Australian consumers demanding sustainably sourced seafood claims new research

Some 75 per cent of Australian seafood consumers believe in order to save the ocean, we have to consume fish and seafood only from sustainable sources, making it a top priority, reveals the Marine Stewardship Council’s annual report and independent research launched today.

This represents a significant shift in consumption habits as Australian seafood shoppers say they value sustainability over price, with 51 per cent willing to pay more for sustainably certified seafood, according to the report.

The new consumer data is the largest ever global analysis of attitudes to seafood consumption and was carried out by independent GlobeScan, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“This research released in conjunction with MSC’s latest annual report shows Australian consumers are voting with their wallets to future-proof our oceans by opting for sustainably certified seafood.”

“This is not just a passing trend, it’s an evolution strongly driven by consumer demand that demonstrates greater engagement on traceability and consideration towards our food sources”, said Anne Gabriel, Oceania Program Director, MSC.

“With four out of five households (85 per cent) of Australians purchasing seafood on a regular basis, there’s an opportunity for consumers to make a tangible difference by choosing to source sustainable seafood.” In fact, noted Ms. Gabriel,

“Some 69 per cent of Australian seafood consumers state they want to know that the fish they buy can be traced back to known and trusted source.”

The consumer insights data also found that:

• A majority (54 per cent) of seafood consumers are likely to trust the source of the products if they are ecolabelled

• 71 per cent of Australians believe brands’ claims about sustainability need to be labelled by an independent org.

• Globally, 66 per cent of respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, which is up from 55 per cent in 2014 and 50 per cent in 2013 (Nielsen’s The Sustainability Imperative, October 2015)

• 36 per cent of Australians say they are purchasing more ecolabelled seafood than a year ago

These figures support findings of the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, which showed that over the previous year, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew by more than 4 per cent globally, while those without grew less than 1 per cent.

A full copy of the report can be found here

Keeping Modern (Food) Manufacturing Secure

In the classic factory of the 1950s, security was simple. Managers strolled from their offices on a floor that towered over plant activity, closely observing whether shift crews below were doing what they were supposed to do.

Because employees knew the eyes of a supervisor may be upon them at any time, they were less inclined to cheat the system – such as slipping any of the company’s property or product into their pockets, or sabotaging a machine out of spite. And motives were, on the whole, aligned: what was good for the business was good for everyone involved.

Fast-forward six decades and it’s a different story. With advancements in information and communications technology, the manufacturing industry has undergone significant transformation.

Today, manufacturing employees are more likely to operate advanced technology from their computers and mobile devices, rather than undertake physical work. They are empowered to connect remotely, set their own hours and even self-determine how to effectively perform assigned duties.

As opposed to their factory counterparts of prior generations, their tools aren’t welding machines, circular saws and drills; they’re tablets, smartphones and thumb drives. They don’t follow instructions from an assembly book stocked on a shelf; all best practices/guidance are stored in files on a server.

But that’s also where an abundance of sensitive, proprietary data about customers is kept, as well as information about electronic payments to both suppliers and workers.

With the rapid rise of sophistication and autonomy, it’s clear that something important has been lost: the protective eyes on the floor. And this has security implications for both the insider threat and external cyber security threats.

The Insider Threat

Years ago, those eyes made it more difficult for a disgruntled crew member to surreptitiously slip a blueprint into his lunchbox.

Today, it’s much easier for the same worker – perhaps unhappy after years of stagnant career progression – to abruptly quit, transfer the entire R&D library onto a thumb drive and deliver the stolen information to a competitor.

Without proper monitoring and auditing controls in place, the current level of empowerment – which ultimately serves a positive, productive purpose for organisations – can be abused.

That’s not good for the enterprise, and it’s not good for employees. But it’s fairly unfeasible to “watch” over everything when there are so many employees now connecting to manufacturing systems both inside and outside a traditional factory environment. Toss in an expanding influx of contractors, partners and other non-staff enterprise users, and you invite additional risk.

Especially since many of these parties aren’t vetted to the same degree of scrutiny as full-time personnel. It’s worth noting here that not all security breaches are the result of a malicious insider.

Personnel or contractors may play the role of the unintentional insider where they can be ‘tricked’ into downloading malware and introducing this into the network.

Or they can lapse into sloppy habits, such as sending corporate materials to their home computers on vulnerable, private email accounts.

Of course, they can also outright lose things (devices, USB flash drives, etc.) which can end up in the wrong hands.

To combat the insider threat, manufacturers need to empower the organisation to better protect the information and data that helps make it profitable. Whilst it’s important to give employees the latitude they need to do their jobs the business also needs to retain visibility into their actions.

A robust security measure that is able to do this includes three important pillars:

1. Data capture – implementing a lightweight endpoint agent can capture data without disrupting user productivity. A system like this can monitor the data’s location and movement, as well as the actions of users who access, alter and transport the data. Collected user data can be viewed as a video replay that displays keys typed, mouse movements, documents opened or websites visited. This unique capability provides irrefutable and unambiguous attribution of end-user activity.

2. Behavioural audit – understanding how employees act will help pinpoint unusual or suspect behaviour enabling closer monitoring for those deemed high risk.

3. Focused investigation – if a clear violation is detected it’s important to pinpoint specific events or users so you can assess the severity of the threat, remediate the problem and create new policies to stop it happening again.

The Outside Threat

With significant changes to the manufacturing landscape businesses also face significant threats from outside criminals. Over the last decade there has been huge uptake of technology and online systems to create new efficiencies and improve operational effectiveness through the sharing of information.

However with every opportunity comes risk; and given the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoTs) and big data it’s no surprise that cyber security has been elevated to one of manufacturers’ biggest risk factors. In fact, according to IBM, manufacturing was the second most targeted industry in the US for cyber-attacks in 2015.

So whilst networked products, known as IIoT in manufacturing, means there are virtually endless opportunities and connections that can take place between devices, it also means there are a number risks due to the growth in data and network entry points. In many cases, manufacturers have been quick to embrace the benefits of IIoT but still have some catching up to do in order to adequately protect their data, customers, products and factory floors.

Australian manufacturers need to consider multiple cyber security threats including factory threats, product threats and operational threats.

For example, if equipment controllers are not adequately secured it is possible for an outsider to attach malware ridden PCs to the OT network while performing routine maintenance. Similarly, manufacturers must take great care in preventing any products, like driverless cards or robotics, from being compromised as not all cyber-attacks are focused on the network but can also affect how a computer processor or piece of technology operates.

For manufacturers to fully realise the benefits of IIoT securely, it’s important they identify security weaknesses and put a process in place that can mitigate not just current but future risks.

This means any security system should be:

1. Simple and flexible – your security solution should be able to scale with your operations and be easy to use.

2. Unified – in today’s environment you’re likely to split IT functions between cloud and on-premise technologies to maximise the advantages of each approach. By implementing a unified solution you can eliminate the extra cost and duplicated work of systems that have separate management to consolidate cloud services and on-premises solutions in a single console with one visibility, policy and reporting system.

3. Fault tolerant – there’s no point in having a security system if it goes down when you need it most. Prevent interruptions in network security by having traffic rerouted to a trusted partner in the event that a security appliance goes offline.

Ultimately, even though the threat of cyber-attacks in manufacturing is a reality, there are multiple ways Australian businesses can move forward without fear.







New food grade grease improves bearing performance

Schaeffler Australia has introduced FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease which is designed to be sturdier and more energy saving than other lubricants on the market.

The latest FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease not only meets strict sanitation standards, but also copes with high stresses and ambient conditions. It is also kosher and halal certified.

“Bearings typically used in the food and beverage industry are tapered roller bearings and angular contact ball bearings.”

These are bearings that are subjected to the most extreme stresses, so reducing friction is a big advantage which improves the bearings’ starting behaviour and reduces power consumption,” says Mark Ciechanowicz, Industrial Services Manager, Schaeffler Australia.

“The other major advantage of the FOOD2 grease is that it maintains its fluidity in cold environments, as low as -30 degrees Celsius. This is important for food and beverage manufacturers working with refrigerated environments,” said Ciechanowicz.

Aussie wine scoops three gold CWSA Awards

Calabria Wines has outclassed the competition at the recent China Wine & Spirits Awards, taking home three Gold Medals from the competition, including the prestigious Double Gold.

The company’s 2013 Iconic Grand Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz was awarded the superior Double Gold, while the 2014 Three Bridges Durif & 2014 Three Bridges Barossa Valley Shiraz both won a Gold Medal.

“We are very proud of the success we have yielded for our Barossa wines. We have worked extremely hard to produce high quality wines from this region and the C.W.S.A accolades reinforce our long term commitment to the Barossa Valley” commented Calabria Wines third generation family member and Sales & Marketing Manager, Andrew Calabria.

Calabria Wines have been producing Three Bridges Durif for 15 years and it is the company’s most celebrated product.

You say tomato… why some fruits are forever doomed to be called veggies

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the most common battleground (for parents and public health experts alike) is getting people to eat them. But there’s a battle over semantics too, because many of the things we call “fruit” and “vegetables” … aren’t.

In botanical terms, a fruit is relatively easy to define. It is the structure that develops from the flower, after it has been fertilised, and which typically contains seeds (although there are exceptions, such as bananas).

But while there is no doubt that tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins are fruits in the botanical sense, any linguist will tell you that language changes and words take on the meaning that people broadly agree upon and use. We live in a linguistic democracy where the majority rules.

Hence a tomato is still usually called a vegetable – although many people take pride in calling it a fruit, while overlooking other “vegetables” with similar claims to fruit status. If this makes your inner pedant bristle, that’s just tough – trying telling the nearest five-year-old that a pumpkin’s a fruit and see how far you get.

Berries, by definition, are many-seeded, fleshy fruits which are often brightly coloured. They may have a soft or tough outer skin, but they must be fleshy. Oddly, strawberries and raspberries are not really berries at all, because they originate from a single flower which has many ovaries, so they are an aggregate fruit.

True berries are simple fruits that develop from a single flower with a single ovary. Tomatoes and grapes are technically berries, as are avocados, watermelons, pumpkins and bananas. Citrus fruits are also berries and their flesh is renowned for being acidic, which makes the flavour bitter.

Nuts are generally dry, woody fruits that contain a single seed. However, as you might have come to expect by now, things are not always so simple; the word “nut” is often used to describe any woody fruit. So a Brazil nut is actually a seed, whereas the walnut is botanically a “drupe” – a fleshy fruit with a hard inner layer that often persists when the flesh is lost (other drupes include peaches, mangoes and olives).

We all know fruits are good for us, but why are they typically more appetising than vegetables (certainly to kids)? Fruits are often the means by which seeds are dispersed and so the plant, in competition with other plants, needs to attract the right insect, bird or mammal to spread its seeds. This is why fruits are often brightly coloured and rich in nutrition (or at least high in sugar). It is not just humans who like a flash of colour and a soft, sweet sugar hit.

On the other hand, in the case of many leafy vegetables, plants need to protect their leaves from grazing animals and insects. The leaves are valuable and productive assets and so contain chemicals that are often unpalatable. They may be bitter or very strongly flavoured, which may explain why kids are inclined to stay away from them. Luckily, proper cooking and good recipes can often save this situation.

Now eat your veggies

So if fruits are, with a few exceptions, seed-bearing organs, what are vegetables? Here the definition is less clear, because the word “vegetable” has no real botanical meaning.

To a botanist, if the word vegetable is used at all, it would simply mean any plant, in much the same way that plants are collectively referred to as “vegetation”. So we could apply the term vegetable to almost any part of any plant if we wanted to. Hence the term tends to encompass a wide range of foods, particularly green leafy ones.

Cabbage, lettuce, zucchini and cucumber are all described as vegetables (despite the latter two being fruits), and the term has generally come to refer to a specific group of plant parts that are commonly used as foods in various societies. Of course, different cultures eat different parts of different plants. But, generally speaking, in Anglophone cultures the term vegetable is used for plant materials used to make a main meal, while fruits are typically associated with breakfast or dessert.

Alleged veg.

Among the group that is loosely classed as vegetables, there are some interesting and diverse structures. Bulbs, such as onions and garlic, are highly modified shoots that develop as fleshy underground organs from which new plants can develop. They are a form of asexual reproduction, a natural kind of cloning.

The bulb contains all of the ingredients required for the production of a new plant, such as roots, leaves and flower buds. The food reserves it contains – usually starch or sugar – allow a new plant to develop rapidly at the appropriate time, hence the sweetness of onions and the fact that they caramelise so beautifully. Bulbs such as garlic can also contain pungent defensive chemicals to ward off insects or fungi.

The flowers and stems of many vegetables can also be tasty and nutritious. The flowering heads of broccoli and cauliflower are prized, as are the stems of celery and rhubarb. Once again the richness and diversity of flavours arise from the different chemicals that the plants produce to protect their valuable assets from the ravages of grazing by insects and other animals.

Tubers are formed from swollen stem or root tissue, and it’s relatively easy to distinguish between the two because stem tubers have buds, or “eyes”. Potatoes are typical stem tubers, whereas carrots are root tubers. All tubers are storage organs and last only a year. They are rich in starch, which is often readily converted to sugar to fuel the plant’s growth.

These plant-nourishing characteristics also make tubers very nutritious for us. What’s more, their high fibre content and homogeneous internal structure mean they can be cooked in a wide variety of ways: boiled, mashed, chipped, baked or roasted – even though you and I might not necessarily see “eye to eye” on which is tastiest (with all due apologies for the cheesy potato pun).

While the definitions may be debated and the words may have different meanings for different people, one thing is undeniable: whichever way you slice it, fruit and veggies are very good for you. So eat up.

The Conversation

Gregory Moore, Doctor of Botany, University of Melbourne

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

Food allergy innovation a hit at AIFST Awards

A new technology that detects allergens in food products has been awarded the Food Industry Innovation Award at the 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Convention.

The Allergen Bureau was awarded the prestigious accolade at a ceremony on Monday night at the AIFST Convention at Brisbane’s Exhibition and Convention Centre for its VITAL Online platform, a web-based calculator that reviews the allergen status of all ingredients in a product and the processing conditions that could impact on the allergen status.

The technology gives the global food industry a standardised allergen risk assessment tool that both incorporates new allergen science as it comes to hand, and provides secure intellectual property data storage for manufacturers.

The VITAL program was developed by the Allergen Bureau as an initiative of the Australian Food and Grocery Council Allergen Forum and has been successfully commercialised through a subscription access service.

The prestigious innovation award recognises a significant development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or packaging, which has achieved successful commercial application in the Australian food industry.

The Jack Kefford Award for Best Paper was the other major prize of the night, and was awarded to Divya Eratte of Federation University Australia’s Department of Food and Nutritional Science School of Applied and Biomedical Science.

Ms Eratte’s 2015 paper ‘Co-encapsulation and characterisation of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria in whey protein isolate-gum Arabic complex coacervates’ was published in the Journal of Functional Foods and documents the first attempt to develop a single microcapsule capable of delivering omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria together in one capsule.

The microcapsules are expected to have wider applications throughout the nutraceutical and functional food industry. AIFST CEO Georgie Aley commended the recipients on the groundbreaking, innovative work they had done to improve both Australia and the world’s food industries. “It really is pleasing to see innovation at work across the food industry, and innovative products or tools that are commercially viable too,” said Ms Aley.

“Food allergy is a becoming a major issue in our society – there are around 30,000 new cases in Australia each year which makes the Allergen Bureau’s calculator so valuable to Australian food companies.

The move towards functional foods is equally as strong, making the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria particularly exciting in terms of potential.”

The Convention is hosted by AIFST, the only national network for food industry professionals and this year, the Convention was co-located with FoodTech, a major trade event for Queensland food manufacturers.

For more information about the Convention, visit

Coopers launches its 2016 Vintage Ale

One of the Australian beer market’s most highly anticipated annual events, the launch of Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale, took place today (June 28) with special events in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

A separate launch event for the 2016 Vintage Ale will also be held in Perth for the first time next week (5 July).

The 2016 Extra Strong Vintage Ale is the 16th beer in the series that goes back to its launch in 1998 and like previous releases is expected to be quickly snapped up.

Coopers Managing Director and Chief Brewer, Dr Tim Cooper, said the 2016 Vintage Ale featured the use of five varieties of hops which had been carefully chosen to ensure a strong balance and depth of flavours and delicate aroma notes and flavours.

“This is one of the few beers that is designed to age and is unique in the Australian beer market,”

“The 2016 Vintage will again deliver the intense aromas and flavours that loyal drinkers have come to expect over time,” he said. “The master hop breeder at Ellerslie Hop Estates recommended the use of a new variety of hops, Astra, which has been grown in Myrrhee in Victoria.

“This particular hop offers floral and fruity tones which complement another favourite stablemate, Melba, grown in the same region.

“The third variety is Northern Brewer, a variety originally bred in England in 1932 which imparts herbaceous and spicy notes. “All three varieties contribute to the bitterness and aroma of the beer.

“Dry hopping with Styrian Goldings and Cascade provides added complexity with delicate aroma notes and flavours.” Dr Cooper said premium quality pale, crystal and wheat malts provided a foundation for the “robust” flavours, while Coopers’ reliable ale yeast helped produce an intense array of esters with fruity notes.

The 2016 Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale maintains the bitterness of previous years at 60 IBU and an alcohol level of 7.5% ABV.

The ale has also been seeded with live yeast for bottle conditioning and to enhance the longevity of the beer, which will change over time as the bitterness slowly mellows and rich, sweet caramel- like characters emerge.

“This is one of the few beers that is designed to age and is unique in the Australian beer market,” noted Dr Cooper.

Crown launches new rider pallet truck range

The new RT 4000 Series rider pallet truck line, which is available in stand-up or sit-down models with load capacities of up to 2000 kilograms, offers flexible control arrangements and configurable seating on sit-down models to provide comfort for operators of all sizes.

Stand-up models can be configured for right-hand or left-hand steering, meeting the needs and preferences of individual operators.

The Crown RT 4020 stand-up rider pallet truck has a load capacity of up to 2,000 kg. It combines rugged, powerful lift-truck technology with innovative safety features to deliver both responsiveness and reliability.

Thanks to a chassis width of just 780mm, its maneuverability and performance is ideal for fast-paced dock work, even in very confined spaces.

Designed and manufactured by Crown, the AC motor is capable of powerful acceleration at speeds of up to 12.5 km/h.

For ride comfort, the RT 4020 features a suspended floorboard plus a wraparound, soft-foam lean pad, and can be configured with right-hand or left-hand steering as required.

New survey reveals most workers are unhappy

For manufacturers, in fact any Australian business, having a happy and content workforce is vital to the success of the company.

So it will be disappointing for readers to hear that four out of every five Australians are unhappy where they work and are planning to leave their current role in search of new challenges, and more money.

AIM’s (Australian Institute of Management) 2016 National Salary Survey makes sobering reading. The findings show that Australian living standards are now under more pressure than ever before with wage growth falling in line with the rate of inflation, a statistic rarely seen in Australia over the past three decades.

Now in its 52nd year, AIM’s 2016 survey of more than 500 Australian organisations, covering about 25,000 employees and around 270 job roles, found that the overall salary increase is currently sitting at 3%, which is a decrease from the 3.4% reported in 2015 and the lowest reported percentage since 2012, dropping 1.1% overall in four years.

Sam Bell, AIM’s GM for Policy & Advocacy, describes it as a significant decline especially as it is forecasted to continue in 2017 in many industries, especially in Queensland and WA, both of which have been affected by the mining downturn.

“For the last decade we have been accustomed or expected to salary increases of 4 to 5%.” But he admits some industries do better than others in good times and bad times. “But now employees are receiving 2 to 3% on average, which is causing some movement in the market because people are expecting greater financial rewards,” Bell said.

The survey reveals four out of five people (82%) are looking for new challenges, with two thirds looking for new opportunities within their industry. More than half (56.5%) cited limited career advancement opportunities with 44.4% looking for better financial reward.

Bell said this situation is caused by two major issues. “Firstly the slower economic conditions are contributing to less career advancement. In the good times people were getting regular promotions, but now with the slower economy, those internal promotions are not happening.

“People are not moving up the ladder as fast as they would like, so they look at opportunities outside their workplace, often at competitors, to get that promotion.”

Secondly, Bell says, employees are not happy with the 2 to 3% salary increase and are changing jobs to get more, which is a costly exercise for companies.

Cost of recruiting

Getting new people is fine, but what many manufacturers don’t realise is that the cost of recruiting a new staff member is around $26,400, which includes the exit process of the employee, the recruitment of a new employee and the training of him/her to fulfil the role.

“It’s a significant amount, and if they are leaving due to lack of promotion or salary increase, companies have to realise that there is a big cost to replace them.” Bell says keeping salary increases very low, can be very costly as in most cases it’s the best people who leave. “I don’t think many managers realise how much it costs to replace someone, plus the disruption that causes to the business.” David Pich, AIM’s CEO, says retaining staff is no easy feat.

“Employees can become restless in roles that have limited career advancements or where they don’t enjoy their time at work. “Combine that with a volatile property and rental market and the pressure to contribute more to their superannuation fund, it’s no wonder staff are becoming disillusioned and feel the need to move jobs as a perceived guarantee to a salary increase,” said Pich.

The survey found one in three (34.5%) Australian businesses are making contributions above the superannuation guarantee (9.5%). However, the proportion of employees who are salary sacrificing has dropped across the board since last year, suggesting Australian employees are putting less focus on their retirement, choosing instead to use their disposable incomes to maintain their current standard of living.

Pich encourages business leaders to reassess their current pay model and suggests creating a positive and inspiring workplace culture to decrease staff turnover and retain human resource.

“People don’t leave companies; they leave leaders. Great managers and leaders make decisions that impact people’s lives and that impact can be felt well beyond the workplace. “We spend about a third of our working-age lives doing just that – working. So it is vital our experiences in the workplace are positive as they impact on our overall well-being and on society as a whole.

“At AIM, we’re constantly encouraging our Members to invest in building a positive workplace culture, by having open streams of conversation and offering training and professional development support,” Pich said.


According to the survey, salaries overall for the manufacturing sector have fallen more than the average. Bell pointed out that while salaries growth in general has fallen from 4.2% to 3% on average over the past four years, the manufacturing sector has fallen from 4.62%, a little bit higher than the average, to 3.07%, which is almost in line with the average salary increase.

“Next year, those in the manufacturing industry expect salary increases to remain fairly flat at 3%, unlike other sectors who are predicting further falls.”

 The findings show that Australian living standards are now under more pressure than ever before with wage growth falling in line with the rate of inflation, a statistic rarely seen in Australia over the past three decades.

Across the manufacturing industry, AIM measures the Food, Beverage and Tobacco; Chemical and petroleum, Metal and Automotive, and Other Manufacturing sectors. “When broken down for example, Mechanical Engineering Managers have seen an increase of about 5%, while employees in the Chemical and Engineering have remained flat at around 4%,” Bell said.

However, the survey shows workers in the automotive sector have seen a decline to 2.7% growth, dragging the overall figure down. In general employment terms, Bell says he is seeing a significant increase in consultants and temporary workers, rather than full time permanent employees.

“There is strong trend of companies bringing in people for a specific project and a specific time period rather than a full time employee.” When it comes to working conditions, Bell said a company’s workplace culture is very important for employees, followed by learning and development and flexible working conditions at number two and three respectively. “A work life balance is very important for employees.”

The survey found 66.8% of Australian employees left a current job to start a similar role at another organisation, and revealed that businesses are worried workplace culture is to blame for this shift, with 63.7% citing this as the human resource issue they are most concerned about.


Cost of food stretching household bubdgets: report

The cost of fresh food is the number one factor straining the household budgets of Australian families, according to a new report.

According to the Spend Sacrifice Report compiled by, the cost of food is a source of anxiety for 88 per cent of families. And the foods causing the biggest worries are fresh produce such as meat, fish and vegetables.

“Providing families with healthy food seemed to put the biggest pressure on budgets,’’ said the site’s spokeswoman Abigail Koch.

“The weekly pressures of buying groceries hurts their budgets the most as opposed to utility bills which are usually only paid every quarter.

“Petrol prices have come down in recent months but this still creates a lot of cost anxiety and people are shopping around for their petrol.”

Behind fresh food, the next biggest factors straining household budgets were fluctuating petrol prices (affecting 83 per cent of respondents) and energy bills (78 per cent).

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverage has increased on average by 2.5 per cent over the last five years.


NSW IGA supermarkets win top industry awards

Leading IGA stores in New South Wales are celebrating after winning at the annual IGA Awards of Excellence held on the 10 April 2016.

Three exemplary stores, IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor were recognised after taking out the key awards for IGA Store of the Year, SUPA IGA Store of the Year and IGA X-press Store of the Year, respectively.


We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community…”


The IGA awards represent the highest example of Retail Excellence and demonstrate the store’s ability to grow in challenging competition-driven environments. Keenly contested between the stores in NSW, the awards are a chance to formally recognise and celebrate the achievements of independent retailers.

Not only the IGA stores but also the team who work in the stores who put the heart and soul back into supermarkets, and set the benchmark for other IGA supermarkets across the retail network.

New South Wales General Manager of Metcash Food and Grocery Mark Garwood representing the NSW IGA Retail Council presented the awards to the store teams and said, “We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community. We acknowledge the hard work and commitment our stores have demonstrated throughout the year across all categories awarded tonight.”

“Congratulations to IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor for being recognised as leaders in independent retailing. These stores and their teams represent retail excellence – going above and beyond to demonstrate excellence in teamwork, customer service and quality in their respective store offerings.”

Hep A outbreak linked to frozen berries

A Hepatitis A outbreak in Europe has struck at least 71 people, believed to be linked to frozen berries used in smoothies.

According to Food Safety News, at least 35 people have fallen ill in Denmark, and another 36 across Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Swedish authorities have announced that so far this year, the country is experiencing ten times to normal number of Hep A cases.

While most affected patients have reported consuming berries or smoothies close to the time that they fell ill, investigators haven't yet established a particular brand or berry origin responsible.

Hepatitis A has an incubation period of between 15 and 50 days, and due to the delay involved in reporting the disease, authorities are expecting more cases to emerge in the near future.


Tassie berries set to get more Coles shelf space

Tasmanian berry producer, Westerway Raspberry Farm is teaming up with Coles to put Tasmanian-grown berries in supermarket freezers around the nation.

Westerway, with the support of Coles, will install the only berry freezer tunnel in use in Australia.  As a result, Australians will now be able to choose fresh frozen Tasmanian raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and mixed berries, rather than imported frozen berries.

Tasmanian growers already produce all of the vegetables used in Coles’ frozen vegetable line and it’s fantastic to see that Tasmania will once again be feeding the nation, this time with frozen berries.

This announcement will see Westerway increase its plantings, open up new markets for Tasmanian produce and critically, employ an extra five people full time, with hopefully more jobs to come as the company looks to new markets for its premium products.

Coles’ connection to Tasmania goes back over 100 years.  The Coles family owned and operated a general store in Wilmot in early 20th century and now Coles supermarkets employ more than 1,800 people across 31 sites in the State.


McCain Foods to invest $10 mill in Smithton plant

McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand will spend up to $10 million dollars over the next two years upgrading onsite storage facilities and building a new packing line at the Smithton plant in Circular Head, Northern Tasmania.

McCain Foods will spend an estimated $7.9 million on the on-site storage over two years and $1.6 million on the new packing line.

The improved storage facility will hold up to 55,000 tonnes of potato for processing.

McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand Agriculture Director John Jackson said the investment in upgrading storage and a new packing line will increase efficiencies and make the plant more sustainable.

“While this added investment will increase the plant’s capability and efficiencies, we still have a number of challenges before us in maintaining the competitiveness of the plant to ensure its long term survival,” he said.

“One of the challenges, in such a competitive market, is maintaining and increasing efficiencies to drive cost-reduction. Even in Northern Tasmania, we have to realize that we are competing in a global commodities market.

“In addition, rising local water and energy costs impact on the plant’s cost base reducing its overall profitability against global competitors.”

The Smithton plant processes potatoes for French Fries and potato products for the local and interstate markets.


ALDI doesn’t commit to a ‘direct-from-farm’ supply model

ALDI has refused to confirm or deny rumours that it has plans to set up a distribution network for fresh produce.

Reports emerged last week that ALDI is planning to transport fresh fruit and vegetables directly from Australian farms to its stores.

In a statement, an ALDI spokesperson said the company continues to investigate opportunities which would provide the freshest fruit and vegetables.

“We know that a direct-from-farm supply model provides efficiencies for our suppliers and value for our customers. As such, ALDI will continue to explore a variety of supply chain models to ensure we provide a market-leading offering when it comes to fresh produce,” and ALDI spokesperson said.

A ‘direct-from-farm’ supply model would still include ALDI’s distribution centre.


Cold Logic wins Melbourne Market contract

Privately owned refrigeration firm Cold Logic has won a multi-million dollar contract at the new Melbourne Market.

The contract involves establishing cool rooms and temperature controlled warehouses at the new market site in Epping, which is expected to be operational around August this year.

The new market is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Victoria and is located on 70 hectares of land close to the Tullamarine airport and nearby arterial roads.

When open, it will have more than 100,000 square metres of warehousing and replace the current market at West Melbourne, which houses around 3000 businesses employing 7500 staff.

Cold Logic Partner, Eddie Lane, said site work had commenced and was being undertaken on a very tight deadline.

“We have thrown additional resources into the project to meet the tight deadline, but are confident we will deliver the state-of-the-art cooling facilities on time,” he said.

“The Melbourne Market is crucial to Australia’s fresh produce industry.

“We are responsible for ensuring fruit and vegetables are held in the best possible condition before they are sold to independent greengrocers, supermarkets, restaurants and food processors and ultimately ending up on the forks of Victorian consumers.”

Victoria is a key growth market for Cold Logic. It currently has 12 staff based in Melbourne, but plans to expand to more than 25 within the next five years.

Over its 30 years in business, Cold Logic has constructed more than 280,000sqm of cold storage facilities – nearly 14 MCG’s.

Major clients include Coopers Brewery, Thomas Foods International, Arnotts, Pernod Ricard Winemakers and Aldi. Currently, 40% of Cold Logic’s clients are located outside its home state of South Australia.


Some fast food operators tight lipped on spud origins

AUSVEG says a number of Australia’s fast food chains have failed to reveal the origins of the potatoes they use for their French fries and chips.

In an investigation conducted by AUSVEG, only four of nine contacted chains provided details about where they sourced their potatoes.

Grill’d Healthy Burgers, Nando’s Australia and McDonald’s Australia provided information to Potatoes Australia, indicating that the potatoes they use for chips and French fries are Australian.

Representatives from KFC, Hungry Jacks, Lord of the Fries and Salsa’s declined to comment. While a Red Rooster representative indicated in a statement earlier this year that the chain’s fries were sourced from Australian-based companies, both Red Rooster and its sister company Oporto failed to clarify when pressed for further details about the origins of their potatoes.

“All we ask is that consumers are given clear information about the origins of their food so they can make informed decisions about what they’re buying and eating,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Dimi Kyriakou.

“Given the growing consumer demand for more clarity and frankness regarding where their food comes from, it is an opportunity for these restaurants and fast food chains to be more open about the origins of their potatoes, as a selling point to consumers.”

“While those chains which indicated they did source Australia potatoes should be commended for their efforts, surely the others would stand to benefit from promoting their use of local produce, unless of course that’s not the case.”


SPC opens first stage of $100 mill redevelopment

SPC has delivered of the first stage of a $100 million investment program with the completion of a snack line.

“Today we celebrate the completion of our new snack line. The $100 million co-investment between our parent company Coca-Cola Amatil and the Victorian Government, has been put to work to drive new product innovation,” said SPC chief financial officer James Harvey.

“SPC is an Australian brand icon and, with the support of the Victorian Government, I’m pleased to say that our future is bright. We thank Premier Andrews and his team, who have been unwavering in their support for SPC. They have played a critical role in assisting us with our transformation plans and helping to secure the company’s future in the Goulburn Valley.”

The new SPC Snack Line will improve quality and innovation capability.

“SPC has worked with our suppliers to deliver this first major milestone in our investment plan in just six months – that’s record time from ordering to operating. We were determined to produce this season’s fruit using the new line with our new-look snack cups, which are in store now,” Harvey said.

The new line can produce any of SPC’s food products in cup format. It has an improved gentler cooking process that produces higher quality product.

One of SPC’s new innovations is SPC ProVital – a brand that delivers high quality product for people who have difficulty opening packaging or in some cases swallowing food. “We’re excited about the potential of SPC ProVital because it’s the first of its kind for the healthcare market. It’s a range of easy-open portion-control fruit that is more accessible for patients and reduces waste during serving and consumption,” Harvey said.

“We’re proud to be recognised for our strong commitment to Australian grown and made food. Due to its popularity, this week we’ve extended our #MyFamilyCan campaign to promote our farming families.”

SPC’s incoming Managing Director, Reg Weine, said he was excited by the opportunities ahead. “Our $100 million investment program will continue to build SPC’s capability and capacity as we transition to a modern branded food business. Importantly, it allows us to deliver product and packaging innovation, efficiency and productivity improvements and extend the brand as we enter new channels and markets.”


Hepatitis A scare pushes up demand for fresh Australian berries

South Australia’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market has witnessed a stark increase in demand for Australian produced fresh blueberries and raspberries, following the Hepatitis A outbreak.

The Adelaide Produce Market, which collectively supplies wholesale volumes of fresh produce to supermarkets, greengrocers, cafes and other food service providers has reported that demand for blueberries in the past week has doubled, while demand for raspberries has increased by 50 percent.

"You just can't beat Australian grown fresh produce. Unlike the imported cheap, inferior frozen produce from overseas, we know exactly how our fresh produce was grown, when it was picked and how it was transported along the supply chain," Adelaide Produce Market CEO Angelo Demasi said.

Demasi said that it is unfortunate that during times of disaster, consumers only come to cherish and appreciate how good the produce grown in Australia really is.

"We are global leaders in producing premium fresh fruits and vegetables, so consuming cheap imported frozen produce doesn't make sense. We have no idea how it was produced and what quality control measures are in place," he said.

Blueberry supply will shorten slightly in coming weeks due to seasonal factors; however raspberry supply is expected to increase as the local season continues to strengthen.

13 cases of Hepatitis A in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and WA have been linked to frozen raspberries imported from China and repackaged by Bairnsdale-based Patties Foods.

Patties faces a class action suit, as Slater and Gordon is encouraging those who contracted Hepatitis A after eating the berries to come forward.

The Department of Agriculture has formally requested a review of the risk status of frozen berries from FSANZ and is seeking assurances from China about the safety of further shipments of frozen berries.

Products included in the recall are: Nanna’s Raspberries 1kg, Nanna’s Mixed Berries 1kg and Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries 300g and 500g.


Australia asks China if further berry shipments will be safe

The Department of Agriculture is seeking assurances from China about the safety of further shipments of frozen berries.

Consumption of Nanna’s brand frozen mixed berries has been linked to the 13 cases of Hepatitis A in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and WA as of Wednesday afternoon (18 February).

The department has engaged with authorities through the Australian embassy staff in Beijing and is tracing products in supply chains as part of working with importers to manage potential risks.

The department has formally requested a review of the risk status of frozen berries from FSANZ. The department will also consider the outcomes of incident investigations conducted by the state and territory food authorities.

FSANZ provides advice to the department on which imported foods are considered to pose a risk to human health. In the case of the frozen berries, the department is working to gather information to determine what further action might be taken.

Assistant Minister for health, Fiona Nash said “Once FSANZ reports back to us with the information it is seeking from Chinese food authorities, we will be able to assess whether further steps need to be taken.

“If, upon consideration of all available information, the circumstances require a review of current arrangements or improvements to the system, we will act on this.”

The Department of Agriculture’s Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) is a risk-based border inspection scheme.

Food items that pose a medium or high risk to human health are called ‘risk foods’ and are tested at rate of 100 per cent until a good compliance history is established with a particular importer—they are then tested at a rate of 25 percent of consignments, dropping to a minimum rate of 5 percent of consignments if good compliance continues. The inspection rates are established in legislation.

Risk foods are typically pre-prepared, ready-to-eat foods including certain cheeses, cooked meats and seafood, and cured meats.

All other foods are considered to be ‘surveillance foods’. Surveillance foods are randomly inspected at a rate of 5 per cent of all consignments. Samples for laboratory analysis (tests may include chemical residues, heavy metals or natural contaminants) may be taken as well as assessing compliance with packaging and labelling requirements.

Routine testing for viruses in food can be problematic. FSANZ advises that this is because the virus in contaminated food is usually present at extremely low levels where the pathogen cannot be detected by available analytical methods.

The department’s imported food inspection scheme is a risk-based inspection scheme, and the rates of inspection and classification of imported foods can change with new information to hand.

Other government actions regarding the Hepatitis outbreak include:

  • The Department of Health had set up the National Incident Room up in Canberra to deal with the issue and will remain active until this issue is resolved.
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, consisting of all State and Territory Chief Health Officers and chaired by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, met Tuesday (17 February) to coordinate jurisdictional public responses.
  • The OzFoodNet and the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia are conducting an investigation into the issue.
  • The National Food Safety Network, chaired by FSANZ met yesterday and is seeking further information from Chinese food authorities.
  • The National Blood Authority and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) are monitoring the situation closely and continue to take steps to protect the blood supply from the virus.
  • The Department of Agriculture formally requested a review of the risk advice from FSANZ about frozen berries, and will consider the outcomes from the incident investigations conducted by the state and territory food authorities.

The recall has prompted calls for stricter country-of-origin labelling.

Choice launched a petition calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, to take action on country-of-origin labelling.

“We are mobilising consumers to put pressure on the government to fix our country of origin labelling laws. The latest frozen food farce highlights how difficult it is under the current system for consumers to make informed choices in the supermarket,” says Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“Confused claims such as ‘Packed in Australia using imported fruit’ or ‘Made in Australia using local and imported ingredients’ offer very little information about a product’s origin and are largely meaningless to consumers. We deserve to know where our food comes from.”

"The petition has only been live for a few hours and already over 1600 consumers have signed up calling for the government to take action on country of origin food labelling," Godfrey said.

“We’ve had inquiry after inquiry on this issue. Year after year it rates as a top concern for Australian consumers. It’s time for action.

 “The best way to create labels for consumers is to test the language to find phrases that most people understand.  Consumer research must be undertaken before making any changes to the current labelling framework.”

“Consumers should be able to make informed decisions about the food they are purchasing and while country of origin labelling isn’t a proxy for food safety, the information is sought after by many shoppers,” Godfrey said.