AWASH supports AMA salt report

The Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) supports a new report from the American Medical Association (AMA) that calls for a major reduction in the salt content of processed and restaurant foods, the source of 80% of consumer’s salt intake.

The AMA report, which highlights the substantial public health gains from reductions in salt intake, reinforces the messages of AWASH’s Drop the Salt! Campaign launched in May that aims to work with the Australian food industry to achieve a 25% reduction in the salt content of processed foods over the next five years.

During this period, AWASH will join with key consumer and health organisations, to raise consumer awareness and encourage individuals to take positive steps to reduce their salt intake.

“There is clear evidence that salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, translating into increased risks of heart attacks and stroke,” AWASH chair Dr Bruce Neal said.

“Most (Australians) are eating well above the six grams (of salt) per day recommended by the Heart Foundation of Australia.

“A reduction to six grams a day would prevent about one fifth of all strokes and heart attacks in Australia each year,” said Dr Neal.

The AWASH campaign is a response to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report released in April 2007 that highlighted salt’s negative health impact through strong scientific evidence and urged countries to adopt national approaches to reduce the salt content of foods.

Palatinose approved in Australia and NZ

Palatinose (Isomaltulose), a functional carbohydrate produced by Palatinit, can now be marketed in both Australia and New Zealand for general use in foods and beverages.

Palatinit’s application for novel food status of the low glycaemic carbohydrate Isomaltulose has been officially approved with effect from the August 2nd, 2007.

The new approval enables manufacturers to use Palatinose in beverages and foods in general, in line with the Food Standards Code.

Simple wine odour detection

Australian scientists are currently involved in worldwide research to discover an objective way of quantifying odours, focussing primarily on the wine industry.

With the aim of providing wine makers with devices they can use to detect contaminants, the level of ripeness of grapes, and broader odour patterns associated with particular styles of wine, the Cybernose will enable the wine industry to measure aroma and flavour objectively, assisting winemakers to pick grapes at optimum ripeness while making it easier to make a desired style of wine.

The development of the Cybernose has come about after looking at two existing odour-detection devices, mass spectrometry, which looks at the molecular structure of each component, and an array of electronic detectors.

“Now we are exploring the use of sensor proteins on the front-end of an electronic nose, a Cybernose,” CSIRO’s Dr Stephen Trowell.

According to Trowell, the new device aim to reflect the ability of small organisms to distinguish between odours and pick up odours not detectable by humans.

Pre-register for IBIE and save

Members of the food industry that pre-register for the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) from August 1 to October 6 will receive a US$10 discount and pay US$75 (AU$81).

Held from October 7 to 10 at the Orange County Convention Centre, USA, IBIE will showcase the latest technologies, products and equipment in the baking industry, including ingredient handling systems, packaging materials and systems, sanitation equipment, and transportation and distribution equipment.

“We are confident that IBIE is the industry event that provides the highest return on investment for baking professionals and that this pricing incentive will simply prove to be an added benefit for early registrants,” IBIE committee chair Jack Lewis said.

For more information on the event, or to register or make travel plans visit the IBIE website.

Maggi moves from tin to plastic

Nestle New Zealand (NZ) and Australia partnered with Viscount Plastics NZ to design and produce a plastic container to replace the metal cans previously used for packaging and distributing Maggi stocks and desserts to the institutional catering trade in both countries.

The new polypropylene container is reusable, microwave and dishwasher safe, stackable and nestable, and is half the weight of the previous metal can.

An innovative finger grip to aid in carrying the packs was included without negatively impacting on its ability to be stacked, while the security of the pack was increased by strengthening the tamper proofing.

Brand identity and shelf presence were enhanced by inclusion of an embossed Nestle Food Services’ logo on the tub that remains when the labels are removed, and the use of bright yellows and reds allow the product to stand out, particularly in the cash-and-carry bulk buying environment.

Despite the initial challenges of developing new packaging for the first time in thirty years that would maintain Nestle’s brand identity, while not increasing its market price, the move to plastic has proven to be cost effective and successful for the company, with Maggi sales up in the two month period since its launch.

The tub’s nestable design has significantly reduced the storage space needed for containers at the Nestle factory, with fifteen pallet spaces per day being saved.

Deliveries of empty containers to the Nestle factory have also been cut by 80%, and 2216 pallet movements eliminated.

A more complete assessment of the product’s success will take place later this year.

Melbourne hosts Specialist Cheese Show

The eleventh annual Melbourne Specialist Cheese Show will be held on August 12 at Crown Towers Hotel, Melbourne.

Showcasing 300 of Australia’s specialist cheeses, including varieties produced from cow, sheep, buffalo and goat milk, the show celebrates specialist cheese makers using the world’s best techniques and Australian milk to create a wide range of innovative cheeses.

Apart from looking at cheese, attendees will be invited to sample cheese, wine and beer, as well as attend a cheese and wine matching seminar.

For more information or to make a booking visit the Cheese Show website or contact Penny.

Green measures today ensure business success tomorrow

In these times of drought and gobal climate change what is being done by the Australian food and beverage industry?

Well, manufacturers are doing their bit, often in small ways, but every little bit helps.

From using ‘green’ ink to print labels and packaging, through incorporating bio-degradable materials into product packaging, to recycling of ‘grey’ water and other water-saving measures, manufacturers from small SMEs to large multinationals are trying.

It is worth doing as much as possible to minimise a business’ impact on the environment.

There is growing concern that as climates change across the world growing seasons are being impacted and ingredients may not be readily available.

Costs could rise as a result of supply chain challenges and these would hit manufacturers, who in turn might have to pass them on to consumers in the form of price hikes.

Decreased consumption of processed foods could result and this would really hit manufacturers where it hurts.

If initiatives are not already underway, now is the time to act.

Time must be made for a review of processes and systems, and changes made no matter how painful it might be to do so.

Money and time invested now in addressing the impact of environmental damage and change on a business will safeguard that business’ future.

On reading through the FOOD Challenge Awards entry forms, it was clear that many businesses are embracing change in favour of more sustainable business practices.

It is good to see that some business owners and manufacturers are aware and acting.

Of course, more always can and should be done, and as time ticks business pressures will cause even the slow and careless to take action.

But those who do not wait will reap the rewards.

High-quality grains research supports food industry

Australian agrifood industries could soon benefit from the development of genomics technologies used in selection and development of high quality grains, after grains expert and molecular biologist, Professor Rudi Appels, was awarded a Visiting Fellowship with the Food Futures Flagship.

Through this fellowship, Professor Appels will bring together the research of CSIRO and Agricultural Research Western Australia, and work with cereal researchers to determine the quality of grain required for specific end-products.

Use of genomics technologies will allow the identification and development of desired attributes in grains, increasing overall wheat quality and Australian export opportunities.

Packing and palletising system installed

JMP has successfully installed its new generation Robotic Case Packing and Palletising system into Fonterra Australia’s manufacturing site.

JMP was selected to provide a palletising and packing system with ultimate flexibility in a confined space.

To achieve this, JMP supplied the company with JMP case erectors, and JMP robotic case packing and palletising systems built using Kawasaki robots, which meant Fonterra Australia was able to get all it needed from a single source.

A mix of product and carton conveying was required to deliver products from a critical hygiene area to the JMP robotic case packer where the 20kg Kawasaki robot picks the product and loads it into the erected case.

The robot then closes the flaps of the case before pushing the case into a new 3M tape sealer.

After the sealer, the case is conveyed to the palletising robot where it is palletised and discharged to the out-feed for collection by forklift.

The palletising cell stacks three products simultaneously, as well as gluing each layer and applying base and layer sheets.

All the equipment was manufactured in Auckland, and designed and supported to suit specific site specifications.

All automation and programming was done by JMP.

The robotic case packer can do more than 60 packs per minute.

Tuna Spam?

Tripacific Marine, based in Fiji, are patenting a smooth flakeless pressed tuna product, which will provide an alternative to flaky canned tuna.

The seafood manufacturing company has an EU-approved and HACCP-certified, state of the art factory, in which tuna fresh from the Pacific is combined with salt, sugar, starch and spices, and is packed in cylindrical or square plastic casing.

The product is cooked and ready to eat and is said to have no smell. It is available in retail packs for restaurants and the food service, as well as for consumers.

The product is awaiting its patent from New Zealand.

Robotic palletising system wins APMA award

Foodmach, a provider of material movement solutions, won an Australian Packaging Machinery Association (APMA) design award for the Robomatrix, a high-speed palletising system.

The award was presented at AUSPACK and received by the system’s principle inventor Peter Marks.

The Robomatrix system was developed in response to an industry-wide need for increased flexibility and speed to handle the introduction of new and more complex packaging configurations.

Seeing the system work at AUSPACK was impressive.

It is controlled from a central control panel, where the user can input the specifics of a job including the pattern of the palletising.

As an analogy for how the Robomatrix system works, Foodmach recalled to mind the game Tetris.

In other words, the system incorporates robotic pattern forming.

Robotic tools and software make Robomatrix easy to use.

Foodmach national marketing and sales manager Dr Robert Stojanovich said the key to the system’s success was close partnership with customers to create a global technology.

“It’s always nice to win an award and be recognised by your industry colleagues and peers” he added.

First organic Standard developed in Australia

A new Australian Standard is currently being developed for organic products, including processed foods, to govern the production, processing, marketing and transportation within the industry.

Standards Australia deputy chief executive Colin Blair said the new standard will provide clear definition of what is organic, as well as specify requirements for primary production, transport, storage, preparation, packaging and marketing of organic products.

Australia’s $500 million organic industry is currently self-regulated, with different groups adhering to variations of a standard developed by the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service for export.

The Standard is expected to be finalised in 2008 and will be initially introduced as a voluntary scheme.

The Council of Australia Primary Industry Ministers has indicated the new Australian Standard will form the basis of industry regulation.

AFGC’s new deputy chief executive

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has announced the appointment of Dr Geoffrey Annison to the position of deputy chief executive.

According to the AFGC’s chief executive Dick Wells, Annison will bring a wide range of experience to the position, particularly in the areas of regulation and innovation.

“Dr Annison’s career, which spans a number of sectors including the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Goodman Fielder and the AFGC; the rural sector with organisations such as Australian Pork; and research providers such as Massey University in New Zealand and the CSIRO, provides him with the background needed to work in this challenging field,” Wells said.

With a BSc in Food Technology and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of New South Wales, Annison will take up the position in October, replacing Dr David Roberts who leaves the AFGC after six years.

Wells also announced two other appointments to the AFGC.

Kim Leighton has been appointed director of food policy and regulation, and will work closely with Annison to manage the health, nutrition and scientific affairs agenda; and Tony Mahar has been appointed director of sustainable development and will manage the industry’s enhanced program of sustainability, including issues of water, climate change and packaging waste.

Ibex nominated for business awards

Ibex Group has received two nominations in the Westpac Manukau Business Awards, in New Zealand, for Excellence in Exporting and Excellence in Manufacturing and Services.

Having been started fifteen years go by Manukau City Council to recognise, encourage and assist business growth and development, the Manukau Awards is now one of the country’s biggest business excellence awards.

Thirty five finalists, in ten categories were announced at a ceremony in July, sponsored by Westpac.

“We have many of the leading companies in New Zealand based here in Manukau and they contribute greatly to the city, (creating) thousands of jobs a year and helping to drive our local economy,” Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis said.

“The awards highlight the best of these businesses (and) I congratulate all the 2007 finalists.”

Supply Chain & Logistics Conference

The 2007 Queensland Supply Chain & Logistics Conference will be held on August 2nd and 3rd at the Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane. Supported by the Australian Institute of Packaging, the conference will enable members of the food industry to widen their view of how a supply chain works and the role it plays in packaging.

Guest speakers will include G Peter Dapiran, a senior fellow of the freight and logistics group at the University of Melbourne, who will discuss issues of change and collaboration, including supply chain managers’ strategic plans for the coming decades; and Paul Driver, the national transport safety manager for Woolworths, will look at the Retail Logistics Supply Chain Code of Conduct.

To view the conference program or to register, visit the conference website.

Meat processing Award up for grabs

Australian meat processors should encourage their staff to enter the Barry Johnson – Cryovac Young Achievers Award 2007, a $12,500 study and travel grant enabling people working in the red-meat processing industry aged 18 to 39 to advance their technical knowledge and learn at first hand global developments in the packaging arena.

Entries for 2007 close August 3, 2007.

Established in 2001 by Cryovac Australia to recognise the achievements of Barry Johnson in his 40-year career in the local meat industry, the Award supports aspiring achievers in the meat processing and retail industries to develop their career through investigations into the packaging of fresh, frozen and processed meat products, enabling them to make ongoing contributions to meat packaging technology in Australia.

Last year’s grant winner, Michael Connors from Cargill Beef in Tamworth, NSW, recently returned from a one-month study tour to China, which allowed him to expand his knowledge of the meat industry beyond the Australian market.

“To now understand how other cultures use and distribute meat products allows me to utilise this knowledge in a production sense in Australia,” Connors said.

“The real benefit was an appreciation of how different Chinese processing techniques are (to Australian). There is an enormous gap in consumer education about the quality of chilled beef as the Chinese culture has always had fresh product.”

Connors said he envisions there will be future market opportunities for chilled beef products in China.

Given Cargill Beef has customers in China and Hong Kong, the study tour provided significant benefits to Connors’ employer.

Entries for 2007 close August 3, 2007.

For more information on the Awards visit the Sealed Air website or contact Les Muscat for application details.

Big thank you for Awards support

The 2007 FOOD Challenge Awards would not have been such a success without those who contributed their time, expertise and support in the lead up to, and at, the presentation ceremony.

FOOD Magazine thanks the judges, Associate Professor Suku Bhaskaran, director of the food marketing research centre at Victoria University; Dr Anthos Yannakou, Food Science Australia chief executive officer; Dr Ajay Shah, AAS Food Technology consultant; and Mr Neil Funston, Topgun Investments consultant, for assessing all the entrants.

Thanks also to the guest speakers, Mr Dick Wells, the AFGC chief executive officer; Mr Marcus Lui, The One Centre creative director; and Mr Peter Baron, Uni-Straw chief innovation officer, for their insightful and enjoyable presentations.

FOOD Magazine also thanks companies that contributed to the goody bags.

Finally, thank you to everyone that attended for making the event a success.

Improving Australia’s food innovation

A new $54.2 million Food Innovation Grants Programme (FIGP), launched by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to increase innovation in the food industry, is currently accepting round one applications.

The FIGP, which will fund approximately three projects every year until June 2011, aims to assist Australian-based food and beverage businesses undertaking research and development (R&D), innovative programs or developing cutting-edge products and technology.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a project’s ability to add competition and profitability to the Australian food industry in areas of production, processing, packaging, storage or logistics.

The potential of the project and/or its resulting commercial activities to achieve national productivity and economic growth; diffusion of knowledge and skill to other parts of the Australian economy; or other societal, community or ecological benefits, will also be considered.

Proposals must address a technical challenge in the Australian food industry and/or how the uptake of new technology will deliver significant benefits, either on a national, sectoral or regional basis.

The FIGP will contribute, on a matched funds basis, up to half of the eligible project costs for R&D, the movement of innovation towards commercialisation, and the introduction of cutting-edge technology.

Projects are not eligible if they present no element of technical risk, are food product line extensions, involve the purchase of land or infrastructure costs; or are activities related to food processing inputs rather than outputs, among other things.

Interested applicants can download and complete the self-diagnostic eligibility check to ensure they satisfy eligibility criteria.

Potential applicants must then complete a preliminary application form.

Round One submissions are due by August 9, 2007.

An Advisory Group, consisting of technical, industry and business specialists will assess applications.

Food industry to benefit from RFID

The results of a pilot program to test integrated electronic product code (EPC) and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology across a number of industries, including the food industry, were presented at a seminar in Sydney as part of the SMART 2007 Conference.

The National EPC Network Demonstrator Project Extension, carried out by a multi-industry Australian consortium, including MasterFoods and Procter & Gamble, demonstrated how RFID using the GS1 global standards can provide opportunities for streamlining operations and improving supply chain collaborations.

The consortium achieved a 100% EPC/RFID tag read rate and reported customer productivity gains of 22.2%.

While the technology is relatively new in Australia, results of the recent RFID pilot, including improved productivity, delivery processing times and visibility throughout the supply chain, point to numerous advantages for the food industry.

As well as improving logistics efficiency, the implementation of RFID technology will allow for on-shelf tracking of individual consumer items that is not possible with barcoding.

According to a new report by IDTechEx, the use of RFID technology within in the food industry is expected to rise in the next 10 years.

GS1 chief operating officer Mark Fuller said the food industry will benefit from using RFID.

“As well as increasing the visibility of stock and being able to physically track pallets and cartons as they move from one site to the next, RFID will improve the management of products, on-shelf replenishment and tracking promotions,” Fuller said.

Food manufacturers and retailers can also expect this technology to improve food safety and product recalls.

“What is important for consumers is that the products they are eating are safe,” said Fuller.

“RFID allows manufacturers and importers to ensure the ingredients being used are what they should be, which is of particular importance considering the counterfeit products entering the market.

“In terms of recalls, individual tagging of consumer items in the future will allow for selective removal of spoilt products as opposed to clearing entire shelves,” he said.

Despite obvious benefits, there are factors impeding industry-wide implementation of RFID including the cost of tagging, currently around the 7.5 cents mark for bulk purchases, as well as the cost of software, process changes and weighing up the return on investment.

“Implementing RFID is not a simple thing to do, it is a major move for an organisation but a move that is inevitable,” Fuller said.

“The major retailers have said for certain it is going to come and it’s not far away.”

The GS1 advisory group, comprised of industry leaders such as Woolworths, Coles and Visy, are currently devising a road map to assist the food industry in implementing RFID over the next few years.

LabWare wins award

Laboratory Automation software specialists, LabWare, has won the Scientific Computing and Instrumentation’s Readers’ Choice Award in the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) category for the eighth consecutive year.

Labware’s flagship product, the LabWare LabStation, which is built into LabWare LIMS’s, was also awarded the Instrument Integration category award.

As the leading LIMS journal, Scientific Computing and Instrumentation conduct an annual Readers’ Choice Award survey, asking readers to rate various laboratory applications and instrument categories.

With its ability to provide a wide range of support for instruments, combined with its advanced connectivity features, the LabStation proved more popular than other Instrument Integration products in the market.