Global water crisis a concern for food and drinks makers

Market research company Euromonitor International’s white paper “Sustainability and the New Normal for Natural Resources” has revealed that reliable access to natural resources is of critical importance to governments, businesses and consumers.

According to the whitepaper, in 2015, the World Economic Forum mentioned water crisis as the number one long-term global threat.

Still underestimated by many businesses, water risk is a very serious and complex issue which threatens wildlife, human access to clean water and continuation of business through shortage, flooding and pollution.

A well-managed water strategy, conversely, can help build a resilient and innovative business and a strong ethical brand image.

“Water stress and poor water stewardship can have a sizeable impact on profit and a huge impact on businesses’ reputation and operations.

The most obviously affected sector is the food and drinks industry, where water is a key input.

But many other sectors are also at risk, including apparel, energy and beauty and personal care,” says Sarah Boumphrey, Global Lead of Economies and Consumers at Euromonitor International.

The whitepaper also reveals that a large amount of packaged food companies’ growth is increasingly reliant on water-stressed regions with India having the largest area harvested for cereals in 2015.

It also mentioned that soft drinks and beer record the highest absolute volume of water consumption and are highly vulnerable to water risk.

The prediction is that by 2020, 50 per cent of the global laundry detergents market by volume will be accounted for, by water-stressed countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and the US.

South Australia banking on a brandy re-branding

Making brandy cool again and appealing to millennials with a growing appreciation for boutique spirits are the goals of a new distillery opened today by a leading Australian beverage company.

Bickford’s Australia has launched a craft range of spirits under the 23rd Street label at a reinvented distillery in South Australia’s Riverland.

The 23rd St Distillery, on the street of the same name in the town of Renmark, has launched two brandies, a gin and a hybrid whisky.

The former Renmano distillery will also produce craft spirits under its own label as well as well-known Australian label Black Bottle Brandy, Australia’s second biggest brandy brand.

It is about a kilometre away from the St Agnes distillery, the maker of Australia’s biggest selling brandy.

Bickford’s, established in South Australia in 1874 and historically known for its cordials and syrups, has grown strongly into the alcoholic beverage market in recent years.

It bought VOK Beverages in 2002 and has steadily built up a portfolio of well-known spirits brands including Beenleigh Rum, Real McCoy, El Toro and Vickers Gin.

It bought the Black Bottle Brandy label from Accolade in 2011 and has until now been making it out of its Beenleigh Rum distillery in Queensland. Vickers Gin and the new premium Black Bottle Very Special Australian Brandy will also be produced at the new Renmark distillery, which is about 260km northeast of the South Australian capital Adelaide.

Bickford’s bought the Renmark site from Accolade Wines in 2014 after receiving more than $2 million in Riverland Sustainable Futures Funding towards the establishment of a spirit distillery in the region.

The 23rd Street Distillery is the result of a $6.6-million transformation and rejuvenation of the century-old landmark.

“With research suggesting the younger millennials are a discerning generation looking to bring quality and premium products into their repertoire, our focus is very much on boutique products of exceptional body and taste,” 23rd Street Distillery’s Head Distiller, Graham Buller said.

“We’re blending our distilling knowledge and expertise – along with all the delicious local produce of the Riverland on our doorstep and those of the Adelaide Hills just a few hundred kilometres away – to create fun, exciting and prime sprits for the liberated palate.”

The new generation 23rd Street Not Your Nanna’s Brandy (AU $50) has spent two years ex- Chardonnay oak barrels to impart rich colour, smoothness and length.

It is described as having vanillin sweetness on the front palate that gives way to vivacious honey and apricot flavours before finishing with soft oak spiciness. It’s a brandy with a new flavour profile and proposition the distillery hopes will encourage a new, younger breed to the category.

Buller describes 23rd Street Prime 5 brandy (AU$80) as “the ultimate in refined character” and “a rich and complex fruitcake-in-a-glass”. Aged up to eight years, portions of traditional double pot distilled liquor deliver sophisticated richness and roundness which, combined with portions distilled by the single pot process, add liveliness to an outstanding limited edition craft brandy.

For the brand’s Signature Gin (A$80), Buller individually infuses 10 botanicals – including traditional juniper and coriander – and complements them with invigorating freshness from local mandarins and limes to create what he terms “a layered palate and full-bodied mouthfeel”.

The hybrid whiskey is, in Buller’s words, “the realisation of my dream to achieve the best of both worlds and create the perfect blend of scotch and bourbon whiskies”.

The barrels of Scotch and American bourbon – each with an average of five years’ individual maturation – are returned to bourbon barrels for finishing.

The new premium Black Bottle Very Special Australian Brandy is a blend of double and single pot distillation and matured for an average of eight years in a mix of French and American oak.

“We will also look to be creative and inventive, introducing new tastes and flavour combinations to the craft spirits industry that particularly resonate with millennials seeking maximum enjoyment by satisfying their sensory pleasures of savoury and sweet, bright and smooth, contradictory yet united,” Buller said.

“In addition, we hope to reignite brandy, give it a healthy dose of cool and engage consumers with a drink they thought was only for their nannas.”

Bickford’s Group Owner and Managing Director Angelo Kotses said the distillery was a chance for the company become a player in Australia’s booming craft spirits industry and leverage export markets.

“We looked at the international model where cognac all of a sudden became cool and consumption went up and markets such as Asia grew dramatically so it was an ideal time to look at that whole category again,” he said.

“Suddenly Renmark has become the centre of brandy in Australia and what we want to do is build the pie rather than take share from anyone else.

The new distillery’s production will centre on three restored vintage copper pot stills with the capacity to produce around 1500 litres – or about 11 barrels – of matured spirit during each run, positioning 23rd Street Distillery as Australia’s leading family-owned producer of branded spirits.

Kotses said having the marketing arm and manufacturing experience of a large beverage company, sufficient scale and existing buyers on hand globally was a boost for the new brands.

“What we’re seeing is the craft spirits guys can’t produce enough volume because of the equipment size and style,” he said.

“We’ve got this nice space where we can take advantage of scale and that also gives you a great quality product on a consistent basis that sometimes you can’t get with a small still.”

Published with approval from The Lead

Manuka Honey makers all abuzz over poor imitations

With Manuka Honey top of the ‘must buy’ list for health and beauty benefits, consumers need to be sure that what they are buying is the genuine article, said a major Manuka Honey industry body today.

In response to their fears of counterfeit products, the guardian of New Zealand’s leading quality mark for genuine Manuka Honey – UMF – has come up with an online solution.

The NZ-based UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) has now launched a service on its website that carries a full list of names of licence-holders that can be easily checked for via a handy search function.

It has been designed for users to ensure they can now easily check the company name on product using just about any smartphone.

Overall, over 90 companies are licensed to use the UMF quality mark which represents the purity and quality of Manuka Honey.

The UMF classification and grading system is internationally recognised as the hallmark of premium Manuka Honey.

Amazon to open fresh food stores in US: report

Online retailer Amazon will open small bricks-and-mortar convenience stores selling fresh food in the US, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal, the stores will augment Amazon Fresh, the company’s existing online grocery ordering and delivery service, and initially will only cater for customers of that service.

The company also plans to open drive up stores where online customers have grocery orders delivered to their cars. According to the report, to facilitate such a service, Amazon is developing technology that can automatically read license plates and therefore quickly identify customers.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the report, however as AFP reports, the company is no longer a completely online retailer.

It opened a bricks-and-mortar book shop in Seattle last year and plans to open more in the US.

Keeping Modern (Food) Manufacturing Secure

In the classic factory of the 1950s, security was simple. Managers strolled from their offices on a floor that towered over plant activity, closely observing whether shift crews below were doing what they were supposed to do.

Because employees knew the eyes of a supervisor may be upon them at any time, they were less inclined to cheat the system – such as slipping any of the company’s property or product into their pockets, or sabotaging a machine out of spite. And motives were, on the whole, aligned: what was good for the business was good for everyone involved.

Fast-forward six decades and it’s a different story. With advancements in information and communications technology, the manufacturing industry has undergone significant transformation.

Today, manufacturing employees are more likely to operate advanced technology from their computers and mobile devices, rather than undertake physical work. They are empowered to connect remotely, set their own hours and even self-determine how to effectively perform assigned duties.

As opposed to their factory counterparts of prior generations, their tools aren’t welding machines, circular saws and drills; they’re tablets, smartphones and thumb drives. They don’t follow instructions from an assembly book stocked on a shelf; all best practices/guidance are stored in files on a server.

But that’s also where an abundance of sensitive, proprietary data about customers is kept, as well as information about electronic payments to both suppliers and workers.

With the rapid rise of sophistication and autonomy, it’s clear that something important has been lost: the protective eyes on the floor. And this has security implications for both the insider threat and external cyber security threats.

The Insider Threat

Years ago, those eyes made it more difficult for a disgruntled crew member to surreptitiously slip a blueprint into his lunchbox.

Today, it’s much easier for the same worker – perhaps unhappy after years of stagnant career progression – to abruptly quit, transfer the entire R&D library onto a thumb drive and deliver the stolen information to a competitor.

Without proper monitoring and auditing controls in place, the current level of empowerment – which ultimately serves a positive, productive purpose for organisations – can be abused.

That’s not good for the enterprise, and it’s not good for employees. But it’s fairly unfeasible to “watch” over everything when there are so many employees now connecting to manufacturing systems both inside and outside a traditional factory environment. Toss in an expanding influx of contractors, partners and other non-staff enterprise users, and you invite additional risk.

Especially since many of these parties aren’t vetted to the same degree of scrutiny as full-time personnel. It’s worth noting here that not all security breaches are the result of a malicious insider.

Personnel or contractors may play the role of the unintentional insider where they can be ‘tricked’ into downloading malware and introducing this into the network.

Or they can lapse into sloppy habits, such as sending corporate materials to their home computers on vulnerable, private email accounts.

Of course, they can also outright lose things (devices, USB flash drives, etc.) which can end up in the wrong hands.

To combat the insider threat, manufacturers need to empower the organisation to better protect the information and data that helps make it profitable. Whilst it’s important to give employees the latitude they need to do their jobs the business also needs to retain visibility into their actions.

A robust security measure that is able to do this includes three important pillars:

1. Data capture – implementing a lightweight endpoint agent can capture data without disrupting user productivity. A system like this can monitor the data’s location and movement, as well as the actions of users who access, alter and transport the data. Collected user data can be viewed as a video replay that displays keys typed, mouse movements, documents opened or websites visited. This unique capability provides irrefutable and unambiguous attribution of end-user activity.

2. Behavioural audit – understanding how employees act will help pinpoint unusual or suspect behaviour enabling closer monitoring for those deemed high risk.

3. Focused investigation – if a clear violation is detected it’s important to pinpoint specific events or users so you can assess the severity of the threat, remediate the problem and create new policies to stop it happening again.

The Outside Threat

With significant changes to the manufacturing landscape businesses also face significant threats from outside criminals. Over the last decade there has been huge uptake of technology and online systems to create new efficiencies and improve operational effectiveness through the sharing of information.

However with every opportunity comes risk; and given the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoTs) and big data it’s no surprise that cyber security has been elevated to one of manufacturers’ biggest risk factors. In fact, according to IBM, manufacturing was the second most targeted industry in the US for cyber-attacks in 2015.

So whilst networked products, known as IIoT in manufacturing, means there are virtually endless opportunities and connections that can take place between devices, it also means there are a number risks due to the growth in data and network entry points. In many cases, manufacturers have been quick to embrace the benefits of IIoT but still have some catching up to do in order to adequately protect their data, customers, products and factory floors.

Australian manufacturers need to consider multiple cyber security threats including factory threats, product threats and operational threats.

For example, if equipment controllers are not adequately secured it is possible for an outsider to attach malware ridden PCs to the OT network while performing routine maintenance. Similarly, manufacturers must take great care in preventing any products, like driverless cards or robotics, from being compromised as not all cyber-attacks are focused on the network but can also affect how a computer processor or piece of technology operates.

For manufacturers to fully realise the benefits of IIoT securely, it’s important they identify security weaknesses and put a process in place that can mitigate not just current but future risks.

This means any security system should be:

1. Simple and flexible – your security solution should be able to scale with your operations and be easy to use.

2. Unified – in today’s environment you’re likely to split IT functions between cloud and on-premise technologies to maximise the advantages of each approach. By implementing a unified solution you can eliminate the extra cost and duplicated work of systems that have separate management to consolidate cloud services and on-premises solutions in a single console with one visibility, policy and reporting system.

3. Fault tolerant – there’s no point in having a security system if it goes down when you need it most. Prevent interruptions in network security by having traffic rerouted to a trusted partner in the event that a security appliance goes offline.

Ultimately, even though the threat of cyber-attacks in manufacturing is a reality, there are multiple ways Australian businesses can move forward without fear.

 

 

Forcepoint

www.forcepoint.com

 

 

 

Bundy Rum gets all fancy with its new Master Distillers’ collection

The Bundaberg Distilling Company (BDC), Australia’s most awarded rum distillery has released the limited edition Bundaberg Rum Master Distillers’ Collection (MDC) Solera, and the highly anticipated return of Bundaberg Rum Black.

Launching at The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival on the 15th October, Bundaberg Rum Solera is a celebration of the modern era of premium rum.

Rich and bold, it has been instilled with notes of vanilla, fruitcake and butterscotch, making it a well-balanced treat for the palate, according to the company.

One of the most complex rums the company has ever created, Bundaberg Rum Solera is named after the fractional blending and maturation process it uses in order to achieve its unique flavour profile.

Senior Brand Manager for Bundaberg Rum, Duncan Littler, said: “The Bundaberg Distilling Company was always going to have big shoes to fill in 2016, following Bundaberg Blenders Edition 2015 winning the World’s Best Rum earlier this year. Bundaberg Rum Solera has delivered perfectly – it is as sophisticated as it is bold – and it is an exceptional addition to our Master Distillers’ Collection.”

As with previous MDC releases, each bottle of Bundaberg Rum Solera carries a unique bottle number, making it the perfect addition for any collector/collection.

Also making a return at The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival is the legendary Bundaberg Rum Black.

One of the first drops from Bundaberg Rum to be aged for 12 years, it pioneered the notion of premium rum in Australia when first released in 1995.

The process of ageing this legendary rum for 12 years gives it notes of rich molasses, warming aromatic layers of clove and nutmeg, which develop into a raisin and honeyed oak finish.

“Bundaberg Rum Black has always been a favourite amongst our fans and we’re thrilled to be able to respond to that by bringing it back,” finishes Duncan.

More action needed on global food waste: report

A new report assesses the world’s progress toward Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which calls on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030.

Given the magnitude of food loss and waste globally, the report recommends nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain move quickly to set reduction targets, measure progress and take action to reduce food loss and waste.

One-third of all food produced is never eaten by people. The impact of this loss and waste worldwide is tremendous. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses and 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The new publication, SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Report, was released on behalf of Champions 12.3, a unique coalition of leaders from government, business and civil society around the world dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3.

According to the report, governments and organisations across Europe, Africa and the United States have taken a number of notable steps over the past year, but — considering the enormous scope of the food loss and waste challenge — much more is needed worldwide. The report offers three recommendations for leaders to meet Target 12.3 by 2030:

  • Target: Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. Every country, major city and company involved in the food supply chain should set food loss and waste reduction targets consistent with Target 12.3 in order to ensure sufficient attention and focus.
  • Measure: What gets measured gets managed. The report recommends governments and companies quantify and report on food loss and waste and monitor progress over time through 2030.
  • Act: Impact only occurs if people act. Governments and companies should accelerate and scale up adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

The full report can be viewed here.

 

Summit on food & agriculture innovation set for Sydney

An international summit focused on future innovation in the food and agricultural industries is to be held in Australia in November.

The Farm2Fork Summit will bring together agribusiness industry leaders, local and international farmers, food and agri start-ups, technology innovators, investors and other sector stakeholders in a one-day event, to be staged at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island on November 3.

Following on from the landmark inaugural F20 (Food) Summit – convened by global agribusiness bank Rabobank to examine the challenges of global food security in the lead-up to the G20 in Australia in 2014 – the Farm2Fork Summit will focus on innovation and the food and agri trends of the future.

Rabobank Group executive board member Berry Marttin said the Farm2Fork (F2F) Summit was part of the cooperative Rabobank’s commitment to taking a leadership role in helping facilitate a sustainable future for global food and agribusiness production and supply.

“It is extremely important that the world – and in particular those of us involved in food and agriculture – continue to work towards meeting the critical challenge of achieving sustainable food production to feed an ever-increasing global population,” he said.

“Innovation is one of the most powerful enablers that will help achieve this goal, and this will be the focus of the Farm2Fork Summit. The summit will immerse participants in tomorrow’s food and agri environment, sharing ground-breaking visions and innovations and examining disruptive technologies that will re-shape supply chains, solve waste problems, improve business profitability and make industries more future proof.”

An invitation-only event, comprising up to 1000 participants, the Farm2Fork Summit program will feature leading global speakers from the areas of food, technology and innovation, trend watching and government; as well as exhibits from food start-ups and ag innovation.

“The concept of the summit is as a marketplace for industry experts and agri business people to learn, network and make a difference,” Mr Marttin said.

The Farm2Fork Summit will also feature FoodBytes!, a program designed to showcase innovative and ground-breaking concepts in food and agriculture to potential investors.

Originally launched in the United States in 2015, this will be the first FoodBytes! held in Australia and will be open to applicants from across the globe.

FoodBytes! is calling for companies or individuals with innovative concepts in the food and agricultural industries which could be brought to market, or further developed, to apply to be showcased to potential investors and industry stakeholders at the F2F Summit.

Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said the summit would also coincide with the start of the fourth Global Farmers Master Class, which would begin in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley region on October 31 before moving on to Canterbury, New Zealand for completion of the program.

The Global Farmers Master Class will see approximately 50 leading farmers from around the world – including North America, The Netherlands, Ireland, South America and Africa – gather together for a nine-day-long program to share information and ideas on the future of farming.

Approximately seven leading Australian farmers will be among the Master Class participants.

 

Chinese craft brewers court premium Australian water producer

CHINESE brewers are courting a high quality water producer from Australia in a bid to create tastier craft beers.

South Australian company PH8 produces came to the attention of Asian brewers when it was awarded a gold medal at the 5th China International High-end Drinking Water Industry Expo 2016 – China’s most authoritative high-end drinking water trade show – in July.

Almost 50 billion litres a year is consumed in China, twice as much as its nearest rival the United States. An increasing thirst for premium craft beers also has it on track to become the world’s highest value beer market next year.

PH8 Managing Director Kym Dickeson said the award had helped promote the brand internationally and sparked talks with a number of Chinese craft breweries.

He said high quality water crucial to produce premium craft beer.

“China at the present time are accepting beer in a big way, there are breweries interested in quality water. That’s one of the things we are talking about,” Dickeson said.

“The Chinese are looking for anything that is Western and quality. They search far and wide for fresh products, fresh milks, because it is sometimes hard to get there.”

Dickeson said recognition through awards helped products quickly gain respect in China.

He said Australian products were internationally perceived as being of high quality and would be “100 per cent” a key factor in PH8’s global expansion.

The high alkaline water produced by PH8 is filtered naturally through black limestone situated at the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula about 110km west of South Australia’s capital Adelaide.

The water is collected in a large aquifer and picks up trace minerals along the way. The entire process takes about 12-14 months and results in water with low acidity and a pH of 8.

It is claimed that alkaline water has health benefits for a variety of ailments including allergies, arthritis, depression, heartburn, chronic fatigue syndrome and obesity.

It contains high amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium – the latter two are also important elements in beer making.

img - industries_primary industries_ Chinese craft brewers court premium Australian water producer_P2

Water constitutes about 90 per cent of the total ingredients in beer and calcium is the chief mineral in the water that helps to boost the flavour and clarity of the brew. The magnesium is also important for the fermentation process.

According to IBIS World, beer sales in China have increased at an average rate of 3.1 per cent per year to a total of about $32.6 billion over the past five years.

Founded by Nick Selfe in 2006, PH8’s bottled water is distributed around Australia as well as China and Singapore.

Dickeson said alkaline water was an in-demand product and was quickly absorbed by the human body.

“Alkaline water when it has a PH level of above 7 – 7.2 means the clusters of hydrogen are not as bunched together and closed up,” he said.

“What other bottled water companies do is use reverse osmosis. What they do is take out all the germs in the water but by doing that they take a lot of good stuff out as well as the bad.

“We are always looking for opportunities, and there is an opportunity to get into Hong Kong as well. The award certainly gives us a leg up, that’s for sure.”

Dickeson said PH8 was also in conversations with another Australian company to export apowdered milk product.

New food grade grease improves bearing performance

Schaeffler Australia has introduced FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease which is designed to be sturdier and more energy saving than other lubricants on the market.

The latest FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease not only meets strict sanitation standards, but also copes with high stresses and ambient conditions. It is also kosher and halal certified.

“Bearings typically used in the food and beverage industry are tapered roller bearings and angular contact ball bearings.”

These are bearings that are subjected to the most extreme stresses, so reducing friction is a big advantage which improves the bearings’ starting behaviour and reduces power consumption,” says Mark Ciechanowicz, Industrial Services Manager, Schaeffler Australia.

“The other major advantage of the FOOD2 grease is that it maintains its fluidity in cold environments, as low as -30 degrees Celsius. This is important for food and beverage manufacturers working with refrigerated environments,” said Ciechanowicz.

Aussie wine scoops three gold CWSA Awards

Calabria Wines has outclassed the competition at the recent China Wine & Spirits Awards, taking home three Gold Medals from the competition, including the prestigious Double Gold.

The company’s 2013 Iconic Grand Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz was awarded the superior Double Gold, while the 2014 Three Bridges Durif & 2014 Three Bridges Barossa Valley Shiraz both won a Gold Medal.

“We are very proud of the success we have yielded for our Barossa wines. We have worked extremely hard to produce high quality wines from this region and the C.W.S.A accolades reinforce our long term commitment to the Barossa Valley” commented Calabria Wines third generation family member and Sales & Marketing Manager, Andrew Calabria.

Calabria Wines have been producing Three Bridges Durif for 15 years and it is the company’s most celebrated product.

High speed production camera

Fastec Imaging’s IL5 High-Speed 5MP Camera enables you to record any production equipment moving or turning at high-speed, such as drives, motors and bearings, and vibration or alignment problems.

It is also provides performance analysis or troubleshooting using slow motion replay. For analysis or troubleshooting using slow motion replay, so you can see what you have been missing with normal speed video.

With four models to choose from 2560 x 2080 @ 230fps to 800 x 600 @ 1650fps, there is an IL5 to fit your application needs.

All models record over 3200 fps at VGA resolution and more than 18,000 fps at smaller resolutions.

Built for flexibility and ease of use, the Fastec IL5 camera can be controlled over Gigabit Ethernet via Fastec FasMotion software on your PC/Mac or via the built-in web interface with your favorite web browser on your PC, Mac, tablet, or even your smartphone.

Using the (LR) FasCorder Mode, the camera can be operated as a regular camcorder to record and pause as needed and follow the action.

Then stop recording and review what you have. You can then append additional footage, even after a power cycle.

Food for thought: feeding our growing population with flies

Scientists have predicted that by 2050 there will be 9.6 billion humans living on Earth. With the rise of the middle class, we are expected to increase our consumption of animal products by up to 70% using the same limited resources that we have today.

The cost of producing agricultural crops such as corn and soy to feed these animals is also expected to increase and become more challenging with the onset of drought and rising temperatures.

While science is racing to develop more drought tolerant crop strains through genetic engineering, there may be a simpler alternative: flies.

Although people in some parts of the world have been eating insects for generations, the general population is opposed to introducing the crunchy morsels into their diet.

Since we might not be ready to eat insects ourselves, could we instead feed insects to our farmed animals to feed to growing population?

Introducing the nutritious black soldier fly

The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, is a cosmopolitan species found on every continent in the world (excluding Antarctica).

You may have seen this species powering the compost bin in your backyard, as they are efficient decomposers of organic matter. The black soldier fly was first described in 1758 and we are only now discovering its true potential: scientists in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the United States have begun transforming black soldier fly larvae into a nutritious and sustainable agricultural feed product.

‘Hermetia illucens’ was first described in 1758 but we are only discovery its true potential now.
CSIRO: Dr Bryan Lessard

This species was specifically chosen because of its voracious appetite, with one larvae able to quickly process half a gram of organic matter per day.

In fact, the larvae can eat a wide variety of household waste, including rotting fruit, vegetables, meats and, if desperately in need, manure, and quickly convert it to a rich source of fats, oils, amino acids, calcium and protein.

Black soldier fly larvae are 45% crude protein, which in addition to its high nutrition profile, has gained the attention of the agriculture community.

Researchers have demonstrated that black soldier fly feed could partially or completely replace conventional agricultural feed. Moreover, studies have shown that this feed is suitable for the diet of chickens, pigs, alligators and farmed seafood such as blue tilapia, Atlantic salmon and prawns.

Preliminary trials have also indicated that there are no adverse effects on the health of these animals. Black soldier flies can also reduce the amount of E. coli in dairy manure.

A swarm of environmental benefits

There are myriad environmental benefits to adopting black soldier fly feed. For example, Costa Rica has been successful in reducing household waste by up to 75% by feeding it to black soldier fly larvae.

This has significant potential to be adopted in Australia and could divert thousands of tonnes of household and commercial food waste from entering landfill.

One female black soldier fly can have up to 600 larvae, with each of these quickly consuming half a gram of organic matter per day. This small family of 600 individuals can eat an entire household green waste bin each year.

Entire farms of black soldier flies could significantly reduce landfill, while converting the organic matter into a feasible commercial product.

Black soldier fly farms require a substantially smaller footprint than conventional agricultural crops grown to feed farm animals because they can be grown in warehouses or small farms.

We currently use more than half the world’s usable surface to grow crops to feed farm animals. If more fly farms were established in the future, less land would be required to feed farm animals, which in turn could be used to grow more food for humans, or rehabilitate it and return it to nature.

Another emerging economic venture in black soldier flies is the production of biodiesel as a by-product of the harvesting stage. The larvae are a natural source of oil, which scientists have feasibly extracted during the processing stage and converted into biodiesel.

With future research and development, this oil could be commercially developed to alleviate the pressure off limited fossil fuels and could become a reliable source of revenue for countries adopting black soldier fly farming.

Would you buy black soldier fly feed?

The limiting factor of the emerging black soldier fly farming practice is ultimately the consumer. Would shoppers be tempted to buy animal products fed on black soldier flies at the grocery store, or purchase larvae to feed their pets or farm animals?

Promising trials have shown that customers could not detect a difference in the taste or smell of animal products fed on black soldier flies.

One of the greatest challenges we will face in our lifetime is the need to feed a growing population. If we want to continue our customs of farming and eating animal products on our limited resources, we may have to look to novel alternatives like black soldier fly farming.

With the benefits of reducing household waste and sustainably feeding farm animals a nutritious meal, perhaps the future of eating insects is closer than we thought.

The Conversation

Bryan Lessard, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CSIRO

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

Global supply chain risk highest since 1995

Global supply chain risk climbed in the second quarter of 2016, reaching the highest levels since records began in 1995, according to the CIPS Risk Index, powered by Dun & Bradstreet.

The Index, produced for the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) by Dun & Bradstreet economists, tracks the impact of economic and political developments on the stability of global supply chains. The UK’s risk rating was downgraded by Dun & Bradstreet as a result of the leave vote.

This continued the worsening trend in global risk which has been following this trajectory since Q4 2015. Amid sluggish growth across developed and emerging market economies in Q2, the UK’s vote to leave the EU at the end of June marked an unprecedented event that is expected to have a reverberating effect on supply chains in the region, and also across the rest of the world.

Immediately after the result, a dramatic fall in the Pound Sterling led to soaring costs for businesses that relied on importing, prompting many to reconsider their sourcing strategies. In addition, early evidence of a drop in consumer spending and business investments in the weeks following the EU referendum result increased the risk of the UK economy falling into contraction in the third and fourth quarters.

A similar picture was seen across Western Europe, with early signs of a dip in consumer and business confidence raising concerns about a wider economic slowdown.

Brexit – consequences near and far

While the UK will still have access to the EU’s single market for at least another two years after it invokes Article 50, the medium-term outlook is less clear. If the UK and the EU are unable to find an agreement about post-Brexit market access, the effects on supply chains could be significant, potentially bringing big changes in trade and investment.

John Glen, Director of the Centre for Customised Executive Development at The Cranfield School of Management said, “The UK’s departure from the EU could lead to some of the most dramatic shifts and severe implications for global supply chains in the coming years. While the full impact of the leave vote is still unfolding, the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the current situation has already driven supply chain risk to a worryingly high level.”

At a global level, the Brexit vote underlines concerns about a wider shift towards protectionism in global trade policy. In France, the UK vote has given a boost to the Front National which is campaigning for more economic protectionism; the party also wants to hold an EU membership referendum. A victory for Marine Le Pen, the party’s leader, in the parliamentary and presidential elections next year is an unlikely scenario, but if it happens, it could lead to another sharp rise in supply chain risk. In the US, the presidential election shows that a significant proportion of the population feel that global trade has not been in their interest.

Trump causing uncertainty in the US

While the US risk score remained stable in Q2, the outlook is uncertain. If Donald Trump wins, he is likely to seek to increase trade barriers with countries such as China and Mexico, two countries at the top of the global manufacturing food-chain. This in turn will have a significant impact on global supply chain networks.

APAC stabilising

Meanwhile, concerns about a near-term collapse in China’s growth have subsided and the associated rise in commodity prices has taken some of the strain off Australia. The country’s risk rating, as a result, improved by one quartile in June 2016.

Global supply chain risk Q2 2016

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FAO Food Price Index posts biggest monthly jump in four years

International food commodity prices shot up 4.2 percent in June, their steepest monthly increase of the past four years.

The FAO Food Price Index, released today, averaged 163.4 points in June and is now one percent below the level reached a year earlier. The June rise, which affected all commodity categories except vegetable oils, was the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

The price movement reflects FAO’s updating of its cereal supply and demand forecasts for the 2016/17 marketing season.

FAO’s Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices for key traded food groups.

The FAO Sugar Price Index rose 14.8 percent from May, as Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter, endured heavy rains that hindered harvesting and dented yields.

The FAO Cereal Price Index rose 2.9 percent in the month and is now 3.9 percent below its level of June 2015. Maize prices drove that increase, primarily due to tightening spot export supplies from Brazil. Ample wheat supplies and reports of record yields in the United States held down wheat prices.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose 7.8 percent from May, spurred by an uncertain outlook in Oceania and slower production growth in the European Union. Nonetheless, the index remained 14 percent below its level of a year ago.

The FAO Meat Price Index rose 2.4 percent from its revised May value, as average quotations for pork, beef and poultry all rose for the third consecutive month.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index defied the trend, declining 0.8 percent from its May level.

Higher forecasts for wheat output and cereal consumption in 2016/17

FAO’s Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also released today, pointed to improved production prospects primarily for wheat.

Global wheat production is now pegged at 732 million tonnes, more than one percent higher than anticipated in June, mainly due to improved prospects in the EU, the Russian Federation and the U.S., as a result of better weather conditions.

The forecast for world maize production in 2016 was, however, cut down as prospects for the second crop in Brazil have dimmed and as reduced government support in China led to lower planting. Overall coarse grain production for this year is now expected to be 1 316.4 million tonnes, some 0.6 percent lower than last month’s forecast.

World total cereal utilization in the 2016/17 marketing year, meanwhile, is now projected at 2 555.6 million tonnes, 1.3 percent higher than the estimate for 2015/16.

As a result, global cereal stocks by the end of farming season in 2017 are expected to stand at 635 million tonnes, 1.5 percent below their opening level. The resulting world stocks-to-use ratio for cereals would stand at 24.2 percent in 2016/17, compared to the 2007/08 historical low of 20.5 percent.

Developing economies set to drive growth in global dairy and soy food market

The global dairy and soy food market will rise from US$617.9 billion in 2015 to US$773.4 billion by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 4.6%, according to consumer insight firm Canadean.

The company’s latest report states that this cautious growth will be driven primarily by emerging and developing markets in Asia-Pacific (APAC), Middle East and Africa (MEA) and East European regions, in contrast to West Europe and North America, whose economic fragility has resulted in risks of weaker market growth.

“Changing consumer preferences and purchase patterns due to socio-economic and demographic changes have created new market dynamics,” said Kiran Akkineni, Analyst for Canadean.

“While the key markets of Western Europe and North America have witnessed stagnancy in liquid milk consumption paired with fast growth in processed and soy products, developing countries have recorded steep growth in demand for dairy products owing to their fairly low per capita consumption.”

Consumption of milk in North America is currently declining as consumers opt for alternative beverages such as juices and vitamin-infused water. By contrast, the rise in per capita consumption of dairy by the growing middle-class population in developing markets in the APAC, MEA and Eastern Europe regions will drive growth in the dairy and soy foods market.

Canadean’s analysis reveals that consumers in developed markets tend to base their beverage choices on their level of personalization, whether they can be consumed on-the-go, and whether they can provide a novel experience. Consumers in emerging countries including Brazil, China and India, on the other hand, place a greater emphasis on nutritional value, following health and wellness trends.

 

How Brexit threatens Britain’s food security

The situation created by the British vote to leave the European Union is momentous for UK food. It is on a par with the Repeal of the Corn Laws of 1846 when Britain decided its Empire could feed it, not its own farmers. And it is as important as the creation of the Agriculture Act of 1947 when after two bruising wars in which the population faced serious risk of starvation, the country decided to put its food house in order – to produce more of what it could and look after the land.

Those events set the tone and framework for UK food for decades after. Brexit will do the same. It doesn’t help that the political elites are now knifing each other in a distraction from the genuine, looming effects.

My concern is that the security of food might get lost in the debacle. The UK must not let that happen. Food stocks are low in a just-in-time economy, an estimated three to five days’ worth. The UK doesn’t feed itself. It has dropped to 61% self-sufficiency, Defra reported last month. The UK has quietly become a “neo-imperialist” food economy, using other people’s land and low wage labour to feed people while consumers subsidise rich landowners and keep their land values high. The UK gets 30% of UK food from the EU. That rises to 40% for horticultural produce, of which consumers eat too little for health.

Shelf life?
Erica Zabowski/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Vulnerabilities

The Brexit vote was always a risk. That’s why we in the Food Research Collaboration, a 500+ network of academics and civil society (www.foodresearch.org.uk), wrote and published reports assessing the food situation in the UK and EU. Our verdict is sober. Brexit looks likely to mean destabilisation just when we need to focus on pressing issues like food’s impact on climate change and obesity. In the short term, a weaker pound means imports cost more. And the UK’s food system is already pretty vulnerable to shock. Chief scientists have been warning as much for years.

In truth, the EU’s leadership on food and agriculture has been timid. We should not forget, however, that there have been important gains from Europe: cleaner water, controls on agrichemicals, tougher food standards. But as the UK cuts loose, a decades-old failure to invest in food skills and equitable infrastructure for sustainable development will be exposed. Are Brexiters ready to go into the picking fields and factories where foreigners work?

Part of the challenge now is the UK’s love of cheap food. This was the legacy of the Repeal of the Corn Laws which sought cheap food for workers. Cheapness as efficiency is still central to the neoliberal project today, as Michael Gove stated in the referendum campaign. But in food, cheapness encourages waste and makes us fat. Good diets are too expensive for the poor.

UK farming: ploughing a lonely furrow?
Anguskirk/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

The UK faces harsh food times ahead, but they have been a long time coming. Diet-related ill-health is very costly. Life expectancy gaps are shocking in an unequal society. The Brexit victors are worryingly vague about what to do next. There was no plan for farming, according to Liz Truss, the Secretary of State at Defra.

My understanding is that some attempts are now underway but Defra is so weakened, we cannot expect much. Some Brexiters want a quick food exit, a total severance of regulations negotiated at Brussels, especially environmental and health ones. Others do not. Some want an end to farm subsidies. Others merely seek their repatriation. It is worth noting here that despite the image of an the EU run by totalitarian eurocrats, how many know there are just 1,000 civil servants running the vast EU Common Agricultural Policy compared to 2,000 civil servants running England’s (let alone Scotland’s or Wales’) agriculture?

The referendum debate was dominated by migration, national identity and by the nebulous idea of “taking back control”. But there’s still no clarity from Brexiters about whether the role model is to be Norway, Albania, Canada or Switzerland. Most Brexit leaders aren’t even considering that food arrives on our plates from shops not farms. In fact, food traders rule the modern food economy. Millions of food contracts depend on cross continental supply chains. It’s why roads are clogged with food wagons. The food system is heavily tied into Europe. To sever this web will be a task awesome and unprecedented in complexity.

Risky talks

To make matters worse, the Labour shadow Cabinet Minister on Food, Environment & Rural Affairs, Kerry McCarthy, a decent person interested in her brief, has resigned. This makes it all the more important for forces and views outside Parliament to get our act together and articulate what we think is needed as the country negotiates a new future. Some such meetings are being organised.

No such thing as a free lunch.
Laura Billings/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Brexit negotiations, if they do happen, must not be an excuse to hand over more wealth to the already wealthy or let only the well-off be well fed. There are already major challenges to the food system as the UK seeks to decarbonise it and shift diets away from overconsumption of ultra-processed foods – the major cause of non-communicable disease.

There is a risk that health and environment are side-lined to the edges of policy reformulation. If the Brexiters hark back to UK self-determination, they need to be reminded that the reality was a mix of Empire-sourcing or panicky direct action in wars, most plainly exposed in 1939. The Brexit euphoria won’t last long if food prices rise or shelves empty. This needs planning. And that’s not what the Brexit elite want. They believe markets rule. But not many of them know what a real food market looks like. They think it’s what happens on brokers’ dealing screens, not what we are able to put on our families’ plates.

The Conversation

Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University London

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

Prawn sperm holds the secrets to healthy seafood stocks

Discovering the secrets of how one of the world’s most popular prawn species produces sperm and transfers it to create the next generation could help free aquaculture from reliance on brood stock from the wild.

University of Queensland School of Agriculture and Food Sciences PhD student Michael Feng is using advanced microscopy to create three-dimensional computer models of Australian giant black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) sperm.

Mr Feng said the giant black tiger prawn was a delicious high-quality species with distinctive stripes that turned red when cooked. “Black tiger prawns were first described in the 18th century and are a premium-priced product, growing to about 20cm long, compared with 10-12cm for more commonly farmed species,” he said.

“Although the seafood industry is a multi-billion dollar industry internationally, there’s a lot we still don’t understand about the basic biology of valuable prawns such as these. “If we knew more we could probably improve the efficiency of prawn breeding in aquaculture.”

Mr Feng said farmed prawns did not always mature well sexually in captivity, and the Asian prawn aquaculture industry had experienced significant setbacks from wild prawn diseases introduced by wild-caught brood stock.

“The aquaculture industry has been going in Australia for five decades, but there is still a reliance on wild-caught prawn brood stock,” he said. “Due to quarantine vigilance, Australia is fortunately free of serious prawn pathogens but our wild brood stock can be a vector for minor local diseases to enter farms.

“On the other hand, domesticated brood stock can be grown under biosecure conditions- but it’s important that they are also as fertile as possible. “We’re hoping to improve the knowledge of prawn sperm production using advanced techniques to assess sperm damage, such as DNA fragmentation, which is a cause of infertility in other species.”

Mr Feng said crustacean sperm were very different to mammal sperm. “Sperm have long swimming tails in mammals, but prawn sperm have no tails – they don’t move at all and look more like thumb tacks, and it’s an interesting mystery as to how the sperm gets into the egg,” he said.

Mr Feng has used a new scanning electron microscopy technique to gain powerful detailed views of prawn sperm cells, richly illustrating their composition. The research was published in the Journal of Morphology.

Drop the ‘xenophobic’ attitude to trade says AIFST

At the recent 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Convention in Brisbane, most leading Australian food and agribusiness industry experts agreed that while innovation is the key to ensuring a viable future for the food and agribusiness industry, the concern around foreign investment is impacting markets and hindering the collaboration.

The panel, chaired by former ABC journalist Peter Couchman, comprised some of the industry’s leading decision-makers, including Peter Schutz (FIAL), Michele Allan (Science and Innovation Australia), Richard Katter (Ernst & Young), Dr André Teixeira (CSIRO), Terry O’Brien (Simplot), Janice Rueda (Archer Daniels Midland), Dr Ben Lyons (TSBE) and Alastair Maclachlan (Preshafruit). Chair of AIFST, Peter Schutz said the Australian food and agribusiness industry needs to work collaboratively and allow for investment in the industry.

“We need all components of the industry – including the business community, farmers, agribusinesses and the wider supply chain – all working together seamlessly.

“There is a lot of xenophobia in Australia, but we need these foreign markets to invest in the Australian food and agribusiness sector because they will guarantee us markets.

“This lack of collaboration culture within Australian food and agribusiness is impacting our readiness for engagement with the huge market potential of the emerging Asian middle class,” said Mr Schutz.

The panel agreed the Toowoomba region in Queensland is leading the way in food and agribusiness collaboration, and the rest of the nation needs to follow suit. “The Toowoomba and Surat Basin area is a stand-out region in terms of collaboration across universities, government and the production and agribusiness industry, opening up the region directly to international markets,” said Mr Schutz. CEO of the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) Dr Ben Lyons said that while Toowoomba is part of Australia’s leading agriculture region in terms of production and innovation, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of collaboration.

“We have a number of opportunities opening up to the local food and agribusiness market in Toowoomba, such as the opening of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport servicing the Toowoomba region,” said Dr Lyons.

“This has given us the ability to export fresh meat from Toowoomba at 5pm that will arrive in Shanghai by 7am local time, to be served in a high-end Shanghai restaurant that night. This makes everything much more immediate.

“Australia as a whole needs to step away from being insular and become more open to foreign ownership and investment. Australia has had a mindset of protectionism in the past. I was quite upset by the Kidman ownership decision, because what impression about investing in Australia does that send to China?” he said.

Terry O’Brien, Managing Director of Simplot said the resistance to innovation and new ideas comes down to a number of Australian agricultural and food production companies being family-owned.

“I do a lot of work in Tasmania, where the farming and agricultural land has been passed through many generations. This creates a fear of growing new products including new varieties as they feel they haven’t been tried and tested.

“This region almost has to wait for the current generation to stop and the younger generation to step up to utilise their new technical skills and their ability to think collectively,” said Mr O’Brien.

New country of origin food labels are finally here

Australia’s new country of origin food labelling laws come into effect today, helping Aussie consumers find out more about their food.

The Australian Made Campaign’s (AMCL) famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) kangaroo logo will feature on most new labels, along with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients come from Australia.

It’ll give shoppers a better understanding of how much of their food is sourced locally. The new system is compulsory for all food products produced for sale in Australia.

“The new system is compulsory for all food products produced for sale in Australia. Consumers will gradually start to see the new labels roll out, with a two year phase-in period to allow companies to redesign, reprint and apply the new labels before the 30 June 2018 deadline, when the new system will become mandatory.

Companies will still be allowed to sell products with the existing labels after 1 July, 2018 providing the labels were applied before the cut off date.”

Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison, said the scheme will greatly improve clarity and consistency for Australian consumers.

“A tighter system for food labelling, coupled with a better understanding of that system by consumers, will give Aussie shoppers more confidence in what they are purchasing and provide Australian farmer and manufacturers with a much needed leg up,” Mr Harrison said.

“It removes that old phrase which nobody liked, ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients.” AMCL believes the widespread use of the AMAG logo will also strengthen the logo’s connection to Australia and help boost sales of genuine Aussie goods in domestic and export markets.

Exported food is not required to carry the new labels so businesses wanting to use the AMAG logo on their products can do so under a licence with AMCL.

Shoppers will also continue to see the AMAG logo on all other types of Aussie products with AMCL to continue administering and promoting the logo as a voluntary country of origin certification trade mark.

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