Alternative ingredients and digital tools are critical to weathering disruptions in the agrifood value chain. Smaller competitors are using digital tools, novel channels to gain market access, and other innovations to gain share, shaking up the entire agifood value chain. To help guide innovation in this space, Lux Research released its annual report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch.”
I have never been good at sticking to New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s to floss my teeth more or to join a gym, I just don’t manage to keep them up. But this year I am setting myself a better goal – one that will save me money, time and be good for the planet. I’m going to start using a meal planning and pantry inventory app.
If you barely have time to scribble together a shopping list, let alone browse recipes or check cupboards before leaving the house, then meal planning apps are a great tool to help manage shopping, cooking and eating.
They have a range of features that help you track what’s in your pantry and fridge, import recipes, create meal plans, generate shopping lists, and sometimes all of the above. They take a bit of time to set up, but once that’s done they can make your life a lot easier.
Why plan meals?
It doesn’t sound very sexy, but planning meals and knowing what’s in your fridge and pantry when you go shopping is a great way to reduce food waste and save time and money.
If food waste were a country, it would have the third-highest emissions after China and the US.
Menu planning also means fewer trips to the supermarket and less impulse spending, as well as helping you use leftovers more efficiently.
So what are these apps?
To get you started, I’ve put together an overview of a few useful apps that I came across during my research. Results of a recent survey by MenuForMums in the UK found that 90% of members saved time and money (and by default reduced food waste) by using its online meal planning service.
1.) Pepperplate is a mobile app that helps you to compile and organise your recipe collection, create meal plans, generate shopping lists and cook the recipes that you want to try.
Recipes can be imported by pasting their URL from the web or by entering them manually. They can then be used to create meal plans and interactive shopping lists which allow you to tick off items as you go and share with others. When cooking, Pepperplate will walk you through the recipes, complete with cooking timers. Other similar meal planning apps are BigOven and AnyList.
2.) Cloud-Freezer helps you create shopping lists like Pepperplate, but focuses on inventories rather than meal planning. It allows you to keep track of the items you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry, including expiry dates so you can plan what you need to eat first to reduce food waste.
Items can be added to shopping lists from a library of previous entries, moved between shopping lists and inventories, and between the inventories themselves (for example, if you move something from the freezer to the fridge to defrost). The app has a barcode scanner function connected to user-driven databases to help you enter items quickly. There are similar but less sophisticated cross-platform apps called GrocerEaze and Out of Milk.
3.) MealBoard offers the most features and could be life-changing if you take the time to set it up. It’s a combination of Pepperplate and Cloud-Freezer because it enables you to import recipes, plan meals, generate shopping lists and do inventories. Integrating these features turbocharges your ability to organise food activities because it automatically populates shopping lists with what you have to buy, taking into account what you already have at home.
This could save a lot of time and effort, and prevent a lot of duplicate shopping. If you’re prepared to do that, it’s a powerful tool. Another cross-platform app, FoodPlanner, boasts the same features as MealBoard.
So if you have some spare time in the holidays, after recovering from your food coma and before you join that gym, maybe take one of these apps for a trial run. Between Christmas leftovers and forgotten items in the back of your pantry, you may not need to shop for weeks.
The time you save might make it easier to stick to all your other resolutions, and your wallet and the planet will thank you for it.
Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. Dedicated staff promote independence and social capital through nutrition, safety and wellbeing checks and social cohesiveness.
The team at Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels (KMOW) work hard to ensure people who are frail, aged or disabled can remain in their own home; and that carers are supported in their role.
When cooking, Tony Lyons (Head Chef, KMOW) and his team are, in effect, preparing meals for their extended family. Producing approximately 100,000 meals every year, the KMOW kitchen is always busy producing fresh and safe food.
“Food safety in our environment is critical and, in particular, we keep a very close eye on temperature,” Lyons said.
Temperature management is the key influencer of perishable food shelf life and underpins food safety. When temperature sensitive foods breach cold chain specifications, people’s lives are at risk. While government regulation throughout Australia requires temperature recording to underpin safety, proper temperature management delivers reduced food wastage and protects an organisation’s reputation.
KMOW uses CCP’s state-of-the-art Internet of Things (IoT) smart tags to monitor temperature in its cool room and freezers. On 02 May 2016, CCP identified a trend of increasing minimum temperature and shortened defrost cycles in one freezer, which triggered a diagnostics alert. On receiving the notification, the Head Chef was quick to react.
“When I saw the temperature log, I immediately arranged for all products in the freezer to be removed, and I contacted refrigeration mechanic,” Tony said.
A quick system test revealed a blocked TX valve, which was limiting the refrigerant flow rate. If left unrepaired, the compressor would’ve failed – an estimated A$3,000 cost to supply and install.
“Without the CCP solution in place, we would not have known about this and would have faced a very expensive repair bill. This single notification more than paid for the entire CCP solution for several years,” said KMOW’s Business Manager.
CCP CEO, Michael White said, “We love being a part of the Meals on Wheels story. What a great community service; and we’re delighted to have helped the team at Ku-ring-gai save the bacon.”
IT provider Empired has undertaken an Internet of Things (IoT) pilot with leading South Australian convenience retailer, Peregrine Corporation, using Microsoft technology. The aim is to enhance customers’ experience and mitigate everyday business risks.
The new solution leverages the IoT and data analytics for a dual benefit: instead of having Peregrine’s site team manually log the temperature of appliances and their operating specification (which they do every four hours), sensors handle it automatically, saving time and reducing the risk of error.
Data and IoT technology also helps reduce Peregrine’s enterprise risk, which is based on its full compliance with Australian Food Safety Standards. Local rules and regulations stipulate that any errors in the control of food storing appliances result in stock being destroyed to ensure the health of customers, which means ensuring appliances remain in operation within specified tolerances is essential for the company’s operations.
The pilot (currently in place at Peregrine’s OTR Hillbank store), was developed through collaboration of Empired and Microsoft. It works by using IoT sensors to automatically log the temperature of product storage systems, freeing staff for more value-adding tasks, reducing the chance of equipment failures, and delivering greater operational transparency. Sensor-collected data is then aggregated into the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, analysed for key staff with easy-to-understand visuals via Power BI.
By analysing the sensor-collected data using Microsoft Power BI, the team is able to assess the health status and where they require resources. This again results in a more efficient allocation of resources and pre-empts systems failures.
“When we started the project, we had two clear goals in mind,” said Peregrine’s CIO, Brendon Hore.
“We wanted to make operational site processes simpler for our team. Already, our staff are able to spend their time being analytical, rather than being data entry operators.
“The second goal of the project was to ensure that compliance to food safety standards was optimised with the most efficient use of resources. Again, it’s early days but the reduction in manual labour is already resulting in decreased human error.”
Sundeep Rehill, Practice Lead of Business Intelligence at Empired, led the deployment of the initial solution.
“The Azure IoT Suite is fundamental to the solution,” he said.
“With 30 sensors in the initial pilot, and moving forward where there may be hundreds or thousands of sensors, having a cloud-based central repository to manage the data is essential.”
Peregrine are evaluating expanding the solution to an additional 5-6 stores and ultimately to replicate the deployment across its entire network of over 130 convenience stores.
NextComputing has recently released the Vigor ED Portable Workstation for maximum performance and storage in tough environments.
The Vigor series is a suitable solution and is compact and rugged, designed to handle the same demanding tasks normally assigned to full-sized systems. Now larger rackmount hardware can be replaced with an all-in-one workstation that is easier to transport and set up.
The modular, scalable Vigor EDS can be outfitted with the latest Intel multi-core processors, high-capacity/performance memory, up to seven full-size PCI Express 3.0 cards, and up to 16 removable enterprise-class SSD, SAS, or SATA drives. It also has integrated 17.3” (439.42mm) 1920×1080 LED LCD and optional swingout displays.
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), in conjunction with Arthritis Australia and Georgia Tech Research University in the US, will be introducing a new half-day training course on 'Introduction to Accessible Packaging Design.
The half-day training will allow attendees to become aware of the required design requirements and understanding the Ease of Use packaging design tools which including examples from around the world.
It will also provide information on changing household demographics, meal preparation requirements and case studies from users.
Attendees will learn measuring techniques, injuries caused by packaging and current consumer satisfaction levels with packaging accessibility.
The course offers an activities based approach, hands-on team exercises letting participants understand the constraints on current packaging designs for people with disabilities, arthritis suffers, children and the ageing population.
This will include simulation gloves that have been developed by Georgia Tech Research University in the US and reading glasses from a UK researcher.
Attendees are sure to leave the course with a different approach to design, an approach that includes all sectors for our community.
The accuracy, versatility and reliability of an Ishida IX-GA-65100 X-ray inspection system is helping one of Greece's leading yogurt producers to deliver the highest levels of quality control and achieve continuing success in both national and international markets.
Based in Serres in Macedonia, Northern Greece, Kri Kri was established in 1954 when George Tsinavos opened a small pastry shop, producing ice cream and other dairy products.
Strong and consistent growth over the years led to the construction of a new factory in 1987, which enabled the company to expand its product range to include yogurts.
With all its milk supplied by local farms in the Serres area, Kri Kri is able to process and pack its yogurt within 24 hours, requiring just one pasteurisation process.
This ensures that all the nutrients form the milk remain in the finished yogurt.
The Ishida X-ray forms part of Kri Kri's own stringent quality control procedures and also enables the company to meet the strict requirements of its customers. While the advanced production processes incorporate the highest hygiene levels, it is vital that Kri Kri remains vigilant against potential foreign bodies such as metal, glass or other foreign materials that could contaminate the yogurt if there was a problem with any of the equipment on the line.
Kri Kri's extensive portfolio of around 140 different products includes plain and fruit yogurts, traditional varieties and a children's range, packed in pots from 150g to 500g in size. The pots are first filled and then packed into cases before inspection in the Ishida X-ray machine.
To accommodate complete cases, the company has opted for the Ishida IX-GA-65100 which is specially designed for larger products.
For Kri Kri, the major benefits of the Ishida X-ray system are its ease of use and flexibility. With the many different product types and pack sizes, there can be up to four changeovers in each eight hour shift.
The IX-GA-6100's user-friendly colour touchscreen enables specifications for each product to be held in the memory and called up at the touch of a button for fast and simple changeovers.
In addition, the touchscreen provides different levels of security, meaning that only designated and trained operators are able to make adjustments or change settings.
Like all Ishida IX-GA models, it features the company's unique Genetic Algorthm (GA) technology, which uses image data analysis over a number of inspections to achieve an extremely high level of inspection accuracy.
This enables Kri Kri to 'train' the machine to focus solely on the yogurt contents in each pot, and exclude any external areas.
The machine is able to distinguish between the fruit pieces in the frut yogurts and any unwanted contaminants, and to mask the small chocolate pieces used as a topping for children's yogurts which are packed in a separate plastic dome above the lid of the pot.
"I compare the versatility of the Ishida X-ray to that of a Swiss army knife, with so many different options available. This means we can tailor the machine to our exact detection requirements, and so are able to handle many different product types," Kri Kri production manager Petros Kissas said.
"We place huge emphasis on the premium nature of yogurts and on our commitment to deliver the highest quality, so it is absolutely vital that we can carry out stringent monitoring to ensure that all our products leave our factory in the best possible condition."
Equally important, the Ishida X-ray inspection system provides valuable traceability information so that in the event of any complaint, an image of the pack in question can be retrieved to establish beyond doubt if there was a problem with the contents.
Kri Kri is currently processing around 80-90 tonnes of yogurt per day, with the Ishida X-ray system monitoring approximately 12,000 to 14,000 cups per hour.
"These numbers are well within the capabilities of the X-ray machine," explains Petros, "We prefer to operate it at medium to high speed in order to ensure that every pack is checked thoroughly."
Petros confimrs that the reliability of the IX-GA-65100 has been exceptional with no breakdowns since its installation. The machine is also easy to clean as part of Kri Kri's regular and strict hygiene procedures.
Kri Kri's new state-of-the art production and packing line was borne out of an initial catastrophe when a fire on Christmas Eve 2013 caused severe damage to its dairy production plant.
However, within seven months, the new facility had been created with double the production capacity.
Given the opportunity to specify the newest and best equipment for the new factory, Kri Kri turned to Ishida and its Greek agent Europack for its X-ray inspection solution.
"We knew of Ishida's reputation for reliable, top-of-the-range equipment and we had already enjoyed excellent collaboration with Europack, so these were key factors in our decision," explains Dimitris Barboutis, Kri Kri's technical manager.
"Naturally, we were looking for value-for-money from our investment but the overriding concern was quality and safety -these simply cannot be compromised, since ultimately it is our reputation that is on the line. And we know that with Ishida we have the equipment that will help us maintain our hard-earned reputation."
Equally significant, this ability to demonstrate its high quality contro standards has been a fundamental part of Kri Kri's drive into export markets, meeting growing global demand for traditional Greek yogurt.
The company's products are now sold in 20 countries in Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East, with listings in several major supermarket chains, including the UK.
Global yeast technology company Renaissance BioScience Corp has appointed former Australian food executive Dr Cormac O’ Cleirigh as the company’s Chief Business Development Officer.
Dr O’Cleirigh’s extensive experience and expertise at the senior executive level in the global yeast and bakery ingredient industry will assist Renaissance in developing advanced yeast technologies for a range of global industries.
According to Renaissance CEO, Dr John Husnik, the appointment ensures an incorporation of end-use industry with consumer insights to be used in the company’s innovation agenda.
“Renaissance brings step-change technological innovation to the global yeast industry, which, through its supply of large volumes of a critical ingredient, underpins multiple other global industries,” Dr O’Cleirigh’s said.
Renaissance provides efficiency improvements along with increased functional performance and value propositions for global yeast partners and their customers.
Food and pharmaceutical industries have seen value and growth added as technology innovates large-volume manufacturing in a similar manner to bio tech investments over the last few years.
Dr O’Cleirigh’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the division’s strategic business development, focusing on developing consumer insights, evaluating competitor intelligence and identifying acquisition targets.
Renaissance Bio Science Corp is a privately held applied life sciences company that develops yeast-based platform technologies to solve industrial efficiency and consumer health problems in the food, beverage, alcohol, biofuel and pharmaceutical industries.
Over 40 per cent of retailers are set to increase technology budgets in the next twelve months in a move to meet changes in consumer behaviour for online and mobile retail sales, according to the inaugural CommBank Retail Insights report.
Consumers are remaining highly selective and loyal to their brand, with more than 90 per cent of online shoppers transacting with just three or fewer brands each quarter.
Online retailing not only boost sales with strong websites and great products, it also offers a broader product range that can be easily found with effective search engine optimisation.
For Food & Liquor retailers, the shift towards online sales has been relatively slow in comparison to other industries. 41 per cent of businesses surveyed in the report had no online presence with multichannel retailers while 28 per cent only had between 1-10 per cent overall sales from online orders.
Multichannel retailers have experienced higher growth than their online-only competitors, indicating that customers could be inclined to search online for physical retailers that they are already familiar with.
Most Australian online retailers remain focused on the domestic market, with only 21 per cent generating sales offshore. Food and Beverage retailers aim to capture a greater share of offshore customers by investing in initiatives to localise offers included discounted food delivery and advertising produce on local websites.
A group of young Australian food entrepreneurs, mostly women, are working together at Australia’s first food industry ‘hackathon’.
The event, called #HackFood, is sponsored in part by Simplot Foods, which is launching a ‘food technology incubator’.
#HackFood will focus on seven challenges facing the food industry, working together with mentors to develop potential solutions to be judged by a panel of experts.
Liz Kaelin named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs under 40 by StartUp Daily, said “Australia is a world leader in food production and we’re also quick adopters of new technology. We are in the perfect to use our knowledge of food and passion for technology to create innovations that dramatically change the food industry in the same way as Netflix changed TV and Uber changed transport.”
The winner will be given an opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of investors, receive $30,000 in seed funding to be involved in the Simplot Food Innovation Program.
Developing new technologies that assist the food industry amidst a digital economy is one way in which Kaelin hopes she can encourage young entrepreneurs to think big and create jobs for the future.
Canadian-based Renaissance Ingredients has said it has perfected its acrylamide-reducing (AR) baker’s yeast for applications in the global bread and baked goods market.
The company’s non-GMO AR baker’s yeast strains (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) have been found to reduce acrylamide by up to 95% in a variety of food products by degrading the precursor compound asparagine.
In this test in both white and whole wheat bread and toast, the use of AR baker’s yeast delivered an average reduction in acrylamide of 80% relative to conventional baker’s yeast.
This reduction was observed in the bread prior to toasting, as well as across three degrees of toasting (low, medium and high/dark). Importantly, no changes to the bread-making or baking processes other than the use of AR yeast were required in order to achieve these reductions.
“We are very pleased with the performance of our AR yeast in bread and toast. These results confirm the efficacy, simplicity and seamlessness of using our AR yeast in all varieties of baked goods,” said Renaissance Ingredients’ President, Dr. Matthew Dahabieh.
“We are also exceptionally pleased with the consistency exhibited by our AR yeast in reducing acrylamide across all levels of toasting. In most cases, the acrylamide content of toasted bread made with our AR yeast is less than that of untoasted bread made with conventional baker’s yeast. Essentially, our AR yeast eliminates the acrylamide potential of toasting conventional bread.”
Highly elevated acrylamide levels in toasted bread
It is well known that cooking at high temperatures significantly increases the acrylamide content of food. For example, in Renaissance’s tests, white bread baked with conventional yeast contained 30 parts per billion (ppb) of acrylamide, while dark toast made from the same bread increased the acrylamide content by 6.5 times to 195 ppb. In the case of whole wheat bread, dark toast had higher acrylamide levels of 8.9 times (34 ppb in bread increases to 301 ppb in dark toast).
However, when produced with AR yeast, dark toast made from the white and whole wheat bread (that contained just 5 ppb prior to toasting) contained only 36 and 40 ppb of acrylamide, respectively, after toasting.
“Our studies show that common restaurant and consumer cooking practices can result in highly elevated levels of acrylamide in toasted bread. However, our data also show that AR yeast has the ability to mitigate this ‘acrylamide potential’ in baked goods without any changes to the cooking process. This greatly reduces the health risk that acrylamide formed during cooking poses to end consumers,” added Dahabieh. “We are now looking to work with collaborative partners at the pilot and industrial scale to confirm and refine the efficacy of AR yeast in these settings.”
AR yeast applications: baked goods, potato products, snack foods and coffee
Renaissance Ingredients’ AR yeast strains are traditional baker’s yeast with an accelerated natural ability to consume the amino acid asparagine, the precursor to acrylamide. In baked goods in which yeast has always been used as an ingredient, AR yeast can seamlessly replace conventional baker’s yeast with no disruption to the baking process.
Importantly, AR yeast also can be used in foods in which yeast is not normally an ingredient. Renaissance Ingredients has conducted numerous successful studies on the feasibility of using AR yeast in novel ways for foods containing yeast extract, chemically leavened foods, or foods exposed to soaking steps during processing. These foods include potato-based products such as potato chips and French fries, savory snack foods, cereal products and coffee.
“Our in-house studies highlight the versatility and efficacy of our AR yeast in reducing acrylamide not only in baked goods and toast, but also in potato products, snack foods, cereal products and coffee. We are now looking to demonstrate this efficacy in pilot-scale trials by working closely with additional interested industry partners,” adds Dahabieh.
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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known
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Dare to dream big
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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
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Once in a lifetime
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The Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences SA (NIHS), a research institute of the global food maker Nestlé, has signed a research collaboration agreement with AC Immune SA – a leading Lausanne-based biopharmaceutical company focused on neurodegenerative diseases.
The aim of the collaboration is to develop a sensitive, minimally invasive Tau diagnostic assay for early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by applying Nestlé’s proprietary multiplexed ultrasensitive antibody technology platform.
Tangles of Tau proteins are recognised as one of two major hallmarks of neurodegeneration, the other being beta-amyloid (Abeta) plaques.
Tangles and other abnormal forms of Tau protein accumulate inside the brain cells and spread between cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease over a long period of time. It is now well established that Tau correlates well with cognitive decline and disease progression. Furthermore, Tau may develop into a suitable biomarker for early diagnosis of the disease.
Ed Baetge, Head of NIHS said: “Our overarching goal at NIHS is to develop nutritional approaches and technologies that help people maintain or improve their cognitive vigour especially for early diagnosis and targeted intervention to combat this global health problem”.