Cadbury sends off Australian Paralympic Team to Rio

Cadbury has presented the Australian Paralympic Team with thousands of personal messages of support from fans across the nation as part of their campaign to Bring on the Joy in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The activity forms part of Cadbury’s mission to rally Australians together and support the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team as the athletes prepare to compete in Rio. As an Official Partner of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team, Cadbury has pledged its support with an AUD $1 million contribution towards the development of para-sport in Australia.

The brand has continued its support by championing the Team as part of its consumer marketing campaign which kicked off earlier this year, encouraging fans to show their support for the athletes through a dedicated digital activation.

Australians responded in their droves with over 5,000 messages shared, aimed at inspiring the para-athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s biggest stage. At an event held in Sydney this week, many of the Australian Paralympic Team came together as part of a celebration of the campaign and Cadbury’s contribution to the Team’s efforts.

Athletes were showered with messages in many different ways as a demonstration of the support received from the public. All messages that were shared have been printed in a specially-designed book for the athletes to keep as a reminder of the nation’s unwavering support for the team.

Lauren Fildes, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Events at Cadbury, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to be partners of the team and we will be right behind them in Rio!”

Lynne Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Paralympic Committee, said that they were “…grateful to have such a supportive partner who has helped create an unbelievable buzz around our Team as the Paralympic Games approach. To know the Australian public is right behind us provides all of our athletes with a huge boost.”

The Australian Paralympic Committee will be sending an Australian team of more than 170 para-athletes from every Australian State and Territory to compete in up to 15 sports at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Report highlights new directions for packaging

‘New directions’ in packaging and labelling technology are a strong feature of today’s market – and the latest is digital direct-to-container print. It may, indeed, be a disruptive technology, as the new Direct Digital Printing Technology for Labeling & Product Decoration AWAreness Report 2016 demonstrates.

This latest addition to AWA Alexander Watson Associates’ portfolio of assessments of aspects of global label printing market provides a valuable resource for all interested in, or already committed to, this 21st-century product identification technology.

Eliminating entirely the need for a label on rigid or semi-rigid containers, direct digital print offers brand owners a new palette of opportunities — including economies of scale, shorter route to market, and enhanced levels of brand presentation and promotion, such as personalization.

However, this is a technology in its infancy, and further technical and commercial innovation and a broader supplier source at all levels can be expected.

The report posits that the total potential volume growth of the global label market could be negatively affected, losing market share to direct container print.

Pressure-sensitive and wet glue labels are the leading candidates for replacement, but sleeving and in-mould labels will not be immune.

Substitution of labels in all technologies will, says the report, represent the equivalent of 0.5%-1.0% of the global label market by 2019/2020.

Complete with an industry-wide survey of the technology’s present status and future opportunities, and a directory of equipment, inks, and ancillary manufacturers, Direct Digital Printing Technology for Labeling & Product Decoration AWAreness Report 2016 represents an expert overview of a key packaging market development.

The report may be ordered online via the AWA Alexander Watson Associates website,, along with details of the company’s full range of market research and consultancy services and events.

Hygienic stainless steel air nozzles for food makers

A challenge for many manufacturers is finding flat air blowing nozzles that are durable and appropriate for their application.

Traditionally made of Polyacetalic resin (POM) or nickel-plated aluminium, they are unable to withstand the rigours of caustic cleaning chemicals so need to be replaced regularly.

To solve this problem, Tecpro Australia has just released a Flat Fan Blowing Nozzle in 316L Stainless Steel – ideal for applications requiring strong impact airflows.

Designed and manufactured in Europe, these Flat Fan Blowing Nozzles provide constant, streamlined airflows without turbulence. In fact their superior design induces surrounding air to magnify the air blowing force to create greater efficiency.

When mounted side-by-side, they provide a highly effective air curtain for conveyor belts.

The 316L Stainless Steel Flat Fan Air Nozzle is resistant to corrosive forces in situations where caustic chemical cleaning is required and is suitable for use in hygienic applications. As a result, they are well suited for food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The nickel-plated aluminium model and the POM option are cost effective alternatives suitable for removing moisture, dust, swarf and other waste resulting from machining and woodworking processes or prior to laminating surfaces.

All models of Tecpro’s Flat Fan Blowing Nozzles use compressed air which is blown through 16 orifices to produce a uniform spray of strong impact air jets with low noise. In addition, these Air Blowing Nozzles comply with OSHA Regulations.

Why we regain weight after drastic dieting

A few years ago I proudly lost almost 15% of my weight. However last week I stared with disbelief at my scale as I realised all my efforts were in vain and I had regained all of the previously lost weight.

This got me thinking about the mechanisms that underpin such dramatic fluctuations in weight (sometimes known as yo-yo dieting) and the defences the body uses for weight maintenance.

Even losing as little as 5% of our body weight has a myriad of health benefits, including reduced risk of heart attacks, lower blood pressure, improved glucose control in patients with diabetes, improved mental health and reduced risk of osteoarthritis and certain cancers.

Thus one would imagine the body would generally be supportive of weight loss. If so, why is persistent weight loss and weight maintenance so difficult?

Why the body fights weight loss

The control of weight is based on the balance between calorie consumption and the energy spent during our day to day living. The brain’s weight control centre is in an area called the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus integrates the incoming signals from the body (such as hormonal signals) and other parts of the brain and then controls weight by affecting hunger and satiety.

It also communicates with other parts of the brain that control metabolism (such as the pituitary gland and sympathetic nervous systems). This complicated and fine-tuned system determines a “weight set-point” which is the weight the body is accustomed to and then works to defend it by fine tuning our metabolism and our calorie consumption.

Energy consumption is divided into the resting metabolic rate (about 70% of all energy used), the energy consumed in processing the food we eat (thermogenic metabolism) and exercise based energy expenditure.

A few studies have outlined the result of moderate weight loss. The body defends against weight loss by drastically reducing the energy expenditure. The body also goes into a sort of “starvation mode” to protect against lean body weight loss by preferentially depleting different energy stores including glycogen, fat and then eventually muscle.

The body spends a large percentage of energy in the maintenance of organ function, even when asleep. In obese people, the resting metabolic rate significantly increases, perhaps to try to prevent further weight gain. Unfortunately, when you lose weight, the opposite happens and the body’s metabolism turns right down.

This may occur through reductions in the active thyroid hormone (T3) and changes in the hormonal messages back to the brain promoting hunger.

A key finding in the above studies is the reduction in resting metabolic rate is disproportionately large, and potentially persists for long periods. This explains why a return to a pre-weight loss lifestyle inevitably results in weight re-gain, and possibly more than was lost.

Only by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with calorie restriction of around 25% and exercise can we avoid the inevitable. The reduction in resting metabolic rate may be particularly problematic in people with severe obesity.

Drastic long-term weight loss

This led me to examine the published data on contestants with severe obesity in The Biggest Loser. I wondered what had become of the contestants who had lost amazing amounts of weight over a relatively short period of time.

Majority of The Biggest Loser contestants regained a significant proportion of their lost weight.
AAP Image/Channel Ten

One study confirmed that despite the rigorous exercise programs, the drop in resting metabolic rate persisted. In a study published this year that followed 14 of the original 16 contestants, the majority had regained a significant proportion of the weight loss. More importantly, their resting metabolic rate was still low, almost six years after the end of the show. This suggests the metabolic adaptation against rapid weight loss may be profound and sustained, possibly explaining why we potentially regain even more weight than we originally lost.

This same phenomenon was found after weight loss following a type of bariatric surgery, where weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band. The metabolic adaptation in these patients was very similar to that found with similar weight loss in The Biggest Loser.

The long-term data for bariatric surgery in terms of sustainability of weight loss suggests other factors (most likely related to gut hormones such as ghrelin) must be influencing energy balance as there is evidence that weight loss is maintained even after many years.

How to avoid the slowed metabolism

So is there a way to counter nature’s opposition to weight loss?
Certain types of exercise such as strength exercises preserve muscle mass and this assists in preserving the resting metabolic rate. However it doesn’t always work.

Thus it may be that only sustained modest exercise and a permanent reduction in calories are both essential for weight loss and maintenance. Although there is no data on the rate of weight loss at which metabolic adaptation occurs, most guidelines recommend gradual and steady weight loss of between 0.5-1kg per week, as part of a sustainable lifestyle change which includes appropriate exercise activity and a balanced nutritious diet.

The Conversation

Sergio Diez Alvarez, Director Of Medicine, The Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospital, University of Newcastle

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

Bringing Asian food to our homes

Eating fresher is easy with a new natural and gluten free range of FRESH WRAP kits from Marion’s Kitchen.

Each kit comes with a flavour-packed sauce for stir-frying fresh veggies and your chosen protein along with crunchy sprinkles like crispy garlic or sesame seeds wrapped up in fresh lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Marion Grasby spends all her time thinking about how to make products that people will love eating and sharing. ‘I care deeply about what I do and the products, ingredients and recipes I share. I want people to be able to easily create awesome Asian food at home with ingredients that are clean, fresh and super tasty.

Personally, I’ve been looking to find easier ways to include more fresh vegetables into my busy lifestyle and I think more and more Australians feel the same way. My new range aims to inspire fresher eating.’

The new range of FRESH WRAPS includes Malaysian Satay, Korean Chilli & Sesame and Cantonese Hoisin & Garlic which will be available in Woolworths in July. The Marion’s Kitchen full range includes:

Thai Massaman Curry, Singapore Laksa, Malaysian Curry, Pad Thai, Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, and San Choy Bow.

For more information, visit:


Meet Larry- the food manufacturers best friend

South Australian company Complexica has developed a robot with an algorithm-based persona, which is being used to help businesses make data-driven decisions in real time.

Larry, the Digital Analyst, is made up of a set of algorithms tuned to complex problems in order to quickly generate answers that would otherwise take people a very long time to work out.

In one example, Larry helped formulate a 52-week promotions plan for a national company with 25,000 products sold in 1400 stores across Australia based on the question of which product should be on promotion at which time of year and at which price to maximise profits.

“It (usually) takes about 30-man days to come up with one plan because you are dealing with 25,000 items over 1400 stores for 52 weeks – it’s like a really big Sudoku,” said Complexica’s Managing Director Matthew Michalewicz.

“But in 60 seconds Larry was able to consider about 10 million combinations of different prices, products, frequency, and predict how much more you will sell with all of these combinations and convert them into weekly averages per state and per store.

“A machine and all the computing power that sits in the cloud can consider things that an organisation will never have time to consider,” he added.

According to Michalewicz, Larry is best suited to large companies that experience repetitive sales of everyday items such as food, hardware and liquor.

“Businesses that have complexity are going to get much greater benefits from Larry than businesses that don’t. We define complexity by three core things: how big a business is; how many products you sell; and how many customers you have.”

Complexica has signed up 20 companies across a range of industries and aims to scale up to 100 clients within two years.

Current clients include PFD Food Services, Liquor Marketing Group, Leader Computers and Coventry Group.

Industrial gear boxes suitable for food & beverage makers

Regal Australia has introduced its range of Marathon Gearboxes, suitable for industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, water, chemical/petrochemical, metal/steel and mining. The range features models with single piece die cast housings and vacuum impregnated housing for greater sealing and synthetic oils for “long life” lubrication.

The range is available in aluminium, cast iron and stainless steel. It features the following gearboxes: right angle worm, square worm, inline coaxial, shaft mounted, helical bevel and stainless steel.

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.


Coke boss wants less gov’t control but more foreign cash

According to a report on the ABC Rural program this morning, Coca Cola Amatil MD Alison Watkins has said that governments have no place meddling in local food manufacturing.

During a conference held in Sydney, Ms Watkins said she also supported the need for greater foreign investment for food and agribusiness in Australia, instead of government investment.

She quoted the recent ANZ’s Greener Pastures Report, which found Australia could double agricultural exports by 2050 but would need at least $1 trillion worth of investment from both domestic and foreign investors.

She also told the Agribusiness2030 conference that Australia’s supermarket duopoly created a situation whereby suppliers could too easily lose shelf space and find their lines deleted.

At the same time,Ms Watkins noted that she was happy with supermarket support for locally-made products.

“That support’s really critical, and we’re focused on supplying product at the right cost,” she told ABC Rural.

Clean room differential pressure monitor

In order to monitor differential pressures in clean rooms, defined as a room in which the concentration of airborne particles is maintained within established parameters, ALVI offers a differential pressure transmitter; the DE21.

It is a compact, DIN Rail Mounted measuring instrument in 2-wire technology, serving to cover numerous measuring ranges in the low pressure area. Using capacitive measuring cells specially designed for nominal pressure ranges along with high overpressure safety, monitor ensures high precision, long term stability and drift free operation.

The measurement units, mbar, Pa, kPa and inWC, are selectable via the DIP Switch on the unit. It’s equipped with the 4 digit LCD display clearly indicating the measured differential pressure in selected pressure units.

Differential pressure is simply the measured pressure deviation between two points in different pressure systems.

If the pressure is too low, especially when a door is opened, contaminants can enter. If it is too high, energy is being wasted.

Charlie’s Cookies takes to the skies with Qantas

Qantas’ in-flight snack offering has been elevated to new heights since Charlie’s Cookies launched its Proud to Call Australia Home campaign in late March.

Long known for its grass-roots values and innovative approach to business, Australian made and owned Charlie’s has developed a delicious new line of specially curated in-flight snack boxes with heart.

“Through our on-going relationship with Qantas we discovered a shared vision for wanting to get behind great Australian organisations. Charlie’s set about developing this exclusive program of philanthropic support via Qantas’ complimentary in-flight snack menu, which naturally taps into a huge captive audience. It’s a real win-win all round”, says Ken Mahlab, Managing Director of Charlie’s Cookies.

Each Proud To Call Australia Home snack box includes portions of Delre International Black Jack Aged Cheddar Cheese, Tucker’s Natural Rosemary Lavosh, Beerenberg Caramelised Onion Dip and a 2-pack of Charlie’s very own Gingerbread Hearts, making the perfect mid-flight pick-me-up.

Also launched on March 29th, the new Proud To Call Australia Home snack boxes highlight the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation, Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Long known for its grass-roots values and innovative approach to business, Australian made and owned Charlie’s has developed a delicious new line of specially curated in-flight snack boxes with heart.

Bangarra Dance Theatre Executive Director Philippe Magid says, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Charlie’s Cookies on their innovative new campaign supporting Australian initiatives and organisations. We’ve been fortunate to have a long and meaningful association with Qantas, so this is great opportunity for us to deepen our relationship and grow brand awareness with their customers via the Charlie’s Cookies snack box.”

Charlie’s Cookies Proud To Call Australia Home snack boxes will be a complimentary offering on selected Qantas domestic flights from 29 March 2016 to 30 September 2016.

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.”

Busy weekends offer opportunities for premium breakfast products

As the fast-paced nature of twenty-first century life continues to change breakfast from an enjoyable pastime to a chore, consumers are increasingly seeking out convenience foods in the morning. While an established trend during the week, it is increasingly creeping into weekend habits.

According to a Canadean survey of packaging executives worldwide, 77% expect high or moderate demand for on-the-go grocery products during weekday mornings, while 63% forecast high or moderate demand during weekend mornings. While the high demand during weekday mornings is to be expected, this study shows that the industry is preparing to take advantage of a surprising opportunity: convenience breakfasts for those who are time-poor at weekends.

As a result, Canadean said it expects more innovative pack formats to be developed for breakfast drinks and smoothies, including dual packs separating liquid and solid contents, and heat-retaining packs to keep indulgent breakfasts warm while on the go.

“Brands built around convenience should consider brand extensions targeting weekend needs, while those built around enjoyment and indulgence should consider diversifying their product portfolios to offer new, more convenient products that still provide something special for weekend consumers,”

Safwan Kotwal, Analyst at Canadean, says: “Focusing purely on weekday breakfast convenience means brands risk leaving money on the table. While consumers’ timetables are arguably more flexible during the weekend, busier social lives are creating a new market for convenient, but at the same time indulgent, weekend breakfast products.

“Convenience purely targeted at busy office workers or busy parents on the school run means brands could be excluding themselves from a potentially very profitable weekend market.”

While convenience is an important consideration for many consumers, indulging and enjoying breakfast on the weekend is something they look forward to. Although high demand on weekday mornings will remain the most important occasion for convenience products, Canadean said it believes brands must not discount weekends as an opportunity.

“Brands built around convenience should consider brand extensions targeting weekend needs, while those built around enjoyment and indulgence should consider diversifying their product portfolios to offer new, more convenient products that still provide something special for weekend consumers,” Kotwal concluded.

Research program to boost innovation in food: AFGC

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has welcomed the first round of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program, saying it will boost innovation and productivity capability in the food sector.

The Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program offers funding schemes to both university-based researchers and industries, encouraging R&D projects that could help solve the big problems facing industries today.

The program will deliver more than $23m to drive innovation and productivity in the food industry.

AFGC CEO, Gary Dawson, said "Innovation is of critical importance to Australia’s $110b food and grocery manufacturing industry. This important investment will be a significant boost to Australia’s potential to become a food manufacturing hub for the Asian Century.

"The AFGC has long supported enhanced collaboration between the food industry, research agencies and both large and small companies in the food manufacturing sector to unlock the innovative capacity of Australia’s advanced food manufacturing sector," he said.

Dawson congratulated food companies Kraft Foods Australia, The Smith’s Snackfood Company Limited and Simplot Australia for being part of successful applications.

"The preparedness of globally significant companies to make major co-investments in establishing research hubs and training centres signals confidence in the strength of the Australian food manufacturing sector," he said.

Dawson also used the opportunity to share his excitement on a similar project, supported by the AFGC and aimed at combatting international competition.

"We are also pleased that the University of Queensland, with the support of the AFGC and member companies Simplot Australia, SunRice, Goodman Fielder, Pepsico ANZ and Campbell-Arnott's can begin work on its $2.7m project that aims to help food processing and manufacturing companies meet the increasing threats of international competition. This training centre project further underlines the collaborative working partnership between our two organisations," he said.

"Innovation is at the heart of the industry's vision for a competitive future and it maintains a huge potential for growth into Asia. The Industrial Transformation Research Program will greatly benefit the food processing industry to able to compete on a global stage and maintain its strong domestic operational presence."


Forget children, self-regulating ads only helps the food industry

The food industry’s commitment to actually reducing inappropriate food marketing to children is called into question by a paper published today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Couple this with research published last week showing drinking soft drinks makes children aggressive, and you won’t be alone in thinking it’s time to do something about how junk food and kids mix.

But what about the measures already in place? And do these US studies actually have lessons for other countries like Australia?

Food advertising to children

The PLOS study examined television advertisements for fast-food restaurants broadcast on US national television between July 2009 and June 2010.

The bulk of the child-targeted advertisements (62 of the 95) were for McDonald’s, with 30 from Burger King, and three from Subway.

Compared to 92 matching adult-targeted advertisements, Burger King and McDonald’s child-targeted ads were more likely to show food packaging (88% versus 23%) and street views of the restaurants (41% versus 12%). This indicates the importance placed by marketers on conveying branding to children.

The massive power of branding was also clearly demonstrated in a 2007 study that found children preferred the taste of food and drinks when they were presented in McDonald’s wrappers.

Across the two chains, 69% of child-targeted advertisements featured a toy premium or giveaway (compared to 1% of adult-targeted ads); and 55% (compared to 14%) featured film tie-ins.

Not surprisingly, the authors concluded that fast food advertisements aimed at children did not emphasise food, focusing instead on toys, premiums and tie-ins. They also concluded that these companies had not followed through on the letter or the spirit of industry self-regulatory codes.

The picture in Australia

When Australian researchers examined the impact of self-regulation in a 2011 study, they found it didn’t reduce fast food advertising to children.

And in case you are persuaded by industry arguments that self-regulation is effective, a recent systematic review also concluded that scientific, peer-reviewed studies find self-regulation of food advertising has been ineffective. It also found that industry-sponsored reports find high compliance with these voluntary codes.

The use of film tie-ins and media characters in adverts is controversial, and there’s evidence that children rate food as more tasty when there is a licenced cartoon character on the packaging.

Following advocacy by parent groups and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) regarding the extensive use of premiums to sell fast food to Australian children, the mandatory Children’s Television Standards were revised in 2009 to clarify that an advertisement:

A review of food and beverage advertisements in five Australian cities over a two-month period in 2010 identified 619 breaches of the standards, including 120 breaches of this specific clause, and 332 breaches of the industry’s voluntary regulations.

Just like the images, advertising voice-overs in the PLOS ONE study focused on giveaways and film tie-ins. When those same chains targeted adults, they focused on taste, price, and portion size.

This concurrent targeting of children and adults with very different messages about a brand’s food products is not unique to fast food restaurants.

Our research into advertising for snack foods found that advertisements in children’s magazines focused on fun, games, “coolness” and inferences of popularity. Whereas concurrent advertisements in magazines for adults focused on nutrition and convenience.

We also found that adults perceived distinctly different messages in the two mediums and, importantly, that their intention to purchase the snack foods for their children varied depending on the version they were exposed to.

There’s more

Providing further angst for the marketers of unhealthy food and drinks, a study published last week in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children who consume soft drinks are more likely to experience behavioural problems.

Even after controlling for a range of possible confounders (socio-demographic factors, maternal depression and family violence), the researchers found children who regularly drank even one soft drink a day were more likely to display aggressive behaviour.

Children who drank more than four soft drinks a day were twice as likely to get into fights, physically attack people, and destroy other people’s property; and more likely to have attention problems.

This was not some small-scale research with a few children; it was a rigorous study conducted by experienced researchers who assessed soft drink consumption and behavioural outcomes among 2,929 five-year-olds in 20 US cities.

The authors recommended warning labels be included on soft drinks to alert parents of the risks associated with children’s consumption.

Not surprisingly, the Australian Beverages Council dismissed the study’s recommendations and argued that the study authors “failed to factor out other important considerations”.

As would be expected, the peak body argued that mandatory regulation is not needed as the industry has been voluntarily taking steps to enable consumers to make “informed choices”.

It remains to be seen whether these strategies will be any more effective than self-regulatory approaches to reducing marketing of other unhealthy food products to children. I won’t be holding my breath.

Sandra Jones holds a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, and has received funding from the ARC and from NGOs including the Cancer Council and Asthma Foundation.

The Conversation

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


It will take a ban on caging pigs to clean up the pork industry

A current bill before the New South Wales Parliament proposes to end the use of sow-stalls.

Sow-stalls, sometimes referred to as gestation crates, are small metal and concrete cages measuring 2.2 by 0.6 metres in which pregnant pigs are kept for up to 105 days.

If passed, New South Wales would become the second Australian jurisdiction to do so, after the Australian Capital Territory banned their use in 2014.

But in 2010, Australian Pork Limited (APL), the peak representative body for the pork industry, agreed to a voluntary phase-out of sow-stalls by 2017.

So why do we need a ban anyway?

The problem with sow-stalls

It is hard to say for certain the extent of physical and psychological harm caused by keeping pregnant pigs in sow-stalls. Key pieces of scientific research conducted in this area have been funded either in whole or part by APL. Whether or not this funding influences the research outcomes is difficult to say.

In any event, researchers have found that the lack of exercise caused by such confinement reduces bone strength and muscle weight in sows and they report higher incidences of lameness.

We also know that these intelligent animals will bite the bars of their cage to express boredom or frustration at their confinement. The pregnant sows develop skin abrasions from the metal bars as the stall is not much larger than their body.

Furthermore, such confinement deprives these pigs from exercising natural behaviours, such as foraging for food and nesting. It is these kinds of harms that have seen sow-stalls banned or their use substantially restricted in countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, and New Zealand, among others.

Why is a law to ban sow-stalls necessary?

The voluntary phase-out can be seen as the industries response to market-forces. Retailers such as Coles and Woolworths have already responded to this demand.

Coles' own brand pork products have been sow-stall free since 2013, while Woolworths is committed to sourcing all its fresh pork products from producers who use sow-stalls for less than 10% of the sows' gestation period.

Despite the apparent success of market forces, there remain important reasons why governments still need to regulate farm animal welfare.

There are important limitations to the APL’s voluntary phase-out.

First, the phase-out only applies to APL members. Only 38% of pork producers in Australia are APL members (although they account for 94% of pig meat products), so there will still be animals not covered under the voluntary scheme.

Second, as the phase-out is voluntary, APL members who choose not to comply cannot be forced to do so – although they may be engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct if they promote their products as sow-stall free.

Third, the voluntary phase-out will be policed through industry self-regulation. This appears to involve auditing by the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program, which is owned and managed by APL.

There are limits to the efficacy of industry self-regulation given the tension that can exist between profit maximisation and animal welfare goals.

Fourth, the voluntary phase-out will not mean pigs are free-range or free from confinement. The APL voluntary phase-out provides a qualified definition of “gestation stall free”, which will allow pigs to be confined to mating stalls and farrowing crates for up to 10% of their pregnancy.

Also, the alternate to sow-stalls proposed by APL is “loose housing”, which will not guarantee any access to the outdoors, opportunities for socialising or access to bedding/nesting materials.

The need for a ban

To protect all pregnant pigs from sow-stalls, laws must be passed in each Australian State and Territory. The ACT has already done so and the current NSW bill aims to follow in its footsteps.

Although the ACT never had sow-stalls operating in its territory, the amendment to its Animal Welfare Act will ensure it stays this way.

The NSW bill is closely modelled on the ACT amendment. Both provide for “appropriate accommodation” for all pigs.

Appropriate accommodation means that pigs must be able to turn around, stand up and lie down without difficulty. The floor is to be clean, comfortable and well-drained. The facilities must enable pigs to maintain a comfortable body temperature and have access to an outdoor area.

Unlike the ACT model, the NSW bill does allow pigs to remain wholly indoors provided bedding material and enrichment objects are made available and the pig is able to move about freely.

Another difference is the requirement that pigs be housed in “compatible groups”, being “a group of two or more pigs that can be kept together without undue stress to any of those pigs.” This will help reduce aggression and fighting between pigs.

A final difference between the ACT legislation and the NSW bill is that farrowing crates (which were designed to reduce the chance of piglets being trampled or crushed by the sow) will also be banned by 2020 if the NSW bill is successful.

Although a voluntary phase-out of sow-stalls may improve the lives of some pregnant sows, a law requiring all pork producers to provide “appropriate accommodation” for the pigs in their care is the better option. This will ensure the rule covers all producers and enables direct governmental oversight.

No doubt the bill will have some limitations. However, as the community’s expectations shift, the decision to end the use of sow-stalls should rest with parliament, not industry.

The Conversation

Aaron Timoshanko is Sessional Academic and Research Assistant at Flinders University, PhD Candidate at Monash University.
Joanna Kyriakakis is Lecturer in Law at Monash University.

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


SA food and wine industry to benefit from grants

Twelve South Australian companies have shared in more than $340,000 of funding under the first round of the Export Partnership Program.

Seven of the twelve companies are from the food and wine industries, each receiving between $18,050 and $31,225.

Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said there has been a resounding response from South Australian exporters with 48 fully completed applications received in this first round alone.

“This indicates a healthy appetite from South Australian businesses to explore global markets,” Hamilton-Smith said.

“Under the Export Partnership Program, current and aspiring exporters can apply for funding up to $50,000 to pursue international market development.

“The 12 successful recipients will use this funding to grow their knowledge and export capabilities through coaching, training, market intelligence, and also to execute planned activities overseas to market their products.

Hamilton-Smith said he expects the high level of interest in the program will continue and is likely to increase with an active calendar of ministerial trade missions in 2015.

“The government will lead business missions to India and South East Asia during August where we’ll be accompanied by a number of South Australian sectors looking to build their presence in these important markets,” Hamilton-Smith said.

“This is part of a targeted strategy by the South Australian Government to support exporters through facilitation services, diplomacy, awareness raising and critical funding to address the cost of export marketing activities.”

“A number of sectors stand to benefit from the new grants, including aerospace, creative industries, food and wine and services.

“Markets being pursued for a diverse range of proposed activities include China, India, South East Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.”

Round one recipients                                                                              Funding awarded

AEM Cores Pty Ltd                                                                                    $31,000

Barossa Vintage Pty Ltd                                                                             $31,000

Elderton Wines                                                                                          $31,225

Ezy-Fit Hydraulics                                                                                      $30,000

Ferguson Australia Pty Ltd                                                                         $50,000

Kilikanoon Wines Pty Ltd                                                                            $27,475

MacTaggart Scott Pty Ltd                                                                            $6,000

Pindarie Wines                                                                                          $30,075

Prism Defence                                                                                           $14,500

Rossi Boots                                                                                               $50,000

Saltbush Livestock Pty Ltd                                                                         $24,500

SEAPA Pty Ltd                                                                                           $18,050


$25 mill needed to restore wine industry to profitability: WFA

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and the Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) have asked the government for $25 million over four years in supplementary government investment for Wine Australia’s marketing activities.

The money would be used to boost the Australian wine industry’s profile, build demand, maximize the potential of the FTAs and to restore levels of profitability throughout the supply chain.

Vic Patrick, Chair of Wine Grape Growers Australia said “If these activities are not undertaken, our competitors will quickly fill the vacuum and the modest gains made in some regions over the last 12 months will be fleeting and the recovery of inland grape prices further delayed.”

WFA Chief Executive, Paul Evans, said the industry needs to seize the potential to grow demand for Australian wine and address the on-going structural mismatch between supply and demand at profitable price points.

“Until this happens we are likely to see poor levels of average profitability continue for both grape growers and winemakers, Evans said.

“Specifically, we need the resources and promotional activities to restore sustained global consumer interest in Australian wine and to capitalize on the macro-economic shifts that have moved recently in our favour. Adequate funding for the global marketing of our wines is critical if we are to compete with heavily subsidized Old World producers and lower cost New World producers.”

The push follows the release of the 2015 Vintage Report, which shows a 2015 Vintage crush of 1.67 million tonne with some modest and patchy strengthening in average winegrape prices and exports.

Evans said the 2015 Vintage Report reveals a winegrape crush marginally lower than the seven-year average and slightly down on last year’s 1.70 million tonne estimate and 2013’s high of 1.83 million tonnes.

“We see a 5 per cent increase in average wine grape prices over the past year, albeit off a low base. We must also remember that this is an industry average and many producers in the warm inland regions in particular continue to experience enormous challenges. Our analysis shows that 92 per cent of production in warm inland areas is unprofitable,” Evans said.

“The macro-economic climate has shifted in our favour in regards to more favourable exchange rates, the signing of important Free Trade Agreements in the Asian marketplace and improved consumer sentiment in our traditional markets,” he said.

“But we must remain pro-active. While these developments will help, they will not be enough to restore lost margin and share across the industry over the longer term unless we work with government to make the most of the opportunity.

Snapshot of 2015 Vintage Report figures:

  • Red crush – 835, 523 tonnes
  • White crush – 834,041 tonnes
  • Top 3 red varieties: Shiraz (391,649; Cabernet Sauvignon 209,588; Merlot 107,280)
  • Top 3 white varieties: Chardonnay 376,339; Sauvignon Blanc 89,125; Semillon 66,572

Crush by state/region:

  • South Australia: 716,592 (47 per cent)
  • Murray Darling-Swan Hill: 381,732 (25 per cent)
  • NSW (excl Murray Darling-Swan Hill): 332,092 (22 per cent)
  • Victoria (excl Murray Darling-Swan Hill): 60,258 (4 per cent)
  • WA: 30069 (2 per cent)
  • Tasmania: 7,197
  • Queensland: 610
  • ACT: 21


GM soybean safe: FSANZ

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today called for submissions on an application to permit the sale and use of food from a genetically modified soybean line.

FSANZ Acting Chief Executive Officer Marion Healy said the soybean line had been genetically modified to be protected against lepidopteran pests, including key soybean pests, the bean shoot moth, sunflower looper and fall armyworm.

“FSANZ has assessed the application and determined there are no public health and safety concerns,” Healy said.

“Based on the data provided in the application, and other available information, food derived from this soybean line is considered to be as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional soybean cultivars.”

All FSANZ decisions on standards are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation. The ministers can decide to adopt, amend, or reject standards or they can ask for a review.

The closing date for submissions is 6pm, 26 August 2015.


$35,000: the cost of three fingers

A New Norcia farming company and a company Director have been fined a total of $35,000 over an incident in which an employee had parts of three fingers amputated by an auger hopper.

GP Mackie and Co Pty Ltd was fined $25,000 and company Director Peter Gilbert Mackie was fined $10,000 in the Moora Magistrates Court this week.  The company and Mackie both pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee.

The incident occurred at Mirridong farm in New Norcia, a cattle and hay farm where crops and grains are also grown, and machinery including air seeders with augers attached are used.

In May 2012, an employee of GP Mackie was working alone, auguring fertiliser into the bin on the air seeder.

He thought he saw a piece of rock in the hopper and reached for it, believing he was well out of reach of the flight from the auger.  He suffered partial amputation of the middle three fingers on his left hand, which required surgery and rehabilitation.

There was no guard fitted to the auger hopper.  The guard had at times been intentionally removed from the auger due to difficulties with the fertiliser clumping and not getting through the guard.

Mackie was aware of the removal of the guard, and GP Mackie’s sister company (which had the same Directors and shared the same workplace) had been given ten improvement notices by WorkSafe inspectors between 2005 and 2009 for guarding issues.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said that machinery guarding was absolutely essential and it was never safe to allow the moving parts of machinery to remain unguarded.

“It is up to the employer to provide a safe work environment for all employees, and this includes providing safely guarded machinery,” Mr McCulloch said.

“The Magistrate in this case made the point that family farming is not exempt from this responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and that the penalty must reflect the seriousness of the incident.

“Subsequent to this incident, the employer installed a guard on the auger that was made from scrap materials and so cost very little.

“If this had been done earlier, this incident would not have occurred and the employee involved would have been spared a great deal of suffering.

“The fact is that Mr Mackie would have been well aware of his responsibilities as an employer after being issued ten notices for guarding offences.

“Guarding of the dangerous moving parts of machinery is such a basic and easy precaution to take, and it really is time for employers to take a good hard look at the guarding situation and stop exposing employees to the risk of injury.”