Sleep, snacks and shift work: the magic midnight snack

If you’re one of Australia’s 1.4 million shiftworkers, eating at irregular times is just par for the course – but have you ever stopped to think about the impact this might have on your body?

In a new research study by the University of South Australia, researchers have investigated whether altering food intake during the nightshift could optimise how shiftworkers feel during the night and reduce their sleepiness.

Testing the impact of either a snack, a meal, or no food at all, the study found that a simple snack was the best choice for maximising alertness and productivity.

Lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate Charlotte Gupta says the finding has the potential to help thousands of shiftworkers who work during the night.

“In today’s 24/7 economy, working the nightshift is increasingly common, with many industries – health care, aviation, transport and mining – requiring employees to work around the clock,” Gupta says.

“As a nightshift worker, finding ways to manage your alertness when your body is naturally primed for sleep can be really challenging.

“We know that many nightshift workers eat on-shift to help them stay awake, but until now, no research has shown whether this is good or bad for their health and performance.

“This is the first study to investigate how workers feel and perform after eating different amounts of food.

“The findings will inform the most strategic eating patterns on-shift and can hopefully contribute to more alert and better performing workers.”

In Australia, of the 1.4 million shiftworkers, 15 per cent (or over 200,000) regularly work a night or evening shift. Working at night-time conflicts with a person’s internal circadian clock, making it harder to stay focused and awake. Managing fatigue is therefore critical for workplace health and safety.

Over a seven-day simulated shiftwork protocol, the study assessed the impact of three eating conditions (a meal comprising 30 per cent of energy intake over a 24-hour period (for example, a sandwich, muesli bar, and apple); a snack comprising 10 percent of energy intake (for example, just the muesli bar and apple); and no food intake at all) each consumed at 12:30 am. The 44 participants were randomly split into the three test-conditions and were asked to report on their levels of hunger, gut reaction and sleepiness.

The results showed that while all participants reported increased sleepiness and fatigue, and decreased vigour across the nightshift, consuming a snack reduces the impact of these feelings more so than a meal or no food at all. The snack group also reported having no uncomfortable feelings of fullness as noted by the meal group.

Gupta says the next step in the research is to investigate the different types of snacks and how they affect shiftworkers differently.

“Now that we know that consuming a snack on nightshift will optimise your alertness and performance without any adverse effects, we’re keen to delve more into the types of snacks shiftworkers are eating,” Gupta says.

“Lots of shiftworkers snack multiple times over a nightshift, and understanding the different macronutrient balances is important, especially as many report consuming foods high in fat, such as chips, chocolate and fast foods.

“We’re keen to assess how people feel and perform after a healthy snack versus a less-healthy, but potentially more satisfying snack like chocolate or lollies.

“Ultimately, the goal is to help Australian shiftworkers on the nightshift to stay alert, be safe, and feel healthy.”

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Avocado oil sales to be upheld by surging investments

Global demand for avocado oil is estimated to witness growth at a Y-O-Y of over four per cent in 2019, according to the Avocado Oil Market report put out by Future Market Insights.  This growth can be ascribed to a cohort of factors, ranging from changing lifestyles to rising gravitation toward health and well-being. The ever-evolving dietary preferences aligned with the health and wellness trend is foreseen to boost growth of avocado oil.

According to the report, avocado oil mixed with other natural edible oils, such as almond oil, olive oil, and others, is a pervasive trend shaping market growth. Manufacturers are vying to offer such innovative blends of avocado oil with other edible oil types in a bid to capitalize on the growing demand for ‘better-than-the rest’ offerings.

Rising demand for ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ to propel sales of avocado oil
Rising instances of heart problems and other chronic diseases is inducing a move-away from fatty oils, creating sustained opportunities for manufacturers of the avocado oil market. Incessant demand for natural and healthy oils is strengthening the demand for edible oils, with avocado oil being one of the most popular varieties.

Moreover, rising demand for physical and cognitive well-being among the consumers is one of the major drivers for the increase in the demand for avocado oil. Modern consumers are considering multiple factors while purchasing products such as oil, with health benefits being the utmost priority. These particulars provide credence to optimistic growth of avocado oil market over the forecast period, unveils the report.

As per the report, consumers prefer products that are naturally derived and have a rich nutritional profile. In line with the aforementioned, avocado oil fits the bill as an excellent option well-aligned with consumer requirements. Avocado oil has a high smoke point as compared to that of other alternatives, which makes it a suitable choice for cooking at high temperatures.

Avocado oil obtained without the excessive use of solvents or heat contains an antioxidant, lutein, which is associated with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and helps to improve the vision. This, in turn, boosts its visibility as a natural & healthy ingredient for use in personal care and skin care products, propelling the growth of avocado oil market.

Surging demand for clean-label products to exert positive impact on avocado oil market growth
The demand for clean label products is anticipated to work in favor for the key stakeholders of the avocado oil market. Moreover, consumers are showing strong interest in products infused with simple and natural ingredients, thereby fuelling adoption of avocado oil in various end-user verticals.

The report opines, Europe is anticipated to register impressive growth rate between 2019 and 2029, and Latin America, which owns a major share in the avocado oil market, is anticipated to retain its lucrativeness over the forecast period. As per the report estimates, Latin America and Europe will continue to be the most-attractive regions in the avocado oil market in terms of revenue-generating opportunities.

Six reasons why food labelling is important

You have made your resolution to be healthy. You go to the store to choose between two products, looking for the better option. But then what? How do you pick? You read the label.

They are something we take as a given, but they are enormously important to our health and well-being. Food labels guarantee that the food is what we think it is and that products are as nutritious as we think they are. Labels teach us about ingredients and nutrients.

With more and more international trade, it is harder and harder for us to know who our food producers are and exactly where the food comes from. Trustworthy labels help fill this gap. FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working together through the Codex Alimentarius Commission to set the global standards for food labelling. Countries must abide by these standards when labelling food, especially those that will be sold on the global market.

Here are six reasons why food labelling is important:

1. Keep healthy – Labels help you to understand the composition of your food: its vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, etc. This information is fundamental in ensuring that you are eating the kinds of food that are good for you. With labels, you can monitor your intake of micronutrients to avoid deficiencies, especially common ones like iron and Vitamin D. You can watch your weight by monitoring calories and saturated fats; you can limit your intake of sugar and salt and make sure that you are eating a balanced diet. All of these actions can help prevent illnesses, like diabetes and certain types of heart disease.

2. Keep you safe – Every year, more than 600 million people get sick and 420 000 die as a result of eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals. Labels provide warnings and important information about the ways to use a product (for example, storage and cooking instructions), which are necessary for keeping food safe.

3. Stops you from buying counterfeit products – Preventing fraud is one of the main aims of food labelling. Without internationally guaranteed labels, food sellers could deliberately mislead consumers through false representation on packaging. When you buy chocolate, you want to make sure it is actually chocolate or when it is fish, that it is actually the fish it claims.

4. Detect ingredients that could cause you harmful reactions – Reactions to food affect 10-25 percent of the population in developed countries. The most common allergenic foods include peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, wheat and tree nuts. If you did not know the ingredients in a product, you could mistakenly eat something that would cause an allergy attack, some of which are very severe. Food labels let you know what to avoid.

5. Stop you from wasting food – Food labels (when read correctly!) can stop you from throwing out good food. Date marking on food labels lets you know for how long a product is safe to eat. This is important to avoid getting sick from expired food. However, it is also true that confusing “best before” and “use by” dates can lead to more food waste. In the EU, approximately 10 percent of food that is wasted is linked to date marking. Educating consumers and supply chain stakeholders can help to prevent this food waste and to keep date marking true to its purpose of keeping food safe to eat.

6. Support your local food producers – Certain labels that indicate the food’s origin, for example Colombian Coffee (Colombia), Manchego cheese (Spain), Darjeeling tea (India) or Kona Coffee (USA), can attract a customer’s attention and bring more value to the product and thus to the producer. Consumers tend to identity local and typical food products to a specific place and attribute characteristics – such as taste and quality – to geographic locations. In a study conducted by EBRD and FAO, nine products with geographic indication labels increased the price of the final product by 20 to 50 percent. Today, consumers are increasingly linking quality to geographical origins and traditions.

Food labels are easy to ignore as you reach out for your favorite product or snack. They are just one of the many seemingly boring pieces of writing vying for your attention. Yet, information is power and this power can help you take control of your own health. You might not like being called a “health nut” or a “junk food addict”, but you definitely want your tomatoes to be called tomatoes and peanuts to be called peanuts! We strive for a world where there is food for all, taking for granted that it is safe food. Yet, without this essential foundation, we cannot build a #ZeroHunger world.

Health and gluten-free products top products of the year

More than 14,000 Australian consumers have voted for their favourite products of the year, with a number of new categories that recognise innovations in healthy and gluten-free product lines.

Ten wins out of a total of 50 went to new products offering healthy and allergy-free alternatives to everyday food and beverage items.

On November 15, the Product of the Year 2019 winners were announced at Quay Restaurant in Sydney.

One category that has become more and more popular amongst consumers is gluten-free, with two categories being created this year for general and kid friendly specific products.

READ: Emulsion stabiliser remains a lucrative asset in beverage market

Product of the Year director, Sarah Connelly said she is thrilled at the increase in innovative healthy-option products that are being made available on shelf and being entered into the awards.

“It’s a trend that we’ve not seen much of before in the history of the awards and it signals increasing consumer demand for manufacturers to innovate in these areas.

“These options are becoming far more mainstream and more affordable than they have ever been before,” she said.

“A category that we have seen consistent growth in each year is ‘convenience foods’ but this year we are seeing more vegetarian easy-option foods, which simply haven’t been available before.

“It’s wonderful to see these dietary requirements being met by brands, showcasing their leadership in this space,” said Connelly.

Now in its tenth year in Australia, Product of the Year has announced its 2019 winners, with Coles scooping 11 awards, Metcash scoring 10 and ALDI winning nine awards.

New to the awards this year, Mars Foods were awarded three wins, as were fellow newcomers Freedom Foods, with two wins under their belt.

In its biggest year yet, the awards recognise product innovation and span across a wide range of categories including skincare and beauty, home cooking and pantry, snacks and entertaining, healthy options and gluten free, and everyday staples.

The Nielsen research that determines the winners involves evaluating consumer response using the six key principles derived from their learnings about successful innovation:

  1. Relevance – Is the product fulfilling a need or addressing a problem?
  2. Uniqueness – Does is stand out and bring something new to the category?
  3. Excitement – Does it excite them? Would they spread the word?
  4. Likeability – Does it deliver what you want?
  5. Value Perception – Do you think it provides value for money?
  6. Purchase Intent – How likely are you to buy this product (again)

The index that determines a product’s final score is its overall performance across these six KPIs which is then weighted based on derived importance of this key criteria.

The highest index score in the category is the winner.


Research shows younger generations care about free-from foods and small portions

Free-from claims and smaller, more convenient pack sizes are important to younger consumers, research from a 2017 Nielsen report suggests.

At the iba baking and snack trade fair, a panel of experts from the baked goods sector spoke about the importance of moving towards free-from and organic products.

The forum, which took place on the 18th of September, showed a strong need for food manufacturers to cater to an increasing desire for clean products.

The information based on a Nielsen research report from 2017, on the US market, showed that organic sales among households with a millennial head of house, were 38 per cent greater than sales among total US households.

READ: Industry 4.0 a hot topic at iba Munich baking and snack trade fair

Robb MacKie, CEO of the American Bakers Association, said despite the data being from the US market, the association’s European counterpart found similarities in the data.

“The connections between the US and the international market are very strong.

“We are seeing health and wellness claims are the fastest growing areas for sales on the retail level in the US market,” said MacKie.

There is a big trend in free-from claims, he said.

“A lot of the soy-free and some of the others are growing at a very fast rate.

“The younger consumers are gravitating the most to those health claims,” said MacKie.

“The greatest generation, which is considered to be the World War 2 generation, is not really being impacted by some of these health claims. In baby boomers you start to see some movement,” he said.

But despite people being drawn to health claims, MacKie said cream filled pies, speciality desserts and muffins are on the rise in the US market.

“Taste is still King,” he said.

The key to the success is being healthier, but still having a tasty product on offer, he said.

Corbion vice president Mark Hotze agreed that consumers still have a need for food that tastes good.

“For us to be successful as an ingredient supplier, it’s really that willingness to roll up our sleeves, partner with our customers and understand where they want to go in that space.”

The consumers need to know an item is worth the calories, said Hotze.

Brian Dwyer, vice president of bakery manufacturing at Kroger, said the supermarket chain noticed people going for smaller portions.

“The one trend that I would say I’ve seen with indulgent food is the move to smaller pack sizes. Whereas in the past our consumers would pick up a 12 inch or and 8 inch pie, we are seeing that move to a smaller size, maybe a 5 inch pie,” said Dwyer.

“What we are seeing is there’s a need for indulgent, but our consumers want to eat that and have that indulgent experience without feeling guilty.

“The health and wellness is clearly a rapidly growing segment. We are seeing a lot of activity and a lot of energy around the health and wellness sector,” he said.

Kroger’s Simple Truth and Simple Truth organic brands have been the company’s  fastest growing brand ever, said Dwyer.

Research from Nielsen shows the dollar growth of grain free products in the bakery section has increased by 51 per cent from 2017.

Cruelty-free products have increased in US dollar growth by 30 per cent, and grass fed products have in increased by 28 per cent from 2017.

Highlights of Fine Food Australia include focus on robotics and health foods

Fine Food Australia has come to an end after a week packed with food trend insights and robotics making a name in the industry.

After catering to thousands at the Melbourne Convention centre, the four-day event came to a close on the 13th of September.

Fine Food Australia event director Minnie Constan said more than 25,000 people attended the four-day expo.

The exact figures will be released in a few weeks when an audit has been completed, she said.

READ: Countries place value on different aspects of food products, export advisor says

“It was incredible. There was a buzz around the show floor that I haven’t seen for many years. It’s certainly showing the passion that is in this industry.”

The expo was about innovation, connection and growth, she said. “There was a lot of new innovation.”

“There were a number of very exciting products that will be heading to the market, including electronics and new food,” said Constan.

Hot topics included the use of mobile apps and robotics in the food industry, as well as meatless protein alternatives, she said.

For the first time ever, there was a Cobot at Fine Food Australia, which is a cooperative robot.

The company that showcased the Cobot was Roto Charge, which sells bakery pumps and related equipment that deposit fillings into pastry products.

Food Industry Foresight director Rod Fowler said Roto Charge had doubled the capacity of its standard equipment by adding a robot to its standard systems.

The new generation smart robots are intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace.

This makes them different to other robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

The top ten trends of 2018 were discussed at a Fine Food Australia forum, with the help of Food Industry Foresight, which provides research and analysis into food and beverage markets in Australasia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The trends include operators working smarter – to continue striving in an increasingly tough market – and the reinvention of hamburgers.

Hamburgers maintain their top position as the number one flexible food concept and they continue to transform as consumers look for new flavours.

The Food Industry Foresight found the desire for protein substitutes was rising as people considered the environmental impacts of meat.

Casual dining has grown over the past five years in Australia and the cafes are adapting their coffee products to offer cheaper home and work brewing options.

People are also wanting to know the origins of food when it comes to eating at restaurants, robots are entering the food service industry and food apps are gaining traction.

The Food Industry Foresight noted the number of meal options when eating out are growing.

Eateries are also striving to change the look, opening hours and menus of their establishments to create a more unique experience for patrons.

With innovation hot on everyone’s minds, the variety of products at Fine Food Australia were diverse.

New products included Little Beauties’ sundried kiwifruit slices, Oliver Lane’s gluten-free golden turmeric and cardamom bread, Hemp Foods Australia’s salted caramel crunch bar.


Chobani introduces no added sugar, high protein yoghurt to range

Chobani has launched its locally developed and Australian exclusive new range, Chobani FiT.

Chobani FiT brings Aussie yogurt lovers the ultimate functional product with six of their most beloved flavours, remastered to pack an even more powerful protein punch, without any added sugar. 

Chobani Australia managing director, Peter Meek, said the company likes to listen to its fans and consumers, and noticed there were certain people who were looking for high protein, no added sugar options in the yogurt category.

“Chobani FiT was developed to bring these consumers an option that fuels their journey and this naturally builds on our mission of brining better food to more people,” he said.

Chobani FiT has been crafted to deliver the perfect balance of taste, texture and flavour with the benefits of and whopping 15g of protein per pot without any added sugar.

To achieve no added sugar and a great taste, the range is sweetened with the natural sweetener, Stevia.

“With Australian’s seeking convenience and 20 per cent of Aussies looking for high protein snacks, we thought it was only right to put Chobani FiT into our on-the-go pouch format too. Now active Aussies can have their post-workout fuel on-the-go,” said Meek.

The Chobani FiT range includes six flavours in the 170g pot range and four flavours in the 140g on-the-go pouch format. The range is available at Woolworths and some independent stores.

It will be available at Coles from the 20th of September.