Potentially harmful BPA still present in canned foods

Research conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund has found harmful levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in a number of popular canned products.

The study by the US organization found many of the canned goods commonly used over Thanksgiving and Christmas, including gravy, carnation milk, corn, beans and cranberry sauce, contain potentially damaging levels of BPA.

“Single servings of almost half of the products tested had levels of BPA comparable to levels that laboratory studies have linked to adverse health effects,” the report said.

Jeanne Rizzo, president and chief executive of the Breast Cancer Fund said families should be able to feel safe when eating festive meals.

"How many more Thanksgivings will families have to worry about this uninvited guest before manufacturers finally decide to take it out of cans?”

BPA is used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans which forms a barrier between the metal and the food which helps to prevent bacterial contamination.’

Problems can arise when the toxic chemical leaches from the resin and make its way into food.

In Laboratory studies, BPA has been linked to adverse health effects inclusing breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is particularly damaging to young children.

In September BPA was found in a variety of soups and foods marketed to children, prompting calls to have the chemical banned entirely.

Last year, a similar study by consumer watchdog CHOICE found 33 of the 38 products they tested contained BPA and only one serving of 29 of contained a dose of BPA exceeding safe daily level of exposure for a 70kg adult.

In July 2010, the Australian government introduced a voluntary deal with major retailers to phase out BPA in baby bottles and tinned foods.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand monitors the presence and regulation of BPA in Australia and says studies have shown there are some safe levels of the substance.

“The internationally established safe level, called the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI), for BPA is 0.05 mg per kilogram of body weight per day,” it says.

“The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk.

“It is based on animal studies and incorporates a safety factor which allows scientists to calculate a safe level of consumption for humans.”

The other important factor, according to FSANZ, is that the amount of BPA a person would have to ingest for it to be dangerous is quite high.

“A nine month old baby weighing 9 kg would have to eat more than 1 kg of canned baby custard containing BPA every day to reach the TDI, assuming that the custard contained the highest level of BPA found (420 parts per billion) in a recent survey by CHOICE,” FSANZ states.

While some levels of exposure to the chemical may be safe, the problem is the lack of information declared by companies about BPA in its products.

"Consumers have no way of assessing BPA levels just by looking at cans on supermarket shelves," Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund said.

"The findings of this report highlight the urgent need to remove BPA from food packaging so that shoppers can be confident that the food they are purchasing is safe for their families—not only on Thanksgiving, but every day."

William Goodson, M.D., a breast cancer surgeon and senior clinical research scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, published a study in September showing BPA causes non-cancerous cells to grow and survive like cancer cells.

"We know from recent research that a BPA meal creates a spike of this estrogenic chemical in the blood," he said.

"Natural hormones work by spikes, so this is exactly what you don’t want, especially in young kids, who shouldn’t have any estrogenic spikes at all."

Consumers have sent out 50,000 letters to canned food manufacturers urging them to get BPA out of canned foods and replaced with a safer alternative, as part of it’s the Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer campaign,

A number of food manufacturers have heeded the advice, including General Mills and Nestle, who have announced progress on alternatives to BPA in canned foods.

The Breast Cancer Fund wants regulation to make it mandatory for companies to disclose BPA levels in products.

Front-of-pack food health labels to be developed within a year

Foods sold in Australia will have front-of-pack labelling with easy to understand nutritional information within a year, but it will not necessarily be the controversial traffic light system.

That was one of the key decisions made during the meeting on nutrition and preventative health with state and federal government ministers in Melbourne on Friday.

In response to the recommendations in the Food Labelling Review Report – or Blewett Reprort – the Federal Government’s Forum on Food Regulation will consult with representatives from health organisations, industry and consumer groups to develop the new system.

The decision to have simple front-of-pack nutritional labelling is somewhat surprising, given that the government announced prior to the meeting that it would not be supporting the traffic light system.

Since the scheme was first suggested by consumer watchdog CHOICE, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has been arguing that the traffic light scheme is too simplistic to work.

It released a statement on Friday supporting the decision by government representatives.

“As previously stated, Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing industry is happy to work with the Forum on Food Regulation to look at global evidence on developing a preferred approach to a single, front-of-pack food labelling system,” chief executive Kate Carnell said.

“The recently released Institute of Medicine report, commissioned by United States Government, as well as the work done by EUFIC in Europe may be good starting points.”

It is still unclear what will be included in the front-of-pack labelling, which will have to be more informative than the traffic light labelling but still clear and easy to understand.

Once the design and content of the labelling is decided, companies may be given up to two years to implement the changes, which is the amount of time alcohol manufacturers have been given to voluntarily introduce pregnancy warning, before regulation is implemented.

Health claims on packaged foods and drinks will also undergo a drastic overhaul, to prevent misleading health claims such as ‘low fat,’ ‘high fibre,’ and ‘no added sugar.’ being made.

The Forum’s also decided to appoint Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to undertake broad consultation on a draft standard for health claims and present a final standard is presented to Ministers next year has been welcomed by the AFGC.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, who chaired today’s meeting said the initiatives show the government are highly concerned with poor health and obesity rates and are thus making it a top priority.

“In considering its response to the recommendations, the Forum proposed actions over the next five years that endeavour to improve information on food labels to meet consumers’ needs, and minimize regulatory burden on industry and barriers to trade.”

Govt to discuss traffic light labelling today

Representatives from state federal and New Zealand governments will meet today to discuss the controversial traffic light nutrition labels.

After initial expectations that the Gillard government would approve the scheme, which would force manufacturers to display a red, amber or green lights for sugar, fat and salt content on the front of packs, it released a statement on Wednesday revealing it does not support the measure.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) was against the scheme from the beginning, saying it was too simplistic to work and instead wants to focus on improving the Daily Intake Guides on the back of packets.

Amy Cowper, a senior lawyer with Sydney based firm Truman Hoyle, agrees the scheme is not likely to be successful.

“I do think it’s too simplistic,” she told Food Magazine.

“I think it can work, in the UK they’ve seen it works to come extent but I agree with the federal government’s decision that it is too simplistic.

“We’re putting these labels on but people should be making their own decisions about what they’re eating, we’re creating a nanny state by putting such implicit things on the labels.”

If the federal government sticks to its decision not to support traffic light labelling, it will be positive for manufacturers, Cowper explains.

I think it’s fantastic for manufacturers because when you have red light appearing on a product, it indicates it is high in fat or salt and many would see that and think “oh, I can’t buy that,” so it will turn consumers off.

“I think its great for manufacturers that the federal government don’t want a front-of-pack system because it is damaging to products that are high in fat like cheese which are part of a balanced diet.

“But the red would turn people off and that’s not a good solution.

“A major problem with [traffic light labeling] would be the red tape and having to comply with information systems too.

“It would be hard for all manufacturers to comply straight away and then there are additional costs for the business.”

While the Gillard government announced their stance already, it could change its position throughout discussions, or separate states and territories could make their own rules, which would still mean additional work and costs for manufacturers.

“I think states and territories can make their own laws anyway so even if don’t agree with the federal government’s decision, New South Wales could decide to mandate this in the state.

“If all states and territories agreed then in terms of implementing it, it will go to Senate and if it’s approved by the Senate it will be made law and once its made law, I’m not sure how long if at all they would give businesses time to conform.

Whether the traffic light labeling is introduced, or more detailed Daily Intake Guides are brought in, manufactures will require some time to gather and declare the information needed.

“With the mandatory labeling on alcohol warning pregnant women against alcohol, they’ve been given two years,” she explained.

“They might take same approach with other labels.

“Once they’ve implemented laws they generally give time to make changes because it means they might have to get legal advice get information about what’s in products.

“One proposal was that wherever oil or fat or sugar is added you have to disclose that, for example, palm oil, but it might be that a manufacturer doesn’t know what types of oils are in their product.

“Palm oil is one that has more attention because there are animal rights groups that urge people not to eat palm oil because it’s derived from palm oil trees and a lot of them are from Asian areas occupied by orangutans so by doing forest clearing, it’s damaging their habitat.

“This is act a win for animal rights groups, because if the federal government makes them disclose whether palm oil is in a product, it would almost certainly turn people off buying that.

Trade marks in packaging expert and lawyer Sharon Givoni and Cowper both agree that if more detailed ingredients labels are introduced, it would have to be include education for consumer, because many don’t understand which fats, oils and sugars are good or bad.

“It would have to be done very carefully and supported with a good education overseen by government or consumer-focused body,” Givoni told Food Magazine.

“I think education might be required for a lot of consumers, who don’t know what trans fats are, for example,” Cowper said.

“A lot of people re conscious about what they’re eating so if they see trans fat on a label they might not buy it.”

But Givoni told Food Magazine the issues surrounding suggestions of better labeling and information are more complicated than simply deciding how to label food.

“A lot of our food is dead food, because it so overcooked, is stored so long and has so many preservatives,” she said.

“The irony is that plenty of people are undernourished but still overweight.

“At end of the day there’s a much bigger global issue that comes down to education campaigns.

“It’s a very complicated issue because consumers have their own habits and don’t necessarily want to change them.

“These schemes will only work if people are educated, and the people who want the information might already be educated and others wont care and will still buy the products anyway.”

Givoni suggests that manufacturers should also be encouraged to provide smaller portion sizes, as they continue to increase the amount of food a person feels is appropriate to consume.

The federal government’s decision is expected to be known next week, but Cowper believes we already know what it will be.

“Unless strong rejection from New Zealand, I wouldn’t see them changing,” she said.

Legal issues create confusing private label environment

Supermarket private labels may be purposefully creating similar products and packaging to more established brands, but under current Australian laws, it is possible that little can be done to oversee the issue.

Last week the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) accused supermarkets of deliberately copying the design of well known products in a bid to confuse consumers into buying their private label.

The AFGC wants the practice stopped, saying it hinders competition in the sector, but trade marks in packaging and Intellectual Property lawyer Sharon Givoni told Food Magazine it may not necessarily be realistic.

“Judges often talk about sailing too close to wind and sometimes there is a fine line between what amounts to copying and passing off and what you can get away with,” she said.

“The four main areas that come into play are trade mark protection like if the product name is too close or look of the packaging shape, copyright protection depending on factors such as the images used on the packaging and misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off, which to some degree relies on there to be consumer confusion.

Givoni explained that in terms of misleading and deceptive conduct being proven, the current laws are somewhat difficult.

“One of the issues with Australia laws is that you need to show that consumers have been or are likely to be misled,” she said.

“Same with passing off – you need to show that one company is passing off the other’s goodwill or reputation.

“In some cases this can be done.

“It comes down to a question of fact, including how bold the brand name is on the packaging and what consumers really think when they are buying the products.

“Do they think that a Coles Brand is really from another source?

“The other thing to bear in mind is sometimes if someone doesn’t protect intellectual property early enough and enforce it for third parties it can become generic in the term that its free to use.”

And it would not be an easy task, she said, to prove consumers were being confused by packaging.

“Whether they are confused is a concept of fact,” she told Food Magazine.

“Because if they’re not confused, it is skirting very close to the edge, but unless can pin them down for a legal issue like passing off, it would be hard to make a case.

The other important thing to bear in mind is that copyright might also apply if what is copied is the graphic elements of the packaging, Givoni explained.

Last week National President of the Australian Institute of Packaging, Pierre Pienaar told Food Magazine weighed in on the debate, telling Food Magazine that from a packaging perspective, the decision to have similar bottles or designs is actually not a bad move.

“I view it very differently from most others in terms of whether it’s been a deliberate ploy,” he said.

Pienaar explained that when manufacturing packaging products, there are ways for companies to make it cheaper and easier, by adapting to the sizes and materials already used.

“From a supply chain perspective, what they’ve done is absolutely the right thing, because if something is similar it doesn’t impact your secondary and tertiary packaging, it is all harmonised.”

He said the suggestions of a Supermarket Ombudsman to oversee the issue, as suggested by the AFGC, would be unnecessary, a position Givoni shares.

“I don’t real see how it’s relevant at all, given we’re talking about private businesses,” she told Food Magazine.

“A Supermarket Ombudsman could oversee the issue, but this would not change what the state of the law is”.

"However, it could encourage better practices and if so that would be a positive thing," she said.

“With more items entering shelves every day, it is a cut throat and ever competitive market."

2011 biggest year for online shopping

A new report from PayPal predicts 2011 will be the biggest year for online shopping in history, with sales tipped to reach $30 billion by the end of the year.

Despite the strong dollar, the online payment company says Australians still prefer to shop locally, with more than 70 per cent of online spending taking place in Australia.

Online shopping is growing at a almost 12 per cent year on year and 63 per cent of Australians have shopped at an overseas website in the last year, the report says.

Last month Google Australia released figures showing over 30 per cent of “Christmas” searches this year include foods and beverages in their search and online shopping will show a sharp increase in the lead up to the festive season.

“Over the next five weeks shopping-related search traffic is really going to accelerate,” Google Australia & New Zealand’s Head of Retail, Ross McDonald said.

Four million Australian online shoppers use PayPal when shopping online and over 40,000 Australian
retailers now offer PayPal and the busiest day for online shopping is a Monday between 8-9pm.

Fashion is the fastest growing online category with a 20 per cent year on year increase.

PayPal has also released a list of safeguards for shopping online, including how to protect your personal information and checking return policies.

They can be found on the PayPal website.

 

Diet Coke’s new campaign focused on one moment, one calorie at a time

Regular Coke cans and bottles are already suggesting mates you should share your beverage with, and the lower calorie version of the drink is now singing its lifestyle benefits from the rooftops too.

The Share a Coke campaign, where the company is printing people’s first names on bottles and cans, aims to connect with consumers by jumping on board with the social networking phenomenons and increased demand for personalised products and services.

Due to the success of the camaign, Coca-Cola is extending it through Christmas and into 2012.

The Diet Coke campaign released by Coca-Cola South Pacific today aims to have a similar impact on its target market: young women.

The “One Calorie Burnt in a Moment” campaign unveils some cheeky ways to burn the one calorie consumed in every 200mL of diet Coke, including “wriggling your way into new jeans” or “running to the loo…in heels,” and "one moment of passion."

“The campaign is designed to remind women of the diet Coke low-calorie benefits, communicating its relevance in a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle for all young women,” Pamela Wyatt, Marketing Manager for diet Coke said.

Advertisements for the campaign will be strategically placed for the greatest exposure to young women, including in magazines, online, outdoors and other tactical areas.

Govt not introducing traffic light labelling

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has slammed the federal government’s decision not to introduce compulsory front-of-pack traffic light labeling on foods in Australia.

Rumors had been swirling all week that the Gillard government would introduce the bill, which shows sodium, fat and sugar levels at a glance.

But ahead of the 9 December meeting of food and health ministers, the government has released its position on the scheme, saying it will not be approving it.

CHOICE has been calling for the scheme all year in a bid to curb the obesity crisis gripping Australia, where one in six is overweight and one in three obese, and has expressed its intense dissatisfaction of the governments decision not to follow expert recommendations.

“The Federal Government’s response defies the experts’ advice and ignores the public’s appetite for better, more informative food labels,” CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just said.

“However, the States and Territories still have a once in a generation opportunity to put consumers first at the Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting.”

The People’s Watchdog is calling on State and Territory governments to show leadership and commit to the introduction of mandatory traffic light-style labelling because it helps consumers make healthier choices.

“Disappointingly, the Federal Government’s announcement suggests that well-resourced industry lobbying is more important than the right of Australian consumers to make an informed choice about the food they eat every day,” Just said.

The Australian Food and Grocery Counci (AFGC) is against the traffic light labeling, saying it is too simplistic to work.

Instead, it wants to maintain the Daily Intake Guides, which it says offers a more detailed description on the health of a product.

But in August it a survey found that while most Australians understand the Daily Intake Guides, few use them to make healthier food choices.

Do you support the traffic light scheme? Or are the Daily Intake Guides more useful? Is there an entirely different measure we should be putting in place?

Australia’s packaging overhaul: will it work?

Traffic lights on the front of every product you buy, restrictions on how similar private label packaging can be to those of established brands, and a ban on cartoons in advertising foods to children.

If industry groups have their way, this will be where we find ourselves in 2012.

The private label debate has reached fever pitch in recent months, with Australian companies saying they are being squeezed out of the market by the major supermarkets, and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) accusing supermarkets of deliberately copying other company’s packaging to confuse consumers.

From a packaging perspective, the decision to have similar bottles or designs is actually not a bad move, National President of the Australian Institute of Packaging, Pierre Pienaar told Food Magazine.

“I view it very differently from most others in terms of whether it’s been a deliberate ploy,” he said.

Pienaar explained that when manufacturing packaging products, there are ways for companies to make it cheaper and easier, by adapting to the sizes and materials already used.

“From a supply chain perspective, what they’ve done is absolutely the right thing, because if something is similar it doesn’t impact your secondary and tertiary packaging, it is all harmonised.”

“If you take a standard cereal box, for example, that is what we call ‘secondary’ packaging.

“In those brown corrugated shipping containers, there might be 500 or 600 on a pallet covered in stretch wrap and they can become what we call ‘tertiary’ if the packaging stays the same size.

“It means the consumer is not impacted because they are actually keeping costs down doing that.”

“In other words, it means there are no mew moulding costs, so then you and I as consumers, we win.

“I can’t comment on how its impacting brand leaders and their designs, but from a purely packaging perspective, it’s win-win.

Many supporters of the private-label debate often point towards the saving consumers are making under the increase in supermarkets’ own products, but as Minister for Innovation, Senator Kim Carr told ABC Radio yesterday, the short term savings might not mean long term benefits.

Despite many calling for private label products to be distinctly different in their look and feel, Pienaar explained that it is difficult to package products without sticking to what consumers are used to.

“From a design perspective, it is easy to come up with a different design.

“My question, from a design perspective and technological perspective is ‘why?’”

“You must also see it in the context of the consumer,” he told Food Magazine.

“If you change a vegemite bottle, the consumer won’t recognise it, same as if you have a private label spray bottle of an entirely different shape, they won’t know immediately what it is.

“We are brainwashed to shapes and colours and when we make significant change in those areas, we confuse consumers, and why would you want to do that?”

“I don’t believe we need to change the shapes, no, if that was a brand leaders’ design, he may have taken a patent out on it and after ten years it has expired and is an open market.

In response to calls from the AFGC for a Supermarket Ombudsman to be appointed to ensure supermarkets cannot deliberately copy the designs of established brands, Pienaar believes it would not be beneficial.

“We live in a competitive world, and a democratic society and at the end of the day, may the best man win.

“I don’t think we need to legislate,” he told Food Magazine.

The other packaging issue at the forefront of the Australian media currently, the traffic light labelling debate, is being slammed by some and welcomed with open arms by others.

The Gillard Government is expected to introduce legislation on traffic light labelling this week.

Luke Baylis, Founder and Managing Director of SumoSalad, has responded to the planned implementation of the Traffic Light Food Labelling system positively, saying the company would embrace the move but suggesting it might require some tweaking to really make it successful.

“SumoSalad supports the Federal Governments implementation of any initiative that highlights high amounts of fat and sugar in everyday foods such as the proposed Traffic Light Food Labelling system,” he said.

“We look forward to the Government outlining their plans next week.
“But we do urge key decision makers to look to overseas markets and to take note of their learnings.

"For the Australian system to be a success, our Traffic Light Food Labelling system needs to be standardised and made mandatory, not voluntary.

“If the Government can ensure that all food manufacturers and retailers operate the same labelling systems, consumers will not be left confused with mixed messages.”

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has been calling for mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling all year, but the AFGC believes it is too simplistic to work.

Baylis said that while the company supports the move, it must be able to sufficiently provide well-rounded information.

“The Traffic Light Food Labelling system is extremely simplistic, and at times can be very confusing,” he said.

“For example a fetta salad may get more red lights then a packet of chips despite cheese being a much healthier choice and sultanas would receive a red light on sugar that was comparable to a bar of chocolate.

‘While the Traffic Light Food Labelling offers an ‘at a glance’ rating on levels of fat, salt, and sugar on all packaging, it only reveals part of the picture – after all there is good and bad fat, natural sugar versus processed sugar, the list of confusion continues.

“We hope that the Federal Government also takes into account other things that affect consumers choice when deciding what to eat.

“Will the Traffic Light Food Labelling system also appear on adverts and Point Of Sale materials?

“In my opinion, the proposed Traffic Light system is a quick fix to a larger problem.

“At SumoSalad, we encourage our customers to embrace the simple rule of 50/25/25.

“In other words, ensure that your plate of food is made up of 50% vegetables and fruit, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates.
“Following this basic guide will ensure a balanced diet.”

Pienaar had similar concerns about how the scheme would be implemented and whether consumers would respond positively to it.

“I think it is very clear way of communicating to the consumer,” he told Food Magazine.

“But does the consumer fully understand the traffic light and what they mean?”

“If that’s the case it ultimately a good thing.

But he believes package designers who have slammed the move, saying it will negatively impact their work and product sales won’t have to worry.

“Maybe initially [it will impact design] because it as an new concept, but if it [is introduced] in January, for example and we look at it again in three years time, we wont even be aware of it.”

We have to think of long term impact of private label products: Minister

 The debate over supermarkets increasing the number of private label products on shelves is still continuing.

The big two have copped criticism for the inundation of private label products, with Australian manufacturers saying they will not survive the supermarket wars.

One of Australia’s biggest food manufacturers, HJ Heinz has been very vocal about the move, saying the supermarket giants have created an “inhospitable” environment for Australian companies.

Yesterday the major supermerkets were accused of deliberately copying the design of well-known products to trick consumers into buying private label.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) commissioned a study that showed 130 000 people will be out of work in the food and grocery sector by 2020 if the supermarkets continue the way they’re headed.

It welcomed comments from Senator Kim Carr earlier this month, when he told the Industry Leaders Forum he was “particularly concerned about the market dominance of the two major supermarket chains – who now control 80 per cent of retail food sales in this country.”

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has expanded on his comments in an interview with the ABC yesterday, saying people need to consider the long term impacts of the supermarket dominance.

“Home brands have the potential to actually squeeze their margins, squeeze their capacity to invest, squeeze their capacity for innovation and undermine their capacity to build a platform upon which they export,” he told ABC Radio.

“It’s a question of short term versus long term here.

“You have to think about where your products are coming from.

“You want to know the quality of the products that are being provided to you and you want to know under which these – the terms that people actually are producing those products.

We have long said that we don’t want to buy products from sweatshops.

“We’ve long said that we want people to trade in an ethical way, in many areas.

“Why wouldn’t we argue the same? And I’m sure most Australians would argue the same when it comes to where their groceries are made.”

Carr could not provide a figure on how many products on shelves should be private label or not, but did say the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be investigating the matter.

“My concern – there is a legitimate place for private labels,” he said.

“It’s the question about how – what level of domination they should have on the supermarket shelves.

“We all know the experience of going to the supermarket and not being able to find the brand that you’re used to or the one that you’ve come to rely upon.

“We know what’s happening in terms of the constriction of choice that’s actually occurring and I think that many Australians would be concerned to ensure that there is a legitimate range of options available to them.

“Remember, the two big supermarket chains control 80 per cent of what’s sold in this country.”

The full transcript, as it appeared on the Minister’s website is below.

TRANSCRIPT 702 ABC SYDNEY
28 Nov 2011

SUBJECT: Supermarkets and food industry concerns
INTERVIEWER: Philip Clark
E&OE

CLARK: Big supermarkets – are the shift to private labels squeezing out Australian brands? Kim Carr is the Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research and he joins me on the line this morning. Mr Carr, good morning to you.

CARR: Good morning.

CLARK: Home brands are a commercial decision by supermarkets. Is that how we should leave it?

CARR: They’ve been around for a very long time but what we are now seeing is a decision by the major supermarkets to extend their reach and perhaps get up to where the British are, that is somewhere around 40 per cent of the supermarket shelves and that may well pose a very serious problem for a lot of our manufacturers.

CLARK: Why?

CARR: Because there are 20,000 companies working in the food industry in Australia, employs about 225,000 Australians and, of course, they rely upon the supermarkets for access to the marketplace to sell their products.

Home brands have the potential to actually squeeze their margins, squeeze their capacity to invest, squeeze their capacity for innovation and undermine their capacity to build a platform upon which they export.

So the question of the terms and conditions under which these 20,000 companies are able to sell their products to the Australian people is a matter of vital concern to us all.

CLARK: Nevertheless, local manufacturers are in the marketplace competing with everyone else, aren’t they? They’ll sink or swim on the quality of their products and their attraction to consumers, won’t they?

CARR: That’s the whole point. If there’s no brand, if there’s no identification of where that product comes from, if it’s easier to actually import materials from overseas, then the whole question of competition is, in fact, constrained. What you’re looking at here is not an opening up of choice but a reduction in choice and a hollowing out, the potential for the hollowing out of Australian manufacturing which is a very important question in terms of the quality and the price of food we pay into the future.

CLARK: Consumers listening to this might say, well, that’s all very well but it’s a marketplace out there and as far as we’re concerned it’s giving us access to cheaper food.

CARR: Well that’s…

CLARK: And that’s got – that’s got to be a better thing.

CARR: It’s a question of short term versus long term here. You have to think about where your products are coming from. You want to know the quality of the products that are being provided to you and you want to know under which these – the terms that people actually are producing those products.
We have long said that we don’t want to buy products from sweatshops. We’ve long said that we want people to trade in an ethical way, in many areas. Why wouldn’t we argue the same? And I’m sure most Australians would argue the same when it comes to where their groceries are made.

CLARK: At the end of the day though, supermarkets will buy and source their materials where they want and you’re not really planning or proposing to do anything about that, are you?

CARR: No, we’re not saying that we are going to try to change the commercial arrangement that people make. What we’re saying is that there has to be fair and reasonable terms of negotiation.
Now, the series of complaints that are put to me from reputable companies representing a very broad spread of companies, suggest to me that there is serious cause for concern and that’s why I referred the matter for the ACCC to look at.
We need to know whether or not there is independent evidence to verify these claims and then we need to know whether or not the current legal framework is appropriate.

CLARK: In other words, the existing measures in place, the Trade Practices Act and other legislation, are the way to go forward here, not – not new – you’re not proposing new regulations.

CARR: Well, we’ve seen an evolution of the regulatory arrangements in this country over time and we know that as market conditions change, as business practices change, the law has to keep up with those changes.
But we have to identify first of all – or we have to verify whether or not these allegations are right. We have to then look at whether or not practices that have been engaged in are legal. Then we have to examine whether or not they’re ethical and that’s a different question again.

CLARK: What’s the correct level of private labels in a supermarket shelf?

CARR: We have no determined position on whether or not a set number of private labels should be available. My…

CLARK: What do you – what do you think?

CARR: My concern – there is a legitimate place for private labels. It’s the question about how – what level of domination they should have on the supermarket shelves.
We all know the experience of going to the supermarket and not being able to find the brand that you’re used to or the one that you’ve come to rely upon. We know what’s happening in terms of the constriction of choice that’s actually occurring and I think that many Australians would be concerned to ensure that there is a legitimate range of options available to them.
Remember, the two big supermarket chains control 80 per cent of what’s sold in this country.

CLARK: Should we do something about that?

CARR: Well, that’s another issue but we need to first of all establish what is the truth of these allegations and upon that we can debate the issues.

CLARK: But you said – but – I know but you seem to be suggesting if we’ve got the cart and the horse, let’s get to the cart which is the domination of the retail grocery sector by two big companies.

CARR: In the first instance I’ve had a series of complaints put to me as the Minister for Innovation. I have then referred those to the relevant regulatory authority. We await – we’ll await upon their call as to the accuracy of those claims.
I am sufficiently concerned about the breadth and the nature of the allegations to actually take action but we are – I’m not the judge and jury on this question. Others have to make that call and that’s the first thing we want to establish.
This is not about – or just about consumer rights. It’s about the capacity of our country to be able to produce food, to feed our people and to export to feed other people around the world.

CLARK: But that’s not in doubt though, is it? We’re an efficient…

CARR: Yes, it is in doubt. Yes, it is in doubt.

CLARK: We’re an efficient food producer and in the marketplace for internationally traded goods if we’re efficient and a low cost producer we’ll find our place in that market. If we’re not we won’t, regardless of what you want to do about it at a government level.

CARR: Well, these things don’t happen by divine intervention. They happen as a result of building capacities, building the skills, building the business practices, having the foundations upon which to build your market share and that’s what we have to look to. We have to ensure that the 20,000 businesses that are engaged in food production in this country and the 225,000 Australians that actually make those companies work, have the capacity to participate in the marketplace and that’s really what this is about: building capacity, building our innovation skills and ensuring that we have the foundation stones to build the industry.

CLARK: All right. Good to talk with you, Minister.

CARR: All the very best.

CLARK: Senator Kim Carr, he’s the Minister for Industry in the Federal Government.

Is traffic light labelling the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis?

The Gillard Government is expected to pass the controversial traffic light food labelling scheme in parliament this week.

In the midst of an obesity crisis so huge experts believe today’s children will be the first to not outlive their parents, suggestions about how to combat the issue are wide and varied.

Many are calling for food manufacturers to have more responsibility in the health of their products, by using less salt, fat and chemicals and more fresh ingredients.

If the traffic light labelling bill is passed, the packaging sector will no doubt be impacted too, as designs would be affected by the compulsory front of pack traffic light labelling.

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has been calling for mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling for most of the year, in an effort to solve Australia’s health problems.

Currently one in three people is overweight and one in six obese.

The government may not pass the traffic light scheme exactly, but will almost definitely implement something similar, where information is shown in a glance for consumers.

The glance is exactly the problem the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) have had with the traffic light system since it was first suggested.

Under the system, where products would be given a red, amber or green light for sodium, fat and sugar content, items such as raw almonds or cashews would receive a red light, despite their health benefits.

“Traffic light labels categorise foods as good and bad – but all foods can form part of a balanced diet," AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said.

“Industry rejects traffic light labelling on the basis that it’s badly understood by consumers and the system has been rejected by countries around the world including in Europe."

The AFGC is adamant the Daily Intake Guides are the best solution, but critics argue they are more confusing than informative, especially when in a hurry, and they don’t use them to make more informed decisions.

In the midst of the debate between the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and Choice over the labelling of foods, a smartphone application with the controversial traffic light system was released by the Obesity Policy Coalition in September.

It is expected that Victoria may be the most outwardly opposed to the traffic light labelling.

As the biggest food manufacturer in the country, the state government is no doubt concerned about the impact the new labelling would have on profits for the sector.

A product with red lights displayed on the front would make consumers think twice about purchasing it; that is the point, after all.

But with the food manufacturing sector already on struggle street due to the high Australian dollar and dominance of supermarket’s private labels, some companies are concerned they would not survive through traffic light labelling.

Those in favour of the traffic light labelling believe it would be positive if companies making unhealthy products didn’t survive the scheme, because it would mean less unhealthy foods on shelves, less pester power and hopefully less chronic conditions and injuries associated with excess weight.

The Australian Medical Association wants a ban on advertising to children, the Cancer Council wants to outlaw cartoons in junk food advertising,the Greens want junk food ads banned from the internet and there have even been suggestions Australia needs a “fat tax” similar to Denmark.

Wherever people sit in the issue, one thing is clear: something has to be done about health and obesity in Australia.

Who do you think is to blame for the obesity crisis? And how can it be solved?

 

30% increase in online Christmas shopping: packaging and advertising companies must adapt

Google Australia has confirmed what many people already assumed: online shopping is only going to increase, meaning packaging designers and manufacturers will have to adapt.

The figures from Google Australia show over 30 per cent of “Christmas” searches this year include food and beverage in their search.

While the amount of sopping Australians are conducting online has increased steadily lately, Google Australia & New Zealand’s Head of Retail, Ross McDonald believes Christmas is where the major peak will occur.

“Over the next five weeks shopping-related search traffic is really going to accelerate,” he said.

Speaking at the McCormack Packaging Awards earlier this month, National President of the Australian Institute of Packaging Pierre Pienaar said designers need to be moving with the technology and designing packaging that is asthetically pleasing on a computer screen.

“We will be looking to designs to attract online shoppers,” he told the audience of design graduates.

Pienaar said the focus will have to move away from packaging that is effective in three-dimensional shelf displays and towards to two-dimensional appearance on computer screens.

McDonald said Australian companies wanting to grown their online presence and prevalence during the Christmas season need to be prepared to spend on design for mobile devices, with a 220 per cent rise in the number of mobile shopping searches over a one year period.

He also advised companies to look carefully at the timing of advertising and days people shop to really make the most of the territory.
“During the first week of December, shipping windows for international online retailers traditionally close and searches for domestic online retailers rise,” he said.

“Two weeks before Christmas, searches for store names plus ‘trading hours’ or ‘location’ begin to rise dramatically.

“Around December 16th, the last day Australia’s online retailers can guarantee delivery before December 25 and the last in-store retail weekend before Christmas, you can see another big spike in searches for store name plus ‘hours’ and ‘location.”

Coke gets into Xmas spirit with ‘Share a Coke’ campaign

Off the back of news that Coke is extending its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, the company appears to be jumping onto the bandwagon…or sleigh…with its Christmas-themed names.

So far, ‘Dancer’ and ‘Holly’ have been spotted on Coke cans, but whether ‘Blitzen’ or ‘Vixen’ are included remains to be seen.

We’ll also be on the look out to see if poor Rudolph got left behind, or if the value of his shiny red nose will be realised in time for his name to appear on the cans.

The company decided this week to extend the promotion through Christmas and into 2012 due to its surprising success, particularly on social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook.

Coca-cola has tapped into this market, by inviting consumers to head to its Facebook site and nominate and vote on the 50 new names.

Coca-Cola has not yet responded to request for comments on the Christmas promotion.

Pratt heirs making moves in food, packaging industries

The son-in-law of billionaire Richard Pratt is planning to turn a small packaging company in Sydney into a $1 billion enterprise.

Raphael Geminder, who is one of the heirs to Pratt’s fortune, worth many billions of dollars, will bankroll an expansion for listed company Pro-Pac Packaging after he raised his stake in the company to 48.3 per cent in the last month, The Australian reports.

Geminder is a one-third shareholder in the family company Visy Group, worth $3 billion, and also controls the $1 billion Pact Group with his wife Fiona.

The Pact Group supplies plastic and steel packaging to the food, household cleaning, pharmaceutical and industrial markets.

Geminder told The Australian the speculation that Pact was looking to obtain a sharemarket float is false.

"The float option is completely dead. It has been off the table for 18 months," he told The Australian.
"We are a private company and intend to remain a private company. Our ability to grow using debt markets is significant and that is what we will continue to do.
"The market conditions are still good for that."

He also has a stake of just under 20 per cent in another listed packaging company, National Can Industries.

Pro-Pac manufacturers and distributes industrial and rigid packaging products, including shrink wrap, packaging tape and boxes, to more than 10,000 customers nationwide.

Current annual revenues sits at $115 million, and Geminder wants to grow the company’s profits even further.

"My intention is to target $1 billion worth of sales in five years,” he said.

“That is aspirational but it is very achievable.

"We see a bright future for this business.

“We see an opportunity to consolidate what is a very fragmented space.

Geminder’s borther-in-law Anthony Pratt, who is the executive chairman of Visy Industries, told a national conference on food security held in Shepparton yesterday that the industry is in desperate need of funding and support for the security of food to be possible.

“We all know that Australia is a land of immense opportunity,” he told the conference.

“We have rich natural resources – productive land, smart people and a relatively stable government.

Our proximity to Asia is also a huge natural asset.

This puts us in the zone of the fastest economic growth the modern world has seen.

In short, we have many of the tools to help meet the global food security challenge and to prosper our local industries and regional communities while we do so.

We have what it takes to feed 200 million people, to quadruple food manufacturing and that should be our goal.

But as this huge, new market opportunity is emerging, productivity growth in parts of Australia’s food production and manufacturing sector is slowing.

The recent long drought certainly has something to do with it, but there are more fundamental issues at play.

The first involves sustainable production at the farm level. Australia needs to embark on a wave of farming innovation such as boosting soil carbon levels, which increases the nutrient supply to plants; better water use efficiency; new crop genetics; promotion of best farming practice; and a serious increase in R&D investment.

Now is not the time for governments to be cutting their budgets for innovation support for the farm and food production sector.

They need to continue to support the many leading Australian farmers who are ahead of the curve in modern sustainability practices such as no-till cropping, irrigation management and on-farm nutrient recycling.

All of which keeps delivering nutrients to the plants in a cost-efficient, productive way.

The second aspect of our food security challenge is expanding our own domestic food manufacturing sector.

While we need to continue to export bulk produce like wheat, wool and meat, we seem to have taken our national eye off food manufacturing.

The country has witnessed the closure of many food manufacturing plants in recent decades, from regional abattoirs, to fruit processing, flour milling and the many industries that supported them.

Recently, Heinz and SPC voted with their feet.

High-profile industry disruptions such as steel or car plant closures attract much media and political attention.

But the loss of much of our food manufacturing capacity has gone largely unnoticed because it happens in small increments.

But over time it has a bigger impact than the closure of a car industry plant.

The irony is that we have a competitive advantage because of the quality of our food – we don’t have such a competitive advantage in cars.

In fact, when BlueScope announced the closure of its Port Kembla tin-plate factory several years ago, the company said the decline in the Australian tinned food sector was a significant factor in its decision.

The difficult truth is that while our bulk food production has increased, our food processing and manufacturing sector has been in a slow decline over the past two decades.

Just a fortnight ago we were told by the Food and Grocery Council that we could lose up to 130,000 jobs in the sector by 2020 unless we take serious action.

Therefore, a key question is how to rejuvenate our domestic food manufacturing sector, with inward investment, new jobs and more value-adding of food right here in Australia.

Manufacturing is something that’s very close to my heart. At Visy, we’re proud to have invested more than $2 billion in domestic manufacturing in this country over the past 10 years.

Most importantly, we are interested in supporting Australian food manufacturing because 70 per cent of our customers are in the food and beverage sector.

For example, last month we announced we were investing more than $80 million in a new beverage canning plant on the Gold Coast – the first investment of this type in Australia for 20 years.

In fact, 90 per cent of employment in Australia’s food production industries is in regional areas just like this.

The Australian farm sector supports 317,000 direct jobs and a flow-through of about 1.6 million jobs across the nation.

In New Zealand, they believe the multiplier is more like 10 times.

Which is why they put so much effort into national food manufacturing – and look at the result for New Zealand dairy today.

Australia needs to pick some national food sector winners of our own, and put the resources into making them world class.

How can we produce enough quality food to feed 200 million people?

Number one: We need accelerated depreciation for new manufacturing investments in food.

Number two: Innovation – the money that’s going for research to government agencies should be going to people like SPC and others who will bring investments forward.

Let me illustrate.

At this high Australian dollar, imports are increasing.

We need innovation funds to help the SPCs of this world do different things that imports can’t, like innovating to make more fresh food [with] increased shelf life.

High-pressure processing is expensive so we need funding to help capital projects get up that, without this help, won’t get up.

SPC takes 20,000 tonnes of pears, so if it can build technology they can work with growers to have fresh sliced pear so we use up the pear over-capacity.

Number three is anti-dumping. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig can also help by the burden of proof being flipped on dumping to enable a level playing field.

In America, if there’s an allegation of dumping, the onus is on the offending party to prove they’re not breaking America’s anti-dumping laws.

In Australia – in stark contrast – the onus is reversed so that our affected Australian manufacturers have to prove that they’re being dumped on, and by the time they can gather enough evidence to prove their case the damage has been done and another Australian food product exits the domestic market.

We urgently need a level playing field in this area that affects local businesses so deeply.

Fourth, we need the suspension of payroll tax for food manufacturers.

And last, competition policy should allow consolidation of food companies, which will enable greater profitability and encourage them to stay here.”

Biggest packaging exhibition announced for Sydney

The largest biennial packaging and processing machinery and materials exhibition in Australia, AUSPACK PLUS, will be heading to the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from the 7th to the 10th of May 2013.

Plenty of research was conducted to ensure the event will be the biggest and best yet, Luke Kasprzak, Exhibition Sales Executive, Exhibitions & Trade Fairs said.

“An extensive survey was undertaken earlier this year with visitors and exhibitors of AUSPACK PLUS 2011 to determine how we can offer an even more diverse and successful exhibition in 2013,”

“The results of the survey have guided our objectives for the Sydney show and not only will we continue to grow the processing and packaging machinery side of the event, but an additional key finding that came from the report was to focus on welcoming the materials side of the industry to both exhibit and attend AUSPACK PLUS 2013.

“Materials refers to all elements from film to plastics, through to components and ancillaries of packaging and processing machinery.

“This is a side of the industry that is sometimes overlooked and yet is critical to the success of production lines,” Kasprzak said.

“Our focus and commitment to continue to develop AUSPACK PLUS in 2013, will be to incorporate a multi-platform showcase of materials and production component solutions, all under the one roof, alongside packaging, filling and processing machinery” he said.

AUSPACK PLUS is owned and presented by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), Australia’s only national packaging and processing machinery organisation.

For further information about AUSPACK PLUS 2013, visit the website.

AIP awards Southern Cross scholarship

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has announced the winner of the third scholarship for the Certificate in Packaging during the 2011 PCA Awards.

AIP National President, Pierre Pienaar, awarded the scholarship to Andrew U’Ren, a gold winner in the 2011 PCA Southern Cross Packaging Design Awards.

U’Ren submitted the winning design for a six can beverage pack for an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage.

“Andrew U’Ren stood out from everyone else this year with his impressive technical understanding of packaging,” Piennar said.

“It is rare to see someone so young have such a sound industrial design skill-base.”

U’Ren said the scholarship will make it easier for him to achieve his goals in the packaging industry.

“The fundamental role of packaging is to provide containment, protection, convenience, portability and product usage instructions,” he said.

“The form and function of the role of a package is identified by the priorities of the user.

“Packaging provides safety by containing and protecting users from dangerous products. It also provides security by protecting the seller from theft.

“Packaging provides a space to communicate information and identity, locating and focusing the identity and requirements and needs and aspirations of the target consumer market.

“Packaging shows the user what it is, what it is for, where it comes from and what it can do for them.”

Andrew is currently completing a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Communication Design with two advanced majors in branding and advertising strategy and design management at Swinburne University.

 

 

APPMA appoints new directors

The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) have announced the appointment of two new Directors to the national board.

Mark Krygger is the Manager Packaging Systems and Services for AMCOR Fibre Packaging and has over twenty five years of experience in Packaging and Packaging equipment, with a variety of roles at both Visyboard Packaging Systems and in his current role at AMCOR Fibre Packaging.

Mark is currently managing all the AMCOR customer equipment assets, as well as providing packaging equipment solutions to their customer base.

Brad Jeavons is the National Sales Manager for insignia and is responsible for sales for the hardware, software and service division of insignia. insignia is part of the Winson Group of companies which also includes Signet.

He has been part of insignia now for over eleven years which supplies and services everything from automated, desk top and portable labelling and coding equipment and software systems through to labels, pallet wrap, tapes, and much more in relation to packaging materials.

Citrus needs a story to sell: marketing professor

Oranges have been labelled the ‘forgotten fruit’ by an Australian marketing expert and recommended the citrus industry start telling a story to improve sales.

Professor David Hughes from the Food Marketing school at Imperial College in London told the Citrus Australia National Conference in South Australia’s Barossa Valley that consumers “want to hear a story” to prove why they should choose Australian citrus as compared to other fruit.

“Consumers don’t know a lot about food, or where it comes from, and they need to hear it constantly, because it doesn’t stay in their heads very long,” he told the conference.

“Whether it’s about the grower, the region of origin, or special varieties, you have to build a story around your fruit, and few food-producing industries do it well.”

Hughes said research recently conducted proved citrus had been forgotten.
“People see an orange as an orange,” he explained.

“They don’t understand that international production is seasonal, and that they’re buying different varieties of oranges from different parts of the world during the year.”

Hughes also recommended other ways the industry can improve sales, including making it easier to actually eat the fruit, according to Citrus Australia chair Judith Damiani.

“He said oranges had declined in popularity because they were inconvenient to eat – they’re difficult to peel, and you get juice and citrus oil on your hands, which is inconvenient,” she said.

He said the industry should explore some of the ways consumers like to consume fruit, like in a smoothie, juice, or pre sliced and packaged.

“He also talked about the industry itself, and how it could exploit the economies of scale to keep prices down. It’s really tough out there in the retail industry, so growers need to do everything they can to reduce costs. If they can’t, they should exit the industry,” she said.

The impact of the high Australian dollar on export was also discussed at the conference, as well as the variability of the fruits year-to-year.

Yesterday it was revealed that Australian citrus growers are establishing their own juice label.

APPMA announced new chairman

The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) has announced the appointment of a new chairman.

After seven years in the chair Rob Lawrence decided to step down and will be replaced by Mark Dingley, who was unanimously elected as the new Chairman.

Lawrence said his most memorable moments as Chairman include hosting the first COPAMA meeting ever held outside of the US and Europe, which was hosted in China.

“In the last seven years I have also seen many changes to the packaging and processing machinery industry including rapid development and advancement in robotics and automation,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence will remain on the APPMA board as a director and has voiced his full confidence in Dingley to keep the association growing.

“The APPMA has a strong board and under Mark’s capable leadership the members should look forward to further growth of the association and improved member benefits,” he said.

“I wish him all the very best as the new National Chairman,” Lawrence said.

Dingley has been in the packaging industry for over seventeen years, is now head of Matthews Intelligent Identification Business Development and has been on the APPMA board for ten years.

“I am very excited to become the National Chairman of the APPMA and the first goal in my new role is to ensure that AUSPACK PLUS continues to grow and be recognised as the only exhibition to attend for the packaging and processing machinery industries,” Mr Dingley said.

He said he wants to focus on APPMA’s success in trade shows, as well as finding new avenues for expansion.

“After the 2011 AUSPACK PLUS an extensive survey was undertaken with visitors and exhibitors to determine how we can offer an even more diverse and successful exhibition in 2013,” he explained.

“The results of the survey have guided our objectives for the Sydney show and one of the key findings will be to focus on welcoming the materials side of the industry to both exhibit and attend AUSPACK PLUS 2013.

“Materials refers to all elements from film to plastics, through to components and ancillaries of packaging and processing machinery.
“This is a side of the industry that is sometimes overlooked and yet is critical to the success of production lines.

“I would also like to explore how we can improve our member services of the association and this will be a growth area that I will be personally focusing on over the next few years.”

Future looking bright for printing, packaging sectors

The future of the global printing and packaging industries is looking up, with unions committed to making working conditions better in developing countries, according to a print union member.

AMWU print division former national secretary, Steve Walsh, says the outlook for the printing, packaging and graphical industries remains positive – despite changes to technology threatening jobs and the rise of multinational companies.

Walsh is now the department head of international printing union UniGlobal, based in Geneva. He reportedly told AMWU that recent agreements reached with Amcor and Kimberley Clark are paving the way for a better future for printing workers in developing countries.

“We’ve created a global dialogue agreement with Kimberley Clark which establishes protocols as far as organising, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The core ILO (International Labor Organization) standards,” Walsh told AMWU.

“Through our strength in various countries we’re able to influence the behavior of some of these multinationals in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Africa.”

Walsh was speaking off the back of a visit to Kimberley Clark plants in Latin America, and Columbia is apparently a big focus area for UniGlobal.

“It’s one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a union official. If we can influence the behavior of multinationals in a place like Columbia – we’re making improvements to workers lives,” he said.

“We need to build strong unions there. Not only to improve the standard of living for those people living there. But to try and create a level playing field for everyone.

“A lot of people will say it’s utopia but there are success stories.”

Walsh said that though conditions are worst in developing counties, union members in Australia, the UK and Europe were facing different but equally threatening challenges.

“It’s really quite scary the number of jobs that are being lost in the print and packaging sector, as company close or merge,” he said.

“The advancements in technology – e-books are certainly having an impact on the book industry – as is the move towards electronic communications.

“We may have seen the death of the small corner printer, churning our letterheads and business cards.

“But people still want quality, and that is where the industry’s future must be made.”

Image: manufacturer.com

Aussies buying more products with fairtrade label

Australians are more concerned with how farmers and workers in developing countries are treated, and are more likely to buy certified free trade products, a global poll has revealed.

More Australians not only recognise the FAIRTRADE Label, but are also actively looking for it when making purchases.

Of the 17 000 consumers Fairtrade surveyed from 24 different countries, over half said they believed buying certified free trade would help farmers in developing countries.

Over six in ten surveyed said they trust the FAIRTRADE Label and use it to make decisions.

Aussies were found to be more concerned about the welfare of those in developing nations, with almost 95 per cent of people saying companies dealing with farmers and workers in poor countries should pay them fairly, as compared to the global average of 85 per cent.

The number of FAIRTRADE purchases in Australia and New Zealand reflected this attitude, up 200 per cent as compared to 28 per cent around the rest of the world.

Over 80 per cent believe the only way to ensure they are purchasing Freetrade products is by having an independent third-party assess products.

Fairtrade ANZ CEO Stephen Knapp said the survey showed Aussie consumers have great concern about where the products they buy every day come from and that the farmers and workers at the end of the supply chain are getting a fair deal for their hard work.

“Aussie shoppers know that by choosing a product with the FAIRTRADE Label, they are directly helping to create a fairer world for all and are increasingly expecting companies to provide them more opportunities to make the fair and ethical choice at the checkout,” he said.