'Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while
imagination embraces the entire world.'
Food for thought . . . What's worse? George Bush or fat kids?
Fat children are repugnant. They are the bane of American culture. Forget about George W Bush and our insufferable tourists. The world hates us due to rampant obesity among our nation's children.
Comment by blogger Jordan Quinn posted in 12/3/08 StateHornet.com.
Editor's Stuff - Tap water is the new black
At this time of the food industry annual cycle, there is a glut of media coverage on food trends both waxing and waning. This newsletter, and the previous couple, give several perspectives on the year past and the one ahead - and they all make fascinating reading.
One trend, highlighted by several analysts, has particularly caught my attention: the fate of bottled water. Time Magazine's Top Ten Food Trends of 2008 declares "Once hip, bottled water is now unforgivably '90s." Now that's an "Eish!" for this darling of the beverage world.
Back in March 2003, I wrote this in my editorial for SA Food Review: "When bottled water first hit our shelves in a big way, like many, I noted its arrival with deep scepticism. It seemed such a European thing, a habitual custom on the Continent and America but an unknown quantity in this country, something so unnecessary and expensive considering the perfectly potable quality of our tap water. Surely the market would be unviable here? Consumers were not going to be that gullible? How wrong we were! The growth of the bottled water consumption in South Africa has been nothing short of phenomenal . . ."
But as the old adage goes, the past is another country, and I'd vouch that while bottled water is not ever going away, it's one of those products that no longer fits the "current cultural zeitgeist", to steal a quote from an article below by The Hartman Group in the US. It's simply out of tune with a world turning ever greener.
One of Tappening's simple but highly impactful ads.
In this regard, you may want to take a look at the website www.tappening.com, part of a highly successful viral marketing campaign in the US to break the world's addiction to bottled water. It was started just more than a year or so ago by two veteran marketing men, Eric Yaverbaum, president of the public relations company, Ericho Communications, and Mark DiMassimo, founding partner of the DiMassimo Goldstein advertising agency.
They intended to educate the public about the unnecessary waste of money, fossil fuels and resultant stress on the environment that's caused by the industry. To help offset the cost, the partners decided to market reusable water bottles on their site, each one bearing one of two slogans: 'Think Global, Drink Local' or 'What’s Tappening?' They received 39 000 orders within 36 hours.
Tappening’s highly chronicled and trafficked website (almost 5 ½ million page views to date; over 300,000 reusable BPA-free bottles sold from the site) features thousands of articles on the bottled water versus tap water debate. “We believed we could use our advertising and public relations abilities to un-sell bottled water hype,” DiMassimo explains. “What bottled water has is a brand, and that’s what we aimed to create for tap water.”
This will be a very interesting trend that will play itself out in the years to come: are we going to watch bottled water's decline with awe to equal that of its stratospheric rise? What do you think?
Feedback on detox
In last week's newsletter, I had an outrage with 'detoxifying' foot pads, and urged SA's well-known snake oil vigilante, Dr Harris Steinman, to take this marketing nonsense to the Advertising Standards Authority, the only recourse in SA to put the brakes on charlatan alternative medicines etc. The good doctor, however, has already been there some while back.
The company concerned, Fountainhead, apparently makes several such products, and the ASA ruled in its favour, can you believe it, accepting testimony to their efficacy presented by a 'credible expert', an unnamed homeopath. Harris subsequently found out more about this man and his background and it would appear that expert has no place on his CV. So much for the ASA's teeth and credibility! But he does advise that he's working with a consumer journalist on another exposé of this farcical product.
PS The working year only gets into main gear on Monday, so the poll for The New Product of 2008 will stay up for another week. Hit the poll button on at top right - Please Vote!
Food Industry News
SA: Tiger Brands still mulling possible AVI bid
South Africa's biggest consumer goods firm, Tiger Brands, is still mulling a bid for smaller rival AVI and this week urged shareholders to be cautious pending a further announcement.
Tiger Brands said in November it may make a cash-and-stock offer for AVI that values the company at more than R8-billion rand to give it a stronger base for expansion into Africa and access to new brands and markets. Read more
SA: Shoprite's turnover races 27% higher
Shoprite's first-half turnover powered ahead by 27.3% to nearly R30-billion as its positioning at the bottom end of the market continued to help it defy the downturn, say analysts. Read more
US group votes Pick n Pay tops
Pick 'n Pay has an international reputation for excellence and distinguished service, an global retail organisation says. Read more
US: Open innovation reaps big rewards for General Mills
American food giant, General Mills reports that its worldwide innovation network has brought hundreds of new concepts to the company in its first year.
GM has developed joint ventures, engaged in technology and equity licensing, sourced finished products, and worked to solve technical problems with experts applying concepts to further accelerate the company’s own internal innovation efforts. Read more
US: Drug researcher to help Kraft develop more healthful foods
Medisyn Technologies, a startup that helps pharmaceutical companies discover new drugs, has been tapped to help Kraft Foods develop products with specific health benefits. Medisyn uses mathematical algorithms to try to identify new health benefits from existing natural food compounds. Read more
US: Lay's aims to improve its chips' image
This news just in: Lay's potato chips are made from potatoes! To combat the perception of the snack as overprocessed, a new, multimillion-dollar PepsiCo ad campaign underscores the fact that the the ubiquitous chip is made from just three ingredients: potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. The tagline: "Happiness is simple." No link (subs-only from AdAge.com)
US: Cadbury warns Dairy Milk eaters about its 'milk and nut ingredients'
Britain's most famous chocolate maker, Cadbury, has decided to warn chocolate lovers that its product contains — milk.
The latest Dairy Milk wrappers feature a warning in capital letters in yellow boxes saying "CONTAINS: MILK" in case people who are allergic to milk do not realise that there is milk in Cadbury Dairy Milk bars.
COMMENT: In responding to this news, Guardian commentator, Tim Hayward, had this to say about food manufacturers who 'continue to patronize us'.
"Top award for weaseliness goes to the breakfast cereal companies whose claims for health and nutritional benefits are dependent on the vitamins sprayed onto the product and the fruit and milk shown in the serving suggestion. "Wheato Grits provide over half of your daily nutritional requirements when served with a bowl of fruit, a gallon of full-cream milk and as part of a calorie controlled diet". Does anyone actually put fruit on their cereal? Have you ever seen an ad where it's served without?" Read more
UK: Takeaways cash in as restaurants feel pinch in new era of austerity
The economic downturn has prompted an about-turn in British eating habits, with an increasingly indulgent dining lifestyle being replaced with an era of austerity not seen since post-war rationing.
Jobs are no longer secure, house prices are plummeting and consumers are abandoning the hunt for fine food as they search for ways to curb their weekly food bills. Restaurants have seen an exodus of customers in the last two months as diners have turned to takeaways, supermarket promotional deals and fast-food chains. Grocers, meanwhile, have seen a sea change in shopping habits. Where only 12 months ago food provenance and quality were key priorities for shoppers, today price is everything. Read more
US: GMA releases guide on sodium, salt
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has released its “Sodium and Salt: A Guide for Consumers, Policymakers and the Media”, science policy paper that provides policymakers, consumers, journalists and health professionals with current and scientifically accurate information and resources on sodium and salt.
You can download this very useful and informative document here.
Will Oprah bring down Blue Corn chips?
An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey can make even a fledgling product a household name. But what if the daytime-talk-show empress turns on one? Oprah recently proclaimed, 'my drug of choice used to be potato chips. Now this year, it was organic, multigrain blue chips — but a bag of them. So you eat a bag of those a day and see what happens if you're not working out.'
Hain Celestial and other makers of blue corn chips may find themselves in an inadvertent field test in the coming months. Kicking off her 2009 season this week, Winfrey, who has connected with millions of American women with her struggles to control her weight, announced that she has gained 40 pounds. She blamed a thyroid condition, lack of exercise and the ostensibly healthful snack. Read more
YET MORE ON TRENDS! What can we expect in 2009. . .
The invincibles – recession-proof food and healthy eating
There are fears that in the economic crisis consumers will put on “recession pounds” by eating unhealthily. Rightly or wrongly, food manufacturers may suffer the blame but “unhealthy” and “recession proof” do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Read more
Hartman Group's brilliant look at emerging food trends . . . and it's FREE!
The New Year offers the promise of a fresh start. In the year that lies before us, whether consumers are seeking quality matched with value or time paired with family, we think they are moving in directions that will bring new and exciting opportunities for the marketplace.
For more on emerging food trends in products, retailing and restaurants, download the Hartman Group's 64-page FREE report.
Interestingly, its includes a list of products dubbed the 'hall of fame and shame' which could offer food and beverage manufacturers valuable insights on getting NPD right or wrong. The featured products were not chosen due to their success or failure in the marketplace ... Instead, it was because they “each encapsulate certain critical elements of product trends in the current cultural zeitgeist”. Read more here if you don't want to download the report.
[An outstanding piece of research - and best news, you don't have to pay for it. Ed]
More key food trends for 2009, this time from Reuters
From recalled tomatoes to calorie counts on menus, food and health was a big part of the news in 2008, and it looks to again have a high profile in 2009. Here are five food-related topics and trends to watch for this year. Read more
"Natural" claims ranked first on new food and drink launches in 2008, finds Mintel
The latest review from the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows the simplest things in life can have the biggest impact. In 2008, food and drink claims classified as "Natural"— including all natural, no additives/preservatives, organic and wholegrain — were the most frequently featured on new products globally. In fact, "Natural" claims appeared on nearly one in every four (23%) food and drink launches in 2008, a 9% increase on 2007 figures. Read more
Health & Nutrition
Obese Americans now outweigh the merely overweight
The number of obese American adults outweighs the number of those who are merely overweight, according to the latest statistics from the federal government. Numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 34% of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7% who are overweight. It said just under 6%vare "extremely" obese. Read more
Barry Popkin: Why the world is fat
Why in the heck did the world's chief food problem shift from malnutrition to obesity? That's the question Barry Popkin, director of the University of North Carolina's Inter-Disciplinary Obesity Center, explores in his new book, The World Is Fat.
From the book and a conversation with Popkin, here are seven tidbits you might not have known about obesity, nutrition, and what we put in our mouths. Read more
Bible diets dismissed as healthy food choice
A religious expert poured cold water on the claim that the Bible is a good recipe for a healthy diet. A string of best-selling books, especially popular in America, have extolled the virtues of foods featured in the religious text. But far from being "the land of milk and honey", a study by British theologian, Dr Nathan MacDonald suggested ancient Israel was more likely to offer its inhabitants a bland choice of flat breads and grains. Read more
Study: Cranberry’s secret to preventing UTIs
A new study conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has identified how the anti-adhesion mechanism in cranberry helps to prevent infections in the urinary tract.The study found that cranberry juice worked by changing the hermodynamic properties of bacteria common in urinary tract infections. Read more
Wine, tea, chocolate improve mental performance in elderly
A new European study reveals that a moderate diet rich in wine, tea and chocolate enhances cognitive performance in the elderly. The study, conducted by researchers at Oxford University and the University of Oslo, was published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Read more
US salmonella outbreak tied to peanut butter - again
The source of the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has sickened at least 400 and may have contributed to three deaths has been identified in Minnesota as King Nut peanut butter. The product is suspected as the source of the nation-wide illnesses, which began showing up in September 2008 and have been documented in 42 states. Read more
How does salmonella get into peanut butter? And can you kill it once it's there?
Over the past four months, salmonella poisoning has left a stomach-churning trail of diarrhea and vomiting in its wake. The bacterium is resistant to many sterilisation techniques. Read more
US perspective: Analysing current and future food safety efforts
The problem with thinking about how to protect the nation’s food supply is that when you get into it a little bit, it’s pretty frightening. There are simply so many foods, processed in so many different ways. They are subject to such a variety of hazards, including microbial and chemical contamination but also intentional tampering by terrorists or others. They are increasingly imported from virtually everywhere, meaning we in the US are to some degree dependent on the reliability of companies and government oversight in each exporting country. Read more
Sustainability's bottom line
The process of packaging — sourcing materials, design, transportation, handling, and warehousing — is costly. Manufacturers seeking ways to reduce costs while maintaining or increasing efficiency should employ a supply-chain perspective to their packaging by identifying and maximizing sustainable solutions, which can often generate significant savings. Read more
Coca-Cola opens world's largest recycling plant
In September 2007, The Coca-Cola Company announed a $60m PET recycling plant investment — this week Coca-Cola and United Resource Recovery Corp opened the world's largest PET recycling plant.
The 30-acre plant in South Carolina has been running on low volumes since mid-November, but this January it will be expected to run at full capacity. The facility will produce about 50 million kils of food-grade recycled PET plastic for reuse per year – the equivalent of about two billion 20oz plastic Coke bottles.
RESEARCH: Two-thirds of 215 billion US beverage bottles not recycled
The Coca-Cola initiative is a welcome development in light of a new report from the Container Recycling Institute. Its "Beverage Market Data Analysis", a comprehensive look at beverage sales, and beverage container recycling and wasting in all fifty states and the US as a whole, finds that two-thirds of American beverage bottles still go to landfill.
The report can be obtained free of charge by contacting the Container Recycling Institute. Or you can read more here.
UK: Fast food firms taken to task after survey of street litter
McDonald's, KFC and Subway have been named as the most littered brands in England as Keep Britain Tidy called on fast-food companies to do more to tackle customers who drop their wrappers and drinks cartons in the streets.
The government has also said the industry must take greater responsibility for the mess after surveys in a dozen cities and towns found branded products were often causing a problem. Read more
Food & Agric Science Stuff
Aroma, taste and texture drive refreshing perception: Study
A consumer’s perception of a refreshing sensation in food is driven by the cold/mint flavour, the acidity of the formulation, and the thickness of the product, according to research from Nestle. Read more
Heat may spark world food crisis
Half the world's population could face a climate-induced food crisis by 2100, a new report by US scientists warns.
Rapid warming is likely to reduce crop yields in the tropics and subtropics, according to Prof David Battisti of the University of Washington, Seattle. The most extreme summers of the last century will become the norm, he calculates,
using 23 climate models. Read more
Crop diversity: Eat it or lose it
Centuries of crop diversification are at risk of being lost forever . . a growing dependency on just a few modern, high-yielding varieties is leaving the world's food supplies exposed. 'If humanity mourns the loss of wild plants, we should really worry about the extinction of cultivated ones.' Read more
Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the Earth
Barack Obama is making good his promise to welcome scientists into his administration. Read more
140-year-old lobster freed
A 140-year-old lobster is to be reunited with the ocean after being liberated from a New York seafood restaurant. The 10kg crustacean has been the focus of tug of love between nimal rights activists PETA and staff at the City Crab and Seafood. After initially blocking the bid for freedom, restaurant bosses have agreed for George the giant lobster to be transported to the coast. He was captured off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada recently. Read more
'Chop Idol': BBC seeks next top butcher in Britain's Young Butcher of the Year
Forget singing, ballroom dancing and ice skating. The next big BBC talent show is a nationwide search for... Britain's next top butcher. The programme will air on the corporation's youth TV channel, BBC Three, within the next few months. It will be called Britain's Young Butcher of the Year, although industry wags were yesterday suggesting alternative titles such as Chop Idol. Read more
Clothing to crow about
In the future, you may snuggle up in warm, cozy sweatshirts made of chicken feathers or jeans made of wheat, enjoying comfortable, durable new fabrics that are "green" and environmentally friendly.
Researchers in Australia report that new advances are paving the way for such exotic new materials — made from agricultural waste or byproducts — to hit store shelves as environmentally-friendly alternatives to the estimated 38 million tons of synthetic fabrics produced worldwide each year. Read more
UK: return of the packed lunch
What do you get when you cross a food-obsessed culture with a global recession? A serious spike in lunchbox and thermos flask sales. Some British experts give their tips on how best to fill them. Read more
That's it for this week, folks!