Packaged food and soft drink consumption to increase

The world buys 1.5 trillion calories a day, with the average global consumer purchasing 765 calories each day through packaged food and soft drinks, according to new research.

Market Research Company Euromonitor International released new research examining the total amount of nutrients purchased per-person per day through packaged food and soft drinks products. 

The research found countries in North America and Western Europe purchase over 1500 calories, with India at 150 calories per day and China at 510, respectively.

“Despite over 40 percent of the global population being overweight and obese, our nutrition data shows that by 2019 the world will purchase 90 calories more a day,” says Lauren Bandy, nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International.

“This analysis helps address rising concerns surrounding nutritional value in food while building a picture of what people eat in different countries.”

Mexico buys the most calories a day with 1928 calories per person, which is 380 calories more than the US. The additional 380 calories is the equivalent of an extra slice of pizza per person every day in Mexico. Germany buys nearly twice as much fat per capita per day than Japan, and France purchases more calories from bread each day than India does from packaged food and soft drinks combined.

“Understanding how packaged food and soft drink brands contribute to the total purchase of nutrients by category and country helps address the rising concern of nutritional value in food,” Bandy said.

The data, available in Euromonitor’s Passport: Nutrition database depicts a brands contribution to the purchase of nutritional content around the world, identifying the contents of the world’s diet and the impact each nutrient, such as salt, has on our diets. The data allows companies and governments to understand consumers taste and food preferences around the world.


Cake and Pastry Manufacturing to focus on new products: IBISWorld

IBISWorld predicts the Cake and Pastry Manufacturing industry will focus on specialised, higher margin products, over the five years through 2019-20.

According to the IBISWorld report, changing consumer trends, volatile commodity prices and a saturated market have characterised the Cake and Pastry Manufacturing industry in Australia. Rising input prices and intensifying external competitive pressures have posed some serious challenges to the industry over the past five years. For example, supermarkets have extended their private-label offerings as part of their ongoing push into the fresh food market. In addition, the move towards artisanal and gourmet foods has increased competition from retail bakeries, which have posed a threat to branded manufacturers in other parts of the baked goods sector.

According to IBISWorld industry analyst Arna Richardson, “in response to these challenges and sweeping changes in consumption needs and preferences, industry operators have relied on innovation and new products to stimulate demand in an otherwise stagnant market.”

Over the past five years, industry operators have promoted a widening range of products on the basis of health, wellbeing and convenience. Despite these measures, industry revenue is expected to contract at an annualised 1.3 percent over the five years through 2014-15, as heightened competitive pressures and restrained household disposable expenditure have taken a toll on the industry.

Over the five years through 2019-20, the industry will slowly evolve in line with its changing operating environment. New products, including lower sugar, low-fat and gluten-free alternatives and those containing added functional ingredients, will continue to be rolled out as the industry focuses on specialised, higher margin products. In view of intensifying competitive forces in traditional distribution channels, including the grocery channel, “the industry is expected to increasingly focus on food-service providers and convenience stores as preferred channels for purchases of pies and cakes,” said Richardson.

The Cake and Pastry Manufacturing industry is characterised by a low level of concentration, reflecting the existence of a large number of small and medium operators. This is despite the existence of some larger manufacturers with global connections including George Weston and Sara Lee. Concentration also varies between product segments. The cake segment tends to be less concentrated, as numerous niche players exist and production tends to be labour-intensive. Pies, however, command higher brand and customer loyalty and are therefore more concentrated, with the major players competing for market share.

Typically, the industry's larger firms tend to specialise in mainstream products, targeting the low to mid-price range of the final market. Smaller firms tend to concentrate on specialty products requiring short production runs and lower volumes. Despite the presence of smaller firms, manufacturing is moving toward larger scale, concentrated production.

This industry consists of companies engaged in the manufacturing of cakes, pastries and similar bakery products (including frozen products) from either a factory-based premises or home. It does not include those companies that produce and sell their products direct to consumers on the same premises, such as retail bakeries and supermarket instore bakeries.


Caffeine linked to increased soft drink consumption

Calls for tighter regulation of caffeine in soft drinks have been prompted by research from Deakin University that found that caffeine increases the consumption of soft drinks.

In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers measured the influence caffeine had on the consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks. They found that people drinking caffeinated drinks consumed much more than those who drank the non-caffeinated equivalents.

“This research supports the ongoing need for caffeine to be tightly regulated as an additive in the food supply, as it appears an ingredient for overconsumption,” said the study's senior author associate professor Lynn Riddell.

“The increasing consumption of nutrient poor, high energy foods and drinks is a major contributor to the continuing problems of overweight and obesity.”

Caffeine is a widely consumed, mildly addictive chemical that occurs naturally in coffee, tea and chocolate, but is an additive in soft drinks—mostly cola flavoured and energy drinks. It is estimated that more than 60 per cent of soft drink consumption is of the caffeinated variety.

The study involved 99 participants, aged 18—30, who were randomly assigned to either a caffeinated or non-caffeinated soft drink group. The participants were masked to the true purpose of the study, being told that it was about testing the palatability and liking of a lemon flavoured soft drink.  Over the 28-day intervention they consumed as much of the soft drinks as they wanted. The amount of soft drinks consumed was monitored daily while their liking of the drinks was assessed at the beginning and the end of the study.

The results of the study showed that the participants in the caffeinated drinks group drank 419ml (785 kilojoules) per day, significantly more than those in the non-caffeinated group who drank 273ml (512 kilojoules).

“Our findings clearly show that caffeine as an additive in soft drinks increased consumption and with it sugar calories, and that is a significant public health issue given the prevalence of obesity,” Riddell said.

As with previous research, a separate group of trained flavour testers found no difference in the flavour between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks.

Some soft-drink manufacturers claim that caffeine is added as a flavour enhancer however this claim is challenged by this research.

“Participants cannot taste the difference between the caffeinated soft drink and the non-caffeinated soft drink; if you can't tell a difference in flavour there is no flavour activity,” said the study's lead author Professor Russell Keast.

“It is also important to note that the level of caffeine in the soft drinks used in the study was the same as in commercially available cola flavoured beverages.

“That caffeinated soft drinks were also more liked than the non-caffeinated soft drink at the end of the intervention, supports previous studies that suggest caffeine promotes liking and consumption via sub-conscious influences that may be related to reversing caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

“Additive compounds such as caffeine that promote consumption via sub-conscious effects work against efforts to minimise energy consumption.  The research provides evidence in support of the need for strong regulation of caffeine as an additive to foods.”

The research was funded by a Diabetes Australia Research Trust.


Single-serve ice cream products on the move

The number of single-serve ice cream product launches has increased 22 percent in five years.

Single-serve products accounted for a quarter of global ice cream launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in the 12 months to the end of October 2014, up from 22 percent five years previously.

Single-serve lines appear to be most popular in Asia, where they accounted for 40 percent of all ice cream introductions, compared with a nearer average 20 percent in Europe and a below average 12 percent in the US.

“The hand-held ice cream market is working hard to move on from its weather-dependant summer-only image,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

“The sector varies across a whole range of product types, from ice lollies for children to premium chocolate snacks for adults and encompasses a wide range of formats including bars, sticks and cones.”

Hand-held ice creams in the US largely reside in the frozen novelties market, which has seen rising interest in fruit bars in recent years, with tracked NPD including licensed products such as Mars’ Starburst Sorbet stick, as well as lines from established ice cream companies keen to offer a healthy option, including Blue Bell’s Dipped Coconut Fruit Bars, Edy’s Outshine, Dreyer’s Coconut Water bars and Unilever’s Fruttare bars.

Another key trend, the move of gelato from the foodservice to the retail market, is also evident in product activity, with launches such as Talenti’s Gelato Pop range of dark-chocolate-coated gelato on sticks.

The hand-held market in the UK has seen good growth over the past two years, largely as a result of hot summer weather. Unilever has the two best-selling hand-held brands with its Magnum and Cornetto.

Meanwhile, R&R launched the first Kit Kat ice cream in a cone format during the year, as well as an Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich and a Creme Egg stick product and also relaunching Cadbury Dairy Milk ice cream on a stick.

Across the Channel, France is seeing similar trends with new product activity including a limited edition extension of the Twix ice cream bar with Inspiration Speculoos, featuring the increasingly popular Speculoos gingerbread concept. The Daim confectionery brand also arrived on the ice cream market, featuring a number of options, including a hand-held stick variant.

Germany has also seen activity in licensed products, including a Haribo water ice line from Langnese (Unilever) featuring flavoured gummy bears. A retro trend also brought back the Dolomiti stick ice cream popular with children in the 1970s and 1980s for the summer of 2014.


Researchers simplify beverage quality control analysis

The Fraunhofer Institute has developed a new method for investigating beer and other beverages for infection by pathogens.

In collaboration with the company GEN-IAL from Troisdorf, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam have developed a polymer powder that significantly simplifies quality control tests and shortens the time that they require.

With a new polymer powder, monitoring the production process for quality will be able to be faster and simpler in the future.

Manufacturers can also test drinks such as milk, juice, cola and red wine with the quick check.

Until recently, beer has been filtered in special equipment, where the bacteria remain on a membrane and is cultivated in a special culture medium before they can be examined microscopically. The new polymer powder from the IAP replaces this process: The powder is added to the liquid sample. The powder’s functionalized surface binds the bacteria efficiently. The pathogens adhere to the 100 to 200 micron powder particles. These can be easily removed along with the microbes in a specially developed system and analysed directly using various microbiological methods. The time-consuming enrichment in a nutrient medium is no longer necessary.

With the new method, food experts can investigate beer and other beverages for infection by pathogens.

“Membrane filtration is not suitable for the quality control of beverages such as fruit juices, milk, cola and red wine. They contain so much solid or suspended matter that the filter clogs quickly,” said Dr. Andreas Holländer, scientist at the IAP.

Breweries have also only been able to examine small sample volumes of up to one liter via membrane filtration. With the polymer powder, tests with 30 liters or more are possible.

“Wherever a small amount of microbes has to be extracted from a large amount of liquid, the new technique can be useful,” Holländer said.

“Through the use of the powder, food safety is increased, since it is more likely to find trace contaminants in large volumes of the beverages,” says Dr. Jutta Schönling, managing director of Gen-IAL.


Quest for digestibility driving yogurt consumption in China: DSM

New research has revealed that perceived gut health benefits and added probiotics are driving significantly higher yogurt demand in China.

Results of a survey carried out by DSM Global Insight in countries as varied as China, US, Brazil, and Turkey, revealed that perceived gut health benefits and added probiotics are driving significantly higher yogurt demand in China than the other countries surveyed. Moreover, improving digestibility would result in even further increases in Chinese yogurt consumption.

The paper reveals 8 out of 10 Chinese consumers actively seek a product containing probiotics.

The survey also shows that the rising yogurt consumption is heavily influenced by Chinese consumers embracing a healthy lifestyle and their belief that yogurt is good for their overall gut health. 76 percent of Chinese consumers choose yogurt for its gut health benefits compared to an average of 48 percent in the other markets surveyed including US, Brazil, Turkey, Poland and France.

Digestibility is also cited by our Chinese consumers as the key reason to further increase their consumption of yogurt. If it was ‘easier-to-digest’, Chinese consumers that have not increased their consumption of this dairy food over the last three years, report that they would eat more yogurt.

Digestibility, as a barrier to increased consumption, is more pronounced in China – where up to 95 percent of the population may be lactose intolerant – than in other countries surveyed.

“We see that lactose-free and low-lactose dairy is increasingly popular in China. Lactose-free dairy is perceived to be healthier than regular yogurt and addresses the gut-conscious consumers looking for ‘easy-to-digest’ dairy foods”, said Merel Roes, Global Marketing Manager Maxilact at DSM Food Specialties.

“Our survey reveals that Chinese consumers, buying lactose-free, are eating more yogurt than three years ago, compared to the overall Chinese consumers surveyed. They would also increase their consumption if there were more lactose-free options available.”


Asia Pacific drives packaged food industry growth

The past decade has seen a number of Asia Pacific packaged brands enter the ‘Top 50 Billionaire Brands list’.

Euromonitor has released the ‘Top 50 Billionaire Brands list’ for packaged brands in 2014, and compared it with that of ten years ago.

Asia Pacific has been the major growth engine of the packaged food industry over the last decade adding over US$180 billion to the global market.

To put this in context, that’s 48% of the growth generated by the entire industry.

China has been the primary source of this and many of its home-grown brands, such as Yili and Mengniu, have risen up the global brands list rapidly. Despite many of the Asian food brands entering the billionaire club, most are actually entirely dependent on revenue from a single market.

On the other side of things, according to Euromonitor, many of what we would consider to be iconic food brands are starting to lose their way.

Brands such as Campbell’s and Barilla are being switched out for more targeted brand names that focus on core categories and demographic groups. The rise of the yoghurt-focused Activia brand at the expense of Danone is clear evidence of that.

In 2004, Kellogg’s was ranked number one on the list, followed by Kraft, Lay’s, Wrigley’s and Cadbury.

In this year’s list, Lay’s has moved up the list and landed the top spot, followed by Kellogg’s, Yili, Mengniu and Wrigley’s.

In terms of cumulative 2004-2014 sales, Kellogg’s still maintains the top spot, despite slightly decelerating its sales. Lay’s is next in line, followed by Kraft, Wrigley’s and Cadbury.

For the full list, click here.


Euromonitor releases new report on the ‘global sugar backlash’

Euromonitor International has released a new report discussing the global backlash against sugar.

The report discusses changes in consumer attitudes towards sugar and the effect sugar is having on global markets.

Each of the 34 global markets identified in the report saw a five-year rise in obesity including the US, where the number of obese adults rose from 34 percent in 2008, to 41 percent in 2013. In addition 27 markets saw an increase in diabetes.

Euromonitor notes that the negative attitude towards sugar is driving changes in trends, with consumers either making a conscious effort to reduce their intake, or eliminate it completely.

Accordng to findings in Euromonitor’s Global Consumer Trends Survey, 42 percent of consumers are now seeking out food labels with limited or no added sugar.

“Sugar is now seen as a health risk by most, and as toxic as tobacco by some,” says Gina Westbrook, director of strategy briefings at Euromonitor International. “Sugar has endured a tide of negative public opinion as the amount of scientific research linking the rise in sugar intake with obesity has increased, leading the government to become increasingly concerned about the rising cost of illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.”

Westbrook notes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently recommended cutting the daily sugar limit in half to five percent and that manufacturers will need to reduce sugar content and continue to develop natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners.

“Companies will continue to work with ingredients suppliers to develop new alternatives, with natural sweeteners like stevia holding the greatest growth potential,” she said.

In November last year, Mexico passed a law that imposes significant new taxes on sugary drinks and junk food.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, successfully passed an eight percent tax on junk foods – foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, as well as an four percent tax per litre on sugary drinks such as soda.

President Nieto said at the time that the Mexican government has taken a long-term view of the situation, as the potential economic harm from reduced sales of junk food/ drinks is relatively insignificant to the medicals costs associated with food related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.


Australian organics industry enjoys record growth

The biennial Australian Organic Industry report was released today, highlighting key categories that are driving significant growth results.

The Australian Organic Market Report, commissioned by organic certifier Australian Organic, tracks trends in the Australian organic marketplace based on research by the Mobium Group, Swinburne University of Technology and ABS statistics.

The report found that consumption of certified organic food, cosmetics and household products are now valued at over $1.72 billion, representing a 15.4 percent compound annual growth rate since 2009.

Key findings across industry sectors driving growth:

  • Dairy is the fastest growing organic category in 2014, now estimated to be worth $113m
  • With compound growth of 127 percent 2011–2014, beef is the second fastest growing sector with a total value of $198m in 2014
  • Wine grape production increased by a staggering 120 percent between 2011 and 2014 and is worth $117m
  • Despite suffering during the drought, the organic grain category has grown by 20 percent with total crop values lifting by 67 percent in three years

Dr Andrew Monk, chairman of Australian Organic says that with demand for organics outstripping supply by up to 40 percent, the Australian retail market for certified organic products expected to continue to grow with private label products, certified organic processed foods and greater affordability driving this trajectory.

“One of the most significant findings was that 69 percent of primary food shoppers in Australia claim to have bought at least one certified organic product in the past 12 months. This demonstrates that organics are gaining greater penetration beyond the group of consumers who have traditionally purchased them,” says Monk.

“For the first time, we asked consumers their reasoning behind choosing organics with 49 percent of respondents claiming that they first purchased certified organics as they became aware of the impact food, fibre and cosmetics may have on their health. 16 percent began buying organic specifically because of a health crisis.”

The report has also revealed the perceived benefits of organic products are consistently associated with what organic food does not contain and is not produced with. The top six being: chemical free (80 percent), additive free (77 percent), environmentally friendly (68 percent), hormone and antibiotic free (meat) (60 percent), non-GM and free range (each 57 percent).

Other key Australian Organic Market Report 2014 findings include:

  • Organic purchases by those who are not categorised as green or sustainable shoppers increased from 24 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2014.
  • The Australian Certified Organic logo is by far the most recognised organic certification mark – a significant leap of 22.5 percent in awareness from 2012.
  • 32 percent of shoppers say they would only buy a product labelled as ‘organic’ if it is certified organic.
  • Australia still has the largest area of organic land in the world (22 million hectares) and there has been a 53 percent increase in fully certified organic land area between 2011 and 2014.
  • Exports of organic products have more than doubled from 2012 to 2014 with the organic export market now worth $350m.
  • Australian organic production (farm-gate) value is $508m, up 18 percent since 2012.
  • In non-alcoholic beverages, organic coffee saw the most dynamic retail value sales growth of 15 percent to reach $10m in 2013.


Top ten food trends for 2015, Innova Market Insights

Market research company, Innova Market Insights has released its overview of the top ten trends for global food, beverage and nutrition in 2015.

Taking out the top spot was From Clean to Clear Label, which highlights the need for clearer definitions of the term ‘natural’. This was followed by Convenience for Foodies which came in second and emphasises the demand for fresh foods and ingredients, driven by the popularity of food blogs and cooking shows.

Innova will release an in-depth analysis and examples of such products in the Top Ten Trends for 2015 in detailed presentations and reports within the coming weeks.

Top Ten Trends for 2015

  1. From Clean to Clear Label: Innova say that clean label claims are tracked in its database on nearly a quarter of all food and beverage launches, and that manufacturers are increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origin of their products. Innova noted that growing concerns over the lack of a definition of the term ‘natural’ has furthered the need to provide more clarity and specific details on the term.


  1. Convenience for Foodies: Innova states that the popularity of food blogs and cooking shows has driven demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients and an increased interest in cooking from scratch. Innova say that bloggers are cooking shows are seen as fashionable, fun and social, as well as cost effective, and have resulted in a wider use of recipe suggestions by manufacturers and retailers.


  1. Marketing to Millennials: This refers to the ‘Millennial generation’ (those aged between 15 and 35) which accounts for about one-third of the global population and is tech savvy and socially engaged. These consumer are well informed, want to try something different and are generally less brand loyal than older consumers. They want to connect with products and brands and know the story behind them.


  1. Snacks Rise to the Occasion: Innova say that as formal mealtimes are continuing to decline in popularity, it has seen growing numbers of food and drinks are now considered to be snacks. Quick healthy foods are tending to replace traditional meal occasions, and more snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, with different demand influences at different times of day.


  1. Good Fats, Good Carbs: Innova says that concerns of obesity have led to a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils and rising interest in omega 3 fatty acid content as well as the return of butter to favour as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarines that may be high in trans fats. In the same way, naturally-occurring sugar is being favoured at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.


  1. More In Store for Protein: Ingredient suppliers, food producers and consumers are on the lookout for the next protein source. Soy protein is regarded as cheap and mainstream and therefore being less applied among NPLs tracked. Whey protein has been popular for some years and is still growing, while pulse protein is rapidly emerging. More algae protein applications are expected in the future. Further along insect protein may become big in various categories.


  1. New Routes for Fruit 7: Innova notes that more product launches are being tracked with real fruit and vegetables, as they can function as colouring foodstuffs and in that role meet the increased demand for natural colours and flavours. Fruit and vegetable inclusions can add to the “permissible indulgence” character of a product. Consumers perceive a product to be healthier when it contains a real fruit or vegetable ingredient.


  1. A Fresh Look at Frozen: Innova say that in order to compete with the healthy appeal of fresh aisles and the convenience of canned foods, established frozen foods (vegetables and seafood) are focusing on freshness in their marketing, stressing the superior nutritional content in frozen food. Brand extensions include larger varieties in vegetables and fruits. At the same time the frozen segment is witnessing new product launch activity in new categories (e.g. soups, fruit, drinks , finger foods, sauces, pastries, herbs).


  1. Private Label Powers On: Even though the worst of the economic recession is over private label is still gaining market share in terms of new product launches in Europe, North America and Australasia. Store brands are here to stay and are found in all product segments. Discounters Aldi and Lidl are by consumers no longer solely seen as budget stores, but are accepted by the general public and considered to have good quality products.


  1. Rich, chewy and Crunch: Texture is an important driver for taste perception of food and beverages and focus of many of today’s food innovations. Brands are creatively combining textures with for example crispy inclusions, soft centres and extra crunchy toppings. Texture claims are shown more prominently on front-of-pack. Also, brands are creative in describing texture or including a texture claim in a product name.


Low-cost electronic tongue developed to ensure food safety

Researchers have developed a new low-cost electronic tongue designed to ensure quality in food and beverage products.

S.V. Litvinenko and his colleagues say that they have developed a low-cost and environmentally friendly “e-tongue” with a silicon base that could be easily incorporated into existing electronic systems of the same material.

Via the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces journal, S. V. Litvinenko and colleagues explain that the electronic tongue is an analytical instrument that mimics how people and other mammals distinguish tastes. The tongue consists of tiny sensors that detect substances in a sample, and send signals to a computer for processing – just as taste buds sense and transmit flavour messages to the brain.

A number of similar devices have already been developed and employed throughout the food and beverage industry where they are used for everything from authenticating Thai food to measuring beer quality. In September this year, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark announced they had developed an artificial tongue that uses a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) based nanosensor to measure the dryness of wine.

Litvinenko’s team however say that many existing devices are limited in how they can be used and as such decided to make an improved instrument that could have applications in medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical testing and environmental monitoring, as well as food testing.

The researchers have tested the tongue on Armagnac, cognac, whiskey and water, and say that they were able to establish precise signatures for each.

The researchers believe that their work serves as a first step toward a novel tasting instrument with potentially diverse applications.

The report titled, Might Silicon Surface Be Used for Electronic Tongue Application? has been published in the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces journal.


Indulgent products more popular than healthy FMCGs, Canadean

A recent study from market research company Canadean has found that food manufacturers may be placing too much emphasis on the health category and subsequently neglecting demand for indulgent products. 

Canadean surveyed 100 managers working in the FMCG industry, and asked them how important they believe the demand for products within the health and indulgence categories over the next three years will be. 79 percent of respondents stated that health would be the most important, compared to 63 percent who named indulgence as the category to concentrate on.

Analyst at Canadean, Joanne Hardman said that the findings differ to the market research company’s consumer data which shows that consumers’ demand for indulgence is significantly greater than health.

In 2012 consumers spent $US 600,167 million on fulfilling the desire for indulgence and luxury, whereas only $US 323,694 was spent in the same year on the desire for a healthy option.  

“Some brands are getting it wrong with their perception of what consumers will want over the next three years. The desire for an indulgent treat will always reign supreme over the need for a health kick,” says Hardman.

Hardman says that while consumers are expected to display a desire for healthier options over the next few years, Canadean’s data predicts that consumers will continue to favour indulgence over anything else over that period.

“If manufacturers are looking to target the health-conscious audience more over the next three years, extending product portfolios as opposed to adjusting current product formulation will be preferred by consumers, as it allows them to stay loyal to the brand when they are looking for both indulgent and healthy offerings.” 


Strong demand for seasonal foods

A study has found the majority of consumers consider seasonal food to be tastier, more cost effective and convenient to purchase than non-seasonal food.

The Good Business Sense National Eating Habits Study 2014 involved 800 participants in NSW, VIC, QLD and WA (the sample of which was representative of the age and population distributions in Australia), and also involved input from a number of expert nutritionists, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, and food companies.

Key findings from the Good Business Sense National Eating Habits 2014 study include:

  • 76 percent of Australian shoppers consider seasonal food to be tastier than non-seasonal food
  • 69 percent of Australian shoppers agreed that seasonal foods were more cost effective
  • 55 percent of Australian shoppers thought seasonal foods were more convenient to purchase than non-seasonal food
  • Only 26 percent of Australian shoppers thought that seasonal food was better for the economy
  • 45 percent of Australian shoppers would not pay extra for seasonal food
  • 41 percent of Australian shoppers would pay up to 25 percent more for seasonal food
  • 42 percent of Australian shoppers think there is a suitable range of organic and seasonal food on the current market, 33 percent think there is not enough
  • 33 percent of Australian shoppers do not consider there to be enough seasonal or organic food on the market
  • 62 percent of Australian shoppers believe that markets have a good range of seasonal food, with 54 percent believing that Woolworths and 50 percent for Coles have a good range. Thomas Dux only rated 15 percent and IGA 17 percent
  • Woolworths was the most popular response for stocking a good range of seasonal food amongst the youngest age group 18-20, with 75 percent compared to the overall average of 54 percent
  • 66 percent of Australian shoppers said “no” to the belief that seasonal food needs to be organic to have seasonal benefits, while 34 percent said “yes”
  • Individuals place less emphasis on organically grown seasonal food as their age increases
  • ‘Seasonal food fills 50 percent of my shopping basket’ was found to be the most popular answer among Australian shoppers
  • 79 percent of Australian shoppers prefer seasonal food over non-seasonal food
  • 27 percent of those earning under $27K have no preference for seasonal food
  • The study also measured consumption patterns of pre-packaged foods finding that yoghurt was the most purchased at 70 percent, frozen foods were at 54 percent and instant noodles 39 percent
  • 62 percent of Australian shoppers said that artificial flavours in pre-packaged foods was the top reason for not purchasing them
  • 57 percent of Australian shoppers said nutritional labels were the most attractive packaging feature when buying a product for the first time
  • When it came to food labelling, “Easy to read and understand” got 45 percent of Australian shoppers, 32 percent for “size”, and 32 percent for “recipe ideas”
  • “Texture” of labels and packaging only received 14 percent, while “smell” and “illustrations” were each at 17 percent
  • Comments on packaging and labelling revealed: price, visibility of contents, and the origin of ingredients were attractive features

Good Business Sense founder and Managing Director Anne Roze said, “We found that consumers are not educated enough to understand that seasonal food could be better for the economy and environment. This offers huge potential from an educational perspective, with only around 25% of respondents currently recognising all the benefits of eating seasonably.”


ARC Australian food processing training centre to open today

The ARC training centre for the Australian food processing industry in the 21st Century (ARCFPTC) will be officially launched today,  4 November at the University of Sydney.


The centre is designed to help Australian food manufacturing companies stay globally competitive, and was awarded $3 million in funding over a three year period from the Australian Research Council via its Industrial Transformation Research Program.


Key objectives of the centre are to develop cost effective processes and produce high value products such as nutriceuticals with health benefits for the prevention and treatment of chronic and acute diseases. 


Professor Fariba Dehghani, from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and co-director of the new centre, says that ARCEPTC has been designed to boost the nation’s food technology and manufacturing capacity, and will boost the Australian industry’s capacity to successfully compete in the global market.


"The new centre aims to boost the Australian industry's capacity to compete in a global market, particularly in the production of nutraceuticals for pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, or food ingredients," says Dehghani.


"The centre will design cost-effective and sustainable processes for producing these types of products with a view to minimising waste while enhancing efficiency and reducing energy consumption." 


The centre will provide a multidisciplinary research environment including fourteen researchers across the engineering, agriculture, science and medicine disciplines, together with international collaborators, and ten food and biotechnology industry partners. 


ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne said that the centre will work with Australian businesses to develop more advanced manufacturing techniques in order to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency.


“This particular ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre has an important focus and it covers a key research sector identified in the Australian Government’s recent Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda—food and agribusiness. This centre will educate a new generation of engineers and scientists and foster the capacity of Australian Food industries to further develop advanced technologies in manufacturing and product improvement,” says Byrne.


“Another key objective of this centre is to work with industry partners to develop improved processes for the production of nutraceuticals—such as nutrients and dietary supplements—for the promotion of health and well-being.


“These high-value products have the potential to significantly increase Australian exports in agribusiness.”


The funding of the Centre has been supplemented by its ten industry partners through cash and in-kind contributions.


Partners in the Centre include Agricure Pty Ltd, Lang Technologies Pty Ltd, AB Mauri Technology and Development Pty Ltd, Peanut Company of Australia, Ecopha, Marine Biotechnology Australia Pty Ltd, Batlow Premium Juices, PharmaCare  Laboratories Pty Ltd, Perfection Fresh Australia Pty Ltd and Stahmann Farms Enterprises Pty Ltd.


Top five trends to impact the food industry in 2015

From “From Clean to Clear Label” and “Convenience for Foodies”, here’s the top five trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond.

Top food and beverage trends for 2015, as identified by Innova Market Insights:

  1. From Clean to Clear Label. Clean label claims are tracked on nearly a quarter of all food and beverage launches, with manufacturers increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origin of their products. With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural,” however, there is a need for more clarity and specific details. Consumers, retailers, industry and regulators are all driving more transparency in labelling.
  2. Convenience for Foodies. Continued interest in home cooking has been driven by cooking shows on TV and by blogging foodies. It is seen as fashionable, fun and social, as well as healthy and cost-effective. It has driven demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a wider use of recipe suggestions by manufacturers and retailers.
  3. Marketing to Millennials. The so-called Millennial generation, generally aged between 15 and 35, now accounts for about one-third of the global population and is tech savvy and socially engaged. They are well informed, want to try something different and are generally less brand loyal than older consumers. They want to connect with products and brands and know the story behind them.
  4. Snacks Rise to the Occasion. Formal mealtimes are continuing to decline in popularity and growing numbers of foods and drinks are now considered to be snacks. Quick healthy foods are tending to replace traditional meal occasions and more snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, with different demand influences at different times of day.
  5. Good Fats, Good Carbs. With concerns over obesity there is a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils that has seen rising interest in omega 3 fatty acid content as well as the return of butter to favour as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarines that may be high in trans-fats. In the same way, naturally-occurring sugar is being favoured at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

“The move from ‘clean’ to ‘clear’ labeling is a key trend for 2015, reflecting a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Meeting the needs of the Millennial consumer has also become a key focus, as has targeting the demands of the gourmet consumer at home, re-engineering the snacks market for today’s lifestyles and combating obesity with a focus on positive nutrition.”


Researchers develop energy-efficient milk processing methods

Researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) are researching energy-efficient ways to process milk concentrates.

As a key ingredient in everything from infant formula to baked goods and confectionery products, powdered milk is something that is in constant demand in the food manufacturing sector, however the processes used to create it are highly energy intensive.

TUM researchers are currently combining different membrane separation processes which are resulting in a 20 percent reduction of the total amount of energy required to concentrate milk.

Professor Ulrich Kulozik from the TUM Chair of Food Process Engineering and Dairy Technology says that conventional methods of heating and evaporating the dairy products utilise membrane separation processes such as reverse osmosis and nanofiltration, followed by the drying of excess water. Although these methods are effective, drying can account for 50 percent of the entire energy consumption bill.

Kulozik explains that reverse osmosis and nanofiltration work with special membranes that allow water to pass through while retaining almost all constituents in milk and whey. One drawback being that the concentration of dissolved substances such as salt and lactose increases as more water is removed. Proteins also “block up” the membrane, reducing the amount of water being removed.

“As a result, we can only achieve a dry mass of up to 35 percent using reverse osmosis,” says Kulozik. “What we really want is a higher percentage of dry matter as this reduces the amount of water to be removed in subsequent evaporation and drying steps. This would further cut the energy consumed in the initial concentration stage.”

Prof. Kulozik and his team have been able to solve this problem by combining three different membrane separation processes: ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and nanofiltration.

Ultrafiltration removes proteins from the liquid. The dissolved constituents can then be concentrated using reverse osmosis and nanofiltration. Removing the proteins in this way speeds up reverse osmosis and nanofiltration by a factor between two and five. This combination of reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration is 20-percent more energy efficient than reverse osmosis on its own. The proteins and dissolved constituents can be recombined at a later stage in the process chain.

“We were able to show that the right combination of membrane separation technologies can unlock significant efficiency gains in powdered milk and whey production,” adds Kulozik. “Our aim here is to obtain the highest possible concentrations of milk before evaporation and drying.”

Another project that the Tum team are working on includes extending the storage period of milk concentrates.

“We exploring various heating processes for concentrates with a view to extending the shelf-life for milk concentrate so that it becomes an attractive alternative to powder in the future,” says Kulozik.

“One of the main benefits of concentrates is that they are still liquid and so they do not need to be dissolved in water again,” says Prof. Kulozik. “And because there is no drying process involved, they also deliver significant energy and cost savings.”


High protein products in demand, taste preconceptions still an issue, study

A new study from market research company, Canadean has found that while consumers are acknowledging the importance of consuming high protein food, few actually have enough protein in their diets.

A survey conducted in the UK by Canadean revealed that 81 percent of consumers were aware of the importance of consuming enough protein, however only 44 percent have the correct daily allowance. Furthermore only 16 percent of consumers said that they actively sort out food and beverage products that are high in protein.

44 percent of respondents said that they purchased high protein products to “improve general wellbeing” and 37 percent “to increase strength”. Canadean say that these general answers reflect that there is still some unawareness surrounding the specific benefits of protein such as increased bone density and muscle retention.

The research also revealed that the 25-34 age segment are most likely to try and include more protein in their diet, and that consumers over 55 were the least likely. Lead analyst at Canadean, Michael Hughes says that this provides a prime opportunity for manufacturers to educate senior citizens better about the health benefits of protein. However Hughes also cautioned that manufacturers will need to overcome a number of negative preconceptions related to the taste of high protein products.

Canadean’s data shows that 52 percent of consumers are sceptical of indulgent products such as ice cream with high-protein claims on the packaging.

“While protein currently has a 'health halo' surrounding it, more needs to be done to encourage consumers to purchase products high in the ingredient,” says Hughes. “Manufacturers need to target specific demographic groups – and in particular senior citizens – by educating consumers about the specific health benefits associated with protein and how it can improve their lifestyle.”


Price of food and non-alcoholic beverages grows

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that over the September quarter, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages has risen by 1.2 percent.

The ABS released the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures quarterly changes in the price of a ‘basket’ of goods and services.

Out of the 11 groups measured, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group experienced the most growth.

The CPI said the main contributor to the rise in the group for the September quarter 2014 was fruit (+14.7 percent). The rise was partially offset by a fall in bread (-3.0 percent).

Over the twelve months to the September quarter 2014, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group rose 3.5 percent. The main contributors to the rise were fruit (+19.2 percent), vegetables (+10.0 percent), restaurant meals (+2.2 percent) and takeaway and fast foods (+1.9 percent). The rise was partially offset by a fall in breakfast cereals (-6.0 percent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group rose 0.9 percent in the September quarter 2014. The main contributor to the rise was fruit (+9.3 percent).


Sugary beverage consumption linked to memory problems, US study

A study conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) has found links between the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and brain inflammation in adolescent rats.

Researchers found that the rats were at “an increased risk” of suffering negative health effects after the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Rats that freely consumed large quantities of liquid solutions containing either sugar or high fructose corn syrup (at concentrations comparable to those found in sugar-sweetened beverages available in the marketplace) experienced memory problems, brain inflammation and became pre-diabetic.

The study found that while adolescent rats experienced negative health effects, adult rats fed the same solutions did not display the same effects.

“The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence,” said Scott Kanoski corresponding author of the study and assistant professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Kanoski said that the rats were tested in mazes that probe their spatial memory ability. Adolescent rats that had consumed the sugary beverages – particularly high-fructose corn syrup – performed worse on the test than any other group. Kanoski says that this may be the result of the neuroinflammation detected in the hippocampus – part of the temporal lobe located deep within the brain that controls memory function.

“Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability,” said Kanoski

The study was published online by the journal Hippocampus and was funded by USC institutional support.


Global snack food sales exceed $370 billion, Nielsen

According to a new report from market research company Nielsen, consumers across the globe spent around US$374 billion on snack foods between 2013 and 2014, representing a two percent increase year-over-year.

The report states that Europe at US$167 billion, and North America at $124 billion, make up for the majority of snack food sales worldwide, however the Asia-Pacific ($46 billion) and Latin American ($30 billion) have experienced fast growth at an increase of four percent and nine percent respectively. The Middle East and Africa has also experienced a five percent increase to represent $7 billion.

Executive vice president, global professional services, Nielsen, Susan Dunn, says that while the competitive landscape of the snacking industry is ‘fierce’, there are still plenty of opportunities for food manufacturers to innovate.

“Demand is driven primarily by taste and health considerations and consumers are not willing to compromise on either. The right balance is ultimately decided by the consumer at the point of purchase. Understanding the 'why before the buy' provides the foresight necessary to deliver the right product to the right consumer at the right time.”

The research found that consumers are demanding snacks that contain natural ingredients, with 45 percent of respondents rating natural ingredients as ‘very important’ and 33 percent rating them as ‘moderately important’. These two figures represent the highest percentages out of the 20 health attributes included in the study.

The absence of artificial colours (44 percent), genetically modified organisms (43 percent) and artificial flavours (42 percent) are also rated very important. Caffeine-free (23 percent) and gluten-free (19 percent) snacks are also rated as very important for about one-fourth and one-fifth of global respondents, respectively.

In terms of the fastest growing snack categories, the research points towards sales of savoury snacks, including crackers, rice cakes and pita chips, which increased 21 percent in the last year in Latin America. Meat snacks, which include jerky and dried meat, grew 25 percent in the Middle East/Africa and 15 percent in North America. Refrigerated snacks, which include yogurt, cheese snacks and pudding, rose 6.4 percent in Asia-Pacific, while dips and spreads, which include salsa and hummus, increased 6.8 percent in Europe.

“Non-sugary snacks closely aligned with meal-replacement foods are showing strong growth, which signals a shift in a consumer mindset to one focused on health,” said Dunn. “While conventional cookies, cakes and confections categories still hold the majority of snack sales, more innovation in the healthy snacking and portable food space is necessary to adjust to this changing dynamic.”

More than three-quarters of global respondents (76 perent) say that they eat snacks often, or sometimes to satisfy their hunger between meals or to satisfy a craving. 45 percent of global respondents consume snacks as a meal alternative—52 percent for breakfast, 43 percent for lunch and 40 percent for dinner.

“There is a perception that snacks are intended more for in-between meals than for actual meal replacements,” said Dunn. “But busy, on-the-go lifestyles often dictate a need for quick meals, and many opt for fast food options that can be high in calories and low in health benefits. There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill.”

Despite strong growth in the savoury category, confectionery comprises the biggest sales contribution to the overall snack category in Europe ($46.5 billion) and the Middle East/Africa ($1.9 billion). Salty snacks contribute more than one-fifth of snack sales in North America ($27.7 billion), refrigerated snacks comprise almost one-third of snacks in Asia-Pacific ($13.7 billion), and cookies and snack cakes make up more than one-fourth of total snacks in Latin America ($8.6 billion).

The Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking was conducted between 17 February and 7 March, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.