Digitisation makes for more productive and sustainable farming

Progressive digitisation is increasingly important in the farming industry: data-supported targeted application of fertiliser and crop protection products, soil analysis sensors and autonomous operation are just a few of the buzz words in the current discussion around Farming 4.0 and smart farming.

“Smart Farming can support more productive and sustainable farming via an accurate and resource-efficient approach,” said Dr Jan Regtmeier, director product management at Harting IT Software Development. Regtmeier demonstrates application of the Harting Mica and its benefits for agriculture. The Edge Computer controls processes and procedures seamlessly and records all of the relevant data. “This gives farmers security, also creating consumer trust,” Regtmeier said.

Two application scenarios show how Mica gathers data. In the first one, Harting Mica  records data from two sets of scales, which are used to weigh tractor and trailer, recording the weight of maize delivered. The tractor is also given a single ID to ensure that it is uniquely assigned to the crop area. The data recorded is processed and sent to the Cloud for further evaluation. In the second application scenario, Mica records data during the critical mashing process. The data is then used for process optimisation with data analytics.

“Data-supported farming allows for new approaches, ensuring sustainable food production now and in the future,” explains Dries Guth, principal innovation manager and Head of the IoT Innovation Lab at itelligence. Data collated via sensors, from the soil and farming machinery and satellite imagery and fed into intelligent systems supports not only yield optimisation, but also the resource-saving application of water and crop protection products. “It is also about exploring new forms of food production, as we are now seeing with the successes in Urban Farming and Vertical Farming for example,” said Dries Guth.

“The potential for smart farming is huge,” says Regtmeier with conviction. “The farming industry has only just begun to make use of digitalisation.”

Nestlé commits to zero net emissions by 2050

Nestlé has announced its ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It embraces the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Ahead of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit this month, Nestlé will sign the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ pledge.

With this announcement Nestlé is accelerating its climate change efforts. This builds on a decade of work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past four years, Nestlé has aligned its objectives with science-based targets to keep the temperature increase below 2°C. The company is determined to play a leading role in tackling climate change. Over the next two years, it will lay out a time-bound plan including interim targets consistent with the 1.5°C path. Nestlé will review its progress annually to ensure it is on track.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face as a society. It is also one of the greatest risks to the future of our business,” said Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO. “We are running out of time to avoid the worst effects of global warming. That is why we are setting a bolder ambition to reach a net-zero future. Deploying Nestlé’s global resources and industry know-how, we know we can make a difference at significant scale. Our journey to net zero has already started. Now, we are accelerating our efforts,” he added.

To achieve its 2050 ambition, some of the company’s specific actions include:

  • Speeding up the transformation of its products in line with consumer trends and choices. Nestlé will launch more products that have a better environmental footprint and contribute to a balanced diet. This includes more plant-based food and beverage options. Nestlé will also look to reformulate its products using more climate-friendly ingredients. Consumer demand for such products is rapidly increasing, and Nestlé’s core strategy is in line with this shift. The company is also moving to alternative packaging materials.
  • Scaling up initiatives in agriculture to absorb more carbon. Nestlé will strengthen its programs with farmers to restore land and limit greenhouse gas emissions. This includes improved management of its dairy supply chain. Nestlé will step up efforts to protect forests by replanting trees and enhancing biodiversity. All of these initiatives will help build resilient agricultural communities.
  • Using 100% renewable electricity in Nestlé factories, warehouses, logistics and offices. A third of Nestlé factories (143) are already using 100 per cent renewable electricity. Nestlé will continue to increase the use of energy from renewable sources. This will enable suppliers to invest in new infrastructure such as wind and solar farms.
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires transformational change across industries, governments and society as a whole. Nestlé will continue its advocacy for government policies to ensure all sectors move faster towards 1.5°C. Supportive legislation could help to reduce barriers to expanding renewable energy markets, incentivize innovation in the agriculture and forestry sectors to capture more carbon, and help to establish carbon pricing.

Varied conditions and modest prospects for winter crops

ABARES’s latest crop report reveals mixed prospects for Australia’s winter crop, according to ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday.

“Winter crop production is forecast to rise by 11 percent in 2019–20 to 33.9 million tonnes but falls short of the 10-year average to 2018-19 by 16 percent,” Gooday said.

“Wheat and canola production is forecast to increase 10 and 6 per cent respectively, but both are expected to fall significantly below the 10-year average to 2018-19.

“Barley production is forecast to increase by 14 per cent to around 9.5 million tonnes which brings it 6 percent above the 10-year average to 2018‑19.

“Crop production deteriorated in regions across New South Wales and Queensland, due to unfavourable growing conditions over winter. Crop production in these states is forecast to be very much below average.

“On the other hand, crops in Victoria were in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring thanks to generally favourable growing conditions over winter.

READ MORE: Commercially reared bees deliver active ingredient to protect crops

“Crops in Western Australia received timely winter rainfall to help boost yield prospects to around average for most crops after a late break to the season.

“South Australia received sufficient winter rainfall in most major growing regions, but the same can’t be said for northern cropping regions with their prospects generally below average.

“Early spring rainfall will be important to final crop outcomes.”

According to the latest seasonal outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, September rainfall is likely to be above average in Western Australia and below average in most other cropping regions. October rainfall is likely to be below average in most cropping regions.

“If realised, above average September rainfall in Western Australia would give cereal crops in the state a strong chance of achieving average to above average yields,” Mr Gooday said.

Gooday said the seasonal conditions outlook for early spring in eastern Australia is likely to constrain crop prospects in southern New South Wales, and northern cropping regions in Victoria and South Australia.

However, there’s a good chance that most cropping regions in southern Victoria, and central and southern South Australia will still achieve average yields.

Gooday said outlook for summer crops is unfavourable due to poor seasonal conditions in northern New South Wales and Queensland.

“Area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 28 percent in 2019–20 to around 758,000 hectares—production of grain sorghum, cotton and rice are all forecast to fall,” Gooday said.

Nestlé inaugurates packaging research institute

Nestlé has officially inaugurated the Institute of Packaging Sciences, the first-of-its-kind in the food industry. The new Institute enables Nestlé to accelerate its efforts to bring functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to the market and to address the global challenge of plastic packaging waste.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO, said, “Our vision is a world in which none of our packaging ends up in landfill or as litter. To achieve this we introduce reusable packaging solutions and pioneer environmentally friendly packaging materials. Furthermore, we support the development of local recycling infrastructure and deposit schemes to help shape a waste-free world. The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences enables us to create a strong pipeline of sustainable packaging solutions for Nestlé products across businesses and markets.”

The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences focuses on a number of science and technology areas, such as refillable or reusable packaging, simplified packaging materials, recycled packaging materials, high-performance barrier papers as well as bio-based, compostable and biodegradable materials.

Stefan Palzer, Nestlé CTO said, “Reducing plastic waste and mitigating climate change effects through cutting-edge technology and product design are a priority for us. Nestlé experts are co-developing and testing new environmentally friendly packaging materials and systems together with our development centres, suppliers, research institutions and start-ups. Located at our Nestlé Research facilities in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Institute also leverages our existing research capabilities in food safety, analytics and food science.”

Commenting on the inauguration, Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “Nestlé was one of the first companies to sign the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, setting concrete targets to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at the source. It is great to see the world’s largest consumer goods company now increasing its research focus and capacity to deliver on these ambitions.”

Nestlé is already making progress towards its 2025 packaging commitments, and has launched novel packaging solutions. For example, Nestlé packaging experts and suppliers developed products in recyclable paper packaging such as the Nesquik All Natural cocoa powder and the YES! snack bars in under 12 months.

The Institute is part of the company’s fundamental research entity Nestlé Research in Switzerland, reaffirming Nestlé’s commitment to further strengthen the unique Swiss innovation ecosystem.

Speaking at the official opening, Philippe Leuba, State Councilor of the Swiss Canton of Vaud, said: “This new institute will strengthen our Canton as a centre of excellence when it comes to the food value chain and allow the development of innovative packaging solutions that respect the environment and sustainable development. Waste management, a global challenge, will now benefit from an innovation ecosystem in the Canton of Vaud made up of universities as well as research centres from major private sector players such as Nestlé.”

The SliceScope – Scientifica’s slimeline, versatile upright microscope

Introducing Scientifica’s SliceScope, which is a stable, compact and slimline upright microscope. Its modular and versatile design enables it to be used for a range of neuroscience techniques including electrophysiology, fluorescence imaging, two- and three-photon imaging and optogenetics.

The slim profile allows easy placement of other equipment around a sample, including manipulators, light sources and perfusion systems. It provides users with the ability to remotely control the objective and condenser, which enables focus and Koehler to be controlled away from the sample area and ensures a high level of useability in dark/cramped areas and in vivo samples.

The SliceScope is compatible with a range of Olympus objectives, condensers, eyepieces and light sources. It’s also compatible with fluorescence turrets and a range of contrast techniques including devices such as LEDs, halogens and broad spectrum white light sources.

A2 disruption to milk market not a bad thing

A2 milk had a rocky start when New Zealand businessman Howard Paterson and research scientist Dr Corran McLachlan founded the A2 Corporation in 2000. The milk, which claims to help reduce the risks of digestive problems, diabetes and heart disease because it is said to contain only A2 beta-casein, seemed to hit a nerve with people who were sceptical of its health benefits. Three years after the founding of the company, both men died, which left the company in a state of flux. It went through several highs and lows – including going into administration in late 2003 – before becoming The a2 Milk Company, which now is based in Australia. It is run by Jayne Hrdlicka, who started at the company just over 12 months ago.

Hrdlicka was the CEO of Qantas subsidiary Jetstar before joining the milk company, and has held positions at Ernst and Young, Bain & Co, and was a director of Woolworths between 2010-2016. At the Global Food Forum held in Sydney, Hrdlicka spoke about where A2 milk is headed, why it is seen as a premium brand in China, and the science behind the milk’s claims.

It’s a risky strategy to base your whole business model on one product – more so when some are a little uncertain of what makes it different from similar products. It’s share price has fluctuated over the past 12 months, but it does help when news gets out that discerning Chinese consumers think the milk is a premium brand. It has entered two of the most lucrative markets in the world – the US being the other – and Hrdlicka sees nothing but growth in the company’s near future.

READ MORE: A2 Milk expands range to make milk powder with Mānuka honey

“We’re not talking specific numbers, but we’re playing in the two biggest consumer markets in the world,” she said. “We’re building a deep franchise with those consumers and we’re really excited about what the possibilities bring to the brand and shareholders.”

When it comes to the science behind A2 milk, Hrdlicka makes no apologies about its brand strategy and indicates that it is the disruption that A2 milk is bringing to the marketplace that is causing the issue. Most of the noise about the benefits, or lack thereof, of the milk, is coming from those who have a vested interest in the milk not being commercially successful. The irony being that this is also keeping the brand in the spotlight, which is not a bad thing if you are Hrdlicka.

“We are quite comfortable with the company getting beaten up by big legacy players who feel uncomfortable because we are doing something different,” she said. “It happened in Australia, it happened in New Zealand. We expect it to happen everywhere we go and that is what happens when a disruptive approach to a category that has been around for a long time unfolds.

“It happened in aviation, and it is happening across all consumer products, not just milk. We expect that it is part of the process. The crazy part of it is that it draws consumer attention to the choices, including ours. It causes consumers to do their research and we’re the beneficiary. It is part of the process of evolving the category.”

Hrdlicka said the company worked hard in the early stages to ensure there was enough science for consumers to educate themselves. She said there are a number of studies that have been completed by independent research markets that came to similar conclusions that the founders of the company did.

“What is fantastic for us at the end of the day, is the impact it has on the consumers,” she said. “And consumers are telling us they are enjoying a functional benefit and they can enjoy fresh white milk again where they weren’t able to in the past. Or, they were fearful of the impacts of dairy products, and this has given them new confidence to re-enter the new category.”

What is helping the brand, and something not lost on investors, is its foray into the Chinese market. With milk powder a hot commodity, it seems the affluent middle class in the Middle Kingdom can’t get enough. Hrdlicka knows how important the market is, so much so that she spent her first week working for the a2 Milk Company in Sydney, then the second week in China. She goes up there every six weeks or so, not just to be seen, but also to meet with their partners, listening and learning on the ground and making sure the company’s strategy in the area is sound.

“We are doing some really exciting things in China,” she said. “We spent the first half of the financial year really understanding consumers, talking to mothers, talking to parents, talking to grandparents – really trying to understand the decisions they are making and how they we making them – where they like to shop. That gave us a lot of clarity on how to constructively build the brand and how to leverage our multi-channel strategy.”

And what about the US? Retail giant Costco started selling the milk in parts of the US at the end of the 2018, but Hrdlicka isn’t getting carried away just yet.

“We were deeply appreciative of Costco’s support in the US,” she said. “The success story for a2 milk in the US is in its early stages, but the signs are impressive. A2 milk is sold in 12,400 outlets across the country today and Costco is part of that story. It is taking the product to consumers who are interested in different pack sizes and are value driven, but they are a big and important format in the eyes of consumers and play a meaningful role in the repertoire. They are important players in the natural channel and they have helped us build our brand.”

Finally, there is the online presence of A2 milk. Hrdlicka knows that part of the company’s future success lies in the less tangible online marketplace.

“Alibaba is a really important trading partner of ours as is Amazon via its Whole Foods portal,” she said. “I will say, as a matter of course, that we are multi-channel company – ecommerce is a really critical channel for us as a business today and will be going forward. And if you listen to your consumers, it plays a really powerful role for them in their day-to-day lives. You don’t quite have the same choices in leveraging direct deliveries in Australia that you do in China and the US, but it is a changing canvas and digital players are changing the world for consumers at a very fast pace.”

Does plastic get a bad rap?

Director of sustainability is an unusual title, one that is not common within a multi-national company. But not only is that Alan Adams’ role for plastic packaging specialist Sealed Air, he is also part of the leadership group for the company’s APAC region.

At a recent conference at FoodTech Queensland, the education director of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), Pierre Pienaar, made the point that, “plastics are not going anywhere’. And he is right. The thin, mainly oil-based product has a multitude of uses in many industries including food.

“Plastic is, and will remain, in my view, really important within the industry,” said Adams. “In fact, it is probably more important than ever when it comes to reducing food waste, and enabling our lifestyle. What we have to do though, is drive it to a circular economy so we can utilise those resources.”

With China and other Southeast Asian countries declining to take Australia’s recyclables, sustainability is more important than ever. However, it is something that Sealed Air saw coming over six years ago. The then recently appointed (but now retired) CEO of Sealed Air, Jerome Peribere, knew sustainability was going to be an issue, and one that needed addressing sooner rather than later.

READ MORE: Plastic waste: why every gram counts

“Jerome came out with this idea that we should think about ourselves as a sustainability company,” said Adams. “That was controversial and confronting when you think we are predominantly a plastics manufacturer, so it didn’t necessarily resonate with the average person back then.

“However, his reasoning was sound because if you look holistically at our impact on the world, we have a positive impact on the environment. If you think what Jerome was thinking back then, it led to us redefining our vision and mission. Our vision became to create a better way of life and today this continues with our CEO Ted Doheny and our purpose statement that, ‘We are in business to solve critical packaging challenges and leave our world better than we found it’. And it is through enabling efficient supply chains for food and goods without damage, that we remove a lot of the wastage that can be created in many industries including food.”

These company ideas backed up the sustainability minded Adams’ thoughts on what the future would hold. Adams was already a member of the Bioplastics Association for Australasia and served as president for four years. The association introduced standards for compostable and home compostable packaging for Australia during that time. Adams not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.

“I have a personal zero food waste policy at home,” he said. “It makes for some interesting food, and it has gotten easier to make it zero since I started composting. But we had herb salads from time to time, and it’s questionable how nice they are. Plus we grow a lot more food of our own now.”

Adams believes that there is a disconnect between people’s perceptions of plastic and how it can also be a sustainable product. But that is because there are a couple of issues that need addressing. The main one being that the Australian recycling industry is still immature.

“The problem is we don’t have great infrastructure and sustainable recycling industry developed yet,” he said. “If you talk about what plastics are recovered and recycled in Australia – and turned into something useful, and not landfilled or shipped overseas – you are talking about 4.6 per cent of rigids and 1.2 per cent of flexibles. It is tiny.”

How can such a perception of plastics be changed? Adams believes it will take a change in mind-set. Too often, there is a myopic view, which is not telling the real story.

“Any supply chain, or any product has three big buckets,” he said. “First is inbound resources. What are the products made from? How are they made? How efficient is that? Then you have operational efficiency. Does it do the job? How well does it do the job? Does it deliver performance? Then you have end of life. What happens to it after it has been used? Equating sustainability just to the end of life is really missing most of the picture.”

This is why he thinks Australia needs a mature recycling/circular system in place. What has also changed is how much people now rely on plastics in everyday life, especially when it comes to the food industry. Adams grew up on a farm in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. The lie of the land was a lot different back when it came to food waste. He remembers having a shepherd’s pie on most Monday nights because it was a left-over from the Sunday roast from the day before. People rarely eat like that these days, he said. It’s all about lifestyle, too.

“We had very low food waste back then,” he said. “Can we wind back the clock 30 or 40 years ago and live that way? No we can’t. People will not stand for it. We want to have the eating experience we want but also be able to recover those resources at end of life. Otherwise, you are asking us to unwind the lifestyle we really want, and that generally ends with quite a big consumer backlash.”

How does a company like Sealed Air develop sustainability around a product that is continually under the microscope? For a start, it develops packaging solutions that can help products last longer on the shelf, such as its Cryovac brand food packaging range. If product can last longer on the shelf, then there is less chance of it being thrown out before it is eaten. Adams also realises that the way people consume food is changing.

“We have to be creative in our solutions and the recovery of the materials we generate – and plastics is a big part of it – to enable us to efficiently have the food where we want it, when we want it and the size and quantity we want,” he said.

But do people want to eat food that is staying on the shelf longer. Hasn’t the public been told again and again, that fresh is best? Sure, said Adams, but not all foods. Back in the day, a butcher would cut the customer a piece of meat, wrap it in paper and it would be taken home to be eaten. However, new packaging technologies not only mean the aforementioned longer shelf life, but it can “fool” the meat into thinking it is still relatively fresh.

“The meat is dead when you have carved it and served it up and exposed it to the atmosphere,” said Adams. “It was as good as it was going to get at that moment. From then on, it is going to degrade. If, however, you vacuum pack it, the meat still thinks it is the bigger part of the piece of meat it used to be. Because oxygen is not getting to it, atmosphere is not getting to it so, it continues to age and continues enzymatic action.

“There are case studies that will show you that the eating experience of vacuum-packaged meat with a longer shelf life is better than MAP packaged meat. Certain cheeses like to be aged, too. In the past it has been wax coatings and wax papers and things that helped keep longer shelf life. So there are efficiencies in a lot of this as well as potentially eating experiences. It isn’t like that with all foods. I’m not sure vacuum-packing apples will make for a good experience a few weeks down the track.”

Adams knows that there is a long way to go, especially in the recycling stakes. Even though there are challenges, he knows Sealed Air is on the right track when it comes to sustainability – it is what drives him every day. “I think what is really important is that Sealed Air clearly understands – and many people don’t see this – that sustainability is everything. It’s an umbrella over everything we do,” he said. “If you look at our core values and drivers – which are about food safety and shelf-life along with operational efficiency, package optimisation and brand experience – all of those things are sustainability endeavours in their own right. But I am very aligned with it, which means I love my job and I’m very happy working towards those goals.”

The right brew for beverage and distillery flooring

The craft beer and distillery market in Australia is worth in excess of $4 billion and growing. Although currently dominated by North American brands, more exciting new craft brewers and distilleries are setting up rapidly throughout the country, with up to 600 brands now being available.

The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) estimates that there will be double-digit growth of 24.2 per cent for local craft beer through the liquor stores over the next 12 months, proving Australia has a growing appetite for quality beer and spirits. Wealthy investors and bankers also view the market as a key opportunity with the likes of Gerry Harvey recently investing $20 million to build Australia’s largest whisky company.

Similar to the building and construction of a winery, breweries and distilleries have parallel challenges in getting the floor coating just right.

The brewing process is subject to constant wear and tear and spills. This is driven by steam and boiling water creating a large swing in temperatures that the flooring needs to withstand. Following on from the production process, forklifts and pallet jacks are used to transport ingredients and finished brews to delivery trucks. This constant traffic movement can cause the floor to crack and peel and result in dangerous trip hazards, as well as a build-up in bacteria. A seamless heavy-duty, non-slip epoxy floor from a company like Roxset Health and Safety Flooring will protect from accidents and inhibit growth of bacteria and provide ease of cleaning.

READ MORE: Flooring meets strict food code requirements

Another key consideration with the final coating is erosion. Sugar solutions used in wine making and brewing rapidly erode concrete, which can leave the surface pitted and damaged resulting in expensive downtime and repairs. It also creates a hazardous working environment for workers.

Breweries, distilleries and wineries have a lot of rules and regulations they are required to follow, not just in terms of how they run overall, but their set-up, too.

Important requirements they must meet include:
• A brewery floor needs to be made of non-porous material, with no cracks and gaps.
• Flooring must have anti-microbial properties to prevent collection of bacteria and other harmful organisms and meet HACCP Compliance.
• Floor coating must be moisture and chemical resistant and not degrade quickly due to repeated exposure.
• Floor coating must work well in both wet and dry conditions.
• Floor coating should be non-slip and have low environmental impact.

The SE Floor Coating Solution from Roxset is a specialised tailored system to suit high impact wet areas for the food and beverage industry. Key clients over the past 30 years include, Ned’s Whisky, Capital Brewing, Vasse Felix Winery and Voyager Estate.

For consumers, breweries and distilleries are a cool place to hang out and see how the beverage is made and to sample offerings. But what they do not realise is the level of detail, which goes into every choice made. From the brewing of equipment to the flooring, everything needs careful consideration.

Roxset has the expertise and history to make sure all hygienic and safety concerns are met in distilleries, wineries and breweries. It works with clients so it can find a solution that will mean the floor surface meets strict Australian standards and makes for a safe and healthy workplace for employees.

AquaRush bottling facility designed to meet expanding industry needs

Bottled water has been a refreshment for Australians for the best part of three decades. According to a recent IBISWorld report, the industry in Australia for the past five years through to 2018-19 was valued at just over $700 million, and is expected to grow by 0.8 per cent over the next year. IBISWorld believes this is due to Australians becoming more health conscious and the rise of disposable incomes, especially among millennials.

One company that has been at the forefront of the bottled water and mixed beverage development is AquaRush. Established in 2014 by serial entrepreneur Roshan Chelvaratnam, AquaRush offers various types of water –ranging from spring, sparkling, mineral, demineralised and mixed beverages.

The company combines various technologies and manufacturing facilities, with the intent of reshaping the future of bottled water in Australia and the world.

It has a new HACCP, GMP and ISO-accredited automated bottling and commercial facility that uses a range of technologies to produce the finest quality water products for the consumer and industrial markets at an affordable price point.

It is capable of filling 15,000 350ml bottles per hour and has both PET and glass-filling lines.

The company has existing distribution channels in Australia, APAC, South Africa and the Middle East.

READ MORE: Poor water quality linked to sugary drink consumption

The company has a quality management system that continuously monitors its products to make sure they meet Australian regulatory guidelines, standards and codes of practice. Chelvaratnam is the founder and managing director of the company.

Over the past few years he has built a number of successful businesses across the automotive, import, export and wholesale, electrical, and now beverage market.
“We’re focussed on developing innovative products that cater to people’s diverse lifestyles and interests; new product categories include premium sparkling water, high alkaline water and black sparkling water, to name a few,” said national sales manager Marko Powell. “We offer different variances of water to cater to the customer’s needs.

“We strive to remain at the forefront of innovation with the latest advances in water filtration. We bottle volcanic water, exotic sparkling water, flavoured water, commercial water and more.”

One area that the company doesn’t spare any expense is investing in the training and development of its staff.

Each quarter it offers skills-based training in a specialised area relevant to each role so the company’s staff are learning and developing their knowledge base.

“We’ve also invested in encryption technology allowing our water bottles to be scanned from a smartphone app,” said Powell. “This app links to a product landing page authenticating the product, digitising the experience and allowing consumers to interact with the product they’re purchasing.”

Sustainability is also a buzz word that is gaining traction in the food and beverage industry. This is something that AquaRush is serious about, with it setting itself goals that will mean less plastic in landfills.

“Since 2018, we have implemented 66 per cent recycled plastic bottles and recycled cardboard,” said Powell. “Our goal is to work towards 100 per cent recyclable packaging and we are on track to doing so.

“We use 20 per cent glass in our overall brand portfolio and we aim to increase this to 50 per cent by mid 2020. Progress against our sustainability goals is discussed during senior leadership meetings each quarter.

“Beyond these meetings, the executive committee members are committed to executing against these goals, driving their importance within their immediate staff.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the company knows that giving back to the community is just as important as reducing its carbon footprint.

“We’ve donated money to help rebuild an orphanage for disabled children in Sri Lanka,” said Powell. “The aim of the orphanage is to provide a safe and caring environment for these children who would otherwise be forgotten.”

As well as producing a range of water products under various labels including the I Am, Kangaroo & Koala Aqua Downunder critters, and AquaRush 2Pure Water brands, the company provides private label production services to other companies within the water industries.

AquaRush also supports the World’s first plant-based natural water, and which most recently won the Beverage of the Year Award at the 2019 Food & Beverage Industry Awards, as well as the Global Zenith Awards.

They are also the exclusive water partner to Global Table, which is hosted by Seeds & Chips, the global food organisation.

“The Team at AquaRush is excited to enter into a joint venture partnership with award-winning company Aqua Botanical Beverages from September 2019,” said Chelvaratnam.

“Aqua Botanical has won “Beverage of the Year” two years running and Aqua Rush will be bottling their ‘still’ and ‘sparking’ water products. Our alliance further reinforces our position as a bottler of choice in the industry.

“We will be at Food and Beverage Show displaying Botanical Water and many other fantastic products at our stand. Join us at J31 at the Sydney Fine Foods Exhibition to meet the team and discuss potential private label options and future product development opportunities.”

Huge bounty from local and overseas vendors at Fine Foods Australia

Fine Food Australia opened to large crowds at Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) with a massive range of products and services on display. This included a huge contingent from China, as well as other Southeast Asian nations such as Taiwan and Thailand, while the European contingent included representatives from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Germany.

As well as a bevy of taste sensations in both food and beverage, there were those exhibitors who also help with the packaging, safety and traceability of perishable goods. One such stand was occupied by barcode specialist GS1, who were having a busy day.

“It’s been really good,” said account director Andrew Steele. “For us it has been about getting our message out especially to the smaller companies that are starting up and they don’t know where to start, where to go or what to do. The most common issue people have is ‘how do I get a barcode?’, and ‘why do I need one?’

“Generally what we find at these sorts of events is that people come up with new, innovative type products but they don’t know what they need to do around barcoding and the like to get their products with some of the major retailers or online places like Amazon.’

And some of the other issues they are finding visitors are interested in?

“Traceability is becoming really big in food, as well as food safety and provenance. Consumers are certainly asking today more about what has gone into a product and they want to know the story behind it.”

A new player in the beverage space, AquaRush was busy all day. For the company, it wasn’t just about getting their product out there but also about finding local distributors as well as drumming up interest from overseas, according to national sales manager Marko Powell.

“We’ve had some really interesting bites from overseas,” said Powell. “We are looking for distributors for every state with our new range. We have nine new products out and today has been pretty full on that is for sure. All of these products we are introducing are new to the market so we are not copying anybody. Another stream we are looking at is selling some of our products as mixers for the liquor industry.”

Then there is Melbourne-based Cookers Bulk Oil who has had 100s of people go through its stand. The company has been on the go and made some good connections according to marketing manager Marianna Costa.

“The show has been fantastic,” said Costa. “We have been incredibility busy and meeting lots of people. We’ve had some good leads and numbers through. For us it’s about education and it’s about brand awareness. We want people to see and hear about our sustainability message at Cookers.’

Taking up two floors at the ICC, and with 900 exhibitors, the event has three more days to run.

 

 

Rotary Dryer Roaster for nuts and meat snacks

The latest innovation in roasting technology from Heat and Control, the Rotary Dryer Roaster (RDR), will provide snack and prepared food operators with an end-to-end solution for the dry roasting of nut, seed and dry meat products like beef jerky.

The RDR multizone convection dryer/roaster system uses the technological advances in dry roasting so food processors can continuously process high volumes of foods.

“This latest addition to Heat and Control’s catalogue reinforces our strength in thermal food processing technology and provides snack and meat manufacturers with even more options, as well as confidence, that they can consistently produce high-quality product,” said Jim Strang, CEO for Heat and Control International.

“We have been offering the latest technology and the highest quality equipment since 1950, and the Rotary Dryer Roaster is the latest example of our continued commitment to develop solutions that empower our customers,” said Strang.

RDR for nuts
The RDR advances Heat and Control’s snack line capability, enabling food manufacturers to take advantage of the cost saving benefits a single source supplier can offer with a solution for seasoned and coated nut snacks, including frying, dryer/roasting, seasoning, coating, conveying, weighing, packaging, case packing, inspection, and controls.

The RDR gives operators control to dry or to roast in a continuous, gentle, and sanitary manner with optimal quality and uniform results.

“The RDR provides high volume convective airflow combined with gentle rotary motion that ensures that all product is uniformly treated with heated air. Operators have full control over the roasting or drying process variables, enhancing the finished products’ colour, flavour, and texture,” said Greg Pyne, Heat and Control sales manager, Australia.

“While this is new equipment for the industry, processors see the potential,” explained Pyne. “They recognise the benefits of the continuous process, the consistency and repeatability of the process, and the savings resulting from reduced labour and floor space requirements.”

Unlike static rack ovens, as product is gently tumbled in the RDR, heated air circulates through the product bed to facilitate uniform drying/moisture removal or roasting. The design handles the raw product in a continuous, high-density manner through a unique flighted drum that ensures positive motion.

Features include a drum design that facilitates continuous first-in-first-out product flow and independent fans and burners in multiple convection zones, which provide complete process control that can be tailored to various products. An externally mounted drum drive design provides access for internal clean-in-place piping and nozzles which provides for automated thorough cleaning.

RDR for meat products
Along with nut products, the RDR is also suitable for applications such as the drying of meats and poultry to create jerky and meat chips, as well as drying pet products to create food and treats.

While Australia has yet to see the same levels of growth as other markets for natural/protein based snacks, consumers are looking for different food options, with demand for jerky on the rise. According to intelligence agency Mintel, the UK and US have achieved 50 per cent growth in the jerky market from 2011 through to 2016. Australia is poised to follow suite for similar growth, with a wave of niche, start-up operators entering the market. Australia is also home to the fourth largest paleo-market in the world.

Jerky snacks are rich in protein, and are becoming more readily available in retail outlets and online as a substitute for cooked meats. Different product flavours, such as chili and lime, teriyaki or smoky chorizo, are also attracting consumers into seeking jerky as a protein rich option when its snack time.

Globally, the meat snack market was worth $6.4 billion in 2017, and is estimated to exceed $29.5 billion by 2025, according to PR Newswire. The growing middle class across Asia are seeking more premium meat-based snacks that are sold in accessible locations for time-poor customers. As the Australian beef market has a reputation in Asia for being a high-quality product, there is demand for the export of Australian beef jerky products, providing manufacturers the opportunity to grow their business internationally.

One of the biggest issues in jerky production is lack of efficiency in the drying process, due to the amount of time it can take to dry the product with consistent taste and quality. Food processors can expand their portfolio to capitalise on new opportunities because the RDR gives operators control to dry or to roast product in a continuous, gentle, and sanitary manner with optimal quality and uniform results.

CSIRO: four new technologies for food processing

The CSIRO’s Ciara McDonnell talks about new technologies that are having an impact on the food industry.

When people think of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO as it is affectionately known, most have images of boffins in white coats working in laboratories with Petri dishes, beakers and Bunsen burners busily inventing new gizmos and gadgets for an array of industries. And while this is accurate to a degree, it also is a multi-faceted institution that has more than 5,000 dedicated staff spread around 57 sites throughout the continent.

It has more than 690 patents including the one that encapsulates its most famous invention, wifi, and covers many research spectrums including mining, manufacturing and food. Most recent figures state that it returns about $4.5 billion to the Australian economy annually, and partners with more than 1200 SMEs per year. It’s a very busy place, and one that attracted Irish research scientist Ciara McDonnell to Australia.

McDonnell works at one of the three food sites CSIRO has set up throughout Australia. They’re at Werribee in Melbourne, North Ryde Sydney and Coopers Plains, Queensland, where she is based.

McDonnell spoke at a seminar at the recent FoodTech Expo held in Queensland. She talked about four food technologies that could have a lasting impact on the food industry.

Various Business Units in CSIRO welcome collaboration, and the Agriculture and Food Unit is no different.

“Coopers Plains is home to one of our food pilot plants that we share with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,” she said. “At that pilot plant, CSIRO have an emphasis on meat processing, so we have a suite of conventional pilot scale meat processing equipment. This can enable food processors to conduct trials at reduced batch sizes until the process is ready for scale-up. Then we assist companies with that scale up to ensure the best route to commercialisation.

“When we do any kind of R&D, we do take a multidisciplinary approach. We have a lot of expertise in house and we understand the importance of each aspect – from safety, nutrition, processing, food chemistry and more.’

Future trends are very important in the institution’s work because CSIRO want to conduct research with impact for current and future markets. And what are some of the pressing issues in the food and beverage space at the moment?

“We can certainly say that environment, sustainability, health, clean label and minimal waste are some of the top food trends that we drive towards,” said McDonnell. “CSIRO sees itself as bridging the gap between academic research and commercialisation into industry. We have access to a large suite of innovative processing technologies ranging from pulse electric fields, advanced spray and convection drying, high pressure processing, – the list goes on. In addition, we look after pilot scale conventional processing technologies as well.”

One way of gauging where a technology is at in terms of its development towards commercialisation is the Technology Readiness Level (TRL). This can be 1 or 2, which means it is at the beginning of its research level up to 9 or 10 where it is being commercialised.

High-Pressure Processing
High-pressure processing (HPP), which it is now commercialised for many food applications, was on the CSIRO radar almost 20 years ago. What exactly is HPP?

“HPP can offer an alternative to heat pasteurisation by inactivating microorganisms. A pre-packaged product is placed into a liquid-filled chamber where it gets treated, but there’s no re-opening of the pack, so no recontamination,” said McDonnell. “Pressure is applied instantaneously and uniformly so it is evenly transmitted throughout the product, usually at about 600 megapascals (MPa), or 6,000 bar, for a few minutes. The effectiveness of the process is dependent on the product type and its different properties like pH and water activity.

What makes HPP so attractive is that the high pressure affects non-covalent bonds only. This means that small molecules that give consumers health benefits, micro-nutrients, colour to the product and the flavour molecules, are unaffected. HPP offers a means of maintaining the fresh-like characteristics of the product – better colour, extended shelf life – it fits with the clean label and fewer additives trend that is now part of the food and beverage landscape. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million tonnes of HPP products produced per year globally. It is estimated that the industry will be worth about $80 billion by 2025. It is broadening into new product sectors, with its main application being shelf-life extension of refrigerated products.

However, McDonnell points out there is a catch. The technology doesn’t inactivate bacterial spores, whereas thermal pasteurisation can.

“So for those foods – low acid food, mainly with a pH greater than 4.6 – it will not work at reducing spore-forming bacteria” said McDonnell. “Any manufacturer that is interested in making products where spore control is required would have to limit the shelf-life, add preservatives, or the alternative is to heat the product, which could result in reduced flavour and nutritional value.”

McDonnell’s colleagues then started to experiment with a combination of heat and pressure, or, high pressure thermal processing (HPTP). They simultaneously applied moderate heat and pressure, and reduced the spore load with less overall thermal load than would typically be required to pasteurise or sterilise a product. What they found was that if they applied HPTP at 550 MPa for one minute at 87.5°C, they could achieve the same inactivation of Clostridium botulinum spores as a thermal-only process of 10 minutes at 90°C. They refer to this phenomena as HPTP synergy.

“You have less thermal load, so you are maintaining the nutritional molecules value, while achieving a significant increase in Clostridium botulinum inactivation” said McDonnell.

But there was another catch. As mentioned, the CSIRO sees itself as bridging the gap between research and commercialisation. And it knows that companies that have invested in HPP, have units without heating ability, and this limits the scope of products it could potentially process; in fact, there are no HPP machines available at commercial scale that have heating capability.

“In order to commercialise the HPTP, we need some processing adaptation,” said McDonnell. “CSIRO developed an insulated HPP canister that, after a pre-heating step, can be inserted into a conventional (cold) HPP unit to deliver a HPTP process. This is something that is going to be licensed by CSIRO and it will allow HPP units to be adapted with a simple drop-in solution.”

Ultrasound
Another technology finding its feet within the food industry is ultrasound processing. It has commercial applications in several processes in the food sector including emulsion breaking and separation, mixing, , homogenising and degassing products.

How does it work? Ultrasound pressures can be created in gas or liquid media  at frequencies in the range of 20 to 100 kHz with traditional transducer devices. As the soundwave travels, it oscillates above and below atmospheric pressure. When this occurs in a liquid, any microscopic gas bubble, which can be dissolved gas as well as water vapour, present in that medium will go through the cycles where it expands and contracts until it reaches an unstable size. It then goes through a final cycle, this causes the bubble to implode on itself. This is known as cavitation. It is not visible to the eye, but it is a very destructive microscopic mechanism. There are other effects caused by ultrasound, such as microstreaming, caused by the sound waves as well as the cavitation, that can be used for a range of applications. During the last decade CSIRO has created applications with frequencies from 400 kHz to 2 MHz, where smaller and larger amount of bubbles are created. In such cases, very mild cavitation occurs, if any, as bubbles do not reach their unstable state and transition back into compression.

CSIRO has filed a patent application based on the innovative application of ultrasound to dry foods far more gently with less energy consumption for sustainable manufacture of premium food products & ingredients.

The ultrasound-assisted drying technology has been shown to be highly effective in intensifying low temperature drying (from 40°C to below freezing) of various food materials (e.g., fruits, coffee, and meat products) resulting in up to 57 per cent reduction in drying time (i.e., corresponds to 54 per cent reduction in energy consumption) with better product quality by minimising thermal degradation.

The technology can be applied to enhance the drying processes of other heat sensitive non-food materials (e.g., bio-pharmaceuticals, medicinal crop, petfoods, etc.), providing further commercialisation opportunities across a broader sector. The patent also covers a novel use of the system in pretreatment processes for improved drying efficiency.

CSIRO is currently partnering with equipment manufacturers to develop and build a pre-commercial pilot prototype of the system to help prove its scalability and commercial viability.

CSIRO has also patented a process that enables oil recovery during both aqueous based edible oil extraction processes and oil refining by application of high frequencies beyond 400 kHz, also known as megasonics. The megasonic equipment is now commercially used in the palm oil industry to recover 200,000 litres extra crude oil per annum in a traditional palm oil plant or an additional 1 per cent oil loss reduction (saving about USD 500,000 per annum). The process consists of passing pre-macerated oil palm fruit through the megasonic unit to enable oil removal from the vegetable biomass, thereby enhancing oil recovery after the centrifugation step. The technology has also been proven to aid the olive oil process. A megasonic treated olive paste can provide an additional 4 per cent oil recovery at 3 tonnes of olive paste per hour, with a payback time of 3 years in a middle sized olive oil plant. Another use of the technology is in avoiding oil losses during the refining process by treating the emulsified oil with megasonic waves before gum removal. The technology has enabled reducing up to half of the oil trapped in gums, obtained as a refining process by-product.

Pulsed Electric Fields
Another innovative processing application is pulsed electric fields (PEF) processing, which is based on placing the food between two oppositely charged electrodes.

“If you imagine a bacterial cell filled with charged ions – positive and negative – and we apply very short pulses of very high voltage so we don’t generate heat. Typically, we apply several thousands volts for a few microseconds – this results in the ions moving towards the oppositely charged electrode until they permeate the cell membrane of the bacterial cell,” said McDonnell. “Just like HPP, it is a way of targeting those micro-organisms without affecting any molecules that contribute to flavour, colour and nutritional value of a product.”

The technology is high on the TRL scale as it has already been commercialised for fruit juice use. It can extend shelf-life significantly for preservative-free juices, while preserving nutrients. In addition, it has helped companies achieve up to 6% increase in extraction yield.

‘’We’ve looked at other applications, like non-thermal milk pasteurisation and improving the texture and quality of meat.”

Shockwave
Shockwave technology is the most novel of all those discussed by McDonnell because it is at proof-of-concept stage. It is the CSIRO’s newest investment, with the government entity having acquired a second commercial prototype, the first outside of Europe.

The idea of shockwave technology first came for meat applications around 1997 when scientists decided to put pre-packaged meat under water and detonate explosives to see if they could  tenderise meat.

“When I spoke about HPP I was talking about static application of hundreds of megapascals,” said McDonnell. “With shockwave technology, high pressures are applied for a shorter time – micro seconds. In previous studies, 100gms of explosives, placed underwater, were used to tenderise meat. Scientists thought, ‘this is great, but how can we commercialise something with explosives?’ For that reason the speed at which the idea progressed has been slow because, as you imagine with explosives, there were a lot of safety concerns.”

In 2001, dielectric discharge came into being, which helped recreate the shockwave. The technology uses two electrodes to generate a similar effect to the explosives. The scientists put voltage through the electrodes and the resulting arc causes very high pressure under water.

“We have acquired a commercial prototype from Germany, which can allow for continuous processing by a conveyor system. We can place a product on it, allowing it to go into the water tank, exposing it to shockwaves and come out at the other side,” said McDonnell. “At the moment, we have a lot of concepts to prove with the technology.

“We think it might cause tissue disintegration so we could accelerate the tenderisation of meat. The first application we are studying it for is meat processing through an Australian Meat Processor Corporation-funded project.”

McDonnell said that when it came to modelling and pressure, the scientists aimed to understand shockwave distribution in the treatment chamber and to identify the area of maximum impact.

“We used the information from the modelling and conducted trials with meat. We had a tenderisation effect which was measured objectively using a Warner Bratzler shear test, where the peak force required to cut through treated meat samples is recorded,” she said. “And now we are working towards optimising this effect.”

McDonnell is hopeful that a lot of these technologies will come to fruition. Some will take longer than others to be realised, but that is the nature of science and discovery.

“There is a future for some of these novel technologies as they provide an opportunity for clean labelling, either by changing the food structure or inactivating microbes,” she said. “Certain applications have already been commercialised and there are good opportunities for all these technologies to be taken up by the food industry. Who knows what else is to come from TRL 1 when new ideas are generated at research? They all certainly fit with the trends we are aware of, and they could help with regard with things like having less waste. It could allow us to have more food for increased food demand. Also, with globalisation we need extended shelf life to reach new markets so it will really help us on the supply chain and yield, as well as having healthier products and more efficient and sustainable processes.”

 

 

Govt. fund designed to modernise manufacturing

The  Government has launched a $160 million fund designed to create jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund would help manufacturers become more competitive by co‑funding investments in new technologies.

“Strengthening our core and emerging manufacturing industries is a key part of the Government’s economic plan to create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years,”  Andrews said. “This delivers on the Morrison Government’s commitment to help manufacturing businesses innovate and develop competitive advantage so they can thrive globally.

“Investing in technology can transform businesses, enabling them to become more productive, manufacture new products and create new jobs.

“The fund will provide grants to small and medium manufacturing businesses so they can invest in capital equipment and new technologies to modernise and employ more Australians. It will also support businesses to upskill workers to maximise the benefits of technology.”

The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund will include $50 million from the Government and will be matched by at least $110 million from industry.

The fund will have two types of grants;

  • $20 million will be for matched grants of between $50,000 and $100,000 for smaller scale technology investments.
  • $30 million for larger-scale grants of up to $1 million, on a three to one funding basis with industry, to support transformative investments in technologies and processes.

The fund builds on other Government investments in manufacturing growth and competitiveness, including the $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, and the $40 million Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

Bosch flow-wrapper designed for hygienic requirements in food industry

Bosch Packaging Technology has developed a new version of its fully automated horizontal flow wrapper Pack 403, which is specifically designed for harsh environment use.

The Pack 403HE comes with all the features of the Pack 403 and is suited for medium to high-speed wrapping. The machine is able to wrap a wide variety of products ranging from biscuits, chocolate, cookies and crackers to frozen foods or meats. “We have designed the new Pack 403HE to meet the growing need of customers with strict hygienic requirements. To avoid contamination with allergens, germs or unwanted ingredients, food manufacturers need machines that are easy to clean,” says Kelly Meer, product manager at Bosch Packaging Technology.

Optimised for deep cleaning
Today, food manufacturers often produce different products on the same machine. “Keeping the products free from unwanted substances such as traces of peanuts or wheat can be a challenge in terms of cleaning. The Pack 403HE provides improved features to facilitate particularly intensive cleaning,” Meer said. It differs from the standard version in terms of product design and material. Customers can apply aggressive cleaning agents including alcohols or acids, and easily wipe them off with water after they have taken effect. Water and cleaning agents will simply run down the drain.

“We call this the foam-and-rinse concept. In contrast to high-pressure cleaning with air or water, customers avoid the risk of spraying substances or germs. The foam-and-rinse method guarantees an easy and reliable washdown. The concept will soon also apply to the Paloma pick-and-place robot,” said Meer.

Improved washdown features
The Pack 403HE also features washdown motors and gearboxes meeting the BISSC standard, sanitary feet, and a continuously-welded stainless steel main frame plate. Stainless steel guarding, robust plastics, removable parts, sloped surfaces, and easy-to-clean gaps between machine components further simplify the cleaning process. The machine’s cable connection to its electrical cabinet has been sealed to prevent the penetration of moisture or unwanted substances. Clear tubes help to detect any contamination. The wrapper is also equipped with a washdown infeed and stainless steel etched and stand-off labels to also support convenient cleaning.

Fast and easy handling
The Pack 403HE produces up to 400 packages per minute, reaching a maximum film speed of 76 meters and includes all of the same features offered in the Pack 403. The automatic film splicer allows for fast film changes without interrupting production. The machine is equipped with servo-driven power feed rollers to optimize film tension and tracking. It also has cantilevered and removable discharge belts that reject faulty packages with compressed air.

Washdown solutions and stainless-steel hose reels for food processing

Spray Nozzle Engineering has been a leader in water saving and efficient ergonomic washdown systems for over 25 years. Their expertise extends to trigger gun and hose nozzle technology and complete hose handling systems.

Knowing that each washdown application is different, based on water flow, pressure, temperature and operator needs, the company can match the exact water saving nozzle to match applications such as commercial kitchens, brewery floors, dairy processing, meat processing and rendering, just to name a few.

If you need a washdown trigger gun or nozzle that is approved as a water saving device, Spray Nozzle Engineering has the only true low-flow trigger nozzle approved with the WELS Smart Water Tick of approval, and recognised by many water authorities in their water saving device rebate schemes.

Spray Nozzel Engineering and Reel Tech can provide a complete washdown package for all applications designed to save water, store and handle hose safely and remove hose trip hazards from your work environment.

Reel Tech is a manufacturer and supplier of standard and custom stainless-steel safer hose handling and storage reel technology. Reel Tech offers high quality steel reels that reduce the chance of employee and equipment damage due to excessive hose whip during rewind, which is a common problem with spring hose reels.

The benefit of installing Reel Tech stainless steel reels is that they are more robust and durable than competitor stainless steel reels. From washdown to processing, Reel Tech supplies all the reels you’ll need. For sanitary or harsh conditions, our stainless-steel reels are the top choice of OEMs around the world. That means you can trust Reel Tech to provide perfect fit and function for years to come.

Numerous industries, including food, beverage, pharmaceutical and dairy, trust our reels because of their resistance to rust and corrosion and the absence of paint, which can chip and contaminate products.

We offer more models and custom designs than any other reel manufacturer in Australia to meet a variety of needs, applications, installations, and functions. Every reel we build is created for the industry it will be used in – never retrofitted to the job. Our Safe-R-Reel™ speed control is a dedicated mechanical system that does not use oil clutches; which could leak contaminants or be subject to heat slippage. Mechanical speed control is an enclosed low maintenance option available on all reel sizes.

Most of our stainless-steel hose reels are used in the food processing industry for: washdown, chemical transfer, potable water, food ingredient transfer and more. We manufacture our stainless-steel reels to industrial-duty design and construction standards using fine grade 304 stainless steel frames, discs and drums, and stainless internals. Because of their exceptional quality, they require only minimal routine maintenance and will not rust, corrode or break down even in the harshest conditions.

Reel Tech partners with Spary Nozzle Engineering to supply complete washdown solutions to the food and beverage industry with applications ranging from: dairy, caustic materials, air, water and chemical food transfer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFH new manufacturing plant starts production

Fine Food Holdings (FFH), a division of the Gourmet Food Group, has commenced operation from its new custom-designed manufacturing facilities in Dandenong South, Melbourne.

Representing an investment in excess of $10 million, the new premises more than doubles the company’s previous Keysborough capacity, enabling FFH to manufacture a large and diverse range of premium crackers products under one roof.

Gourmet Food: the ‘entertaining’ specialists
Following the exceptional success of MaxFoods and its Ocean Blue seafood brand, an importing food business launched in 2009, the business owners identified an opportunity to diversify from seafood entertaining to the ‘entertaining’ deli cracker market.

From the outset, FFH sought to manufacture not only premium quality deli crackers but ones that led through innovation, creativity and flavour.  Production began in Keysborough in early 2015 with its brand, OB Finest soon becoming popular.

Today, the products of FFH, like that of MaxFoods, are acknowledged as market leaders across several product categories and geographical markets.

Furthermore, FFH recently gained recognition as Top Ranked Supplier 2018 in the Australian Grocery Deli Category of the Advantage Report, a 360-degree survey that sets the supplier performance benchmark across the retail sector.

Set for success
CEO Todd Wilson attributes the company’s success to its strong focus on building retail partnerships and understanding the demands of consumers.

The premium OB Finest range is now firmly established as an Australian favourite in the entertaining deli cracker category. The brand embraces numerous quality products from a selection of Wafer Crackers to various varieties of Specialty Crackers such as Cranberry & Pumpkin Seed and Fig & Almond.

Perfect with favourite cheeses or dips, OB Finest recently added Parmesan Crisps and 3 Seed Crisps to its delicious taste sensations. Other new OB Finest products, ideal for the entertainment platters, will be released in October.

Further creative cracker innovations will be easily facilitated at the bespoke Dandenong South manufacturing plant. The move from nearby Keysborough has been a seamless one as it meant easy relocation of FFH’s current 250-strong workforce, as CEO, Todd Wilson explained.

“As an Australian food manufacturer, we at FFH are proud of our current achievements and excited about our future.  The larger capacity and flexibility of our new premises are the cornerstones of our vision to create a scalable Gourmet Food Group.

“This we will actualise through the development of additional products while pursuing entry into new entertaining categories via acquisition and tapping into new markets,” Todd said.

The Australian and New Zealand markets are well-established and continue to grow.  Already, the company has distribution of it6s products in USA, United Kingdom, Chile and South Korea, with commitments in Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland and Singapore.

“Just as the opening of Dandenong South manufacturing facilities brings assured optimism around future growth and success, the Gourmet Food Group mantle enables a more expansive strategic focus,” Todd commented.

Heineken offers drive-thru experience for alcohol-free beer

To celebrate the national launch of the brand’s first alcohol-free beer, Heineken 0.0, the company is giving beer drinkers a unique chance to enjoy ‘one for the road’ without compromising on taste or their ability to drive.

Following the premiere of the new Heineken TV commercial on Father’s Day which is part of the “Now You Can” campaign that is about transforming traditionally non-beer moments into opportunities to enjoy a beer, without the alcohol. Heineken is launching Australia’s first Beer Drive-Thru for consumers to sample the new product.

Heineken will launch the Heineken 0.0 Beer Drive-Thru at 886-896 Princes Highway, Tempe on Wednesday, 11 September to give curious consumers the chance to sample (for free) the merits of the great-tasting, alcohol-free beer.

READ MORE: GABS Hottest 100 Australian craft beers

Heineken 0.0 grants adults a beer choice appropriate for any time of the day and at more occasions which typically call for a good tasting beverage, but no alcohol, such as during your lunch break, a reward after a hard workout – or even during business meetings.

Heineken® Master Brewers applied their expertise to brew the best possible 0.0 beer using just natural ingredients. The result is a great tasting alcohol-free beer with perfectly balanced flavours, including refreshing fruity notes and a soft malty body.

“Heineken 0.0 launched globally in 2017 and is exceeding expectations in all 51 markets. In Australia, we estimate that the no alcohol beer segment will reach 22ML in 5 years, so it is a huge opportunity. What better way to launch it in market than at Australia’s first Beer Drive-Thru, which is the perfect opportunity to introduce Heineken 0.0 to places it has never been before,” said Damian Dabkowski, Heineken country manager, Australia.

Following the launch in Sydney, Heineken will be taking its Heineken 0.0 ‘One for the Road Bar’ on a tour across Australia. Stay tuned.

Western Sydney to put lab-grown meat on the menu

Western Sydney could become a national base for the production of meat grown from animal stem cells under an ambitious plan supported by the NSW Government.

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said North Parramatta startup VOW has been supported with a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product grant from the NSW Government to develop its cell-cultivated meat technology.

“In a world first, VOW has created the first ever cell-cultured kangaroo meat grown from stem cells taken from a kangaroo,” Mr Ayres said.

“Western Sydney is the perfect base for Australia’s first cultivated-meat startup to take forward a global scale opportunity to generate a new food industry together with high-tech jobs in cell-based agriculture.

“We are on the doorstep of Asia and, with Western Sydney Airport now underway, the potential to develop a world class laboratory to manufacture high quality cultivated meat exports is massive. I look forward to seeing a flourishing industry.”

READ MORE: Monash University researches why people find some foods disgusting

VOW has been co-founded by two entrepreneurs, former Cochlear design lead Tim Noakesmith and George Peppou from startup accelerator Cicada Innovations, to grow meat for consumption from animal cells.

“There is growing demand for meat globally with population growth and with rising middle classes in developing nations consuming more protein.

“Growing meat sustainably from stem cells will have a fraction of the footprint of traditional livestock farming in terms of land use and water use and there is no need for culling animals.

“We’re building a team of scientists, designers and technologists all on a quest to meet the world’s protein demands for the future in a sustainable manner. But we are not in competition with traditional livestock farming.

“There is plenty of room for traditional meat as well as plant-based and cell-cultured meat to provide greater choice for consumers.

“We hope to build a full scale factory in Western Sydney that will eventually mass produce many tonnes of cell-cultivated meat each year for Australia and for export.”

Mr Peppou said VOW was also building the biggest “Noah’s Ark” cell library in the world with cell samples that can be used to develop new food experiences.

“At the moment we have only domesticated for food production less than 1% of what’s in nature so there are many unlocked food secrets to explore in the other 99.6%,” Mr Peppou said.

“Nature has incredible diversity so there is great potential to create new food experiences. Our cell library will discover and catalogue new flavour, texture and nutritional profiles that we can also combine to create amazing new food experiences.

“We have kicked off collaboration discussions with some top tier Australian chefs to design their own high impact dishes using cultivated meats, and will work with food regulators to hopefully have our first premium product available by the end of next year.”

Cookie Project unveils real person traceable packaging via QR code technology

New Zealand-based The Cookie Project has unveiled new packaging to help break down social stigmas around disabilities. A first in the country, the cookie packaging brings real person traceability to life via QR code technology, allowing consumers to meet their bakers.

Sustainably made from 100 percent recycled material, the packaging is designed to give the New Zealand public the ability to connect with and empower the disabled community.

Through personalised stickers for each baker on the back of the product, customers can scan a QR code via their own smartphone to discover who made their cookies, leave a message of encouragement and or request the baker to make their next batch of cookies.

The innovative packaging also furthers the social enterprise’s goal of providing employment pathways for its staff, with potential employers able to use the linked profile page as a platform to offer opportunities directly to the baker.

Knowing first-hand how complex understanding disabilities can be, co-founder Eric Chuah wanted to help educate the public by simplifying disabilities into four simple categories – sensory, physical, cognitive, and mental health. Each represented by a colour in the QR code, the public can learn more about the different types of disabilities when they scan the sticker.

Co-founder Graeme Haddon says, “We believe two key steps in breaking down social stigma for the disabled community is awareness and education. By making disability easier to understand, we hope this is the first step towards inclusion.”

Eric Chuah says, “Everything we do at The Cookie Project is human-centred around our bakers. We wanted our packaging to be a platform where customers and potential employers can connect with our bakers. We’re proud to help drive this conversation and show New Zealand that people with any type of disability can contribute to society and should be treated equally as such.

Quentin Van Heerden, managing director of Quentosity says, “For us, we want to play our part in helping to tackle discrimination in our society against people with disabilities. And so the key focus for Quentosity Digital Marketing Agency is to combine great design, with a great product, and critically, to encourage people to buy the cookies. We came up with a clean, attractive design, with emoji icons to embrace youth, whilst encompassing elegant, contemporary design elements.”

Handmade on-demand in the Eat My Lunch kitchen, The Cookie Project uses premium ingredients from Kiwi partners Lewis Road Creamery, Trade Aid and Pic’s Peanut Butter to make its products with no preservatives, additives or colouring.

The Cookie Project products will be available in New World Metro on Queen Street and other selected Auckland stores from September onwards, and rolled out nationwide later in the year.

 

Growth in premium livestock feeds spurs by-product demand

Livestock feed company, Castlegate James Australasia, is seeking to purchase greater volumes of by-products from food manufacturers, and establish new suppliers, due to strong growth in demand for its high-performance products.

Castlegate James Australasia has been working alongside the Australian food industry since 1923, buying by-products from large FMCG food and beverage companies and converting these organic ingredients into highly sought-after premium livestock feeds.
The company supports many of Australia and New Zealand’s most respected food industry suppliers and large-scale livestock producers, converting what some may see as surplus into nutritionally balanced, performance-based feeds for the dairy, cattle and sheep markets.

Castlegate James Australasia’s Group CEO, Steven Chaur, is a 30-year veteran of the Australian consumer food industry and claims the growth potential for re-purposing or upcycling food industry ‘by-product’ into high-performance livestock feed is both on-trend and exponential.

Importantly, demand for improved on-farm performance, animal welfare and feed reliability are driving interest in and sales of the company’s unique product offer on both sides of the Tasman.

“Each year across Australia and New Zealand, we will convert over 700,000 tonnes of consumer food by-product into quality livestock feeds that would otherwise not be consumed. The ingredients include high quality materials generated as part of a food production process such as production line trimmings or grade-outs, out of specification, over production or unused raw materials. It’s all perfectly good quality and safe but it can’t be used for consumer product and there is increasing pressure on food companies not to add to landfill.”

Many of the ingredients purchased for the company’s unique feed rations include packaged bread, biscuits, dough, yeast, vegetables and fruits, brewers’ grains, food grains and nuts, flour, dairy powders and even confectionery. These ingredients are then formulated by the company to make a unique balanced ration depending on the livestock application and farm productivity goal.

“Our nutritionally balanced feed is produced from high quality, consumer grade food product inputs and because it’s been already fully or partially processed, the ingredient digestibility and calorific value tends to be superior for livestock, relative to a conventional grains based stockfeed, delivering better energy, protein and fibre in a way that increases weight gain, marbling scores or improved milk production. It’s a joy to see livestock chasing the feed wagon. Even cattle like confectionery, in moderation, or the sweet smell of brewers grain.”

Castlegate James operates 10 high volume production facilities across Australia and New Zealand, servicing both suppliers and customers through fast lead-times and unique processes that can efficiently de-package retail ready or bulk packaged foods. The company is planning production investment in both Australia and New Zealand over the coming 3 years to meet increasing livestock customer demand, as well as pursing innovative new high value markets.

“Because a large amount of the by-product that we purchase is branded perishable food, our production sites tend to be state based close to both the customer and supplier, ensuring we can handle significant volumes reliably and operate a fast turnaround to ensure the best quality feed is delivered to our large-scale farm customers, who demand reliability and consistency. Critically, we ensure our suppliers can operate efficiently by providing a professionally managed and timely on-site collection service, as well as confidentiality in dealing with branded packaging materials.”

Demand is growing rapidly for the company as it continues to explore new sources of by-product supply from food manufacturers, food retailers and QSR franchise operators.
“Importantly, we are not a site services company so we don’t manage general waste. We are every bit a premium food manufacturing company, we just feed livestock instead of consumers. We pay a premium for the consumer food grade ingredients used in our livestock feeds and so we have high expectations on suppliers for reliable supply and quality. In turn, we provide a consistent commercial service to our ingredient suppliers.”
“It is a win-win relationship and we’re delighted to play a key role in helping to make a unique contribution to food industry sustainability and support an important livestock value chain,” Chaur said.