Melbourne’s newest food retail platform

Newly launched Co-Lab Pantry is an online retail hub offering high-end pantry staples,  meals, drinks and experiences from Victoria’s most-loved restaurants, bars, cafes, brands and producers, to customers nationwide.

Designed as a universal platform for consumers to access Victoria’s best food and drink items, Co-Lab Pantry stocks an extensive range from ready to heat-and-eat meals to restaurant-made condiments, and bottles for the home drinks trolley.A concept born of COVID-19, Co-Lab Pantry was developed by Danielle Lebon, Natasha Buttigieg and Avin Chadee. The three collaborators combined their expertise in retail, hospitality and digital marketing to create an online community focused on ‘Food For Good’, ultimately bringing the hospitality venues and producers they admired together in one retail space during lockdown.

“We realised there weren’t any online platforms which brought together a variety of perishable products and pantry staples from the venues and producers we most loved. Food and hospitality are very close to our hearts and we wanted to create a space that can continue to celebrate and support the relationships customers have with their favourite venues across Victoria,” says Co-Lab Pantry co-founder Danielle Lebon.

Nestlé highlights digitalisation and sustainability annual report

Nestlé has published its annual report for 2019. It contains Nestlé’s annual review including Creating Shared Value highlights. It also contains the corporate governance and compensation reports and the financial statements, which were first published on February 13, 2020, and remain unchanged.

Nestlé saw strong progress in 2019, with significant improvements in key operating and financial metrics. Organic growth reached 3.5%, fully in line with guidance. Profitability improved again as the underlying trading operating profit (UTOP) margin increased by 60 basis points to 17.6%, reaching the mid-term target announced in 2017 one year ahead of plan.

Cash flow in 2019 was strong, while underlying earnings per share and returns to shareholders reached record levels. The Board proposes a dividend increase of 25 centimes, marking 25 consecutive years of dividend growth. In total, $28 billion was returned to shareholders in 2019 through a combination of dividend and share buybacks.

Innovation continues to give Nestlé a competitive advantage. In order to keep pace with rapidly-changing consumer preferences, the company has changed its approach to innovation. It has made processes quicker, enhanced rapid prototyping and created accelerators. The company funded 50 additional fast-track innovation projects leading to product launches within 6 to 12 months. It has reduced the average duration of centrally led research and innovation projects. Nestlé’s innovation strength remains rooted in its scientific expertise and the ability to leverage research findings across different product categories.

Alongside a strong innovation engine, digitalisation is a key ingredient to continued business success. Digitalisation touches on all aspects of Nestlé’s business, from supply chain management to production to marketing and sales. In 2019, e-commerce sales grew by 18.5 per cent to account for 8.5 per cent of total sales, firmly establishing Nestlé at the leading edge of the food and beverage industry.

The company is moving to connect with consumers in a relevant and personalised way. In 2019, 20 per cent of all consumer contacts with Nestlé were personalised. The objective is to reach 40 per cent by the end of 2020. Nestlé has also built a network of more than 25 e-content studios. These studios create impactful and locally relevant content with speed and efficiency, producing market- and consumer-specific communication materials in less than 48 hours.

Nestlé is also transforming operations by further digitalising its supply chains and manufacturing. The goal is to create a competitive edge through data, artificial intelligence, automation and predictive analytics. For example, at the end of 2019, 100 Nestlé factories were equipped with ‘collaborative robots’ that interact with humans in a shared space or work safely in close proximity.

In 2019, Nestlé also continued to demonstrate that business can be a force for good, making a real contribution to society and helping to find solutions to global challenges.

Tackling climate change is critical for society and for ensuring the continued success of Nestlé’s business. Nestlé accelerated its climate change efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy, with a pledge to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As most of Nestlé’s carbon footprint relates to its sourcing of raw materials, Nestlé will support its farmers and develop a series of initiatives in agriculture.

Moreover, Nestlé adopted the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. The company will continue to work with others to mitigate and adapt to risks associated with climate change.

Nestlé also continued to work towards a waste-free future. The company inaugurated its Institute of Packaging Sciences, dedicated to the discovery and development of functional, safe and environmentally-friendly packaging solutions. Nestlé deployed more sustainable packaging across its product portfolio. This included launching innovative paper packaging materials, increasing the use of recycled plastic in its water brands and introducing new bulk delivery systems. It also engaged in initiatives to support local recycling infrastructure and community-based waste management systems.

Food companies can learn from start-ups, Practical Innovation says

Practical Innovation helps food companies develop innovative products, with similar ideas to those used by start-up companies.

The aim is to get companies, stuck in their old ways, to take more risks that will benefit them long-term.

Practical Innovation pushes companies to break the old paradigm of marketing the same products on a reduced margin, which can set the product up for eventual failure.

Practical Innovation CEO Tal Leizer said gambling a company’s reputation in the market with a new product that might not survive on-shelf was a huge impediment.

“If you want to succeed in the competitive food market, the very first step is to take failure off the table and start thinking audaciously, like a start-up.”

There is a huge gap between start-ups that launch innovative products and traditional companies that don’t, irrespective of company scale.

Using the multidisciplinary expertise of professional innovators is necessary to drive the changes required and to launch win-win products.

Many established food companies want to develop new products and increase sales and revenues, but to do so involves harnessing tremendous efforts and resources that are not always available to traditional companies such as bakeries and sweetener companies.

Starting an innovation process in an existing company that has produced the same products over many years comes with challenges.

With so much at risk, older, and larger, companies often only make minor changes rather than introducing new ideas.

Being inherently risk-averse, they might only add a new flavour, improve packaging, or simply cut costs.

Leizer shares a few tips on how to revive a company’s innovation process, which include searching for creative ideas, even if those ideas seem impossible.

Identifying important food trends, and knowing what the market wanted, now and five years from now, was also important, he said.

Company’s also had to make the concept feasible and scalable, said Leizer.

 

Augmented reality helps lead quality in Australian meat industry

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have partnered with Design Build and Consulting business, Wiley to explore how technology can bring meat grading into the future utilising Augmented Reality (AR).

The pair collaborated on a research and development project to innovate meat grading using computer vision, with the goal of objective measurement and decision support for grading staff. The innovative technology will help cement Australia as the world’s leading red meat producers, delivering high quality future supplies to domestic and international markets.

The AR platform, named ARGA (Augmented Reality Grading App) facilitates faster, more consistent and more precise meat grading while taking full advantage of the experience and capabilities of the industry’s meat graders. The solution is designed to discern the colour of a meat sample; accurately can determine the area of the latissimus dorsi muscle and introduces handsfree scanning of meat sample tickets. These features have been demonstrated on a Vuzix m300 augmented reality headset as well as on various hand-held devices.

This project consisted of two phases:

  • A research phase reviewing and cataloguing relevant augmented reality projects, case studies and technology
  • A proof of concept phase in which a prototype of an augmented reality application was developed for an AR head mounted display and tasked with reducing the subjectivity in MSA grading in a processing environment.

The subjective collection and assessment of meat grading attribute in the industry have contributed to trust issues between producers and processors. MLA have stated that producers and feedlot operators are concerned about the precision of meat grading in Australia. Meat graders are not to blame. Humans are simply not built to repeatedly make objective judgements day in day out. In an American study of meat grading, it was found that 50% of meat samples were mis-graded in some way.

“We are really excited to be working with the MLA in research and innovation projects that will move the red meat industry forward into the digital era. We congratulate MLA on their foresight to investigate and invest in this technology,” said Wiley’s R&D and Innovation Director, Brett Wiskar.

In 2016, Australia was responsible for the exports of more than a million tonnes of beef exports making this country one of the leading meat producers in the world. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is working hard to keep Australia at the forefront of meat production globally with technological initiatives designed to ensure Australia’s future as a global industry leader.

Wiskar explained some of the benefits of the meat grading AR platform. “Decision assistance for meat graders may lead to improved transparency and consistent outcomes for the meat industry. Increased precision has obvious benefits such as accuracy on a carcase by carcase basis and broader labour efficiencies but there are also subtle flow-on positive impacts to the industry and processors.

Decision support is likely to bring about greater speed and decreased training periods for meat graders. In addition, such a solution has the potential to normalize grading performance across shift duration, between graders, between facilities and across processor groups.

Both the augmented reality market and the platform developed through this research show substantial potential. The successful demonstration of a meat grading application in conjunction with the continuing development of augmented reality solutions make it reasonable to expect augmented reality to play a substantial role in the meat industry in years to come. This platform will have much further potential as the technology advances.

MLA and Wiley are now working together to prepare a Rural R&D for profit submission on an augmented and virtual reality program for all of Australian agriculture.

 

Australian nut innovators meet world-first innovation challenge

To inspire food manufacturers globally and encourage key decision makers to incorporate more macadamias into their innovation pipelines, The Australian Macadamia Industry Marketing Program has created a world-first platform to drive innovation and new demand for macadamias.

Years of research demonstrates consumers’ overwhelmingly positive and emotional responses to Australian macadamias, and that adding macadamias elevates a food product and makes it more premium.

The Australian Macadamias Innovation Challenge attracted pioneers in new product development, ranging from students to professionals in fields including food technology and innovation. Each submitted creative concepts for a new packaged food product highlighting macadamias within three key categories – bakery, snack and snack mixes, and ice cream, and within two cuisine profiles – Asian or Western.

Australian Macadamias’ market development manager Lynne Ziehlke said the Innovation Challenge is all about driving new demand for macadamias amid increasing global supply.

“We know that global production is increasing and that consumers want to see more products with macadamias. This challenge is about inspiring food manufacturers across the world to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Ziehlke.

“Australia is leading the charge; our industry is really proactive and innovative in this space. We’re driving demand and the innovation agenda to benefit both the Australian and global macadamia industry.

“It’s exciting that the Innovation Challenge final has taken place in Australia’s largest macadamia growing region, and we were honoured to have a selection of growers taking time out from their busy harvest preparations to attend.”

Adeline Wong, a professional entrant who created Macadamia Mind Food Bars, and student Kinga Wojciechowski who created Miso Caramel Cookies, each won a trip to SIAL Paris 2018, the world’s largest food exhibition.. The team behind Macci Ice Cream, Ashna Gobin and Leonardo Bohorquez, won a $5,000 cash prize.

Wong, Gobin, Bohorquez and Wojciechowski were selected as the standouts based on their excellence in key criteria – including taste, presentation of product, insight behind the innovation and originality in the market.

The entries were judged by four leading industry representatives – Pam Brook, co-founder of Brookfarm, Australia’s leading producer of gourmet macadamia cereal and snack products, Nick Palumbo, founder and co-owner of Gelato Messina, Dr. Barry McGookin, food technologist, PhD in Food Science, General Manager of Innovation FIAL, and William Peterson, owner of Infinity Bakery.

The judges were impressed by the high standard of the finalists’ entries and excited by where they could lead. Pam Brook said that all the judges found the depth of innovative thinking from the entries incredibly exciting.

Up until now global production of macadamias has been relatively limited, only representing about one per cent of global tree nut production, but in recent years there has been a wave of new investment in growing macadamias which will see a flourish and macadamias become more available globally.”

We hope that macadamias will represent closer to five per cent of the tree nut market within the next 10 years. Our vision is to see many more products manufactured using Australian macadamias, and the Innovation Challenge was created with this in mind,” she said.

The Judging Event and winner announcement ceremony took place at Harvest, Byron Bay on Thursday 1 March.

 

Chickpeas for breakfast?

Imagine sitting down to breakfast and pouring ice cold milk on your bowl of chickpeas. It might become a reality thanks to Charles Sturt University (CSU) research into innovative processing techniques to add value to pulse crops.

CSU PhD candidate at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Functional Grains (FGC) Stephen Cork is investigating the potential for pulses like chickpeas to be processed into flakes for breakfast and snack foods.

“Pulses like chickpeas are high in protein, low in fat and are a great source of minerals and B vitamins but many Australians don’t meet the recommended dietary intake of one to three serves of pulses per week,” Cork said.

“The low consumption has been attributed to the time and effort required to prepare them, which typically involves soaking and boiling for over one hour, and the need to modify sensory attributes such as texture and flavour.

“My research is focused on understanding how processing technologies can support new product development, in particular for incorporating pulses into ready to eat breakfast foods, a market worth $33 billion globally.”

Working with Woods Foods, a family owned pulse processor in southern Queensland, and Uncle Tobys, Cork’s research aims to better understand the factors needed to turn chickpeas into flakes.

“The different chemical compositions of cereals and pulses means that there’s a need for research into how to apply a processing methods like flaking to pulses,” Cork said.

“My research is examining how pre-treatment, flake formation and secondary processing impacts the behaviour and quality of the product.

“It’s hoped the development of new products will diversify markets for Australian pulse producers to support further growth of the industry.”

Cork presented his research at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Update in Wagga Wagga on Tuesday 13 February. More about the GRDC Update here.

Cork was awarded a scholarship by FGC. Funded by the Australian Government through the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme, the FGC is administered by Charles Sturt University and is an initiative of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation. His research is supervised by FGC Director Professor Chris Blanchard, Dr Asgar Farahnaky and Professor John Mawson.

 

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Sheep, cheese, vodka and sustainability in Tasmania

Hartshorn Distillery, winner of the Beverage of the Year at the 2017 Food & Beverage Industry Awards, uses a cheese making waste product to create alcoholic beverages. Matthew McDonald writes.

About 15 years ago, Ryan Hartshorn’s family moved from Queensland to southern Tasmania with the idea of establishing a dual wine and sheep-cheese-making business.

As Hartshorn, a director and owner of Grandvewe Cheeses and Hartshorn Distillery told Food & Beverage Industry News, given that nobody in the family had experience in these fields, the move was a gamble. His mother Diane Rae did much of the early work. Among other things, she travelled to Europe to learn from experienced cheese makers.

From the outset, sustainability was a key priority for the business. For example, the original idea involved the sheep doing the job of maintaining (eating) the vegetation between the vines. Unfortunately, the sheep weren’t disciplined enough to limit themselves to grass and destroyed the vines themselves. So the vineyard was abandoned in favour of just the cheesery.

Hartshorn Distillery's Ryan Hartshorn (centre) with his sister Nicole Gilliver (left) and his mother Diane Rae (right).
Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn (centre) with his sister Nicole Gilliver (left) and his mother Diane Rae (right).

 

 

Then, three years ago, Hartshorn decided to take another gamble. “I started to get a bit sick of the cheese side of the business and wanted to have my own creation. I decided to learn how to distill. Essentially, I was trying to figure out how I could make a distillery relevant to a cheesery and how they could work together,” he said.

The obvious path would have been to make milk liquors, but Hartshorn wanted to try something different. He had heard about a business in Ireland using cow whey (a cheese making by-product) to make alcohol and decided to try something similar with sheep whey.

“I asked the Irish operation how to do it but they wouldn’t tell me,” he said. So he had to work it out for himself.

The process of using lactose (the complex sugar found in whey) to make alcohol is not simple because fermentation requires a basic (not complex) sugar.

The only way to transform the lactose into a basic sugar is to use enzymes to break down its protein molecules. Hartshorn read about some enzymes that might be able to do this. With the help of some food technologists in Melbourne, and by a long process of trial and error, he identified the right enzymes and then started to develop his products.

Today, Hartshorn Distillery makes Sheep Whey Gin, Sheep Whey Vodka (which took out the aforementioned award) and Vanilla Whey Liqueur. After three years of operation, the distillery has now overtaken the cheesery, accounting for about 60 per cent of the overall business.

Experience is crucial

Hartshorn emphasised the fact that, in his case, taking a risk and innovating was not easy. He advises others considering taking such a step to first make sure they have plenty of experience behind them.

“I don’t think I could have done this if I came straight from working for someone else. I’d worked in my business (the cheesery) for 12 or thirteen years before making this leap,” he said. “So I had a pretty good understanding of the market. I wasn’t in the alcohol industry but there are a lot of similar factors involved. I had an idea what the market wanted.

“Basically, if you want to innovate, you need to do your research. You need to make sure you know what’s out there and what’s not out there, then try and fill those gaps.”

There is another unique aspect to Hartshorn Distillery. All its bottles are hand-painted and one-of-a-kind. As Hartshorn explained, nobody has copied this. “Big companies can’t really do it because of the work involved,” he said.

The distillery has grown by an impressive 600 per cent in the last year and, while Hartshorn is currently focusing his energies on keeping on top of this demand, he conceded that he may have to soon start thinking about adding some new buildings to the operation.

“I’ll keep my range the same but I’ll keep changing the bottle design. I want to do more collector items,” said Hartshorn.

Whatever happens, sustainability will remain important to the business. “We’ve been trying to use our waste almost from the beginning. We do a few other little lesser-known products like making fudge from whey,” he said. “We also make some of our older sheep into a sausage that we sell through our cheesery. And we make a fruit paste that goes with our cheese made from the waste of wine making.”

For more information on the Awards, or to get involved for 2018, click here.

Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn makes vodka and gin from sheep whey, a cheese making by-product.
Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn makes vodka and gin from sheep whey, a cheese making by-product.

 

Kiwi academics develop new food design technique

Two leading academics have developed a new food design technique to help inspire the next generation of culinary designers, and make artistic food presentation more accessible to New Zealand restaurants.

The new technique developed in consultation with EPIC Otago Polytechnic R & D centre and The Food Design Institute at Otago Polytechnic allows chefs to produce large quantities of artistically designed food products by hand on a commercial scale with a small team, and at reduced cost.

Otago Polytechnic’s Timothy Lynch, who and lectures on sustainability in the food industry, says they wanted to present ingredients in a way that was consistent with multisensory food design concepts.

“The process involves working with natural products to design handcrafted foods that look identical to fruit and vegetables but are filled with contrasting flavours.”

“Initially we couldn’t find a way to make these products on a small scale, but a collaboration with the EPIC helped us overcome several barriers, and we were able to develop a method of crafting the lifelike products using food-grade silicon moulds, which we made ourselves,” he says.

Lynch says a project of this scale and complexity would require international assistance and a large team of scientists and food specialists. This would have made the project cost prohibitive by New Zealand industry standards, he says.

“Thanks to the ingenuity of some of our colleagues and the dedication of our staff and students we have managed to find a way to bring these food creations to life,”- says Lynch.

Senior lecturer Tony Heptinstall who has catered for Prince Charles and other royal family members says one of the objectives was to increase current industry capital through being part of an innovative collaboration between the food industry and education.

“We were conscious that in order to inspire the students we needed to take on a challenge that solved a real world problem and used design thinking at the same time,” he says.

“The technique involves making edible fruit and vegetables replicas from vegan white[HS1]  chocolate and So Good milks – ,” says Heptinstall. The hand moulded products are then filled with a variety of contrasting l recipe combinations using a diverse range of readily available ingredients including the nut milks.

“It’s not everyday that you get to have a dhal curry which is encased in tumeric chocolate and presented in a red or green chilli shell or an apple pie smoothie presented in an apple hanging on a tree. We’ve got a series of other quite contrasting flavours all designed to ‘shake up’ what a plant based diet can look like.”

“What we’re doing is not only highlighting the design evolution of the food we are able to create, but also embrace the contemporary movement towards flexitarian and vegetarian diets,” says Heptinstall.

“People are looking at food from not just a taste and health consideration but from a sustainability and environmental perspective,” he says.

Sanitarium’s marketing business manager Hayley Scott who approached the tertiary institution with the technical challenge said the outcome surpassed their expectations.

“We approached the polytechnic to help us come up with a way to show Kiwis how Non Dairy milks can be used creatively in kitchens around the country.

“Throughout their collaboration with their students and colleagues they have completely embraced this challenge and we have been amazed at what they have been able to produce

“We are thrilled to see it inspire students, the food industry and the general public as well,” she says

A proof of concept display has been created in the form of an entirely man made, edible garden where more than 3,000 hand-crafted fruit and vegetables will be made available to the public to sample.

The garden will be open to the public from February 8-9 between 11.30am-2.30pm at Takutai Square, Britomart, Auckland.

Teff: from ancient grain to gluten-free food products

Teff (Eragrostis tef) is the world’s smallest grain and one of the oldest plants, originating in Ethiopia at least 5000 years ago. It is a major food crop in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Outside Ethiopia, teff is grown in Nevada and Idaho, USA, with about 1,200 acres grown each year. Apart from the McNaul family, it has been grown in Australia in experimental quantities in areas of Tasmania and around Tamworth in northern New South Wales.

Teff is a gluten-free wholegrain and as such it has the potential to become in high demand as suitable for consumption by gluten intolerant and health conscious consumers.

Teff’s nutritional content

The scientific literature shows that teff is highly nutritious. Its protein content typically ranges from 8.7 to 11 per cent, similar to wheat, and it has a good balance of amino acids.

Teff flour has a high fibre content (8 per cent dry basis) – several times higher than wheat and rice, higher than sorghum, lower than oat and rye. It also contains the fermentable fibre, resistant starch.

The high fibre content is thanks to its small size. The bran and germ aren’t separated during the milling process thus it’s always consumed in wholegrain form.

Teff is also a good source of minerals and vitamins. It’s high in iron – around two or three times higher than wheat, barley and sorghum. It is also high in calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and magnesium. Teff presents in various colours, from white to brown, which is due to the high content of phenolic compounds.

Outback Harvest and product development

Rice has been the traditional crop for NSW Riverina farmers, son Fraser and father Shane McNaul, and they also grow corn and a variety of winter cereals and legumes. But they decided a couple of years ago they needed to diversify their cropping program to become more sustainable and innovative.

The agriculturally rich and diverse Riverina, with its warm to hot climate and ample water supply, makes their farm the perfect place to grow the ancient grain emerging onto the Australian market, teff.

The McNauls planted two varieties of teff, brown and ivory, three years ago. They started a company, Outback Harvest, and approached CSIRO and Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) to help them develop Australian-grown, gluten-free teff baked goods and extruded snacks that could bring this nutritious grain into the mainstream western palette.

“Without CSIRO and FIAL all we’d have been able to do would be a grain and a flour product,” Fraser said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do the value-added products so in the long term we’re vertically integrating and that’s helping us out as farmers.”

Fraser has moved to Melbourne to concentrate on developing packaging, marketing and distributing the first retail products, which have been endorsed as gluten-free by Coeliac Australia and Coeliac New Zealand.

Food applications and new markets

Teff flour is traditionally used to make injera (fermented flat bread), kitta (sweet flat bread), chibito (unleavened kitta in balls) and anebabro (double layered kitta).

Unlike flat breads, because gluten is essential to form the spongy texture of baked leavened bread, developing acceptable bread texture with gluten-free flours is an on-going challenge for food technologists. Bread high in teff flour appears to be no exception. Further research into thickening agents or structural ingredients would be needed to successfully develop a gluten-free bread with a high proportion of teff flour.

Teff grain and flour are being imported to the US, Europe and Australia from Ethiopia into the health food store and supermarket sectors and used for making biscuits, cakes, flat breads and muffins in the home. Brown teff produces a darker coloured flour that has a chocolate-like look and taste to it and so is ideally suited to a product like muffins. The ivory teff produces lighter coloured flour with a nutty flavour and is perfect for something like pancakes.

Value-added teff products such as ready-to-eat or convenience foods for retail markets or at commercial scale are emerging. At the time these products were under development for Outback Harvest, there were no others on the market in Australia, although some have come on since.

Owing to its documented nutritional properties, potential new markets for teff could include specialty products for weight management and high nutrient content products like baby food, traditional medicines or supplements. 

What CSIRO did

The aims of this work were to demonstrate it was possible to prototype several new gluten-free products using teff as the main ingredient, and to investigate the impact of teff flour on the texture, colour and flavour of new products. CSIRO developed muffin premixes, bread and a crunchy extruded ball, which has potential as a new snack product or breakfast cereal. The McNauls have just commercialised the muffin premix and launched it onto the retail and wholesale health food sector nationally, and in cafés in Melbourne, Geelong and the Surf Coast in Victoria. Other products CSIRO developed are currently being patented.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the products because they’re Australian-grown and certified gluten-free,’ Fraser said.

“With CSIRO’s expertise in food innovation and new product development, and their facilities and expertise helped make it all happen,” Fraser said.

“We’re also looking at other value adding opportunities like snack bars, tortillas and flat breads, and exporting to Asia.”

 

Healthy eating for shift workers

Working the graveyard shift or even pulling an all-nighter is an everyday reality for many employees in industries like entertainment, healthcare, security or transportation. This can be challenging for anyone. It is also hard to feel revitalized or rested enough to head back to work the next day – not to mention doing it again and again in shift work. So it is no wonder some describe the feeling like ‘a zombie chasing a caffeine drip’.

Although many shift workers say that they are used to working overnight, staying awake and inverting sleep patterns can lead to a number of negative consequences in the long run. In fact, it is common for shift workers to get shift work sleep disorder (SWSD)[1], which is characterized by insomnia. SWSD sufferers may constantly feel tired even when they have had enough time to rest. They are also more prone to making mistakes and causing accidents

Furthermore, night shift workers tend to turn to convenient food options (e.g., chocolate bars, sugary cupcakes) when they need an energy boost to stay alert and get them through the wee hours of the morning. However, such snacks may not provide enough nutrition or the healthy energy that someone staying up late often would need.

Yes, reaching for a night snack, especially a sweetened one, can help to offer a quick energy boost but it may also be bringing on precisely the kind of lethargic feeling that the night shift workers are trying to avoid. This is because sweet confectionary products, including cakes, chocolates and cookies, tend to contain a high ratio of conventional sugars and thus high glycaemic carbohydrates – the main culprits of the energy spikes and crashes.

It is especially important for shift workers, who already have to endure demanding sleep patterns, to eat healthily. Christian Philippsen, Managing Director for BENEO in Asia Pacific, explores how food manufacturers can cater to consumers seeking healthier snack options – snack food that provides sustained energy release without the subsequent energy crash.

Crashing from a sugar high

Many confectionery products are sugar laden and highly processed. They also often carry a large amount of high glycaemic carbohydrates that are digested very quickly, resulting in a fast and high release of glucose – the body’s main energy supply – into the bloodstream, thus causing an energy ‘spike’.

For night shift workers, these sugar spikes cause their blood glucose and insulin levels to rise, leading to an initial energy ‘boost’. However, these glucose stores are quickly depleted, causing a drop in blood glucose levels even below baseline, which translates to an energy ‘crash’, which is the sluggish feeling that people often feel after a meal.

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Consumers choosing to eat healthier

 The benefits of all things healthy is impacting the consumer market in ways that could only be imagined a decade ago. Consumers these days are making an effort to eat healthier either to look or feel better or for health reasons. According to a Nielsen study, 60 percent[2] of consumers in Asia Pacific are choosing to eat less sugar and 54 percent are opting for more fresh or natural food.

Avoiding the ‘sugar crash’

Successful food manufacturers in tune with the market are offering consumers healthier options in view of demand trends. They are designing products that are suitable for low glycaemic dietary plans by incorporating functional carbohydrates such as BENEO´s Palatinose (generic name: isomaltulose), which can be used to fully or partially replace sucrose or other high glycaemic carbohydrates, for slower energy release.

Palatinose has a unique physiological profile that helps support healthy nutrition – especially with regards to blood glucose management. Although Palatinose is classified as a sugar, it has a special molecular structure that enables it to be seen as a “good” sugar.  Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is hydrolysed four to five times more slowly by the enzymes in our small intestine as compared to high glycaemic sugars, yet it provides the body with the full amount of energy (4kcal/g).    This results in a low glycaemic sugar that is fully digestible – thus making it ideal for providing sustained energy with gentler blood sugar levels that provide long-term benefits for glucose control, body composition and weight management.

Palatinose can be easily incorporated into various types of food and drinks. Derived from natural beet sugar, it has a sugar-like, mildly sweet taste and can be used in the development of a wide range of great tasting and healthy snack products, from cereals and baked goods, to dairy products and sports and energy drinks.

Getting through the graveyard shift

 Working the night shift is definitely not an easy task, and it can be one of the most challenging experiences when people have to do it for a long period of time. Nevertheless, we will continue to need shift workers, especially in today’s urbanising society and having cities that never sleep.

Shift workers need to get enough rest in the off hours, and watch what they eat. Food products that allow for slow, sustained energy release – such as those made with Palatinose and low in high glycaemic carbohydrates – are ideal. This way they help avoid the consequences of the extreme blood sugar peaks and dips, and can provide access to sustained energy release mechanisms and improved metabolic balance. Palatinose equips food manufacturers with the opportunity to formulate innovative snacks that not only taste great, but provide consumers with a healthier energy source.

[1] Shift work sleep disorder – WebMD

[1] We are what we eat – The Nielsen Company, 2015

Entries now open for inaugural Australian Chobani Food Incubator program

Aussie food starts ups with big hearts and big ideas can now apply to be part of the first round of the Australian Chobani Food Incubator program.

Since announcing the Australian arm of it’s extremely successful food incubator program just over a month ago, Chobani has received over 150 enquiries from food and beverage brands across the country looking to scale their business and take it to the next level.

Partnering with Monash’s Food Innovation Centre (FIC), the Chobani Food Incubator will combine the FIC’s facilities to support new product development, innovation, and quality with Chobani’s expertise in sales, marketing and customer engagement – creating the most holistic incubator program in the country.

The program aims to unearth and nurture innovative food start-ups who will challenge the system and shape the future of the Australian food industry.

The program specifically includes:

  • 4-month incubator from February to April 2018, online and on-site
  • 1 – 2 team members participating on-site with key Chobani team members
  • Monthly programs at Chobani locations, including manufacturing facilities and Monash’s Food Innovation Centre
  • Equity free capital: $10,000 grant to help grow your business
  • Travel, hotel and other expenses covered
  • Access to Chobani teams, top executives, and expert

Entries to the first round of the Australian Chobani Food Incubator program close on 30 November.

Image: Professor Nicolas Georges, Monash Director of Food and Agriculture, in the new food Incubator.

 

Food Innovation Australia Limited launches Cluster Programme

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) – the Food and Agribusiness Industry Growth Centre – has announced today that it is launching the Cluster Programme.

A first of its kind in Australia, this initiative encourages businesses to work together, align with public agencies and other institutions, for a common purpose to achieve a win-win outcome. The matched funding will support the formation of new clusters, or existing ones, to solve challenges and take advantage of exciting new market-opportunities.

Cluster success is well demonstrated across Europe and other countries, where FIAL’s Chairman, Mr Peter Schutz, travelled last year to learn first-hand about clusters.

“The Cluster Programme will make a real difference to our country – not only in specific regions but across our industry because it will highlight the benefits of co-operation and collaboration. A lot can be achieved when people work together,” said Schutz.

“For me, it’s about changing our mind-set and realising that the world is our oyster if we work together. The commercial and social benefits of clustering are evident throughout other parts of the world, let’s embrace these learnings, let’s adapt them to our context and let’s zoom out and focus on the world –our competition is overseas, not in our neighbours.

“This programme is the first step towards this direction and FIAL is proud to be launching it. I believe the programme can help clusters develop world-leading platforms for long-term, sustainable growth.”

Schutz’s insights and learnings have highlighted that clustering accelerates economic activity, productivity, innovative product development and new business formation.

FIAL is launching the Cluster Programme across Australia on the following dates:

  • Hobart – Friday, 13 October 2017
  • Melbourne – Tuesday, 17 October 2017
  • Sydney – Friday, 20 October 2017
  • Darwin – Monday, 23 October 2017
  • Brisbane – Tuesday, 24 October 2017
  • Perth – Monday, 30 October 2017
  • Adelaide – Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The businesses set to revolutionise the F&B industry

Lion has announced the cohort for Lion ‘Unleashed’, a 12-week accelerator program that will see close collaboration between participants and the leading food and beverage company. In the first year of launching the program, 300 applications from across the globe were received for Unleashed, with emerging businesses looking to gain an edge in their quest to carve out a chunk of the global food and beverage industry.

The chosen cohort includes a range of emerging and established businesses from across Australia and New Zealand, including startup Perkii Probiotics which has released the world’s first water and juice drink with 1 billion microencapsulated probiotics and only 26 calories, and KegIt, software that allows vendors to track kegs in the growing craft brewing market.

The ten businesses participating in the program are BoozeBud, Earlypay Exchange, KegIt, Perkii Probiotics, SHOUTback!, SmartSpotter, SnackProud, Tayble, and Tailor Brews.

CEO of Lion, Stuart Irvine, said the diverse cohort addresses some key opportunities and challenges in the food and beverage industry including greater connectivity with consumers, streamlining logistics and handling, making healthy choices easier and taking advantage of new marketing channels.

“We are incredibly excited by the breadth of businesses taking part in our first Unleashed program and by the cohort’s depth of talent. Great ideas can come from the edge and we want to work with people and businesses that can bring these to life and get results. We are looking forward to using our size, scale and resources as well as Lion’s extensive network to help them to be successful.”

Designed in partnership with leading corporate accelerator Slingshot, the program will see entrepreneurs work with Unleashed mentors like Kate Parker, CEO of Your Tea, Alistair Venn, Managing Director of Menulog and Mark Moran, Head of Global Partnerships at TripAdvisor/Dimmi/LaFourchette. Startup participants will exchange equity for up to $50,000 from the Slingshot Investment Fund and receive additional benefits such as access to software and coworking space, valued at over $500,000 from the likes of AWS, IBM, Xero and WeWork.

Lion, itself has proven to be at the forefront of innovation in the food and beverage industry. In June, Lion Dairy & Drinks’ Salisbury milk plant in Salisbury, South Australia was named factory of the year at at the 2017 Food and Grocery Australia Event. The facility, which is led by Gabrielle Liston, produces over 70 milk products and employs automation in its manufacturing and distribution operations.

 

Food makers look to the future

Food and beverage makers who gathered in Sydney last week for a key industry seminar heard that, as we move further into the new century, new technologies and Industry 4.0 will become increasingly crucial to the success of their businesses.

Food Factories of the Future was held before a full room at the Novotel Darling Harbour in Sydney last Wednesday morning. The event complimented foodpro which was taking place at the same time at the nearby ICC Exhibition Centre.

The two keynote speakers on hand for the seminar were Peter K. Wienzek, Business Development Manager Systems, ifm efector and John Leadbetter Managing Director, VEGA Australia.

Presenting first, Wienzek pointed out that food makers in 2017 have access to data that simply was not available in the past. Today, he said, everything is online and globally accessible. While this represents a challenge for the industry, it also offers huge opportunities.

He said that, provided it is used correctly, data can help the food factories of the future cut costs while maintaining quality. It can deliver benefits in terms of energy savings, production efficiency, process optimization, condition based maintenance, and more.

Peter K Wienzek’s presentation can be viewed here.

Leadbetter devoted his presentation to the important topic of level control. He said that, whether they are dealing with beer, grain, sugar or milk, food manufacturers require level control technology to monitor their tanks, silos, and vessels. Depending on the application, they can choose between Level Transmitters, Level Switches and Pressure Transmitters to perform this task.

Leadbetter outlined latest developments in this area, including radar level transmitters, pressure transmitters and the use of Bluetooth communications. He said that these new technologies, coupled with a continued emphasis on hygiene, will help the factories of the future run efficiently and profitably.

John Leadbetter’s presentation can be viewed here.

Following the presentations, the speakers took part in a Q&A session. A sample of audience questions included: how big a challenge do Industry 4.0 changes represent for individual businesses; who within management structures needs to take ownership of these challenges; and the ins-and-outs of level control and compliance for food makers.

Food Factories of the Future was organised by Prime Creative Media, publisher of Food & Beverage Industry News. We would like to thank our two speakers, as well as all those present.

(Left to right) John Leadbetter, Peter K. Wienzek, and Matthew McDonald, Editor Food & Beverage Industry News.
(Left to right) John Leadbetter Managing Director, VEGA Australia; Peter K. Wienzek, Business Development Manager Systems, ifm efector; and Matthew McDonald, Editor Food & Beverage Industry News.

 

Wiley showcasing augmented reality at foodpro

This year at foodpro, Wiley will be showcasing augmented reality with the Microsoft HoloLens and the opportunities that they can offer the food industry. The company sees endless possibilities for this technology, including scenario planning, a variety of 3D simulations, remote collaboration, visualising IOT, design, assisted manufacturing, warehouse logistics and more.

The HoloLens provides excellent environmental, geolocational and situational awareness to those managing or visiting a site. Whether it is overlaying the floorplan on the ground, displaying yet to be installed equipment or during complex services installation, this information combined with the real world at that point in time, creates increased productivity and better quality outcomes.

How the technology can improve human-centred design, complex service co-ordination and increase productivity are hot topics, both around the office and onsite. Wiley is looking forward to discussing these issues with show attendees.

In addition, Wiley’s R&D and innovation director Brett Wiskar, will be speaking on two occasions at the show. Firstly, he will deliver a presentation entitled ‘Mixed Reality – the future of decision making in the food supply chain’.

Computer vision, virtual, augmented and mixed reality combined with real time and contextual data are empowering industry to change how decisions are made.  Businesses in the food value chains, more than ever, need to anticipate and react to inputs and seek better outcomes. There is a need to drive value by making better calls with high quality and more objective data.

Computer systems can ‘see’, assess, decide or support our ability to make judgement calls. Using visual tools to empower our teams and backing them up with smart systems like machine deep learning they can provide the smartest supply chain in the world.

Visit Wiley will at foodpro Stand Q4 at foodpro.

Innovation to take centre stage at foodpro 2017

As foodpro 2017 nears, it’s clear that innovations from across the industry will again feature heavily across the show floor.

Since the last foodpro event in 2014, technology and innovation has grown exponentially in sophistication for the industry. The next generation of innovation will be represented on this year’s show floor, such as:

Nano-Bubble Technologies: with their patent pending injector technology that allows nano bubbles to be added at significant concentration to create incredibly small nanoscopic gas filled cavities in aqueous solution. This technology provides untapped opportunities for the food industry, specifically in the use of ozone sanitisation, which is 3500 times faster at killing pathogens than chlorine. Applications also include meat sanitisation, sterilisation and cleaning of equipment, providing a highly effective and efficient solution to hygiene management.

Coolsan Australia: will be debuting technology that has the ability to dramatically reduce the amount of food waste occurring in cool rooms, warehouses and facilities. The C6 Industrial ChillSafe technology comes in the form of a sachet, which then works to prevent microbial growth, mould growth and excess ethylene. Coolsan is the only company in the world to use low dose H2O2 ROS vapour for cool room and facility hygiene, continually working to improve hygiene by reducing air borne and surface based bacteria. The sachet also reduces spoilage bacteria and ethylene on fresh produce, therefore reducing food waste, saving money, and increasing opportunities for food manufacturers.

CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation): will be exhibiting their forward osmosis technology, which uses membranes to concentrate liquids. Forward osmosis uses considerably less pressure than evaporation, therefore it uses less energy, there is significantly less fouling and cleaning is easier. While perfect for the dairy industry, it can also be used in foods and beverages, proteins, water treatment and any application where water is removed.

These are just some of the innovations that foodpro 2017 will showcase; along with a series of free seminars dedicated to education on industry best practice and insight into future trends, the event is also co-locating with the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) for their annual convention. AIFST’s Convention hosts a full two-day program with a line up of speakers that include Barry Irvin, AM, of Bega Cheese; Professor Martin Cole of CSIRO and Brianna Casey of Foodbank. foodpro visitors can book a convention pass to gain access to the sessions that will focus on food safety, packaging, sensory, nutrition and more.

 

Lion looking for top food and beverage entrepreneurs

Lion has launched Lion Unleashed, an innovation initiative that will see Lion partner with startups and entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space in Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

The 12 week accelerator program, designed in partnership with corporate accelerator specialist, Slingshot, will connect Lion’s market-leading brands such as XXXX, Hahn SuperDry, Dairy Farmers, Dare Iced Coffee and Steinlager, with world-class entrepreneurs to accelerate Lion’s innovation agenda.

“Lion Unleashed is an opportunity for startups and scaleups to work with Lion to unlock even more value at every stage of the value chain and bring new ideas in the food and beverage sector to life,” said Lion CEO Stuart Irvine (pictured).

“Innovation has been at the heart of Lion’s 177 year success and is critical for our long term, sustainable growth.  Together with the R&D expertise of our parent company Kirin, we have a strong track record of evolving both our alcohol and dairy portfolios to meet the changing needs and tastes of consumers.

Startups accepted into Lion Unleashed will exchange equity for up to $50,000 from the Slingshot Investment Fund. In addition, Slingshot network partners can access technology, software, hosting, office space and catering benefits valued at over $500,000, along with mentoring advice from the likes of Kate Parker, CEO of Your Tea, Alistair Venn, Managing Director of Menulog and Mark Moran, Head of Global Partnerships at LaFourchette (A Trip Advisor Company).

“The F&B industry is not only critical to the economy but also a meaningful part of our daily lives. We see a massive opportunity for disruption and exciting innovation in this space and are thrilled to partner with Lion to drive collaboration between two powerful forces – a leading global business and the startup communities in Australia, New Zealand and the broader APAC region,” said Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot.

Lion and Slingshot will kicked-off the international search for entrepreneurs on 14 June.

 

Consumers want food products that solve their daily struggles

Innovation is vital in today’s increasingly competitive food market, a report by global measurement company Nielsen has found.

Nielsen’s Breakthrough Innovation Report in Australia highlights selected products which are classified as ‘breakthrough innovations’ in the market and outlining critical and actionable lessons for the grocery industry.

The 2016 Breakthrough Innovation Report reviewed 10,770 consumer products that were introduced to the market during 2014. The products were assessed in regards to their distinctiveness, relevance and endurance – whether they delivered a new value proposition, generated a minimum of $4.5 million in annualised first year sales and achieved at least 90% of year-one sales in their second year.

Nielsen’s research indicated that 25% of new products did not stay on the shelf after the first year of launch and today, 53% of products on grocery shelves were launched in the last five years. Throughout 2014, only 48 out of 10,770 product launches in the Australian grocery category were considered ‘breakthrough innovations’.

“The Report details why innovation is vital in today’s increasingly competitive environment. Successful innovation is the key to delivering real incremental dollar growth – it’s critical to get right and it’s astounding how many get it wrong,” said Thais Gill, Innovation Practice Leader at Nielsen.

Some of the Breakthrough Winners for 2016 include Helga’s Lower Carb Bread, Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff (pictured), McCain’s Healthy Choice Frozen Ready Meals and, Arnott’s Shapes Light & Crispy.

Summit on food & agriculture innovation set for Sydney

An international summit focused on future innovation in the food and agricultural industries is to be held in Australia in November.

The Farm2Fork Summit will bring together agribusiness industry leaders, local and international farmers, food and agri start-ups, technology innovators, investors and other sector stakeholders in a one-day event, to be staged at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island on November 3.

Following on from the landmark inaugural F20 (Food) Summit – convened by global agribusiness bank Rabobank to examine the challenges of global food security in the lead-up to the G20 in Australia in 2014 – the Farm2Fork Summit will focus on innovation and the food and agri trends of the future.

Rabobank Group executive board member Berry Marttin said the Farm2Fork (F2F) Summit was part of the cooperative Rabobank’s commitment to taking a leadership role in helping facilitate a sustainable future for global food and agribusiness production and supply.

“It is extremely important that the world – and in particular those of us involved in food and agriculture – continue to work towards meeting the critical challenge of achieving sustainable food production to feed an ever-increasing global population,” he said.

“Innovation is one of the most powerful enablers that will help achieve this goal, and this will be the focus of the Farm2Fork Summit. The summit will immerse participants in tomorrow’s food and agri environment, sharing ground-breaking visions and innovations and examining disruptive technologies that will re-shape supply chains, solve waste problems, improve business profitability and make industries more future proof.”

An invitation-only event, comprising up to 1000 participants, the Farm2Fork Summit program will feature leading global speakers from the areas of food, technology and innovation, trend watching and government; as well as exhibits from food start-ups and ag innovation.

“The concept of the summit is as a marketplace for industry experts and agri business people to learn, network and make a difference,” Mr Marttin said.

The Farm2Fork Summit will also feature FoodBytes!, a program designed to showcase innovative and ground-breaking concepts in food and agriculture to potential investors.

Originally launched in the United States in 2015, this will be the first FoodBytes! held in Australia and will be open to applicants from across the globe.

FoodBytes! is calling for companies or individuals with innovative concepts in the food and agricultural industries which could be brought to market, or further developed, to apply to be showcased to potential investors and industry stakeholders at the F2F Summit.

Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said the summit would also coincide with the start of the fourth Global Farmers Master Class, which would begin in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley region on October 31 before moving on to Canterbury, New Zealand for completion of the program.

The Global Farmers Master Class will see approximately 50 leading farmers from around the world – including North America, The Netherlands, Ireland, South America and Africa – gather together for a nine-day-long program to share information and ideas on the future of farming.

Approximately seven leading Australian farmers will be among the Master Class participants.

 

Australia slips in global innovation rankings

This year’s Global Innovation Index has been released, revealing that Australia has slipped in the rankings.

Australia ranked 19th in this year’s index, which is two places lower than last year. This puts Australia below other Asia-Pacific nations Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand.

However, it is worth noting that Australia’s position on the index has fluctuated over the years. The nation reached its lowest point in 2012 with a ranking of 23, and its highest point just two/three years later in 2014 and 2015 with a ranking of 17. The nation has tended to fluctuate by two or three places each year, suggesting that this year’s results do not necessarily mean that Australia is on a downward trend.

The top five innovators were listed as Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, the US and Finland. The top five has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years.

Notably, China was ranked 25th, marking the first time a middle-income country has joined the rankings of the highly developed economies that have historically dominated the index. This reflects the nation’s improved innovation performance was well as improved innovation metrics in the index, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

However, WIPO notes that an “innovation divide” still persists between developed and developing countries.

“Investing in innovation is critical to raising long-term economic growth,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry (pictured).

“In this current economic climate, uncovering new sources of growth and leveraging the opportunities raised by global innovation are priorities for all stakeholders.”

The Global Innovation Index report recommends that innovation policies more explicitly favour international collaboration and the diffusion across borders. New international governance structures should also aim to increase technology to and among developing countries, according to the report.

The index is in its ninth year, with the determining factors for innovation becoming more comprehensive each year.