Report says packaging needs clearer labels

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has published a report discussing the standard of environmental labelling on packaging in Australia. The report has identified something that the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO) and its partners at Planet Ark and PREP Design hav recognised – that Australia needs a clear, concise and evidenced based label placed on every product and packaging type sold into the Australian market.

Report findings 
The report’s findings were developed using a random audit of products found on supermarket shelves. Its findings include:

  • 88 per cent of all packaging components are recyclable (this is consistent with APCO data)
  • 40 per cent of products contain some form of recycling labelling instruction
  • 23 epr cent of products on supermarket shelves contain the Australasian Recycling Label

The ARL Program is growing rapidly and tracking well compared to similar programs being implemented globally. As of May 2020, 402 APCO Members (27 per cent of the total APCO Membership) have joined the ARL Program, including many of Australia’s major household brands and retailers. In comparison, the United States’ How2Recycle Program (which began in 2012), reported 225 brand owner and retailer members across North America in 2019. Meanwhile the UK’s OPRL Program (which launched in 2009) reported 500 members in 2020.

This year the program was also recognised internationally as a world-leading consumer education initiative in a report from the UN Environment Programme, commended for its clarity, reliability and accessibility.

The ARL – a nationally consistent solution  
The ARL Program has been free and available for all APCO Members since 2018 and APCO is looking forward to seeing the ARL on every packaging format as the Program grows over the coming years.  Through the APCO Membership model, the Program is freely available to approximately 80% of the current supply chain, and as the Program develops and grows, we welcome anyone interested in the work to participate.

Labelling is one of the critical success factors to support the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. It is also one of APCO’s priority actions under the Federal Government’s 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan (2.14 – Improve consumer information to increase recycling rates and improve the quality of materials in kerbside recycling collection through the Australasian Recycling Label).  

How APCO is building the Program  
The implementation of the ARL Program is a five-year journey and we will continue to invest significantly into building an evidence-based, trusted labelling Program. This includes:

  • Providing transparent administrative and governance functions for the Program through the Marketing Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committees
  • Building consumer awareness and interest in the label. The Program’s 2019 Benchmarking research found 48 per cent of consumers currently claim to recognise the label, while 60% per cent are either ‘extremely’ to ‘very’ interested in knowing more about the label
  • Building awareness of the Program with communications and education: In 2019 the ARL was featured in 470 media articles – including Sunrise, Sky News, ABC Breakfast, The Conversation and The Project. In 2020 APCO will be delivering its new National Consumer Education Campaign in partnership with Planet Ark to continue to build the Program’s profile.

Organic mislabelling key focus for September

The issue of products falsely claiming to be ‘organic’ on packaging will be the key focus of this year’s Australian Organic Awareness Month (AOAM). Each September the annual event shines a spotlight on achievements and issues within the organic industry which this year has performed strongly despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Australian Organic Limited, the nation’s peak industry body for organics, has urged consumers to always look for an official Bud certification logo which ensures a product has gone through stringent testing.

Currently in Australia the word ‘organic’ is not defined. For the past 18 months AOL has been working with Government and industry to progress the discussion for clarification and mandatory regulation aligned to Australian export requirements, which will significantly benefit agricultural producers.

The government is now considering a number of regulatory pathways to achieve a common sense approach and align Australia with international standards.

“At the moment being certified organic within Australia is a voluntary process, however any producer or manufacturer can claim a product is organic on its packaging with as little as one ingredient being from organic origins,” said AOL CEO Niki Ford.

“Enforcing domestic regulation around this word will give producers, manufacturers and consumers much greater clarity that a product has been rigorously audited against a high-quality standard.”

Paul da Silva of Toowoomba-based Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co., Australia’s most successful global supplier of certified organic meat, said lack of mandatory domestic regulation has organic export businesses playing at a perpetual disadvantage, particularly with this year’s challenges.

“Each export market requires proof an Australian organic product meets their own country’s organic standard. This is a fundamental requirement for market access,” he said. “However, lack of regulation means we often can’t have equivalence with standards in other markets.

“This forces us and other exporters to go through the full process of getting certification in each separate export market. As we export to nine different countries this can cost thousands of dollars and countless hours per country.

“It often requires auditors from each of those countries to be brought over to Australia to audit our producers and processing facilities – a process that is not possible due to current travel restrictions. If obtaining the particular certification isn’t possible for any reason, such as taking too long or being too expensive, then the business is lost – there are major opportunities just going down the drain.

“The demand for organic is still very strong – even during the uncertainties of 2020. This is a big export opportunity for Australia being hampered by red tape.”

Other organic producers such as poultry farmer Sonya Dowling from Enviroganic Farm in Murringo, who are one of the main suppliers of organic poultry to Woolworths, agree demand has not waned.

“Around 90 per cent of our meat goes to Woolworths for their Macro range and there is definitely an opportunity to increase our volume because demand is so strong,” she said. “Drought, bushfires, floods, COVID-19 – none of it has actually affected our sales. If anything, recent events have boosted our sales.”

Quentin Kennedy, managing director of Kialla Pure Foods in Greenmount, Queensland, which produces certified organic grains and flours said this year had delivered their strongest ever results.

“This year people are cooking more at home and have fallen in love with baking again. As a result, we’ve had five of the best months on record, with strong sales of wheat baking flours. We’ve also seen a lift in other products such as polenta as people try out interesting ingredients.

“Drought-wise this is the third bad year in a row for crops, but fortunately we were able to buy smaller parcels of grain in May which meant we had sufficient stock to service demand.”

This year’s AOAM ambassador, actor Lincoln Lewis, who recently visited numerous Queensland organic businesses including Fordsdale Organic Farms, Market Organics and Sherwood Rd Organic Meats, said he was impressed with the passion and commitment of all the producers.

“It’s great knowing the consumer is being listened to and these businesses are leading the way for a healthier, sustainable future,” said Mr Lewis who has been on a health and wellness journey over the last 18 months.

“So much effort goes into ensuring a product is certified organic. As someone who regularly purchases organic, seeing the Bud logo and knowing a product is genuinely organic is reassuring.”

 

The Australian organic industry is currently worth $2.6 billion and growing year on year. Strong growth has been driven largely by consumer appetite for natural, pesticide-free and synthetic chemical-free wholesome food and a growing awareness of environmentally sustainable practices.

Country of origin food labelling evaluation begins

The Federal Government has begun an evaluation of Australia’s country of origin food labelling system to make sure it’s working for both Aussie consumers and businesses.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the evaluation would help determine if the new system which came into effect in 2018 was helping Australians as intended.

“Consumers made it known they wanted to understand in a clear and simple way where their food is grown and processed,” Minister Andrews said.

“Our Government responded with comprehensive reforms to the country of origin labelling system and now we’re making sure it’s delivering as intended.

“While this evaluation was planned since the reforms were introduced, it is particularly timely as COVID-19 has seen a ground-swell in support for Australian Made food.

“This is about making sure consumers are being given the tools they need to make an informed choice, without crippling Australian businesses with unreasonable and expensive labelling expectations.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said it would be good to ensure the reforms are delivering the right information to consumers so they can choose to support our agriculture sector and regional Australia.

“When consumers buy Australian goods, they aren’t just supporting those manufacturers, but also our farmers, truck drivers and regional communities more broadly,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We know that so many Aussies are more determined than ever to buy domestically made products like bacon and cheese, and Australian grown products like seafood and flowers. It’s important that it as simple as possible for them to do that, without placing undue burden on business.

“Agriculture and manufacturing is at the heart of many regional communities, so we want to make sure that the country of origin labelling system is delivering its intended objectives.”

The evaluation of country origin labelling for food will consider if the labels are helping consumers make more informed choices, as well as clarifying the origin claims that businesses can make, while avoiding excessive costs for businesses which will be passed onto shoppers.

The consultation will include surveys, consumer focus groups and interviews with industry and government.

A discussion paper and an opportunity to provide views is available at consult.industry.gov.au until 11 September. The evaluation is expected to be completed by mid-2021.

Accessible packaging design is the key to helping consumers

How many times have we all grabbed a knife to open a pack of food, spilt it across the kitchen because the pack was too hard to open, been unable to read the text on the pack (even with glasses on) and then vowed to never buy that brand again? Now imagine if you were part of the ageing population, hospitalised, a consumer with a disability, an arthritis sufferer or a child.

All too often, accessible packaging is not considered when designing products, which in turn leads to unnecessary frustration when opening and closing packs, reading the ingredients and opening instructions on packaging. It is important that packaging technologists consider how their packaging design could affect someone’s ability to eat, drink and the flow on of wasting food.

Research from Arthritis Australia in 2018 shows that:
• All consumers struggle with packaging, but the growing ageing population, consumers with disabilities, arthritis sufferers and children are impacted the most.
• 44 per cent of consumers struggle with packaging every day.
• 92 per cent of consumers have spilt or damaged a product when trying to open the packaging.
• When consumers experience hard-to-open packaging:
o 56 per cent look for the product but in a different type of packaging.
o 21 per cent look at buying a competitor’s product.
• 65 per cent of consumers have had to wait for someone to come and open packaging for them.
• 1-in-2 Australians have injured themselves opening packaging – including deep cuts and chipped teeth.
• 89 per cent of consumers are currently feeling frustrated or furious with packaging.
• 67,000 people in the UK visited hospitals’ casualty departments every year due to an accident involving food and drink packaging.
So, I ask you do you consider accessible design and ease of use critical design elements on your packaging? Are your packaging technologists using available resources and training to better understand the needs of this consumer market?

Step one: accessibility packaging design guidelines
If you aren’t using the Accessibility Packaging Design Guidelines developed by Arthritis Australia, in conjunction with Brad Fain from Georgia Tech Research Institute, and available in New Zealand through a partnership with Arthritis New Zealand, then you could already be losing customers whose abilities are not being considered and their needs are not being met.

Key guidelines include that packaging must be easy to open and use for those with limited functional abilities, packaging labelling must be highly legible, and packaging shall be fit-for-purpose and must be able to demonstrate accessibility.

Step two: accessible packaging design training
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), in conjunction with Arthritis Australia and Georgia Tech Research Institute, have developed a one-day training course on accessible packaging design. The course allows attendees to become aware of the required design requirements and understanding the ease-of-use packaging design tools, which include examples from around the world. It also provides information on changing household demographics, meal preparation requirements and case studies from users.

Attendees will learn measuring techniques, injuries caused by packaging and current consumer satisfaction levels with packaging accessibility. The course offers an activities-based approach, hands-on team exercises letting participants understand the constraints on current packaging designs for people with disabilities, arthritis sufferers, children and the ageing population. This includes the testing with simulation gloves that have been developed by Georgia Tech Research Institute in the US and reading glasses from a UK researcher. Attendees will leave the course with a different approach to packaging design; an approach that includes all sectors of our community.

Step three: recognition of innovative accessible packaging design
The AIP, in conjunction with Arthritis Australia and New Zealand, has developed a new Accessible Packaging Design Award that is designed to recognise packaging that is accessible, intuitive, easy-to-open and innovative. The judges are looking for accessible packaging design, which includes measuring techniques, understanding injuries caused by packaging and consumer satisfaction levels with packaging accessibility. The inaugural award winners were announced as a part of the Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards (PIDA), which are run by the AIP and are designed for Australia and New Zealand.

Finalists for 2019 were SPC Ardmona, Flavour Creations, Moana New Zealand & Sealed Air for Cryovac Grip and Tear and Campbell Arnott’s. All four finalists deserve to be recognised for incorporating accessible packaging design into their ranges and it is inspiring to see some of the innovations that they have been working on.

The 2019 Gold Award went to SPC Ardmona. They developed their SPC ProVital Easy-Open Diced Fruit in Jelly range that is designed for all consumers to open, including those with reduced fine motor skills. It has dexterity and strength, and on-pack communication is clear, crisp and legible for all. This design achieved easy-to-open certification as well as an ISR +8 Accessibility Rating (i.e. the product is universally easy to open, with 95 per cent of the population able to open the pack without tools).

The 2019 Silver Award went to Flavour Creations who developed its pre-thickened Ready-to-drink (RTD) packaged in the new dysphagia Cup and Cup Holder that were designed to specifically increase rates of hydration and decrease rates of malnutrition for residents/patients with dysphagia. Along with the reusable holder and plastic over seal, the snap fitting portion control cup has a large overhanging tab that is textured and clear ‘peel back’ wording to make it obvious to the consumer how to open the product.

A Special Commendation went to Moana New Zealand & Sealed Air for Cryovac Grip and Tear (including ‘small tab’), which was designed to foster ease of use to packaged meat, poultry, and seafood products for processing, food service and retail markets. This accessible packaging design enables convenient product access using a packaging design that is simple and intuitive for consumers to use (irrespective of their age or functional abilities). Previously, these difficult to open items required opening tools, which could easily cause injuries. The grip-and-tear feature means the packs can now be opened by a simple hand action.

Sealed Air have undertaken design innovation in the development of the grip-and-tear feature to meet both the food handling and food protection requirements for the range of products proposed for the packaging format.

Accessible packaging design that is intuitive, easy-to-open and innovative should be an integral part of your packaging and we encourage you to integrate this critical element into your future NPD processes. Imagine the difference you could make.

Provisional programme released for AIP Conference

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) released their provisional program today for the biennial 2020 AIP Australasian Packaging Conference which will cover a broad range of topics relating to the theme PACKAGING: FIT FOR THE FUTURE and include 60 speakers from nine countries across two days. The event will be held on the 1 and 2 April at the Crown Promenade in Melbourne.

The packaging industry is facing many challenges at the moment with global plastic pollution and recycling issues and transformational changes to value and supply chain models, resulting in negative government and consumer perceptions. These challenges are requiring packaging companies, manufacturers and retailers to re-think their approaches and undertake strategic changes to address the challenges of meeting global and domestic Sustainable Packaging, 2025 National Packaging Targets, transform supply chains; all the while having clear parameters for driving the 4R’s.

Now more than ever is the time to collaborate, share ideas, success stories, discuss the challenges and journeys the industry is facing openly and what we can do collectively to work towards the same targets.

Keynote speakers will include Pete Ceglinski, CEO & co-founder, Seabin Project, Martin Orzinski, director operations, Coca-Cola Amatil, Siobhan McCrory, executive general manager, marketing and innovation, Pact Group, Jaideep Gokhale, cluster leader for sustainability, TetraPak, Nicole Ohm, senior marketing manager, Brownes Dairy, Jean Baillard, general manager, TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand, Barry Cosier, director, sustainability, Australian Food & Grocery Council and Brooke Donnelly, chief executive officer, APCO and more.

To see the program and to book your place today to secure the early bird rate click here. All of industry is invited to attend.

 

 

Having a trusted foundation for global food safety

As the challenges of food safety intensify throughout the world, so does the need for global traceability. Consumers put their trust in the food they eat, and the supply chains that deliver those products. Yet, supply chains are becoming more complex, and with that complexity comes risk.

Digital supply chains
Brands are faced with difficulties like managing product recalls and meeting the demands of consumers wanting to know more about the food they buy.

As digitalisation in the supply chain accelerates, alignment between trading partners is essential to achieve transparency.

There is a renewed sense of urgency for collaboration to create an “ecosystem”, where traceability solutions can easily “talk” to each other and share information between trading partners and consumers.

Senior global food industry influencers, including director at Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Veronique Discours-Buhot, shared their view on the future of traceability and the need for information sharing, “In order to really demonstrate value, traceability systems must be interoperable, easy to use and a real turnkey solution for collaboration,” said Discours-Buhot.

GS1 traceability – a solid foundation
GS1 has developed a technology-neutral framework that uses common identifiers, such as barcodes, to automatically collect and provide access to information across every step of the food supply chain, delivering visibility of products as they travel from grower to customer.

The information captured by GS1 barcodes, Data Matrix or RFID tags, contains unique global identification numbers.

These form the foundation to enable collaboration between producers, manufacturers, trading partners, consumers and regulators. It also helps link corporate and customer information in a clear and systematic way. In the future they will also enable the automation of laws and regulations.

GS1 Australia provides organisations with the added advantage of national “building blocks” and making traceability implementation possible in full alignment with other stakeholders in their sectors. These building blocks consist of:
• HACCP-certified national recall system
• National product catalogue
• National locations registry
• Consulting and Training network

The GFSI and GS1 serve the same members of the global food supply chain. Both organisations are grounded in a belief in standards and collaboration, working together to shape a better ecosystem of traceability solutions.

GFSI focusses on setting high-level food safety requirements, while GS1 focuses on how organisations can design and implement traceability solutions. Solutions that meet industry best practices and enable end-to-end interoperability and transparency.
Interoperable traceability

Retailers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers are all demanding fast, accurate and complete information that can be seamlessly accessed from anywhere across the supply chain.

Questions from trading partners, consumers and regulatory authorities such as; Where was it grown? Who was involved in the supply chain? Was it produced following food safety practices? require accurate and timely responses. Information to respond to these questions is often spread across different areas and systems in the supply chain. If traceability systems are interoperable, they can easily collaborate and share information, providing greater visibility across the entire supply chain.

Another key factor for interoperable traceability is adaptable solutions.

These solutions should leverage investments based on proven technologies and make use of what is already in place (e.g. logistic labels, barcode scanners) within each company and/or its trading partners.

Big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart everything
Emerging technologies are bringing new opportunities for managing food safety. Yet technology alone will not provide global traceability.

Those developing blockchain solutions for supply chain challenges need to understand that, without common identifiers, the latest technology and devices will not be a cure-all. They run the risk of becoming another isolated system unable to integrate with existing systems.

For traceability to thrive, all stakeholders must come together and cooperate. Open, global standards, such as the GS1 Global Traceability Standard, will enable the use of technologies and automation within food production, processing and delivery processes for end-to-end traceability.

A foundation for interoperable traceability
The GS1 Global Traceability Standard provides a foundation for interoperable traceability systems, making it possible for:
• Different traceability systems to use a common language to talk to each other.
• Organisations to access, combine and interpret data from a variety of sources across the end-to-end supply chain.
• Each trading partner to choose the GS1-enabled traceability solution that best meets its specific needs.

We all win with traceability
When we collaborate, recalls can be faster and more precise, sustainability efforts can be strengthened, and customer trust can be elevated.

All of this is possible with GS1 interoperable and transparent traceability.

Why send 750 million soiled absorbent pads to landfill if there is a better way?

Reducing the use of packaging materials is one of the aspects that will help lead to a sustainable future. When re-designing plastic trays for ANZ’s fresh red meat sector, Sealed Air Australia ventured beyond “reduce” and found a way to “eliminate” the need for absorbent pads. Sealed Air’s Kevin Taylor is the APAC portfolio leader for the company’s trays, films and absorbents business. Here, Taylor spoke to Food & Beverage Industry News about some of the new technologies behind the latest meat-packing developments from the company.

Why was HydroLoQ developed?
While absorbent pads solve the problem of retaining product purge, they can also be problematic for food processors and our planet.

HydroLoQ was developed to eliminate lost time associated with pad related issues for moist protein Modified Atmosphere Packing (MAP) applications that are estimated to contribute to three per cent of overall down time. Furthermore, pads comprise ‘end of life’ challenges. In fact, each year, more than 750 million absorbent pads used across ANZ’s fresh red meat sector end up in landfill.

Meat discolouration is also a challenge for retailers. Meat in direct contact with an absorbent pad is not experiencing the full colour preserving benefits of the surrounding modified atmosphere and thus can undergo product discolouration causing subsequent product mark downs.

Furthermore, the removal of the pad eliminates any risk of ingesting the contents of the pad if it leaks.

What were some of the issues when developing the products?
MAP technology has been used for more than 20 years. Forgetting what we already knew and addressing supply chain challenges with a fresh view was one of the biggest challenges. Understanding surface tension science and redefining absorbency requirements for MAP applications was critical to success.

The shape of the base design was important. Not only was it required to hold a specific volume of purge, but it could not leave any imprint or indentation on the protein which would lead to consumer rejection and product mark downs. This problem was overcome with some adjustments to tooling.

HydroLoQ is a recyclable pack. How hard was that to incorporate into the design?
All Cryovac polypropylene trays are recyclable in accordance with the APCO PREP tool. It was important in the redesign that the tray components did not compromise this. Also important was ensuring that the new design did not require the use of additional resin to perform suitably across the supply chain.

Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand food packaging is renowned for maintaining freshness and reducing food waste. Does HydroLoQ still enable this?
Yes. Cryovac HydroLoQ continues to deliver high oxygen barrier performance to keep proteins fresh across the supply chain. We all know extended shelf life means a less wasteful food supply chain. With HydroLoQ, the processor benefits by eliminating pad related downtime and product contamination due to pads breaking open during packing. Estimates suggest 500kg of meat is removed from the supply chain and down-graded to pet food every time pad related contamination occurs.

Is HydroLoQ 2025 ready?
Absolutely. HydroLoQ is fully recyclable and has no separable components that consumers need to work with. Each tray contains up to 8g of recycled resin that is recovered from Sealed Air’s “Zero Waste” tray making facility based in Tullamarine, Victoria.

How is the introduction of HydroLoQ impacting the Tullamarine plant, which also produces absorbent pads?
Sealed Air’s sustainability vision is ‘to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges, and to leave our world better than we found it’. In this case, developments such as Cryovac HydroLoQ changes the way we do things and allows our processors and supply chains to evolve. The sustainable advantages for our processors and planet are significant.
After all, HydroLoQ allows us to leave our planet better than we found it.

What has the feedback from clients been like?
Soiled absorbent pads dampen the consumer experience. Because consumers dislike touching a soiled absorbent pad, they avoid separating the pad from the tray and dispose of fully recyclable trays to landfill.

This tray is the first of its kind into Australia’s retail environment. Customer acceptance has been positive and Cryovac HydroLoQ can be found at retailers including Aldi and Coles. At this stage, retail acceptance has been limited to fresh red meats, but proteins including poultry and seafood are also on the radar.

Brand owners can also leverage a strong sustainability story by making the switch to HydroLoQ and meet consumers’ growing demands for sustainable packaging.

What makes these products different from similar offerings in the marketplace?
This tray design is new for ANZ, and padless tray formats have been used in Europe.
This is the first padless barrier tray used for ANZ’s modified atmosphere packaging market. The base design not only retains purge, but offers additional rigidity which is an important design parameter for our distribution chain. Rigidity is also important for packs using retail lidding film – get them both wrong and lid film energy can distort the shape of the tray.

Is there a limit to the size of the produce that can be used with these products?
We have matched the retention capacity of the base of the tray to the current retailer specifications for the products the trays are used for. Water purge for poultry is higher because it uses water chilling technology and subsequent tray designs will take this into account.

The importance of food and beverage labelling

Food labelling – it can be a minefield. In an era of food allergens, many imported products, as well as a bevy of health and safety regulations, food and beverage manufacturers have their work cut out for them to make sure they create products that meet a wide range of food regulations.

It’s something not lost on Fiona Fleming who is the managing director of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST), which is the body for food industry professionals who work in many different fields within the food and beverage industry. Fleming knows that food labelling can be a difficult subject to navigate, especially for those just starting out in the industry.

What are the main issues surrounding food labelling? Correct labelling of imported foods and declaration of food allergens provide significant challenges, according to Fleming. Australia does appear to be the food allergy capital of the world, with Melbourne leading the way.

There is no single reason for this, more a myriad of causes – peoples’ diets have changed, more sufferers are reporting their allergies and, in the case of Melbourne, some researchers believe low levels of vitamin D contribute due to the city’s cooler climate and children spending less time outdoors in the sun.

READ MORE: Six reasons why food labelling is important

Whatever the reason, consumption of a food allergen can have fatal consequences for those who are allergic to that food or foods. For someone with a severe allergy, exposure to the allergen can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis which affects the whole body, often within minutes of exposure.

“They key allergens of concern in Australia and New Zealand are egg, milk, peanut, fish, crustacea, peanuts, soybeans, sesame seed, tree nuts, wheat and other gluten containing cereals, and lupin,” Fleming said.

“These are required to be labelled when present in a food under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. And just to add to the confusion, both for those on the ground in Australia and those wanting to import food products, allergens required to be labelled in one country might not always be required to be labelled in another.”

For example, in Europe, mustard and celery are allergens that must be labelled, whereas in Australia they are not on the list of food allergens required to be labelled.

“Any ingredient that is in a food product has to be labelled, and it is up to the importer to ensure that foods they bring into Australia and New Zealand have the correct allergen declarations to comply with ANZ requirements,” Fleming said.

“Australian and NZ manufacturers have gone further with labelling following best practice guidance developed by the food industry. For example, allergen names are highlighted in bold text in the ingredient list which helps consumers when purchasing products.”

Food allergens are not the only important piece of information that needs to be put on food labels.

For imported foods, all of this information is required to be provided in English, meaning labels must be translated accurately and completely. Failure to include all of the information can potentially result in a costly product recall and injury to consumers.

Importers of foods into Australia have to be responsible and realise that ignorance of local labelling laws is no excuse if the correct information is not available to the buying public. There is an over-riding premise in law that ignorance of law is no defence.

“All food companies have an obligation to know the regulations under which they must operate, and they have an overriding obligation to provide food that is safe and suitable,” Fleming said.

“Accurate food labelling is important for ensuring food safety, and ignorance of the labelling requirements is no defence.”

First and foremost, manufacturers tend to initially concentrate on the product itself. Is it tasty? How much will it cost to produce? Where can we source the ingredients? Can we outsource the manufacturing of our product, or can we set up or own manufacturing facility?

Once a manufacturer gets their head around what is involved in crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, correct labelling can sometimes be intimidating and time consuming. But there is help available.

Fleming is the first to acknowledge that there no easy route to labelling food and beverage products.

“Food labelling is quite complex,” said Fleming. “I do recognise that it is very hard to start up a food manufacturing enterprise because sometimes companies don’t know where to go to find the information they need.

“There are certainly organisations that provide training in food labelling. If you are in NSW, for example, you can go to the NSW Food Authority’s website where there is a lot of good information for starting a business, and they have some basic information around requirements for food labelling.”

The final piece of advice Fleming would give is with regard to preservatives and additives in food products. They, too, have to be approved for use, and labelled as part of the ingredient listing on products.

“Australia is a small country, population wise, and we import a lot of our products,” Fleming said.

“It is important to remember that just because something is approved to be used in a food product overseas, it doesn’t mean it’s been approved to be used here.

It can be challenging negotiating the regulations, but it is very important for companies to be aware of the requirements and put steps and processes in place to ensure they have the information and knowledge they need to ensure their products are fully compliant.

“I know that sometimes information is not easy to find, but there are also food consultants out there who can assist. The AIFST website has a page that lists members who are consultants and provide this sort of assistance to food companies.”

There are also tools available to food manufacturers developed by the food industry to assist with collection of information and labelling. For example, the Product Information Form, or PIF, is an industry-agreed questionnaire developed by the food industry, for the food industry, in Australia and New Zealand.

The PIF allows companies to include a variety of information about food products and ingredients in a single document that meets information needs for legal and regulatory compliance in Australia and New Zealand, in a standardised manner.

The PIF is an industry tool that can improve company efficiency and reliability in managing product specification and other related data when applied across the sector.

With respect to allergen management and labelling, the Allergen Bureau has a comprehensive website and tools available to assist with allergen risk assessment and labelling (https://allergenbureau.net).

“At the end of the day, as a food manufacturer, whether big or small, Australian or not, you have an important role in ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy a variety of safe and nutritious food that will contribute to their wellbeing,” Fleming said.

Mandatory requirements for labelling – the Big 11

1. Name of food
2. Name and address
3. Lot identification
4. Allergen declaration
5. Ingredient list
6. Date marking
7. Storage and usage instructions
8. Nutrition information
9. Characterising ingredients
10. Country of origin
11. Quantity marking

Bans are effective, but not the endgame in solving the plastic problem

Plastic is an incredible material. It can be airtight and watertight, moulded to any shape, clear or coloured, shock-resistant, lightweight, and is chemically stable. Unfortunately, these last two features also mean plastic pollution poses a huge environmental problem.

In theory, plastic is highly recyclable. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), typically used in drink bottles, can be recycled back into new drink bottles, or even upcycled into raincoats or clothing.

But for this to happen, the plastic waste must be clean and separated by single plastic type, which is challenging when a typical drink bottle consists of multiple plastics – the bottle cap, the label, and the bottle itself. This mixing or co-mingling of plastic means that more often than not, “recycling” becomes “downcycling”, whereby the co-mingled plastic is actually turned into a lower-value product (for example, soft plastic bags returned to a supermarket are often turned into park benches or fence posts).

This is, of course, is still a much better result than it ending up in our waterways or oceans, but given the low material grade of the downcycled product, the end result is an object ultimately destined for landfill due to its inability to be recycled further.

Another obstacle for recycling is that virgin plastic is made from oil, which means its price moves with the oil price, and when oil becomes cheap, the economics of recycling are less attractive. A volatile oil price over the past few years has made the business case for investing in recycling infrastructure and operations particularly challenging.

In landfill, plastic is relatively innocuous on a generational timeframe. On a geological timeline, however, everything underground is eventually churned to the surface, so burying it isn’t a sustainable solution for the planet.

Once plastic gets out into the biosphere, ultraviolet rays from the sun break it down into small, lightweight pieces that clog the ecological systems we depend on for clean air, water and food.

The most publicised challenge is the great mass of plastics accumulating in waterways and the oceans. These micro pieces are eaten by the diverse range of creatures that form the base of the global food chain, clogging their stomachs and effectively starving them on a full belly. Plastic has now become so ubiquitous in the food chain that it’s found in the most remote corners of the globe – in 90 per cent of sea bird stomachs, and in increasing concentrations in our bodies.

READ MORE: The role that sealable packaging plays in minimising food waste

Just over half of this ocean plastic is thought to be leakage from land, with the balance coming from contamination directly into the ocean by way of littering, fishing nets, lost cargo from ships etc.

With their huge catchment areas, the Amazon and Niger basins are significant contributors to ocean plastic pollution. Asia, though, with 15 of the world’s 20 most polluting rivers, is the plastic pollution epicentre. This is partly due to municipal waste mismanagement.

However, given the Western world has been shipping its contaminated, mixed plastic waste streams to Asia for decades with the expectation that Asia would magically make the problem go away, we’ve all contributed to this pollution. Last year, China declared it would no longer be the global plastic dumping ground, providing the rest of the world with a plastic reality check.

Rather than just looking for a new country in which to dump our waste, we need to rethink the services plastics provide, and how we can create systems to maintain the value of these finite materials as they move through the economy. The Victorian government is aiming to stimulate this change through the ban on the lightweight plastic shopping bags, due to come into force on 1 November.

India taking action
India, meanwhile, is taking its plastic action much further. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced his government is aiming to limit the consumption of single-use plastic – including bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets – with expected restrictions on its manufacture and importation. His stated goal is to eliminate it by 2022.

The reality is that with its population density and management practices, plastic pollution isn’t just a global environmental issue; it has a direct impact on the quality of life across the country. As one of the two most populated nations on Earth, and a significant contributor to global plastic pollution, this commitment will hopefully deliver meaningful environmental benefits.

These types of bans help raise awareness of the issues and prompt individuals to rethink daily habits to reduce single-use plastic waste. Significant reductions have been measured in countries that already have “plastic bans” in place, including Ireland and China.

However, it wasn’t the ban on ozone-depleting substances alone that saved the ozone layer – it was the development of economically attractive alternatives that transformed the market.

Single-use plastics provide incredibly useful services. Storing and transporting basic needs such as food and beverages, they’ve become such a fundamental part of modern life that if we’re going to replace them, we need to find convenient and economically attractive alternatives. Further to this, if you’re a mobile food vendor, cheap and disposable packaging in which to sell your product can be fundamental to your livelihood.

Enter the circular economy, where products and material are maintained at their highest value, ideally in perpetuity. Biological materials (such as timber, food and soil) are managed in a regenerative cycle, where food waste is processed back into soil conditioner to sustain the system. Finite materials such as plastics and metals are designed for reuse, repair and, ultimately, economical recycling, maintaining the materials in a closed loop.

Rethink required
Solving the plastic challenge begins with rethinking the “job” we’re asking plastic to do, and how we can do it in a way that creates and retains value. For example, filing a reusable drink bottle with pristine Melbourne drinking water eliminates the energy and material value lost when we throw away single-use plastic bottles. Similarly, dining in with friends on reusable crockery is infinitely more valuable to our wellbeing than eating out of a disposal plastic container on the fly, or at your desk.

In the case of India, bringing products such as bowls and cutlery into the market that retain value after use will enable meaningful secondary markets to form – for example, collecting, cleaning and reselling those products.

As important as individual choices are, global challenges require political leadership to reshape our economic systems to enhance the human experience while protecting and regenerating the biosphere we all depend on for our quality of life and ultimate survival.

This will be explored in an upcoming Lens article, but in the meantime, political leadership is unlikely to self-emerge, especially in the current climate – it’ll be driven by individuals and communities calling for action and walking the talk.

So, although your reusable shopping bags and drink bottle aren’t going to solve the problem on their own, if enough of us show the way, the system will follow.

Gas the key to fledging micro-brewing industry

Craft brewing has taken off in Australia over the past five years. Driven by consumer demand for something a little different outside the main brands. These usually one- or two-person bands are making inroads into traditional markets right across
the country.

From Perth to Sydney, Adelaide to Brisbane, micro-breweries aren’t just putting down roots in the main cities, regional Australia is getting its fair share of beer aficionados, too. Some craft breweries are driven by wanting to be in an industry they love, others believe their unique blend of hops, barley, yeast and malt offer an exquisite taste to a discerning public, while yet others are hoping one of the big breweries will buy them out.

According to a 2018 report by IBIS World, the craft brewery market in Australia is worth about $520 million and is growing at a rate of about six per cent a year. Not only are the brewers themselves excited about the market’s potential, but those providing products and services can also see that the sector offers lucrative opportunities.

As well as the four basic ingredients, there are peripheral – but just as important – constituents that need to be taken into consideration, such as packaging, distribution and gases.

READ MORE: Putting wine on ice – gas’s role in winemaking

Gases are the unseen heroes of a good brew, something that Air Liquide’s Western Australian sales representative, Gavin Lee, is all too aware of. Having a background working at brewing giant Lion, has helped Lee gain momentum in supplying a variety of gases to the large number of micro-breweries popping up on the west coast. And it’s only going to get bigger, according to Lee.

“The micro brewing industry in Western Australia is going gangbusters at the moment,” he said. “There are more than 60 micro-breweries in Western Australia – ranging from Exmouth down to Albany. The majority are in the Perth area.”

Like wine-making, gas plays an important role, from the brewing of the amber fluid, through to it being dispensed at the tap. Oxygen is both the friend and enemy of the brewer. The only time it is necessary is when there is the oxygenation of the wort, which is the liquid extracted from the mashing process that occurs during the brewing of beer. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
“Oxygen and light are the two things brewers don’t like. Dissolved oxygen in beer ruins the taste and flavour,” said Lee.

If gas was a workhorse its name would be carbon dioxide (CO2). It is used extensively to move beer around from one vessel to another, as well as during the bottling process. It has a multitude of uses, and because it is an inert gas it has no effect on the end product. Nitrogen can also be used but CO2 is the preferred option among most brewmasters. CO2 is mainly used in the carbonation process, giving the beer its fizz at the point of bottling, canning or kegging.

“When using it in the bottling process there is tank inerting,” said Lee. “Currently, if the brewer has the brew in the tank and there is a bit of head space in that vessel, they can pump CO2 on top of that beer so it blankets the surface, and that provides a protective layer for the beer, or they can use nitrogen.”

And when it comes to setting up the delivery mechanisms for the gases, Air Liquide has that covered, too. There are two main options.

“Typically we like to use copper piping because it won’t leak and it won’t corrode and can last for a very long time,” said Lee. “Or you can use food-grade nylon, which is a cheaper option, but over time it does have a tendency to spring a leak because it is under pressure.
“We have engineers and an installation team that are very experienced. We swapped out a vessel, down at Little Creatures in Freemantle, which had been there for the past 18 years.
“We swapped out to a 10-tonne vessel and within a couple of hours they were back in full operation without any down time.”

Another growing part of the company’s business is providing mixed gases for the dispensing of beverages in hotels and pubs throughout the state.

“It is often a mixed combination of CO2 and nitrogen,” said Lee. “It is the gas that pumps the beer through to the glass. As with the brewing process, it is inert so doesn’t affect the quality or the taste of the beer.”

Another reason Lee believes Air Liquide is making inroads into the market is that it supports the industry in other ways other than just providing gases.

“Air Liquide supports WABA – the Western Australian Brewing Association,” he said. “We try and support a lot of the brewers who start a business. Although some would argue gas is a small part of the process, it is a very important part. We offer cost-effective safe solutions and are able to provide the right product, at the right time and the right price,” he said.

“We’ve got fantastic aftersales service and logistics solutions to provide any type of gas delivery – whether it be in cylinders, skid tanks, mini-bulk or bulk vessels. All ALIGAL products we supply to breweries and wineries are of food-grade quality and our CO2 is FSSC 22000-certified, guaranteeing maximum quality and food safety.”

The role that resealable packaging plays in minimising food waste

With Australia producing 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the supply and consumption chain, and a Federal Government National Food Waste Strategy to halve food waste that goes to landfill by 2030, now is the time for packaging technologists to review pack designs that could minimise food waste and losses.

According to the National Food Waste Baseline, which was launched earlier this year, in 2016-17 (the base year) 2.5 million tonnes of food waste (34 per cent) was created in our homes, 2.3 million tonnes (31 per cent) in primary production and 1.8 million tonnes (25 per cent) in the manufacturing sector. Australians recycled 1.2 million tonnes of food waste, recovered 2.9 million tonnes through alternative uses for food waste and disposed of 3.2 million tonnes.

So what role does packaging play in preventing and or minimising food waste? The primary purpose of packaging is to contain, protect, preserve, promote and communicate, handle and transport and provide convenience for a product – all the while ensuring the safe delivery of food to the consumer. Without adequate packaging design features, and fit-for-purpose packaging, food can be wasted all the way through the supply chain to the consumer. By modifying packaging designs and ensuring that Save Food Packaging guidelines are followed, food waste and loss can be minimised.

READ MORE: AIP education director appointed Professor Sichuan Unveristy

As a core participant of the newly-established Fight Food Waste CRC, the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has been working on producing Save Food Packaging design criteria and communication material for the implementation into food packaging that will lead to better packaging design, material and format selection to assist retail, food service and consumers to minimise and prevent food waste.

Resealable packaging to minimise food waste
An important Save Food Packaging criteria is resealable packaging. Under the umbrella of resealable packaging there are many intuitive technologies including resealable zippers, resealable lidding films, extrudable reseal adhesives, resealable packaging, sliders, resealable zipper tapes and labels, valves and more.

Resealable packaging provides a myriad of benefits including extension of shelf life, reduction in spillages, retention of nutritional value and freshness of product, ingress of flavours, prevention of further product contamination, consumer convenience, controlled dispensing and pouring, allowance for multiple uses of the same pack and easy storage.
Through this packaging design consumers have the ability to retain the product in the original pack and not add additional plastic film, foil, bags or containers to maintain freshness and quality of the product. All of these benefits in turn ensure the prevention of unnecessary food waste and loss.

Reseal versus reclose
When selecting the best resealable technologies, it is important to ensure that the pack can in fact reseal and not simply reclose. There is a difference between intuitive resealable designs that guarantee seal integrity and a closure that could compromise the quality of the product. Choosing the wrong solution can potentially stand in the way of preventing food waste in the household and also damage consumer perceptions of your product.

Undertaking trials
Just like for any other style of packaging, trials need to be undertaken before the resealable packs are commercialised. This is to ensure that the design provides the required freshness, nutritional and food waste objectives for the product. Integrity of seals, freshness, shelf life and barrier, oxygen, contamination, leakage etc can be assessed during trials.

On-pack communication
Developers of the packaging should consider incorporating on-pack communication that explains the key benefits of the resealable option to the consumer. Extension of shelf life, freshness, quality and the ability to minimise food waste in the home are important for consumers. Food manufacturers need to actively engage the consumers in the journey and to explain the important role that packaging plays in minimising food waste,

Balancing 2025 and 2030 targets
Packaging technologists and designers also need to balance the 2025 National Packaging Targets against the 2030 National Food Waste targets when designing resealable packaging. The decision to move to resealable design must also include discussions about the recyclability of the packaging in the country in which the product is sold. Making the decision to move to packaging that minimises food waste, all the while meeting the 2025 National Packaging Targets, is the optimum solution and may require undertaking a Lifecycle Assessment to find the sweet spot.

If every food manufacturer made a commitment to incorporate Save Food Packaging guidelines into their packaging development process, then this would be a considerable step in the right direction to minimise and/or prevent food waste in Australia.

Developing new processes for new ingredients

Crispy roasted crickets were recently served in a sushi restaurant in London, re-igniting the discussion about integrating insects into consumer diets. However, less thought has been given to what industry will have to do to handle these new food types. Here Darcy Simonis, industry network leader for ABB’s food and beverage segment, explains how manufacturers can incorporate new ingredients to production.

Consumers love new ingredients to incorporate into their diets, with recent years new food trends including quinoa, avocado and kale. These new food products, with mass consumer appeal, are even more important when they use ingredients that are nutritious and environmentally sustainable. However, the sudden increase from low to large volume production can be an issue when a food product emerges to mass popularity.

Scaling up production and processing food that suddenly and rapidly grows in popularity can be a daunting task. Improperly controlled mass production can cause inefficiencies to spiral out of control, or for unknown issues to come to the forefront. For example, the massive global increase in demand for avocados forced the Kenyan government to ban the export of the fruit as there was not enough to supply local needs.

READ MORE: IGA invests in edible bug revolution

The increase in demand for new ingredients or products also raises the need to implement proper applications for handling new ingredients. In the case of the crickets, most food manufacturing processes are built to deter insects and prevent them from contaminating the food. As such, if insect-based foods were to grow in popularity, new processes would have to be developed to ensure proper cleanliness and hygiene levels.

When a product is in high demand and supplies run low there is also the potential for food fraud to come into play. This is dangerous, with potentially fatal consequences for the end consumer, because the product may have been tampered with, contaminated and may not be fit for human consumption at all.

To combat these potential issues, producers that are handling new exotic products should ensure that they have measures in place so that operations managers have full control and oversight over their facility. Systems such as ABB’s Manufacturing Operation Management (MOM) can help keep track of products as they move around the production line and beyond. The MOM software can give products digital passports allowing producers to accurately tell when the product was produced and exactly what it has come into contact with during production.

MOM’s can also help speed up the implementation period of new products because operation managers will have more in-depth information regarding their system, allowing them to effectively prepare for using a new or unique ingredient.

Being able to effectively prepare production lines for the introduction of a new ingredient is immensely helpful for producers, especially with the mass adoption of plant-based diets, meaning that more producers will begin introducing animal-free alternatives into production lines. Having the level of control brought by a MOM system will cut down on the time required to begin production.

While insects may not have soared in mass consumption just yet, as people become more interested in what is in their food it is likely that new ingredients will come to the forefront. Preparing for these changes by increasing control will help businesses remain ahead of trends and increase their product security, one crispy cricket at a time.

Caspak streamlines Australasian businesses

Sister companies, Caspak Australia and Caspak New Zealand, who specialise in flexible packaging, have merged their operations and brands. While financial management of the companies will remain country-based, the merger will result in streamlining and increased efficiencies of both businesses.

The merger will see the companies operate as a single entity in order to pool their resources, technological capabilities and hasten their advances in sustainable packaging options.

“Merging will improve our buying power, drive internal cost reductions and speed up our ability to offer sustainable packaging solutions,” says Harry Zwalue, managing director, Caspak New Zealand.

For the last 30 years, both companies have had a core objective of preventing food waste through the use of high barrier packaging. “This brand merger strengthens this resolve and adds a massive internal and external sustainability overlay to all operations.” says Bryce Hickmott, Managing Director, Caspak Australia. “Further announcements around this aspect of the merger will follow.”

With Sales Offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Christchurch, the group has a balanced market coverage and provides Trans-Tasman customers with a seamless service delivery.

“It’s important to understand that this merger will be seamless from a customer point of view,” Hickmott added. “There will be no personal or systemic changes.”

“From a practical point of view, customers will see a new rebrand for both companies under the banner of Caspak – Sustainable Future. And they will experience the benefits of a new IT system in New Zealand from 1st October 2019, a vastly stronger and more cohesive R&D team across both markets and a freer flow of sustainable technologies between the two regions.”

“This pooling of resources is only common sense and the best way for us to drive sustainable development faster for our customer base,” Zwalue concludes.

Nestlé inaugurates packaging research institute

Nestlé has officially inaugurated the Institute of Packaging Sciences, the first-of-its-kind in the food industry. The new Institute enables Nestlé to accelerate its efforts to bring functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to the market and to address the global challenge of plastic packaging waste.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO, said, “Our vision is a world in which none of our packaging ends up in landfill or as litter. To achieve this we introduce reusable packaging solutions and pioneer environmentally friendly packaging materials. Furthermore, we support the development of local recycling infrastructure and deposit schemes to help shape a waste-free world. The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences enables us to create a strong pipeline of sustainable packaging solutions for Nestlé products across businesses and markets.”

The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences focuses on a number of science and technology areas, such as refillable or reusable packaging, simplified packaging materials, recycled packaging materials, high-performance barrier papers as well as bio-based, compostable and biodegradable materials.

Stefan Palzer, Nestlé CTO said, “Reducing plastic waste and mitigating climate change effects through cutting-edge technology and product design are a priority for us. Nestlé experts are co-developing and testing new environmentally friendly packaging materials and systems together with our development centres, suppliers, research institutions and start-ups. Located at our Nestlé Research facilities in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Institute also leverages our existing research capabilities in food safety, analytics and food science.”

Commenting on the inauguration, Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “Nestlé was one of the first companies to sign the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, setting concrete targets to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at the source. It is great to see the world’s largest consumer goods company now increasing its research focus and capacity to deliver on these ambitions.”

Nestlé is already making progress towards its 2025 packaging commitments, and has launched novel packaging solutions. For example, Nestlé packaging experts and suppliers developed products in recyclable paper packaging such as the Nesquik All Natural cocoa powder and the YES! snack bars in under 12 months.

The Institute is part of the company’s fundamental research entity Nestlé Research in Switzerland, reaffirming Nestlé’s commitment to further strengthen the unique Swiss innovation ecosystem.

Speaking at the official opening, Philippe Leuba, State Councilor of the Swiss Canton of Vaud, said: “This new institute will strengthen our Canton as a centre of excellence when it comes to the food value chain and allow the development of innovative packaging solutions that respect the environment and sustainable development. Waste management, a global challenge, will now benefit from an innovation ecosystem in the Canton of Vaud made up of universities as well as research centres from major private sector players such as Nestlé.”

Huge bounty from local and overseas vendors at Fine Foods Australia

Fine Food Australia opened to large crowds at Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) with a massive range of products and services on display. This included a huge contingent from China, as well as other Southeast Asian nations such as Taiwan and Thailand, while the European contingent included representatives from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Germany.

As well as a bevy of taste sensations in both food and beverage, there were those exhibitors who also help with the packaging, safety and traceability of perishable goods. One such stand was occupied by barcode specialist GS1, who were having a busy day.

“It’s been really good,” said account director Andrew Steele. “For us it has been about getting our message out especially to the smaller companies that are starting up and they don’t know where to start, where to go or what to do. The most common issue people have is ‘how do I get a barcode?’, and ‘why do I need one?’

“Generally what we find at these sorts of events is that people come up with new, innovative type products but they don’t know what they need to do around barcoding and the like to get their products with some of the major retailers or online places like Amazon.’

And some of the other issues they are finding visitors are interested in?

“Traceability is becoming really big in food, as well as food safety and provenance. Consumers are certainly asking today more about what has gone into a product and they want to know the story behind it.”

A new player in the beverage space, AquaRush was busy all day. For the company, it wasn’t just about getting their product out there but also about finding local distributors as well as drumming up interest from overseas, according to national sales manager Marko Powell.

“We’ve had some really interesting bites from overseas,” said Powell. “We are looking for distributors for every state with our new range. We have nine new products out and today has been pretty full on that is for sure. All of these products we are introducing are new to the market so we are not copying anybody. Another stream we are looking at is selling some of our products as mixers for the liquor industry.”

Then there is Melbourne-based Cookers Bulk Oil who has had 100s of people go through its stand. The company has been on the go and made some good connections according to marketing manager Marianna Costa.

“The show has been fantastic,” said Costa. “We have been incredibility busy and meeting lots of people. We’ve had some good leads and numbers through. For us it’s about education and it’s about brand awareness. We want people to see and hear about our sustainability message at Cookers.’

Taking up two floors at the ICC, and with 900 exhibitors, the event has three more days to run.

 

 

Western Sydney to put lab-grown meat on the menu

Western Sydney could become a national base for the production of meat grown from animal stem cells under an ambitious plan supported by the NSW Government.

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said North Parramatta startup VOW has been supported with a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product grant from the NSW Government to develop its cell-cultivated meat technology.

“In a world first, VOW has created the first ever cell-cultured kangaroo meat grown from stem cells taken from a kangaroo,” Mr Ayres said.

“Western Sydney is the perfect base for Australia’s first cultivated-meat startup to take forward a global scale opportunity to generate a new food industry together with high-tech jobs in cell-based agriculture.

“We are on the doorstep of Asia and, with Western Sydney Airport now underway, the potential to develop a world class laboratory to manufacture high quality cultivated meat exports is massive. I look forward to seeing a flourishing industry.”

READ MORE: Monash University researches why people find some foods disgusting

VOW has been co-founded by two entrepreneurs, former Cochlear design lead Tim Noakesmith and George Peppou from startup accelerator Cicada Innovations, to grow meat for consumption from animal cells.

“There is growing demand for meat globally with population growth and with rising middle classes in developing nations consuming more protein.

“Growing meat sustainably from stem cells will have a fraction of the footprint of traditional livestock farming in terms of land use and water use and there is no need for culling animals.

“We’re building a team of scientists, designers and technologists all on a quest to meet the world’s protein demands for the future in a sustainable manner. But we are not in competition with traditional livestock farming.

“There is plenty of room for traditional meat as well as plant-based and cell-cultured meat to provide greater choice for consumers.

“We hope to build a full scale factory in Western Sydney that will eventually mass produce many tonnes of cell-cultivated meat each year for Australia and for export.”

Mr Peppou said VOW was also building the biggest “Noah’s Ark” cell library in the world with cell samples that can be used to develop new food experiences.

“At the moment we have only domesticated for food production less than 1% of what’s in nature so there are many unlocked food secrets to explore in the other 99.6%,” Mr Peppou said.

“Nature has incredible diversity so there is great potential to create new food experiences. Our cell library will discover and catalogue new flavour, texture and nutritional profiles that we can also combine to create amazing new food experiences.

“We have kicked off collaboration discussions with some top tier Australian chefs to design their own high impact dishes using cultivated meats, and will work with food regulators to hopefully have our first premium product available by the end of next year.”

Coke campaign to reiterate recycling commitments

Coca-Cola Australia has launched a new campaign to thank Australians for recycling. It follows the announcement earlier this year that seven out of 10 of Coca-Cola’s range of drink bottles in Australia will be 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of 2019.

In April, the company announced its largest ever investment in recycled plastic for drink bottles. The move means that all its plastic bottles, 600ml and under, will be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of the year. This includes all brands from Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite to Powerade, Pump and Mount Franklin.

The change also means that Australia will be the first country in the world where all Coca-Cola Classic bottles, 600ml and under, will be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic on an ongoing basis.

READ MORE: Coke funds initiative to tackle marine pollution

Director for sustainability at Coca-Cola Australia, Christine Black, said, “We are the largest drinks company in Australia and we have a responsibility to help solve the packaging problem. “Coca-Cola in Australia has made a significant commitment to investing in recycled plastic but there is more to do. Australians help every time they recycle a drink bottle.

“We want to see a strong, viable recycling industry in Australia and we can play our part by encouraging Australians to recycle and then to use recycled plastic in our bottles wherever we can. By recycling as often as possible, Australians can help us to use recycled plastic in our bottles.

“When a company as large as Coca-Cola combines our marketing expertise to encourage recycling with a commitment to using recycled plastic, our plastic bottles can become bottles again and again,” she said.

Xplanar streamlines drive systems for the modern era

The ground-breaking XPlanar system from Beckhoff offers boundless potential for streamlining production machines and plant design. It utilises planar movers that float freely over floors of planar tiles that can be arranged in any kind of pattern.

What characterises the new XPlanar drive system is that it is based on the principle of flying motion. Like the XTS linear transport system, XPlanar is much more than just a drive system – it’s a solution designed to make product transport flexible. Compared to XTS, XPlanar adds movement in a second dimension and allows the movers floating over floor tiles to overtake one another and to be held in buffer zones or to bypass them. The free-floating planar movers also have a further important advantage – because of the contactless drive principle, they are silent and completely wear-free.

So, what kind of functionality does this system provide for implementing transport tasks?
“Basically, a transport system simply moves products from one processing station to the next – from A to B, then from B to C, from C to D, and so on,” said Prüßmeier. “With XPlanar, these stations need neither to be in a linear arrangement, nor visited in a fixed sequence.

This means that a given product need only travel to those stations that are essential for processing it. By incorporating the second dimension, XPlanar opens up several other options, too, including the ability to discharge individual movers from the production flow, or to create special waiting zones in order to optimise processing sequences. Enabling faster movers to overtake slower movers is also important, as it allows sub-processes to be executed swiftly, in parallel. Not only is each planar mover controlled individually, as a single servo axis, it can also be synchronised precisely with other movers if necessary.”

The movers can also travel with six degrees of freedom. They not only travel to processing stations, they can also move into them. They can turn, rotating the payload they are carrying through all three axes so that it can be processed or inspected easily from any side. The movers can also be raised or lowered slightly and even tilted. For example, a little tilt can be useful to prevent spills when accelerating quickly while carrying a container full of liquid.

In spite of all the complex motion options that XPlanar supports, the system is simple to set up and deploy from a user standpoint.

“Right at the start of the development process, we decided it was important that the system should be highly integrated and that users would only have to plug in two cables – one for data communication over EtherCAT G and another for power supply,” said Prüßmeier. “As a result, all other functionality has been fully incorporated into the modules. Design-wise, they are also extremely compact – the distance between the working surface of each planar tile and the carrier frame beneath it is just 4cm.”

The system builds on one basic component – a planar tile measuring 24 x 24cm. The tiles can be arranged in any floor or track layout. In addition to this standard tile, there will be another version in the future, identical in shape and size, over which planar movers can rotate through a full 360 degrees – that is to say, infinitely. The movers available differ only in terms of their size and their load-carrying capacity. They currently range from 95mm x 95mm for payloads up to 0.4kg, through to 275mm x 275mm, for a maximum payload of 6kg.

The TwinCAT software also plays a key part in the system’s ease of use.

“Our main objective is to make sure that users find the planar motor system easy to manage,” said Prüßmeier. “In TwinCAT, the planar movers appear as simple servo axes, capable, in principle, of supporting all six degrees of freedom. However, given that the degree of flexibility available with six axes is not always needed from a practical perspective – or, at least, not throughout the XPlanar system – TwinCAT provides a way to reduce this complexity. It does this by representing each mover as a one-dimensional axis capable of optional additional movements in other dimensions – lifting, tilting and turning, for instance – that are available when it reaches a processing station. This means it’s enough, initially, to just set the desired route, or track, across the XPlanar floor. This simplifies operation significantly.”

And how important is TwinCAT Track Management when implementing complex motion sequences?

A key factor in XPlanar’s flexibility is that its ability to transport products is not confined to the aforementioned single tracks, according to Prüßmeier. Users can define additional tracks, and movers can switch between them. To keep things simple for users, even when operating multiple tracks, TwinCAT offers Track Management, a user-friendly tool designed to support complex motion sequences, including the ability to overtake slower movers on the same track, or to accumulate movers in waiting zones. To do this, it allows users to define parallel lanes, bypasses, or tracks to other plant areas on the XPlanar floor.

Track Management allows movers to switch smoothly from one track to another via a short parallel segment. All this takes is a “switch track” command, without users having to deal with the specifics of merging in and out of the flow, or avoiding collisions. Movers can also be positioned with freedom, without having to follow any preset tracks. Using Track Management, they are sent to specific coordinates within the defined XPlanar floor space – again, without any risk of colliding with other movers.

According to Prüßmeier, there are plenty of advantages for the users for building a XPlanar floor from individual tiles.

“Here, too, we put flexibility front and centre,” he said. “The tiles can be arranged in any shape – and even wall- or ceiling-mounted – so the XPlanar system can be configured to perfectly suit a given application’s requirements. For instance, you can leave gaps within the tiled floor to accommodate processing stations, or lay tracks around plant components. This means users can set up a transport system in a cost-optimised fashion and, at the same time, reduce machine size to a minimum. In addition, it’s easy to modify the planar motor system subsequently just by adding more tiles when necessary, that is, to accommodate new processing stations or gain extra space to optimise motion through curves.”

And how can users best exploit this innovation’s potential? According to Prüßmeier, XPlanar opens up new avenues in machine and system design. Users need, literally, to experience the system’s new possibilities hands-on in order to grasp them, so at market launch Beckhoff is offering easy-to-use starter kits, just as it did with XTS.

“These consist of 6 or 12 planar tiles installed on a carrier frame, along with 4 movers and a small control cabinet with an industrial PC, complete with preinstalled software, and the requisite electrical components,” said Prüßmeier. “This offers machine builders an ideal basic kit on which to trial XPlanar in their own environments and then go on to use later in real-life applications. In addition, offering this kind of preconfigured system makes it a lot easier for the Beckhoff support staff to answer any questions that might arise.

Prüßmeier also said that there are almost no limits on using it with production plants and machines. The only requirement is that a product’s weight and volume are within the limits of what the planar movers can carry. Where this applies, users can benefit from all the system’s flexible positioning capabilities. These are particularly interesting in sectors with special requirements in terms of hygiene and cleanability, zero emissions, or low noise.

This is the case in the food and pharmaceuticals industry, as well as in laboratory environments or processes that require a vacuum (in semiconductor production, for instance). The latter two sectors in particular can benefit from the fact that products are carried on floating movers, abrasion- and contamination-free. Depending on the needs of a given application, users can also apply plastic, stainless-steel foil or glass plates to the XPlanar surfaces to make them easy to clean without residue.

XPlanar was first exhibited at the SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg in November 2018, with the product attracting interest among visitors.

“It also spawned lots of ideas for possible applications, because many users have been looking for a flexible solution to solve specific transport problems in their production facilities for years now,” said Prüßmeier.

He gives an example from food processing.

“In the production of high-quality confectionery, there are always minor deviations in the colour of chocolate coatings,” he said. “This is not a problem as such, provided there’s no variance within individual boxes of chocolates. However, at a production rate of 100 chocolates per minute, selecting 10 individual chocolates with the same colour for each pack is difficult using conventional means. It would require using several pick-and-place robots to check and sort all the chocolates, which would be costly in terms of time, floor space and throughput rate. The problem can be solved much more efficiently using individually controlled planar movers operating on a single floor. Movers transporting individual chocolates could easily sort themselves at the end of the production line according to the chocolates’ particular shade of colour. Or, if movers were designed to carry an entire box at once, each mover could automatically travel to the system ejection point for the appropriate colour of chocolate to pick up the products. Both of these approaches could be implemented much faster and, importantly, with lower space requirements than, for example, the robot solution I mentioned.”

Beckhoff has already received specific inquiries from the laboratory automation sector, where there’s interest in maximising the flexibility of analyses. For the most part, samples are tested for the same substance content, but less common analyses also need to be carried out for the purpose of individualised diagnostics.

Even with mass analysis methods, XPlanar offers a way to extract individual samples; it also creates additional quality assurance advantages by making it easy to discharge or exchange particular samples. There’s similar demand in the cosmetics industry, too. For example, in one particular case, fragrances need to be filled into selectable, customer-specific bottles that are individually labelled and packaged.

“The main difference is that the XPlanar movers don’t need a mechanical guide rail, so the system offers greater flexibility in terms of movement,” said Prüßmeier. “At the same time, though, the mechanical guidance in XTS can be an advantage. Compared to the magnetic counterforce of the planar movers, a guide rail allows better dynamics and higher speeds in curves, especially in very tight curves, and even when carrying a payload. The specifics of a given application will ultimately determine which of the two systems is the better option. The bottom line is that XPlanar and XTS complement each other perfectly.”

Looks matter when it comes to taste

Driven by impulse, consumers often make decisions based on a product’s aesthetic appearance, making label design a key competitive advantage in food manufacturing. Find out more.

Your average Australian supermarket carries approximately 40,000 different products. When every product is vying for consumers attention, how do you ensure your product cuts though the noise and stands out from the rest?

Driven by impulse, research shows that consumers take only two and a half seconds to make a purchasing decision and read on average only seven words during an entire shopping trip. Instead, buying products instinctively based on brand recognition, colour and shape of packaging. Therefore, how a product is labelled is a key driver behind a consumer’s purchase decision.

Effective product labels should emphasize your brand’s DNA and evoke a memorable, emotional response…all within 2.5 seconds. Product labels that encapsulate these characteristics will have the most successful shelf impact.

Emphasise your Brand’s DNA
A brand’s DNA is made up of the core values and beliefs that captures who you are as a brand, what your product is, and what your brand stands for. Your label should be a cohesive part of this identity, and accurately represent your brand’s story. Bringing your brand’s DNA to life can be achieved through colour, label face stock (top layer of the label) and embellishments.

When selecting your label face stock and embellishments, reflect on your brand’s primary characteristics and personality. Does your product offer environmental awareness? This can be represented through a biodegradable face stock. Perhaps luxury is a key brand characteristic – this can be expressed through foiling embellishment, or simplicity can be achieved by using a clear face stock.

insignia offers a range of premium-labelling face stocks and embellishments from cold foiling (designed to deliver high quality and cost-effective metallic printing effects), two side printing, to UV Flexo and UV lamination. Labels that stand out on a crowded shelf by instantaneously communicating to consumers your brand’s DNA will have the most successful shelf presence.

Colours Evoke Emotions
Consumers subconsciously make judgement within 90 seconds of viewing a product. Further to that, research shows that 62-90% base that judgement solely on the product’s colour. As 85% of consumers attribute colour as the determining factor when purchasing a product, it is evident that colours used on your product label play a role in affecting consumer emotions. Consumers act when a brand makes them feel something. Therefore, the colours that you choose for your label should project a deliberate subconscious message to attract your target audience and prompt them to choose your product.

Impactful Differentiation
Ensuring consistency of tone, colours and graphics not just on your labels but across your branding is critical in building brand credibility among consumers. Consistently maintaining these elements of your brand’s identity can eventually be the iconic differentiation that set your brand apart from the rest. For example, you see a red and white swirl and instantly think Coca Cola, or automatically associate the colour purple with Cadbury.

At insignia, our team of experienced graphic designers work directly and collaboratively with you to assist with label colour and die recommendations, as well as label design and layout. Working closely with our certified printers throughout the label making process to ensure your labels create a lasting impression on the shelf and in the minds of your customer.

If you would like to find out more about how insignia’s team can help you with your labels contact us on 1300 467 446 or sales@insignia.com.au.

 

Recalls on the rise: five signs of a lagging food safety culture

A  food safety certification and training organisation says the record spike in food recalls within Australia – up 45 per cent in 2018, compared with 2017 – is more than just back luck. It is likely a result of poor training, poor controls, and a lack of accountability – or a more concerning underlying problem with organisational food safety culture.

SAI Global has audited thousands of food retailers and manufacturers – 550 in 2018 alone – to ensure they comply with food industry regulations, and trains thousands of Australians annually on food safety through its tailored training, public courses and webinars. In the industry, it often identifies the mistakes that food businesses make in food storage, processing, packaging, distribution, display and handling. These are often related to the lack of skills and knowledge of food handlers, underpinned by a lack of commitment from those who manage the business.

Brad Costello, Food Safety Training Specialist at SAI Global, says: “Recently released recall statistics show that undeclared allergens, microbial contaminations, presence of foreign matter and incorrect labelling have been major reasons for the rise in recalls. In addition, dozens of food businesses across the country are fined each year for food practices that compromise customer health and safety – from poor hygiene, to failing to eradicate pests, to storing food at the wrong temperatures.

“Implementing a strong food safety culture is a mind-set change for most businesses. As it is driven from the top of the organisation – and can only be successful with the commitment and contribution of everyone in the business – it requires businesses to formally train their staff to provide an environment that supports a high standard of organisational food culture. Regularly evaluating performances and implementing improvements to make, store, handle, sell or serve food that is safe, should be a top priority for all food businesses, and is what we aim to achieve through our audits.”

SAI Global’s five indicative failures of a poor food safety culture:

  1. Not keeping hot food ‘hot’ or cold food ‘cold’. In its audits, SAI Global still finds that food businesses are failing in managing basic temperature controls. Storing, displaying or serving food at unsafe temperatures can encourage pathogens already present in some foods to grow, with potentially deadly consequences. For potentially hazardous foods including meats, seafood, dairy, cooked rice, and prepared fruits and vegetables, these controls have been in place for decades.
  2. Ineffective cross contamination management. Numerous food businesses Australia-wide have been fined thousands of dollars for storing or displaying raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs alongside ready-to-eat foods. Cross contamination can introduce pathogens, such as salmonella and e.coli, onto ready-to-eat products or undeclared allergens. This can be easily avoided with correct barrier proofing, storage controls, adequate cleaning and training.
  3. Incorrectly labelling a packaged food. The consequences of mislabelling food can be fatal. A couple of years ago, a child in Sydney had an anaphylactic reaction after consuming a drink that was wrongly labelled ‘dairy free’. The business was required to pay $55,000 in fines and costs. Already in 2018, there have been various examples of potentially avoidable labelling incidents. Labelling errors can also impact the accuracy of use-by dates: food that is past its use-by date can have too many pathogens or can form toxins, rendering it unsafe to eat.
  4. Poor staff hygiene and handling practices. Food handlers should avoid eating, coughing, sneezing or blowing over foods to minimise microbiological contamination. Poor handling practices can also lead to an increased risk of pathogen and foreign object contamination in preparation areas. Clean clothing, adequate handwashing, covering open wounds and a clean and tidy food production environment can minimise the possibility of direct product contamination.
  5. Failing to remove pests. Fines have been handed to numerous food businesses for failing to take reasonable measures to eradicate pests from their premises. Pests can get into food packaging and contaminate equipment and utensils. More worryingly, pets can transmit disease: rats and mice can transmit bacterial diseases, such as salmonellosis and leptospirosis, while cockroaches can transmit gastroenteritis and hepatitis A.

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