Huge bounty from local and overseas vendors at Fine Foods Australia

Fine Food Australia opened to large crowds at Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) with a massive range of products and services on display. This included a huge contingent from China, as well as other Southeast Asian nations such as Taiwan and Thailand, while the European contingent included representatives from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Germany.

As well as a bevy of taste sensations in both food and beverage, there were those exhibitors who also help with the packaging, safety and traceability of perishable goods. One such stand was occupied by barcode specialist GS1, who were having a busy day.

“It’s been really good,” said account director Andrew Steele. “For us it has been about getting our message out especially to the smaller companies that are starting up and they don’t know where to start, where to go or what to do. The most common issue people have is ‘how do I get a barcode?’, and ‘why do I need one?’

“Generally what we find at these sorts of events is that people come up with new, innovative type products but they don’t know what they need to do around barcoding and the like to get their products with some of the major retailers or online places like Amazon.’

And some of the other issues they are finding visitors are interested in?

“Traceability is becoming really big in food, as well as food safety and provenance. Consumers are certainly asking today more about what has gone into a product and they want to know the story behind it.”

A new player in the beverage space, AquaRush was busy all day. For the company, it wasn’t just about getting their product out there but also about finding local distributors as well as drumming up interest from overseas, according to national sales manager Marko Powell.

“We’ve had some really interesting bites from overseas,” said Powell. “We are looking for distributors for every state with our new range. We have nine new products out and today has been pretty full on that is for sure. All of these products we are introducing are new to the market so we are not copying anybody. Another stream we are looking at is selling some of our products as mixers for the liquor industry.”

Then there is Melbourne-based Cookers Bulk Oil who has had 100s of people go through its stand. The company has been on the go and made some good connections according to marketing manager Marianna Costa.

“The show has been fantastic,” said Costa. “We have been incredibility busy and meeting lots of people. We’ve had some good leads and numbers through. For us it’s about education and it’s about brand awareness. We want people to see and hear about our sustainability message at Cookers.’

Taking up two floors at the ICC, and with 900 exhibitors, the event has three more days to run.

 

 

Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 to showcase latest food developments

The 15th Malaysian International Exhibition of Food, Drinks, Hotel, Restaurant & Foodservice Equipment, Supplies, Services and Related Technology is all set to take place from 24 to 27 September.

Also known as Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 (FHM 2019), the event, which aims to catalyse the development of the food and hospitality industries in Malaysia, will cover 22,000 square metres of space at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre with 1500 participating brands / companies from 50 countries and 10 Country/National Pavilions. The four-day mega event is expected to draw more 28,000 trade visitors related to the food and hospitality industries from around the world, cementing the country’s position as a food and beverage hub of international repute.

Packed with conference programmes, technical seminars, educational talks, cooking demonstrations and displays of various types and ranges of produce and services FHM 2019 promises to be bigger and better, compared to preceding instalments of the show.  The trade event will leverage on key tech-driven strategies, with a keen realisation that strategic acquisitions are essential to ensure that this competitive marketplace remains current.

Participants can look forward to a myriad of opportunities for growing food and hospitality businesses while enabling industry players to stay on top of changing customer needs such as keeping in touch with the next generation of food production and understanding the ever demanding preferences of millennial consumers.

“Every edition we promise a bigger and better showcase than the one before and FHM 2019 is certainly gearing up to be quite unlike any other instalments in this series which resulted in a considerable take-up of additional hall space compared to previous shows,” said Mr Gerard Leeuwenburgh, Country GM of Informa Markets Malaysia on behalf of the organisers.

“An ideal avenue for companies targeting the Malaysian market, this is the only platform that offers participants direct access to crucial buyers from the hotel, restaurant and foodservice industries, bringing them the tools to sustain and expand their businesses. Our track record certainly speaks for itself and I am pleased to say that FHM 2019 is expected to see transactions taking place over the three days estimated to be between RM1.8 billion to RM2.2 billion – more than any other instalment in this series,” he added.

Among the new features of FHM 2019 are an Agriculture Pavilion and the highly anticipated Robotic Food Zone, alluding to the adaption of new technologies which have the demonstrated ability of increasing productivity and efficiency levels in the industry.

As in previous shows, FHM 2019 will once again be held alongside Culinaire Malaysia, where the crème-de-la-crème of Malaysia’s top chefs will compete in the “Malaysian Battle of the Chefs”. Culinaire Malaysia features over 1,500 entries and an assemblage of more than 1,000 culinary professionals, showcasing a stunning display of skills and talents in various disciplines and categories.

Also being held concurrently with FHM 2019 are the high profile In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences, which will include a plethora of conferences, among them the Food Innovation Conference 2019, Persidangan Inovasi Makanan Tempatan 2019, China-Malaysia Agri Food, Visit Malaysia 2020 & Beyond Conference, Malaysian Farm to Fork & Durian Conference, Persidangan Pengusaha Makanan 2019, Wilayah Persekutuan, Food Truck Malaysia 2019 and the Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship Skills Training. The In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences are also supported by Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based and Ministry of Federal Territories.

Other highlights which participants can look forward to at FHM 2019 are the B2B business matching sessions, a VIP Buyers hosted programme for top buyers across the ASEAN-region and live cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs which leverages on the FHM tradition of collaborating with world-renowned chefs at previous shows.

“With its multifaceted and all-encompassing character, there will certainly be something for anyone and everyone related to the food, beverage and hospitality industries, making FHM 2019 a truly unique event in itself that is definitely not to be missed,” said Mr. Leeuwenburgh.

FHM 2019 also comes at an opportune time as the country gears up for Visit Malaysia Year 2020. In 2020 Malaysia expects to see 30 million tourist arrivals, who will spend an estimated RM100 billion. FHM 2019 therefore certainly accelerates Malaysia’s preparedness to meet these demands while promoting entrepreneurship at every level in an inclusive manner,” said Mr Leeuwenburgh.

Organised by Informa Markets, Malaysia FHM 2019 is endorsed by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and is supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), and The Malaysian Food & Beverage Executives Association (MFBEA).

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.

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

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.

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.

Demand for fresh Australian vegetables continues to rise

The value and volume of fresh Australian vegetable exports have increased in 2017/18, following strong trading conditions in key export markets in Asia and the Middle East, and increased demand for Australian-grown vegetables.

The value of fresh Australian vegetable exports increased by three per cent to $262.4 million in 2017/18, Ausveg reports.

The industry is well placed to meet its goal of 40 per cent growth to $315 million in fresh vegetable exports by 2020, Ausveg explains.

The top five markets for fresh vegetable exports by volume in 2017/18 were the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, which make up just over 60 per cent of Australia’s total fresh vegetable export volume.

READ: Fight against fruit fly strengthened with technology

The top five markets for fresh vegetable exports by value in 2017/18 were Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with the top three of these markets making up over 50 per cent of the industry’s total fresh vegetable export value.

Ausveg national manager for export development, Michael Coote, said the vegetable industry has seen solid growth in exports across a variety of fresh vegetable products in recent years, with the whole vegetable category averaging 10 per cent year-on-year growth over the past three years.

“Carrots are the number one traded fresh vegetable commodity by both volume and value, with steady year-on-year growth over a sustained period of time indicating that demand for Australian carrots remains strong,” said Coote.

“Over 85 per cent of Australia’s fresh vegetable export volume is comprised of carrots, potatoes and onions. However, we still see positive growth in some other categories, including asparagus, which despite only comprising two per cent of fresh vegetable exports by volume, make up 11 per cent of fresh vegetable export trade by value and are the second highest value fresh vegetable commodity at $28 million,” he said.

Through its work in developing the exporting capabilities of the Australian vegetable industry, Ausveg undertook a wide range of activities during 2018 to help the industry improve its exporting capabilities, including:

  • Five outbound trade missions, taking 42 grower-exporters to key export markets to increase the capability for emerging and existing grower-exporters through in-market trade activities and knowledge-sharing among growers;
  • Six export workshops, which provided 44 attendees with practical and tailored knowledge about the export process; and
  • Eight new market access submissions for different vegetables into Asian markets.

“The industry has increased its focus on boosting the value and volume of its vegetable exports, with work being undertaken by Ausveg, Hort Innovation and other groups in building the exporting skills of Australian growers and providing opportunities to build relationships with foreign buyers, as well as supporting the Taste Australia trade program,” said Coote.

“We are working with growers to ensure they have the skills and knowhow to improve their ability to export their produce and capitalise on increasing demand for fresh, Australian-grown produce.

“We are also working closely with the Australian government and international trading partners to open market access for more vegetable commodities so that our growers can increase their exports into key export markets across Asia and the Middle East,’ said Coote.

App that challenges you to eat more vegetables

Scientists have come up with an innovative approach to tackling Australia’s poor vegetable intake, with the launch of a new app that challenges people to eat more veggies.

Using a gamified approach, CSIRO’s new VegEze app aims to motivate Australians to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge.

CSIRO nutritionists will also study how effective the app’s game-like nature is at helping transform people’s eating patterns, as part of a broader research study.

“We need a fresh approach to improve Australia’s vegetable consumption and overall diet quality,” CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes said.

“Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It’s time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits.”

Challenging users to eat three different vegetables at dinner every day for 21 days, the VegEze app helps people track their intake and tally up vegetable serves, with daily reminders and rewards to help people stay motivated and on-track.

VegEze4

“Committing to eating more vegetables every day is one of the most important ways we can improve our health today. Boosting your intake can be as easy as having three types of vegetables taking up half of your dinner plate,” Professor Noakes said.

“After just a few weeks using the app every day, users should feel more confident in adding more vegetables to their menu and notice some positive changes to their health and wellbeing.

“The beneficial nutrients and fibre from vegetables can help improve digestion, and fill you up – which can help reduce eating too much unhealthy junk food.”

Since May 2015, CSIRO has studied the dietary habits of more than 191,000 adults for its Healthy Diet Score research.

Eating three types of vegetables as part of the evening meal was found to be a key marker in having a better diet, but further research of 1068 adults showed some Australians were being held back from eating more vegetables by low awareness, lack of time and low confidence.

To help people overcome these barriers, the VegEze app features educational resources such as a visual guide to specific vegetable serve sizes, vegetable recipes, nutritional information and motivational rewards.

Information from app users will feed back into CSIRO’s study of Australians’ vegetable consumption, while helping to analyse the app’s effectiveness as an education initiative to improve Australia’s poor vegetable score card.

VegEze has been developed in partnership with Hort Innovation.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the vegetable consumption findings from the initiative will help Australian farmers cater to the needs of consumers.

“Consumer preferences are changing all the time – now it’s pre-packed convenience foods, as well as veggies such as kale and sweet potato. In the not too distant future it could be something else consumers are enjoying,” Mr Lloyd said.

“Research such as that generated from this VegEze initiative helps growers stay ahead of trends, while also encouraging Australians to eat well using a wide selection of vegetable options.”

The technology was developed in Australia in collaboration with digital health solution provider SP Health.

 

Green vegetables linked with better heart health

Getting more greens into your diet could cut your risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 40 per cent, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

Researchers from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied the diets of more than 1000 Western Australian women, focusing on nitrate intake derived from vegetables.

They found that over a 15 year period, those women who had the highest intake of nitrate from vegetables had up to a 40 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

Getting enough greens

PhD student Lauren Blekkenhorst, said the research was built on her previous study that collated data from around the world on the measured nitrate concentration in commonly eaten vegetables.

Nitrate is a compound that is naturally present in the environment and is essential for plant growth.

“We found that leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, and kale had the highest amounts of nitrate, followed by radish, beetroot, and celery,” she said.

“People get roughly 80 per cent of their average nitrate intake from vegetables so they are the primary source.”

How much is enough?

Ms Blekkenhorst said about 75 g per day (1 serve) of green leafy vegetables would provide enough nitrate to achieve these health benefits.

“This is about one cup of raw vegetables which shouldn’t be too hard for all of us to eat daily,” she said.

How does it work?

Lead researcher, Dr Catherine Bondonno, said that the bacteria living in our mouths were critical for the cardiovascular health benefits observed.

“The bacteria living on our tongue break down the nitrate that we eat into another compound called nitrite. Nitrite and other breakdown products play a key role in regulating our blood pressure,” she said.

“This is the underlying mechanism that is resulting in the long-term improvements in heart health.”

The study ‘Association of dietary nitrate with atherosclerotic vascular disease mortality: a prospective cohort study of older adult women’ was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. ‘Association of vegetable nitrate intake with carotid atherosclerosis and ischemic cerebrovascular disease in older women’ was recently published in the journal Stroke.

 

SPC releases first ever Australian-grown canned cherry tomatoes

SPC Ardmona is expanding its range with the introduction of Australian-grown Ardmona canned cherry tomatoes onto supermarket shelves.

Working with Australian growers in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, the launch of the Ardmona Cherry Tomatoes signifies a first for the industry, as Australians previously had access only to imported canned cherry tomato products.

The Cherry Tomatoes are launching in Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA) stores nationally. They are available on shelves at Richies Supa IGA and will be available at all other leading Independent supermarkets.

Ritchies Supa IGA CEO, Fred Harrison, said that the introduction of the Cherry Tomatoes marks a bold new step for the Australian food industry.

“Canned cherry tomatoes from Australia have been missing from shelves until now. We can finally give Australians the option to buy a home-grown product that tastes great and supports local growers,” he said.

“We’re especially proud to be first to market in Australia to stock the Ardmona Cherry Tomatoes. It’s a great sign of SPC’s commitment to supporting the Australian food industry – including growers and retailers.”

 

Country kids not eating enough vegetables – research

Regional and remote kids face unique challenges when it comes to eating the recommended amount of vegetables, new research has found.

An Edith Cowan University-led study has found that children in regional and remote Western Australia need a major boost of vegetables in their diets.

The study, involving children aged 9-13 years and their caregivers from across the state, shows that only a paltry 13.4 per cent of kids get sufficient vegetables in their daily diets.

While many might point to picky eating and a lack of cooking skills, only 11.8 per cent of

caregivers indicated that their children didn’t like the taste of vegetables. A majority also reported knowing how to incorporate vegetables into meals.

Nutrition lecturer and lead author Dr Stephanie Godrich from the School of Medical and Health Sciences said other factors are clearly at play.

“Over half of the respondents indicated they would eat healthier food if their food outlets stocked healthier options,” Dr Godrich said.

“And one-third pointed to food quality as being ‘sub-optimal’.

“This includes vegetables not being fresh in their local shops or spoiling soon after getting home.”

Price was also an issue, with 79.1 per cent believing food was more expensive for them than in other communities.

Choice was a factor – people who agreed they had enough food outlets in their town were ten-times more likely to eat enough vegetables than those who felt strapped for options.

On the plus side, researchers found healthy eating messaging to have a positive effect on habits; caregivers’ ability to recall messages relating to vegetables was linked to adequate vegetable intake among their children.

Promotion and intervention

One recommendation included the implementation of a promotional campaign focusing on vegetable consumption. Future messaging might remind families they have options beyond the fresh produce section.

“Frozen and no added salt tinned offerings provide more opportunities for children to consume adequate quantities of vegetables, at a more affordable cost and with fewer quality issues than fresh vegetables” Dr Godrich says.

“These are convenient, and they are usually more readily available when their fresh counterparts are out of season.

“However, improvements to regional and remote food supply are crucial. Town planning that facilitates multiple options for families to purchase vegetables and greater support for regional-level food supply could be useful strategies.”

Intake of vegetables is particularly important for children, with the vitamins, minerals and fibre shown to help prevent future chronic diseases and moderate weight. The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) stipulate that children 9-11 and girls 12-13 should have five serves of vegetables a day, with boys 12-13 needing five and a half serves.

This research was supported by a Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) research grant.

 

Children not eating enough vegetables – report

Children are not eating anywhere near enough vegetables and are relying too much on unhealthy snack foods for energy, the latest Chief Health Officer’s Report shows.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant today launched the report, What NSW children eat and drink, which shows that only one in 20 children eats enough vegetables each day.

“One in five children in NSW is overweight or obese so we all need to take a good look at what makes it onto the dinner plate,”  Hazzard said.

“A healthy diet sets children up for life – if we support parents to get it right early then they have the best chance possible of heading off potential health, and mental health, illnesses for their children.”

The report surveys eating and drinking habits of children aged five to 15, focusing on fruit and vegetables, treat foods, milk, water and sweetened drinks and fruit drinks.

Half of all kids in NSW eat an unhealthy snack every day and more than 40 per cent eat takeaway at least once a week, which is often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.

However, three in five children eat the recommended amount of fruit and nearly two- thirds drink enough water.

Dr Chant said the survey findings indicate far too many households regard treat foods as diet staples.

“Snacks such as cakes, biscuits and chips are no longer occasional treats – they make up almost 40 per cent of kids’ total daily energy intake,” Dr Chant said.

“Children should eat about five serves of vegetables a day. We know that diets that are low in vegetables are a risk factor for disease later in life.”

One of the Premier’s Priorities is to reduce overweight and obesity rates of children by five percentage points by 2025.

 

 

“Perfection” now just the starting point for Australian fruit and veg

Australian fruit and vegetable growers have been warned by a visiting US horticulture expert that while the quality of their produce is “better than ever before”, the demands of the average consumer now starts at “perfection”.

In Australia this month to meet with local growers, Rabobank’s California-based senior fruit and vegetable analyst Dr Roland Fumasi (pictured) said the list of qualities that buyers were looking for in fresh produce continued to grow and had changed markedly in recent years.

“Consumers now expect the quality of their fruit and veg to be 100 per cent perfect, 100 per cent of the time,” Dr Fumasi said.

“They expect it to taste amazing, look good and to be extremely convenient and they want this all year-round. And that is just the starting point.”

Dr Fumasi said to gain customer loyalty, growers had to appeal to the deep-seated values of consumers.

“When you look at the buying habits of the middle-class consumer, not only do they now want a high-quality product – they are also looking for staunch food safety, transparency regarding production, sustainable farm practices that leave a lighter footprint on the environment and assurance that farmers are looking after their employees.

“And while these consumer demands are increasing, farmers are now also producing their fruits and vegetables in a more complex environment than ever before, with rising labour costs, water issues, changing environmental policies and government red tape.”

With challenge comes opportunity

While acknowledging the challenge of delivering “perfect” produce, Dr Fumasi insists there is a lot of opportunity to be had for farmers intent on meeting these demands.

“While this trend for high-quality, ethically-produced food is most evident in developed markets, it is also increasingly being seen in developing markets,” he said.

“Along with the rise in the global population we are also seeing a massive increase in the world’s middle class, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Within the next 10 years or so, it is predicted that 66 per cent of the world’s middle- class population will live in the Asia-Pacific and it is in this group of people where we see the biggest growth in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.”

Dr Fumasi concedes that food safety and consistent quality are still the biggest drawcards for Asian consumers willing to pay a premium for Australian produce but that their demands are likely to catch up with western markets very quickly.

“When you look at developing Asia, we are seeing the market catch up at an incredible rate, so it is only a matter of time until there is a major sector of this market that has the same demands as local Australian markets,” he said.

Online shopping drives transparency

According to Dr Fumasi, the retail trends of grocery shoppers in the US have become increasingly fragmented and the same trend is being witnessed in Australia, particularly among millennial buyers.

“The younger generation seem to be very comfortable purchasing from a variety of retail sources including traditional retailers, farmers markets, and value retailers such as Costco and of course buying online,” he said.

“In the US we have grocery websites that have gained good traction because of their reliability, convenience, traceability and for their ability to share background stories on the produce they sell.

“At the ‘click of a button’ not only are you able to select from 20 different tomatoes, but you can also see where they were grown, how they were grown and by whom, along with nutritional information and recipe ideas.

“Customers are also able to leave reviews, so if the product isn’t up to scratch it won’t be long until the negative reviews start pouring in.”

Dr Fumasi said while big retailers were starting to understand the importance of telling the backstory of the produce they sell, it was also up to farmers to be proactive in engaging with their customers.

“Australia has an excellent reputation for producing safe, delicious, attractive produce and that brand equity is a good platform to build a conversation with customers,” he said.

“Being able to be as open and transparent as possible with an audience and giving them an insight to exactly who you are and what you do, will not only gain loyalty for your brand but is likely to reflect positively on the industry as a whole.

“Today’s consumer has an extensive list of demands from producers and the technology to find the information they want at their fingertips, so it is important that the Australian fruit and vegetable industry is proactive in engaging this consumer and telling its story, before someone else does.”

Responsible for analysing the North American fresh fruit and vegetable industries, Dr Fumasi combines a background in agribusiness research with international market development and finance experience in the agriculture industry.

Farmer Power launches new fund raising campaigns

Farmer Power,  has just launched two fund raising campaigns in partnership with APCO Australia to help promote and fund an educational campaign for the public and as a signal to the government to inform them on the issues within the dairy industry.

According to the news release by Farmer Power, they have said that the financial hardships that farmers are facing will not stop at Victoria but will also eventually impact on everyone, both personally and financially, if it is not addressed.

It has been reported across several news sources that rural businesses in dairy farming regions are in trouble with farmers being in debt. This was speculated to be due to the trickle-down effect of last year’s dairy crisis.

 

These campaigns are aimed at gaining assistance from the business fraternity in supporting Farmer Power in their endeavours.

They are also aimed at building support from both the public and businesses to bring about positive change for Dairy Farmers, but not only dairy farmers, but also regional businesses and rural communities which are all being directly  impacted by this crisis.

CSIRO maps out Australia’s food future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotten apples now readily identified

GP Graders has entered into a technology partnership with Ellips of Holland to revolutionise the ability for apple packers to identify apples with internal defects in order to meet the increasing supermarket demands which is crippling the industry.

“This cutting-edge technology will change the industry, and strengthen the packers ability to provide defect free apples to supermarkets,” said Stuart Payne, Managing Director, GP Graders.

The system uses light spectrometer technology and takes 10 images sliced across each apple to detect internal browning and core rot wherever it is located in the fruit.

The technology doesn’t just shoot a beam of light through the centre of the apple to look at the core in isolation, it also analyses the entire mass of the apple, slicing the apple at 10 incremental stages in order to check for internal rot or browning wherever it is located through the fruit.  This is a standout feature of the technology as older technology only took one light image through the centre of an apple.

Ellips Chief Executive Officer, Erwin Baker oversaw the installation operating first hand at GP Graders’ head office in Melbourne, Australia, where the technology has been fitted to an operating apple line.

Bins of apples were run through the system allowing GP Graders to intensively test and demonstrate the technology.

“The results were remarkable,” said Payne.

Of those apples discarded to an exit with a reading of internal browning and core rot, 100% of them in fact showed those characteristics when cut open.  Of those apples that were deemed not to have a reading of internal or core rot, only one single apple showed specific characteristics when cut into during the collation of test results.  The total sample size was 1,500 apples.

On-site visits to GP Graders manufacturing plant to see the live demonstration of the technology working will be available until mid August with several sales already being concluded within days of its release.

GP Graders have been designing and manufacturing turn-key apple grading and packing lines since their beginning in 1963 with hundreds of packing lines in operations throughout Australia and the world.

Monarto mushroom expansion to create 200 new jobs for SA

A $60 million expansion of a mushroom production facility is expected to create 200 new jobs in the Murray and Mallee region.

Horticulture business Costa announced plans to upgrade its Monarto facility to help meet growing national demand for fresh mushrooms and double production at the site from 120 to 240 tonnes a week.

Costa’s investment is being supported by the State Government through a total $1.8 million grant with equal contributions from the Economic Investment Fund and the Regional Development Fund.

Costa is one of Australia’s leading horticultural businesses producing a range of different foods including avocados, bananas, berries, citrus, table grapes, mushrooms, and glasshouse tomatoes with major export markets to Asia, North America, and Europe.

The company has mushroom production facilities in five states. The Monarto facility is Costa’s newest mushroom farm – it opened seven years ago and is equipped with state-of-the-art mushroom production technology.

The Monarto facility has the lowest production cost of all sites – and can supply the rest of Australia within one to two days of shipment.

Construction on the expansion is expected to start later this year and be operational in 2018.

The State Government’s Investment Attraction South Australia worked hard to secure the project. Since it was established 18 months ago, it has helped attract companies such as Babcock, Boeing and Blue Lake Dairy to South Australia, creating more than 5219 jobs and $1 billion worth of investment.

“This expansion means South Australia have the largest and most technologically-advanced mushroom production facility in Australia and supports our push to create the industries and jobs of the future,” said Premier Jay Weatherill.

 

Food as medicine: your brain really does want you to eat more veggies

This article is part of a three-part package “food as medicine”, exploring how food prevents and cures disease. Read other articles in the series here. The Conversation


As well as our physical health, the quality of our diet matters for our mental and brain health. Observational studies across countries, cultures and age groups show that better-quality diets – those high in vegetables, fruits, other plant foods (such as nuts and legumes), as well as good-quality proteins (such as fish and lean meat) – are consistently associated with reduced depression.

Unhealthy dietary patterns – higher in processed meat, refined grains, sweets and snack foods – are associated with increased depression and often anxiety.

Importantly, these relationships are independent of one another. Lack of nutritious food seems to be a problem even when junk food intake is low, while junk and processed foods seem to be problematic even in those who also eat vegetables, legumes and other nutrient-dense foods. We’ve documented these relationships in adolescents, adults and older adults.

Diet has an impact early in life

The diet-mental health relationship is evident right at the start of life. A study of more than 20,000 mothers and their children showed the children of mothers who ate an unhealthier diet during pregnancy had a higher level of behaviours linked to later mental disorders.

We also saw the children’s diets during the first years of life were associated with these behaviours. This suggests mothers’ diets during pregnancy and early life are both important in influencing the risk for mental health problems in children as they grow.

This is consistent with what we see in animal experiments. Unhealthy diets fed to pregnant animals results in many changes to the brain and behaviour in offspring. This is very important to understand if we want to think about preventing mental disorders in the first place.

Teasing out the cause from the correlation

It’s important to note that, at this stage, most of the existing data in this field come from observational studies, where it is difficult to tease apart cause and effect. Of course, the possibility that mental ill health promoting a change in diet explains the associations, rather than the other way around, is an important one to consider.

What comes first, the junk food or the depression?
from shutterstock.com

Many studies have investigated this and largely ruled it out as the explanation for the associations we see between diet quality and depression. In fact, we published a study suggesting that a past experience of depression was associated with better diets over time.

But the relatively young field of nutritional psychiatry is still lacking data from intervention studies (where study participants are given an intervention that aims to improve their diet in an attempt to affect their mental health). These sorts of studies are important in determining causality and for changing clinical practice.

Our recent trial was the first intervention study to examine the common question of whether diet will improve depression.

We recruited adults with major depressive disorder and randomly assigned them to receive either social support (which is known to be helpful for people with depression), or support from a clinical dietitian, over a three-month period.

The dietary group received information and assistance to improve the quality of their current diets. The focus was on increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean red meats, olive oil and nuts, while reducing their consumption of unhealthy “extra” foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks.

The results of the study showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three months, compared to those in the social support group.

At the end of the trial, 32% of those in the dietary support group, compared to 8% of those in the social support group, met criteria for remission of major depression.

These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or body weight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change. Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms.

While this study now needs to be replicated, it provides preliminary evidence that dietary improvement may be a useful strategy for treating depression.

Depression is a whole-body disorder

It’s important to understand researchers now believe depression is not just a brain disorder, but rather a whole-body disorder, with chronic inflammation being an important risk factor. This inflammation is the result of many environmental stressors common in our lives: poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, overweight and obesity, lack of sleep, lack of vitamin D, as well as stress.

Many of these factors influence gut microbiota (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your bowel, also referred to as your “microbiome”), which in turn influence the immune system and – we believe – mood and behaviour.

In fact, gut microbiota affect more than the immune system. New evidence in this field suggests they are important to almost every aspect of health including our metabolism and body weight, and brain function and health. Each of these factors is relevant to depression risk, reinforcing the idea of depression as a whole-body disorder.

What is the human microbiome?

If we do not consume enough nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats, this can lead to insufficiencies in nutrients, antioxidants and fibre. This has a detrimental impact on our immune system, gut microbiota and other aspects of physical and mental health.

Gut microbiota are particularly reliant on an adequate intake of dietary fibre, while the health of the gut may be compromised by added sugars, fats, emulsifiers and artificial sugars found in processed foods.

A diet high in added fats and refined sugars also has a potent negative impact on brain proteins that we know are important in depression: proteins called neurotrophins. These protect the brain against oxidative stress and promote the growth of new brain cells in our hippocampus (a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, and important to mental health). In older adults we have shown that diet quality is related to the size of the hippocampus.

Now we know diet is important to mental and brain health as well as physical health, we need to make healthy eating the easiest, cheapest and most socially acceptable option for people, no matter where they live.


Further reading:

Food as medicine: why do we need to eat so many vegetables and what does a serve actually look like?

Felice Jacka, Principal Research Fellow, Deakin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Food as medicine: why do we need to eat so many vegetables and what does a serve actually look like?

This is the first article in a three-part package “food as medicine”, exploring how food prevents and cures disease. The Conversation


Most Australian adults would know they’re meant to eat two or more serves of fruit and five or more serves of vegetables every day. Whether or not they get there is another question.

A recent national survey reported 45% of Australian women and 56% of Australian men didn’t eat enough fruit. And 90% of women and 96% of men didn’t eat enough vegetables. This figure is worse than for the preceding ten years.

Men had on average 1.6 serves of fruit and 2.3 serves of vegetables per day, and women had 1.8 serves of fruit and 2.5 serves of vegetables. A serve of fresh fruit is a medium piece (about 150 grams) and a serve of vegetables is half a cup of cooked vegetables or about a cup of salad.
Why do we need so many veggies?

A high intake of fruit and vegetables lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. These chronic diseases are unfortunately common – it’s been estimated A$269 million could have been saved in 2008 if everyone in Australia met fruit and vegetable recommendations.

The recommendation to include plenty of vegetables and fruit in our diet is based on a large body of evidence showing the risk of a range of health conditions is reduced as we eat more fruit and vegetables. The specific targets of two serves for fruit and five to six serves for vegetables are largely based on nutrient requirements for healthy people and what diets usually look like for the average Australian.

So to set these guidelines, certain assumptions are made about dietary practices, such as breakfast being based around cereal/grain and dairy foods, and main meals being comprised of meat and vegetables, usually with a side of something starchy like rice, pasta or the humble potato – an Australian staple.

Does this mean it’s the only pattern to meet all the nutrient requirements? No. Could an adult be equally healthy if they ate three serves of fruit and four serves of vegetables? Yes, probably.

Some recent research even suggests our current targets don’t go far enough. It estimates an optimal intake for reducing our risk of heart disease and early death to be around ten serves of fruit and vegetables a day. Whether we are aiming for two and five, or ten serves, is somewhat academic – the clear message is most of us need to increase our fruit and vegetable intake.

Why is two and five such a hard ask?

The populations of most Western countries report eating far less fruit and vegetables than they’re supposed to. So what’s making it so hard for us to get to two and five?

Diets higher in fat, sugar and grains are generally more affordable than the recommended healthy diets high in fruit and veg. In fact, for Australians on low incomes, a healthy food basket for a fortnight would cost 28 to 34% of their income, up to twice the national average for food expenditure.

As a result, people with limited access to food for financial reasons often choose foods with high energy content (because they are filling) over those with high nutritional value but low energy content like fruit and vegetables. These high-energy foods are also easy to over-consume and this may be a contributing factor to weight gain. People who are poorer generally have a diet poorer in quality but not lower in energy content, which contributes to a higher rate of obesity, particularly in women.

Fresh fruit and vegetables cost more to purchase on a dollars per kilojoule basis, and also perish more quickly than processed foods. They take more time and skill to prepare and, after all of that effort, if they don’t get eaten for reasons of personal preference, they go to waste. For many it may not stack up financially to fill the fridge with fruit and vegetables. Under these circumstances, pre-prepared or fast food, which the family is sure to eat without complaint or waste, is all too convenient.

How we can increase veggie intake

The home and school environments are two key influencers of children’s food preferences and intakes. Parents are the “food gatekeepers” and role models particularly for younger children. Where there is parental encouragement, role modelling and family rules, there is an increased fruit and vegetable intake.

Dietary behaviours and food choices often start in childhood and continue through adolescence to adulthood. So encouraging fruit and vegetable intake in schools by mechanisms such as “fruit snack times” may be a good investment.

Policy approaches include subsidies on healthy foods. Other examples include levying a tax on foods of low nutritional value, improved food labelling, and stricter controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods. In Australia debate continues around a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which could be used to subsidise healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.

Research has found the more variety in fruit and vegetables available, the more we’ll consume. Those who meet the vegetable recommendation are more likely to report having at least three vegetable varieties at their evening meal. So increasing the number of different vegetables at the main meal is one simple strategy to increase intake.

This could be made a journey of discovery by adding one new vegetable to the household food supply each week. Buying “in season” fruit and vegetables and supplementing fresh varieties with frozen and canned options can bring down the total cost. Then it’s a matter of exploring simple, quick and tasty ways to prepare them so they become preferred foods for the family.

Genevieve James-Martin, Research Dietitian, CSIRO; Gemma Williams, Research Dietitian, CSIRO, and Malcolm Riley, Nutrition Epidemiologist, CSIRO

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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