Karma Drinks looks to raise capital

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Kiwi organic drinks maker, Karma Drinks, raising money to accelerate its New Zealand growth plans and ambitions for new product development (NPD).
Co-founded in Grey Lynn, Auckland in 2012 by Simon Coley and brothers Chris and Matt Morrison, the organic and Fairtrade beverage company was formed with the vision to produce ethically sourced drinks (including sodas, juices and kombuchas), with a portion of the proceeds from each bottle going back to the cola growers’ families via the Karma Foundation.
Karma Drinks co-founder, Chris Morrison, says that despite what is a turbulent time, the organisation is committed to spreading good karma and continuing their global expansion and approach to innovation. Health and well-being are key drivers for their NPD strategy, especially as people have become much more health conscious and aware of what they are consuming.
Read More: Woolworths’ new $135 million Melbourne Fresh DC
“One of the most significant shifts in the global soft drinks market is to continuously satisfy customer desires with new product attributes. This will be a key component of our NPD strategy as we see significant opportunities to grow and diversify our customer base with an exciting pipeline of products to be released over the next few years.
“Whilst we’ve established ourselves as leaders in the organic fizzy drinks market, our plan is to now evolve our range to include health-focussed carbonated soft drinks, including natural energy drinks, plant-based drinks and a reduced sugar and no sugar range in our sodas,” said Morrison.
Karma Drinks is seeking to raise NZ$2m to progress their innovative NPD plans and also fund the company’s domestic growth strategy over the next three years, including re-capitalising strategic partnerships in the UK and plans to expand into Asia, Australia and the US.
Karma Drinks’ new CEO, Ben Dando, joined the company earlier this year, only two weeks before lockdowns hit the UK and New Zealand. Dando says despite the unpredictable and challenging start, the company is now on track for its strongest financial year in the last five years, having continued to innovate and navigate the company through these times.
“While COVID-19 has certainly shifted our strategy, our entire mission remains the same – continue to produce drinks that not only taste good but do good too. We’re determined to be a good example of how the food and beverage industry can continue to positively impact both the people and the planet despite challenging times. Our aim is to bring joy to our consumers, support our growers and bring the power of Karma to more consumers globally.”
“We have an exciting journey ahead, with huge ambitions and expansion plans for the brand, this capital raise will certainly help us achieve our goals and emerge as a stronger and better business post-pandemic,” says Dando.
The business generated approximately NZ$12m in sales last year and predicts to achieve NZ$19.7m sales by FY23 through this investment.

Calabria Family Wines buys brands

Australian winemaker Calabria Family Wines has bought three Australian wine brands –  Deakin Estate, La La Land and Azahara. The formal agreement is a brand-only sale and transfers ownership of these brands from the Wingara Wine Group, part of Henkell Freixenet, to the Calabria family.
Calabria Family Wines will now produce all of the wines across each of the brands’ portfolios from their Griffith, NSW winery as well as manage marketing across all markets. Calabria Family Wines will continue the current distribution partnership with Red & White for all three brands in Australia.
“Each of these brands brings something new to the table for the team at Calabria and we are eager to welcome them to the family as we diversify and broaden our wine offering,” third-generation general manager Michael Calabria said.
Read More: Deal activity slows
“Deakin Estate, with over 50 years of winemaking history behind it, has achieved outstanding distribution, particularly in challenging export markets where many haven’t. That can only happen with a good quality product and dedicated team behind it.
“Both La La Land and Azahara, while newer to market, are unique brands with well-established portfolios and market presence, both domestically and overseas. We look forward to relishing in La La Land’s dedication to emerging wine styles with our own Italian alternatives and celebrating Azahara’s effervescent flare and sophistication.”
Wingara Wine Group is part of Henkell Freixenet, a global market leader in sparkling wine, which was formed in January 2019 from the legacy Henkell & Co. Group and Grupo Freixenet.

Nut butter obsession turns into million dollar Coles deal

Nick Sheridan created 99th Monkey in Melbourne in 2013. His aim was to create a nut butter that not only tastes delicious but also that was good for a person’s health and kind to the planet.
“As a former journalist (The Age, Global Coffee Report) living in London and training for my first (and maybe last) marathon in 2012, I became obsessed with peanut butter. When my wife Tracey and I returned to Melbourne, I decided to turn my nut butter obsession into a business,” said Sheridan.

Sheridan started out selling in farmers markets then into local stores and online. At the end of 2017, 99th Monkey was in about 800 independent retailers around Australia.
In 2018, 99th Monkey was one of five Australian businesses that were selected to take part in the Chobani Food Incubator program.
“The program helped me to expand my vision for the business and gave me the contacts and confidence to take the brand to the next level,” said Sheridan
Read More: Australian wine company growing export sales
“2018 was also that year that I finally went all in on the business, leaving my job as editor of a coffee magazine to focus on 99th Monkey full time – it felt like a big leap at the time considering we had a two-year-old daughter and a mortgage.”
The leap paid off and by the end of 2018, 99th Monkey was stocked in Coles’ new format stores, Coles Local. This led to 99th Monkey securing three products stocked in 200 Coles stores in Victoria in 2019.
This past year, 99th Monkey have signed a million dollar deal with Coles. 99th Monkey Natural Almond Butter and Cacao Almond Butter will be stocked in 650 Coles stores nationally.

Woolworths to use Primary Connect platform

Woolworths has unveiled another step in its journey to become a Food and Everyday Needs Ecosystem with the launch of its Primary Connect supply chain platform.
This will see Woolworths’ internal supply chain function rebrand to Primary Connect as it begins to evolve into an end-to-end service provider not just for Woolworths Group retail businesses, but an increasing number of partners.
A key catalyst for the move is the proposed separation of Endeavour Group from Woolworths Group. This has seen the platform become the full-service supply chain service provider to BWS and Dan Murphy’s.
Primary Connect managing director, Paul Graham, said: “Establishing the Primary Connect platform is a key step in our ambition to build Australia’s next generation supply chain.
“We run the largest and most distributed retail supply chain network in Australia. This size and scale provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver a lot of value to business partners both within our group and beyond.
“But it’s not enough to have a best-in-class network. To be successful in growing the platform, we need to deliver world-class customer service and build on our digital offering to deliver safer and smarter supply chain solutions for partners. We’ve never been better placed to do so.”
Read More: Combatting supply chain talent shortage
Woolworths’ existing Primary Connect transport business currently services more than 1,000 external customers, including Ingham’s, Kimberly-Clark, Marley Spoon and Diageo. All team members within Woolworths Group Supply Chain will now form part of the expanded Primary Connect team.
Primary Connect’s transport business works with more than 70 trusted carrier partners to optimise freight movements and improve utilisation across its end-to-end network. In FY20, the platform moved more than 8.4 million pallets across 4,000 locations for more than 1,000 suppliers with high service levels.
Tasmanian-based salad grower Houston’s Farm has been using the platform  since 2017. Primary Connect transports bagged salads and ready to eat salad bowls from Houston’s Farm’s Tasmanian, Western Australian, South Australian and Queensland processing facilities to Woolworths distribution centres across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Launceston. The salads are stocked in all Woolworths supermarkets and replenished daily.
“Primary Connect is a premium supply chain service provider with a vision similar to our own,” said Houston’s Farm CEO, Richard Hopkins.
“We’ve established a close working relationship with them over the years and are able to share and implement ideas to improve our offering for customers.
“Working with Primary Connect has made transport and logistics much simpler for us to manage, and allowed us to focus on what we do best – growing the best quality fresh produce for Australian families.”

Meatballs in Napoli sauce – authentic protein cuisine

Country Cooked Meats specialises in a range of products including sous-vide fully cooked added value proteins. One such solution is its Italian-style meatballs in Napoli sauce, which was a finalist in the Meat, Poultry and Smallgoods category at the 2019 Food & Beverage Industry Awards.

National sales and marketing manager, Nat Perri, said that the company deliberately targeted this particular meal format because it saw a gap in the market for an Italian dish that uses Australian products and is ready to be used by simply heating.

“As part of our prepared meal format, we look at opportunities that we can develop proteins, or a restaurant meal, that people can eat at home,” he said. “The Italian meatballs was a more obvious one. Most similar products in the marketplace are a raw product that you have to finish off. This is a 100 per cent beef product. If you were doing a traditional meatball, you’d probably use pork in the product, too. However, because we wanted it to be sold across the whole spectrum of consumers, we stuck to beef. The sauce is also made in Australia by a local manufacturer.”

When it was originally developed, it was sold into Costco in 1kg packs. Currently, it is being sold at IGAs and Foodworks supermarkets in 400g version. How did the company ensure its authenticness and taste?

The company develops a lot of its products with help from chefs, according to Perri, especially when it comes to ethnic-based products. They try and get the flavour profile as close to being as authentic as they can. It helps that a lot of in-house staff at Country Cooked Meats are from an ethnic background, said Perri.

“Especially when it came to the meatballs,” he said. “There is a number of Italians in the company – including myself and the director who owns the business. The good thing with our New Product Development (NPD) team is that we have a mixture of people and personalities so when we come out with a product, we do separate assessments internally.

“When it came to the first test, we found that we were as authentic as we could get. Then we took the product to retailers and chefs – and they did their own sensory tasting of the product. The only feedback they gave us was that if we were making a traditional Napoli sauce you might get away with a few more herbs like basil or similar if you were an Italian.’

However, the general response was that while those of Italian background might love the original take on the recipe, it was suggested via feedback that the ingredients be slightly tweaked in order to appeal to the masses.

“We had the same issue with our Japanese-style teriyaki chicken,” said Perri. “We made a traditional version of the chicken. We worked with a Japanese company and made two versions of the teriyaki and took it to them. They gave us the thumbs up on the traditional one, but they felt that the Japanese restaurants they deal with tend to make their own and each have a different spin on the dish. They suggested that we replace the soy sauce from a bitter Japanese style to a sweet version. That way it would appeal to the mass audience, which we did.”

The main idea behind the range is to have a fully-cooked protein ready to eat after being heated, while the rest of the meal is prepared by the consumer. The manufacturing process is quite ornate because the company considers it a premium eating experience.

The meatballs are manufactured on site using a nozzle filler that shoots out little balls. The staff gently roll the meatballs with palm of their hand to get make sure they are round.
They are then layer stacked and placed in a freezer to keep them firm and ready for next stage. The meatballs, along with the Napoli sauce, are placed in a tumbler and both are tumbled for a period of time to ensure the flavour of the sauce covers the meatballs.

The combined mixture is packaged in vacuum bags, which are then placed in ovens and cooked sous-vide style for a slow cook of up to three hours. As well as tenderising the meat, this method of cooking ensures the flavour of the Napoli sauce infuses with the protein.

Then there is the packaging, which Perri said has not only been designed to make the finished product the highlight, but also to make sure the consumer could clearly see what they are buying.

“The heating instructions are simple and basic so as to give the consumer confidence that they can prepare the product ready to be served,” said Perri. “The packaging is of a steady E-flute format so as to allow those that stock the product the ability to multi stack in a dairy case cabinet.”

REA
Perri also wants to make it clear that it is a ready to eat type meal and it is not the complete package, but itis the hero.

“We call our products Centre of Plate,” he said. “The customer heats it up and makes their own meal around it, whether that be a salad, vegetables or whatever they want to create, they become the chef.”

READ MORE: Nominations open for 2020 Food & Beverage Industry Awards

The final aspects that Perri said makes this product a stand out are its longevity on the shelf and that the meatballs – or any of the company’s other products for that matter – have no antibiotics or preservatives.

“When chilled, the shelf life of the product is about eight weeks,” he said. “The reason it retains its shelf life and tenderness is because it is slow and low cooked for a long time – it is cooked in the bag so it keeps its tenderness. It is pasteurised. When you try the product the taste profile is very tender because it retains all its juices. It’s not processed; it’s not pumped with anything – if we say it’s meatball it’s meatballs, if it’s chicken, its chicken.”

Based on the successful roll out of the meatballs product and its other proteins, Country Cooked Meats plans on creating many more dishes that will fall into the same category using a range of different proteins for that restaurant at home experience.

Digital streamlining to drive food export path

Australian agricultural and food producers will get an easier path into international markets with digitisation of export processes to lift their global competitiveness.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said changes to streamline and digitise export certification processes necessary to ship Australian products overseas would benefit meat, dairy, seafood, horticulture, grain, wool and other producers, boosting both profits and productivity.

“Certification of food safety is a necessary process for our agricultural exports to be accepted by importers overseas, through a process that currently focuses on paper records. In 2017-18 my department issued over 461,000 export certificates to support $48 billion in agricultural exports,” said McKenzie.

“The changes…will modernise and speed up that process, removing paper trail management, as well as improving the ability of producers to track progress through the online system.

READ MORE: Input sought on Middle East sheep exports

“The system will replace use of paper documentation wherever it is used to support, apply or be issued in relation to export certification, with the system expected to begin initial operation before mid-2020 and be fully completed within three years.

One meat exporter alone has estimated that the ability to amend export documentation online will save $120,000 a year in detained consignment costs.

By moving to a paperless system, brand Australia and the country’s reputation for ‘clean-green’ food will be further protected. A more secure system will provide  assurance of the authenticity of Australian products and brands, according to McKenzie.

“This initiative underpins Australia’s target to build agriculture to be a $100 billion sector by 2030 and our commitment to develop a streamlined, effective and efficient certification process to drive more agricultural exports to profitable markets.”

 

The rise and rise of plant-based proteins

According to Trent Duvall, 20 years ago the food and beverage processors and manufacturers controlled the narrative in relation to what foods and drinks were consumed by customers. Then, it shifted to the retailers. Today, it is consumers that are running the show. And if you are a manufacturer of food and beverage goods, it’s advisable that you sit up and take notice of your customers like never before.

Duvall is the national sector leader, consumer and retail for KPMG, and was speaking to group of food and beverage primary producers at the FoodTech event held mid-year in Brisbane.

Consumers are becoming more discerning with regards to the healthiness of food, how it is packaged, and its effect on the environment, he said. Not only that, but his main point was that plant-based proteins are going to have a big impact on the food panorama over the next decade.

And Duvall is no vegetarian/vegan evangelist – he is a proud omnivore and likes nothing better than to tuck into a nice, juicy steak. However, he said the landscape is changing, with an anecdote from a recent trip to the US reinforcing the shift.

READ MORE: Plant proteins hot but meat not off the menu

“We went to Disneyland’s Adventure World, which was also home to the California Food and Wine Market Spring Fair,” he said. “There were stalls everywhere – different foods and produce. We walked past a stall that had this beautiful-looking burger patty with guacamole on top. I had to have one. For five minutes, myself and my wife and kids lined up to pay for one of these sliders – and they were to die for. Imagine the best burger you’ve had, the oil coming down the side of your hands. I looked across at my 10-year-old son – his was gone in a flash – nothing but a little bit of avocado left on the side of his face.
Perhaps the best slider I’ve had. It turned to be a plant-based slider. First time I’ve had one. And it was fantastic.”

Part of Duvall’s brief is to spot coming trends. He counsels those in the food and beverage processing and manufacturing space who are putting their company’s value chain together to respond to these trends and create opportunities for their companies.

While plant-based proteins are gaining popularity, there is still an issue getting the average punter to buy into the trend. Duvall gives the example of New Zealand’s Hell Pizza franchise, which released to market a burger-flavoured pizza. For the first four days it flew off the shelves – the market couldn’t get enough of them. They were selling out. Hell Pizza then announced that the meat wasn’t beef, it was made from plant-based protein.

“Social media went into meltdown, because people were saying to the company, ‘how could you lie to us?’” said Duvall. “There was no lying per se, it was just a burger-flavoured protein. We are going to see the same things coming through in the Australian market and they are going to be marketed as being better for you and less processed. And they are better for you in terms of less fats and higher protein content per gram.”

Not to be outdone, Domino’s in Australia has announced an exclusive partnership with a Queensland manufacturer to create plant based “meat” for its pizza toppings and plan to be the first pizza chain in Australia to launch alternate meat pizzas. Importantly they will be lower in saturated fat and higher protein than the comparable meat pizzas.

Long-term consumers of existing products need not fear that their favourite food or beverage will be disappearing any time soon. The market for meats and processed foods is still strong. What Duvall is pointing out is that the younger generation of consumers is causing a change in the market and it behoves processors and manufacturers to be aware of these changes if they don’t want to get left behind. He cites the example of Shreddies, a popular cereal from Canada and the UK that was first produced in 1939, and was available in Australia.

“The packaging has now been changed – not only does it say ‘wholegrain’ in the top corner of the packet, it’s also now says ‘vegan’,” said Duvall. “So why is vegan important to our kids? It’s not. They don’t know that. But it is important to the mum that is buying it. Shreddies is repositioning itself in the market.”

And to reiterate the point, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) also know that customers – again primarily the younger generation – will be the ones making choices about what they will be consuming. MLA’s marketing campaign is concentrating on animal health and welfare, environmental sustainability and nutrition. The three questions mentioned in the MLA’s current marketing campaign are:
• What’s the consumer talking about?
• What does the consumer want?
• How do we market to that?

The consumer is now the centre of attention. They are now digitally and data enabled and they’re the ones that are influencing trends, said Duvall.

“The consumer is influencing the government by what they say on social media,” said Duvall. “They are influencing the manufacturers by what they want and it is influencing the retailers and how they are going to get it. And it is about what is good for them. However, what is good for one consumer might be different from the other.”

One of the more interesting trends that Duvall talked about was the introduction of molecular alcohol – not one for the purists. Rather than distilling, makers of alcoholic beverages are using this technique to create a beverage quickly, compared to traditional methods.

“A 20-year-old malt whiskey can be reproduced almost overnight,” said Duvall. “Same with vodkas, same with gins. That is where technology’s going. Will the consumer buy it? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe a consumer likes that fact their whiskey has been distilled or aged for 20 years. Others might be interested in the newer version because of the price point, or because it is a different style of product they see as being good for them.”

“Big and small companies are doing different things to drive innovation to meet what the consumer demands and needs,” said Duvall.

And another technology that has been mentioned recently in Food & Beverage Industry News (September issue) is 3D printed food. Duvall compared 3D printing technology to where Nespresso coffee machines were 10 years ago.

“In the space of a couple of years, with the product positioned at the right point, Nespresso has made its way into many homes,” he said. “You go back 10 years, nobody would have thought to put a Nespresso machine in their house. There has been a rapid change in how we consume coffee. Printing your food using a pod and having a machine that can do that in every house is probably not that far away.”

The last point Duvall wanted to make on coming trends was to do with the state of consumers themselves. There are those who are more carnivore than vegetarian, while most people lie somewhere in the middle. However, he said that there is a growing number of flexitarians, those who generally engage with eating plant-based foods, but still include meat in their diet.

“They are people like me who like meat but will try a lot of alternatives,” he said. “And it might be part of my diet because generally it might be good for you. There has been an acceleration of change in terms of the products that are coming to our supermarkets in the last year. In the last six months alone it has rapid. Those different alternative proteins and foods are rapidly changing. In 12 months’ time, there will be a proliferation of those types of products in the market.”

Southeast Queensland food and grocery manufacturing generates $7.5 billion

The food and grocery manufacturing industry in South East Queensland generated more than $7.5 billion last year, a new economic snapshot has found.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said the industry is a vitally important contributor to the local economy, as shown in the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s South East Queensland Economic Snapshot 2018/2019.

“Australian manufacturing is an important part of our economy, it’s a big employer in our cities and regions, and creates innovative and valuable products and services – and this is nowhere more evident than in South East Queensland,” Minister Andrews said.

“The report shows the food and grocery manufacturing industry employed nearly 12,000 people across the region in 2018, representing 19.4 per cent of all manufacturing jobs and two per cent of total jobs in South East Queensland.

The food and grocery manufacturing industry generated $7.68 billion in 2018, representing 29.1 per cent of South East Queensland’s manufacturing output.

Andrews saw first-hand the contribution of a local success story, while attending the launch of the report at the Vege Chip Company in Currumbin on the Gold Coast.

“It was fantastic to meet with workers of this successful business, which has grown from humble market beginnings to distributing its products across Australia and overseas,” Andrews said.

“This company in my electorate is a great example of what Queensland food and beverage manufacturing businesses can achieve when they combine an innovative idea with hard work and perseverance.”

Getting the specifications right for an F&B build

For food and beverage facility owners, navigating compliance requirements when building or renovating a new building can be tough at the best of times, especially in a constantly changing regulatory environment. Bill Franks is a founding shareholder of food and beverage construction specialist Total Construction and is also member of the Australian Institute of Building. He has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years, and has some interesting insights on how some of these pitfalls can be avoided, especially for some of the smaller, up-and-coming food and beverage enterprises.

“Whereas a big multinational company has a team of people checking compliance, if you’re a mum-and-dad business, or own an industrial unit where you want to produce food for sale, you don’t have access to that kind of resource,” he said. “For starters, it’s important to understand which regulations you need to comply with. A commercial building comes under the Building Act and National Construction Code (NCC); what was known as the Building Code of Australia.”

A couple of regulations in particular, can cause issues because people don’t know some of the minute details – the fine print – that can be hidden in the regulations.

“For example, Section J (energy efficiency) of the NCC, along with essential fire services, have been catching people out for a number of years now,” said Franks. “Plus, with the ‘Access to Premises’ standard, a minor addition or alteration to a commercial building can now involve some serious upgrades to services like water, electricity and insulation just to mention a few.”

Franks adds that, while a lot of people know that buildings require fire sprinklers, there are other accessories that need to be added, too. “For example, water pressures have changed, and sprinklers now require water storage tanks and a set of pumps, which can sometimes cost around a half a million dollars.”

Then there is disability that needs to be added to the mix of potential changes some sites that are being renovated. In some cases, councils will require a lift to be installed, doorways and corridors widened and disability amenities added to satisfy current building codes.

Other considerations that need to be considered when planning to convert a brownfield site into a food and beverage facility include the noise and odour impacts. Many councils insist on obtaining noise and odour statements as part of the any submission. Although the consultant fees to produce these statements can be relatively low, the resulting adaptions to the building can be significant. In one instance a client was required to install 6.2m high exhaust flues to ensure that odours from their cooking processes were dispersed effectively and not impinge on neighbouring residential properties.

“You may say that is fair enough,” said Franks, “however, the residential properties were almost a kilometre away, yet the odour report indicated that with the right conditions the cooking odours could travel that far.”

Any new facility in the industry will need to comply with a Council’s Health Department requirements, so this means effective drainage, washing and waste disposal areas need to be well-defined to comply. Generally, to accommodate new drainage runs and wash areas in brownfield sites, a company needs to cut into the slab. Also, depending on the amount of drainage required, the existing slab could end up looking like “swiss cheese”. These drainage runs will then need to be reinstated and pinned back into the existing slab. In some instances, combining this with set down areas for any freezers, it can be cheaper to lay an entire new slab.

Apart from Council and NCC requirements, brownfield sites can also have issues with the roof weight capacity, as the majority of industrial units available are only designed to support roofing sheets and not much else. To enable the roof to support numerous services and insulated panel ceilings etcetera, the roof structure generally needs to be strengthened – sometimes dramatically.

Then there is another set of key criteria in deciding on premises to convert – power and gas availability. Again, the majority of industrial units only have access to approximately 100amps supply and no gas feed. Food and beverage facilities can require in excess of 500amps and a reliable gas supply to effectively run their operations. The time and cost associated with upgrading and installing these feeds can be exorbitant, and have caught out many proponents, causing delays in establishing operations.

So, what can you do to make sure your building ticks all the boxes? “The first thing is to establish the scope of the development, then work out where it might be non-compliant and if your budget stretches to bringing it up to standard,” said Franks. “You can find a copy of NCC online, but it can be difficult to make sense of it if you’re not a lawyer or building professional. My advice would be to get a report from a building certifier and engage an appropriate food and beverage builder to advise. By enlisting theservices of professionals, you can avoid a host of problems in the future.

“The key to ensuring you mitigate risks in your project is to involve your builder early in the process commonly known in the construction game as early contractor involvement or ECI.”

According to Franks, having a builder involved during the scoping and design stage can allow critical cost items in any build/fit out be identified and alternatives discussed.

“For instance, you may have a plan to construct a mezzanine level in your operations, this although perfect for the intended process flows can be extremely costly to construct,” he said. “Sometimes, a client cannot see the forest for the trees so to speak – they are so intrenched in their business that they only see one aspect of the project – being to increase efficiencies in their production.”

Involving a builder with process engineering capability in the food and beverage industry, such as Total Construction, can allow a different set of eyes to see the requirements and suggest alternatives to the building layout that just don’t reduce the need for costly building works, but can improve the process flow overall.

How ECI works to develop an achievable budget.
First, a site investigation is carried out by the builder on the existing and proposed facilities to detail and identify all services required and what is available at the new site (power, gas capacities). It is important to note that to increase power or gas supply to a site can be very costly to the project and create delays. Another area that needs consideration in the case of an existing building to be fitted out is the structure’s integrity. Having to strengthen this to cope with the additional weight of fit out and services can often blow out project costs.
Then a workshop is carried out with all stakeholders to identify required efficiencies, confirm proposed outputs and flag any potential limitations. As part of this workshop, all production processes are mapped and detailed for both the existing and proposed operations.

A list is made of the capacities and dimensions of all equipment both existing and new is developed. This helps to identify all utilities and services that are required. It also sets the benchmark for power and gas requirements at the proposed site.

This process helps identify potential bottle necks in current processes and helps highlight any potential hygiene requirements in the new fit out. Getting all this data captured is critical in maximising efficiencies of the new facility.

A review of the buildability of the facility is done and sketch design layouts are completed to optimise process flows to best fit the client’s objectives. A building/fit out SWAT analysis is carried out and build/fit-out costs are derived. Through close consultation between the builder and client, this process allows savings to be identified early on in the design and layout of the facility.

A detailed design including all services and requirements is then developed and put to the market for live market costing. This will give the client a firm understanding of what they can get for their dollar.

Finally, this is where working to a budget comes in – once the ideal building and fit out costs are established it is possible to derive further reductions in the overall project spend through rationalising the design. This includes, but is not limited to, reducing the number and sizes of rooms, freezer/cool room capacities and locations, and finishes in the design. This can be done while keeping future expansion capability intact in the design and maintain the client’s required production output for the new facility.

Mars’ Heague returns home to take up GM role

Mars Incorporated has appointed a new general manager, Bill Heague, to lead Mars Food Australia.

Heague originally joined the Mars company in 2008 as sales manager for Mars Food Australia, the manufacturer of food brands such as Masterfoods, Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Kantong, Promite and Seeds of Change.

Following a successful five-year stint with Mars Food in Australia, delivering continuous growth and gains in market share, Heague relocated to Europe to take up the role of Market Director, Multisales, for Mars in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In this role, which was part of the newly formed Central Europe cluster, he played a central part in the transformation of the cluster and the integration of Wrigley into the Multisales business.

READ MORE: A chance to show off the latest and greatest in baking

Heague has managed Mars’ Irish Multisales business since 2018 in a challenging business environment which included managing the uncertainties generated by Brexit.

Heague said he is thrilled to be returning home to Sydney and taking up his new role with Mars Food Australia.

“I’m a foodie at heart and very excited about the major advances and significant challenges we are seeing in the food industry, both in Australia and around the world, and the innovation that our business can bring to the table,” Heague said.

“I’m a firm believer that dinner time matters, and we know that finding opportunities to cook and share meals with family and friends is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It’s the foundation of our business, side by side with providing healthy, easy, affordable and tasty meal options.”

Heague will take up the new role from today, 1 November 2019, and is currently in the process of relocating back to Australia. He will be working out of Mars Food Australia’s head office and manufacturing plant at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, and its satellite North Sydney office, from 13 November 2019.

Exploding meat and other new food technologies

There is a range of new technologies that are set to take the food and beverage industry by storm. We list what we believe will be the next big five technologies that will change the way food and bev does business.

Shockwave Technology
Being developed by Australia’s own CSIRO, shockwave technology is at proof-of-concept stage. The idea of shockwave technology for meat applications first came around in 1997 when scientists decided to put pre-packaged meat under water and detonate explosives to see if they could tenderise meat.
Shockwave technology is where high pressures are applied for a short time – micro seconds – to meat. In previous studies, 100gms of explosives, placed underwater, were used to tenderise meat. Scientists thought, ‘this is great, but how can we commercialise something with explosives?’
In 2001, dielectric discharge came into being, which helped recreate the shockwave. The technology uses two electrodes to generate a similar effect to the explosives. The scientists put voltage through the electrodes and the resulting arc causes very high pressure under water.
The CSIRO thinks it might cause tissue disintegration, which can accelerate the tenderisation of meat.
When it comes to modelling and pressure, scientists aimed to understand shockwave distribution in the treatment chamber and to identify the area of maximum impact. There was a tenderisation effect that was measured objectively using a Warner Bratzler shear test, where the peak force required to cut through treated meat samples is recorded. The CSIRO is now working towards optimising this effect.

Lab-Grown Meat
VOW in Sydney and Brisbane-based Heuros are two Australian companies who are delving into the lab-grown meat space. Using stem cells from animals, the two Australian firms join a growing number of enterprises around the world that are looking to make meat-based protein without using abattoirs. While progress has been relatively quick, none of the companies have been able to make lab-grown meat a commercial reality due to the costs of producing it. Apparently the growing of the meat is not an issue, but scaling up production is. However, once that issue is solved, the next one will be trying to persuade consumers how ‘natural’ the meat’s taste and texture can be. Watch this space.

Compostable Packaging
Not to be confused with its biodegradable cousin, compostable packaging is being worked on by an array of companies in the food and beverage space. The winner of this year’s Packaging Innovation category at the Food & Beverage Industry Awards was PA Packaging Solutions’ home compostable packaging that breaks down completely after 26 weeks in a home compost bin. The issue with biodegradable claims is that all items can wear that label, after all, every product is biodegradable – it’s just a matter of how long it takes; 1 year or a 1000. Compostable packaging is aiming to target the greenie in all of us. There are a couple of issues, one being the bigger a piece of compostable packaging becomes, the more compromised it is – ie, it has issues holding the weight of the contents.

Personalised Food
Not only is technology processing our food and drink faster, and getting it to market quicker, it will soon be able to customise individual food needs of consumers. In an era where allergies and intolerance to certain ingredients are growing, there will soon be a demand for foods that meet the requirements of individuals within a family as opposed to the whole family group. It will be a challenging prospect but already companies like Sunbasket and Platejoy are tapping into the healthy/organic arena with their offerings.

Data mining
Not strictly food and beverage-only related, but something that will be happening more as the world becomes more and more digitally connected. Whether it is a local café, or a multi-national food outlet like Starbucks or McDonalds, data is currency. AI will be the key driver as food manufacturers and the outlets they sell to try and find out more about the consumers of their products. Is the Venti big in Sydney’s western suburbs, or is it the Trenta? Where are most Big Mac’s consumed? Perth or Adelaide.

And while some may think that it has a feel of Big Brother about it, there is also an upside. It should lead to less food waste and packaging as certain sectors of the community can be targeted and their specific needs met without oversupplying a particular outlet.

 

Why Aussies need to eat more vegetables

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Yet, less than four per cent of Australians consume the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.

What can we do to change this? Inspiring and empowering healthy eating for all Australians is the mission of Nutrition Australia, Australia’s peak nutritional body. One of their annual initiatives is Tryfor5, an awareness campaign run during National Nutrition Week (13 – 19 October) encouraging Australians to increase their vegetable consumption, with this year’s theme “Embrace Your Veg Waste” which supports Australians to consume five serves of vegetables each day by learning to embrace their food waste.

According to Nutrition Australia’s CEO Lucinda Hancock the Tryfor5 campaign reinforces the healthy eating message. “Australians aren’t eating enough vegetables and are throwing away large amounts of edible food waste and so we’re calling on everyone to rise to the challenge and Embrace their veg waste”

READ MORE: Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

More than one third of rubbish bins in Australian kitchens contain leftovers and wasted food, which equates to nearly $4000 worth of groceries per household per year that can end up in landfill, where food breaks down and can emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Nutrition Australia senior dietitian, Amber Kelaart says there are a few ways we can try for 5 serves of vegetables a day, while helping to save money and the environment, by embracing vegetable ‘waste’:

  • Eat more parts of vegetables such as skins, stalks and leaves.
  • Use up ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin
  • Choose ‘ugly’ and ‘imperfect’ vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. They’re just as nutritious, and often cheaper.

“Eating your ageing vegetables and eating the parts you usually throw out (like skins, stalks and leaves), makes every dollar stretch further, and reduces your household’s impact on climate change. It’s win-win.”

Kelaart says to start by using more parts of the vegetables you already have on hand. “Vegetable skins contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. Rinsing vegetables like carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, instead of peeling them, means you keep more of those important nutrients in your body and out of the bin.”

“And don’t throw out things like broccoli stems or the leaves of leeks. You can chop the broccoli stems and use it in a stir-fry or soup. And chips, tart and stock made from the leaves of leek will add a unique new ingredient to your repertoire.”

If your vegetables are getting a little wrinkly, having some go to recipes up your sleeve will help you use up your ageing vegetables.

“Give your ageing vegetables a second life by adding them to vegetable soups, egg frittatas or savoury muffins. Just add a few handfuls of chopped left-over vegetables to create delicious and colourful new meals or snacks. Plus they freeze well and can be added to the kids’ lunchbox or taken to work.”

Nutrition Australia also recommends learning how to store different types of vegetables, so they stay fresh for as long as possible.

“If you have bought a lot of something but only need a little, think about preparing the extra vegetables in a way that you can use in future. For example, chop up extra celery and carrots for snacks. And freeze herbs while they’re fresh so you can trim some off each time you need more,” Amber suggests.

Bayer is the founding sponsor of the Tryfor5 Program and is committed to actively supporting the health and wellbeing of all Australians through programs that improve health literacy.

“Working in partnership with Nutrition Australia we are dedicated to improving health outcomes through increased awareness of nutritional and everyday health needs.  The Tryfor5 campaign provides practical information and tips on nutritional requirements to support positive self-care practices.” Jeorg Ellmanns, CEO Bayer Australia and New Zealand.

AIP heads to Perth with National Packaging Targets initiative

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is heading over to Perth on the 29th and 30th of October to run our ‘Tools to Help you Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP & ARL training course + Cleanaway Materials Recovery Facility Site Visit’ and participate in the ‘WA food and beverage packaging forum’ being held on Wednesday the 30th of October.

Event 1. AIP Training Course | Tools to Help You Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP & ARL – 29 October 2019

Overview of course:

  • Is your business doing enough to ensure that 100% of your packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025?
  • Have you audited your current packaging for recyclability?
  • Have you started using the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) during your design process?
  • Are you looking for a way to validate your on-pack recyclability labelling?
  • If a consumer picked up your product, would they easily understand which bin to put it in?
  • Are you shifting your packaging design to incorporate the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL)?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then this training course is for you.

Course Objectives:

This training course will enable participants to gain a better understanding of how using PREP and applying the ARL can help your business to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. The course will also enable participants to have a better and more realistic view of what packaging is truly recyclable and being recycled in Australia. Understanding these tools will enable agencies and marketers to provide verifiable and consistent recyclability information to their consumers.

Limited spots available so don’t miss out! Click here to register.

Event 2. WA Food & Beverage Packaging Forum: 30 October 2019

Presented by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in partnership with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST), this forum will bring you up to speed with the latest in packaging design to impact sustainability, food safety and shelf life extension. With an expo showcasing local packaging suppliers, attendees will be given the opportunity to bring their own packaging and book in a brief 1:1 consultation session with a packaging expert. Consultation places are limited and bookings are essential.

Secure your place and attend presentations on:

  • Global Packaging Trends
  • Packaging Design & Consumer Insights
  • Sustainable Packaging, E.g. Food waste and packaging design criteria to save food; Plastic, glass and metal packaging and their impact on the environment; Understanding the full life cycle of packaging: Non-renewable resources, plant-based bioplastics, compostable and recycled alternatives; Reusable packaging and related food safety; Sustainable packaging design; Recycling in Western Australia.
  • Food Safety & Shelf Life Extension, E.g. Food safety; Shelf life and design elements; Current technologies for shelf life extension; Selecting the right label to suit the package.

AIP Members receive a discount to attend. Click here to register.

OzHarvest targets food waste on World Food Day

Today, on World Food Day, OzHarvest will show Aussies that tackling climate change, starts with your plate!  The social media campaign #countmein aims to inspire individual action and show thatmaking small changes to your own food waste is one of the few personal habits that can actually help restore the planet.

Food waste is often over looked in the climate change debate, but is in fact a major contributor responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gases (more than the aviation sector!) as food left to rot in landfill produces methane—a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Figures recently released from the Federal Government’s National Business Report  reveal Australia is wasting over 7 million tonnes of food each year, which equates to 298kg of food per person,making Australia the world’s fourth highest food waster per capita.

READ MORE: OzHarvest app designed to help fight hunger

OzHarvest Founder and CEO, Ronni Kahn AO says people are experiencing ‘eco-anxiety’ as most feel helpless in the battle to protect the planet, but reducing food waste is where we can all make a difference every day.

“The amount of food we waste is hard to visualise as once it goes in the bin it’s out of sight and out of mind, which leads us to think we don’t actually waste that much. 298 kg per person is a staggering amount – the same weight as six adult kangaroos. Urgent action is needed if we are to achieve the national target to halve food waste by 2030.”

“Cutting back on our individual food waste is the single most powerful way we can take direct action against climate change. It’s an easy win, both for your pocket and the planet. So from today, we’ll be asking people to #countmein and share what small changes they will make to reduce their food waste,” said Ronni.

Reducing food waste is ranked as the third most effective solution to reducing global warming by scientists at Project Drawdown. Taking action today could prevent 70 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere in the next 30 years and is one of the most effective ways for individuals to protect our partnership with the planet.

To see what small changes you can make, complete the quiz and share the campaign go to www.fightfoodwaste.org

Why St.George funds food and beverage enterprises

With interest rates at an all-time low – and some industry pundits stating they might go lower – the opportunities for growth, especially for an industry like food and beverage, are enormous.

Mark Burgess is the experienced and affable relationship director – consumer goods leader at St.George Bank. His portfolio of customers are in the food and beverage arena and he sees solid opportunities within the industry over the next 12-18 months. It is one of the bank’s growth sectors, mainly propelled by the domestic and global demand for quality Australian produce. He’s also a good gauge of what other factors are propelling the market at the moment, and Burgess cites new technologies and food trends as being market drivers.

At a recent St.George Signature Food Event, Burgess talked of not only how the food and beverage sectors are looking healthy, but how the role of banks has changed over the past decade.

“I think within the last few years – the banks have shifted away from being what I would call ‘order takers’ – like at McDonald’s – to that of being more trusted business advisors. That is one of the reasons St.George moved to an industry model four years ago because we wanted to have industry experts to not just be there to take orders from customers, but also have insightful discussions with them about their industry as well as their growth plans and where they see themselves going. Then talking to them about how we can support them to grow and prosper. It’s really about that. It is one of the reasons I joined the bank.”

READ MORE: How a 1960s cartoon predicted the future of food

Having been a director at Ernst and Young and a senior corporate advisor, Burgess likes helping businesses grow. It’s another reason he likes the food and beverage industry.
“While we are seeing growth with our customers who are the larger players in the market, as a bank we also focus on family businesses and the middle marketplace, too,” he said.

Why? Burgess sees them as lean, hungry and leading the charge when it comes to some of the newer market sectors within food and beverage.

“Those companies are really nimble, and quite dynamic and they are looking at new areas that they can diversity in,” he said. “For example, a lot of my customers look to supply Coles and Woolworths, and it is those customers who are leading the charge in the healthy alternatives market. Then there is a push for the vegan movement, as well as alternative substitutes for meats and other core products.

“Some of those businesses are ahead of the curve and have a huge focus on innovation within their organisations. I’ve got one customer who is a traditional meat supplier and they are now getting into non-meat products.”

Although Burgess is excited about the market and where it is headed, this doesn’t mean the bank has a laissez-faire attitude towards doing business. There are still systems that have to be followed. A large portion of food and beverage businesses involve the manufacture of perishable items, not exactly great assets to put in the ledger when talking to your bank.

So what does a company have to do with regard to getting a loan if they need to recapitalise, or more often than not, expand their business?

“If we’re doing cash flow lending as opposed to bricks and mortar property lending in the food space, we look at your working capital cycle. We are relying on your debtor book to fund your business,” he said. “We look at the strength of your relationships and what your terms are like with those debtors. We then look at how efficient your supply chain is. It’s also about the experience of the management of the company, too.”

And how does the bank find the attitude of the big players like Woolworths and Coles when it comes to helping out not just those who are regular brands on their shelves, but those new to the market? Burgess works closely with them and said they are very supportive of entrepreneurs because they want to see new products on their shelves.

“They want to get onboard because an entrepreneur could produce a new product that might fly off the shelves, and that product might also be a reason why consumers go to a Woolworths store instead of Coles or vice versa,” he said.

New technologies are also a driver for the industry, and Burgess and his team are seeing those innovations first-hand from their customers.

“I was talking with a customer today who specialises in ready-made meals, and he has
been flat out,” said Burgess. “His product had a shelf life of three to four days, but because a packaging specialist brought out a new technology, his product now has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Something as simple as that has made a huge impact on his business in terms of wastage and time savings from deliveries.”

Burgess loves the industry, not just because he’s a foodie, but because it is dynamic, ever changing. He is very excited about the future of banking in the sector, and the industry itself.

“The thing I love about this role is that it is all about seeing the customers grow and prosper and supporting them in their growth plans,” he said. “Given my corporate advisory background, I can provide meaningful insights around business strategy and direction. The food and beverage space is a rapidly changing environment and it’s exciting.”

How a 1960s cartoon predicted the future of food

Sharon Natoli loves food. Which is just as well when she makes her living as an author and speaker specialising in the food and beverage industry.

At a recent event held by St.George Bank at urban farm, Cultivate, which is based in the Sydney CBD, Natoli spoke about the future of food and some of the challenges processors, retailers and manufacturers face.

Her first point was that the future – in general – is coming faster and faster. The Human Knowledge Curve has shown that in 1900 humanity’s knowledge was doubling every 100 years. In 1945, the rate was doubling every 25 years. By 1982 it was down to approximately one year. Today, it is estimated that what humans know is doubling every day, while deep learning platform IBM Watson predicts that our knowledge will double every 12 hours by 2020. What is driving this alarming rate of change?

“It is around data collection,” said Natoli. “The fact is that every day that we use our laptop, our phone, we buy things, and we click purchase things online. We use our credit cards, that’s data that is being collected all the time. Wearables, sensors – so much technology around us, and so much data to collect. The key is keeping up with the rate of knowledge that is happening in terms at which it is doubling.”

READ MORE: Federal funding announced for aquaculture development in Northern Australia

And with all these changes starting to occur, it is important that food and beverage businesses don’t get caught ‘sheep walking’ – a term that Natoli said is similar to sleep walking, except people are wandering around with their eyes open.

“We have our eyes open and we are conscious, but it is hard to see the future coming at us because we are surrounded by the status quo,” she said. “If we get caught sheep walking, then it is harder for us to innovate and keep up.”

She gives the example of French yoghurt manufacturer Yoplait, who up until 2015 was the number one brand in the United States. Over a few years it lost 33 per cent of its market share, with 23 per cent of that coming within one year. The equated to about $500 million in revenue. What happened? A rival read the future.

“Chobani came along with a better tasting yoghurt, a lower sugar yoghurt – the kind of things consumers were looking for at that time, and so they took a large chunk of that market share away.”

However, one topic that Natoli covered could have consequences for food processors – 3D printing. Back in the 1960s the cartoon television series The Jetsons had the Foodarackacycle, a device that, with the press of a button, would produce food for the family. Fifty years later, similar technology is coming to fruition with the Foodini.

“Foodini is a 3D printer that enables us to serve food, freshly printed,” said Natoli. “It is a smart kitchen appliance using 3D printing technology that enables us to personalise our food. Not only the amount, but a personalised nutritional profile of the food, and we can personalise the way that it looks.

“It is also attractive to health-conscious people because it puts food production in the hands of the consumer. You can print things like crackers, wraps and pizza bases – some of the things you would usually buy prepared from the supermarket.”

With the future fast approaching, it would be easy to put your head in the sand and say “it’s all too much”, especially as Natoli has already stated, our knowledge is almost doubling every day. However, she also said there are three “plates that need spinning” if the food and beverage manufacturers are going to keep ahead of the knowledge curve. They are: what do you need to keep? What are things that these companies need to keep up with? What do they want to create?

When she talks about what companies need to keep, it is more about their legacy, their history – it is about a company’s culture, both past, present and looking to the future.
Probably the most important of the three “spinning plates”, is keeping up with trends, something that could be argued Yoplait failed to do when it lost its market share in the US. There are lots of trends and different businesses need to keep up with them, said Natoli. She said there are three areas of macro trends that will be relevant to the food and beverage industry.

“The first is this rising rebellion,” she said. “What we are finding is that we have the means and the motivation more than ever to stand up for the things we believe in. We are seeing a power shift from organisations and institutions through to individuals. And this is being shown a Colmar Brunton’s Millennium Monitor. What they monitor is Australia’s changing social sentiment. What they have found, is we are moving from an era of conformity where we had trust in institutions and organisations, through to this rebellious era. What we are valuing is empowerment and individual responsibility and taking on change ourselves.”
This is leading some food and beverage brands to adopt a rebellious approach, such as the likes of Soul Fresh, which owns the brand The Milk Thief.

“They’re saying, ‘we’re a movement, not a corporation’. They are saying they are a disruptor of the status quo versus doing what we’ve always done,” said Natoli. “They’re focussed on creating healthier and better foods for consumers instead of focussing on delivering foods and beverages at the lowest cost possible.”

The second macro trend is the idea of getting more from less. This is around the intersection between disquiet about the state of the environment, combined with consumers concern about their personal health. It’s about growing things with less impact on the environment but also being healthy. She cites the example of Mike Lee from US-based Alpha Food Labs, who is looking at the biodiversity of the supermarket shelf. Natoli said he has flipped things on its head. Usually, when it comes to new product ideas, it is marketing or product development people who come up with new concepts and go out and tell the farmers, or the suppliers, to grow this or produce that.

“What Alpha Labs is doing is turning that around and going out to the farmers and saying, ‘what are you growing? What is good for the soil? What is in season?’ and then the company takes that and makes a product from it. It is the opposite of what we would usually do from a food production perspective,” she said. “They want people to see that these products are not just made from wheat, rice and oats, but they are made from things like lentils, fava beans and moringa powder, millet – all kinds of different grains and that is a way to introduce biodiversity into the food chain.”

The final part in the macro trend equation is the expectations that people have when it comes to what they are consuming. Natoli said they have high expectations of food producers as well as high expectations from their food.

“This is where transparency and knowing where your food comes from – who made it, what’s in it – comes in,” she said. “Also the use of technology in terms of things like augmented reality, where you can scan a barcode of a product and find out the story behind it. Also around health and wellbeing and how we can really improve it through what we eat.

“Companies like Habitoir, which is a US company that takes some of the insights around genetic testing, and develops personalised nutrition plans that meet peoples’ expectations around how food can deliver better health to them.”

Natoli also believes that even though there is a lot of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality creeping into the food processing and manufacturing space, there is still room for human interaction. Some companies even make it part of their marketing plan.

“Harris Farm, they often put themselves forward – like one of the brothers Tristan Harris – as commentators,” she said. “They put a face to the brand. It gives it that human element.”
And getting back to her point about the rebellious disruption going on, The Havas Media Group recently completed a survey that involved 300,000 consumer and 1,500 brands across 33 countries. What it found was that brands that are more meaningful outperform the stock market by double over a 10-year period. Being meaningful meant contributing to the collective well-being of society.

“Overall the future is coming at us quite rapidly and we don’t want to get caught sheep walking. We have to be really future ready. If we can spin those three plates together at the same time, then that is going to help us navigate in this decade of disruption. Many a false move was made by standing still, so whatever you do, just don’t stand still.

“It is really great for food businesses to have the opportunity to come together, to network, and connect, particularly over a meal. To create those social connections over food and to share their ideas and learnings.

“I think the way of the future is really about collaboration and so an event like this that St.George has put on is really beneficial for helping to do that.”

Seven things you should know when exporting to China

According to Dr Mathew McDougall, CEO of Reach China and revered expert in doing business with China, Australia’s trade relationship with China is growing by the day and it includes large scale exports of resources through to everyday items which small and medium size Aussie businesses are ideally placed to provide.

“China represents a huge opportunity for Aussie SMEs,” McDougall said. “We import over $62 billion worth of goods from China and export over $93 billion dollars worth of goods and services to China.

“China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people and their middle class is growing. They are also avid online shoppers and eager to purchase premium quality brands. They also seek out authentic Australian brands as our products are considered high quality, clean, green and produced in highly regulated environments. Our soils, air and water are seen as pure.

READ MORE: Why the Australian food industry needs Alibaba

“The key areas of export opportunity for Aussie food and beverage small businesses include:

  • Maternity, baby care products and baby food
  • Milk powders (including infant formula and adult milk powder), UHT and pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter
  • Seafood (particularly saltwater shell fish such as oysters, crabs, lobster and abalone)
  • Fresh fruits (citrus, table grapes, cherries and mangoes) and natural fruit juice
  • Oats and other breakfast cereals
  • Chilled, frozen beef and processed foods
  • Wine and craft beer

McDougall suggests that while the idea of exporting to China may seem daunting, many Australian businesses, from mum and dad operations to larger companies have commenced the journey of exporting to China with great success.

“It is really a matter of preparing well and taking the right steps,” Dr McDougall said. He has put together seven key steps Australian businesses should follow if they want to export to China.

  1. Work with an experienced export consultant to help you in your journey. A good export consultant will assist you to work through all steps of the process
    This is essential to ensure you are making the right decisions and doing the right things. This avoids putting money in the wrong places and minimising mistakes.
  2. Ensure your product is suitable for the Chinese market and that there is a demand for your product.
    While this may seem straight forward, China is a big country with different markets. Be clear about what part of the market you are targeting and the potential for sales and growth. The more unique and high quality, the more appealing the product will be.
  3. Get to know Chinese culture
    Get to know the market to which you are seeking to export. Find out what products are doing well and why. Understand their social media platforms such as WeChat and how they engage and shop. A little research goes a long way.
  4. Grow awareness of your products in the Australian market first to build brand credibility and trust in China
    Chinese consumers buy brands based on reputation, trust and credibility. If your brand is known in Australia and has a good reputation, then the Chinese are more likely to buy your product in or from China.
  5. Build a sound online presence through a good website and social media
    Chinese consumers are very internet savvy and research products before they buy. They also rely on reviews. Having a strong online presence ensures your brand is well represented and and findable on the internet.
  6. IP and branding
    Protecting your IP is important, not only in Australia but overseas. Ensure your products are clearly branded and IP registered in Australia and that the branding has no conflicts with any existing brands known or registered in China.
  7. Be patient, flexible and scalable
    Many businesses have achieved explosive growth exporting to China, while others have found the journey a bit more slow going. Regardless, it is important to ensure that you are taking the right steps and are prepared for growth when it happens.  Sometimes strategies and tactics need to be adjusted and this is normal, the key is to be patient and committed – and be ready when things do shift quickly.

“I have helped many Australian startups and larger businesses export into China. With many, we have drawn on the Australian based Daigou sector to get the export process underway,” McDougall said.

“Daigou are Australian based Chinese who buy products and send them back to their friends, relatives and others in China. There are over 80,000 Daigou in Australia and the Daigou trade channel is growing fast helping many Australian brands to build awareness among consumers in China.

“Regardless of the strategy, the key is to ensure you have a good product to sell There are many Australian businesses with good products that are ideal for export. Hopefully we see more making the move to export. It can be a life-changing experience.”

Consumer demand expected to boost cheddar cheese market

There has been a shift in consumer preferences towards various types of nutrient and protein-rich foods that also promise healthy substitutes to everyday consumable products. Cheddar cheese is a multipurpose food product that has been used in the food industry in numerous applications.

The availability of cheddar cheese in the bakery sector and food product companies are increasing as a basic ingredient in most of the food preparations requiring cheese. This has boosted the demand for cheddar cheese in the global market. Increasing consumption of cheese in various types of cuisines is also anticipated to boost the overall production of cheddar cheese in the food industry.

Cheddar cheese is increasingly being preferred over natural cheese in several bakery and snack preparations. This has also led to increased consumption and hence production in the global market. Furthermore, growing consumer demand for cheese-based breakfast products is also expected to lead to a rise in the utilization of cheddar cheese in different breakfast products.

Study found that cheddar cheese fanatics are always experimenting with food and manufacturers are coming up with new varieties of food items. Moreover, the trend of fine gourmet, cuisine and luxury culinary items has inspired manufacturers to innovate their products in order to cater to the taste preferences of consumers. As a result, the development of block cheddar cheese is expected to trigger a mass demand for cheddar cheese especially in hotels, restaurants, and cafes. A growth in the demand for gourmet and artisanal cheese products is a key factor which is likely to boost the cheddar cheese market in the long run. The expansion of online and retail outlets resulting in the easy obtainability of cheddar cheese is anticipated to create lucrative opportunities for manufacturers in the coming years.

READ MORE: Global dairy commodity update

Europe and North America markets are moving towards a saturation point, so manufacturers of cheddar cheese are looking for regions that will present them with versatile opportunities in the future. The growing cheddar cheese market in Latin America will open a plethora of opportunities for market players to capitalize on. Europe is the largest consumer of cheese in the world. Several varieties of cheese are available in the region and the application of cheddar cheese is also widespread in the food industry in Europe.

Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ) is the third largest consumer of cheddar cheese and related products in the world. With the growing acceptance of western culture in the region, the food habits and taste preferences of people are also increasing at an extensive rate. In spite of the growing disposable income of people in the region, consumers still look for inexpensive food options. As a result, the demand for cheddar cheese is increasing in several countries in APEJ.

The study also found that Japan is slowly emerging as one of the lucrative markets for cheddar cheese with the trend of mild snacking increasing in the region. Moreover, with the trend of drinking gaining traction in Japan, having light snacks especially cheddar cheese has increased considerably as a home trend. Middle East and Africa is anticipated to present manufacturers of cheddar cheese with new and lucrative growth prospects. As the governments in these regions are looking forward to generate revenue from other sources apart from oil reserves, a variety of industries are emerging as highly profitable options. For instance, in September 2019, Arla Foods a Scandinavian dairy products company will scale up its commitment to develop a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria.

This study underlines key opportunities in the cheddar cheese market and finds that the market would exhibit growth at a value CAGR of – 3 per cent during the forecast period.

Nestlé expands plant-based burger range

Nestlé is expanding its plant-based food range in the US and Switzerland.

The launches come just days after Nestlé announced its ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including by offering more plant-based food and beverages.

In both countries, Nestlé is launching plant-based burgers and grounds, with ingredients and recipes customised to meet local tastes. All the products look and cook like raw beef and provide a juicy, meat-like taste and texture.

In the United States, Sweet Earth Foods has announced the launch of their newest products, the Awesome Burger and Awesome Grounds. Both deliver on the taste and texture of beef with the environmental and nutritional benefits offered by plant-based proteins.

READ MORE: Plant-based protein worth $25 billion by 2030

The Awesome Burger is made with yellow pea protein, resulting in a burger that is high in protein and fiber. Sweet Earth’s Awesome Grounds will provide the same plant-based protein in a ground version that allows greater flexibility to cook various meals and sides, such as meatballs and tacos. Acquired by Nestlé in 2017, Sweet Earth has over 60 plant-based products in their portfolio.

In Switzerland, Nestlé is introducing its Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger and the new Garden Gourmet Incredible Mince. The two add to the already expanding Garden Gourmet range in Switzerland, which also includes many ‘veggie-centric’ options. The burger is made from soy and wheat protein and the mince from soy protein. Both contain natural plant extracts – beetroot, carrot, and bell pepper – and vegetable fats including chopped coconut oil.

The new Garden Gourmet Incredible Mince is just as versatile and juicy as ground beef. It is easily shapeable, making it perfect to create balls or skewers that can be seasoned to taste. It can also be crumbled up in a pan, for example to make a delicious Bolognese sauce or ‘Chili Sin Carne’.

Bringing back the flavour

Store brought tomatoes can be bland. Recently scientists have discovered that it is because domesticated tomatoes are missing over 5,000 genomes compared to their wilder cousins, including the one that gives them their distinctive taste. Thanks to this research, store bought tomatoes may soon regain their flavour. This is not limited to tomatoes; many different products have lost unique properties over the years are now beginning to bring them back.

Tomatoes are an integral part of many recipes from pasta sauce, to shakshuka to the humble BLT. Giving them back their flavor will increase consumer satisfaction in products containing them, but how did we get to this place to begin with?

Over humanity’s 12,000 years as an agricultural society, farmers have selected certain strains of fruits and vegetables that demonstrated particular qualities — specifically fruit size, shelf-life and growth speed. This selective production has meant that certain qualities were encouraged while others were suppressed.

Due to the primitive nature of the science at the time it was also hard to fully understand the effects this would have. In the case of tomatoes, it made them bigger, last longer and grow faster but in return they lost the iconic flavor that made them so popular. Though we may imagine this happened recently it was during the earlier years of our modern era circa 1800, well before the advent of modern GMO’s, that tomatoes started to lose their flavor.

With modern techniques researchers were able to find the gene central to providing flavour to the fruit. Thanks to this development producers are now looking to re-introduce this forgotten flavour gene back into mainstream tomatoes. It is important to note that it was through a modern approach that this was achieved.

Many may believe that a rejection of modern applications means we can return to a more flavourful sustainable time, but this is far from the truth. Not only would rejecting modern methods be a step backwards in production, it would generate more waste and reduce sustainability. Control methods in modern applications and developments are a much more secure path for creating sustainable production methods.

Modern technology also allows food manufacturers to have more of an impact on the flavour of their foods. From keeping produce fresher for longer to making sure that precise amounts of ingredients are mixed while making a product these technologies allow for precise production of quality goods.

For example, smoking houses imbue smoky flavours into cured meats. However, good control is necessary to ensure that the meat receives an even cover of smoke during the process, or the product may end up with an uneven flavour. These steps may have been previously irregularly carried out due to the unbalance smoke distribution or lack of precision in the required timing to impart smoke flavour.

Technology such as manufacturing operations management (MOM) software allows for detailed control over a large production system. In the case of a smoking house it is able to balance fan motors to give the meat an even balance of smoke while also optimising power usage and timings.

With one in place a plant can achieve the production rate necessary to keep up with current demand while providing high levels of control that reduces waste. This is because the system will also be able to track the health of the plant and allow operation managers to take better predictive or preventative measures to lower waste.

MOM software also helps manufacturers become more agile, meaning that production lines can integrate steps that may have been in the traditional recipe but were removed, at the beginning of industrial production, due to being hard to integrate into an automated process.

These modern tools mean that we can actively bring back forgotten flavours without discarding the benefits of modern production methods and while remaining sustainable, allowing us to enjoy the best of both worlds.