Importers of high dose caffeine products on notice

Anyone who knowingly tries to import pure and highly concentrated caffeine products into the country for retail sale could face up to 10 years jail if convicted.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said it was an offence to import food into Australia that posed a risk to human health.

“Our government has amended imported food legislation to target and prevent entry of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products, intended for retail sale,” Minister McKenzie said.

“This is in support of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) action to amend the Code to ban the retail sale of these products, which are a threat to human health.

“The ban applies to food intended for retail sale where total caffeine is present at a concentration of five per cent or more in solid or semi-solid foods, like powders, or one per cent or more if the food is in liquid form.

READ MORE: Nestlé uses blockchain to authenticate coffee origin

“This is a significant dose at which the risk of serious health effects start to increase and should not be available for retail sale—let alone be allowed into Australia.

“The safety of Australians is paramount and that’s why I have amended the Imported Food Control Order 2019 to classify pure and highly concentrated caffeine products as risk food.

“It is an offence to import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health. Importers who knowingly import food into Australia that poses a risk to human health can face a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.”

The Government tightened regulations following the death last year of a New South Wales man that was attributed to acute caffeine toxicity associated with the consumption of a caffeine powder product.

Minister McKenzie said the ban would not affect caffeinated products like coffee, energy or cola drinks, which had much lower concentrations, or the import of commercial quantities by manufacturers for use as ingredients in these types of products.

FSANZ will soon be starting a campaign to educate Australian consumers about the risks of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products and the dangers of purchasing these products online.

The four steps of food safety systems

Who hasn’t felt nervous before an audit? There is so much pressure today on food safety professionals to accomplish successfully audits, especially when we have a big client requiring it or a certification body doing it. Most of us neglect the fact that audits should be perceived as one (more) powerful tool in the continuous improvement of our food safety system.

Audits
What is an audit? Probably one of the most common and used audit definition is the one provided by the ISO 19011 – Guidelines for auditing management systems. In its last update (2018) the ISO document defines audit as systematic, independent, and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluate it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled.

In this definition, ISO decided to reinforce the importance of the evidence being objective since the only change from the 2011 definition was the substitution of audit evidence for objective evidence. More details can be found in the GFSI definition for audit present in the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements version 7.2: A systematic and functionally independent examination to determine whether activities and related results comply with a conforming scheme, whereby all the elements of this scheme should be covered by reviewing the supplier’s manual and related procedures, together with an evaluation of the production facilities. Clearly, in common, we have that audits should be a systematic and independent process to determine compliance with criteria.

As a systematic process, auditing has two main roles:
1. Validating that the food safety systems are thought and built to fulfil the criteria
2. Verifying that the activities performed to comply with what is planned and are effective.
If we think in simple terms, we can divide a food safety system into four steps. First, we have to research what should be done (based on what the organisation does, the law, criteria or elements of the conforming scheme or system). Then say what you do. That is, we should have defined what is planned to do to fulfil the criteria. But this is not enough. More important even is to do as you say. In daily work, people in the organisation should execute their functions and tasks accordingly with what is established. Finally, we must have evidence to be sure we can always reply affirmatively to the question: is it done as said? During an audit, the auditor should validate that what you say you do is enough, go to the field and verify not only that things are done as said but also look for evidence that was done as said.
The Auditor

As presented above, during an audit the auditor must be able to validate and verify compliance with criteria or requirements. For that, the auditor must have adequate attributes and knowledge. In the diagram below are presented the main elements of an auditor and an audit.

If audits are to be used as a tool to improve the food safety system it must be performed independently and free from bias or conflict of interest, should be systematic and well documented. Although sometimes it may look like that anyone can be an auditor, that is not the case, at least, for food safety audits. The first two essential elements in an auditor, personal characteristics and skills are related to the person and not specific to food safety. Typically, an auditor should have ethical behaviour, be an organised and observant person (even curious) and have an emphatic and diplomatic approach. The auditor will also benefit from having skills related to how to question or interview people, how to conduct a systematic audit, how to prepare an audit report and active listening, among others. On top of the pyramid is, of course, the knowledge of food safety and the industry. It is paramount that auditors know the law and requirements or criteria that apply to the organisation and its product line they are auditing. Education, training and experience in the field they are auditing is also a basic requirement but is also essential for how much the organisation may benefit from the audit.
The Future of Audits
Assessing and harmonising an auditor’s knowledge and skills is certainly an important goal for the future. This is important not only to establish a minimal baseline of competencies for auditors but also to establish credibility for the profession and the process. The recent release by GFSI knowledge exam is a step in that direction, offering a consistent method to assess auditor knowledge across a range of relevant skills for all GFSI-recognised programmes. Auditors seeking to audit GFSI-recognised certification programs will find questions about specific technical skills well as standard audit skills.

Another aspect that needs to be improved is the perception of value added by food safety audits. Auditors should do everything in their power (without compromising the independent, systematic and documented approach) to make the process beneficial to the organisation and their food safety system.

Technology is evolving at an outstanding pace but for the moment the adaptation of new tools and technologies to auditing seems delayed. It is not difficult to foresee that technologies like smart glasses can play a role in the future of audits. Mainly people advocate that this tool could reduce travel costs but maybe we should focus more on how this technology could increase the number of audits for the same cost.

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.

Food regulations helps accelerate natural food colour additives sales

The global natural food colour additives market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of more than 5 per cent during the forecast period in terms of value. With the growing awareness of the masses towards using clean label products, the usage of natural food colour additives has been gaining traction. The aversion of consumers towards the synthetic and chemical products has been evident in the recent past. The key factors affecting the natural food colour additives market are the increasing downstream demand and consumer health consciousness.

The rules and regulations regarding the chemical content limits have become stringent and have been heavily imposed by various governments. Major changes have been implemented in the global food colour additives market with the introduction of ISO 22000, designed to address food safety management systems. This will help garner significant demand for product in the forecast period.

The demand for the natural and plant derived products is creating significant opportunities for the food and beverage industry. Manufacturing companies are replacing synthetic or artificial colours with natural food colour additives. According to various health associations and organisations, the consumption of food with such additives are beneficial for health, as it fulfils a  range of nutrients demand. The long-term use of the these additives will help the consumers to sustain better food and snacking habits.

READ MORE: Five signs of a lagging food safety culture

These products refer to any substance used to impart desired colour when mixed. Natural food colour additives are either vegetable and fruit derived, or animal derived, or can be obtained from other natural sources. Multiple product offerings are available for natural food colour additives like Carotenoids, Turmeric oleoresin, Enocianina, Paprika oleoresin, Spirulina Extract, Chlorophyll, Carmine and others. The portfolio of these products is increasing day by day.

Catering to the needs of the consumers, industry players have been using natural food colour additives in beverages, milk products, baked goods, confectionery, snack and cereals, soups and sauces, meat products and others. Among beverages, natural food colour additives are used for carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, milk drinks, juice-based drinks and others. Beverages holds a prominent share for natural food colour additives and is expected to augment the market growth during the forecast period. Use of these additives in dairy products include yogurt, ice cream, frozen dairy products, dips and spreads and cheese. Natural food colour additives in bakeries and similar institutions for making baked goods usually have a standard offering of bread, cakes,  biscuits and cookies. In terms of meat products, these additives are used to make the processed meat and poultry and seafood, aesthetically pleasing.

Due to the shifting consumer behavior toward the vegan and organic trends in United States, the companies with clean labels and organic claims have been gaining special brownie points. The FDA’s ban on PHO’s (Partially Hydrogenated Oils), the majorly used emulsifiers, has created the need for alternatives. The inclination of end use industries for natural food colour additives is due to the broad range of colours and colour stability. Research for cheaper and sustainable ways for extraction of these additives will help the end use industries with a plethora of options. The markets for these products in East Asia and South Asia are expected to have exponential growth rate in the forecast years. Albeit the icky factor that comes with carmine, a colour derived from cochineal beetles, the growth of carmine will hold a steady growth rate in this market

Allergies: why traceability in food is important

Allergies are a life-altering and life-threatening condition. Daily, up to 20 per cent of patients with allergies face the fear of fatal reactions. Currently worldwide, seven per cent of children have been diagnosed with allergies, compared to just three per cent of the adult population. This  increase demonstrates the need for the food industry to do more to prepare for growing levels of dietary delicacy.

Food manufacturers need to understand this delicate balance, but there are often many barriers stopping them from reporting accurately. From food fraud to confusing or conflicting legislation, the barriers to effective traceability are diverse. However, the risk to consumers is high – even one mistake can cause potentially fatal consequences.

Traceability
Traceability is the ability to track food through all stages of production, processing and distribution. Most legislation requires producers to be able to trace products one step backwards and one step forwards, at any point in the supply chain. This means that as long as every part of the supply chain is reliable it is hard for ingredients to be mislabeled. It’s simple in theory but can often be a difficult concept to implement.

Food manufacturers need to be compliant with the ISO 22005:2007 standard for traceability in the feed and food chain. However, due to the complexity of modern supply chains, it is harder, but also more vital than ever to have a good overview of the complete process.

To this extent, it is good practice for a food and beverage producer to trace every single ingredient throughout the whole of their supply chain. Not only will this have good business applications, because fully understanding a supply chain will drastically reduce the cost of a recall, but problematic steps or points of contamination will become easier to trace, cutting down the number of products that need to be recalled.

Technology
There are tools available to improve traceability, including automated control systems that allow manufacturers to give their product a digital, trackable passport. Recording the details of production digitally through automation systems and feeding them into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software or Manufacturing Operations Management suite (MOM), will create a comprehensive digital trace.

ERPs and MOMs work by integrating all facets of a business into a single database, allowing an in-depth view of business operations. The systems can then break down a production plant into distinct steps, meaning plant managers can easily identify when a contaminate, or potential contaminant, is present. Producers can then state exactly what is in their product and plant managers can accurately understand how many batches need recalling if issues do occur.

While more than 50 million Americans sufferer from chronic allergies every year, this number is expected to double by 2025. With the rate of people with allergies rising, manufacturers need to prepare their systems for even more detail and reporting for customers. Installing robust traceability can help eradicate unintended allergic reactions, building strong consumer trust and ultimately saving lives.

 

Food additives market to exceed $163 bn by 2024

A report by Global Market Insights has stated that the worldwide food additives market was valued $78 billion in 2018 and will surpass a revenue collection of $163 billion by 2024 with an annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent over 2018 to 2024.

Growing consumer awareness about health consciousness along with supportive government schemes has led to widespread usage of food additives in market. Technology innovation in food industry pertaining to consumer’s demand for healthy and organic product options will positively affect market growth.

Food additives have various applications in bakery and confectionery, beverages, dairy and frozen products, sauce and dressings among others. Global frozen desserts market size accounted over $14 Billion in 2017 and is predicted to register substantial gain in future period owing to rising trend of outside dining and inclination of young population towards tasty flavors.

Food additives are used to improve the safety and quality along with lengthening the shelf life, keeping it fresh and suitable to consume for longer periods. They help in preventing the growth of fungi, bacteria, and yeasts due to the presence of water in excess quantities leading to product spoilage. Growing preferences of consumers toward processed products and beverages owing to the changing lifestyle patterns accompanied by high economic growth will drive the market growth for food additives in the coming years.

U.S. food additives market demand may exceed $33 billion by the end of 2024 owing to favorable government mandates regarding the approval of various substances. The introduction of Food Safety Modernisation Act was passed by the U.S. government to address concerns regarding food additives including pathogens. High penetration of obesity and metabolic syndromes has led to increasing consumption of functional ingredients and dietary supplements in the region.

Artificial flavours and enhancers are likely to register significant gains over five per cent by the end of forecast time-frame. Artificial flavors are additives designed to mimic the taste of natural ingredients. They are a cheap way for manufacturers to make something taste like strawberry, for example, without actually using any real strawberries. They are used in various applications including beverages, confectionery products, thereby propels the product demand.

Bakery and confectionery application of food additive market is expected to surpass over $50 billion by the end of 2024. They are used in bakery applications including biscuits and cakes, cookies, sandwiches, breads and chocolates, thereby stimulating the market size. They are used in bakery and confectionery products as a powerful thickening agent, and also used as a stabiliser to prevent ingredients from separating, which will propel the product demand in bakery and confectionery application.

Stevia market demand may exceed $867 million by the end of 2024. It develops most of its sweetness from glycosides called stevioside and rebaudioside. Stevia can lower human high blood pressure by six per cent to 14 per cent. These compounds are 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose and they have the ability to withstand heat and have a long shelf life, thereby stimulating industry demand.

China food additives market demand may exceed $14 billion by the end of 2024. Increase in demand for packaged food and beverages owing to busy and hectic schedules will further drive market growth. Food additives in the packaged products and helps in enhancing the shelf life along with maintaining freshness. High growth in urbanization along with growing middle-class population will also enhance the demand for packaged products and beverages in the country.

Food additives market from dairy application is expected to gain over 4.5 per cent over forecast period. These products are used in the application of dairy and frozen desserts which includes cheese and milk. Sorbitan esters are used as a blending agent in dairy product. Shelf-life stabilizers are widely used in ice creams to avoid the formation of ice crystals. It provides important nutrients to the human body for good health.

BASF, ADM, Ajinomoto, DuPont and Cargill are the prominent industry participants in food additives market. Strong R&D spending by manufacturers in order to comply with various environmental regulations may improve and expand product portfolio thereby stimulating industry growth.

CSIRO maps out Australia’s food future

New technologies could see us eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts and tolerable varieties of lactose and gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging.

Speaking at the launch during the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (AIFST) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy , highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry.

Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.

Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the Roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.

Deputy Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Dr Martin Cole said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.

“Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change,” Dr Cole said.

“Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating.

“Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.

The Roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre: Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).

Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.

“With the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities,” FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said.

“Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs.

“This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products.”

Currently, Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.

Dr Cole explained that Australia is a trusted supplier of sustainable, authentic, healthy, high quality and consistent products.

“We must focus on these strengths and enhance the level of value-adding to our products,” DrCole said.

“Recent Austrade analysis shows early signs of such a shift, as for the first time in Australia’s history value-added foods have accounted for the majority (60 per cent) of food export growth.”

The Roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use less resources.

Five key enablers for these opportunities are explored in the Roadmap: traceability and provenance, food safety and biosecurity, market intelligence and access, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and skills.

These enablers align with FIAL’s knowledge priority areas that are central in helping the food and agribusiness industry achieve its vision and deliver increased productivity, sustainable economic growth, job creation, and investment attraction for the sector.

The Roadmap calls for improved collaboration and knowledge sharing to generate scale, efficiency and agility across rapidly changing value chains and markets.

“To survive and grow, the challenge facing Australia’s 177,000 businesses in the food and agribusiness sector is to identify new products, services and business models that arise from the emerging needs of tomorrow’s global customers,” Dr Cole said.

Arrow Energy set to fix manufacturers’ energy woes

Arrow Energy has announced plans to double the production capacity of its Tipton gas project in Queensland amid an east-coast industrial gas shortage.

The planned expansion of Arrow’s Tipton operations is expected to involve 90 new wells in the initial phase and another 180 wells over the next 25 years.

It will also include new gathering lines, an upgraded water treatment facility and four new compressors.

“This project continues the development of the Arrow resource which will see more gas in the market,” said Arrow Energy CEO Qian Mingyang.

The project follows investment of more than $600 million by Arrow in its Surat Basin infrastructure, including $500 million towards its Daandine expansion project commissioned in late 2016 and more than $100 million to expand capacity at its Daandine and Tipton fields.

“We only hope that the other states follow Queensland’s lead and open up gas reserves to help fix the energy crisis households and businesses, especially manufacturers, along the eastern seaboard are facing,” said Mingyang.

Hygienic transport system for food makers

XTS Hygienic, the stainless steel version of the eXtended Transport System from Beckhoff, opens up a wide spectrum of new applications for processing and filling liquids.

 

Allowing optimal cleanability with the high protection rating of IP 69K, very good chemical resistance and without any hidden corners, edges or undercuts, the hygienic design offers maximum production line availability even when the demands made on hygiene are high.

The XTS replaces mechanics with software functionality to allow for a high degree of design freedom in realising completely new machine concepts.

Through a significant reduction in mechanical engineering requirements, machines can be set up with the XTS more compactly, at a lighter weight and with less wiring.

Thus, machine builders can now offer smaller, more powerful and more efficient systems and the end user benefits accordingly from a smaller footprint, higher productivity and quicker product switchovers.

With the XTS Hygienic, which is so much easier to clean compared to more complex mechanical systems, the routine cleaning tasks along with those for product switchover – which are optimally supported by the XTS as standard – can be performed much more quickly. .

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

Vantage Australia has just been awarded the silver medal in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

More than 2,100 spirits were judged this year, the largest number of entries in the competition’s 17-year history with the botanical Vantage Australia taking home the silver medal in this year’s awards.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 silver medal demonstrates that Vantage Australia is among the finest in the spirits industry, awarded for its ability to show refinement and finesse.

Vantage Australia was recognised for its multi-layered complexity, the smooth yet peppery mixture is made up of Australian botanicals, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian mountain pepper berries with a hint of mandarin oil from Australian produced imperial mandarins.

Complimented with zesty citrus notes, this unique premium Australian tipple has the ability to cut across traditional spirit genres, making it the perfect base for most mixers while also giving life to old classics, with an Australian twist.

Riding on its 2016 success, where Vantage Australia won Best Innovation-Best in Class 2016 from the Australian Drinks Awards, the Aussie spirit was also recognised for strong performance across key measures, including purchase intention, excitement, and relevance.

Vantage Australia was honoured with this prize for having the highest level of uniqueness, reflected through its inspiration of Australian native flora.

The complex flavour comes from only using natural bush foods to create a blend that blurs the lines between sweet and dry, giving this multi-layered spirit the uniqueness that it has been nationally and now internationally, recognised for.

“We are honoured by the international award Vantage Australia has received from the highly competitive San Francisco World Spirits Competition and now having been involved with this year’s TV Week Logie Awards, we appreciate the overwhelming domestic and international support our Australian owned and produced spirit has received,” said Bill Hargitay, Vantage Australia Owner.

It’s full steam ahead for Woolies

FMCG giant Woolworths has posted its strongest sales growth in seven years- with sales rising 4.5 per cent in the March quarter, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

This figure was well above market forecasts between 3.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent and compared is the strongest quarter for Woolworths supermarkets since the first quarter 2010.

According to Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci, “We are pleased with the continued improvement in Australian food sales in the third quarter, particularly the more stable and predictable nature of our daily and weekly sales,” he said.

Banducci also said that he wanted to build on this figure well into the next financial year.

“We are focused on making sure we continue our progress in rebuilding sustainable sales momentum for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018,” he told the AFR.

‘Made in Australia’ label ranked #14 globally

 

A study by statistics firm Statista researched 43,000 consumers from 49 different countries to determine the world’s most respected ‘Made in’ labels. According to the study, Australia ranks 14th.

Germany ranked first, receiving 100 index points, closely followed by Switzerland with 98 index points.

Other nations in the top five include the EU as a whole, the UK and Sweden.

Australia’s 14th place ranking puts the nation just above New Zealand (ranked 15th), and below the Netherlands (ranked 13th).

At the end of the spectrum were China on 28 index points and Iran on 27 index points. Statista noted the irony of the fact that Germany scored the top rank, considering that the

‘Made in’ label was introduced by Britain at the end of the 19thcentury to protect its economy from “cheap, low quality and sometimes counterfeit” imports from Germany.

Patties Foods buys up Australian Wholefoods

According to the AFR, Patties Foods has swallowed up South Australia’s Australian Wholefoods.

In what is looking very much like a pattern, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), which bought out Patties Food in 2016 and then followed that up by buying Leader Foods, has now devoured Australian Wholefoods, thereby allowing it to push into additional categories of the food services sector.

Australian Wholefoods employs about 130 people and its says it produces more than 100,000 chilled ready meals every week.

The company has introduced a number of new product lines like Clever Cooks, a fresh-food brand free from artificial colours or preservatives.

The latest acquisition has triggered speculation that PEP will sell the combined food business it to Asian buyers, which, the AFR noted, have shown a “keen appetite for Australian food manufacturing assets in the last few years.”

Refresh Group acquires bottled water supplier Aquazuro

Refresh Group has acquired Sydney-based bottled water supplier Aquazuro Australia, with the intention to integrate Aquazuro’s bottled water delivery business into its existing operations.

Aside from Neverfail, owned by Coca-Cola Amatil, Refresh is the only other company in the home and office delivery segment of the bottled water market that operates in multiple locations, according to the company.

Refresh expects the acquisition of Aquazuro to increase its revenue and profit, as well as increasing its customer density in Sydney, thereby reducing distribution costs.

The company now has factories in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Kalgoorlie.

Refresh is currently looking into other acquisition opportunities to expand its growth.

Chinese supermarkets stop selling Brazilian meat

 

According to a story from the Voice of America (VoA), some of China’s largest food suppliers have stopped selling Brazilian beef and poultry following a scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry.

While Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, fears over Brazilian meat safety have increased since police accused inspectors of taking bribes to permit the sale of rotten and infected meats.

The announcement from the Chinese food suppliers comes days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian all meat imports.

Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Mexico have also announced they were stopping major imports of some Brazilian meat.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said the sale of rotten meat was an “economic embarrassment for the country.”

The Brazilian government has so far barred the exports of meats from 21 plants under investigation, while officials have tried to calm consumers by saying the recent investigation has found only “isolated problems with rotten or infected meat”.

However, the reaction by Chinese food suppliers suggests that the investigation could have a big effect on the world’s top meat exporter, said VoA.

Brazil’s trade associations for meat producers warned that the scandal could affect the economy considering meat exports make up 15 per cent of total exports.

 

 

 

Australian researchers find way to stop food mould

West Australian researchers led by Dr. Kirsty Bayliss have discovered how to stop mould growing on fresh food.

Dr. Bayliss will be presenting her technology, titled ‘Breaking the Mould’, a chemical-free treatment for fresh produce that increases shelf-life, prevents mould and decay, and reduces food wastage, in the US.

“Our technology will directly address the global food security challenge by reducing food waste and making more food available for more people,” Dr. Bayliss said.

“The technology is based on the most abundant form of matter in the universe– plasma. Plasma kills the moulds that grow on fruit and vegetables, making fresh produce healthier for consumption and increasing shelf-life.”

Dr. Bayliss’s Murdoch University team has been working on preliminary trials for the past 18 months and are now preparing to start scaling up trials to work with commercial production facilities.

Dr. Bayliss said the LAUNCH Food Innovation Challenge was a “huge opportunity.”

“I will be presenting our research to an audience comprising investors, company directors and CEOs, philanthropists and other influential people from organisations such as Fonterra, Walmart, The Gates Foundation, as well as USAID, DFAT and even Google Food.”

“What is really exciting is the potential linkages and networks that I can develop; already NASA are interested in our work,” she said.

In an interview with ABC Online, she said “Food wastage contributes to a lot of the food insecurity as the US and Europe wastes around 100 kilograms of food per person every year.

“If we could reduce food wastage by a quarter, we could feed 870 million people.”

Dr. Bayliss said the technology also kills bacteria associated with food-borne illness, such as salmonella and listeria.

 

 

Bosch Australia partners with Food CRC

While the recently-announced Food Agility CRC will be funded with $50 million over ten years along with $160 million in commitments from 54 partner organisations, Bosch Australia will be a lead technology partner and will apply its agriculture technology expertise and resource to projects in connected agriculture and automation.

The Food Agility CRC will integrate the agile culture and processes of the digital economy through a whole-of-value-chain lens for fresh and processed food.

“Global food production needs to double by 2050 and the opportunity that presents to the Australian food industry is enormous,” says Mike Briers, CEO of the Food Agility CRC and UTS Industry Professor.

Bosch Australia said it is making significant investments in connected agriculture and food automation oriented activities in this region, including direct investment in Australian start-ups.

Most recently ‘The Yield’, an early stage Internet of Things (IoT) company focused on Micro-Climate sensing technology in Agriculture and Aquaculture. “

The Food Agility CRC will have a direct impact on the food and agriculture sector,” said Gavin Smith, Bosch President with responsibility for the region Oceania.
“There’s no better place than Australia to develop digital and automation solutions in food technology.”

Food industry penalty rate change applauded by business

The Australian Industry Group has welcomed today’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) Penalty Rates Decision.

“The Commission has accepted Ai Group’s evidence and arguments to re-set penalty rates in the fast food industry to better align them with the characteristics and needs of 21st century workplaces,” Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said.

“Ai Group represented the fast food industry in the case.  A great deal of evidence was presented from Ai Group members, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks, and from relevant experts.”

“A very high proportion of employees in the fast food industry are young people who have study commitments during normal business hours.”

The Commission accepted Ai Group’s evidence that young people often prefer to work in the evenings and on weekends, and that many prefer to work on Sundays rather than Saturdays.

“In the fast food industry, weekends and evenings are peak times. Regular business hours have little relevance to businesses in the fast food industry and, therefore, penalty rates that were designed many decades ago around regular business hours need to be re-set.”

“In the Decision, the Commission has recognised that existing Sunday penalty rates in the fast food industry are not fair for employers and no longer relevant.”

“The new penalty rates will be phased in over at least two years to reduce the impact upon employees.”

“The five-Member Full Bench, headed by FWC President, Justice Iain Ross, made their decision on penalty rates in the fast food industry after a case which continued for over two years. The Full Bench carefully weighed up all the arguments and evidence and arrived at a fair and sensible outcome.”

“What is important now is that the decision by the independent umpire is implemented as soon as possible, and that all parties accept the outcome,” Willox said.

Coffee cherry moonshine ready for Xmas from Campos

Melbourne Moonshine Cáscara Moonshine is made from the dehydrated cherries of the coffee plant.

Traditionally discarded, Campos says it has worked with a small coffee farm in Costa Rica to keep and naturally dry the cherries, resulting in a fruity coffee variety that gives a more subtle tea-like taste.

Campos Coffee, the specialty roaster founded out of a small Newtown café, has always been focused on innovation in coffee, and realised the untapped potential of this previously under-utilised part of the coffee tree.

After months of testing to get the flavours right, the end result is a rich liqueur with cherry and raisin flavours, and hints of molasses, reminiscent of Christmas Cake.