Cattle company serves up carbon neutral beef

One of Australia’s largest and oldest cattle producers has launched one of Australia’s first carbon-neutral beefs.

Five Founders is the first branded beef product to be launched by the North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCo) and has been officially accredited as carbon neutral after meeting the Australian Federal Government’s strict criteria.

NAPCo, which was founded in 1877 and manages approximately 200,000 head of cattle across Queensland and the Northern Territory, undertook a 12-month accreditation process as part of its journey to provide consumers with a unique beef product.

Five Founders will initially be sold in NAPCo’s current markets of Australia, China and Singapore before a staged and measured expansion to other markets.

NAPCo CEO Phil Cummins said the company’s decision to pursue carbon neutrality in its first foray into selling its own cuts was to meet the desires of the modern consumer.

“When we decided to launch our own branded beef product, we studied the market and quickly realised that people increasingly want produce that not only delivers the highest quality eating experience but respects their affinity for environmental and animal care,” he said.

“Consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever and this is especially the case among younger generations such as Millennials, who want confidence they are buying sustainable products.

“NAPCo has always prioritised our animal welfare and environmental practices and embracing carbon neutrality has been a natural progression of this. NAPCo’s care for animals is also demonstrated in our ‘whole-of-life’ advantage as we breed and raise our own cattle, ensuring good health and full traceability within our supply chain.
“Creating such a ground-breaking beef product has been an eye-opening and incredibly rewarding experience for our staff.”

Cummins said the company engaged an independent national carbon and energy management consultancy company to help guide its bid to produce Australia’s first carbon-neutral beef.

“Pangolin and Integrity Ag Consultants were engaged to calculate our carbon footprint through a hybrid lifecycle assessment (LCA) of our herd, which was then combined with estimation of energy-related emissions from the properties and feedlot,” he said.

“A range of improvements on our properties and in our herds has subsequently allowed us to reduce our footprint, including genetic improvements that allow our cattle to breed and be processed at a younger age and thus emit less methane.

“Having made these efforts to reduce our overall footprint, we then purchased carbon credits approved by the Federal Government to offset the remainder.”

Cummins said NAPCo was also committed to conservation activities such as securing land for nature refuge programs and performing carbon sequestration trials.

“We are also looking to trial feed additives that will reduce the amount of methane emitted directly from our cattle,” he said.

“This is the beginning of our carbon journey, not the end, and we will be working to further reduce our footprint.

“NAPCo has prioritised animal welfare and environmental practices for almost 150 years and see it as our duty to find innovative ways to tackle this global challenge.”

Prior to launching Five Founders, NAPCo spent more than a century solely focused on breeding, growing and finishing cattle for both domestic and export markets.

The company manages more than 6.1 million hectares in Queensland and the Northern Territory, along with the award-winning Wainui Feedlot and Farm on the Darling Downs. About 180 people are employed across all aspects of its operations.

NAPCo is owned by a variety of shareholders, including the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) which bought an 80 percent stake in the company in 2016.

How Vega has led the way in radar level transmitters

The use of the radar level transmitter for the process industry started back in 1991. These were extremely large units and operated with a 6GHz frequency. The units were sold generally into liquid applications and were only ever considered when no other technology would work. They were a large unit weighing in at several kilograms and operated only from an AC supply.

In 1997 Vega released the world’s first true loop powered radar level transmitter, offering a more suitable transmitter for typical process applications. But once again they came with their limitations. 1999 saw the 26 GHz radar level transmitter being released, offering a smaller unit with a reduced antenna size and narrower beam angle (a downside to lower frequencies is the larger beam angle).

Vega continued to develop and improve radar level transmitter performances through the first decade of 2000. The main changes were in the software area where, thanks to customer feedback, the parameters for setup were improved and made much more descriptive and user friendly.

As with all developments you reach a point where the components and physics of the technology have been maximised. At this stage, Vega started research on the 80 GHz frequency range. This frequency was not new to the market as it was and still is quite common in the automotive industry with reversing sensors.

During the research and development of this frequency Vega carried out a number of real-life customer trials and the results of these opened up many more opportunities for the use of the radar that had never been practical before. It also allowed, for the first time, antenna sizing and adaption to many typical process fittings that exist in the industry. One of the things to note with regard to radar frequencies is that, as you increase the frequency, the antenna size and the beam angle reduce.

Radar level transmitters work on the reflection of the signal from the product being measured, and the strength of that returned signal is based in the Dielectric Constant (conductivity). So, in the past, they were not considered suitable for applications that have a relatively low DK value radar. 80 GHz now allowed these measurements to take place, but, of course, there are other considerations.

As well as the high frequency, you also need quality components that provie you very good sensitivity or dynamic range as it is commonly known as. Typically, up to this point, radar level transmitters had a dynamic range of around 90 db – that is, until the VEGAPULS 64 (liquids) and the VEGAPULS 69 (solids) were developed. Vega had manufactured a radar level transmitter with a dynamic range of 120 db. So what does this mean? Well, as with audio, for every increase of 3 db you get a doubling of the power. An increase of 30 db over the previous and existing radar frequencies achieve an increase of over 1000 times in the sensitivity of the Vega 80GHz radar level transmitters. For this increase Vega transmitters were now able to measure extremely low DK products such as plastics.

Radar level transmitters, like all instruments, do have their limitations, and many limitations are set by the physics of the technology. It is very important to take into account not just the frequency, but all the data, when evaluating whether a transmitter is suitable for the application. At Vega, 80 GHz has proven to be a large step forward in solving difficult applications, but the company has developed a model for liquid applications and a model for solids applications, as different algorithms for the types of process medium are needed.

Radar level transmitters are now a very accepted form of non-contact level measurement and the use of these units has increased by many times over the past decade. But as with all developments, this one has not yet finished, and Vega is continuing to improve the transmitters. The company said that, in the near future, it will again break through barriers and open up opportunities for radar to provide more solutions in industry applications.

How much does food contribute to Australia’s economy?

Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector is in many respects the quiet workhorse of the national economy. Australia’s largest manufacturing sector comprises companies that typically take produce from the farm and transform it into food and the consumer goods that every Australian needs every day. Fundamentally, the essentials of life.

While this industry has built a strong reputation for quality, safety and environmentally responsible production, its importance is further realised when you examine its contribution to the communities in which these companies operate.

For Northern Victorian regional economies, the food and grocery sector contributes $12 billion in annual output and makes the largest contribution. It employs 21,500 Victorians and pays $119 million per annum in tax – more than any other sector. The sector’s contribution to regional communities is even greater when you take into account the supply chain linkages for example through local farming, engineering and transport jobs that the sector stimulates.

These are impressive numbers, with major global companies like Fonterra at Stanhope, Mars Pet Care at Wodonga and Nestle at Tongala through to small, local companies like Beechworth Honey driving jobs and local economies across Northern Victoria.

The far more urban region of Western Sydney has also emerged as a food and grocery manufacturing powerhouse, generating $17 billion in output per year and $138 million in taxes.

The sector employs 24,400 workers whose wages and salaries pump $1.9 billion into the local economy annually. On average, workers can earn up to $80,000 a year.

Western Sydney’s current population of 2.1 million is expected to grow by a further 1 million people over the next 18 years, and it is critical to ensure jobs are available in the same areas in which people live.

While manufacturing has had a bad rap of late, we still make things in this country, with the highest quality standards. There is no doubt Australia’s largest manufacturing sector is being challenged by input costs, which are rising on everything from commodities to labour to energy; and seven years of continuous retail deflation.

Looking ahead, as Australia’s food manufacturing sector relies so heavily on Australian farmers, shortages caused by the drought will have considerable flow-on effects for food processors through increased input costs. Given the challenge posed by ongoing retail price deflation, this places greater stress on jobs and investment in manufacturing.

Yet this sector is incredibly resilient and is worth backing, because we have a globally competitive edge. Our “Clean and Green reputation” is the envy of the world and it enables some companies to get premium prices for value-added food and beverage products in growing export markets.

Northern Victorian food and grocery manufacturers exported over $2.1 billion last year, and Western Sydney $2.5 billion (a growth of more than 10 per cent from the previous year) showing our trading advantages in ensuring our products are served up on Chinese, Japanese and Korean dinner plates.

The ability to fully capitalise on these advantages is not going to happen without an ongoing push for trade competitiveness, a stable regulatory environment and reform to drive down input costs. Importantly we also need to look at ways to encourage these companies to continue to invest in their manufacturing plants and people.

Australians have long been proud of making things and now is the time to get behind what we are making in our regions and cities alike.

The AFGC has recently launched a public affairs campaign to do just that – demonstrate the true value of the $131 billion food and grocery industry to all levels of government and the Australian public.

Built around the central theme We’re from here, the campaign message is: Australian food and grocery manufacturers and processors play a key role in Australia’s communities and economies in which they operate. This is being dissected further into the areas of quality, choice, jobs and engagement with the community – all of which are key drivers of our sector.

Designing and building a facility in Asia: What you need to know

Australian food and beverage manufacturers open processing factories in Asia for many different reasons – cheap labour, being closer to markets, lower running costs.

Wiley is a company that has spent many years building up its portfolio of building projects in Asia – Thailand and Indonesia  are just a few countries where they have built facilities for a variety of FMCG food specialists. Wiley’s first Asia project was 1995 for Nestle Indonesia, who where going through an expansion phase on several sites in East Java – a condensed milk factory was built quickly followed by a Milo factory and then by others including factory upgrades and central distribution centre.

Wiley brought some innovations to their projects, which provided better hygiene controls, sped up construction  and reduced ongoing maintenance. An example of innovation was concrete tilt-up walls to a warehouse which made construction faster and eliminated the maintenance of repairing plastered blockwork.

After its start in Indonesia, Wiley designed some ‘signature’ facilities in the Philippines, particularly a large commissary for leading Filipino fast food company Jollibee.

There are many preconceived ideas – some true, some not so much – when starting up a factory in the most populous continent on the planet. For a start, there are still standards that have to be met. Maybe they’re not as stringent as those in Australia? Not necessarily so says the company’s advisory services director, Andrew Newby.

“We build to international standards or specific client requirements when building overseas,” said Newby. “A country like Thailand considers itself the kitchen of the world. They export to Japan, Europe and all over the planet so they have to meet high standards. You look at the workmanship level when building in Asia – the finishes – as to being similar to Australia. We look at how they might improve the way they do things, and, in some cases, we do have a lot of supervision when building as to how they carry out tasks. I find that supervision is a really strong factor in achieving great finishes.”

Wiley business development manager, Michael Fung, backs up that assertion. “When starting a project, I would advise to have somebody up there who can manage the delivery. Having an Australian supervisor is a good idea,” he said. “If you leave all the dealings with a local contractor you don’t know what you are going to end up with.”

Dealing with local government can vary from country to country. While there might be an impression that a lot of these places have third-world infrastructure, they still have construction standards that have to be adhered to, licenses that have to be put in place, approvals and other bureaucratic necessities that must be met. A key factor for food and beverage processors have to take into consideration is risk. What are the local issues? Is the government reasonably stable? Is the workforce reliable? What are the local labour laws and how will they affect my business? Fung also says that sometimes companies get caught up with the setting up and forget about the commercial aspects.

“You have to look at how they operate,” he said. “Things like bank accounts, what you need to have in place before you even go over there. Take Indonesia and Thailand for example. The differences doing business in those two countries is significant. There are differences in paid-up capital requirements to setup business. Then there are business set-up costs. It is that up front advice that they need to get from lawyers and accountants before they get their foot in the door of the country that needs sorting out and we often assist with.”

Is it easier doing business in one country compared to another? Yes and no, says Newby. It’s more to do with how the country sees itself with regard to food manufacturing than any clear set of rules designed to make things easier or harder for the companies involved.
“It is about making sure you are ready,” said Newby. “For example, Thailand has a very active board of investment. They will give you a lot of help to set up a new business. Whereas you might not get that in Indonesia because they are not such an export-driven country. So, it’s important to look for incentives.”

Then there are the reasons a company is going there to Asia in the first place. Is it to export back to Australia? Export that country’s produce around the world? Depending on what you are going to do relates to which is the best country to erect a factory.

“It’s all about supply chain,” said Newby. “It’s about what you are making. Is your raw material available in that country? Because every country is different. What are you producing? Does it make sense to build in that location? If you’re not really sure then we can help a client decide the geographical location within Asia where it makes sense to be. You have to also look at where ports are located, airports – things like that.”

Wiley is a company that has many years’ experience building facilities on the continent. This experience can go a long way to helping companies just starting their journey in Asia, especially when it comes to scoping a new project.

“It is important to get a company, or someone, with experience building facilities there,” said Wiley communications manager, Rachael Hedges. “We can start right from the beginning through our business advisory unit – from identifying what country you should go into. What is the business risk? What is the business position for going there? We make sure there is due diligence and that the company’s future planning is in the right spaces and places. Then our delivery team can partner with local suppliers and subcontractors and make sure they are getting the right advice to get the right outcome.”
And how are things looking there at the moment? Wiley is at pains to point out that the whole region – depending on wants and needs – is open for business. However, the big player in the arena – China – is never far from anyone’s thoughts. Still, opportunities abound everywhere said Newby.

“The areas that I’ve seen pretty good growth in are the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia,” he said. “With Indonesia for example, it has got a population of 230 million. There is a really strong domestic need for food there. Whereas Thailand has 60 -70 million people but is a big exporter because the government has been very proactive in supporting the food industry. Some Asian countries are building strong connections to China.

“As the infrastructure gets better in Asia, it is going to open up. You are then going to see more trade, which those governments are trying to do with the ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian Nations) agreement – trying to break down trade barriers in the region so labour and goods can cross borders easily.”

How does Newby feel about the near future with regard to growth, especially for Australian companies thinking of dipping their toes in the food and beverage processing market?
“Some economists say that at the moment the Asian economies are sluggish, but this view only makes sense when compared to the double-digit growth that the region experienced in previous economic cycles,” he said.

Growth rates in the ASEAN area for example are still forecast to be somewhere between 5-9 per cent in 2019 and when combined with the big populations in Asia, it is unlikely that demand for high quality food and beverages will be declining anytime soon.

Report shows food sector accounts for almost 40 per cent of Australian manufacturing jobs

The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC)10th annual industry snapshot, State of the Industry 2018, reinforces the importance of the $131 billion food and beverage, grocery and fresh produce sector to the future of Australian manufacturing.

The report, released on November 26, shows that despite being faced with challenging conditions through 2016 – 2017, the sector now accounts for nearly 40 per cent of Australian manufacturing jobs.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said this year’s State of the Industry highlights the importance of the food and grocery sector to Australia’s economy, and its resilience in the face of a significant loss of competitiveness that has impacted Australian manufacturing more broadly.

“There is no doubt Australia’s largest manufacturing sector is facing a tough environment where input costs are rising on everything from commodities, particularly caused by the drought, to labour to energy, and six years of retail price deflation continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure.

READ: New capping machine improves productivity in small manufacturing spaces

“These factors have created relentless pressure back through the supply chain, with companies having made efficiency improvements in order to stay competitive. It has now however reached the stage where this pressure is placing strain on the sector,” she said.

“While the food and beverage, grocery and fresh produce sectors directly employ 324,450 people, there was a 1.4 per cent decline in employment in 2016-17. There was also a small decrease in industry turnover by 2 per cent to $131 billion.

“A 10.3 per cent decrease in net capital expenditure, off the back of a decade of declining investment, reflects a genuine concern that increases in input costs coupled with depressed pricing makes the case for investment difficult at this critical time,” said Barden.

“Continuing to stimulate investment in site modernisation is critical particularly in light of mounting input cost pressures.

“We are now in danger of drifting into a low investment trap, where uncertainty about return on investment flowing from retail price deflation and rising costs is seeing investment decisions deferred or dumped,” she said.

The AFGC recommends that targeted investment allowances be adopted to bring forward investments in Australia, to retain jobs and businesses here, particularly in regional areas where approximately 38.8 per cent of the sector’s jobs are located.

In contrast to the domestic market, the report highlights that the industry’s growth prospects increasingly lie in export channels.

“An increase of 7.7 per cent in exports to 36.1 billion in 2017-18 shows the ability to realise premium prices for value-added food and beverage products in growing export markets is a key source of future growth and contrasts with the low growth, deflationary domestic trading environment.

“For the Australian economy to grow, we need strong regional employment, a strong manufacturing base and export led growth.

“The food and grocery sector offers these three aspects but requires polices that address cost competitiveness and ensure fairness in retailer supplier trading,” said Barden.

Key facts from the State of the Industry 2018 report on the food, beverage and grocery sector, using ABS and other sources are:

  • Industry turnover $131.3bn, down -2 per cent in real terms; 2016-17 data
  • Direct employment 324,450 people, down -1.4 per cent; 2016-17 data
  • Net capital expenditure $2.9bn, down -10.3 per cent; 2016-17 data
  • Total international exports $36.1bn – up 7.7 per cent; 2017-18 data

Australia and New Zealand Industrial EtherCAT Seminar Series 2018

Industrial Ethernet and EtherCAT in particular are hot topics in the global automation industry: Traditional fieldbus systems are showing their limitations today as new technologies are appearing that provide more performance and support for Internet protocols. Automation system users have to decide if, when and how to adopt these next generation networks.

Why attend?
Experts’ presentations from the EtherCAT Technology Group and sponsoring companies as well as time for on-site networking and discussion with the experts and the accompanying table-top exhibition provide you with a complete overview on benefits and challenges of EtherCAT for you and your application, especially in the context of Industry 4.0 and IoT.

Who should attend?
These half-day and free of charge events are a great chance to get access to the EtherCAT technology in your market, Australia & New Zealand, as well as worldwide.

Please register online today, if you are…

  • In charge of control and automation systems with machine builders and OEMs;
  • Working with system integrators or design firms for machine builders or end users;
  • Involved in application and controls design or product management;
  • Interested to know the latest trends in industrial automation and how fieldbus selection plays an important role;
  • Interested in application examples and possible migration strategies.
  • The agenda, further detailed information and online registration can be found here.
  • Participation is free of charge.

This roadshow is supported by BECKHOFF Automation.

Dates and locations

Friday 19 October – Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Perth
Monday 22 October – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Tuesday 23 October – Yarra Gold Club, Melbourne
Wednesday 24 October – Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Thursday 25 October – Addington Raceway & Events Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
Friday 26 October – Waipuna Hotel & Conference Centre, Auckland, New Zealand

Event times: 7.45am – 1.00pm

Newly Weds Foods knows not all breadcrumbs are created equal

Breadcrumbs are one of the unsung heroes of the food industry. They are used in many product applications but never really take precedence as the key ingredient. Hence, the selection of the right breadcrumbs can make a significant difference to the overall quality of a finished product.

Historically, low cost mass produced breadcrumbs were almost always made from unsold bread returned to the bakers by retailers.

To make use of this essentially waste product, bakeries redried the bread and crumbed it to commercialise a product that would otherwise be dumped. This product was the industry standard for many years.

READ: Newly Weds offers world-tour of flavour trends at foodpro

In recent times however, various market changes have had an impact on the availability of these types of breadcrumbs and its use.

Firstly, retailers have become more adept at forecasts and ordering, meaning the incidence of waste has significantly reduced and availability can be inconsistent.

The varieties of bread in retail have also increased, meaning crumbs made from returned bread can have extraordinarily long ingredient lists which are not always suitable for processors using the crumbs in their product.

New country of origin labelling as well as allergen statements have also made these crumbs more difficult to use in processing where demands for transparency and clean labels are increasing. As a result, there has been strong demand for purpose bake crumbs, particularly in manufacturing.

Newly Weds Foods has been producing purpose-baked crumbs in Australia for more than 30 years in the form of its signature Panko Crumb and Japanese Style Breadcrumb. These crumbs are produced through the combination of selecting high quality wheat flours with a specialised, innovative technology using electrical current during the baking process to create an elongated, slivered shape.

This unique shape and open structure produces a delicate, crispy texture when fried or oven baked. The specialised baking process also produces bread loaves that are free from an outer crust, giving a uniform coloured crumb which improves visual appeal and allows the company to manage colour to specification.

While sales of Panko have continued to grow significantly, these crumbs are a premium product. But they are not always a cost- effective option for some of the more traditional uses of breadcrumbs that have predominantly been the domain of returned breadcrumbs.

To meet this demand for lower cost, purpose baked crumbs, Newly Weds Foods has installed a traditional bread baking line where loaves are baked using traditional methods.

This produces more homemade looking bread with an outer crust that when crumbed creates a more home-style, familiar looking speckled crumb.  The crust gives golden brown highlights and a great crunchy texture that’s ideal for a variety of applications and a more cost effective alternative to Panko in some applications.

By purpose baking this way, the company can ensure its customers consistent supply with the same quality and appearance on every delivery.

Ingredient listings and allergen statements are greatly simplified with most of Newly Weds Foods’ traditional crumbs containing only five ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, sugar & water.  All of these ingredients are Australian sourced helping country of origin labelling as well.

Further catering to market demand, Newly Weds Foods also has the flexibility of producing crumbs via an extrusion process rather than traditional baking technology.

This process allows for crumbs to be made into a variety of shapes as well as the option for gluten-free applications.

Committing to sustainable cocoa farming

Last week, 41 players from the Swiss cocoa and chocolate sector, including FarmStrong Foundation, joined forces to form the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa.

The objective of the new platform is to bring together organisations from the private sector, public sector, civil society and research institutes to promote sustainability in the cocoa sector. The member organisations – which include the association ChocoSuisse and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) – aim to considerably improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and to create an attractive cocoa sector for current and future generations.

The Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa is aiming that by 2025, at least 80 per cent of the cocoa products imported into Switzerland should be from sustainable means. The platform’s activities will focus on farmer welfare, climate resilience and biodiversity, traceability and measures to improve quality. Key to its progress will be to promote an effective dialogue between the local authorities, organisations and cocoa smallholders in the producing countries.

The platform will use the expertise of its members to develop and implement innovative solutions. FarmStrong Foundation’s Founder and executive director Michiel Hendriksz commented “We look forward to supporting the platform with our expertise and experience on the ground in cocoa growing communities, improving the farming systems and lives of the people in these communities to maximise the impact”. Our approach based on a thorough situation analysis and focus on improving health, education, nutrition and gender equality as basic prerequisites for sustainable agricultural, social or economic development, fits well in the overarching objectives.

Farmer Power launches new fund raising campaigns

Farmer Power,  has just launched two fund raising campaigns in partnership with APCO Australia to help promote and fund an educational campaign for the public and as a signal to the government to inform them on the issues within the dairy industry.

According to the news release by Farmer Power, they have said that the financial hardships that farmers are facing will not stop at Victoria but will also eventually impact on everyone, both personally and financially, if it is not addressed.

It has been reported across several news sources that rural businesses in dairy farming regions are in trouble with farmers being in debt. This was speculated to be due to the trickle-down effect of last year’s dairy crisis.

 

These campaigns are aimed at gaining assistance from the business fraternity in supporting Farmer Power in their endeavours.

They are also aimed at building support from both the public and businesses to bring about positive change for Dairy Farmers, but not only dairy farmers, but also regional businesses and rural communities which are all being directly  impacted by this crisis.

Automated food sorting machines to grow at seven per cent CAGR by 2021

Technavio market research analysts forecast the global automated food sorting machines market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of close to seven per cent during the forecast period, according to their latest report.

The research company’s analysts highlight the following three market drivers that are contributing to the growth of the global automated food sorting machines market:

  • Retrofit activities carried out in aging food processing facilities
  • Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle
  • Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry is the oldest industry that has gone through several revolutions such as Green Revolution, White Revolution, and Pink Revolution. Depending on the type of food products manufactured, there have been several changes in the methods of food processing witnessed in the industry. However, the introduction of automation in the industry is transforming the aging industry by integrating new methods and technique, according to Technavio.

“Automation has allowed the industry to reduce the manual work, improve hygiene, and speed-up the process. Also, realising the cost benefits achieved in terms of return-on-investment in the long run, small and medium-sized enterprises too have switched to automated machines to optimise industry operations,” says Sushmit Chakraborty, a lead analyst at Technavio for automation research.

Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle

The improving economy of developing nations has witnessed a rise in the demand for different food products and changes in eating habits. To serve the growing need for food, the food industry is required to reduce the process time and delivery time. This can be achieved by reducing the process cycle time and implementation of automated machines.

Implementation of automated machines has drastically reduced the process time and increased the quality of food products manufactured. The demand for various food products such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, oils and fats, and meat and seafood can be fulfilled by integrating the processes that require minimum process and cycle time.

“Automated food sorting machines are used for different food items, thus making the processes faster and more hygienic. Industrial automation and information analytics allow the user to extract the data and perform the activities more accurately and fast, thereby reducing the delivery cycle,” says Sushmit.

Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry must adhere to food and safety standards that regulate and monitor the food quality. For every food product manufactured, there are a set of quality standards that are to be maintained during the manufacturing process. Traditionally, food industry involved manual efforts during the manufacturing processes. However, to achieve the quality standards decided by food safety and standard authority, it is necessary for food manufacturing companies to rely on food processing equipment.

Automated food sorting machines provide speed and allow the industry to optimise the quality standards. The improved quality achieved by implementing automated machines and integrating methods with artificial intelligence will result in the further growth of the market.

Image: BBC Technologies’ CURO 16

CSIRO maps out Australia’s food future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food and grocery sector driving Australian manufacturing

The food and grocery sector is 30 per cent more valuable to Australian manufacturing than it was 10 years ago, according to new research by consulting firm EY.

This is largely a result of Asia’s growing middle class and the demand for Australia’s produce, according to the research. The sector has been aided in recent years by Australia’s strong export ties, particularly the 2015 China-Australia free trade agreement.

Australia’s reputation for producing clean and green products is also key in the sector’s growth, according to EY agribusiness partner Andrew Metcalfe.

“While domestic conditions remain challenging, food and grocery processing is an area of strong export growth with an 11 per cent surge in food and beverage exports to $26b last year,” Australian Food and Grocery Council chief executive Tanya Barden told The Australian.

“The results show a huge potential for huge growth.”

The food and grocery manufacturing sector is currently worth $126 billion, and employs over 300,000 Australians. Its growth over the past year was almost three times higher than that of the next-largest manufacturing sector, machinery and equipment and fabricated metal.

Freeze dried food could be the answer to food waste

According to a story on ABC Online, freeze-dried food could be the solution to saving billions of dollars worth of wasted produce.

Australians dispose of $10 billion worth of food every year and according to Foodwise, with $2.76 billion of that is fresh produce.

Queensland food processor Freeze Dry Industries has fast become an outlet for local farmers looking to make money off crop that would otherwise go in the bin.

“Freeze-drying is a very scientific process, which has origins with NASA as space food,” CEO Michael Buckley told the ABC.

“My inspiration came from the pure joy of the technology in attacking waste, because I hate the thought of us throwing out beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables.”

However freeze drying is not cheap, with freeze-drying machines starting from $300,000,” he said.

Buckley told the ABC he was convinced that consumers are prepared to pay more for the experience of eating a freeze-dried snack.

For farmers, the option of earning money from a waste product, despite the cost, is an incentive for many growers.

Despite the challenges, Buckley expects the interest in freeze-dried fruits to increase, largely driven by demand from the likes of “the health food industry,’ he said.

Hygienic transport system for food makers

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Aussie spirit grabs silver at global awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s full steam ahead for Woolies

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

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

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

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

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

Jobs, factories and profits all go as MG battens down the hatches

In a sign of the impact the falling milk price is having on the food sector, food company Murray Goulburn (MG) said it will be closing down factories and reducing its farmgate milk price in a bid to address its “cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings.”

This will include closure of MG’s manufacturing facilities at Edith Creek, Rochester and Kiewa, forgiveness of the Milk Supply Support Package (MSSP), total write-downs of up to $410 million, and a dividend suspension.

The factory closures, the company said, are expected to impact some 360 employees while at the same time delivering a net financial benefit of $40 million to $50 million per annum. Overall, MG said that it anticipates a net financial benefit in FY18 from the closures of approximately $15 million.

However, the dairy company said that it needed to spend $60 million of capital expenditure to enable the closures, which will be largely funded by maintenance capital expenditure no longer required at the sites.

MG also announced that it will write off farmers loans incurred in the MSSP, with all future repayments of the MSSP which were to recommence from July 2017 ceasing, meaning the company will write-down $148 million.

Due to weaker trading conditions, the FY17 forecast available FMP of $4.70 per kilogram milk solids is expected to be fall to $4.60 per kilogram milk solids.

The company said that it remained “committed to paying a FY17 average FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids.”

In order to protect against any potential further losses this financial year, MG has provided access of up to $30 million of additional debt funded milk payments, so as to maintain the forecast FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids up until the end of this financial year, the company said.

Linerless self-adhesive labelling system featured at foodpro

Le Mac are suppliers of the linerless labelling system that is self-adhesive for trays of meats, ready meals, salads etc.

Linerless labels are an environmentally-friendly innovation: they do not use backing liner like traditional labels, which cannot be recycled and does not decompose in landfill.

The system itself is fully automatic and delivers significant efficiency gains over traditional pressure sensitive labelling machines or hand-application of carton sleeves.

It works with heavy gauge cardboard, film or paper labels in 8 formats (top, top & side, top & 2 sides, Full-wrap, C-Wrap, D-Wrap, Skin Packs and Slide Sleeve). It is suitable for stretch wrap trays, top seal trays and vacuum skin packs (with protrusions). To top it, all this can be run on the same machine without change parts.

The La Mac linerless systems are used by a number of major Australian food manufacturers, and they are currently also used on a range of Woolworths and Coles products.

The Le Mac Australia Group will be showcasing the linerless labelling system along with other products at Stand K61 on Level 4 at foodpro,  16-19 JUL 2017 @ the ICC SYDNEY, DARLING HARBOUR.

Australian obesity increases despite lower sugar intake

A new study has found that despite consumers’ decreased sugar intake, Australian obesity rates are higher than ever.

In recent years, scientists have linked excessive sugar consumption with obesity.

This has led to a number of initiatives to decrease added or refined sugars in Australia’s food and beverages.

The nation has recently experienced the biggest increase in adult obesity levels since 1980 (16 per cent). The number of overweight or obese Australians is now 63 per cent, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

This is despite the fact that in Australia, the per capita availability of added or refined sugars and sweeteners was shown to have fallen by 16 per cent between 1980 and 2011, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Specifically, in national dietary surveys in 1995 and 2011-2012, added sugar intake saw a marked decline in men (18 per cent), but little to no decline in women.

However, during the same period, the proportion of sugar-sweetened beverage intake (including 100 per cent juice) fell 10 per cent in men and 20 per cent in women.

The most significant changes were seen in children aged 2-18 (who currently have an overweight/obesity rate of 25 per cent).

According to the study, data from national grocery sales indicated that per capita added-sugars intakes derived from carbonated soft drinks decreased from 26 per cent between 1997 and 2011, with similar trends for non-carbonated beverages.

However, Australia’s childhood obesity rate has also been steadily increasing over the years.

The study suggests that the link between sugar consumption and obesity may not be as strong as scientists initially thought.

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. The Conversation

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself.

Maybe this all seems a little too anthropocentric for your taste? Smacks of literary indulgence on my behalf? Perhaps. But the simple matter is that we can’t avoid the fact of human uniqueness, and explaining it is tied to understanding the evolution of our extraordinary brainpower.

The eighteenth century British anatomist and creationist Richard Owen, one of Charles Darwin’s foremost foes, thought humans were so unusual that we ought to be classified in our own sub-class – the ‘Archenecephala’ as he dubbed it – on account of our highly advanced brain.

It rather conveniently stood us apart from the apes, confirming his view of the specialness of humankind.

By the standards of today’s biological classifications this would place us in a position in the tree of life above all of the orders of mammals, making us about as exceptional as the monotremes are to the placentals.

But with the facts of our evolution now well and truly established we have a much better understanding our place in nature, as members of the primate order, and particularly as African Great Apes.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department.

Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size.

While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began.

How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies.

The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavor, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

Darren Curnoe, Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW

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