The McCrometer FPI Mag is suitable for capital or maintenance projects, retrofits and sites never before metered. The unique combination of accuracy, ease of installation and total cost savings make the FPI Mag the perfect choice for a wide range of Municipal and Industrial Applications. It  is the next generation mag meter.

The FPI Mag meets or exceeds exacting industry standards of 0.5 per cent accuracy with 3rd party testing verification. The multi-electrode design and unique operating principle delivers accuracy unmatched by other insertion meters and rivals the performance of full-bore mag meters.

The FPI Mag is available in battery or solar powered options for forward flow sensors, enabling installation in remote applications without access to power. Additionally, with the new Smart Output feature, which allows the FPI Mag to connect to AMI / AMR systems through an encoded digital output.

The insertion design of the FPI Mag allows for easy, hot tap installation, which allows the meter to be installed without interrupting service, de-watering lines, cutting pipe, welding flanges, or inconveniencing customers.
Customers save up to 45% on installation and the total cost of ownership because the need for heavy equipment and added manpower required during a typical full bore, flanged meter installation isn’t necessary.

The FPI Mag has no moving parts and a single-piece design. The multi-electrode water flow sensor contains nothing to wear or break and is generally immune to clogging by sand, grit or other debris. The FPI Mag is available with forward-flow only or bi-directional measurement for line sizes from 100 to 3500 mm.

The sensor body is made from heavy-duty 316 stainless steel for maximum structural integrity and is hermetically sealed and protected by NSF certified 3M fusion-bonded epoxy coating.

Why industrial gases are important in fish farming

Fish is a nourishing, healthy food that is popular throughout the world. However, as the planet’s population grows, fish stocks in some oceans are dwindling. One way to address this shortage is fish farms. Popular in Europe, especially Nordic countries, aquaculture also occurs throughout Australia – from the tropical north to the more temperate climes of Tasmania.

Like any commercial venture, there are many facets to make it a successful enterprise. When it comes to fish farming, an essential ingredient are various industrial gases, which have many applications in aquaculture – from hatching the eggs through to when the final product is shipped for sale.

Air Liquide is a gas specialist that has a lot of information and experience when it comes to fish farming. Its Tasmanian sales representative, Grant Stingel, works closely with the industry, not only as a supplier of gases, but also giving advice on how much, what type and how often a certain gas needs to be applied to the various production processes.

The most prolific gas used in fish farming is oxygen. There are two main reasons it’s needed. The most obvious is to sustain the life of the fish as they hatch and are grown. The other is a little more interesting.

READ MORE: Cryogenics offers alternative freezing solutions

“During the production of farmed fish, one of the high cost inputs is the food,” said Stingel. “It can cost up to $2,000 a tonne or more depending on the species and feed type.

Maintaining a stable level of oxygen in the tank increases the fishes’ metabolism, which in turn increases the conversion of food into fish mass. So the Feed Conversion Rate (FCR) reduces, meaning lower feed costs per kilogram of fish.

“And if you’re talking tonnes of fish, you’re talking tonnes of food per day. In the larger aquaculture systems, maintaining stable oxygen levels in the tanks will increase production. If you can increase the growth of the fish each day by adding oxygen, this reduces the time the fish are in the water, which in turn increases efficiencies within the whole production cycle.

“Typically, modern land-based aquaculture farms use what is called a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS). This is essentially a water treatment plant to circulate and reuse the water. This plant uses pumps to push water through a series of filters to help purify the water before going back into the fish tanks,” said Stingel. “Oxygen is also used in this process to produce ozone to sterilise the water.

“In the inlet water to each of the ponds or tanks, the oxygen level is elevated by injecting oxygen, typically using a pressurised oxygen dissolver, to 120 to 140 per cent of normal saturation, depending on the biomass. This ensures that the respiration demands from the fish are taken care of and a stable growing environment is achieved.”

There are other applications where oxygen is necessary. Just before the fish are harvested, whether in ponds or sea cages, higher doses of oxygen are needed due to the fish being crowded into a small amount of water within the harvest area. This ensures that the fish are not as stressed before processing, giving a better end product.

Also, in some farms, oxygen is used to supersaturate baths of water to treat the fish for pest and disease, such as sea lice.

With all the oxygen being used, what are the costs involved? Not as much as you would think, said Stingel.

“Oxygen is typically only about one or two per cent of the cost of your production but it’s very important,” he said. “It is an essential element to the fish farming process. In some cases, oxygen can be seen as just a commodity, but oxygen used efficiently can also add benefits to your production.

“Oxygen supply to fish farms is essential so we have engineering support available,” he said. “As far as technical support, we can calculate how much oxygen you will need for the quantity of fish in each system. Based on the calculated oxygen required, we also offer advice on the oxygen dissolving system best suited for the application. Measuring the efficiency of your existing oxygenation system is also something Air Liquide can offer.”

Other gases are also used once the fish have been processed. Oxygen goes from being the hero to the enemy once the fish are ready to be sent to Australian supermarkets or exported.

“After harvest, we use other industrial gases for packaging fish products,” said Stingel. “Some aquaculture companies use Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). This is a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide injected and sealed inside the trays often seen on the shelf at your local supermarket.”

The carbon dioxide inhibits bacterial growth, which will increase shelf life for the end product.

The nitrogen is to displace the oxygen and also maintain the package integrity so that it looks good on the supermarket shelf.

Another industrial gas used in the processing phase is liquid nitrogen, which is used to snap freeze the fish products by sending it through a freezing tunnel, which sprays the gas onto the product. This achieves a better quality product when thawed. This is because when a product is snap frozen, the cell structure of the food is maintained, meaning when thawed, the fish not only looks good, but tastes fresh.

“Even when it comes to the presentation of the food we can help. For example, dry ice produced from liquid carbon dioxide is used to add a bit of theatre at serving counters in restaurants or markets,” said Stingel. “As the dry ice thaws, vapour is formed, giving off a nice smoke effect. Dry ice is also good for keeping the product cold and fresh.”

In almost every stage in the production of fish in aquaculture systems there is potential to use an industrial gas of some type whether it is oxygen, nitrogen, argon or CO2. But the use of the various gases doesn’t stop there. Air Liquide can also provide gases for other, practical uses.

“The other application for industrial gases is for maintaining plant and equipment,” said Stingel. “With quite a lot of machinery involved in the process, you will also need oxygen and acetylene for heating and cutting, argon gas mixtures for welding, and LPG for heating and maybe also powering forklifts.”

Flowmeter helps with quick media changeover

Food safety and hygiene were in the news in June this year when eight brands of milk were recalled in Victoria and New South Wales amid fears that they had been contaminated by cleaning fluid.

Production plants need to be cleaned regularly when changing over batches or products. However, at the same time, the production process should be carried out as efficiently as possible.

The FLOWave flowmeter from Bürkert Fluid Control Systems offers extended functions, including the fast and precise detection of media changeovers. As a result, production steps can be clearly separated from each other and waste can be reduced without negatively impacting on hygiene.

The FLOWave flowmeter enables the precise detection of changeovers between different liquid types during food production. Especially in rinsing processes, rapid differentiation between product and rinsing water, or chemicals used in the CIP cleaning processes, ensures efficient process control and a high level of quality.

The device thus continuously measures the temperature-independent density factor. Based on this measured value, valuable products such as milk can be quickly and reliably differentiated from the cleaning liquid. Compared to conventional time-controlled processes, product waste can be minimised and costs saved. In addition, the amount of waste water treatment required is reduced as less product enters the waste water.
The flowmeter works according to the SAW method (Surface Acoustic Waves). This patented technology can also be used to measure the transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water. FLOWave utilises the propagation speed of the surface acoustic waves in the liquid for this purpose. The speed increases with the addition of alcohol and sugar. This also leads to an increase in the density factor of the liquid compared to water. However, the actual density of the liquid hardly changes depending on the alcohol and sugar content, since sugar increases the density while alcohol reduces it.

The transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water is therefore often very difficult to measure with conventional density meters.

The density factor not only indicates the media changeover between product and water, it also differentiates between liquids with varying contents of sugar. The SAW technology allows additional data to be obtained from the medium. In addition to the temperature, the flowmeter automatically detects possible gas bubbles and outputs the values in percentage terms. Possible process faults can thus be eliminated quickly and effectively.
SAW technology does not require sensor elements in the measuring tube. This means there are no pressure drops, sealing problems or dead spaces that would otherwise interfere with cleaning.

The sensors thus meet the highest hygiene standards and facilitate the qualification and validation of production and cleaning processes.

The Bürkert flowmeter also supports digital communication with direct connection to most fieldbus types such as Ethernet IP and Profinet, via a platform that guarantees simple transmission of FLOWave sensor data to all common fieldbuses. The maintenance-free, lightweight and yet robust meters can be mounted in any position.

Solid and perforated steel bake oven belts save time and money

IPCO offers a range of steel-grade belts to suit different needs and environments. IPCO 1100C grade is a carbon-steel product that is used by the bakery industry, while IPCO 1200SA is a stainless-steel grade suitable for applications such as food conveying, cooling, freezing and drying. Both are available either in solid form or perforated. IPCO also offers belt grades suitable for special needs, such as resistance to corrosion or abrasive materials.

However, it is important to note that the material, or grade, is only the start of the story.

Production of a belt requires the necessary mechanical properties of flatness and straightness to be engineered into the belt. The belt must also be able to transfer the heat from the heating media to the product in an even way. This means the colour of the belt surface is important. Consistent belt colour will maximise heat transfer and ensure an even bake. Specific heat treatments are therefore applied during the production process.

In terms of supply, IPCO can provide as much, or as little input, as an oven builder requires. This can be as straightforward as belt supply through to various levels of technical advice, or consultancy to ensure that the belt delivers maximum return on investment, as well as key conveyor components such as tracking systems and graphite stations ensure smooth operation. For instance, in cases of complete belt upgrades, moving from mesh to solid or perforated steel, IPCO will often supply all conveyor components – sheaves, bearings, framework and all other required accessories.

READ MORE: Steel belts offer versatility for the food industry

Wide belts for enhanced productivity
One area of increasing interest to many oven builders is IPCO’s ability to produce bake oven belts up to 3,500mm wide. This makes it possible to build wider ovens, increasing productivity without having to invest in factory extensions or new facilities. An oven with a 1,500mm-wide belt offers almost twice the productivity of one with an 800mm belt without any increase in the line length. An upgrade to an oven with a 3,200mm belt or larger, will increase throughput by a factor of four. The use of a steel belt of any size also has the potential to reduce baking times. The combination of a steel belt’s heat transfer qualities and comparatively low weight often means that belt speed can be increased, cutting baking time by as much as 25-30 per cent.

Reducing carbon footprint through energy efficiency
Bake ovens can account for as much as 45 per cent of a bakery’s overall energy consumption and as much of 25 per cent of this is used heating the conveyor belt. The bake oven belt can, therefore, have a major impact on overall energy costs so ensuring maximum efficiency here is important.

A solid-steel bake oven belt weighs 30 per cent less than a comparable mesh belt and therefore costs up to 30 per cent less to heat. And perforated belts weigh as much as 35 per cent less again.

As well as cutting heating costs, this weight advantage also means less energy is needed to drive the belt through the oven.

Apart from these energy savings, steel belts are also easier to clean being flat and smooth. This not only delivers savings in water and detergent but also means greater overall productivity, with time spent baking instead of cleaning.

And there’s an additional point worth making: these benefits don’t just apply to baking. IPCO belts are used across the food industry for cooling, freezing, cooking, forming and drying.

IPCO Australia enhanced technical and service support throughout Oceania
IPCO held the grand opening of its new Melbourne (Burwood Industrial Park) headquarters on July 9th. The company is owned by FAM AB, which is part of the Swedish Wallenberg group, and has production facilities in the Americas, Asia and Europe and a worldwide technical service for quick response wherever and whenever it’s needed.
As a partner to the bakery industry since 1925, the company has built long-term partnerships with both OEMs and end customers. IPCO engineers have a wealth of experience in supporting the bakery industry and can deliver the most appropriate solution for any requirement whether it is a new installation, an upgrade to an existing facility (from wire mesh to a solid or perforated belt), or simply supplying a replacement belt.

Branding and supply chain: why they matter

Danny Celoni is the Australasian CEO of one of the most recognisable names on the planet – PepsiCo. Having more than 22 years’ experience in sales, strategising and marketing throughout the Pacific and Asian regions, he is in a good place to see where Australian brands fit. Not only in terms of names themselves, but perceptions, too.

“[I think] Brand Australia has a lot of equity with a lot of our brands,” he said at the recent Global Food Forum held in Sydney. “PepsiCo has a huge snack portfolio including the likes of Red Rock Deli chips and Twisties and we are seeing Brand Australia becoming more prominent. We are well placed from a value-add perspective. It’s all about quality, food security, consistency – they’re core elements that make Brand Australia prevalent.”

Appearing on stage with Celoni was Sir Rod Eddington, who, among other things, is the non-executive chairman of brewery giant Lion. A Rhodes Scholar who attended Oxford, Eddington is a strong believer in having big ties to Asia. His Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun awarded to him by the Japanese government in 2015 for his contribution to strengthening economic relations between Australia and Japan is proof of that. And although he is a champion of local produce, he is slightly less optimistic about Australia’s brand presence. He believes Australian food producers have a way to go in the branding stakes. He cites Australia’s neighbours across the Tasman, and a home-grown example, as a prime illustrations of how Australia should be positioning itself.

READ MORE: 7 risks in the food supply chain that compromise customer safety

“We have a long way to go on Brand Australia to be frank,” he said. “The Kiwis have done a brilliant job. The 100 per cent Pure New Zealand brand is a very good one.

“The part of Australia that is probably closest to being in the right space is Tasmania. Tasmania has built a reputation for itself, over a long period of time, not only as a producer of world-class wool, but of world-class seafood and vegetables. I think there is some real examples to be taken from Tasmania. As good as Australian food is, it still doesn’t have an overarching brand with the quality that the Kiwis have delivered.”

Eddington also made it very clear that the supply chain has to be up to scratch. If it’s not, then it doesn’t matter how high-quality your food or beverage is, you will make no inroads into some of the more fickle, but lucrative, markets.

“If you are exporting fresh and chilled products including cold foods, then supply chain is critical,” said Eddington. “An hour on the tarmac in the sun can destroy the product. As a company, we are really focussed on what supply chains are best and there are plenty of places in Asia where they are good. Japan is good. Hong Kong is very good as is Singapore. There are parts of China – especially where you have to trans-ship goods – where you may have a problem.

“There are other places in Southeast Asia where there are opportunities, but, as yet, their supply chains are not strong enough. And if their supply chains are not strong enough, you can’t risk your product because it will affect your brand. We are very much focussed on working with shippers and transport companies that can deliver certainty around cold store supply chain. It’s not only just for us. If you are selling sea food, fruit, vegetables, chilled meat into Asia – and that is where there is a substantial opportunity – then you need to have the certainty of supply chain.”

One up and coming country is Vietnam. While not at the standard it needs to be for Australian exporters, the country is making an effort to get the infrastructure in place so that it soon will be a gateway for Australian cold store exporters to land their goods.
“The Vietnamese are in the process of upgrading their supply chain,” said Eddington. “It is not as reliable [compared to some other Asian destinations], but it is a real opportunity for our businesses.”

He was also quick to point out that it wasn’t that long ago that all the bigger airports in Australia had the problem of not very good cold store supply chain facilities. He is confident that many countries around the world, including those in Asia, will see the benefits of a reliable cold store chain supply.

What about regional Australia, though? The majority of the country’s food is grown in regions, so why not set up cold store facilities at the local airports and export directly to overseas markets? Fair point, said Eddington. While there are some places that are starting to do that, there are roadblocks that need to be overcome.

“The thing about cold store supply chains is that they cost a lot of money,” he said. “You need the throughput and volume to make them work.

“There was a time when our major airports didn’t necessarily have high-quality cold supply chains and they do now. For instance, Cathay Pacific offers a freight service once a week, hoping to go twice week, to Toowoomba.

“There is an opportunity to exports vegetables and fruit out of that area to North Asia. There are opportunities in the regions, but you do need to pick your mark carefully.
“If you want to deliver high-quality goods to North Asia – freshness and reliability is key. That really means the big airports have to have the facilities.

“The other thing big airports need to have – and is a big advantage of Melbourne’s over Sydney – is no curfew.”

It not only Asia that is opening up to Australian produce. One United States success story of a value added product doing well overseas is the Australian developed – and now owned by PepsiCo – Red Rock Deli chip brand. Celoni said that the added value aspect of Red Rock helped PepsiCo get into the commodities space. Red Rock has opened a few doors in terms of categories that PepsiCo is trying to enter.

“[We] need to make ourselves indispensable, by growing categories,” said Celoni. “We need to front up to retailers and see how we can drive more penetration, more frequency – high average-weight-of-purchasing dollars.

“[PepsiCo] needed a product in the premium segment and our US colleagues talked about [Red Rock] and what it was doing from a category perspective. It was all about the increase in dollars per kilo, the brand, and the pack architecture that we were able to mobilise to create value and different price points. They saw an interest in it, so we sent some over and did some consumer tests. It resonated with some of the retailers and created value and off it went.”

And it’s not only what Celoni calls PepsiCo’s indulgent portfolio of products that it is looking to expand, but it has recently delved into the healthy snack market. Again, branding is the key, especially when trying to get into Asia.

Celoni makes no apologies that the sugar-rich fare PepsiCo is known for will still be the mainstay of its business, but they realise that category expansion is key to any successful business going forward.

“We do see opportunities in the health and nutrition space, in what we call adjacencies,” he said. “It’s growing in double digit and it’s a segment that is reaching the billion-dollar mark, certainly in the snacking space.”

PepsiCo has recently acquired Bare Foods, which produces baked fruits; Health Warrior, which makes nutritious snacks and bars; and Muscle Milk, a protein shake brand manufacturer.

He said the company has gotten rid of some of its arrogance by realising it can’t do everything itself. Thus the foray into the health food sector.

“We’ve looked for what I would call, ‘best-in-class manufacturers’ that can make quality products,” he said.

“And we thought about how we think about from a category expansion perspective in terms of capabilities.

“So, we entered into health nutrition [sector] with Sun Bites, and we are doing more work with Off the Eaten Path, which is a brand being launched by the retailers in the health and nutrition space. It’s all anchored in making sure we give our consumers the right choice. We will continue to do more of that because obviously that is what we are asking for at the moment.”

Both men agree that Australia is heading in the right direction with its food exports, but that maybe the sector as a whole can do a little bit more to make sure it is making the most of the opportunities available. Being organised is the key, said Celoni.

“It’s about getting the right pipeline and getting in on consumer needs…and making sure our supply chain footprint and all the work we do with our farmers [is sound],” he said. “Ninety-five per cent of our production for our locally made products are sourced in Australia.

“That will continue into the future. With the 500-odd farmers we work with either directly or indirectly, we see a real source of growth, but we have to get a lot more meticulous in the way we plan.”

Why mass flow meters are important in fish farming

Fish consumption is rising. With the increase of the world population and the need for nutritious food, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives to “a nice slice of meat”. And they end up eating more fish or vegetarian food.

Specific species of wild fish are getting scarce in open water due to the impact of industrialised fishing fleets and overfishing. In a trend towards sustainable food production, fish farming is gaining increasingly interest.

Fish farming is the aquatic version of farming cows, sheep or chicken. For many years, humans have been farming food by having it grown in greenhouses, stables, or fields. Fish farming is heading in the same direction.

When people hear about fish farms, they might think of an aquarium, a little pond or a floating net. But in Norway, a major player in fish farming, people think on a larger scale. A typical fish cage near the Norwegian coast has a diameter of tens of metres containing 200,000 to 300,000 salmon. In the near future, these designs will upscale to one or two million salmon. In Norway, at the beginning of 2018, more than 3,500 cages for fish farming were floating in the sea.

READ: Multipoint thermal mass flow meters improve Boiler Air Preheater (APH) system efficiency

The country is expanding its knowledge and technology across the world, where people are interested in large-scale harvesting of fish in the sea – and maybe on land.

Salmon is a typical example of a fish that can be fish farmed. They need cold water – 7˚C-9˚C is what they like most, which is why this aquaculture is happening in the Northern Hemisphere, off-shore in the fjords. Salmon is a popular fish so there is a high demand.

Aeration
In fish farming, aeration is of vital importance. In addition to food, the fish need oxygen that is supplied in the form of tiny air bubbles – aerated – to the water. But aeration has other advantages, too.

In the early days, the salmon suffered from infestations of lice. Since salmon lice had an impact on harvest, the fish farmers had to look for solutions. For some reason – maybe it was an experiment or it happened by accident – the farmers started to purge air from the bottom of the cage.

And they observed that the movement of the fish started to change. Instead of circling day in and day out – as salmon normally do – they started to move around the cage and became more agile. If the salmon are more agile, their muscles have to work more. This results in their meat being of better quality. At the same time, the fish farmers detected that aeration helped them to create a more thermal friendly water environment. With an advantageous temperature, conditions and amount of oxygen, this resulted in a decrease in lice numbers. So aeration had two advantages: improving the salmon quality, and reducing the unwanted lice.

Aeration of fish farms using mass flow controllers
The process of aeration is simple. The air bubbles can be generated by natural water currents (off-shore, down-hill), pumps, impellers, variable area flow meters or by mass flow controllers and compressors.

A compressor generates compressed air from the surrounding atmosphere, and feeds this to the mass flow controller for controlled aeration of the water in the fish cages.

To run fish farms that are remotely controlled and without much manpower, automation is needed. This includes automated feeding. When the fish are fed, the air purging needs to be interrupted to give the fish the opportunity to hunt for the food before it floats out of the cage. In between the feeding periods, the aeration improves the condition of the water and the salmon.

It helps that mass flow controllers are remotely controlled from the control room at land. The aeration is stopped when the feeding starts, and when the feeding is over, the previous set point will automatically return and the water condition is as stable as it was before.
Mass flow controllers provide a potential for saving energy due to better conditions in the cage. The accuracy of the devices is important. Every cubic metre of air saved by the device being accurate – faster control or opening of valves – is of direct influence to the costs for running a compressor. In stormy weather, fish farmers can reduce the aeration, but during a long dry period without water movement, more air bubbles are needed. So essentially, this accuracy and flexibility leads to a better controlled environment.

With Mass-Stream mass flow controllers, farmers have a robust instrument, which is performing well in the harsh surroundings. By the manufacturer’s Bronkhorst’s standards, this kind of aeration is high flow. Typical air flows for a fish cage are in the range between 600 and 1,400 litres per minute.

Mass flow controllers for other types of aeration
Mass flow controllers are suitable for other types of aeration in aquaculture and agriculture. If users farm salmon, they need to breed the fish, which normally occurs on land. Fish eggs and young fish are even more vulnerable to changes, so the environment has to be more stable than for grown fish. Depending on the type of fish, the balance of oxygen in the water is delicate and has to be controlled accurately.

In algae farming, CO2 gas is one of the food components for these species to grow, which needs to be supplied under defined conditions.

A well-known application of aeration is in food and beverage industry. Every soda or carbonised drink is a liquid purged with carbon dioxide gas. Related to that, when packaging food, the packaging is purged with nitrogen to remove the oxygen before the food enters the packaging, as one of the steps to prolong the shelf life of the food.

Bronkhorst is represented in Australia by instrumentation specialist AMS.

Australian Pavilion set to expand by 15 per cent for FHA-Food & Beverage 2020

FHA-Food & Beverage is Asia’s largest food and beverage trade event that brings together the global food and hospitality industry and will be held from 31 March – 3 April 2020.

FHA has over 40 years of success in having the most comprehensive selection of high quality international products – making it the international sourcing platform for buyers in Asia. The event has expanded into two mega events – FHA-Equipment, Coffee, Bakery & Tea and FHA-Food & Beverage, to provide an enhanced experience and personalised engagement, to meet diverse demands of the food and hospitality industry.

FHA-Food & Beverage is the key business platform enabling the growth of the food and industry in Asia and beyond.

Export Solutions is the Australian Representative for FHA- Food & Beverage and have assisted Australian companies with their participation in FHA and coordinated the Australian Pavilion for the past 10 years.

Philip Litton, Director of Export Solutions says: ‘We have secured even more space for the Australian Pavilion at FHA-Food & Beverage in 2020, in the same great location in Hall 8 at Singapore Expo close to major distributors and other key international pavilions. The last edition of FHA in 2018 was a huge success, with the participation of 164 Australian exhibitors including nine state governments, industry bodies and government agencies’.

‘FHA is a must-attend trade show for Australian food and beverage companies looking to export to Asia. Whether you’re a new exporter, or one of the biggest names in the industry, the event provides the opportunity to showcase your products to real buyers from across Asia’.

“Our aim for the upcoming edition of FHA is to redefine participants’ journey at the events to enable more targeted and robust interaction, so that they can focus on strengthening existing partnerships or explore new collaborations. At FHA-Food & Beverage, we have new profiles such as FoodTech, Natural & Organics and Meat, to name a few, and supporting these profiles with conferences and seminars. We have also developed new initiatives such as the FHA Buyers Programme to attract top quality buyers from the region to the event,” says Martyn Cox, Event Director of Hospitality, Food & Beverage – Singapore, Informa Markets.

Australian food and beverage products enjoy an unburnished reputation in the Asian region for their high quality, safety and reliability. We are confident that these new initiatives and activities, coupled with the increasing interest in Australian brands, will ensure the presence of top buyers at the show”, he adds.

If you’re interested in exhibiting in the Australian Pavilion at FHA-Food & Beverage 2020 – click here or contact the Trade Fairs Team at Export Solutions on +61 8 9201 0331.

Why solid grease provides peace of mind for food manufacturers

Contamination of food and beverages during manufacturing is always in the back of the mind of those who run the processing factories. At any time during course of making product, plant and machinery could accidentally contaminate the goods, so it is important that best practices are in place once a production run is started.

And while best practices are a good start in keeping food and beverage items free from contaminants, there are some items that can help provide layers of protection during the production process itself.

According to precision mechanics specialist NTN-SNR, the average cost worldwide for product recalls in the food processing industry between 2010 and 2017 was just over $16 million. The most common reasons were foreign bodies found in the product, and contamination by allergens and/or bacteria. With that in mind, the company has produced LP09, a food-grade solid grease that lubricates bearings that are used in the food processing industry. It is designed to give food and beverage processors peace of mind if they are worried about bearing grease contaminating the production line. This particular grease is approved by NSF International, a US-based independent product testing, inspection and certification organisation.

“When you test your product and you find it is contaminated by foreign matter, that food needs to be scrapped and cannot be sold,” said Fabio Rebecchi, who is product manager for NTNCBC Australia who distributes LP09 in Australia. “One of those contaminants could be grease. Can you imagine how much that could cost a company if it fails its compliance?

“However, if a food product makes contact with LP09 solid grease, that’s fine because it complies to the NSF standards. You could ingest it without any harmful effects.

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More importantly, you won’t have to scrap the product produced and start all over again.”
One aspect that needs to be stated is that LP09 solid grease needs to be used with stainless-steel bearings that are also produced by the company, because the solid grease contains no rust inhibitor additives. Bearings are an important part of any manufacturing facility, including those in the food and beverage sector. NTN’s stainless-steel bearings will last up to 20 times longer than some of its competitors. And along with the LP09 grease, will do their part in making sure that a processing plant will be running at its optimum.

“It’s about peace of mind,” said Rebecchi. “This is what production and plant managers are looking for in their production processes because it not only helps guarantee their output and yield, it also leads to a reduction of rejects. From a consumer point of view, and as a manufacturer, they are making sure that they have a lot of it covered so the product comes out to the correct specification all the time. We are assisting and improving that process with this grease.”

What it also covers is compliance. This is something that is becoming prevalent as more standards and regulations are implemented. Consumers not only want to know about the calories, packaging and make-up of a product, but also where it came from and where it was processed and packaged. And under what conditions.

“The food and beverage processing industry is very highly regulated and is becoming more so,” said Rebecchi. “The world needs to be fed and there is a growing population so there is more governance within the industry where manufacturers need to be 100 per cent compliant. Plant managers will know that if they are using NSF-compliant grease from NTN then they are on their way to compliance.

“This opens up export markets. It’s also good as a corporation from a corporate social responsible point of view that you’re doing the right thing by the environment. You are eliminating waste. You’re producing to a standard to where your manufacturing processes are optimised all the time. This is what this grease allows you to do. Our bearings and LP09 solid grease are of very high quality and designed for specific solutions,” he said. “That is where our customers can get involved with our engineering and sales people for specific solutions to unique customer requirements. NTN will come up with a direct solution if possible.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au

                                   

Terms of reference released for Murray Darling Basin water market

The Coalition Government has today released terms of reference for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin water market.

The inquiry, which delivers on a Coalition Government election promise, will look at options to improve the transparency and efficiency of the water market.

It will also examine changes in water use, carryover water, trade between water valleys and systems and the effect of water speculators on the market.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that water was the lifeblood of communities in the Murray Darling Basin and it was important that the market operated in a transparent and effective manner.

“As with any market it is important to take a look at how it is performing and whether it is operating as intended and to the benefit of communities who rely on the Basin.”

Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Government had listened to the concerns of farmers in delivering on this election commitment.

“I promised this thorough inquiry after hearing from farmers as I travelled up and down the Basin,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Farmers told me they had concerns around changes in water use, trade between valleys and the effect speculators have on the water market.

“It’s important to make sure the market is operating as intended – our regional communities depend on it. We need a transparent market in which farmers have timely access to accurate information.

“I invite farmers to participate in this inquiry.”

The Government has asked for an interim report to be delivered early in 2020 with a final report by the end of 2020.

An outline of the terms of reference for the inquiry can be found via the Treasury website.

Drought-induced destocking of beef reaches record levels

Cow turnoff has reached record levels as severe water shortages across many key beef production regions have accelerated the pace of drought-induced destocking, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Cattle Industry Projections August Update.

Cow and heifer slaughter reached 58 per cent of total adult cattle slaughter for three consecutive months from March to May, as many beef producers continue to destock or manage significantly depleted breeding herds.

MLA Senior Market Analyst, Adam Cheetham, said total Australian adult cattle slaughter for 2019 is now forecast to increase three per cent year-on-year to 8.1 million head.

“Elevated female slaughter and poor conditions have combined to drive average carcase weights lower so far this year to 282.5kg/head,” Cheetham said.

“Despite national slaughter being revised higher, the lower carcase weights have underpinned unchanged production levels at an estimated 2.3 million tonnes carcase weight (cwt), two per cent below the five-year average.

“The lot feeding sector continues to support national beef production and has been a critical link in the supply chain during the prolonged dry period. The number of cattle on feed reached a new record in the March 2019 quarter and has remained above the 1.1 million head mark for the fourth consecutive quarter.

“This number is expected to remain high, given the challenges of finishing cattle on limited pasture reserves.”

Cheetham said the national herd is estimated to have declined 7.3 per cent, to 26 million head for the year ending June 2019, while estimated branding rates have also fallen, reducing the number of calves on the ground this season.

“On the upside, prices for finished cattle have improved this year and are likely to find continued support given an expected tightening of supply during the remainder of the year,” Mr Cheetham said.

“This year has seen the largest premium between the heavy steer indicator and the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) in the last decade.

“Young cattle prices have been reasonably subdued and, until seasonal conditions allow restockers to re-enter the market with confidence, the store market is unlikely to see any significant price corrections. However, if a solid break in conditions were to materialise, there is the potential for young cattle and productive female prices to experience significant increases.”

Cheetham said demand for Australian beef has remained robust this year, supported by a depreciating Australian dollar and rising demand from China.

“In the first half of the year, Australia’s total beef exports increased six per cent and grainfed shipments reached record levels. However, coming up against some supply constraints in the second half of the year, 2019 exports are expected to finish the year steady at 1.13 million tonnes shipped weight (swt),” said Cheetham.

“Dry conditions have also supported cattle exports, with total shipments up 19 per cent in the first half of 2019. Cattle shipments are forecast to finish 2019 at 1.15 million head, up six per cent year-on-year.

“Beyond the weather, factors such as exchange rates, production in the United States and cattle price movements, trade developments and demand from China will remain important price drivers for Australian beef.”

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