Health Star Rating website relaunched

The Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash, has reinstated a website for the Health Star Rating, after the original was pulled down hours after launching in February.

Fiona Nash's then chief of staff, Alastair Furnival  was prompted to resign in February when strong, direct links to food industry lobby groups were revealed – after he had ordered the Health Stars website to be taken down.

Nash has now launched an education campaign and a website for the rating, which she say is the first stage of the campaign which will intensify over coming months as more food products display the healthy star rating.

The website includes a section regarding applying the health star ratings, and a guide for the industry.

"The HSR system is voluntary for industry to adopt over the next five years, as agreed by the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in June 2014," Minister Nash said.

“Although to date there are only a few labelled products on the shelves, starting with Monster Muesli, a number of companies have now indicated they will be rolling out the HSR system.

"The HSR system takes into account the four aspects of food – energy; saturated fat; total sugars; and sodium content.  Products that are low in saturated fat, sugars, sodium and/or energy will generally have a higher star rating. The healthier the food, the higher the stars.

"We've worked closely with stakeholders on this healthy food choices initiative which has resulted in this voluntary scheme receiving broad support from public health groups, from food companies and from supermarkets.

“This will enable cost effective implementation, and provide time for manufacturers to work on reformulation—to include less saturated fats, sugars or sodium in their products.

Public Health Association CEO Michael Moore welcomed the launch today.

"This is a great day for consumers and families. We thank Minister Nash for her determined work to make this a reality," Moore said.

The CEO of the National Heart Foundation, Mary Barry CEO said: “We congratulate Minister Nash, and welcome the introduction of the stars and are pleased to see the stars on more and more products on our supermarket shelves.

"The Coalition Government recognises the burden of disease associated with poor diet and physical inactivity and the Health Star Rating system is one of a suite of measures to make it easier for people to make healthier food choices,” Senator Nash said.

 

Coca-Cola to enter functional milk market with Fairlife

The Coca-Cola Company has announced that it will be entering the US milk market.

The global beverage giant announced at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference that its new “Fairlife” product will be launched in stores in late December.

Sandy Douglas, global chief customer officer and president, Coca-Cola North America said that the company has decided to take “a very significant place in milk,” and that its new product is made on a sustainable dairy using a proprietary milk filtering process that can increase protein by 50 percent, reduces sugar by 30 percent and omit lactose.

“The test markets have been amazing, and we’ve created a joint venture with a bunch of dairy farmers who are innovative leaders in the dairy industry. So you put that next to Simply and you have a nutrition beverage company with tremendous growth potential,” Douglas told the conference.

“Now to be clear, we’re going to be investing in the milk business for a while to build the brand so it won’t rain money in the early couple of years. But like Simply, when you do it well it rains money later. And we can deliver with our business portfolio before the milk comes on full profit line.”

Lianne Van Den Bos, analyst from global market research company, Euromonitor says that Fairlife is the “epitome of on-trend”. She says that the product is twice the protein and calcium compared to full fat milk, half the sugar, lactose-free, sustainably produced and packaged in recyclable bottles.  

“Looking at the categories in which Coca-Cola has a presence in North America, two thirds of its sales come from carbonates and juices, which have been underperforming as consumers cut down on sugary drinks. As such, over the years Coca-Cola has moved into sport drinks, reduced calorie options such as Coca-Cola Life and now milk is its next step,” she says.

“In fact when looking at similar products that are positioned around high protein, lactose-free, and low-calorie, sales have been booming in North America as US consumers have flocked towards products which promise satiety or alternative, lactose-free products, as some studies suggest that lactose can be linked to digestive problems. Non-dairy milk alternatives, yoghurt and fortified flavoured milk have all show strong growth rates, with CAGRs above 5 percent over 2009-2014, yet Coca-Cola’s presence in these categories is negligible, whilst its presence in stagnant categories such as juices and carbonates is high.”

Van Den Bos says that Coca-Cola could be successful in launching Fairlife considering the demand for products with high nutritional credentials, however the company’s current marketing campaigns are heavily focused on being “being better, bigger and more natural than competing products”.

Van Den Bos suggests that marketing modesty instead may help in convincing the consumer to believe in the purity of the product.

“In terms of turning niche into mass, there is a danger that the high number of product launches claiming increased levels of protein at the moment will turn a unique selling point of today into the industry norm of tomorrow and therefore lose its edge,” she says.

Functional and fortified milk in Australia

Daniel Grimsey, analyst at Euromonitor Australia says that despite declining since 2012, the Australian per capita retail volumes of milk have remained more or less stable, with a three precent compound annual growth rate during 2009-14.

According to data from Euromonitor, Australia is currently ranked 6th globally for per capita milk retail volumes, at 75 litres per head in 2014.

"Across the dairy Australian dairy industry as a whole, there has been a much stronger performance of lactose-free dairy than in the US, with a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent  (or a 118 percent entire increase from 2009 to 2014). Reduced fat milk has also registered a stronger performance in Australia," says Grimsey.

Grimsey says that organic milk has performed well across both markets, however fortified/ functional (FF) milk has not performed particularly well in either market over the period, and Fairlife, with claims such as 50 percent more protein and 50 percent more calcium, would most certainly fall into the FF category.

Euromonitor Australia say that Coca-Cola could be successful revitalising the struggling category in the US, however the company has no intention of launching Fairlife in Australia at this stage. 

Euromonitor releases new report on the ‘global sugar backlash’

Euromonitor International has released a new report discussing the global backlash against sugar.

The report discusses changes in consumer attitudes towards sugar and the effect sugar is having on global markets.

Each of the 34 global markets identified in the report saw a five-year rise in obesity including the US, where the number of obese adults rose from 34 percent in 2008, to 41 percent in 2013. In addition 27 markets saw an increase in diabetes.

Euromonitor notes that the negative attitude towards sugar is driving changes in trends, with consumers either making a conscious effort to reduce their intake, or eliminate it completely.

Accordng to findings in Euromonitor’s Global Consumer Trends Survey, 42 percent of consumers are now seeking out food labels with limited or no added sugar.

“Sugar is now seen as a health risk by most, and as toxic as tobacco by some,” says Gina Westbrook, director of strategy briefings at Euromonitor International. “Sugar has endured a tide of negative public opinion as the amount of scientific research linking the rise in sugar intake with obesity has increased, leading the government to become increasingly concerned about the rising cost of illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.”

Westbrook notes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently recommended cutting the daily sugar limit in half to five percent and that manufacturers will need to reduce sugar content and continue to develop natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners.

“Companies will continue to work with ingredients suppliers to develop new alternatives, with natural sweeteners like stevia holding the greatest growth potential,” she said.

In November last year, Mexico passed a law that imposes significant new taxes on sugary drinks and junk food.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, successfully passed an eight percent tax on junk foods – foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, as well as an four percent tax per litre on sugary drinks such as soda.

President Nieto said at the time that the Mexican government has taken a long-term view of the situation, as the potential economic harm from reduced sales of junk food/ drinks is relatively insignificant to the medicals costs associated with food related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

 

Sanitarium rolls out Health Star Rating

Weet-Bix and UP&GO will be the first Sanitarium products to arrive on shelves with front of pack Health Star labelling.

UP&GO, which scored four and a half stars will roll out its new labelling this month, and Weet-Bix, which was awarded five stars, in December, with more products set to roll out until mid-2015.

Endorsed by the State and Federal Governments in June, the Health Star Rating system scores products on a scale of 0.5 to five stars based on nutrient and whole food content, and is aligned with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

It takes into account the four aspects of food associated with increasing the risk factors for chronic diseases: energy; saturated fat; total sugars; and sodium content. Food products that are low in saturated fat, total sugars, sodium and/or energy will generally have a higher star rating.

Todd Saunders, General Manager – Sanitarium Australia, said Sanitarium was one of the first companies to support the voluntary Health Star Rating labelling system and is proud to be taking a leading role in implementing the important national initiative.

“The Health Star Rating system is an effective way to deliver this and we see the use of a consumer-friendly visual guide on packs as a great way to empower shoppers to make healthy food choices.”

Trish Guy, Australian Practising Dietician and nutritionist at Sanitarium, said the Health Star Rating system makes interpreting the nutritional credentials of a product simpler.

“Nutrition labelling can be difficult to understand and contextualise for many people, so the star system, which is backed by considerable research, provides an easy, reliable reference that consumers can use when selecting products,” she said.

In June, Sanitarium made the commitment to adopt the new Health Star Rating system across its entire product range. Nestle, Woolworths, Coles and several other companies have also either begun using, or have announced that they will adopt the health star rating system.

The rollout of consumer watchdog Choice’s front-of-pack Health Stars Rating Scheme has been surrounded by scandals and resistance from industry groups.

More significantly, federal assistant health minister Fiona Nash's chief of staff was prompted to resign when strong, direct links to food industry lobby groups were revealed – after he had ordered the Health Stars website to be taken down.

In response to the announcement, Fiona Nash congratulated Sanitarium on their commitment.

"The point of the star rating system is to make it easier for people to make a simple, informed choice about the food products they buy. Earlier this year, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation agreed that the health star rating system should be implemented voluntarily over the next five years with a review of the progress of implementation after two years. This will enable cost effective implementation, provide time for industry to work on food reformulation – to include less saturated fats, sugars or sodium – and for consultation with small and medium sized enterprises.” 

The Health Star Rating Scheme was signed off by food and health ministers from federal, state and territory governments in June. 

 

New whey protein developed for yoghurt based nutrition products

Arla Foods Ingredients has developed a whey protein for yoghurt based sports nutrition products.

Arla says that its Nutrilac solution product will provide a great alternative for active consumers who prefer not to consume traditional gels and shakes as it has a pleasant taste, and a texture similar to drinking yoghurt but with a whey protein content as high as 28g per serving.

The company also says that the category of sports yoghurt is expected to resonate with ordinary customers as well as those dedicated to fitness.

“The numbers of people participating in sports is rocketing, but many are put off using traditional sports nutrition products because they don’t like their taste and texture,” says Torben Jensen, category manager for functional dairy products at Arla Foods Ingredients.

“Our Nutrilac protein solution for sports yoghurts provides a real alternative that makes high protein products much more approachable for active consumers. Because they taste and feel just like a conventional drinking yoghurt, sports yoghurts will widen the appeal of sports nutrition products to reach new active consumers, helping to encourage incremental growth in the category.”

 

Indulgent products more popular than healthy FMCGs, Canadean

A recent study from market research company Canadean has found that food manufacturers may be placing too much emphasis on the health category and subsequently neglecting demand for indulgent products. 

Canadean surveyed 100 managers working in the FMCG industry, and asked them how important they believe the demand for products within the health and indulgence categories over the next three years will be. 79 percent of respondents stated that health would be the most important, compared to 63 percent who named indulgence as the category to concentrate on.

Analyst at Canadean, Joanne Hardman said that the findings differ to the market research company’s consumer data which shows that consumers’ demand for indulgence is significantly greater than health.

In 2012 consumers spent $US 600,167 million on fulfilling the desire for indulgence and luxury, whereas only $US 323,694 was spent in the same year on the desire for a healthy option.  

“Some brands are getting it wrong with their perception of what consumers will want over the next three years. The desire for an indulgent treat will always reign supreme over the need for a health kick,” says Hardman.

Hardman says that while consumers are expected to display a desire for healthier options over the next few years, Canadean’s data predicts that consumers will continue to favour indulgence over anything else over that period.

“If manufacturers are looking to target the health-conscious audience more over the next three years, extending product portfolios as opposed to adjusting current product formulation will be preferred by consumers, as it allows them to stay loyal to the brand when they are looking for both indulgent and healthy offerings.” 

 

High protein products in demand, taste preconceptions still an issue, study

A new study from market research company, Canadean has found that while consumers are acknowledging the importance of consuming high protein food, few actually have enough protein in their diets.

A survey conducted in the UK by Canadean revealed that 81 percent of consumers were aware of the importance of consuming enough protein, however only 44 percent have the correct daily allowance. Furthermore only 16 percent of consumers said that they actively sort out food and beverage products that are high in protein.

44 percent of respondents said that they purchased high protein products to “improve general wellbeing” and 37 percent “to increase strength”. Canadean say that these general answers reflect that there is still some unawareness surrounding the specific benefits of protein such as increased bone density and muscle retention.

The research also revealed that the 25-34 age segment are most likely to try and include more protein in their diet, and that consumers over 55 were the least likely. Lead analyst at Canadean, Michael Hughes says that this provides a prime opportunity for manufacturers to educate senior citizens better about the health benefits of protein. However Hughes also cautioned that manufacturers will need to overcome a number of negative preconceptions related to the taste of high protein products.

Canadean’s data shows that 52 percent of consumers are sceptical of indulgent products such as ice cream with high-protein claims on the packaging.

“While protein currently has a 'health halo' surrounding it, more needs to be done to encourage consumers to purchase products high in the ingredient,” says Hughes. “Manufacturers need to target specific demographic groups – and in particular senior citizens – by educating consumers about the specific health benefits associated with protein and how it can improve their lifestyle.”

 

Energy drinks may pose danger to public health, WHO

Researchers from the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe have warned that the increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people.

The researchers reviewed literature on the health risks, consequences and policies related to energy drink consumption, and concluded that that concerns in the scientific community and among the public of potential adverse health effects caused by the increased consumption of energy drinks are “broadly valid”.

Caffeinated energy drinks were first launched in Europe in 1987, and have since boomed into a highly lucrative industry worldwide. Sales in the US have increased by around 10 percent per year between 2008 and 2012. Estimates from the European Food Safety authority suggest that 30 percent of adults, 68 percent of adolescents and 18 percent of children below the age of 10 consume energy drinks.

Studies included in the review suggest that caffeine intoxication can lead to a host of health dangers including heart palpitations, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, psychosis, and in rare cases, death. The researchers noted that several cases in the USA, Sweden, and Australia have been reported where people have died of heart failure or were hospitalized with seizures due to excessive consumption of energy drinks.

According to the National Poison Data System in the US, between 2010 and 2011, 4854 calls to poison information centres were made in relation to energy drinks, and of those calls, almost 40 percent involved alcohol mixed with energy drinks. A similar study in Australia demonstrated a growth in the number of calls about energy drinks.

"As energy drink sales are rarely regulated by age, unlike alcohol and tobacco, and there is a proven potential negative effect on children, there is the potential for a significant public health problem in the future," wrote the authors.

As possible solutions to address the rising health concerns surrounding the dangers of energy drink consumption, the researchers suggest:

  • Establishing an upper limit for the amount of caffeine allowed in a single serving of any drink in line with available scientific evidence;
  • Regulations to enforce restriction of labelling and sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents;
  • Enforcing standards for responsible marketing to young people by the energy drink industry;
  • Training health care practitioners to be aware of the risks and symptoms of energy drinks consumption;
  • Patients with a history of diet problems and substance abuse, both alone and combined with alcohol, should be screened for the heavy consumption of energy drinks;
  • Educating the public about the risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks consumption;
  • Further research on the potential adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on young people.

 

Low-calorie alcoholic drinks on the rise, IWSR

According to the International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR) Global Trends Report, the popularity of low-calorie alcoholic beverages is continuing to gain momentum across the US and Europe.

The report sights the successful launch of products such as Skinnygirl and Voli Lite vodka in the US as the catalyst for a range of new low-calorie spirit, pre-mix and wine launches across the globe.

The reports states that the market for ready-to-drink market has become near saturated with many brands jumping on the low-calorie bandwagon.

Skinnygirl Cocktails recently launched two new low-calorie expressions in the US containing under 100 calories per bottle, while Slim Lizzy cocktail kegs offer a lower calorie option for the US on-trade, providing low-calorie margarita and cosmopolitan cocktails on tap.

The UK has also proven to be a lucrative market for low-calorie drinks with Diageo releasing Nola, a low-calorie vodka spritz drink in addition to a line of Smirnoff Sorbet Light pouches to tap into the low-calorie drinks trend.

The demand for low-calorie wines is also evident with the launch of products such as Skinny Champagne by Alexander Penet, and Skinny Rose by Champagne Tribaut which both boast low-calorie credentials.

 

IXL launches fruit spread with stevia

SPC’s IXL brand is launching a fruit spread range sweetened with stevia.

Jelica Vrkic, business manager of nutritional health at SPC said that Stevia is a great way for brands such as IXL to reduce their sugar content.

“Stevia is one of the first all-natural, calorie-free sweetening ingredients that has been adopted for mainstream use. It contributes no calories to food, but is up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, so you just add a pinch and you have the same delicious sweetness that makes jam so popular.”

IXL sweetened with Stevia will be available in Coles nationally from October 2014, in selected IGA, FoodWorks and Foodland stores from November 2014, and in Woolworths from early 2015.
 

Ward McKenzie’s Coconut Flour

Product name: Coconut Flour

Product manufacturer: Ward McKenzie's

Ingredients: 100 percent coconut. Fibre from pure coconut meat after most of the oil has been removed

Shelf life: One year

Packaging: 330g Zip lock bag to maintain freshness & convenience

Product manager: Melissa Clayton

Brand website: https://www.mckenziesfoods.com.au

What the company says

Ward McKenzie's Coconut Flour is an all-natural coconut flour that is gluten free and high in fibre and protein.

 

 

GLNC to take leadership role at global pulses forum

Managing director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC), Georgie Aley has been selected to lead an international effort focused on raising awareness about pulses.

Aley has been appointed to the role of Chair of the Global Creating Awareness Theme, and will be traveling to Italy later this month to participate in a meeting with the FAO/UN Committee for Food Security as part of the planning for the UN-proclaimed, 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYOP).

In addition, Aley has also been named Chair of the IYOP Australian Steering Committee to drive the IYOP program at a national level.

“I am privileged to take on the role of Chair of the Global Creating Awareness Theme at the 2016 International Year of Pulses meeting in Rome, representing GLNC and the Australian pulses industry,” said Aley.

“There is potential to achieve so much right across the globe to drive awareness of the benefits of pulses such as beans, peas and lentils, so it’s exciting to have the opportunity to be at the coalface where we can make a real difference to the future of the food industry.

“The IYOP Australian Steering Committee will actively engage with the Australian pulse community including researchers, food industry, growers and other industry organisations to influence the planning and implementation of the program. We want to ensure that interests of the entire Australian pulse community are represented.”

In addition to Aley’s appointment, Michelle Broom, GLNC nutrition program manager, has also been named as a member of the Global Health, Nutrition & Food Innovation theme; while Tim Edgecombe, Pulse Australia CEO, is a member on the Global Market Access and Productivity & Environmental Sustainability themes.

The United Nations officially declared 2016 International Year of Pulses at the UN General Assembly in December 2013.

 

Killer Python shrinks as Nestle looks to reduce serving sizes

The size of Allen’s iconic Killer Python has been halved, reducing the confectionery item’s serving size as therefore its sugar and calorie content.

The new Killer Python weighs in at 24g, almost half of the original 47g size. It now contains 336kJ as opposed to 630kJ, but still uses the same recipe, with no artificial flavours.

The move forms part of Nestlé’s efforts to address serving sizes, particularly in regards to confectionery, and the Killer Python will be one of the first products in Nestlé’s range to include a new portion guidance device.

“From my experience people often can’t judge serving sizes. The portion guidance device clearly illustrates serving size and helps people enjoy their food, but know when to stop,” dietitian Melanie McGrice said.

Nestlé general manager – confectionery, Martin Brown said that resizing the Killer Python is only the beginning of this Nestlé initiative.

“We’re now offering confectionery with responsibly sourced ingredients, on-pack portion education and changes such as revised portion sizes and resealable packaging,” he said.

The new, treat sized Killer Python will be in stores this month.
 

National Heart Foundation tick under review

Now celebrating its 25th year, the National Heart Foundation has decided to review its Healthy Tick trademark.

Mary Barry, the National Heart Foundation’s CEO said that the 25th anniversary of the organisation marks an appropriate time to review the trademark, and hinted that it could conceivably be replaced by the Federal Government’s health star rating scheme.

“Should this system (health star rating scheme) be successful and mandatory … we could then consider the future of the tick,” Barry told The Herald Sun.

The review will take place over a 12 month period and will assess whether the tick can either complement, or add value to the new star rating system.

The Heart Foundation’s ‘Healthy Tick’ program was launched in 1989, and was designed to represent a healthier choice for consumers when compared to other processed foods.

The program came under heat from health professionals in 2008 when it temporarily awarded the tick to selected products from fast-food chain McDonald’s.

The Federal Government’s health star rating scheme was officially signed off by food ministers in June this year.

The voluntary scheme was developed to replace the current daily intake guide and was initially approved by food and health ministers in June last year.

The decision to review the tick comes as celebrity chef and paleo food advocate, Pete Evans along with David Gillespie author of anti-sugar book Sweet Poison slammed the Heart Foundation for awarding the Heart Tick to a host of processed products including frozen pizzas and sugary breakfast cereals.

In a Facebook post, Gillespie wrote: “The program is a nice little earner for the Heart Foundation, pulling in $2.8m in 2013 alone. The only problem is that, through the Tick Program, the Heart Foundation now finds itself in the position of having endorsed hundreds of products that the science says are very dangerous to our health.”

“…We need the Heart Foundation to…immediately trash its Tick program. And we need our dieticians to throw off the yoke of corporate sponsorship and provide evidence based dietary advice untainted by the smell of food industry money.”

 

Demand for healthier energy drinks on the rise

According to a recent report from market research company Canadean, 50 percent of consumers surveyed believe that energy drinks are bad for their health.

Despite this belief, the category is still experiencing impressive growth however, Canadean believe that manufacturers need to develop healthier formulas in order to secure the longer-term success of the market.  

The report revealed that the UK’s energy drink consumption has gone up from 375 million litres in 2010, to 500 million litres in 2013. The report also found that almost one in ten Britons consume energy drinks, with half of them doing so on a weekly basis.

However, the survey also shows that consumers have concerns over the ingredients used in energy drinks. Almost six out of 10 energy drink consumers believe that energy drink consumption is bad for their health and that the ingredients included in energy drinks are worrying. Moreover, 72 percent of all respondents who drink energy drinks think that there should be a restriction on the sale of energy and stimulant drinks to children. 

“More and more consumers exchange reviews and opinions about food and drinks ingredients online and are able to look up dubious additives and e-numbers quickly,” said Thomas Delaney, analyst at Canadean. “This means that manufacturers need to become more transparent regarding their ingredients and react fast to negative news online. For example, some brands have adopted a taurine-free ingredients list after the amino sulfonic acid commonly added to energy drinks had received bad press linking it to increased blood pressure, seizures, strokes and heart diseases.”

Delaney says that it is essential that manufacturers look to developing healthier variants if they wish to maintain their piece of the energy drink market.

“Although the two biggest players in the energy drinks market have not yet incorporated taurine-free energy drinks in their product ranges, Red Bull's sugar-free and zero calories variants and Monster Energy's absolutely zero beverage attest to a trend towards healthier drinks. They are tell-tale signs of a diverging energy drinks market.”

 

Coke and Pepsi commit to cutting beverage calories

Global beverage giants, Coke, Pepsi and the DR Pepper Snapple Group have made a pledge to reduce the amount of calories in their beverages by 20 percent in the US over the next decade.

The move was announced at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative (an initiative founded by former US president Bill Clinton with the aim of creating and implementing innovative solutions to deal with global challenges) and will see the beverage manufacturers aggressively market smaller sizes, diet drinks and bottled water.

The companies will also be engaging in educational initiatives to encourage consumers to reduce the amount of calories that they are consuming via beverages. This will include company-owned vending machines and coolers in convenience stores as well as soft drink fountains found in fast food restaurants and movie theatres. This will also extend into in-store promotions in supermarkets.

“We’ll use the most critical levers we have at our disposal, and the focus really will be on transforming the beverage landscape in the U.S. over the next 10 years,” Susan Neely, chief executive of the American Beverage Association told The NY times.

Although the move may be viewed as a positive step forward in addresses health related diseases, health advocates dismissed the announcement as a powerful marketing tactic.

“I suspect they’re promising what’s going to happen anyway,” Kelly Brownell, an expert on obesity and dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University told The NY Times. “All the trends are showing decreased consumption of high-calorie beverages, and so what better way to get a public relations boost than to promise to do what’s happening anyway?”

 

Maxwell Foods launches children’s Peppa Pig range in Australia

Australian food brand, Maxwell Foods is launching the Peppa Pig brand in Australia and the UK across its range of children's fruit and nut products.

Peppa Pig, which is the star of an internationally successful animated children’s show, will appear on the product packaging of Maxwell Foods’ childrens fruit and nut products including high quality sultanas, apricots, and mixed fruit and nuts.

Maxwell Foods managing director, Chris Spratt says that the manufacturer’s Peppa Pig snack foods provide children with a tasty snack that also boasts a great nutritional profile.

“Giving our kids a special treat with a nutritious fruit and nut base that satisfies their taste buds as well as being branded with one of their favourite characters is a surefire way to encourage kids to eat healthier,” said Spratt.

Established in 1984, Maxwell Foods sources premium fruit and nut products from around the world. The company recently entered into a joint-venture in Turkey to source premium apricots, in addition to its many other existing produce suppliers who deliver quality  almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pinenuts, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts

Products are presented in single serve boxes, pillow pack bags, zipped day pack bags, snack tubs and “on the go” cups.

 

Beverages Council defends proposed sports drink labelling changes

The Australian Beverages Council is defending the proposed easing of labelling restrictions for sports drinks after the Obesity Policy Coalition claimed the changes could mislead consumers.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for submissions on a proposed change to the Food Standards Code to expand the range of claims that can be made about formulated supplementary sports foods (FSSFs), electrolyte drinks and electrolyte drink bases (EDs).

“While these products can already carry some claims that are specified in the Code, the claims are very limited. FSANZ is proposing to change the Code so that these products can carry a broader range of health claims related to their purpose and composition,” FSANZ chief executive officer Steve McCutcheon said.

According to the ABC, Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition said health claims are currently banned from sports drinks because of their high sugar content.

"… because these drinks are very high in sugar they fail to meet the cut-off to be allowed to carry health claims, and this is a call for an exemption,” she said.

"Presenting the impression that these products provide superior health benefits compared to water without providing any information about the high sugar content and the potential negative impacts of these drinks is misleading for consumers."

However Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council, said there is significant data demonstrating the health benefits of sports drinks.

"What manufacturers wanted to do was to tap into a whole lot of internationally recognised research and scientific studies which are out there, which start to flesh out some of the more detailed, functional benefits that electrolytes and sports drinks can actually make," Parker said.

"So some of their claims might be … that sports drinks hydrate better than water for intensive exercise, for example, or [that] sports drinks hydrate twice as fast as water for intensive exercise.”

Parker said this form of labelling would help consumers to recognise if sports drinks are suitable for them to consume, but Martin disagrees, claiming manufacturers would use them as a marketing tool.

"Health claims are incredibly powerful tools and people are very motivated to be healthy," she said.

"People will think they're doing the right thing but they'll be getting it with eight teaspoons of sugar.”

 

Coconut based products continue to gain momentum

According to a recent report from Innova Market Insights, coconut featured in over four percent of global soft drinks launches in the 12 months ending June 2014.

The new product launches mentioned primarily sit within the juice drinks market either as pure coconut water or in combination with other juices. The report states that coconut featured in over six percent of global juice drinks launches in 2014, up from 4.5 percent in the previous 12-month period, and from less than two percent five years ago. This rises to over 13 percent in the US market, where over eight percent of sports and energy drinks launched featured coconut water.

“With sales of traditional carbonates and still drinks relatively static in many markets, the industry appears to be turning to coconut water, which seems well placed for the task of driving growth with its exotic image, unusual flavour and natural hydration properties,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

“These features, along with the fact that the leading multinational soft drinks companies are already taking an active role, suggest that the sector is on course for significant further development.”

Although the market for coconut based beverages is now well established in the US, the report highlights that the market is now segmenting to maintain momentum.  For example popular energy drink brand, Rockstar released a coconut water variant while sports nutrition company, Nature’s Best released Cocotein – coconut water fortified with whey protein isolate.

Flavoured products featuring coconut water with lemonade, espresso coffee, chocolate and chili have also been introduced as well as other carbonated lines and products developed specifically for children.

Outside of the US, coconut water is also gaining in popularity in Europe with the UK seeing particularly high levels of new product activity. Nearly eight percent of juice and juice drinks launches featured coconut water in the 12 months to the end of June 2014 which is up 5.5 percent on the previous year.

In addition, PepsiCo’s Naked coconut water launched into the UK last month joining the other two US market leaders in the category, Vita Coco and Coca-Cola’s Zico which already have an established presence in the UK market. UK soft drink company AG Barr also launched a coconut water into its exotic juice range and private labels brands have also been on the rise with Bestway cash-and-carry and Marks & Spencer offering their own in-house lines.