What bulk packaging system should you choose?

When it comes to choosing a bulk packaging system, every business has its own unique needs. There are different types of bulk packaging systems available on the market, and each machine comes with its own uses and advantages.

Some focus more on outer packaging functions such as forming, cleaning, and sealing. Others focus more on the interior of the package through filling, wrapping, and creative packaging solutions. What you’ll need depends on the type of items you’ll be packaging and the type of packaging you’ll be using, as well as your budget.

Form, fill and seal machines (FFS)

These machines are commonly used for food packaging, although they can also be used for other items including liquids and solids. The FFS machine creates a bag from a flat roll of film, while simultaneously filling the bag with the product and sealing the bag once it’s full. The advantages of FFS machines are that they can operate at a high speed and they’re ideal for running the same product continuously.

The cost of the film is cheaper than purchasing pre-made bags, so you will save on operating costs. However, changing the film is time-consuming, and if the bag is dropped it will often break.

Vertical form, fill and seal machines (VFFS)

VFFS machines fill each bag before heat sealing it, labelling it with a time stamp, and auto cutting the bag. Most VFFS machines can operate at about one finished bag per second, so they are ideal for businesses with high output requirements.

They can be used for small individual packages (like sachets) or for larger bags, and they can package a wide variety of materials like seeds, powders, liquids. VFFS machines are suitable for bagging oats, hay, mulch, fertilisers and more.

Bale packaging machines

Bale packaging machines use hydraulic cylinders to compress products to a quarter of their original size. This allows you to store more products, maximise your available space, and save on packing and transportation costs. This type of bulk packaging system is normally used for cereals, rags, sawdust, humus, straw, hay and fodder.

Valve bag fillers

These machines are consistent, accurate, and simple to install and adjust. Valve bag fillers use a two-stage filling system. The majority of product is filled at maximum rate, and then just before the bag reaches its target, the machine reduces the fill rate to a dribble feed.

This way, the machine can stop filling more accurately when the bag reaches its target weight.

Valve bag fillers are relatively small machines, so they don’t take up a lot of floor space. They’re suitable for packaging dry materials, powders and granular products such as soil, mulch, minerals, grains or concrete mix.

Pre-made bags or open mouth baggers

These systems are extremely flexible. They are compatible with paper bags or woven bags, heat sealers, inner liners, stitched outer bags, fold overs and taped seals.

They offer various feeding methods including gravity feeding, auger feeding, and vibratory feeding, providing you with the ability to package unusual products.

You can add dust extraction systems or bag compression functions depending on your business needs. Poly woven bags are, on average, more robust than FFS bags, but your cost per bag will be higher. Open mouth baggers also tend to be slower than FFS systems.

Visit www.accupak.com.au to find out more.

Tetra Pak announces new US$110 million Vietnam factory

Bolstered by rapid consumption growth and increasing customer needs in the Asia Pacific region, leading food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak today announced their US$110 million investment in a state-of-the-art regional manufacturing facility near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to serve customers across the region.

The move is prompted by increasing consumption volumes, with the 2016 total packed liquid dairy and fruit-based beverages intake at 70 billion litres across ASEAN, South Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Additionally, over the next three years, these markets are likely to grow at a healthy 5.6 per cent per annum, with products packed in Tetra Pak cartons projected to grow at a much faster rate as compared to other packaging formats such as glass bottles and cans.

“Tetra Pak has been present in the region for decades, with our first factory set up in Gotemba, Japan in 1971,” said Michael Zacka, Regional Vice President, Tetra Pak South Asia, East Asia and Oceania.

“Over the years, we have seen substantial growth of our products, driven by a wide portfolio and a number of innovations that we have introduced in the market. Hence our investment in a new plant, which will be our fourth Packaging Material factory in the region, providing us with expansive coverage and scale.

This decision is a strong reflection of our commitment to the region and our firm belief in its future potential.”

The greenfield factory, expected to begin operations in Q1 2019, will have an expandable production capacity of approximately 20 Billion packs per annum, across a variety of packaging formats, including the popular Tetra Brik Aseptic and Tetra Fino Aseptic.

It will primarily serve customers based in ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand. With a strong focus on sustainability, the site will adopt a host of global best practices to minimise the environmental footprint, including the utilisation of a high proportion of renewable energy sources.

This investment will complement Tetra Pak’s three long-standing production facilities in Singapore, India and Japan, building on the wealth of experience built up throughout the company’s operation in the region.

Together, the factories will enable the company to offer more innovations, efficiency and customer service to meet the rapid growth in Asia.

“We are committed to investing in Australia and New Zealand’s food export business to help our customers tap into the huge opportunities opening up both at home and in the wider region. Our investment in this manufacturing facility means we will be able service our ASEAN markets more efficiently, offering greater innovation, enhanced quality, efficiency and flexibility for producers.” said Craig Salkeld, Managing Director for Oceania, Tetra Pak.

AFGC warns of tough times ahead for food makers

The latest Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) annual industry snapshot State of the Industry 2016 shows a 14 per cent increase in Australia’s food and grocery exports in 2015-16 to some extent moderated by the challenging economic conditions confronting Australia’s $125.9 billion food and grocery processing sector.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson said while the State of the Industry 2016 highlighted export growth and a lift in overall industry turnover, falling capital investment and stalling job growth are clear warning signs for the future of Australia’s largest manufacturing sector.

“This year’s State of the Industry highlights the importance of the food and grocery sector to Australia’s economy, as well as its resilience in the face of the significant challenges it faces to stay competitive,” said Dawson.

“The good news is that industry turnover continues to increase with food and grocery processing now making up 33 per cent of total Australian manufacturing. This growth is largely on the back of strong growth in exports. In 2015-16 food and beverage exports grew by 11 per cent to $26bn, fresh produce exports up 49 per cent to $1.5bn and grocery (non-food) exports up 32 per cent to $4bn.

“Yet low domestic growth, rising costs for energy and other inputs, and six years of retail price deflation in the ongoing supermarket price war has created relentless pressure back through the supply chain to become more efficient in order to stay competitive.”

“In 2015-16 job growth stalled across the food and grocery sector reflecting the ongoing financial pressure the sector is under which is forcing food and grocery producers and processors to cut costs across every part of their business.”

“A key concern is the continuing decline in capital Investment at a time when a step change upwards in investment is required to fully capitalise on improved market access and growing demand from middle class consumers in the emerging economies of Asia and the Middle East,” said Dawson.



Food conveyor cleaning nozzles

According to Techpro, food conveyor cleaning can now be done quicker and also more cost effectively.

While manual conveyor cleaning is regularly undertaken to ensure Australia’s first-class food hygiene protocols are maintained, a number of manufacturers have found effective conveyor cleaning is achievable simply by installing the correct spray nozzles for the job.

A properly automated conveyor cleaning system should provide uniformed cleaning across the entire conveyor as well as efficient water usage.

Optimal results can only be achieved when the positioning of spray nozzles is carefully planned.

Other factors to consider include available water pressure and flow rate, nozzle size, droplet size and spray pattern.

Woolworths’ SPC tomato deal canned, fruit contract uncertain

Woolworths has confirmed it will no longer source tinned tomatoes from SPC Ardmona in Shepparton, and won’t say whether it will continue to buy tinned fruit from the Goulburn Valley cannery.

The Herald Sun reports that a “goodwill” deal to buy SPC’s tomatoes had ended, with pressure coming from federal and state politicians for the supermarket chain to continue its five-year, $70 million contract for home brand canned fruit.

“Woolworths needs to honour their contracts. Everyone in this arrangement needs to honour their contracts,” said opposition leader Matthew Guy.

AAP reports that Woolworths is currently discussing volumes and prices for the coming season, as it does every year.

Woolworths says it remains committed to the “spirit” of the partnership, which has helps support employment of roughly 1,000, plus a similar number of indirect jobs.

As reported yesterday, Woolworths is considering the end of its five-year contract with the Coca Cola-Amatil-owned Ardmona, which was announced in 2014 while the cannery operation was fighting to stay open.

“They really got on board with the Buy Australian campaign at that time and it’s pretty cynical behaviour now two years into a deal to back out,” Shepparton independent MP Suzanna Sheed told AAP yesterday.

It received $22 million in Victorian government support from the former state government to modernise its facilities.


Tomra acquires Compac for A$65m

Norway’s Tomra Systems has agreed to a buyout deal of NZ$70m (A$65m) for Kiwi fruit sorting company Compac Holdings.

The 100 per cent acquisition of the Auckland based packhouse automation systems maker by Tomra will see it expand extend its global operations.

The deal is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

“Market forces have driven double-digit growth at Compac over recent years, and we have rapidly become a global business from humble New Zealand roots,” Compac chief executive Mike Riley said.

He also added that the merger will see Compac being able to meet the increasing demands for their products and services in a more “scalable and operationally efficient manner”. Executive vice president and head of Tomra sorting Volker Rehrmann explained,

“Compac serves complimentary food sorting markets, which is a very welcome addition to the Tomra sorting food business. We see our customers’ needs evolving and with our complementary solutions and an increased ability to leverage our combined food sorting technologies, we are ready to meet future customer needs.”

Despite the acquisition, Compac’s leadership will stay in place in the new structure, operating as a standalone entity while Tomra will still continue to offer its existing product portfolio.

Tomra has also said it will continue to invest in Compac’s R&D activities as the Norwegian group’s “centre of excellence for lane sorting” worldwide.

Have we finally entered the age of the Chato?

Potato has long been in the staple diet for the Australian diet. However, with rising global consumerism and increasing concerns over food security, the market looks to be turning towards alternative and more sustainable food sources.

Australian inventor Andrew Dyhin from PotatoMagic in Melbourne has claimed to have achieved a breakthrough to save wasted potatoes.

In 12 years of what he has coined as “intense research”, Dyhin has developed what he has coined the “chato” that looks like a block of cheese, melts like cheese but all potato. Furthermore, according to Mr Dyhin, the potatoes are peeled and processed with no added ingredients making it a reportedly eco friendly process.

The “chato” can be melted or sliced like a cheese, cut into cubes and served as a salad, or mixed with water and additional ingredients to make any consistency of liquid including dips, aoli and custard.

With over roughly 75000 tonnes of potatoes wasted annually in Australia, Dyhin sees an opportunity to push the “chato” product into a commercialisation phase and attract investors with a target to set up a pilot production plant within a year.

“Food security is a very important issue and we need to look at products that have more yield per hectare, like potatoes.”

“And also how we use that yield. Something like 25 per cent of all potato that is grown doesn’t make it to the plate, mostly because it’s not pretty enough for the shelves,”  Dyhin said.

“While he’s proud of the work he’s doing, he said the bigger issues at play are food security and the environment, and chato could help feed the future population of Australia and the world.”

“We need to find alternatives to animals and intensive agricultural practises. With chato we can take any potato, especially the ones that will just be thrown away, and make something that’s delicious and versatile. We can make the most of what we have,” added Dyhin.

Aussie wine scoops three gold CWSA Awards

Calabria Wines has outclassed the competition at the recent China Wine & Spirits Awards, taking home three Gold Medals from the competition, including the prestigious Double Gold.

The company’s 2013 Iconic Grand Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz was awarded the superior Double Gold, while the 2014 Three Bridges Durif & 2014 Three Bridges Barossa Valley Shiraz both won a Gold Medal.

“We are very proud of the success we have yielded for our Barossa wines. We have worked extremely hard to produce high quality wines from this region and the C.W.S.A accolades reinforce our long term commitment to the Barossa Valley” commented Calabria Wines third generation family member and Sales & Marketing Manager, Andrew Calabria.

Calabria Wines have been producing Three Bridges Durif for 15 years and it is the company’s most celebrated product.

Coffee company receives $225,000 grant, hires ex-auto workers

Coffee company Industry Beans has been awarded a Victorian government grant of $225,000 under a program aimed at creating jobs for former auto industry workers.

According to a statement from premier Daniel Andrews, the money will be used to assist the firm upgrade its 760 square metre facility at Brunswick, invest in new machinery to boost output, and increase its export revenues by $20 million annually. Industry Beans will also create a “revolutionary e-commerce platform”.

“We know Melbourne’s north will be one of the communities hardest hit, this funding will help bring in new investment and new jobs for former auto workers in the area,” said state employment minister Wade Noonan.

The grants come out of the $33 million Local Industry Fund for Transition. To qualify, businesses must pay for at least 75 per cent of a proposed upgrade out of their own money, and had to “maximise the number of retrenched automotive workers that will transition to their project prior to submitting applications”.

According to the statement, 20 new jobs will be created, with 16 of these for retrenched auto industry workers.

Ford announced in May 2013 that it will end production at its Geelong and Broadmeadows factories in October this year.


Australia’s drinking quantity decreases but quality increases

Australians say they are drinking less but better with our per capita spend on alcohol rising as we seek out more premium alcoholic beverages, according to a new report released today.

The emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) Alcoholic Beverages Trends & Insights Report* found that half of people aged 18 years and over say they are drinking less now than they used to.

There is also a move to premium beverages, with the dollar value of liquor sales rising 1.5%^ in 2015, which means Australians are spending more on their favourite drink. Australia is an overwhelmingly wine and beer drinking nation. Wine is our most popular drink, although men up to age 65 prefer beer, the emma data has found.

Cider is our third most popular drink, followed by scotch or whiskey, with other varieties well behind. Women opt for wine more than twice as often as other drinks, whereas men are more varied in their consumption patterns.

White wine edges out red as the most consumed at 43% of adults, compared to 41%, while 23% enjoy sparkling wine or champagne.

Alcohol is still very much part of Australian culture, with three quarters of adult men and women consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past four weeks.

“The trend towards drinking better offers growth opportunities to premium brands that can tap into the mindset of these consumers.

The move by Australians towards more premium beverages and spending more as a result, underscores the importance of effective brand positioning and marketing.”

Perceptions of quality and value change as people age and emma data shows that older people are more likely to believe that Australian wine is better than that from overseas.

They were also less likely to try foreign beers, preferring homegrown brands. There has been a shift in places and occasions where Australians prefer to drink, which changes by age and life stage. The majority of Australians prefer to drink at home, which was most prevalent among 30-32 years olds at 87%.

Venues where alcohol is consumed differ among various age groups. For example, among 24-26 year olds, 61% drank at a friend or relative’s house, while 19% of 18-20 year olds drank at a nightclub.

Among older people, 50% of 45-47 year olds drank at a restaurant or café, while 36% of 54-56 year olds drank at a bar or pub and a third of 66-68 year olds preferred RSLs, bowls or an AFL club.

According to Ipsos’s consumer segmentation, there are four key segments that represent 35% of Australia’s adult population who are the most likely to drink any alcohol more than once a week.

They are the ‘Educated Ambition’ (highest earners and most educated), ‘Social Creatives’ (young, affluent urbanites), ‘Serene Seclusion’ (people at or near retirement living in regional and rural areas) and ‘Conscientious Consumption’ (middle and upper class families) segments. *

The report draws on data from emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) to explore the changing mindsets, preferences and behaviours of Australian adults towards alcohol. emma interviews more than 54,000 people each year. ^ IBISWorld Liquor Retailing in Australia, March 2016

Embracing change

Change is inevitable and manufacturers who resist it will struggle to survive in today’s competitive market.

Somewhat surprisingly, many manufacturers still regard Change Management as just one of those gimmicks thought up by consultants to increase their income.

When in fact the process can often be vital to a manufacturer’s long term survival, especially one presently in the automotive industry.

As most readers would understand, Change management is a discipline that guides how companies prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organisational success and outcomes.

Mark Philips, Australia’s Head of Manufacturing with Grant Thornton, one of the world’s leading advisory firms, says he is surprised by manufacturing’s lack of enthusiasm and urgency with change management, especially in areas where there has been change.

He says Change Management is critical, but believes the biggest challenge with it is understanding what companies are trying to change to, admitting it’s hard for manufacturers to do what they are currently doing, but differently.

“When manufacturers go to look at modern technology, say additive manufacturing, I don’t tell them to try and create something new, instead I tell them to try and create something they couldn’t do in the past, which they can now do. “That means changing their whole way of thinking.

“For example, metal manufacturers are now able to produce perfectly curved surfaces that they couldn’t do before; that has to be in their repertoire of thinking,” Philips said.

He says the hardest part of getting a Change Management project off the ground is getting people to understand where they need to focus their business.

“The second part is getting them to document it, then it’s about getting them to believe in it. “The fourth part is breaking it up into a number of little achievable steps over a period of time.”

Philips admits Change Management can be a challenge, but says manufacturers who have gone through a structured process of identifying what they can do, how they can get there and have put a plan in place, are far better off than those who rely on a pot luck approach.

He says the first element on the change management journey is understanding what you don’t understand, and understanding what you can’t do. While he describes the importance of listening to customers and stakeholders as the second element.

“It’s surprising how often customers are telling companies that they are not doing certain things, but the companies are not listening.” He says the third element is when companies are looking to move from one opportunity to another.

“Manufacturers should look at the commonalities of what’s involved, because often it’s the same but described in a different language.”

Philips points to car component manufacturers as an example of the first element. “These guys are very bad at distribution, but it’s only because their customers, the car companies, collect their product from them rather than having to deliver the product to the customer, which is the normal situation.

“By default, the car companies have taken away the skill set of how to distribute.” He says the problems start once they leave the car industry, suddenly they are having to package the product to go on the back of a one tonne truck as opposed to a covered semi-trailer.

Then they have the problems of stacking the product on a pallet, organising transport and then getting the product off-loaded at the other end.

“So It’s really important companies look at what they can and can’t do.” He says the second part is understanding how they can use the skill sets they have in different markets. Philips points to manufacturers in the food industry who believe they have a number of unique issues around traceability, validation, delivery times, sequenced inventory and quality.

“However we have found that the car component guys have all these skills and understand all these areas. The problem is they don’t think they can make the transition, when it is a very real possibility.”


Philips says there is a lot of talk around at the moment about reskilling automotive companies. “But I would like to see more people understanding the skill sets already in the automotive industry and working out how they can capitalise on them in other industries.”

“For example, when it comes to cost-down skills, the automotive industry has been producing products year on year at roughly a 3% reduction in price. While food manufacturers are focused on delivering a better quality product to consumers at a lower cost. That’s just a different language for cost-downs.”

Philips says the problem is a lot of food manufacturers see cost-downs coming at a cost of margins.

“However car component manufacturers have already worked very hard to maintain their margins, but still deliver the required cost-downs. This is a really good skill set to have in any industry.

“And at the customer level, the car companies have learnt the language of how to achieve cost-downs without sending the car component manufacturers under, to retain security of supply.”

Philips says there are a lot of opportunities out there for car component manufacturers.

“The problem is, while they know their space very well and know how to produce their components using their technology for their customer, they don’t necessarily understand how their technology, or their skill set, can be adapted to different products and different customers.”

Regarding Change Management Philips says it’s is very important companies do their homework and understand the skill sets of their employees.

“There is also some analytical work needed to know exactly what their capabilities and capacities are, including positives and negatives. Then they can work out how they can position themselves for the opportunity.”

According to Philips, on occasions manufacturers might have to de-skill themselves ready for a new industry. He pointed out that while car component manufacturers can’t afford to deliver components that are under or over weight, it’s not quite the same in the food industry for example.

“While food manufacturers can’t deliver a product that is underweight, it’s OK to deliver a product that is overweight. Consumer don’t get upset if their chocolate bar contains 52g as opposed to 50g.

“So car component manufacturers who are used to delivering products at exactly 50g every single time, have to re-educate employees to think about tolerances and what that means for their equipment and processes.”

To make these changes, Philips says it’s vital to have the CEO and the board very much in support, plus a dynamic CFO who can embrace change. “Unfortunately there are a lot unknowns when going through this change process, with a level of risk and uncertainty.

“The board and senior management need to be prepared for both positive and negative outcomes and timelines that can move.”

Philips admits there is quite a lot of government support for SMEs, noting the Victorian government’s Success Mapping program, but not for mid-size companies. While he admits they can do a lot for themselves, he says most don’t have the financial might to bring in the people required.

Philips says it’s very difficult to take day to day operation people and get them involved in a project. “The problem is they get very excited about the new project and drop the ball on their operation work. Plus the day to day operation skill sets needed are very different from the strategic skill sets needed”

Philips says companies need a different blend of people on a new project with a realistic sounding board.

“A company going through a process of change needs to embrace the negativity along the way in a very honest way. Many companies find it hard to do that.” Philips says he would like to see all manufacturers embracing change management.

“At least that first step of the journey, looking at where the business is at and where it’s going.

“And it’s important they invest some money to do these exercises, because if they just rely on government, or get the service for nothing, they don’t value it and they don’t question it,” Philips said.

Grant Thornton

03 8320 2222


Fonterra axes 30 jobs from Hamilton Canpac plant

There is sadness among workers as Fonterra cuts 30 jobs from its Hamilton packaging facility Canpac.

The proposal to outsource the print and press operations were presented in mid-April, with low milk prices and dairy downturn to blame.

Union E tu has 21 of its members affected by the cut and national Fonterra advocate Fiona McQueen said there was a feeling of great sadness.

“These workers have worked together for a long time, and they’ve worked really hard,” she said.

McQueen said there will be redeployment options but there would likely not be any skilled jobs for metal decorators anywhere in New Zealand.

The union will know more about the worker’s options after future talks held with Canpac next week.

Plant E tu delegate Rachel Paul said the general mood was “like the grief cycle” where some people were “really angry, some are in denial and some are resigned and looking ahead”.

Fonterra New Zealand director of manufacturing Mark Leslie said the decision to cut jobs came from reducing demand on press and print operations and cost efficiencies of outsourcing.

With low milk prices, Leslie said it was “important we consider all alternatives that will drive cash back to our farmers.”

“We have worked closely with this group throughout the consultation period and have listened to all views to ensure their preferences could be met -be it a new role at Fonterra or the option to take redundancy should that be their preference,” he said.

Industry winning the fight against better food labelling

Most people doing their grocery shopping are probably blissfully unaware of the industry lobbying and backroom politics that determines what information appears on food labels.

So let’s start with some background. For almost two years, a Commonwealth government-led initiative involving public health and consumer groups, industry organisations as well as state government health authorities has been working to develop an interpretive front-of-pack food labelling scheme.

The proposed system echoes the “star ratings” already in use for choosing energy- or water-efficient refrigerators and washing machines, as well as hotels and restaurants. Put simply, the more stars, the healthier the food.

But since Australia’s food and health ministers confirmed their commitment to the health star rating system on December 13, 2013, there’s been a steady trickle of food industry media aimed at undermining the scheme. And it appears to be working.

What consumers want

The government-led process has been highly consultative and consumer research has and continues to inform the final design.

The health star rating was based on specially-commissioned consumer research that showed people understood the concept of a star rating for food, but still wanted information about the level of saturated fat, sugars, kilojoules, and sodium in different products.

The research also highlighted mistrust of food industry-led initiatives. Specifically, participants recognised that the company-determined serve sizes, which are the basis of the industry’s existing daily intake guide labelling initiative, are often a fraction of the portions people actually consume and make it difficult to compare different products.

They want front-of-pack nutrition information presented per 100 grams or 100 millilitres to allow for easy, more reliable comparison.

What the industry wants

Despite these findings, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has continued to champion its preferred daily intake guide.

The scheme doesn’t meet the criteria agreed on by federal and state health ministers in 2011 when they endorsed the Blewett review recommendation that a front-of-pack labelling system should provide an easy interpretation of a product’s healthiness and nutrition content.

The system is based on the amount (in percentage terms) that one serving of a product contributes to an “average” adult’s daily intake of 8,700 kilojoules and other nutrients.

But each food manufacturer is allowed to determine what serving size they will base their calculation on. And the same product from two different companies may provide the percentage of daily intake figure based on two different portions.

This variability, coupled with the fact that the serving sizes being used bear little resemblance to the portions that most people eat, has become the main point of contention for health and consumer groups.

The daily intake guide doesn’t allow shoppers to make meaningful product comparisons. Clearly, comparisons both within and across food categories are easier when based on standard portions, such as 100 grams.

Until consistent and meaningful serve sizes are developed in consultation with government, health and consumer groups, and industry, the system cannot be the focus of any government-endorsed front-of-pack labelling system.

An even better option

While many health and consumer groups involved in the development of the scheme are committed to the introduction of the health star rating scheme, it represents a substantial compromise on their preferred traffic light labelling system.

Originally developed by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2006, consumer research conducted there and in Australia had demonstrated that traffic-light systems are highly effective in assisting shoppers identify healthier foods.

Despite the development of the health star rating scheme, Australia continues to lag behind the UK where traffic light labelling is growing in acceptance among food companies, retailers and, of course, consumers (the scheme remains voluntary as mandatory labelling laws are enacted across the European Union).

When the UK government announced the introduction of a consistent front-of-pack food labelling system last year, most major UK supermarkets were either already using traffic light-based schemes or had announced that they would be doing so in the near future.

Increasing support for a traffic light-style scheme by UK food suppliers will generate further evidence about the value and influence of that food labelling system.

Meanwhile, any system introduced into the Australian marketplace must also be widely adopted by the food industry, supported by a public awareness campaign and subjected to extensive evaluation to ensure that it actually guides healthier food choices.

Better labelling on food packaging can help people make healthier food choices and easy comparisons at the supermarket. Despite the food industry’s efforts to undermine it, public health and consumer groups are committed to ensuring the health star rating scheme is widely adopted in Australia.
The author would like to acknowledge the contribution to this article by Wendy Watson, Nutrition Project Officer, and Clare Hughes, Nutrition Program Manager who are both at Cancer Council NSW.

The Conversation

Kathy Chapman, Director Health Strategies, Cancer Council NSW & PhD student, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The top five trends in product ID for 2016

Product identification is an increasingly essential feature of logistics operations. Mark Dingley looks at how it will develop and evolve this year.

Product identification is continuously evolving. Sometimes the advances are small, sometimes they are quite obvious. Sometimes they are technology specific, and sometimes they relate to an entire production line, supply chain or industry. Here are the top five trends in product ID:

  1. Flexible lines, flexible ID Having agility on your lines means you can run products with different sizes and shapes. While making better use of your capital, the flexibility also allows you to be more responsive to the market and consumer trends. To do this though, you also need coding and labelling equipment that is flexible. For instance, you might need to code 50mm high now, but just a year or so down the track you might need 200mm high. Another example is a coder that adjusts the amount of solvent it uses according to what’s being coded, and yet another is a printer that can easily switch between intermittent and continuous printing modes. Such flexibility in the latest technologies opens up the market for contract packers and allows manufacturers to take advantage of consumer trends. Technology that can grow with a manufacturer’s needs also helps to ‘future proof’ them.
  2. Serialisation and authentication This topic has been hot in the news lately. Serialisation as a process is not new, but technologies have been developed that allow products to be authenticated by a consumer standing in the supermarket aisle on the other side of the world with their smartphone and instantly know if it is genuine. This has huge brand–protection implications for products (and entire industries) feeling the pinch from ever-more-clever fakes encroaching upon them — and of course, one of the biggest benefits here is health and safety. On top of this, the manufacturer can communicate with the end consumer in ways never before possible: they can build their brand story and engage in a relationship with that consumer, suggest recipes, or offer deals.
  3. Smarter technologies Technologies are becoming increasingly smart. Two great examples are self-cleaning and giving audible or visible warnings when attention is needed, such as if a service is due or fluid levels are low. Innovative ink-recirculation systems ensure no ink is wasted in print-head cleaning, while self-cleaning technology optimises uptime and ensures crisp print quality. On-board diagnostics, providing fault, warning and help messages are another way to optimise factory-floor productivity, while customisable on-screen prompts enable mistake-free editing, reducing coding errors. Other highly useful developments include simple on-screen prompts to set up new lines or messages, and being able to control multiple lines from the one unit. Smarter technologies such as these are very practical developments in coding technologies, saving manufacturers wasted time and unnecessary costs.
  4. Integrating ID & inspection Inspection technologies such as vision, check weigh and metal detection, are an important tool on production lines to inspect product quality in real-time. Integrating them with product identification improves the quality of products that go out the factory door. Software integration solutions give real-time data, which is vital in enabling managers and floor staff alike to make informed decisions about what is happening on the production line. Integrated ID and inspection systems help manufacturers make their packaging process leaner and more reliable, allowing them to drive a sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. Increased need for automation & data capture Automating processes clearly removes the possibility of human mistakes, speeds up output and can make products look more professional by being more consistently presented. Inspection is a big area where automating helps a business by vastly improving quality control. Automation also reduces costs and creates greater efficiencies, with better returns, helping manufacturers to remain competitive. Having the right data gives a business a better opportunity to make better decisions.

Capturing data both on the production line (such as the number and cause of rejects and downtime) and at the consumer end is a vital part of this. From everything we have seen, all these five trends will continue to grow in 2016.

Australian Institute of Packaging

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Busy weekends offer opportunities for premium breakfast products

As the fast-paced nature of twenty-first century life continues to change breakfast from an enjoyable pastime to a chore, consumers are increasingly seeking out convenience foods in the morning. While an established trend during the week, it is increasingly creeping into weekend habits.

According to a Canadean survey of packaging executives worldwide, 77% expect high or moderate demand for on-the-go grocery products during weekday mornings, while 63% forecast high or moderate demand during weekend mornings. While the high demand during weekday mornings is to be expected, this study shows that the industry is preparing to take advantage of a surprising opportunity: convenience breakfasts for those who are time-poor at weekends.

As a result, Canadean said it expects more innovative pack formats to be developed for breakfast drinks and smoothies, including dual packs separating liquid and solid contents, and heat-retaining packs to keep indulgent breakfasts warm while on the go.

“Brands built around convenience should consider brand extensions targeting weekend needs, while those built around enjoyment and indulgence should consider diversifying their product portfolios to offer new, more convenient products that still provide something special for weekend consumers,”

Safwan Kotwal, Analyst at Canadean, says: “Focusing purely on weekday breakfast convenience means brands risk leaving money on the table. While consumers’ timetables are arguably more flexible during the weekend, busier social lives are creating a new market for convenient, but at the same time indulgent, weekend breakfast products.

“Convenience purely targeted at busy office workers or busy parents on the school run means brands could be excluding themselves from a potentially very profitable weekend market.”

While convenience is an important consideration for many consumers, indulging and enjoying breakfast on the weekend is something they look forward to. Although high demand on weekday mornings will remain the most important occasion for convenience products, Canadean said it believes brands must not discount weekends as an opportunity.

“Brands built around convenience should consider brand extensions targeting weekend needs, while those built around enjoyment and indulgence should consider diversifying their product portfolios to offer new, more convenient products that still provide something special for weekend consumers,” Kotwal concluded.

Not all bad news for manufacturing jobs: survey

Manufacturing workers have some reasons to be optimistic about their employment futures despite recent bad times, a survey has found.

According to the just-released 2015 Hays Salary Guide, while those looking for manufacturing jobs will need to be realistic when it comes to salary and opportunities, the sector is showing resilience and companies in some areas are doing well.

The survey noted the obvious negatives in the industry – the upcoming death of car making in this country and the affect the mining industry’s change from the construction phase to the operation phase will have on manufacturers in that area.

But it found that many manufacturers have realised that times are changing and are taking on the challenges of diversification and specialisation. And it also noted the strength of the food and beverage (F&B) and building products sectors as positives.

The F&B sector, the survey said, grew in 2014 and should grow even more in 2015. However, it is also experiencing a shortage of highly-skilled job candidates, due to too few university graduates specialising in food technology and food science. The industry is looking to employ such candidates from Europe in order to deal with the shortfall.

The survey found that the outlook for employment in the building materials sector is also positive. It put this down to the strong construction sector in New South Wales and Western Australia as well as the high amount of high rise development in Victoria.

It said that the building industry’s tight deadlines have resulted in an increase in demand for highly skilled blue collar workers on temporary assignments.


Food Magazine Awards in focus: Employer of the Year

This award is for a company that employs and fosters staff that are engaged in strategic goals and company values.

With six sleeps until nominations close, we take a look at one of the new categories this year: Employer of the Year.

The companies entering this category will have prioritised investing in people and initiatives that foster a collaborative culture, harnessing the skills of its team to grow and prosper the company.

The company will have evidence of staff retention, staff satisfaction and/or implemented initiatives aimed at improving/maintaining morale and performance of team members.

This is an opportunity to gain recognition for motivating and rewarding your staff for doing well.

Along with Employer of the Year, we’ve added two more new categories to the awards: Community Engagement and Label Design.

Remember, nominations close 30 April and all entries can be submitted online.

You’ve got to be in it to win it! Nominate now!


Sanford likely to cut 230 workers from Christchurch seafood factory

Fishing group Sanford is likely to cut 230 workers from its Christchurch mussel processing plant because of a shortage of natural spat supply.

The New Zealand Herald reports that management met with employees at the plant yesterday to deliver the bad news and said a final decision will be made by April 20.

Sanford Chief Executive Volker Kuntzsch said there is a shortage of natural spat (young mussels) because of warm water and unfavourable weather conditions.

"Wild spat supply is the single biggest constraint on the mussel industry with current spat shortages limiting future crop supply. In the long term Sanford's recent investment with government, industry and research organisations in the selective breeding of mussels (will alleviate the industry's reliance on wild caught spat,” Kuntzsch said.

“However, at this stage it is not anticipated that these initiatives will boost crop supply to levels where Sanford's South Island plants are able to be efficiently utilised for the next two to three years."

Stuff.co.nz reports that Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU), which represents the workers, will meet Sanford next week to try to extend the timeline for talks and secure favourable exit packages.

SFWU representative Chas Muir said he did not expect many staff would take up the offer to relocate because of family reasons and because many have houses damaged by the Christchurch earthquake which not be of much value on the market.

"We have gone out to a whole lot of other industries and organisations to let them know about this, so they will be aware there is now a food grade processing facility available with spare capacity,” Muir said.

"I guess there's always a possibility that an opportunity comes out of the woodwork … to utilise this facility, whether they be mussels from another source or … some other kind of food product or seafood product."

Good news for manufacturing jobs

Hiring intentions in the manufacturing sector are up seven percentage points on this time last year, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

The encouraging result comes despite the Australian Industry Group’s Performance of Manufacturing Index reporting a contraction in the sector for the third consecutive month in February.

The survey which asks the hiring intentions of over 1,500 employers in Australia for the coming quarter, found that 19 per cent of employers in the Manufacturing Sector plan to increase hiring, 11 per cent plan to decrease hiring and 69 per cent will make no changes to their hiring plans. The resulting Net Employment Outlook of +5% is up two percentage points quarter-on-quarter.

“Manufacturing scaled back hard in 2009, and the sector has remained volatile since. The positive hiring intention for the coming quarter is likely due to a number of things,” said Lincoln Crawley, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup Australia and New Zealand.

“The low dollar is allowing growth in the export market for manufacturers, as that leads to increased demand many will be looking to hire on a non-permanent basis to account for further activity.”

“There are also regions across the country where we are seeing a high demand for local products – particularly in the food and beverage space, which the Australian Industry Group notes is one of the sector’s growth areas.

The sector is still tentative when it comes to hiring, and in many instances is seeing a rise in temporary and casual positions.

“We are seeing some businesses that contracted a few years ago re-evaluate their workforce planning. These businesses are now bringing on contract workers to fill gaps and look at building efficient workforce models,” Crawley said.

Nationally the outlook for the economy as a whole remains stable, down 1 per cent year-on-year, and unchanged from last quarter.

Crawley said the employment outlook reflects the mixed economic and market signals affecting business confidence.

“Low growth, falling wages and lower consumer confidence coupled with uncertainty about Federal Government leadership is causing many Australian employers to reign in their hiring plans for Quarter 2 or stop them altogether,” he said.

“There are some bright spots. However, we’re not seeing clear signs that hiring activity will gain any additional traction in the next three months, and employers are expecting to contend with another year of certain uncertainty in Australia.”

“We are facing a rising unemployment malaise, with a fluctuating unemployment rate currently sitting around 6.4%. Youth unemployment is double that at 13.2% last month and unemployment is even high for those with tertiary education,” he said.


Goodman Fielder ordered to pay ex-plant manager $87k

A New Zealand Goodman Fielder ex-plant manager will receive $87,300 after he claims he was forced to resign when his role became unclear after the earthquakes.

Keith Wills, who worked for Goodman Fielder at its Christchurch site, successfully challenged an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision that ruled he was not constructively dismissed by the company in 2011, stuff.co.nz reports.

The company's Christchurch site in Essex St made operational changes after sustaining major damage in the February 2011 earthquake. It was believed it may take two years to rebuild the baking manufacturing plant.

The company decided it was unsustainable to retain baking staff by July and positions were disestablished, but kept Wills on as an employee, claiming it did not want to lose his skill, despite Wills believing his job would be disestablished.

He took on temporary roles and in November 2011, he asked to be considered for redundancy because he felt his core job of managing the food plant was redundant and the future of the Essex St site was uncertain.

“I have enquired several times about my position and my future within Goodman Fielder, however no one has been able to give me any answers,” Wills wrote in his resignation letter, dated December 21, 2011.

“This decision has not been an easy one to make after 33.5 years working for Goodman Fielder, however the ongoing uncertainty and stress has unfortunately left me with no choice but to resign.”

Wills unsuccessfully argued to the ERA he had been constructively dismissed. He believed his position should have been disestablished and he should have been offered a redundancy pay out, but took his case to the Employment Court where Judge Bruce Corkill overturned the decision.

Corkill found had Wills not carried on working at the company, it was likely his position would have been disestablished.

Corkill said the “company's interests were put ahead of Mr Wills' rights” by wanting to retain his skills instead of questioning if his position was needed.

Goodman and Fielder said Wills voluntarily resigned and his position was “not superfluous”.

Corkill ordered the company to pay Wills $13,437.15 in loss of wages, $61,907 in redundancy compensation and $12,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings – totalling $87,344.15.

Goodman Fielder decided not to rebuild the bread plant in April 2013 and closed its manufacturing department in June last year. The site continues to operate as a bread depot.