"Never waste a good crisis."
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on the opportunity of rebuilding economies in a greener, less energy intensive model.
Food for thought . . . Whither, and wither, the consumer?
"As ordinary people on the street contemplate the prospect of unemployment and a considerably less valuable pension, they seem stunned and unable to quite comprehend how it all happened. Because they cannot grasp how the government not only failed to effectively regulate the system but also seems complicit in its flaws, they have little faith in the government's ability to now correct that system.
"It is this sense of shocked disbelief that is going to do more damage to the global economy than the actual collapse of the financial system. There is nothing quite like shock and disbelief to destroy the desire to consume; even at zero interest rates, people with this sort of mindset have no appetite for consumption. They want to lie low until the storm has passed."
Anne Crotty, Business Report columnist
Apologies to readers for a technical glitches of the past two weeks! In shifting to a new server to better handle the growing traffic to FOODStuff SA, there have been problems with the email flash getting delivered to subscribers, a matter now resolved.
I have been driven to tears with frustration over technology the past two weeks, and I apologise if you who did not receive the newsletter alerts on your email. Becoming a website publisher is a big learning curve, and it doesn't help when Telkom is unwittingly thwarting one's entrepreneurial ambitions! Their product leaves much to be desired, but I can only give high praise to the folk who man their broadband call centre who are unfailingly helpful and polite when dealing with what surely must be torrents of vitriol from irked customers who can't get or stay connected!
You might have missed some good news items from the past two weeks and here are some highlights:
• 'Radical water', an amazing story of really simple chemistry working huge sanitising wonders, is now well on its way to mainstream acceptance around the world.
• Rooibos goes mainstream with Coca-Cola in the US. (My sources tell me that the rooibos powder no doubt being used for this product, a development that markedly lifts our indigenous tea's global stature, is probably being processed in South America, possibly Chile! Eish!)
• Cadbury is going Fairtrade with its Dairy Milk brand in the UK - and there's some good insight into why it has taken this unlikely cost-adding development in this week's newsletter.
• Nestlé has opened an extraordinary factory for RTD beverages in the US. Some 82 000m²! That's big; very, very big.
• How's this for an energy drink! Peer-reviewed analysis shows that from start to finish, bottled water consumes between 1 100 and 2 000 times more energy on average than does tap water.
• A very pertinent question. . . Is the the obsession with ridding food labels of additives diverting time and resources from addressing more serious nutritional challenges?
• Strategies for helping to control today’s high cost of ingredients – without impacting quality or safety.
• Do you find restaurants almost unfailingly underwhelming? If you're one who often feels cheated by inferior food, poor service and outrageous bills, then don't miss this wonderful article by The Independent columnist, Janet Street-Porter.
Enjoy this week's read. All correspondence is welcome.
Congratulations to the winners of our
Nando's Peri Deli Give-Away!!
Wineen Duvenage (Pick n Pay); Natasha Smith (Cadbury SA); Chris Bentley (Savannah); Shamla Moodley (Anchor Yeast); Rajen Padayachi (Food Tech Dept, UJ).
Food Industry News
SA: KFC may take out Nando's?Speculation at the weekend suggested that the SA-owned chicken eatery chain which delisted from the JSE in April 2003, could be taken over by one of the world's biggest restaurant operators.According to a report in the UK-based The Times, Yum Brands - the US-based owner of KFC and Pizza Hut - has held informal discussions with Capricorn Ventures International (CVI), the owner of Nando's.
Two decades later Nando's has grown into the largest South African restaurant group to expand internationally with more than 750 restaurants in 26 countries. Nando's operating profits are reckoned to be in the region of about $140m (R1.4bn) - a staggering figure considering that Nando's was valued at around R450m when it delisted from the JSE six years ago. Read more
SA: Food inflation to ease up soon for consumersSouth African consumers should experience lower food inflation over the next few months, according to Arthur Kamp, an economist at Sanlam Investment Management. Read more
SA: SAB prepares for rival brewery in SABrewing giant SABMiller is to cut costs sharply in its most profitable market of South Africa to boost marketing ahead of the impending opening of Heineken' new brewery just south of Johannesburg.
Norman Adami, MD of the group's South African operation, said it will cut costs by R350 million and plough the savings back to boost sales as Heineken opens the first non-SABMiller brewery in the country. Read more
SA: Clover to shut factory, cut 92 jobsAccording to Reuters, the Solidarity labour union reports that the country's biggest dairy company, plans to shut its Wesselsbron cheese factory by the end of May and lay off 92 workers.
Solidarity said in a statement Clover had informed the union that it would close down the factory due to the high production cost of bulk cheese, but the union said it would seek talks with Clover to stop the job cuts.
SA: Ferrero to expand factory in South AfricaItalian-based Ferrero plans to break ground on an expansion of its factory in Johannesburg next month. The company will process and develop hazelnuts at the new facility. Read more
US: Coca-Cola in new China pushCoca-Cola will invest $2bn in China over the next three years and expects to maintain double-digit growth in that market, Muhtar Kent, chief executive, said recently.
News of fresh spending by Coke in China – which has recently become the drinks maker’s third largest market behind the US and Mexico – comes as debate grows over whether Beijing is spending enough to stimulate domestic consumption and ward off a precipitous slowdown in the Chinese economy. Coke’s $2bn-investment will exceed the company’s total investment in China since 1979, which amounts to $1.6bn. Read more
UK: Coke pops Innocent offerCoca-Cola has tabled an offer for a minority stake in stalling UK smoothie maker, Innocent, according to press reports. Read more
UK: ANALYSING the Cadbury/Fairtrade dealWhat is Cadbury playing at? The UK-based confectionery group has been through a painful restructuring, cutting hundreds of jobs, abandoning its expensive central London headquarters and freezing the salaries of 150 senior managers.
Last month, it announced the result: a 30% increase in underlying 2008 pre-tax profits and improved profit margins. Having done all that, it raised its costs. That is the effect of its announcement last week that all cocoa in Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, the UK’s best-selling chocolate bar, and in Cadbury’s drinking chocolate will come from Fairtrade producers.
Under the Fairtrade network, suppliers receive a minimum price and a premium on top of that. As a result, many items with the Fairtrade mark are premium products – someone has to pay for those higher producer prices, and it is usually consumers.
Filling Dairy Milk and Cadbury’s drinking chocolate with Fairtrade ingredients is quite a leap. These are not luxury items. You can find them in any corner shop. Read more [Excellent analysis by the Financial Times. Ed]
US: Peanut product recall takes $1-billion biteThe recent Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter products is the largest US recall of its kind and set to take a $1-billion bite out of peanut producers' pockets, according Don Koehler, head of the Georgia Peanut Commission. Read more
US: Peanut-butter sales volume drops 13% in four weeksPeanut-butter sales volume plunged 13% during the four weeks ended Feb 21, according to Nielsen, even though peanut butter was not involved in the recent recall involving several package foods. That's the lowest level since the company began tracking sales at US food, drug and mass outlets three years ago, and the figure includes sales at consumer-foods behemoth Walmart. Read more
US: Private food safety inspectors routinely give seal of approval to dangerous food Large companies routinely rely on private audits to prove that their food is safe even though private auditors are dangerously incompetent, according to a New York Times investigation. Read more
UK: Britain's pubs will be closed by 2037At the current rate of closures, Britain's last pub will call time in 2037. Is there light at the bottom of the glass? Read more
UK: Buying large eggs is cruel, shoppers toldHead of the British Free Range Producers’ Association is urging people to switch to medium sizes for the wellbeing of hens. Read more
WORLD: Coffee crisis-proof but costly cups suffer, says IllyCoffee's status as a daily necessity renders it "crisis-proof" even as global economies slide deeper into recession, the head of global espresso brand, Illy, has said, but costlier cups are likely to suffer.
Consumers have cut spending on everything from cars to appliances amid the worst economic crisis in generations but coffee sales should be safe, says Andrea Illy of the family-owned firm that supplies restaurants the world over. Read more
US: Feedyards suffer as hamburgers replace steaks
Americans are eating more hamburgers and fewer steaks as the economy wallows in recession, and that has led to huge losses at US feedyards that fatten the cattle for steaks. Each week $100 million is lost as feedyards from Nebraska to Texas sell cattle at well-below production costs. Read more
Bob's Beat: Give the consumer what they want!
Funny thing about the food industry, it seldom if ever misses the beat on adjusting to trends with long legs and passionate advocates.
I always say the best way to measure probable consumer interest in a development is to observe what science and the mainstream media are spewing at them. You publish a lie long enough and eventually a consensus forms, even one based on flimsy evidence.
Does it really make any difference if some folks in the industry think this anti-HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) drumbeat is misguided activism, that it is part of a movement that once successfully targeted Big Tobacco and now has Big Food in its sights? Bad transfats ... bad salt ... bad caffeine, bad HFCS, bad beef ... the list of evil-incarnates just goes on and on.
So here's what I think — just give the consumer what he and she wants. It is that simple. If consumer research shows HFCS is frowned upon by large segments of society, then adapt, innovate, do whatever it takes to answer the concerns. I expect we will soon see a slew of HFCS-free products entering the pipeline. Some are already out there and more will certainly come.
You may ask the question: "Should food companies and restaurant operators ban it or keep it?" Why ban it if you don't have to, but be ready to offer answers and alternatives if the negative momentum against HFCS continues. There's no law against HFCS-free products, so marketers should at least be investigating workable concepts.
Bob Messenger is one of the foremost food industry observers in the US, whose website and daily newsletter, The Morning Cup, is read by many thousands of American food industrialists.
New flavourant potential from yeastsUS biotech company, Alltech has announced its involvement in a joint venture between global trading company, Mitsui, and Japanese brewer, Asahi Breweries, to develop an innovative range of natural food flavourings, including an alternative to products such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The partnership, two years in the making, began to take shape when the Japanese firms approached Alltech after developing four or five proprietary yeast strains that reproduced at high levels the flavouring Umami – the trademark taste of so much Asian food. This had been done purely through strain selection, without genetic engineering. Read more
Bioencapsulation: creating a safe haven for sensitive ingredients Consumers are becoming more health conscious and food manufacturers are pursuing innovative ways to produce food that can deliver specific health benefits without compromising the taste or quality of their products. Incorporation of bioactive compounds, or 'nutraceuticals', into food systems can provide a simple way to develop novel 'functional foods' with health-promoting and/or disease-preventing properties. Read more
Salt might be 'nature's antidepressant' Most people consume far too much salt, and now a researcher has discovered one potential reason we crave it: it might put us in a better mood. Read more
Scientists lift the lid on salt’s hypertensive powerSalt may raise lead to hypertension by inhibiting the action of an enzyme linked to easing blood flow, says a new joint US-Chinese study. Read more
DSM’s TensVida wins Nutracon AwardDSM Nutritional Products’ blood-pressure-management ingredient, tensVida (formerly known as TensGuard), won the NutrAward for the most innovative, evidence-based health and nutrition ingredient at Nutracon 2009.TensVida is a milk-derived tripeptide that helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. Read more
Getting to the heart of acrylamideThe acylamide issue has been in the headlines again the past few weeks: www.foodnavigator.com carries a good synopsis of these developments. Hear more
* Acrylamide not linked to breast cancer in women: Study
* Heart study may raise pressure to cut acrylamide levels in snacks
* Amino acids against acrylamide – choice is critical for effects: Study
Gouda’s 800-year-old secret could benefit flavour for all dairyGerman scientists have reportedly cracked the secret of Gouda’s complex, long-lasting flavour, and this could lead to developing more flavourful cheeses and other dairy products. Read more
Europe's "got milk" in spades. . .global dairy trends42% of the world's dairy products are found in Europe. Exotic cheeses, and innovations in taste and flavors are in high demand there. Globally, dairy will become a market worth $305 billion by 2010.
Yoghurt is the most popular dairy product in Asia -- growing 5.6% annually through 2010. And overall, Asia-Pacific "will be the fastest growing regional market" in the next two years. Innovations in packaging and the development of strong brands are two factors accounting for the continued growth. Read more
Yoghurt: in a high state of fermentFor a food that’s pushing 4,500 years old, yoghurt sure keeps up with the times. A constellation of trends are bringing it new life. Developmental milestones from the past include fruit-on-the-bottom, nonfat and sugar-free, as well as drinkable and kid-friendly squeeze packs. But today’s pace of innovation is in overdrive.
“What we see as we add benefits,” says Alan Reed, of Dairy Management in the US, “is that the more compelling the benefit, the more likely it is to increase overall yogurt category growth.” If any trend promises to shape yogurt’s future, it’s the headlong dive into enhanced wellness benefits. Read more
US: Taking a bite of organic: cereal successFor a little bit of good news in today's challenging economic environment, one can look at the natural and organic sections that are prevalent in most mainstream supermarkets. The reason is simple: Even with a shrinking pot of disposable income, consumers are cutting back in other areas while continuing to invest in higher-quality foods and beverages in an ongoing effort to feel good. Read more
Are the food police scaring your kids?Lisa Dorfman, a dietician affiliated with the University of Miami, reports seeing kids who have become terrified of foods their parents have declared "bad."
"It's almost a fear of dying, a fear of illness, like a delusional view of foods in general....I have five-year-olds that speak like 40-year-olds. They can't eat an Oreo cookie without being concerned about trans fat." Read more
All hail the female shopper. . .If you want your brand to succeed, focus on the "gentler" consumer. Studies indicate that the female brain "responds significantly more strongly to certain styles of packaging designs, advertising messages and store layouts."
To make the most of this research, packagers should try to be authentic and informative, and try to make packaging "exploratory." Keeping in mind that female shoppers tend to integrate "many goals with every shopping experience and purchase," will make designing packaging very tricky, but ultimately rewarding, since "women influence the purchase of 80 percent of all consumer goods in the US." [Link defunct]
New Product Development
US: Makeover for Snapple Dr Pepper's Snapple brand is doing the biggest overhaul of its look and formula in its 37-year history and backing the changes with its biggest media buy and ad push to date.
The company is reformulating its entire lineup of drinks to have up to 20% fewer calories, while using pure sugar for sweetener versus corn syrup -- and wrapping it all in new packaging that spotlights the green and black tea leaves that are part of the brand's tea line. "This is the biggest thing we have done on the brand since inception," says Bryan Mazur, VP of marketing for Snapple. Read more
US: All Sport and Dr Pepper Snapple launch first sports drink sweetened with steviaAll Sport and Dr Pepper Snapple Group have introduced All Sport Naturally Zero, the first and only zero-calorie sports drink sweetened with rebiana, an all-natural sweetener from stevia. Read more
UK: Salty crisps knocked off their pedestalAccording to Mintel, the market research firm, the relative upstart flavour of cheese and onion – introduced in the 1960s by snack company, Golden Wonder – has toppled ready salted for the first time. Read more
UK: Waitrose brings out budget range for recession-hit middle classes Waitrose is to bring out a budget range of food to win over recession-hit middle class shoppers that have started to desert the supermarket. Read more
US: Aquamantra launches water ‘world first’ Aquamantra has launched what it claims is the world's first water product in 100% biodegradable-recyclable bottle at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. The Aquamantra bottle doesn’t leach plastic, isn’t made from PLA, isn’t oxo-degradable, and is an FDA-approved ‘food grade’ PET 1 bottle. These bottles maintain the same properties as traditional PET and can be intermingled with standard PET in recycling streams and programmes. http://www.ensobottles.com/ and http://www.aquamantra.com/
The bees are back in townIn recent years there has been alarm over possible shortages of honeybees and scary stories of beekeepers finding that 30-50% of their charges have vanished over the winter. It is called colony collapse disorder (CCD), and its cause remains a mystery.
Add to this worries about long-term falls in the populations of other pollinators, such as butterflies and bats, and the result is a growing impression of a threat to nature’s ability to supply enough nectar-loving animals to service mankind’s crops. This year, however, the story has developed a twist. In California the shortage of bees has been replaced by a glut. Read more
Let them eat Peruvian purple potatoesExcellent commentary by David Martosko, writing on www.consumerfreedom.com
File this one under "strange airport experiences." In a sandwich-stand line at Reagan National the day before Christmas, the twenty-something waif ahead of me pestered the counter girl: "Do you have anything organic?" And then: "Is that lettuce GMO-free? ’Cause, if not, I won’t eat it."
Here was a young woman who was perfectly content to put herself into a 140-ton pressurized metal tube and allow a total stranger to catapult her body seven miles into the sky at 530 miles per hour. But she wouldn’t eat genetically modified roughage. Grains and vegetables enhanced by biotechnology have been as common in the United States as tap water since the mid-1990s, and they haven’t given a single person so much as the sniffles.
Yet fear of "genetically modified" food "GM" to aficionados, or with an added "O" for "organism" has become a worldwide neurosis, fueled by the same nasty combination of ignorance and junk science that powers environmental hysteria worldwide. Read more
VIEWPOINT: Getting an appetite for biotechnologyA growing population and climate change is going to make it difficult to meet the demand for food in the coming years, says German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis. He argues that we must embrace the solutions offered by biotechnology if we are going to feed the planet.
Dr Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is a German MEP and a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. This article on 'The Green Room' is a series of opinion pieces on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website. Read more
Top 10 myths about sustainabilityWhen a word becomes so popular you begin hearing it everywhere, in all sorts of marginally related or even unrelated contexts, it means one of two things. Either the word has devolved into a meaningless cliché, or it has real conceptual heft.
“Green” (or, even worse, “going green”) falls squarely into the first category. But “sustainable,” which at first conjures up a similarly vague sense of environmental virtue, actually belongs in the second. True, you hear it applied to everything from cars to agriculture to economics. But that’s because the concept of sustainability is at its heart so simple that it legitimately applies to all these areas and more.
Despite its simplicity, however, sustainability is a concept people have a hard time wrapping their minds around. Scientific American Earth 3.0 has consulted with several experts on the topic to find out what kinds of misconceptions they most often encounter. The result is this take on the top 10 myths about sustainability. Read more
How can you tell if coffee is really decaf? A long-standing debate among the caffeine-wary is whether decaf served in restaurants is actually what it's billed to be – or is really a cup of the high-octane stuff. Among the skeptics? Do-it-yourself caffeine detectors called D+caf Test Strips will tell you if your beverage is—or isn't—the real thing. Read more
When it comes to living in space, it's a matter of tasteSince the early days of manned spaceflight, astronauts have reported that eats taste different in microgravity. Many said that flavours are dulled and they crave fare that is spicier and considerably more tart than they would prefer on Earth. It's not uncommon for space travelers to enjoy cuisine in space that they couldn't stand at home, and vice versa. Read more
Last Word - Food of love?
The word "aphrodisiac," adapted from the name of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, suggests a capacity for stimulating sexual attraction.
The catalogue of foods that have been considered aphrodisiacs throughout history is as long as Casanova's list of lovers. In addition to oysters and chocolates, it includes oatmeal, asparagus, almonds, avocado, bananas, figs, strawberries, truffles and wine, along with such spices as coriander, basil, ginseng and nutmeg. Asparagus and bananas probably gained their reputations at least in part for their phallic shapes, while others are thought to affect the mind or body in ways that promote lust.
None actually works, says Galdino Pranzarone, a physiological psychologist and sexologist at Roanoke College in Salem, Va, US. "The whole concept of aphrodisiacs is overblown," said Pranzarone, who has taught human sexuality for 25 years. "There aren't any real aphrodisiacs. It's the placebo effect. It's wishful thinking."
That's it for this week, folks!