How to grow overseas market share

Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Fiji, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam – if there is one thing Trisco knows about, it’s exporting.

The Queensland-based company is a fifth-generation company that has been producing food and beverage products for more than 140 years and is always looking for new markets in which to expand.

CEO Mike Tristram has a plethora of dealing with the red tape and bureaucracies when sending products overseas. The first thing he points out is that no two countries are the same – whether they be first or third world. With some countries, getting approval is easy, another might be require more time, while yet others may rely on another country’s approval system.

READ MORE: Anthony Pratt: Value added food will pave way for Australian exports

“For example, the US,” said Tristram. “Officials in another country might say ‘well, if you’re approved by the FDA in the US, there’s no problems here’. Every country has its own little idiosyncrasies. In Pakistan, you need to have specific approval by some office that has to have a physical stamp. Trying to get that physical stamp instead of a photocopy and approval is very difficult. Dealing with those sorts of idiosyncrasies from country to country, can be interesting.”

One of Tristram’s favourite quotes is from LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, who described start-ups as like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.

“Exporting is a little similar but not quite as dramatic,” he said. “It is one of those things you have to figure out on your own depending on your market and depending on where you are going and what you have to sell. It is how unique or not unique it might be and where your strategic advantage is.

“You need the boldness to be able to go into the adventure and find your own pathway within that and be prepared to solve those problems as and when you see them. Even with speed bumps along the way, you need to keep going and learn from them and not give up.”

He believes resilience is the biggest thing that gets a company through the export journey. Also, it is important to get someone on the ground. It is not something that can be discovered, nurtured and expanded upon while sitting in an office in Australia.

“That is the hardest thing – staying on the path and keep slogging,” he said. “You can’t follow a market you don’t understand so you have to go there. And if you are not prepared to go there on a regular basis, then don’t attempt that journey. If you are not prepared to leave the country – at least initially and put a good bedrock down – you will not be successful.”

However, once the connections have been made, it is possible to tone down the travel schedule as long as there is someone on the ground that can be trusted. These are usually locals who know how local regulators and the laws surrounding imports work.
“Some of those places you can handle through agents once you have forged a relationship,” said Tristram. “As long as you have a trusting relationship with the local agent you can pull back a little on those sorts of visits.”

What does help is Australia’s reputation not only as a quality food producer, but as being upfront and honest.

“Australian products are recognised throughout the world as high quality,” he said. “And being relatively clean and green, we’re recognised as being reasonably easy to deal with and we are straightforward. There are a lot of advantages to being Australian.”

The main reason companies try and get into exporting is to grow their company financially. Australia has a finite number of markets within the continent, so expansion is the only way to grow. And while Trisco is happy to manufacture in Australia, the company is going one step further to magnify its footprint in the US – building a plant over there.

“One of the disadvantages is we are still one of the highest costs of manufacturing in the world,” said Tristram. “Until we solve some of these issues, such as energy and utility costs, we are going to continue to struggle. And until we are competitive with the rest of the world on red tape and tax and that sort of thing, there’s not a huge incentive to come to Australia and manufacture. We need to change that.”

One of the products that the company produces is Thick-N Instant, which is under the company’s Precise brand. It has been on the market for three years and doing well. It is designed for those who have dysphagia, which is a condition whereby people have difficulty swallowing. There are many different types of dysphagia, but it usually impacts on those who are aged over 65. It also has a high correlation with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, motor neuron issues or are a victim of a stroke.

“The market that manages the condition, thickens products to four distinct levels that are internationally recognised as part of the diet,” said Tristram. “We take those products up to those viscosities depending on what the problem is. Then they can swallow safely, which means the food goes into their digestive tract and not into their lungs, or into other areas that can cause fluid on the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.”

It is this demand for the product stateside that lead the company to build a plant over there. Thick-N Instant is protected by intellectual property including patents, some of which are still pending.

“We need to build a plant a little closer to one of our largest customers in the US,” said Tristram.

“And we’ve done that for a couple of reasons. First, Thick-N Instant is a product that is unique and is for a vulnerable population and there is nothing like it in the world that we compete against. Nobody makes anything like it.

“The other issue for us is that you have to have some redundancy, so if something catastrophic happened to the plant we would be in trouble. You have to have that redundancy. Plus of course, seven to nine weeks on the water to another country is a long time for something that only has a shelf life of 12 months.”

Does Tristram feel the company has reached the apex of its export potential? No, but there are other issues he can see on the horizon

“The food industry is contracting a little bit,” he said. “What we are seeing now is ingredient suppliers not being as flexible as they used to be. The variety of the products on offer are there. They’re bringing them in from all over the world – Europe, Asia, US – everywhere.

“But getting consistent supply and variety that we can use to draw off the same sort of spec is becoming more difficult. For example, if you have 40 tonnes of strawberries and you need another 20 tonnes, trying to find it locally is going to be difficult.”

Bubs opens corporate headquarters in Victoria

The official opening of the corporate headquarters Bubs Australia Limited was held Friday 13 December at its Australian Deloraine Dairy canning and packaging facility in Dandenong, Victoria.

Danny Pearson, State Member for Essendon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria, and Gabrielle Williams, State Member for Dandenong and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Youth in the Victorian Government, signed the Official Certificate of Recognition commemorating Bubs establishing its headquarters in Victoria.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Danny Pearson said: “We were delighted to support Bubs move to Victoria, which will add considerable weight to our reputation as Australia’s gateway to China. As well as creating jobs, this investment is yet another vote of confidence in our farmers and the Government’s work promoting Victoria as an export hub.”

Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams welcomed the arrival of Bubs Australia to  area: “Melbourne’s south-east is the heart of Victoria’s manufacturing industry and having Bubs choose Dandenong for its headquarters is important to local jobs and the broader supply chain.”

Commenting on the occasion, Bubs executive chairman, Dennis Lin said: “We are honored by the presence of two state members. Their participation recognises the contribution of Bubs to the state economy.

“Our relocation to Victoria was a vote of confidence in the state, its goat dairy farmers and its strategic position as a key export hub for Australia. We are truly excited that the management operations of Bubs Australia and its strategic supply chain partners are now so close together.”

Bubs Founder and CEO, Kristy Carr said: “We see integrating supply chain, production and management in Victoria as a natural progression which will help bring greater agility and scale efficiencies to our business.

“The move underlines the Company’s recently announced plan to increase investment in boosting cross border e-commerce with China, both for its existing portfolio and new products.

“By expanding the scope of our portfolio to new demographics we expect to generate further opportunities for growth among our Victorian farming partners who collectively represent the largest aggregation of milking goats in Australia.

“These Victorian goat dairy farms, exclusively contracted to Bubs, are capable of providing some 20 million litres of fresh goats milk from an aggregate herd of around 20,000 milking goats.

“Importantly, most of our other Australian based supply chain partners are also located in Victoria. In addition to our Deloraine canning and packing plant in Dandenong, Bega’s Tatura Industries in Victoria provides onestep goat’s milk blending and powder production and Fonterra’s facility in Darnum, also in Victoria, processes our grass-fed organic cow’s milk for packing at the Deloraine facility,” said Carr.

Also present at the ceremony was Mark Edmonson, one of Bubs’ Victorian goat farmers, based in Echuca, Victoria, whose goat farms provide Bubs with important domestic supply of goat milk under an exclusive supply agreement.

Edmonson said that he was very passionate about the goat industry and happy to be doing what he loves – supporting Australia’s Goat Industry which has been a lifetime goal.

“I’m very proud to be one of Bubs exclusive suppliers. With Bubs we now have the guaranteed off-take that gives us the security we need to put this passion into practice. With Bubs support we know we have a partner that understands our business model and how sustainability can make a difference as well as a partner committed to enabling us to have access to skilled, capable people and supporting the gaining of those skills for generations to come.”

Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 to showcase latest food developments

The 15th Malaysian International Exhibition of Food, Drinks, Hotel, Restaurant & Foodservice Equipment, Supplies, Services and Related Technology is all set to take place from 24 to 27 September.

Also known as Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 (FHM 2019), the event, which aims to catalyse the development of the food and hospitality industries in Malaysia, will cover 22,000 square metres of space at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre with 1500 participating brands / companies from 50 countries and 10 Country/National Pavilions. The four-day mega event is expected to draw more 28,000 trade visitors related to the food and hospitality industries from around the world, cementing the country’s position as a food and beverage hub of international repute.

Packed with conference programmes, technical seminars, educational talks, cooking demonstrations and displays of various types and ranges of produce and services FHM 2019 promises to be bigger and better, compared to preceding instalments of the show.  The trade event will leverage on key tech-driven strategies, with a keen realisation that strategic acquisitions are essential to ensure that this competitive marketplace remains current.

Participants can look forward to a myriad of opportunities for growing food and hospitality businesses while enabling industry players to stay on top of changing customer needs such as keeping in touch with the next generation of food production and understanding the ever demanding preferences of millennial consumers.

“Every edition we promise a bigger and better showcase than the one before and FHM 2019 is certainly gearing up to be quite unlike any other instalments in this series which resulted in a considerable take-up of additional hall space compared to previous shows,” said Mr Gerard Leeuwenburgh, Country GM of Informa Markets Malaysia on behalf of the organisers.

“An ideal avenue for companies targeting the Malaysian market, this is the only platform that offers participants direct access to crucial buyers from the hotel, restaurant and foodservice industries, bringing them the tools to sustain and expand their businesses. Our track record certainly speaks for itself and I am pleased to say that FHM 2019 is expected to see transactions taking place over the three days estimated to be between RM1.8 billion to RM2.2 billion – more than any other instalment in this series,” he added.

Among the new features of FHM 2019 are an Agriculture Pavilion and the highly anticipated Robotic Food Zone, alluding to the adaption of new technologies which have the demonstrated ability of increasing productivity and efficiency levels in the industry.

As in previous shows, FHM 2019 will once again be held alongside Culinaire Malaysia, where the crème-de-la-crème of Malaysia’s top chefs will compete in the “Malaysian Battle of the Chefs”. Culinaire Malaysia features over 1,500 entries and an assemblage of more than 1,000 culinary professionals, showcasing a stunning display of skills and talents in various disciplines and categories.

Also being held concurrently with FHM 2019 are the high profile In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences, which will include a plethora of conferences, among them the Food Innovation Conference 2019, Persidangan Inovasi Makanan Tempatan 2019, China-Malaysia Agri Food, Visit Malaysia 2020 & Beyond Conference, Malaysian Farm to Fork & Durian Conference, Persidangan Pengusaha Makanan 2019, Wilayah Persekutuan, Food Truck Malaysia 2019 and the Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship Skills Training. The In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences are also supported by Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based and Ministry of Federal Territories.

Other highlights which participants can look forward to at FHM 2019 are the B2B business matching sessions, a VIP Buyers hosted programme for top buyers across the ASEAN-region and live cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs which leverages on the FHM tradition of collaborating with world-renowned chefs at previous shows.

“With its multifaceted and all-encompassing character, there will certainly be something for anyone and everyone related to the food, beverage and hospitality industries, making FHM 2019 a truly unique event in itself that is definitely not to be missed,” said Mr. Leeuwenburgh.

FHM 2019 also comes at an opportune time as the country gears up for Visit Malaysia Year 2020. In 2020 Malaysia expects to see 30 million tourist arrivals, who will spend an estimated RM100 billion. FHM 2019 therefore certainly accelerates Malaysia’s preparedness to meet these demands while promoting entrepreneurship at every level in an inclusive manner,” said Mr Leeuwenburgh.

Organised by Informa Markets, Malaysia FHM 2019 is endorsed by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and is supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), and The Malaysian Food & Beverage Executives Association (MFBEA).

Japanese milk company immunogenic breakthrough

Morinaga Milk Industry has announced it has attained self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the United States for LAC-Shield, a unique immunogenic ingredient. This development opens the door for manufacturers of dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages in the US to include LAC-ShieldTM in products designed to enhance immune function.

Thanks to mounting research demonstrating the positive health benefits of probiotics, the probiotics market has experienced explosive growth over the past decade. In fact, according to Nutrition Business Journal, probiotics posted 17 per cent year-over-year growth from 2015 to 2016 in the US — the highest of any supplement category. BCC Research predicts the global market will grow to US$50b (A$67.3b) in 2020, as people’s awareness of and interest in healthful products continues to increase. However, the market is evolving beyond conventional probiotics to include metabolites of probiotics and non-viable microbes — called “immunogenics” or “immunobiotics.”

LAC-Shield (Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849), widely recognised in Japan for its ability to enhance immunity, is one such ingredient. Unlike live cultures, LAC-Shield is rendered non-viable by heat treatment. Yet LAC-Shield still induces the production of a cytokine which activates and stimulates immune function.

LAC-Shield’s immune-boosting power was recently demonstrated in a human clinical study Morinaga Milk conducted with Kyushu Women’s University, which found it can lower the risk of contracting the common cold in susceptible subjects (Murata et al., Benef Microbes. 2018, in press). Another human clinical study, reported by Maruyama et al. (Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016), found LAC-Shield may enhance the immune responses of the flu vaccine in the elderly with immunosenescence.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of LAC-Shield is the diversity of its potential applications. Usually, probiotics are difficult to incorporate into functional foods and beverages because of their intolerance of high temperatures and moisture. However, since LAC-Shield is pasteurised, it is highly tolerant of high heat and humidity, making it easy for manufacturers to incorporate it into a wide variety of products.

“In recent years, people have been demanding additional value and health benefits from the foods they consume. LAC-Shield has excellent potential to respond to those needs in the global market,” said Ko Shiino, general manager of the International Division at Morinaga Milk. “Achieving GRAS status enables LAC-Shield to be included in a wide variety of functional foods and beverages. We will continue our efforts to gain GRAS status for other probiotics in our portfolio so that we can contribute to healthier and brighter futures of people throughout the world.”

Morinaga Milk has a solid track record with GRAS ingredients. It attained GRAS status for its flagship probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000268) in 2007 and for Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000453 and GRN 000454) in 2013. BB536 is well-known for its stability, quality and wide-ranging functional effects, as shown by 160 scientific reports, including numerous clinical studies. M-16V is well-known for its strong safety profile and its efficacy in infants, having been used in more than 120 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hospitals in Japan for low-birth-weight infants to support healthy growth. As a result, Morinaga Milk attained not only FDA-notified GRAS status for M-16V, but also GRAS status for infants.

New guide for Australian fruit and vegetable exporters

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, has launched, “Fresh fruit and vegetable export requirements: A guide for Australian business” an initiative that the government says will ensure Australia’s horticulture producers have the necessary information to capitalise on the sizeable business opportunities on our doorstep.

Australian fruit and vegetable exporters wanting to go global can now access advice on every step of the export journey in a single online guide.

Minister Ciobo said Australia’s premium-quality produce was highly prized by overseas buyers.

“The Turnbull Coalition Government is pursuing the most ambitious trade agenda in our country’s history, opening new doors for more Australian exporters to sell their top quality, clean, green and safe produce to more markets worldwide,” Ciobo said.

“Australia’s agricultural products are a sought-after commodity, and this guide will help producers benefit from Australia’s strong reputation, providing current information on market regulations and expectations and links to the correct export documents and templates,” he added.

Ciobo said Australia’s proximity to Asia gave local producers the advantage of shorter transport times, allowing them to deliver fresher, more attractive fruit, often in counter-seasonal months or times of short overseas supply.

“We’re working on the principle that forewarned is forearmed. We want to ensure businesses – particularly new exporters – are aware of and comply with, key requirements and regulations, so they have a safe and smooth experience and continue to generate export dollars for Australia.”

The farm gate-to-overseas market guide is the first time both Government and industry advice about the export journey for producers has been collated in a single place, making it easier for potential exporters to expand their businesses, creating jobs and boost Australia’s economy.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud said Australia’s premium produce was in demand the world over.

“We’ve produced a simple guide to help exporters send Aussie farm produce around the globe,” Littleproud said.

“We’re making exporting Aussie produce as easy as possible,” he said.

“We’re doing this so more of our exporters will send more Aussie food all over the world, giving our farmers more selling options and our rural towns more jobs.”

The value of Australian fresh horticulture exports has nearly tripled over the past five years, growing from $846.5 million in 2012 to $2.11 billion in 2017, according to the IHS Global Trade Atlas (2018). Fresh fruit exports are generating more than half this value, with citrus ($423.1 million) and table grapes ($373.3 million) the standouts.

China has emerged as Australia’s most significant horticultural export market, accounting for nearly one in five dollars of value generated from horticulture exports (19%), and has maintained an average annual growth rate of over 200 per cent over the last 5 years.

The guide is jointly produced by Austrade and DAWR, with assistance from DFAT, Hort Innovation, the Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association and the Export Council of Australia.

Committing to sustainable cocoa farming

Last week, 41 players from the Swiss cocoa and chocolate sector, including FarmStrong Foundation, joined forces to form the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa.

The objective of the new platform is to bring together organisations from the private sector, public sector, civil society and research institutes to promote sustainability in the cocoa sector. The member organisations – which include the association ChocoSuisse and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) – aim to considerably improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and to create an attractive cocoa sector for current and future generations.

The Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa is aiming that by 2025, at least 80 per cent of the cocoa products imported into Switzerland should be from sustainable means. The platform’s activities will focus on farmer welfare, climate resilience and biodiversity, traceability and measures to improve quality. Key to its progress will be to promote an effective dialogue between the local authorities, organisations and cocoa smallholders in the producing countries.

The platform will use the expertise of its members to develop and implement innovative solutions. FarmStrong Foundation’s Founder and executive director Michiel Hendriksz commented “We look forward to supporting the platform with our expertise and experience on the ground in cocoa growing communities, improving the farming systems and lives of the people in these communities to maximise the impact”. Our approach based on a thorough situation analysis and focus on improving health, education, nutrition and gender equality as basic prerequisites for sustainable agricultural, social or economic development, fits well in the overarching objectives.

Long-time Mondelēz International CEO retires

Irene Rosenfeld will retire from her role as CEO of Mondelēz International after 11 years in charge of the multinational food and beverage giant.

The company said in a statement Dirk Van de Put, current President and CEO of McCain Foods will succeed Rosenfeld when she steps down effective November 2017.

Van de Put will also join the company’s Board of Directors. Rosenfeld will continue as Chairman of the Board until March 31, 2018, at which point she will retire and Van de Put will assume the role of Chairman and CEO.

“I am very proud of what our 90,000 colleagues at Mondelēz International have accomplished,” said Rosenfeld.

“Throughout my tenure as CEO, the world and our industry have undergone a period of unprecedented change. During that time, we anticipated emerging challenges, adapted accordingly and created significant value for our shareholders. The outlook is bright for this great company — one of the few that has consistently delivered on both the top and bottom lines, while making critical investments for future growth.”

Van de Put brings nearly 30 years of experience in the food and consumer package industry to this new leadership role. He joins Mondelēz International from McCain Foods, the largest marketer and manufacturer of frozen french fries, potato specialties and appetizers.

Automated food sorting machines to grow at seven per cent CAGR by 2021

Technavio market research analysts forecast the global automated food sorting machines market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of close to seven per cent during the forecast period, according to their latest report.

The research company’s analysts highlight the following three market drivers that are contributing to the growth of the global automated food sorting machines market:

  • Retrofit activities carried out in aging food processing facilities
  • Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle
  • Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry is the oldest industry that has gone through several revolutions such as Green Revolution, White Revolution, and Pink Revolution. Depending on the type of food products manufactured, there have been several changes in the methods of food processing witnessed in the industry. However, the introduction of automation in the industry is transforming the aging industry by integrating new methods and technique, according to Technavio.

“Automation has allowed the industry to reduce the manual work, improve hygiene, and speed-up the process. Also, realising the cost benefits achieved in terms of return-on-investment in the long run, small and medium-sized enterprises too have switched to automated machines to optimise industry operations,” says Sushmit Chakraborty, a lead analyst at Technavio for automation research.

Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle

The improving economy of developing nations has witnessed a rise in the demand for different food products and changes in eating habits. To serve the growing need for food, the food industry is required to reduce the process time and delivery time. This can be achieved by reducing the process cycle time and implementation of automated machines.

Implementation of automated machines has drastically reduced the process time and increased the quality of food products manufactured. The demand for various food products such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, oils and fats, and meat and seafood can be fulfilled by integrating the processes that require minimum process and cycle time.

“Automated food sorting machines are used for different food items, thus making the processes faster and more hygienic. Industrial automation and information analytics allow the user to extract the data and perform the activities more accurately and fast, thereby reducing the delivery cycle,” says Sushmit.

Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry must adhere to food and safety standards that regulate and monitor the food quality. For every food product manufactured, there are a set of quality standards that are to be maintained during the manufacturing process. Traditionally, food industry involved manual efforts during the manufacturing processes. However, to achieve the quality standards decided by food safety and standard authority, it is necessary for food manufacturing companies to rely on food processing equipment.

Automated food sorting machines provide speed and allow the industry to optimise the quality standards. The improved quality achieved by implementing automated machines and integrating methods with artificial intelligence will result in the further growth of the market.

Image: BBC Technologies’ CURO 16

Arrow Energy set to fix manufacturers’ energy woes

Arrow Energy has announced plans to double the production capacity of its Tipton gas project in Queensland amid an east-coast industrial gas shortage.

The planned expansion of Arrow’s Tipton operations is expected to involve 90 new wells in the initial phase and another 180 wells over the next 25 years.

It will also include new gathering lines, an upgraded water treatment facility and four new compressors.

“This project continues the development of the Arrow resource which will see more gas in the market,” said Arrow Energy CEO Qian Mingyang.

The project follows investment of more than $600 million by Arrow in its Surat Basin infrastructure, including $500 million towards its Daandine expansion project commissioned in late 2016 and more than $100 million to expand capacity at its Daandine and Tipton fields.

“We only hope that the other states follow Queensland’s lead and open up gas reserves to help fix the energy crisis households and businesses, especially manufacturers, along the eastern seaboard are facing,” said Mingyang.

Hygienic transport system for food makers

XTS Hygienic, the stainless steel version of the eXtended Transport System from Beckhoff, opens up a wide spectrum of new applications for processing and filling liquids.

 

Allowing optimal cleanability with the high protection rating of IP 69K, very good chemical resistance and without any hidden corners, edges or undercuts, the hygienic design offers maximum production line availability even when the demands made on hygiene are high.

The XTS replaces mechanics with software functionality to allow for a high degree of design freedom in realising completely new machine concepts.

Through a significant reduction in mechanical engineering requirements, machines can be set up with the XTS more compactly, at a lighter weight and with less wiring.

Thus, machine builders can now offer smaller, more powerful and more efficient systems and the end user benefits accordingly from a smaller footprint, higher productivity and quicker product switchovers.

With the XTS Hygienic, which is so much easier to clean compared to more complex mechanical systems, the routine cleaning tasks along with those for product switchover – which are optimally supported by the XTS as standard – can be performed much more quickly. .

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

Vantage Australia has just been awarded the silver medal in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

More than 2,100 spirits were judged this year, the largest number of entries in the competition’s 17-year history with the botanical Vantage Australia taking home the silver medal in this year’s awards.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 silver medal demonstrates that Vantage Australia is among the finest in the spirits industry, awarded for its ability to show refinement and finesse.

Vantage Australia was recognised for its multi-layered complexity, the smooth yet peppery mixture is made up of Australian botanicals, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian mountain pepper berries with a hint of mandarin oil from Australian produced imperial mandarins.

Complimented with zesty citrus notes, this unique premium Australian tipple has the ability to cut across traditional spirit genres, making it the perfect base for most mixers while also giving life to old classics, with an Australian twist.

Riding on its 2016 success, where Vantage Australia won Best Innovation-Best in Class 2016 from the Australian Drinks Awards, the Aussie spirit was also recognised for strong performance across key measures, including purchase intention, excitement, and relevance.

Vantage Australia was honoured with this prize for having the highest level of uniqueness, reflected through its inspiration of Australian native flora.

The complex flavour comes from only using natural bush foods to create a blend that blurs the lines between sweet and dry, giving this multi-layered spirit the uniqueness that it has been nationally and now internationally, recognised for.

“We are honoured by the international award Vantage Australia has received from the highly competitive San Francisco World Spirits Competition and now having been involved with this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, we appreciate the overwhelming domestic and international support our Australian owned and produced spirit has received,” said Bill Hargitay, Vantage Australia Owner.

It’s full steam ahead for Woolies

FMCG giant Woolworths has posted its strongest sales growth in seven years- with sales rising 4.5 per cent in the March quarter, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

This figure was well above market forecasts between 3.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent and compared is the strongest quarter for Woolworths supermarkets since the first quarter 2010.

According to Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci, “We are pleased with the continued improvement in Australian food sales in the third quarter, particularly the more stable and predictable nature of our daily and weekly sales,” he said.

Banducci also said that he wanted to build on this figure well into the next financial year.

“We are focused on making sure we continue our progress in rebuilding sustainable sales momentum for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018,” he told the AFR.

Jobs, factories and profits all go as MG battens down the hatches

In a sign of the impact the falling milk price is having on the food sector, food company Murray Goulburn (MG) said it will be closing down factories and reducing its farmgate milk price in a bid to address its “cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings.”

This will include closure of MG’s manufacturing facilities at Edith Creek, Rochester and Kiewa, forgiveness of the Milk Supply Support Package (MSSP), total write-downs of up to $410 million, and a dividend suspension.

The factory closures, the company said, are expected to impact some 360 employees while at the same time delivering a net financial benefit of $40 million to $50 million per annum. Overall, MG said that it anticipates a net financial benefit in FY18 from the closures of approximately $15 million.

However, the dairy company said that it needed to spend $60 million of capital expenditure to enable the closures, which will be largely funded by maintenance capital expenditure no longer required at the sites.

MG also announced that it will write off farmers loans incurred in the MSSP, with all future repayments of the MSSP which were to recommence from July 2017 ceasing, meaning the company will write-down $148 million.

Due to weaker trading conditions, the FY17 forecast available FMP of $4.70 per kilogram milk solids is expected to be fall to $4.60 per kilogram milk solids.

The company said that it remained “committed to paying a FY17 average FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids.”

In order to protect against any potential further losses this financial year, MG has provided access of up to $30 million of additional debt funded milk payments, so as to maintain the forecast FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids up until the end of this financial year, the company said.

Linerless self-adhesive labelling system featured at foodpro

Le Mac are suppliers of the linerless labelling system that is self-adhesive for trays of meats, ready meals, salads etc.

Linerless labels are an environmentally-friendly innovation: they do not use backing liner like traditional labels, which cannot be recycled and does not decompose in landfill.

The system itself is fully automatic and delivers significant efficiency gains over traditional pressure sensitive labelling machines or hand-application of carton sleeves.

It works with heavy gauge cardboard, film or paper labels in 8 formats (top, top & side, top & 2 sides, Full-wrap, C-Wrap, D-Wrap, Skin Packs and Slide Sleeve). It is suitable for stretch wrap trays, top seal trays and vacuum skin packs (with protrusions). To top it, all this can be run on the same machine without change parts.

The La Mac linerless systems are used by a number of major Australian food manufacturers, and they are currently also used on a range of Woolworths and Coles products.

The Le Mac Australia Group will be showcasing the linerless labelling system along with other products at Stand K61 on Level 4 at foodpro,  16-19 JUL 2017 @ the ICC SYDNEY, DARLING HARBOUR.

Australian obesity increases despite lower sugar intake

A new study has found that despite consumers’ decreased sugar intake, Australian obesity rates are higher than ever.

In recent years, scientists have linked excessive sugar consumption with obesity.

This has led to a number of initiatives to decrease added or refined sugars in Australia’s food and beverages.

The nation has recently experienced the biggest increase in adult obesity levels since 1980 (16 per cent). The number of overweight or obese Australians is now 63 per cent, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

This is despite the fact that in Australia, the per capita availability of added or refined sugars and sweeteners was shown to have fallen by 16 per cent between 1980 and 2011, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Specifically, in national dietary surveys in 1995 and 2011-2012, added sugar intake saw a marked decline in men (18 per cent), but little to no decline in women.

However, during the same period, the proportion of sugar-sweetened beverage intake (including 100 per cent juice) fell 10 per cent in men and 20 per cent in women.

The most significant changes were seen in children aged 2-18 (who currently have an overweight/obesity rate of 25 per cent).

According to the study, data from national grocery sales indicated that per capita added-sugars intakes derived from carbonated soft drinks decreased from 26 per cent between 1997 and 2011, with similar trends for non-carbonated beverages.

However, Australia’s childhood obesity rate has also been steadily increasing over the years.

The study suggests that the link between sugar consumption and obesity may not be as strong as scientists initially thought.

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. The Conversation

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself.

Maybe this all seems a little too anthropocentric for your taste? Smacks of literary indulgence on my behalf? Perhaps. But the simple matter is that we can’t avoid the fact of human uniqueness, and explaining it is tied to understanding the evolution of our extraordinary brainpower.

The eighteenth century British anatomist and creationist Richard Owen, one of Charles Darwin’s foremost foes, thought humans were so unusual that we ought to be classified in our own sub-class – the ‘Archenecephala’ as he dubbed it – on account of our highly advanced brain.

It rather conveniently stood us apart from the apes, confirming his view of the specialness of humankind.

By the standards of today’s biological classifications this would place us in a position in the tree of life above all of the orders of mammals, making us about as exceptional as the monotremes are to the placentals.

But with the facts of our evolution now well and truly established we have a much better understanding our place in nature, as members of the primate order, and particularly as African Great Apes.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department.

Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size.

While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began.

How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies.

The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavor, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

Darren Curnoe, Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW

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

WA food stocks hit after roads damaged by flooding

Agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan has called for road repairs in Western Australia after the region was hit by flooding.

She has identified roads in Ravensthorpe, 540km south-east of Perth, as a priority after the collapse of the South Coast Highway has caused stock losses and damage to fences and top soil.

According to a report in The West Australian, MacTiernan said farmers had lost between 5 and 7 per cent of their arable land after the floods.

“It was important to see that damage that had occurred,” she said. “It’s pretty severe.”

Funding is expected to be reimbursed to primary producers which has up to $25,000 after the council collates more data of the damage caused. 

“The Shire wants early sign-off on the ability to use day labour,” MacTiernan continue.

“It was made very clear that the Shire needs to get moving on the roads. We understand time is of the essence, we certainly don’t want to prevent planting season.

“Until those roads are repaired, we can’t get the gear in.”

Mackay meatworks reopens after Debbie’s destruction

The Borthwicks (NH Foods) meat processing facility  meatworks at Bakers Creek near Mackay has reopened after Tropical Cyclone Debbie’s impact last week.

The abattoir closed its business last Tuesday as TC Debbie made landfall near Airlie Beach, said a report in Queensland Country Life.

“What was left in the cold rooms before Cyclone Debbie was processed on Monday and we commenced a normal processing shift on Tuesday,” Borthwicks livestock manager Malcolm Kinman said.

“We lost power for only eight hours, so we were fairly lucky during the cyclone activity this time.”

“Some of the roads in the region are badly damaged and transporting cattle could be difficult in the short term,” he said.

“Numbers will be reduced during the processing shifts, but I think we will battle through until this Friday,” Kinman told Queensland Country Life.

Patties CEO says more takeovers on the table

Australia’s ready-meal sector will surpass $1 billion in the near future and a shift towards healthier eating is playing a major part, it has been claimed.

Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Patties Foods, has said the company is seeking new acquisitions with projections showing the huge growth in the market. 

Having recently acquired Australian Wholefoods, he also believes the sector is now providing far more than TV dinners” and told the AFR it will grow by more than 10 per cent annually.

“The category is still relatively new,” Hitchcock told the AFR. “It’s trending toward $1 billion but we’re not there yet.

The chilled ready meals category grew by 13 per cent in the past year for the retailer “as customers continue to look for convenient and affordable meal solutions”, according to a Woolworths spokesman.

“Busy lifestyles mean consumers are attracted to convenience meals by their relatively low cost, ease of use and variety,” a spokesman for Coles added.

Patties Foods was acquired by the provate equity firm Pacific Equity Partners for $231 million last year.

Chocolate maker eyes top-end Chinese market

Since China is most likely to become the world’s largest gourmet chocolate market, Barry Callebaut’s gourmet business in China is busy catering to the needs of chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakeries, hotels, restaurants and caterers, the company said.

The Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products for the food industry, has strengthened its capabilities and expanded its offerings to meet the needs of the fast-growing segment of professional users of chocolate in China.

Gourmet products chocolate and cocoa products that are typically used by professionals such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakeries, hotels, restaurants and caterers have fueled the business growth of Barry Callebaut in China which has doubled in volume over the last four years.

According to George Zhang, Managing Director for Barry Callebaut in China, higher disposable income of the rapidly growing middle- to high-income consumers in China will drive the expected growth in the sales of gifts as well as premium and sophisticated gourmet chocolate products in the coming years.

Zhang also said that consumers seek new chocolate trends, for example chocolate with health benefits, new tastes such as green tea flavor chocolate and innovative chocolate forms for a variety of exciting chocolate experiences.

The USD$ 2.8 billion chocolate confectionery category in China is estimated to grow to approximately USD$ 3 .9 billion by 2021.