|Issue 39: 22 May 2009|
|Thursday, 21 May 2009|
"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple
Food bites . . . You can't legislate human behaviour!
"The food industry far from perfect but to tar it with the same brush as tobacco is simply grossly unfair. Activists and legislators see the food industry as a convenient scapegoat for the obesity problem and what really worries me is that all the controls proposed by the nanny state brigade are likely to have little or no effect on the real problem - the industry can and should play its part in consumer education but the necessary changes in behaviour cannot be legislated and fat taxes, controls on advertising etc are largely meaningless gestures."
Nigel Sunley, Sunley Consulting
Editor's Stuff - Hanging Tough
This week I was in esteemed company, co-presenting with SAAFoST president, Rosie Maguire, at a SAAFoST Cape Branch lecture evening. We both talked about trends; I looked at the big picture, those trends that could be described as good, bad and ugly; while Rosie brought all these shifts down to the supermarket floor and the pantry shelf in South Africa.
One of the notable observations from the evening and interaction with the audience was that new product development in SA's food sector, always pretty vibrant in the past, has slowed to a trickle, and a very meagre trickle at that. It's a little gloomy, really, and I'm much relieved I no longer have to organise a new product competition as I used to do in my previous job!
Have we fallen into the tough-times trap where we can't find the balance between two serious risks: sinking the boat or missing the boat?
In my weekly trawl around the web, I've come across many commentators who argue that a flat economy is actually a great opportunity for companies to try something different or start something new. Do read this article by Bill Taylor, a bloggist on harvardbusiness.org who comments: "I don't mean to minimize the pressures and setbacks that are part of unleashing real change in tough times. If all you've got is a spreadsheet filled with red ink and dire forecasts, it's easy to be paralyzed by fear. But if you've got some leadership nerve, and can muster a few good ideas, then hard times can be great times to separate yourself from the pack and build advantages for years to come."
And he points the way to a wonderful article in The New Yorker magazine that looks at the bold strategic moves that repositioned companies and redefined industries during periods of turmoil. One of these cases was Kellogg whose aggressive marketing in the Great Depression in the 1930s saw it become an industry leader, a position it holds today. Fascinating stuff! The writer, James Surowiecki, shows how numerous studies illustrate that companies that keep spending on acquisition, advertising, and R&D during recessions do significantly better than those which make big cuts.
For some inspiring and provocative insights, click through to this excellent article here. And please do forward news of any new product launches.
Cape Town seminar on draft Labelling and advertising regulations!
A reminder that the Western Cape Food Control Committee is hosting a two-day seminar this coming week in Cape Town (in the city centre) on 26 and 27 May 2009, the greater part of which will be feedback from the national Department of Health’s Directorate: Food Control on the draft labelling regulations. Other topics such as traceability and food recalls, food handling and food safety, especially concerns around the World Cup 2010, will also be covered. Get all the details here.
Enjoy this week's read! Email Brenda:
SA Food Industry News
Food inflation: factoring in the costs
Input costs are complex and there is often a lag before prices fall, but little wonder that the retail cost of potatoes, cabbages, lettuces, onions, tomatoes and sweetcorn has rocketed.
SABMiller creeps into Nigeria
SABMiller is making a subtle push into the lucrative Nigerian beer market, threatening territory dominated by rivals Heineken and Diageo. The London-listed brewer, which has just reported flat annual underlying lager sales volumes, has entered the Nigerian market after buying a small brewery named Pabod in the country’s south-east in December. Read more
Beer with a good head at the top: profiling Norman AdamiStormin’ Norman, as SAB MD Norman Adami is known, is a legend not only within SABMiller, but in South African business and the beer industry in the US. Known as colourful, charismatic and highly effective, Adami is a straight-talker — and a bit of a “boykie” in the mould of SABMiller chairman Meyer Kahn. “He can also be helluva blunt,” said one colleague. Read more
SA consumer research reveals recessionary buying patternsResearchers investigating the impact of the current economic crisis on local consumer behaviour have found that 60% of South Africans are worried about the future and their fear is fuelling a considerable change in their buying habits. Read more
Food Industry News
UK: FSA unveils new salt reduction targets
The Food Standards Agency has unveiled updated salt reduction targets for the food industry up to 2012, trimming back levels once more in some 80 categories of foods.
CHINA: Coca-Cola lauches Chinese marketing blitz
Coca-Cola has taken the first step in a marketing blitz of its Chinese brands following the rejection of its merger with domestic drinks manufacturer Huiyuan Juice. A Chinese pop star has kicked off the company’s publicity offensive as part of a marketing campaign to raise the profile of it Minute Maid brand in the country with a population of almost 1.5 billion. The US beverage giant is planning to invest some US$ 2 billion in its Chinese operations in the next two years – as compared to US$ 1.6 billion since 1979. Read more
EU: Unilever’s ISP gets novel foods approval for ice cream
The European Commission has granted novel foods approval for the ingredient Ice Structuring Protein (ISP), used in ice cream to reduce fat content and improve stability. The novel foods application was made in 2006 by Unilever, which already sells products containing the ingredient in other markets such as the US, Australia and Mexico.
EU: Nestle and Danone make R&D movesAnnouncements of new R&D plans from Nestle and Danone indicate that major manufacturers plan to keep up the pace on nutrition research and innovation in the economic downturn. Read more
China: Why so many Chinese products are born to be badThe recent scandals about poisoned baby milk, contaminated pet food and dangerous toys from China have raised questions about manufacturing standards in the country that has become factory to the world.
In China’s defense, it was probably inevitable that as production grew so would the problems associated with it, at least in the short term. Similarly, it could be argued that China is going through the same quality cycle that occurred during Japan’s post-war development or America’s manufacturing boom in the late 19th century—but in an environment with infinitely more scrutiny. Read more
US: Food safety reform: not a century too soonOn a summer’s day in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt pushed through new food safety regulation. The Food and Drugs Act passed that day over 100 years ago was the last time the US food safety system was modernised.
Fast-forward to 2009 and, unsurprisingly, everyone is crying out for its reform – Republicans, Democrats, consumers and industry alike – as well as the beleaguered Food and Drug Administration itself. And recent events could be conspiring to bring that reform closer. Read more
Food Marketing Stuff
US: Return of the doughnut eatersWith all the fuss about carbs and obesity in recent years, Dunkin' Donuts has been downplaying its namesake product. But no more. As the economy collapsed into chaos last year, the restaurant chain discovered that previously carb-conscious consumers were drifting back to doughnuts as comfort food. Since then, Dunkin Donuts has launched aggressive new campaigns targeting that fried-dough-craving demographic. And its latest -- and largest -- online donut promotion has been a wild success. Read more
UK: Sunny D admits it made a mistake with artificial ingredientsSunny D was originally launched in 1998 in the UK, but despite large sales it was hit with criticism from some consumer groups because of its use of additives. Sales plummeted. Now it has been reinvented, and the launch ad campaign has adopted an interesting approach. Read more
How to maintain a brand in the electronic eraIn the Internet age, consumers have more control over your message than ever. Here's how to take it back.
Kern Lewis writes in Forbes.com: "In the Digital Age, derelicts suffer a death by a thousand emails, blog posts and now the dreaded Twitter 'tweets'. The barrage comes hard and fast: It is infinitely easier to lodge a complaint on a Web site than to wrangle on the phone with a customer service rep — if one even exists. The happy flipside: You can act on that feedback just as hard and fast." Read more
Food Activism: PETA parodies Got Milk campaign
In light of two scientific studies that link milk consumption to autism in children, American food activist group, PETA, will display a new billboard that parodies America's ubiquitous "Got milk" ads.
Bob's Beat: Saying it as he sees it: the salt attack
I wish our food industry could magically grow 'cojones' and step up to fight this reckless assault against salt. When the chumps at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) can turn our industry upside-down and coerce politicians into meekly following their lead by turning wonderful nutrients, like salt, into dark and deadly enemies of health and wellness, I wonder: where is the fight in the food industry? Where it usually is when activists and politicians bark and yap — hiding under the bed.
Bob Messenger is a foremost analyst and critic of the US food industry. See www.morningcup.net
Health & Nutrition
Too much cola 'leads to muscle and heart problems'New research from the University of Ioannina, Greece, suggests that excessive cola consumption can lead to several ailments as well as hypokalaemia, in which blood potassium levels fall, causing an adverse effect on vital muscle functions. Symptoms can range from mild weakness to profound paralysis. Read more
Glutamine supplements may treat stomach ulcersA new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the amino acid glutamine, found in many foods as well as in dietary supplements, may offset gastric damage caused by H. pylori infection and possibly be an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of stomach ulcers.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid naturally found in certain foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine—the biologically active isomer of glutamine—is widely used as a dietary supplement by body builders to increase muscle mass. Read more
What's wrong with orange juice? Plenty, says authorThat glass of sunshine sitting on the breakfast table isn't as pure and simple as you think it is, according to an exposé of the orange juice industry. In her new book Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice, author Alissa Hamilton examines the "rift that exists between the reality of processed orange juice and retail rhetoric." Read more
Diet vs exercise obesity debate continuesThe majority of American parents believe that exercise is more important than diet to combat childhood obesity, according to new research from Mintel, despite recent evidence to the contrary. Read more
The new sports supplement: cereal and milkExercise physiologist Lynne Kammer, from The University of Texas at Austin, led a group of researchers who investigated the post-exercise physiological effects of the foods .....
"Our goal was to compare whole grain cereal plus milk - which are ordinary foods - and sports drinks, after moderate exercise," said Kammer. "We wanted to understand their relative effects on glycogen repletion and muscle protein synthesis for the average individual. We found that glycogen repletion, or the replenishment of immediate muscle fuel, was just as good after whole grain cereal consumption and that some aspects of protein synthesis were actually better." Read more
New Product News & Development
US: Milkshakes with the shake of a handMolliCoolz has unveiled Shakers, a refreshing treat that combines ice cream technology, milk and a vigorous shake of a hand to produce the perfect milkshake. Shakers, says the company, are distributed as single-serving containers filled with pelletised ice cream beads frozen through the aid of liquid nitrogen technology and specially formulated to soften and mix with milk, producing a consistent and convenient milkshake experience. [No link]
SA: Moir's stirs up a swirl of nostalgia with new dessertsWorking the trend for things ancient, traditional and authentic, Moir’s has launched two new retro-inspired ranges: Exotic Jellies and the Heritage Range of instant puddings. Read more
SA: Busy period of NPD at I&JI&J has recently expanded both its fish fingers and burger ranges. Read more here and here.
INNOVA: Natural beverages focus reaches carbonatesThis trend has been particularly apparent in the US carbonates market, where Innova Market Insights has recorded interest not only in the use of all natural flavours, but also in a return to the use of natural sugar rather than artificial sweeteners or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).
The natural trend in beverages appears to be continuing unabated, with the Innova Database www.innovadatabase.com recording that over 11% of global soft drinks launches over the April 2008 to March 2009 period were positioned on a ‘natural’ platform, equivalent to over 1,000 products. While activity is dominated by bottled water and fruit drinks, both of which have the benefit of an inherently natural image, perhaps of most interest is the rising level of interest in natural carbonates, which is moving away from more specialist products and into the realms of the brand leaders. Read more
Artificial sweeteners market to changeLawsuits and new products are indicators that the tight-knit, closed-lipped sugar-free/low calorie/artificial sweetener industry will be in for a spell of turmoil. "Patents for products and processes usually control competition for a limited number of years following introduction and approval of new sweeteners," says Elaine Lipson, author of the Packaged Facts report. "Market forces include the shifting costs of competing sweeteners, the introduction of new sweeteners, emerging information about health concerns such as diabetes and obesity, and shifting consumer preferences and perceptions of safety." Read more
Economic blues fuel health and wellness platformA Euromonitor International report has highlighted the rising importance of prevention of disease and unwellness as opposed to treatment in the minds of large swathes of consumers. The researcher noted health and wellness (H&W) foods and beverages grew by 64% between 2002-2007, compared with 45% for total packaged food and 57% for hot drinks. Read more
Nutraceuticals market looks healthy despite downturnConsumers looking to adopt healthier lifestyles, prevent illness or manage their weight are increasingly turning to the nutraceuticals - or health ingredients - market. The sector has huge potential, and despite the global economic downturn and its significant impact on consumer spending, there still appears to be cause for optimism. Read more
Study: The three stages of trading downAt this point, no one needs reminding that the recession has changed the way people shop. But a new study from the Food Marketing Institute paints an intriguing picture of the stages consumers go through as they continue to cut back.
And while the stages are not exactly denial, anger, and acceptance, they do seem to follow a pattern. In Stage One, shoppers move to save money by changing their out-of-home patterns -- switching from fine dining to fast food, and then to supermarket meal solutions in place of restaurant meals. . . Read more
Coping with consumers' new-found frugalityIf today's frugality and shrinking markets are the new normal, are marketers ready for it? In the US, consumers make up 70% of GDP, and that figure has contracted 5% since the start of the recession. Yet it's not the image in our rearview mirror that's worrisome; it's the prospect of permanent consumer retrenching ... The economy is shrinking to levels that reflect a more cautious and vastly more frugal consumer. Read more
Food Science & Ingredients Stuff
UK: Salmonella's sweet tooth predicts its downfall
For the first time UK scientists have shown what the food poisoning bug Salmonella feeds on to survive as it causes infection: glucose. Their discovery of Salmonella’s weakness for sugar could provide a new way to vaccinate against it. The discovery could also lead to vaccine strains to protect against other disease-causing bacteria, including superbugs.
DD Williamson celebrates 10th anniversary of its Swaziland plant
DD Williamson has celebrated the 10th Anniversary in Swaziland. In 1999, DD Williamson began producing caramel colour in Swaziland to supply customers in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Australia. A decade later, the Swaziland plant has become both the largest caramel colour manufacturer on the continent and an intergral part of the company's global operations.
New test distinguishes impure honey from the real thing
Researchers have developed of a simple test for distinguishing 100% natural honeys from adulterated or impure versions that they say are increasingly being foisted off on consumers. Read more
Astronauts’ urine-to-water test successful
The three crew members of the International Space Station raised plastic pouches in a toast of their first taste of urine that had been recycled into drinkable water. “The taste is great,” said Michael Barratt, a flight engineer.