Food allergy innovation a hit at AIFST Awards

A new technology that detects allergens in food products has been awarded the Food Industry Innovation Award at the 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Convention.

The Allergen Bureau was awarded the prestigious accolade at a ceremony on Monday night at the AIFST Convention at Brisbane’s Exhibition and Convention Centre for its VITAL Online platform, a web-based calculator that reviews the allergen status of all ingredients in a product and the processing conditions that could impact on the allergen status.

The technology gives the global food industry a standardised allergen risk assessment tool that both incorporates new allergen science as it comes to hand, and provides secure intellectual property data storage for manufacturers.

The VITAL program was developed by the Allergen Bureau as an initiative of the Australian Food and Grocery Council Allergen Forum and has been successfully commercialised through a subscription access service.

The prestigious innovation award recognises a significant development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or packaging, which has achieved successful commercial application in the Australian food industry.

The Jack Kefford Award for Best Paper was the other major prize of the night, and was awarded to Divya Eratte of Federation University Australia’s Department of Food and Nutritional Science School of Applied and Biomedical Science.

Ms Eratte’s 2015 paper ‘Co-encapsulation and characterisation of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria in whey protein isolate-gum Arabic complex coacervates’ was published in the Journal of Functional Foods and documents the first attempt to develop a single microcapsule capable of delivering omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria together in one capsule.

The microcapsules are expected to have wider applications throughout the nutraceutical and functional food industry. AIFST CEO Georgie Aley commended the recipients on the groundbreaking, innovative work they had done to improve both Australia and the world’s food industries. “It really is pleasing to see innovation at work across the food industry, and innovative products or tools that are commercially viable too,” said Ms Aley.

“Food allergy is a becoming a major issue in our society – there are around 30,000 new cases in Australia each year which makes the Allergen Bureau’s calculator so valuable to Australian food companies.

The move towards functional foods is equally as strong, making the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria particularly exciting in terms of potential.”

The Convention is hosted by AIFST, the only national network for food industry professionals and this year, the Convention was co-located with FoodTech, a major trade event for Queensland food manufacturers.

For more information about the Convention, visit https://bit.ly/1pbPPJj

Australia’s drinking quantity decreases but quality increases

Australians say they are drinking less but better with our per capita spend on alcohol rising as we seek out more premium alcoholic beverages, according to a new report released today.

The emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) Alcoholic Beverages Trends & Insights Report* found that half of people aged 18 years and over say they are drinking less now than they used to.

There is also a move to premium beverages, with the dollar value of liquor sales rising 1.5%^ in 2015, which means Australians are spending more on their favourite drink. Australia is an overwhelmingly wine and beer drinking nation. Wine is our most popular drink, although men up to age 65 prefer beer, the emma data has found.

Cider is our third most popular drink, followed by scotch or whiskey, with other varieties well behind. Women opt for wine more than twice as often as other drinks, whereas men are more varied in their consumption patterns.

White wine edges out red as the most consumed at 43% of adults, compared to 41%, while 23% enjoy sparkling wine or champagne.

cocktails2
Alcohol is still very much part of Australian culture, with three quarters of adult men and women consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past four weeks.

“The trend towards drinking better offers growth opportunities to premium brands that can tap into the mindset of these consumers.

The move by Australians towards more premium beverages and spending more as a result, underscores the importance of effective brand positioning and marketing.”

Perceptions of quality and value change as people age and emma data shows that older people are more likely to believe that Australian wine is better than that from overseas.

They were also less likely to try foreign beers, preferring homegrown brands. There has been a shift in places and occasions where Australians prefer to drink, which changes by age and life stage. The majority of Australians prefer to drink at home, which was most prevalent among 30-32 years olds at 87%.

Venues where alcohol is consumed differ among various age groups. For example, among 24-26 year olds, 61% drank at a friend or relative’s house, while 19% of 18-20 year olds drank at a nightclub.

Among older people, 50% of 45-47 year olds drank at a restaurant or café, while 36% of 54-56 year olds drank at a bar or pub and a third of 66-68 year olds preferred RSLs, bowls or an AFL club.

According to Ipsos’s consumer segmentation, there are four key segments that represent 35% of Australia’s adult population who are the most likely to drink any alcohol more than once a week.

They are the ‘Educated Ambition’ (highest earners and most educated), ‘Social Creatives’ (young, affluent urbanites), ‘Serene Seclusion’ (people at or near retirement living in regional and rural areas) and ‘Conscientious Consumption’ (middle and upper class families) segments. *

The report draws on data from emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) to explore the changing mindsets, preferences and behaviours of Australian adults towards alcohol. emma interviews more than 54,000 people each year. ^ IBISWorld Liquor Retailing in Australia, March 2016

Cadbury sends off Australian Paralympic Team to Rio

Cadbury has presented the Australian Paralympic Team with thousands of personal messages of support from fans across the nation as part of their campaign to Bring on the Joy in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The activity forms part of Cadbury’s mission to rally Australians together and support the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team as the athletes prepare to compete in Rio. As an Official Partner of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team, Cadbury has pledged its support with an AUD $1 million contribution towards the development of para-sport in Australia.

The brand has continued its support by championing the Team as part of its consumer marketing campaign which kicked off earlier this year, encouraging fans to show their support for the athletes through a dedicated digital activation.

Australians responded in their droves with over 5,000 messages shared, aimed at inspiring the para-athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s biggest stage. At an event held in Sydney this week, many of the Australian Paralympic Team came together as part of a celebration of the campaign and Cadbury’s contribution to the Team’s efforts.

Athletes were showered with messages in many different ways as a demonstration of the support received from the public. All messages that were shared have been printed in a specially-designed book for the athletes to keep as a reminder of the nation’s unwavering support for the team.

Lauren Fildes, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Events at Cadbury, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to be partners of the team and we will be right behind them in Rio!”

Lynne Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Paralympic Committee, said that they were “…grateful to have such a supportive partner who has helped create an unbelievable buzz around our Team as the Paralympic Games approach. To know the Australian public is right behind us provides all of our athletes with a huge boost.”

The Australian Paralympic Committee will be sending an Australian team of more than 170 para-athletes from every Australian State and Territory to compete in up to 15 sports at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Bringing Asian food to our homes

Eating fresher is easy with a new natural and gluten free range of FRESH WRAP kits from Marion’s Kitchen.

Each kit comes with a flavour-packed sauce for stir-frying fresh veggies and your chosen protein along with crunchy sprinkles like crispy garlic or sesame seeds wrapped up in fresh lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Marion Grasby spends all her time thinking about how to make products that people will love eating and sharing. ‘I care deeply about what I do and the products, ingredients and recipes I share. I want people to be able to easily create awesome Asian food at home with ingredients that are clean, fresh and super tasty.

Personally, I’ve been looking to find easier ways to include more fresh vegetables into my busy lifestyle and I think more and more Australians feel the same way. My new range aims to inspire fresher eating.’

The new range of FRESH WRAPS includes Malaysian Satay, Korean Chilli & Sesame and Cantonese Hoisin & Garlic which will be available in Woolworths in July. The Marion’s Kitchen full range includes:

Thai Massaman Curry, Singapore Laksa, Malaysian Curry, Pad Thai, Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, and San Choy Bow.

For more information, visit: www.marionskitchen.com.au

 

Meet Larry- the food manufacturers best friend

South Australian company Complexica has developed a robot with an algorithm-based persona, which is being used to help businesses make data-driven decisions in real time.

Larry, the Digital Analyst, is made up of a set of algorithms tuned to complex problems in order to quickly generate answers that would otherwise take people a very long time to work out.

In one example, Larry helped formulate a 52-week promotions plan for a national company with 25,000 products sold in 1400 stores across Australia based on the question of which product should be on promotion at which time of year and at which price to maximise profits.

“It (usually) takes about 30-man days to come up with one plan because you are dealing with 25,000 items over 1400 stores for 52 weeks – it’s like a really big Sudoku,” said Complexica’s Managing Director Matthew Michalewicz.

“But in 60 seconds Larry was able to consider about 10 million combinations of different prices, products, frequency, and predict how much more you will sell with all of these combinations and convert them into weekly averages per state and per store.

“A machine and all the computing power that sits in the cloud can consider things that an organisation will never have time to consider,” he added.

According to Michalewicz, Larry is best suited to large companies that experience repetitive sales of everyday items such as food, hardware and liquor.

“Businesses that have complexity are going to get much greater benefits from Larry than businesses that don’t. We define complexity by three core things: how big a business is; how many products you sell; and how many customers you have.”

Complexica has signed up 20 companies across a range of industries and aims to scale up to 100 clients within two years.

Current clients include PFD Food Services, Liquor Marketing Group, Leader Computers and Coventry Group.

Sanitarium makes a bigger dash

Sanitarium’s Little BIG DASH is returning to Australia for 2016, offering an obstacle adventure designed to put the fun into physical activity for more than 20,000 kids and their parents.

Family teams from two to six will tackle 3km of wild and wacky obstacles to reach the finish line, forming part of Sanitarium’s long-standing mission to help Australian families improve their health and wellbeing.

For the first time, the event will run in three cities, returning to Brisbane and Sydney following popular events in 2015, while families in Melbourne will have their first opportunity to participate in the unique bonding experience.

While Sanitarium’s aim is to encourage families to embrace an active lifestyle in a safe and non-competitive environment, participants report that the best thing about Little BIG DASH is its ability to bring people of all ages together to have fun.

Brisbane will be the first city to hold the event, kicking off the laughs on 24 July at Seventh Brigade Park in Geebung, proudly supported by the Queensland Government. The fun then continues in Sydney on 21 August at Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith and Melbourne on 25 September at The Thunderdome in Calder Park.

Sanitarium’s General Manager Todd Saunders said: “We’re thrilled to bring back the Little BIG DASH from Sanitarium for another year and expand the event to reach more families than ever before. In an age where the addictive allure of screen time sees Australians living an increasing sedentary lifestyle, our aim is to get kids and adults on their feet and bring family and fitness together in the most enjoyable way possible.”

Little BIG DASH from Sanitarium features unmissable activities and obstacles which have been designed for kids from age five to 15 and for adults looking to get in touch with their inner child. With ten thrilling obstacles to challenge participants, kids and parents can bounce through the Rumble Tumble Tower, twist through the Tangle Tunnel and test their balance on the Bupa Balance Beam.

Tickets for Little BIG DASH from Sanitarium are available to buy now with discounts available.

For more information and to register a team, head to www.littlebigdash.com.au

 

Industrial gear boxes suitable for food & beverage makers

Regal Australia has introduced its range of Marathon Gearboxes, suitable for industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, water, chemical/petrochemical, metal/steel and mining. The range features models with single piece die cast housings and vacuum impregnated housing for greater sealing and synthetic oils for “long life” lubrication.

The range is available in aluminium, cast iron and stainless steel. It features the following gearboxes: right angle worm, square worm, inline coaxial, shaft mounted, helical bevel and stainless steel.

New survey reveals most workers are unhappy

For manufacturers, in fact any Australian business, having a happy and content workforce is vital to the success of the company.

So it will be disappointing for readers to hear that four out of every five Australians are unhappy where they work and are planning to leave their current role in search of new challenges, and more money.

AIM’s (Australian Institute of Management) 2016 National Salary Survey makes sobering reading. The findings show that Australian living standards are now under more pressure than ever before with wage growth falling in line with the rate of inflation, a statistic rarely seen in Australia over the past three decades.

Now in its 52nd year, AIM’s 2016 survey of more than 500 Australian organisations, covering about 25,000 employees and around 270 job roles, found that the overall salary increase is currently sitting at 3%, which is a decrease from the 3.4% reported in 2015 and the lowest reported percentage since 2012, dropping 1.1% overall in four years.

Sam Bell, AIM’s GM for Policy & Advocacy, describes it as a significant decline especially as it is forecasted to continue in 2017 in many industries, especially in Queensland and WA, both of which have been affected by the mining downturn.

“For the last decade we have been accustomed or expected to salary increases of 4 to 5%.” But he admits some industries do better than others in good times and bad times. “But now employees are receiving 2 to 3% on average, which is causing some movement in the market because people are expecting greater financial rewards,” Bell said.

The survey reveals four out of five people (82%) are looking for new challenges, with two thirds looking for new opportunities within their industry. More than half (56.5%) cited limited career advancement opportunities with 44.4% looking for better financial reward.

Bell said this situation is caused by two major issues. “Firstly the slower economic conditions are contributing to less career advancement. In the good times people were getting regular promotions, but now with the slower economy, those internal promotions are not happening.

“People are not moving up the ladder as fast as they would like, so they look at opportunities outside their workplace, often at competitors, to get that promotion.”

Secondly, Bell says, employees are not happy with the 2 to 3% salary increase and are changing jobs to get more, which is a costly exercise for companies.

Cost of recruiting

Getting new people is fine, but what many manufacturers don’t realise is that the cost of recruiting a new staff member is around $26,400, which includes the exit process of the employee, the recruitment of a new employee and the training of him/her to fulfil the role.

“It’s a significant amount, and if they are leaving due to lack of promotion or salary increase, companies have to realise that there is a big cost to replace them.” Bell says keeping salary increases very low, can be very costly as in most cases it’s the best people who leave. “I don’t think many managers realise how much it costs to replace someone, plus the disruption that causes to the business.” David Pich, AIM’s CEO, says retaining staff is no easy feat.

“Employees can become restless in roles that have limited career advancements or where they don’t enjoy their time at work. “Combine that with a volatile property and rental market and the pressure to contribute more to their superannuation fund, it’s no wonder staff are becoming disillusioned and feel the need to move jobs as a perceived guarantee to a salary increase,” said Pich.

The survey found one in three (34.5%) Australian businesses are making contributions above the superannuation guarantee (9.5%). However, the proportion of employees who are salary sacrificing has dropped across the board since last year, suggesting Australian employees are putting less focus on their retirement, choosing instead to use their disposable incomes to maintain their current standard of living.

Pich encourages business leaders to reassess their current pay model and suggests creating a positive and inspiring workplace culture to decrease staff turnover and retain human resource.

“People don’t leave companies; they leave leaders. Great managers and leaders make decisions that impact people’s lives and that impact can be felt well beyond the workplace. “We spend about a third of our working-age lives doing just that – working. So it is vital our experiences in the workplace are positive as they impact on our overall well-being and on society as a whole.

“At AIM, we’re constantly encouraging our Members to invest in building a positive workplace culture, by having open streams of conversation and offering training and professional development support,” Pich said.

Manufacturing

According to the survey, salaries overall for the manufacturing sector have fallen more than the average. Bell pointed out that while salaries growth in general has fallen from 4.2% to 3% on average over the past four years, the manufacturing sector has fallen from 4.62%, a little bit higher than the average, to 3.07%, which is almost in line with the average salary increase.

“Next year, those in the manufacturing industry expect salary increases to remain fairly flat at 3%, unlike other sectors who are predicting further falls.”

 The findings show that Australian living standards are now under more pressure than ever before with wage growth falling in line with the rate of inflation, a statistic rarely seen in Australia over the past three decades.

Across the manufacturing industry, AIM measures the Food, Beverage and Tobacco; Chemical and petroleum, Metal and Automotive, and Other Manufacturing sectors. “When broken down for example, Mechanical Engineering Managers have seen an increase of about 5%, while employees in the Chemical and Engineering have remained flat at around 4%,” Bell said.

However, the survey shows workers in the automotive sector have seen a decline to 2.7% growth, dragging the overall figure down. In general employment terms, Bell says he is seeing a significant increase in consultants and temporary workers, rather than full time permanent employees.

“There is strong trend of companies bringing in people for a specific project and a specific time period rather than a full time employee.” When it comes to working conditions, Bell said a company’s workplace culture is very important for employees, followed by learning and development and flexible working conditions at number two and three respectively. “A work life balance is very important for employees.”

The survey found 66.8% of Australian employees left a current job to start a similar role at another organisation, and revealed that businesses are worried workplace culture is to blame for this shift, with 63.7% citing this as the human resource issue they are most concerned about.

 

A2 Milk revises full-year profit guidance upwards

A2 Milk has lifted its full-year profit guidance as demand from China continues and the company adjusts to new infant formula regulations in that country.

The company said in a statement that it is coping well with the regulations and, as such, group revenue is now forecast to be in the range of $350 million to $360 million and Group Operating EBITDA in the range of $52 million to $54 million for the 2016 financial year.

“In addition, the balance sheet position is forecast to be strong at year end reflecting improved operating cash flow in the second half with cash on hand likely to exceed $50 million,” the statement said.

“The Company is also pleased with the recent announcement that it will be added to the S&P/ASX 200 index effective after the close of trading on 17 June 2016.”

Seagull survives fall into curry but turns orange [VIDEO]

A curious seagull has fallen into a vat of chicken tikka masala at a food factory in Wales and turned orange.

The unfortunate bird was trying to take some chicken from a nearby bin when the accident occurred. It was rescued by factory workers who transported it to the Vale Wildlife Hospital near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire for treatment.

Hospital staff were able to remove the orange colour from the bird the curry smell lingered.

“We had never seen anything like it before,” veterinary nurse Lucy Kells said.

“The thing that shocked us the most was the smell.”

The good news is that the seagull, now named Gullfrazie, survived the incident and is recovering at the animal hospital.

Six reasons why food is a really big deal

It’s easy to forget the power of what is on our dinner plate.

Between the Instagram post, or the quick fix meal, the snack at our desk or the breakfast on the run – it’s not a surprise we might overlook the incredible potential in our food. What and how we eat, and the systems that produce it.

Our food is more than simply a source of calories – or even a labour of love. As our global community faces some serious and time-bound health challenges, what’s being served is a world of opportunities.

Let me share with you just six reasons why.

Wealth

In 2015, the global community through the United Nations, unveiled the Sustainable Development Goals. A road-map for equitable development and planet-wide prosperity by 2030, it’s an ambitious, holistic and truly global blueprint for prioritisation and action on a wide range of issues.

Outlined in 17 Goals and 169 Targets, Goal 2 focuses specifically on food: end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. But as momentum builds for the realisation of these Goals, governments and civil society are increasingly realising the importance of food and food systems in achieving ambitions far beyond Goal 2. In fact it is suggested that between 12 and 15 of the 17 Goals will only be fully achieved through investment and action on food and food systems.

Ending poverty requires adequate nutrition for those poorest, while 500 million people on this planet continue to earn a living from smallholder farming. Water and sanitation are deeply linked to food production methods and farming systems. Resilient, inclusive cities will not only require healthy urban food systems, but are also a platform for achieving them. The list goes on.

In short, many now argue that Sustainable Development will only be possible through a focus on ending malnutrition – reshaping our food and diets, and the systems and environments that produce and influence them.

Wisdom

We all seem to be blindly focused on economic growth as the sole measure for communal success. We talk about knowledge economies and knowledge-intensive sectors. Something we almost always overlook though, is that education attainment and economic productivity are both linked to adequate, good food.

Poor nutrition is associated with reduced cognitive function in individuals, delayed school enrolment, impaired concentration, increased illness and absenteeism and early school drop-out – one reports suggests that malnutrition can result in up to 20% lower earning capacity by adulthood. Compared to healthy children, worldwide, children who go without adequate food for long periods are 19% less likely to be able to read, and 12% less likely to write simple sentences by the age of eight, decreasing an individual’s ability to take advantage of development resources and poverty alleviation opportunities.

Conversely, the education of girls improves gender equity, empowerment and maternal and child health outcomes – including better nutrition in the following generation.

In short, knowledge economies require knowledge diets – and healthy food systems. If we want economic growth and sustained social and economic development, then we need to invest in the systems and environments that support nutrition.

Width

While food offers a world of solutions, it also presents some serious challenges for global health. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, food is a leading risk factor for deaths and disability worldwide.

In fact in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide, 18 years and older, were overweight, while more than 600 million were obese. 462 million were underweight. In the same year, 41 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese but 159 million were affected by stunting, resulting from chronic undernutrition. While 50 million children were wasted. In low- and middle-income countries, almost five million children continue to die of undernutrition-related causes every year yet simultaneously these same populations now witness a rise in childhood overweight and obesity – increasing at a rate 30% faster than in richer nations.

The food system, what we eat and very importantly the environment in which we eat it – including the pervasive advertising and commodified urban food systems – have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of our global populations.

Waste

When it comes to food, it is not just about what we grow and do eat – it’s also about what we grow and don’t eat. An estimated one in three mouthfuls of food is wasted in this world every day. The same world where just under half a billion people continue to be underweight. In poorer nations, this waste generally occurs pre-market and can be part-solved by simple technologies in transport, packaging and refrigeration. In wealthier countries, the majority of waste occurs after market and in our homes. This is where buying less but more frequently, avoiding impulse buys and taking measures to reduce the “buy one get one free” that incentivise over-purchasing, is all key.

Weather

Finally, we cannot talk about the power of food and not mention climate change. Today, the food systems of the world account for up to 31% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than all sea, air and land transport combined. The way we grow, process, transport, market, consume and waste food is a major concern for our planet’s health. And therefore our health too.

Reaching far beyond methane from cows, it’s also about run-off from chemical fertilisers that cause damage to water bodies, a reliance of fossil fuel-intensive methods, deforestation and replacement with monoculture agriculture, salinification of soils resulting for poor farming practices and overfishing of our oceans – the links are numerous. These are all linked to the climate and have an enormous impact on the local and global ecology.

Combined with the fact that we waste one-third of what we grow and very often live in food environments conducive to over-consumption, there is a great deal of room for small individual changes to have drastic, positive, collective effects.

We’re all in this

Finally, food is a really big deal because most of us love it – and all of us need it. Regardless of our political persuasions, our demographics, or our personal beliefs, food is something we all share. More than this, food is something that we all have ownership in and engage with at least three times every day.

The sad news is that it is a major driver of harm and disease, but the good news is that it is also an unparalleled opportunity for collective action. Small changes across 7.4 billion dinner plates will add up very quickly.

In a world where the problems can sometimes seem out of reach, and beyond comprehension, food is also our connection back to the very real issues we all face together.

Our food offers each of us an important seat at the solutions dining table. Let’s be sure to recognise the power in what we’re being served.

The Conversation

Alessandro R Demaio, Medical Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE and festival21; Associate Researcher, University of Copenhagen

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

Image: World map of Energy consumption Wikimedia, CC BY-NC

 

Industry winning the fight against better food labelling

Most people doing their grocery shopping are probably blissfully unaware of the industry lobbying and backroom politics that determines what information appears on food labels.

So let’s start with some background. For almost two years, a Commonwealth government-led initiative involving public health and consumer groups, industry organisations as well as state government health authorities has been working to develop an interpretive front-of-pack food labelling scheme.

The proposed system echoes the “star ratings” already in use for choosing energy- or water-efficient refrigerators and washing machines, as well as hotels and restaurants. Put simply, the more stars, the healthier the food.

But since Australia’s food and health ministers confirmed their commitment to the health star rating system on December 13, 2013, there’s been a steady trickle of food industry media aimed at undermining the scheme. And it appears to be working.

What consumers want

The government-led process has been highly consultative and consumer research has and continues to inform the final design.

The health star rating was based on specially-commissioned consumer research that showed people understood the concept of a star rating for food, but still wanted information about the level of saturated fat, sugars, kilojoules, and sodium in different products.

The research also highlighted mistrust of food industry-led initiatives. Specifically, participants recognised that the company-determined serve sizes, which are the basis of the industry’s existing daily intake guide labelling initiative, are often a fraction of the portions people actually consume and make it difficult to compare different products.

They want front-of-pack nutrition information presented per 100 grams or 100 millilitres to allow for easy, more reliable comparison.

What the industry wants

Despite these findings, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has continued to champion its preferred daily intake guide.

The scheme doesn’t meet the criteria agreed on by federal and state health ministers in 2011 when they endorsed the Blewett review recommendation that a front-of-pack labelling system should provide an easy interpretation of a product’s healthiness and nutrition content.

The system is based on the amount (in percentage terms) that one serving of a product contributes to an “average” adult’s daily intake of 8,700 kilojoules and other nutrients.

But each food manufacturer is allowed to determine what serving size they will base their calculation on. And the same product from two different companies may provide the percentage of daily intake figure based on two different portions.

This variability, coupled with the fact that the serving sizes being used bear little resemblance to the portions that most people eat, has become the main point of contention for health and consumer groups.

The daily intake guide doesn’t allow shoppers to make meaningful product comparisons. Clearly, comparisons both within and across food categories are easier when based on standard portions, such as 100 grams.

Until consistent and meaningful serve sizes are developed in consultation with government, health and consumer groups, and industry, the system cannot be the focus of any government-endorsed front-of-pack labelling system.

An even better option

While many health and consumer groups involved in the development of the scheme are committed to the introduction of the health star rating scheme, it represents a substantial compromise on their preferred traffic light labelling system.

Originally developed by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2006, consumer research conducted there and in Australia had demonstrated that traffic-light systems are highly effective in assisting shoppers identify healthier foods.

Despite the development of the health star rating scheme, Australia continues to lag behind the UK where traffic light labelling is growing in acceptance among food companies, retailers and, of course, consumers (the scheme remains voluntary as mandatory labelling laws are enacted across the European Union).

When the UK government announced the introduction of a consistent front-of-pack food labelling system last year, most major UK supermarkets were either already using traffic light-based schemes or had announced that they would be doing so in the near future.

Increasing support for a traffic light-style scheme by UK food suppliers will generate further evidence about the value and influence of that food labelling system.

Meanwhile, any system introduced into the Australian marketplace must also be widely adopted by the food industry, supported by a public awareness campaign and subjected to extensive evaluation to ensure that it actually guides healthier food choices.

Better labelling on food packaging can help people make healthier food choices and easy comparisons at the supermarket. Despite the food industry’s efforts to undermine it, public health and consumer groups are committed to ensuring the health star rating scheme is widely adopted in Australia.
The author would like to acknowledge the contribution to this article by Wendy Watson, Nutrition Project Officer, and Clare Hughes, Nutrition Program Manager who are both at Cancer Council NSW.

The Conversation

Kathy Chapman, Director Health Strategies, Cancer Council NSW & PhD student, University of Sydney

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

The top five trends in product ID for 2016

Product identification is an increasingly essential feature of logistics operations. Mark Dingley looks at how it will develop and evolve this year.

Product identification is continuously evolving. Sometimes the advances are small, sometimes they are quite obvious. Sometimes they are technology specific, and sometimes they relate to an entire production line, supply chain or industry. Here are the top five trends in product ID:

  1. Flexible lines, flexible ID Having agility on your lines means you can run products with different sizes and shapes. While making better use of your capital, the flexibility also allows you to be more responsive to the market and consumer trends. To do this though, you also need coding and labelling equipment that is flexible. For instance, you might need to code 50mm high now, but just a year or so down the track you might need 200mm high. Another example is a coder that adjusts the amount of solvent it uses according to what’s being coded, and yet another is a printer that can easily switch between intermittent and continuous printing modes. Such flexibility in the latest technologies opens up the market for contract packers and allows manufacturers to take advantage of consumer trends. Technology that can grow with a manufacturer’s needs also helps to ‘future proof’ them.
  2. Serialisation and authentication This topic has been hot in the news lately. Serialisation as a process is not new, but technologies have been developed that allow products to be authenticated by a consumer standing in the supermarket aisle on the other side of the world with their smartphone and instantly know if it is genuine. This has huge brand–protection implications for products (and entire industries) feeling the pinch from ever-more-clever fakes encroaching upon them — and of course, one of the biggest benefits here is health and safety. On top of this, the manufacturer can communicate with the end consumer in ways never before possible: they can build their brand story and engage in a relationship with that consumer, suggest recipes, or offer deals.
  3. Smarter technologies Technologies are becoming increasingly smart. Two great examples are self-cleaning and giving audible or visible warnings when attention is needed, such as if a service is due or fluid levels are low. Innovative ink-recirculation systems ensure no ink is wasted in print-head cleaning, while self-cleaning technology optimises uptime and ensures crisp print quality. On-board diagnostics, providing fault, warning and help messages are another way to optimise factory-floor productivity, while customisable on-screen prompts enable mistake-free editing, reducing coding errors. Other highly useful developments include simple on-screen prompts to set up new lines or messages, and being able to control multiple lines from the one unit. Smarter technologies such as these are very practical developments in coding technologies, saving manufacturers wasted time and unnecessary costs.
  4. Integrating ID & inspection Inspection technologies such as vision, check weigh and metal detection, are an important tool on production lines to inspect product quality in real-time. Integrating them with product identification improves the quality of products that go out the factory door. Software integration solutions give real-time data, which is vital in enabling managers and floor staff alike to make informed decisions about what is happening on the production line. Integrated ID and inspection systems help manufacturers make their packaging process leaner and more reliable, allowing them to drive a sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. Increased need for automation & data capture Automating processes clearly removes the possibility of human mistakes, speeds up output and can make products look more professional by being more consistently presented. Inspection is a big area where automating helps a business by vastly improving quality control. Automation also reduces costs and creates greater efficiencies, with better returns, helping manufacturers to remain competitive. Having the right data gives a business a better opportunity to make better decisions.

Capturing data both on the production line (such as the number and cause of rejects and downtime) and at the consumer end is a vital part of this. From everything we have seen, all these five trends will continue to grow in 2016.

Australian Institute of Packaging

07 3278 4490

www.aipack.com.au

NSW IGA supermarkets win top industry awards

Leading IGA stores in New South Wales are celebrating after winning at the annual IGA Awards of Excellence held on the 10 April 2016.

Three exemplary stores, IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor were recognised after taking out the key awards for IGA Store of the Year, SUPA IGA Store of the Year and IGA X-press Store of the Year, respectively.

 

We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community…”

 

The IGA awards represent the highest example of Retail Excellence and demonstrate the store’s ability to grow in challenging competition-driven environments. Keenly contested between the stores in NSW, the awards are a chance to formally recognise and celebrate the achievements of independent retailers.

Not only the IGA stores but also the team who work in the stores who put the heart and soul back into supermarkets, and set the benchmark for other IGA supermarkets across the retail network.

New South Wales General Manager of Metcash Food and Grocery Mark Garwood representing the NSW IGA Retail Council presented the awards to the store teams and said, “We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community. We acknowledge the hard work and commitment our stores have demonstrated throughout the year across all categories awarded tonight.”

“Congratulations to IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor for being recognised as leaders in independent retailing. These stores and their teams represent retail excellence – going above and beyond to demonstrate excellence in teamwork, customer service and quality in their respective store offerings.”

Video of Kellogg’s worker peeing on production line emerges

US authorities have commenced a criminal investigation following the online posting of a video showing a Kellogg’s worker urinating onto a food production line.

As The Washington Post reports, the 47 second video was posted on the site WorldStarHipHop. In the video, the man urinates onto the operating production line containing cereal product and the camera then pans to a sign carrying the Kellogg’s logo.

According to the company, the incident took place at the Memphis, Tennessee Kellogg’s facility in 2014. Around this time, an industrial dispute saw workers locked out of the workplace.

A Kellogg’s spokesperson said products potentially affected included Rice Krispies Treats, Rice Krispies Treats cereal and puffed rice cake products.

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“Kellogg takes this situation very seriously and we were shocked and deeply disappointed by this video that we just learned of yesterday,” Kellogg’s spokesman Kris Charles said.

“We immediately alerted law enforcement authorities and regulators. A criminal investigation is underway as well as a thorough internal investigation.

“Food quality is of the utmost importance to Kellogg Company. We are outraged by this completely unacceptable situation, and we will work closely with authorities to prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

Nestlé to develop iconic Italian chocolate brand internationally

Nestlé has announced a significant investment in Baci Perugina to further strengthen this iconic Italian chocolate brand on the world stage.

The company will extend and modernise its factory in San Sisto commune and establish a new business unit to drive global growth for its Italian chocolate business. This includes investing in marketing to grow Baci Perugina sales abroad.

Baci Perugina is already established as an historical brand in Italy. Now the company is looking to further its presence in its home country and also to make it into a symbol of ‘Made in Italy’ around the world.

The move will start with the set-up of the new Confectionery International Business Unit, which the Group has entrusted to Valeria Norreri, one of the key managers responsible for international expansion of S. Pellegrino brand (1.3 billion bottles sold in 145 countries).

Her work greatly contributed to transforming a mineral water into a product now recognized all around the world as a synonym of Italian excellence in the food and beverage market.

"I enthusiastically accepted this nomination; for me it is a new, exciting challenge" said Valeria Norreri, Nestlé Italy Confectionery IBU Manager.

"Baci Perugina has an exceptional legacy of tradition. Sales results of several countries confirm that the product has the potential to win in foreign markets. Now we have the opportunity to develop its value in international markets, relying on the Italian talent that combines the quality of know-how with passion and lifestyle. It’s more than just chocolate: we will tell the pleasure of surrounding with small things, gestures of love, and Italian-style flirting to create unforgettable moments made in Baci Perugina".

Already today, 40% of the volume produced at San Sisto goes to foreign markets, with Nestlé chocolate bars for all Europe. The modernization plan will increase the factory competitiveness, in order to sustain the business expansion plan.

Cocoa Life Sustainability Program reports Strong Progress

Mondelēz International has published the first progress report on its Cocoa Life sustainability program, which highlights the wide-ranging impact and efforts to date across its six cocoa-growing origins. 

Since its inception in 2012 to the end of 2015, Cocoa Life reached over 76,700 farmers in over 795 communities, establishing a strong foundation and framework for the program.

Initial results show Cocoa Life farmers' incomes tripled since 2009, which is 49 percent more than control communities measured. Likewise, cocoa yield increased 37 percent more than the control communities.

The report also includes data from a needs assessment of the five regions where Cocoa Life is in place in Côte d’Ivoire and an Indonesia baseline assessment, which identifies key areas that will be targeted and measured for improvement. 

According to Cocoa Life Program Director Cathy Pieters, Cocoa Life integrates the work of stakeholders to achieve common goals in ways that can assist Cocoa Life farming communities around the world.

"This progress report brings together the voices of people in cocoa communities across all our origins and demonstrates how the program is working together with local governments, our suppliers and partners to build lasting change on the ground," Pieters said. 

As the world’s largest chocolate company and buyer of cocoa, Mondelēz International is committed to ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply chain. Today, 21 percent of the company’s cocoa is sustainably sourced and brands such as Côte d'Or and Marabou are now displaying the Cocoa Life logo. Cocoa Life is a long-term $400 million investment to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach over one million community members by 2022. 

Cocoa Life is a part of Mondelēz International's Call For Well-being, a call to action focused on four areas that are critical to the well-being of the world and where the company can make the greatest impact: Sustainability, Well-being, Communities, and Safety.

China’s taste for Australian products

Australia has an edge in the alcoholic beverages, enhanced soft drinks and fresh grocery markets in China due to our heritage, expertise and geography.

There are many new ways Australia can diversify its product offerings and capitalise on the growing number of Sino-Australian partnerships in agribusinesses which are benefiting SMEs and MNCs alike.

Alcoholic beverages

According to a British medical journal, The Lancet, when excluding non-drinkers, Chinese middle class consumers now drink more litres of alcohol annually than their Western counterparts, including Australia, the U.S, the U.K and Germany. The report cites rising wages and high-pressure workplaces for the rise in consumption. Chinese consumers drink a far greater share of spirits compared to the international average, and though the alcoholic beverage industry has faced challenges due to anti-corruption prosecution on luxurious gift giving, China still consumes a quarter of the world’s beer.

But Australia’s main opportunity is in the wine category, which is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2011-2016, driven largely by Chinese middle class families and the young urban elite. Of all Chinese wine imports in 2011, Australian wine came in second (after France), at 19 percent of market share. France has benefited from an early perception of quality in the market, but as China’s wine market grows in conjunction with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, there are significant opportunities for Australia. The Australian Grape and Wine Authority noted that the market share for Australian wine in China grew by 20 percent last year. A significant trend for Chinese consumers is the increasing desire to appreciate a brand experience whilst consuming wine. For example, Spanish producers capitalised on this and inspired interest amongst Chinese wine drinkers with three month classes at a Guangzhou school for consumers to learn all there is about Spanish wine.

Red wine enjoys a good reputation both for containing less alcohol compared to Chinese spirits and because of its luxurious connotations. The (fruity, antioxidant) health claims also appeal to older Chinese, while younger, well-travelled consumers are drawn to the flavour. New players in this category must also decide whether to tap into China’s growing e-commerce mass market, or at the other end of the scale, take advantage of China’s luxurious gift giving culture.

Tapping into craft beer

Another less-conventional avenue of opportunity is the rise of niche alcoholic beverages. China, as the world’s largest beer producer and consumer is seeing domestic production slow in tandem with the rising popularity of foreign beers amongst young consumers. In fact, China saw a 66 percent increase in beer imports in 2013.  The Shanghai Beer Festival held last Autumn even included beers made with purple rice and Sichuan peppercorns.  To tap into this market, Australian craft beer producers such as the Balmain Brewing Company in Sydney have entered China (after initially entering Hong Kong) by signing a deal with a Chinese distributor to position high end craft beers to wealthy consumers in hotel bars and restaurants. To get this right, the consumer must be understood. In an interview with The Silk Initiative, Daniel Taytslin of Gotham East, a Shanghai based spirits importer and brand developer, said that the strategy isn’t about ‘going to a traditional Chinese restaurant and presenting them with one-of-a-kind gins where they’ll just drink beer and baijiu…but more about holding an education session to have bartenders act as de-facto brand advocates’.

Enhanced soft drinks

Coca Cola’s recent purchase of a Chinese multi-grain drink maker (Cu Liang Wang) is an example of the dynamic nature of China’s soft drink industry.  As the interest in sodas wane (the market saw a 3 percent decline in 2012), China’s fruit and vegetable soft drink industry is currently growing at 20 percent annually.  There is a lot of variety in this sector, with soft drinks flavoured with fruits, vegetables and even traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients.  The industry has also seen products combining different market categories, such as Super Milky Pulpy Juice, a drink developed by Coca-Cola that mixes dairy and juice.

Tapping into China’s $66 billion soft drink industry (2013) with annual growth of 15 percent requires a deep understanding of the consumer due to its flavouring and distribution challenges. The opportunity here for Australia, particularly smaller producers, is to focus on product ingredients and how these are processed. Instead of competing with conglomerates such as Coca Cola and Suntory, who are jostling with Chinese groups such as Wahaha, Australian producers should focus on strategic-in-market partnerships. For example, Zhu Xinli, the head of Huiyuan Juice (which holds 51 percent of the juice market in China), has been eyeing investments in Australian agribusiness. He suggests that there are “1.3 billion Chinese consumers crying out for premium Australian products,” whilst also emphasising the importance of co-operation between Australian and Chinese producers on “all aspects, including technology.”

Fresh groceries

China’s $1 trillion grocery market is transitioning to suit the changing demands of China’s 600 million online customers. Consumers are demanding fresh groceries to their door. Already, Australian steak is available through online retailers such as T-mall, and fruit and vegetable producers, such as Australian nectarine farmers, are eagerly awaiting approval to sell their goods through online retailers.

Fruit and vegetable imports do not necessarily have to target high end consumers. This month, Canada’s Mucci Farms sent its first shipment of ‘cutecumbers’ (mini cucumbers) to a wholesaler in Shanghai, with the CEO saying the terrific reaction to the product is due to the fact that it’s new and interesting and has a crunchy and sweet taste with no seeds. Chinese consumers are known to try new products, particularly foreign, and with fruits and vegetables still a common snack in China, new interpretations of traditional groceries such as cucumbers will attract curious consumers.

There is also value in agricultural expertise which should not be overlooked as a key point of positioning in a country dominated by sub-par wet markets. For example, Jiang Quan of the Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, has sought out Australian producers in particular to improve the production of Chinese pears. Pears are indigenous to China though there is growing awareness that Chinese growers can benefit from modern techniques and technologies.

Let's go organic

With regards to production techniques, the $500 million ‘niche’ organic industry in China is actually the fourth largest organic market in the world. Recently, the market has been growing at over 30 percent a year as concerns over pollution continue to rise. Larger foreign producers who have applied early for China’s elusive organic license include Fonterra, Anchor and Angove (wine), though Australian fruits, particularly citrus, will benefit from superior perceptions of quality and safety.

John Moore of Summerfruit Australia says that marketing to the whole of China makes no commercial or logistical sense when it comes to organic produce. Instead, he says to focus on the upper middle class in tier one cities where 48 percent of consumers look for, and are willing to pay for, imported fruits. He also notes that as it only takes 14 days for the products to reach Shanghai by sea, Australian producers have no competitors to rival their fruits for quality, sweetness and taste. Australia also benefits from its location in the Southern Hemisphere and can provide fresh counter-seasonal crops, such as apples, to northern producers.

Andrew Kuiler (Andrew@thesilkinitiative.com) is the managing director of Shanghai-based food and beverage consultancy, The Silk Initiative. 

 

Getting free trade right can be good for workers and exporters

Agreement on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership could come as early as this week, with negotiations now focused on “the last few issues,” according to Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Movement towards finalising the TPP comes as unions step up a campaign supported by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten against what is seen as anti-labour provisions in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, taking political debate over free trade to a new level.

“Dry” economists on the right don’t like “trade distorting” bilateral agreements (they don’t even like calling them “free trade” agreements), while many on the left are concerned about trade agreements going too far, beyond reducing tariffs and quotas, and getting involved in social policy, labour standards and the provision of public goods.

But even beyond the political debate, there is the question of what Australian businesses want from public policy as they engage themselves in global markets.

The DHL Export Barometer gives us a pretty good handle on what exporters think. It surveys 600 Australian exporters annually, and has done since 2003.

For the most part, trade agreements have traditionally played a small part in impediments to exporting. Most businesses worry about the exchange rate – when it is too high their goods and services become expensive, when it’s too low their input costs soar (as 80% of exporters also import). They also worry about border regulations and business culture differences. For the most part they didn’t think about FTAs and certainly not the GATT or the WTO.

But in the DHL Export Barometer for 2015, there’s good news about free trade agreements, which will be music to the ears of Andrew Robb.

In surveying existing and new agreements there is evidence that exporters like Australia’s FTAs and that they actually work in a practical business sense despite the recent controversy.

According to the DHL Export Barometer, the USA FTA (AUSFTA) is at last helpful after a decade of implementation. Other agreements deemed helpful include those with New Zealand, Singapore and ASEAN. The survey finds AUSFTA is benefiting exporters, with increased sales and a larger proportion of exporters claiming the agreement has had a positive impact on their business (55%).

This occurred despite the USA hitting the sub-prime crisis just three years after the deal was forged in 2005. The US unemployment rate has now returned to pre-GFC levels, notwithstanding the commentators who predicted that the AUSFTA would “kill a country” (I assume they meant Australia).

The support for AUSFTA was followed by that for New Zealand (47%), AANZFTA – the agreement between Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN on 41% and Singapore on 38%.

The new “trifecta” of FTAs – Japan, South Korea and China – has got the endorsement of the Australian exporter community. In fact, Japan is more beneficial than expected and all FTAs to North East Asia are enticing new exporters. Some 61% of exporters think the China FTA will have a positive effect, 36% think South Korea will and 35% think Japan will deliver.

In terms of the Japan FTA, 59% thought the trade pact would increase exports to that destination, and 38% thought they would start exporting to Japan as a result of the FTA. Many also thought the FTA would help enhance an online presence and help develop new products and services for that destination.

In terms of future FTA destinations, exporters think that India, Indonesia, the Gulf Co-operation Council and Latin America should now be on Andrew Robb’s dance card. But of all the future pacts, India drew the most negative ratings, consistent with the view about increased competition from India.

Perceptions matter

But what about the controversial TPP? It received a positive response among exporters, with 69% saying they’d increase exports to TPP countries and 25% saying they’d start exporting to TPP countries as a result of the TPP.

But the TPP has some complications not always apparent in up and down trade deals, including the investor provisions that have been controversial in other jurisdictions. As Princeton economist Dani Rodrik pointed out in his book “Has Globalisation Gone too Far?”, when trade agreements stray onto the turf of the provision of public goods, or legislation like plain packaging for tobacco, they are likely to lose public support.

Even in the China FTA the labour market provisions have overshadowed the benefits the overall agreement would bring. And it is important to remember Rodrik’s finding that economies that are open to trade have well developed labour market institutions and social insurance.

This is reflected in my own research that showed that exporters, on average, paid 60% higher wages than non-exporters, provided better levels of occupational health and safety, more education and training, equal opportunity provisions and were more likely to be unionised.

The research has shown free trade can grow side by side with union support. An open economy is bolstered by improvements in productivity, efficiency and fairness in the labour market. These are important lessons to heed as we strive to benefit from the next round of FTAs.

The DHL Export Barometer for 2015 will be released on Wednesday August 5th, 2015.

The Conversation

Tim Harcourt is J.W. Nevile Fellow in Economics at UNSW Australia.

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

 

Attack on ChAFTA will damage national interest: ACCI

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) have all defended the ChAFTA, in response to the AMWU’s campaign against the agreement

In a joint release, the trio accused the campaign of threatening to damage Australia’s relationship with China and inflicting long-term harm on Australia’s economic interests.

The release said the campaign is grossly misrepresenting parts of the ChAFTA and associated agreements.

“These provisions provide China with the same treatment afforded other free trade partners, with all arrangements subject to Australia’s existing temporary migration rules. The claim that the trade deal will provide unfettered access to cheap Chinese labour is completely wrong. The full facts regarding the change to the status of workers from China make clear it is no cause for concern,” the release said.

ChAFTA and labour migration

Some employers use 457 visas to bring to Australia workers from overseas to access skills that are not available in the local market.

Sponsors seeking to employ staff on 457 visas are obliged to commit to the employment of Australians. This obligation exists regardless of whether the occupation is subject to labour market testing, or is exempt. Employers with 457 visa employees are also required to train local workers or commit a percentage of their payroll to a training fund to train Australians.

These conditions are unaffected by Australia’s new arrangements with China.

At present China is one of 10 countries whose nationals working in certain occupations face additional requirements when they apply for 457 visas to work in Australia. Nationals from these countries must undertake a skills assessment when making a visa application. Nationals from every other country only need to undertake a skills assessment if insufficient evidence of their skills, experience and qualifications has been supplied in the visa application.

The latest change will remove China from the list of countries for 10 of the current 28 nominated occupations, meaning its nationals applying for 457 visas for those occupations will be subject to the same rules that apply for most applicants.

 

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