$30m Newcastle grains terminal to be running by harvest

NSW's first major grain port development in over 25 years is expected to be up and running by this year’s harvest.

The $30m terminal which is located at the Port of Newcastle, was developed by independent grain logistics company – Newcastle Argi Terminal, and will have the capacity to move 1.5m tonnes of grain each year ABC Rural reports.

"We'd be able to take, theoretically, any sort of volume through this terminal," said Martin MacKay, spokesperson for Newcastle Argi Terminal.

"It's about how quickly you can unload trains and how efficiently you can get in and accumulate for the ships.

"So in year one we're just looking at getting up and running and doing as many ships as we can depending on how much volume's out there."

Despite high hopes of being in full production by harvest, grains advisor Mark Martin says that harsh drought conditions in the state’s north will impact on the amount of grain available.

"We fear that it will be tough for them, that their drawing area is where the drought has hit hardest and so there certainly is a decimated crop," he said.

"In addition to that, it is also the area where there's some of the strongest demand and some of the strongest usage, and most of the grain that will be harvested is likely to stay onshore and feed our animals and make our own bread."

SunRice’s potential listing on ASX provokes shareholder fears

Shareholders of SunRice, one of Australia’s largest exporters of processed branded food products, have raised concerns over the potential foreign ownership of the company should it be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Corporate changes will be voted on next week at the company’s annual general meeting, however SunRice will not disclose when growers will be able to vote on a proposal to list on the ASX, ABC Rural reports.

“We've said to our people very clearly, we're not going to go to you unless we think we've got something that will be suitable for you,” said SunRice chairman, Gerry Lawson.

Werribee farmer, Julian Manegazzo said that SunRice could be vulnerable to a takeover bid due as he believes that the company is undervalued.

"Ebro made us an offer a couple of years ago for $5.02 and the majority of owner-shareholders went for that,” said Manegazzo.

"We could get an $8, $9, $10 takeover offer and we could lose the company.

"The way I would protect it is by getting the share value high. I don't want to see overseas interests takeover of SunRice."

The importance of keeping the Nation’s food processing companies in Australian hands has been a highly sensitive topic of late. The proposed takeover of GrainCorp by US agribusiness giant – Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has fuelled the debate with Nationals leader, Warren Truss stating that Australia could eventually lose control of its Agribusiness sector.

“It now faces another critical test. The government must deal with the proposed takeover of Australia’s largest listed agribusiness, GrainCorp, by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – a US giant that is the second largest grain business in the world,” said Truss.

“This bid would mean that every grain export facility in Queensland, NSW, SA and all but half of one in Victoria, would be foreign owned.”

 

Kellogg to release limited edition retro packaging

Kellogg Australia will release a limited edition range of retro packaging this August across some of the company’s most loved breakfast cereal brands.

The range of Kellogg’s retro designs span from an original 1924 Corn Flakes design right through to Nutri-Grain packaging from the 1980’s.

The vintage makeover will feature original versions of characters including Snap, Crackle and Pop, with participating packs including; Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 150g , Rice Bubbles 170g, Nutri-Grain 200gm and Coco Pops 255g.

Patricia Kresojevic, shopper activation manager for Kellogg said that the packaging revival will be sure to evoke feeling of nostalgia and excite consumers.

“The Nutri-Grain packs are based on designs from the 80s and will appeal to the latest generation of parents who grew up during this time and will recognise the cereal pack that used to sit on their breakfast table when they were kids,” said Kresojevic.

“Kellogg’s has been providing breakfast options to families for more than 80 years and revisiting the pack designs of some of our oldest brands is just another way of celebrating our heritage. We hope the packs will help transport Aussie parents back to their childhood days.”

The limited edition retro packs will be available in IGA stores nationally from August.

 

Health claims dominate nutrition bar segment

Growing interest in health and convenience has seen the popularity of nutrition bars rise considerably in recent years, new research has revealed.

According to Innova Market Insights, the nutrition bar sector is enjoying rising levels of interest, in-line or even ahead of cereal bars as a whole.

Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, said health is a big factor is the product's popularity.

"While convenience is the leading positioning for cereal bars overall, used on over 90 percent of total launches in the sector, health has also been a key driver," she said.

"This is not only in terms of the importance of nutrition and performance bars, but also in the perception of offering a healthier snack alternative to products such as confectionery, biscuits and cakes."

Over three-quarters of global launches in the 12 months to the end of April 2013 were positioned on a health platform of some kind, ranging from 'passive health', which includes natural, organic or low calorie claims, to 'active health' including vitamin-fortified, digestive health and weight management claims. This rises to over 90 percent in Australasia, just under 85 percent in the US, but just two-thirds in Asia.

Just over 22 percent of global cereal bar launches were marketed on a sports/recovery and/or energy/alertness positioning, down from just under half in 2005, when launches of bars with a sports or energy positioning peaked.

The most popular health claims overall in the cereal bars sector are additive-/preservative-free or natural claims, displayed on 27 percent of launches recorded by Innova Market Insights. This rises to over 38 percent if organic claims are also included.

Interest in fibre content is also high, with 25 percent of introductions featuring high-fibre or source of fibre claims, rising to over 31 percent if wholegrain claims are added. 'Low' and 'light' claims (i.e. low in fat, calories and/or sugar) were also popular, used on over one-fifth of launches.

"The cross-pollination between more specialist nutrition and performance bars on the one hand and more mainstream cereal and snack bars on the other, has been key to continued growth in the market as a whole," Williams said.
 

AACCI board approves whole grain characterisation in the US

The board of directors for the American Association of Cereal Chemists International (AACCI) has recently approved the AACCI Whole Grain Working Group’s characterisation of whole grain products.

The characterisation states that for a food product to be labelled as wholegrain, it must contain a minimum of 8 grams of whole grain per 30 grams of product.

Approval of the characterisation has been welcomed by Australia’s independent authority for nutrition and health benefits of grains and legumes, the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC)

“The approval of the whole grain products characterisation has been highly anticipated not only by the American cereal grains industry but also the European and of course, Australian industry. As a participant of the Whole Grains Working Group, the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council is pleased to see an agreed position towards defining whole grain products,” stated GLNC Managing Director, Georgie Aley.  

“The new characterisation is in line with the GLNC’s soon-to-be-released industry standard for whole grain content claims in Australia with an emphasis on the minimum of 8 grams per manufacturer serve to be able to define a food as containing whole grains,” Aley outlined.

Dr Julie Miller Jones, chairman for AACCI’s Whole Grain Working Group said that the new characterisation will address the confusion that consumers are subject to when choosing whole grain products.

"Currently, consumers are confused about what constitutes a whole grain food, and this characterisation provides clear guidance to those who seek to consume the recommended levels of whole grain foods," she said.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines specify that Australian’s need to consume six serves of grain foods each day and the GLNC believes that the characterisation will help consumers meet their daily targets.

More Aussie takeovers expected as global demand for food rises

With a proposed acquisition of GrainCorp firmly in the pipeline, industry speculation is pointing towards further Australian agribusiness takeovers.

As Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) seeks to close the takeover of GrainCrop, industry experts are contemplating which Aussie business will be next. Many have suggested that animal feed provider, Ridley Corporation, could be a likely candidate.

According to the Financial Review, agribusiness stocks are in demand after GrainCrop gave its backing to ADM’s $2.8 billion offer.

The purchase of GrainCrop follows foreign acquisitions of other key players including AWB and ABB grain.

According to Commonwealth bank analyst, Jordon Rogers, Ridley is in the spotlight due to the recent sale of its Cheetham Salt business to Hong Kong-based CK Life Sciences.

Dairy producer, Bega Cheese, is also said to be targeted due to its attractive assets in Victoria and Southern NSW, and Asia’s growing appetite for dairy products.

“What China is very low on consumption per capita is dairy, and (that’s) growing rapidly. Australia and New Zealand are the two lowest-cost producers of dairy,” one analyst said.

“Bega Cheese is majority-owned by dairy farmers so we don’t think they are a takeover target in the short-term. But in the longer-term, there are assets that would be desirable for an Asian food company, or an international dairy company,” the analyst said.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050 in order to meet global demands, a claim which is continuing to fuel the increased value of agricultural businesses worldwide.

Another industry analyst has said that securing supplies is a major issue as populations are growing rapidly and resources are fixed.

Other Aussie businesses said to be on the hit list include Goodman Fielder and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. BBY analyst Dennis Hume believes that rising Asian demand could add between a 0.5 and one percent increase in agribusinesses’ profits based on long term forecasts. 

 

Tribunal moves to break CBH monopoly

The Australian Competition Tribunal has upheld a decision to remove a system where Western Australian grain growers were forced to use CBH services to transport their goods to port.

The decision was previously made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2011, but CBH sought a review of the ruling by the Tribunal.

 

The ACCC said it made the ruling on the basis that the previous system “foreclosed competition for the supply of grain transport services”.

 

In removing the system the ruling allows growers and marketers who use CBH storage facilities to use alternative solutions for transporting grain to the coast.

 

“The Tribunal’s decision means that for the first time since deregulation of wheat export marketing in 2008, growers and marketers in WA will be free to make their own arrangements for transporting grain to port for export” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

 

“Importantly, the decision does not affect CBH’s ability to continue to offer Western Australian growers a bundled storage and transport option, currently known as Grain Express.

 

“The effect of the Tribunal’s decision is simply that growers and marketers storing grain with CBH will no longer be forced to use CBH’s Grain Express system to move their grain.”  

Kellogg’s releases social responsibility report

Kellogg's has released its fifth annual corporate responsibility report, shedding light on the company's efforts towards a range of social and environmental causes, including recycling and relieving global hunger.

The cereal and snack manufacturer analysed performance in four key areas: marketplace, workplace, community and environment.

"Driven by our belief in the power of breakfast, our social responsibility strategy emphasises hunger relief and complements our business as a food company," said John Bryant, president and chief executive officer, Kellogg Company.

Marketplace

  • In 2012, Kellogg's Australia announced that it had successfully reduced the salt content of flagships brands Corn Flakes and Rice Bubbles by 20 percent. These latest reductions mean the brand has reduced salt content across its portfolio by up to 59 percent since 1997.
  • The brand also entered into a partnership with digestive health charity, The Gut Foundation, in 2012, to help raise awareness of digestive health related diseases and educate Australians on ways to minimise health risks.

Workplace

  • Kellogg's celebrated long term relationships with Australian farmers in 2012. Members of the Kellogg's team travelled across Queensland and NSW to present commemorative plaques to corn, rice and wheat farmers that have supplied grains to Kellogg's for more than 50 years each.

Community

  • In October 2012, Kellogg's Australia entered into a partnership with OzHarvest and has donated more than five tonnes of breakfast cereal to the hungry across Australia.
  • According to Kellogg's, its Breakfast Buddies program that enables schools and community groups in deprived areas to obtain free donations of breakfast cereal continues to grow. A national breakfast campaign in partnership with Woolworths gave the Breakfast Buddies initiative national exposure and facilitated 25 tonnes of cereal being donated across Australia and New Zealand. Kellogg's also regularly supplies free cereal to more than 200 schools
  • The Kellogg's Australia Charitable Foundation continued its support of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation in 2012. Since the partnership began in 2009, the Foundation has contributed more than $450,000 to the group.
  • Kellogg's has also donated 1.1 million servings of cereal through hunger and disaster relief efforts in 2012, through its support of Foodbank Australia.
  • The company also launched its new Breakfast for Better Days campaign that will see one billion breakfasts and snacks donated to hunger relief efforts globally by 2016.

Environment

  • The liner bags in Kellogg’s cereal are recyclable. However, as soft plastics are not supported by kerbside recycling it has meant consumers have not been able to recycle the inner liners. In 2012, Kellogg's entered into an agreement with Red Group’s RedCycle program that enables all soft plastics to be placed in recycle bins at Coles supermarkets.
  • Kellogg ANZ has achieved its water reduction KPIs for 2012.

The 2012 Kellogg Company Corporate Responsibility Report is available online at www.kelloggcompany.com.


 

Dry rice the way to go

A researcher at CQ University is teaming up with a farmer for a trial to grow rice under dryland cropping conditions.

The research is an effort to use less water to feed Australia and parts of the world.

Research fellow Surya Bhattaraj is working with Alton Downs grower Peter Foxwell and says a number of trials have been done but this trial will show which varieties work best in the central Queensland region.

“We have a number of genotypes here, 13 different genotypes, some of them are more drought-tolerant and some of them are less tolerant that we confirmed in a pre-trial but here we’re looking at those characteristics again in a bigger field trial,” he told the ABC.

He said they will be examining different yields from each of the genotypes and the quality of the rice.

“The rice quality is also very important and is also very specific to the region you sell,” he said.

Crops are already growing in north Queensland and the central highlands but under irrigated conditions.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re not putting in water but we’re utilising the season of the year,” he said.

The trial aims to take advantage of existing soil moisture and seasonal rainfall pattern.

Foxwell, a farmer, said rice has the capability of being a new dry-land crop. He said management is the key.

“If you start with good reserve moisture in the soil there’s an awful lot of things you can grow,” he said.

He added that while the trials are pertinent to central Queensland, it can also have far-reaching implications for the dry-land industries. He’s confident they will find a type suited to the region and other parts of the country.

“There’s a whole range of measures that you can reduce water use and water use efficiency and part of the trial is looking at varieties that are water use efficient.”

Sorghum safe for people with coeliac disease

New research shows the cereal grain sorghum is safe for people with coeliac disease.

Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the research found biochemical and molecular evidence sorghum does not have the proteins harmful to people with coeliac disease.

The study was done by researchers at chemistry science representative body American Chemical Society. Their evidence from an analysis of the recently published sorghum genome, the set of genes in the plant and other sources, shows the gluten protein is not present.

Aus Food News reported the researchers said sorghum is high in nutrition and that everyone should think about consuming food grade sorghums, especially coeliac patients.

The researchers said sorghum is used for animal feed in Western countries. But in Africa and India, it has been food for people.

Farmers in the United States recently started producing sorghum hybrids that are a white grain, known as ‘food grade’ sorghum.

Breaking the gluten-free fad

For people with coeliac disease, gluten can set off a toxic reaction that harms the lining of the guts and kills the little hairs that absorb nutrition.

But gluten-free diets are a trend among non-coeliac sufferers. Coles and Woolworths have entire shelves dedicated to gluten-free foods. Some people, especially women, complain that gluten makes them feel bloated or sluggish.

Yet two studies in Melbourne last year said there is no evidence that gluten is harmful except for a small group of people, the AFR reported.

The studies are a follow-up on research done two years ago that gave clinical evidence that gluten could cause gastrointestinal symptoms in people without coeliac disease. When the American Journal of Gastroenterology published it in 2011, it gave a boost to the gluten-free industry.

Now the journal is reviewing the latest findings in the follow-up study.

Jess Biesiekierski, who completed a PhD at Monash University, based at Eastern Health Clinical School, Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, is part of the research team. She now says the results she and her team presented two years ago were not concrete.

The tests found no signs such as inflammation or immune response to explain the impact of gluten.

She presented the two follow-up studies late last year at the Australian Gastroenterology Week in Adelaide.

The tests for the follow-up studies were redesigned to see whether it was gluten or something else causing the problems. One test looked at 37 people on a high gluten, low gluten and gluten-free diet. The second test looked at 22 people who were put on gluten or gluten-free diet.

The results showed no gluten-related gastrointestinal symptoms.

Biesiekierski said non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is not yet understood, but may exist. Biesiekierski, a registered nutritionist, is concerned people are self-diagnosing as gluten intolerant and cutting foods with gluten.

Gluten, a type of protein is found in the grains wheat, barley, rye and oats. Avoiding these grains can result in low fibre and insufficient vitamin B.

Goldman Sachs accused of profiting from food crisis

Speculating on food prices saw investment banking firm Goldman Sachs pocket more than one billion pounds in 2012, reigniting the controversy surrounding banks profiting from the global food crisis.

The bank is being accused of contributing to rising food costs, making about 251m pounds in 2012 from investing in a range of commodities including wheat, maize and sugar, according to findings from the World Development Movement, for The Independent.

This then led to Goldman Sachs enjoying a 68 percent rise in profits for the year, allowing it to increase the average pay and bonus package of its bankers to 250,000 pounds.

Christine Haigh from WDM told The Independent, "While nearly a billion people go hungry, Goldman Sachs bankers are feeding their own bonuses by betting on the price of food. Financial speculation is fuelling food price spikes and Goldman Sachs is the number one culprit."

Goldman Sachs declined to comment on WDM's findings, however its reported that the bank is advising clients that corn is one of its top trading tips for 2013, following the US's worst ever drought.

While banks argue that food speculation has no real effect on food prices, there's a strong argument that the influx of cash into food has increased demand to such a degree that prices have jumped up.

The Indepedent writes, "Since deregulation allowed the creation of the commodity funds that allowed many speculators to invest in agriculture for the first time, institutions such as Goldman have channelled more than $200bn of cash into the area. This investment has coincided with a significant and sustained rise in global food prices."

 

GrainCorp sale still pending

After having its first offer knocked back, it's expected that Archer Daniels Midland will reconsider what it's happy to pay for GrainCorp.

As one of the world's largest corn, oilseed and wheat processors, the United States' Archer Daniels Midland had its first offer of $2.8 billion or $12.20 a share, knocked back in December 2012, reports AFR.

There is now talk that the company will reassess its options, with RBS Morgans analyst Belinda Moore telling AFR she expects the company to up the ante.

"They have not got GrainCorp board support at $12.20 a share, so they will need to go a lot higher," she said.

Moore says GrainCorp is worth $14.40 a share.

However a fund manager (who chose to remain anonymous) said ADM doesn't need to increase the offer, and could even get it for $10 a share.


 

Kangaroo Island needs investment to reach full food potential

Members of Kangaroo Island's booming food production and manufacturing industry have expressed their frustration at a lack of government investment.

According to Adelaide Now, poor roads, high freight costs, inadequate power and talk of developing marine parks, which could damage the Island's seafood industry, are proving to be serious roadblocks for producers.

Good Food Kangaroo Island chairman, Justin Harman, said "Six years ago we won the Vogue Entertainment best Regional Produce Award for Australia and since then we've seen the development of a range of new products.

"We're going through a second phase of growth and when you look at the variety of food from a small area, it would be hard to beat," he said.

The region produces some top quality products, including lamb, beef, seafood, free range eggs, sheep milk cheeses, marron, cherries, olive oil, ducks and its famous ligurian bee honey – not to mention one of the country's largest abalone farms, KI Abalone Farm and Kangaroo Island Pure Grain.

The region is also a leader in cool climate vegetable production.

Ensuring the area can reach its full potential, however, will depend on the government's willingness to invest in its infrastructure.

Kangaroo Island mayor, Jayne Bates, told Adelaide Now, "The problem is most producers can't meet the demand for their produce and you come back to the shortage of power and other infrastructure problems."

"We need a $100 million-plus power upgrade," she said, arguing that the reason Kangaroo Island's

economy isn't improving is because of infrastructure failings including an upgraded airport, improved roads and more power, because half the island runs on diesel.

"I've seen what the island has achieved with no assistance, imagine what we could do with some assistance."


 

Crop farmers feeling the heat

Extreme heat and reduced consumer demand for vegetables has paved the way for a difficult start to 2013 for some of Australia's crop farmers.

Wheat and barley prices are expected to jump as a result of the recent hot weather, which is also expected to damage the sorghum fodder grain crop.

The AFR reported that farmers are also facing a surge in water costs, as they struggle to keep their crops alive.

In addition, producers are also having to deal with a drop in demand for certain vegetables, with the hot weather causing a shift in consumers' appetites as well.

Jeff McSpedon, a vegetable farmer south of Bathurst in NSW, told AFR, "When it gets so hot people don't want cooked vegetables, they opt for salads.

"So cauilflower and broccoli growers in the area are battling the weather and have lost 30 percent in the value of their crop because people aren't buying it," he said.

The heat is also causing some crops to ripen faster than normal, which could lead to a shortage later on in the year, and is also affecting the appearance of some vegetables, with certain Asian green losing their sheen.