John West lands top sustainability award

Solidifying its position as Australia’s most sustainable tuna brand, Simplot Australia owned John West, was awarded the highest accolade at the 2016 Banksia Sustainability Awards, in Sydney recently.

John West Australia, the only national supermarket brand to be recognised in the awards this year, won the Communication for Change Award, followed by the prestigious 2016 Banksia Gold Award, which reflects the ‘Best of the Best’ across the categories.

Earlier this year, alongside the WWF-Australia (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a world leading brand commitment was made, to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the canned tuna industry in Australia, thanks to Pacifical, supplied by the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, controlled by the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement).

The alliance with WWF, MSC and Pacifical and Simplot’s supplier network, is the result of years of the entities working together to find a way to overhaul John West’s supply standards within Australia, moving towards a more sustainable future for the world’s oceans.

Simplot Australia Managing Director, Terry O’Brien, said, “We feel privileged to have been awarded such an accolade in Australian sustainability. The category shift has been years of work alongside our partners, to truly lead the industry, consumers and the environment, towards a more positive future. We look forward to continuing the work, as we move into the next phase of ensuring a positive future for our oceans.”

The Banksia Awards is the longest running and most prestigious acknowledgement of commitment to sustainability in Australia. They recognise Australian individuals, communities, businesses and government for their innovation, achievement and commitment to sustainability.

NZ chefs join forces to help launch sustainable seafood app

Forest & Bird is preparing to release a consumer guide to sustainable New Zealand seafood this Thursday, with the support of a number of that nation’s cooking personalities.

The Best Fish Guide is a mobile app which uses a traffic light system to guide consumers in their purchasing decisions for 87 different fish species.

“I believe the entire culinary community can play an important part in safeguarding the future of our oceans – by raising awareness of the vulnerability of many of our seafoods, helping people make ocean-friendly choices and sharing ideas about how to cook lesser-known species,” commented Chef and publisher Annabel Langbein who has added her voice and a custom recipe to the guide.

The guide is built on comprehensive, independent research, and will show which seafood species are caught most sustainably, and which are having the worst impact on the environment.

“New Zealanders have been shocked this year by revelations of illegal and destructive fishing practices, so we’re really pleased to offer a simple, accurate guide that cuts through the talk and lets consumers make a genuine difference for our ocean,” said Kevin Hackwell, Forest & Bird Campaigns Manager.

“Only half of 1% of our marine environment is protected in no-take reserves. On land, 30% of the environment has conservation status and this should be the same for the sea. Thirty percent of our marine space needs to be protected in no-take marine reserves.

“In the meantime, consumers can use their purchasing power to send a message to retailers and the fishing industry that they want sustainably fished seafood.”

 

Feed the world and save the environment

A James Cook University scientist has come up with a novel approach to feed the world’s growing population and look after the environment at the same time.

JCU’s Professor Iain Gordon is the lead author of a new book outlining how agriculture and the environment can benefit each other.

He said the need is pressing. “Feeding the world’s growing human population is increasingly challenging, especially as more people adopt a western diet and lifestyle.

“It’s thought that meeting the food needs of nine billion people in the future will require over 120 million hectares of land being converted to cropland in developing countries alone.”

Professor Gordon said that means things have to change.

“We’ll end up with lose-lose if we continue on as we are. Nature will be relegated to a small percentage of protected areas. Agriculture will have to be highly intensified relying on large amounts of inputs of fertiliser, herbicides, pesticides and water, with significant negative impacts on nature.”

He said there are substantial political barriers to change, with environment a lower priority than agriculture within all levels of government, but alternate ways of operating are available.

“We could, as one example, provide habitats for pollinators on agricultural land. We’d avoid the situation they have in China where, because of the large amounts of pesticides used, much of the fruit grown in that country now relies on people hand-pollinating the trees. That’s a massive labour investment when nature could do the job for free.”

Professor Gordon said what the book proposes is different from ‘nature-friendly farming’ where farmers instigate practices such as setting aside farming land for biodiversity.

“Nature-friendly farming is about supporting biodiversity on agricultural land without necessarily focusing on the potential benefits that biodiversity can play in supporting agriculture. The focus has been on protecting one from the impacts of the other. We’re arguing now that nature and agriculture can, and should, work together and ultimately benefit from one another.”

The book, Food Production and Nature Conservation, will be launched on November 22.

The key to future food supply is sitting on our cities’ doorsteps

Our food systems are under increasing pressure from growing populations, diminishing resources and climate change. But, in a new report, we argue that city foodbowls – the agricultural land surrounding our cities – could supply more secure and sustainable food.

The final report of our Foodprint Melbourne project outlines a vision for “resilient city foodbowls” that can harness city waste to produce food, reduce dependence on distant sources of food and act as a buffer against increasing volatility in global food supplies.

But to do so we need to start planning now. Food is a basic human need – along with water, housing and transport – but it hasn’t been high on the planning agenda for Australia’s cities.

Growing food, and jobs

Australia’s city foodbowls are an important part of the nation’s food supply, particularly for fresh vegetables.

Melbourne’s foodbowl produces almost half of the vegetables grown in Victoria, and has the capacity to meet around 82% of the city’s vegetable needs.

Nationally, around 47% of highly perishable vegetables (such as lettuce, tomatoes and mushrooms) are produced in the foodbowls of the major state capitals, as well as eggs, chicken and perishable fruits such as berries.

New analysis by Deloitte Access Economics has shown that Melbourne’s foodbowl contributes A$2.45 billion each year to the regional economy and around 21,000 fulltime-equivalent jobs. The largest contributors (to the economy and to jobs) in Melbourne’s foodbowl are the fruit and vegetable industries.

Other research estimates that agriculture in Sydney’s foodbowl contributes around A$1 billion to the regional economy. The flow-on effects through the regional economy are estimated to be considerably higher.

City foodbowls at risk

City foodbowls are increasingly at risk. Our project has previously highlighted risks from urban sprawl, climate change, water scarcity and high levels of food waste.

Melbourne’s foodbowl currently supplies 41% of the city’s total food needs. But growing population and less land means this could fall to 18% by 2050.

Australia’s other city foodbowls face similar pressures. For example, between 2000 and 2005, Brisbane’s land available for vegetable crops reduced by 28%, and Sydney may lose 90% of its vegetable-growing land by 2031 if its current growth rate continues.

These losses can be minimised by setting strong limits on urban sprawl, using existing residential areas (infill) and encouraging higher-density living.

However, accommodating a future Melbourne population of 7 million (even at much higher density) will still likely mean we lose some farmland. The Deloitte modelling estimated this will lead to a loss of agricultural output from Melbourne’s foodbowl of between A$32 million and A$111 million each year.

Protecting our food supply

Australia’s city foodbowls could play a vital role in a more sustainable and resilient food supply. If we look after our foodbowls, these areas will strengthen cities against the disruptions in food supplies that are likely to become more common thanks to climate change.

The New Urban Agenda adopted in October 2016 at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, or Habitat III, emphasises the need for cities to “strengthen food system planning”. It recognises that dependence on distant sources of food and other resources can create sustainability challenges and vulnerabilities to supply disruptions.

Resilient city food systems will need to draw on food from multiple sources – global, national and local – to be able to withstand and recover from supply disruptions due to chronic stresses, such as drought, and acute shocks, such as storms and floods.

Our final report presents a vision of a resilient city foodbowl for Melbourne.

In this future vision, highly perishable foods continue to grow close to the city. City waste streams are harnessed to counter decreasing supplies of water and conventional fertilisers, and increased investment in delivery of recycled water creates “drought-proof” areas of food production close to city water treatment plants.

Eco-Innovation Lab, Author provided

If Australia’s cities are to retain their foodbowls as they grow, food will need to become a central focus of city planning. This is likely to require new policy approaches focused on “food system planning” that addresses land use and other issues, such as water availability.

We also need to strengthen local and regional food systems by finding innovative ways to link city fringe farmers and urban consumers – such as food hubs. This will create more diverse and resilient supply chains.

The Conversation

Rachel Carey, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne; Jennifer Sheridan, Researcher in sustainable food systems, University of Melbourne, and Kirsten Larsen, Manager, Food Systems Research and Partnerships, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

What bulk packaging system should you choose?

When it comes to choosing a bulk packaging system, every business has its own unique needs. There are different types of bulk packaging systems available on the market, and each machine comes with its own uses and advantages.

Some focus more on outer packaging functions such as forming, cleaning, and sealing. Others focus more on the interior of the package through filling, wrapping, and creative packaging solutions. What you’ll need depends on the type of items you’ll be packaging and the type of packaging you’ll be using, as well as your budget.

Form, fill and seal machines (FFS)

These machines are commonly used for food packaging, although they can also be used for other items including liquids and solids. The FFS machine creates a bag from a flat roll of film, while simultaneously filling the bag with the product and sealing the bag once it’s full. The advantages of FFS machines are that they can operate at a high speed and they’re ideal for running the same product continuously.

The cost of the film is cheaper than purchasing pre-made bags, so you will save on operating costs. However, changing the film is time-consuming, and if the bag is dropped it will often break.

Vertical form, fill and seal machines (VFFS)

VFFS machines fill each bag before heat sealing it, labelling it with a time stamp, and auto cutting the bag. Most VFFS machines can operate at about one finished bag per second, so they are ideal for businesses with high output requirements.

They can be used for small individual packages (like sachets) or for larger bags, and they can package a wide variety of materials like seeds, powders, liquids. VFFS machines are suitable for bagging oats, hay, mulch, fertilisers and more.

Bale packaging machines

Bale packaging machines use hydraulic cylinders to compress products to a quarter of their original size. This allows you to store more products, maximise your available space, and save on packing and transportation costs. This type of bulk packaging system is normally used for cereals, rags, sawdust, humus, straw, hay and fodder.

Valve bag fillers

These machines are consistent, accurate, and simple to install and adjust. Valve bag fillers use a two-stage filling system. The majority of product is filled at maximum rate, and then just before the bag reaches its target, the machine reduces the fill rate to a dribble feed.

This way, the machine can stop filling more accurately when the bag reaches its target weight.

Valve bag fillers are relatively small machines, so they don’t take up a lot of floor space. They’re suitable for packaging dry materials, powders and granular products such as soil, mulch, minerals, grains or concrete mix.

Pre-made bags or open mouth baggers

These systems are extremely flexible. They are compatible with paper bags or woven bags, heat sealers, inner liners, stitched outer bags, fold overs and taped seals.

They offer various feeding methods including gravity feeding, auger feeding, and vibratory feeding, providing you with the ability to package unusual products.

You can add dust extraction systems or bag compression functions depending on your business needs. Poly woven bags are, on average, more robust than FFS bags, but your cost per bag will be higher. Open mouth baggers also tend to be slower than FFS systems.

Visit www.accupak.com.au to find out more.

Tetra Pak announces new US$110 million Vietnam factory

Bolstered by rapid consumption growth and increasing customer needs in the Asia Pacific region, leading food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak today announced their US$110 million investment in a state-of-the-art regional manufacturing facility near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to serve customers across the region.

The move is prompted by increasing consumption volumes, with the 2016 total packed liquid dairy and fruit-based beverages intake at 70 billion litres across ASEAN, South Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Additionally, over the next three years, these markets are likely to grow at a healthy 5.6 per cent per annum, with products packed in Tetra Pak cartons projected to grow at a much faster rate as compared to other packaging formats such as glass bottles and cans.

“Tetra Pak has been present in the region for decades, with our first factory set up in Gotemba, Japan in 1971,” said Michael Zacka, Regional Vice President, Tetra Pak South Asia, East Asia and Oceania.

“Over the years, we have seen substantial growth of our products, driven by a wide portfolio and a number of innovations that we have introduced in the market. Hence our investment in a new plant, which will be our fourth Packaging Material factory in the region, providing us with expansive coverage and scale.

This decision is a strong reflection of our commitment to the region and our firm belief in its future potential.”

The greenfield factory, expected to begin operations in Q1 2019, will have an expandable production capacity of approximately 20 Billion packs per annum, across a variety of packaging formats, including the popular Tetra Brik Aseptic and Tetra Fino Aseptic.

It will primarily serve customers based in ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand. With a strong focus on sustainability, the site will adopt a host of global best practices to minimise the environmental footprint, including the utilisation of a high proportion of renewable energy sources.

This investment will complement Tetra Pak’s three long-standing production facilities in Singapore, India and Japan, building on the wealth of experience built up throughout the company’s operation in the region.

Together, the factories will enable the company to offer more innovations, efficiency and customer service to meet the rapid growth in Asia.

“We are committed to investing in Australia and New Zealand’s food export business to help our customers tap into the huge opportunities opening up both at home and in the wider region. Our investment in this manufacturing facility means we will be able service our ASEAN markets more efficiently, offering greater innovation, enhanced quality, efficiency and flexibility for producers.” said Craig Salkeld, Managing Director for Oceania, Tetra Pak.

Not everyone loves wheat – so why not remove the bad bits

Wheat is everywhere. It’s in bread, pasta, pastries, biscuits, pizza, batter, cereals, soups, sauces, instant drinks, salad dressing, processed meats and sweets, to name but a few.

The western diet is so infatuated with wheat that most of us eat a kilo or more a week. So why do we love it?

It’s simple. It provides the texture of our pasta, the spring in our bread, the thickening in our soups and sauces, and the crunch in our batter and pastries.

But what some of us crave, others look to avoid. They study ingredients on packaging and travel across town to find processed foods that don’t contain wheat. While they may enjoy the texture, spring, thickness and crunch, they don’t feel well after they eat wheat.

So what’s the problem?

An intolerance

Some have a sensitivity to a small set of wheat proteins called gluten. For a subset of people their reaction is so extreme it’s defined as coeliac disease.

But most people who avoid wheat are not intolerant to gluten but rather to some other substance in wheat. Scientists agree this is likely to be other proteins found in the wheat grain, but it is typically unknown what the culprit is in each case.

This is a frustrating mystery for wheat sensitivity sufferers which hangs over their café breakfasts, luncheons with friends and social dinner parties.

The full set of proteins that make up wheat grains has only recently been revealed, with details published last month in The Plant Journal. These proteins make up the wheat proteome and have been exhaustively mapped out for the first time in wheat by research conducted here in Australia.

With this discovery we now know that, beyond gluten, thousands of different proteins can be found in wheat grain. Some of them we didn’t even know existed before this research was undertaken.

We know when they are made during grain development and we know if they are also found in other parts of the wheat plant such as the leaves, stems and roots. Each of these long wheat grain proteins are digested in our gut to become short peptides.

That means there are hundreds of thousands of different peptides that can be derived from wheat. Most are harmless and good nutrition but for some people, a set of them will make us unwell.

Single out the proteins

Only now that this mapping of the wheat proteome has been completed can we measure each protein separately and see how abundant they are in different varieties of wheat.

This information enables scientists to use mass spectrometers to sift through proteins and peptides by subtle differences in their weight – a difference that can be smaller than the mass as a proton.

We can literally dial up the masses of a particular set of peptides and set the mass spectrometer to work measuring them. The technology is at the cutting edge of new blood tests for disease. It can now be applied to make new measures in wheat.

This means we have a remarkable new opportunity to see wheat in a novel way – as a complex set of proteins that can work for us, or against us.

This breakthrough not only shows us the list of proteins in grain. When paired with wheat genome data (information about the complete set of genes in wheat) it tells us for the first time which of the 100,000 different wheat genes are responsible for making each of the proteins.

Armed with this new information, things really can change. We will ultimately be able to determine which proteins in wheat are causing people to feel unwell. We will then be able to breed wheat varieties that contain less or none of the proteins responsible.

These kinds of selective changes in wheat protein content don’t need to stop at aiding those intolerant to today’s wheat. They can enable wheat varieties to be tailored to make wheats that are better for baking or brewing or thickening.

They can even help us to breed wheat that is better able to survive in harsh environments, to adapt to changes in climates and is better suited to more intensive farming.

This is important because wheat is not just an integral part of the western diet. It is also part of an international plan to raise crop yields to ensure we have food for the estimated 8.5 billion people across the world by 2030.

Safe, benign, abundant, cheap, high quality wheats with protein contents ready for many different applications are a key part of food security and a fairer future.

 

From The Coversation

Rosella flies off with new branding

Rosella is set to unveil a new logo this November, which the company claims will be the most dramatic change in the company’s visual identity for 20 years.

According to Senior Brand Manager, Kristine Dalton, “The most immediate change is the rosella bird itself. We have revisited the grassroots of our original logo whilst preserving the distinctive, native Eastern rosella and have given it flight to represent the company continuing to keep pace with modern Australian eating.”

“We believe the change will be welcomed. The new design will appeal to a new generation of Australian families by capturing the essence of our Australian Spirit, our vibrancy, energy and our free spirit.”

Designed by Melbourne Design House Disegno, the logo represents the company’s colourful history in a modern and evolving style.

“As an organisation so engrained in Australian culture, we are excited for this change to continue our longstanding relationship between the Rosella brand and customers,” concluded Dalton.

The new logo will first appear on the 600ml sauce bottle, on shelves nationally in all Coles, Woolworths and Independents late November.

“Clean Supreme” leads top trends for 2017

Growing calls for transparency throughout the supply chain are taking clean & clear label to a new and supreme level. This comes as the inherent benefits of plant-based products are being active marketed to a more health conscious consumers. “Clean Supreme” and “Disruptive Green” lead Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends list for 2017.

“Interest in naturalness and clean label continues to feature strongly,” according to Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “It has become somewhat of a running theme through our trends forecasts in recent years. In 2008, ‘Go Natural’ led our trends list, and since then the theme has featured each year in different forms, such as ‘Processed is Out’ in 2011, ‘From Clean to Clear Label’ in 2015 and ‘Organic Growth for Clear Label’ in 2016. This year, clean & clear is a theme weaving throughout the entire list, but is specifically the case for trend #1 (‘Clean Supreme’).”

Innova Market Insights has revealed its top trends likely to impact the food industry in 2017 from its ongoing analysis of key global developments in food and drinks launch activity worldwide.

The top five trends for 2017 are:

  1. Clean Supreme: The rules have been rewritten and clean and clear label is the new global standard. The demand for total transparency now incorporates the entire supply chain, as a clean label positioning becomes more holistic. Trending clean supply chain claims include “environmentally friendly,” which has shown a CAGR growth of +72% from 2011-2015 and “animal welfare,” which has grown at +45% per year during this period.
  2. Disruptive Green: As plant-based milks, meat alternatives and vegan offerings have rapidly moved into the mainstream, consumers are looking for innovative options to take the inherent benefits of plants into their daily lives. Even dairy companies are now leveraging the functional and technical benefits of plants in new product development, driving more variety and excitement into their category. Innova Market Insights has reported CAGR of +63% for new product launches with a plant-based claim from 2011-2015.
  3. Sweeter Balance: Sugar is under pressure, although it remains the key ingredient delivering the sweetness and great taste that consumers are looking for. The quest to combine taste and health is driving NPD, as the industry faces the challenge of balancing public demand to reduce added sugars and create indulgent experiences, while at the same time presenting clean label products.
  4. Kitchen Symphony: Italian Lasagna is no longer enough – we want Melanzane Aubergine Al Forno! The connected world has led consumers of all ages to become more knowledgeable of other cultures. As a result, there is growing demand for greater choice and higher levels of authenticity in ethnic cuisines. At the same time, pride in local and regional foods is also seeing an upsurge in some countries, with a resulting rise in availability and authenticity of local cuisine.
  5. Body in Tune: Consumers are increasingly personalizing their own nutrition intake, making food choices based around what they think will make them feel better. They are also experimenting with free from products and specific diets like paleo and low FODMAP. At the same time, consumers continue to increase their intake of foods and beverages with ingredients that they consider to be healthy, like protein and probiotics.

The other trends identified by Innova Market Insights are Plain Sophistication, Encapsulating Moments, Beyond Pester Power,Fuzzy Borders, and Deeds of Change

All of the top ten trends will be discussed in a live webinar to be broadcast on November 22.

 

 

 

General Mills announces major restructure & closure of Victorian facility

General Mills has today announced that it will be restructuring its Australian operations.

Part of this restructure will mean the closure of General Mills’ manufacturing facility in Mount Waverley, Victoria along with the consolidation of its Australian manufacturing activity into an expanded production facility in Rooty Hill, New South Wales.

The closure of the Mount Waverley facility will occur between April and June 2018.

All staff in both locations have been informed of the closure. General Mills will be working to re-deploy and relocate employees to Rooty Hill as appropriate, but it is likely that most roles from Mount Waverley will become redundant.

The difficult decision to close the Mount Waverley facility, which makes pasta, sauce and ready-to-eat meals, was taken to simplify General Mills’ supply chain and secure the future growth of the business, according to a company press release.

Coca-Cola launches Aussie summer ‘sweat smasher’ with sports stars

Coca-Cola  has announced details of Powerade’s new Australian Summer campaign ‘Smash the Sweat’.

The campaign is designed to encourage consumers to smash the sticky, humid conditions associated with the season through the launch of limited edition Powerade sport-themed ‘shrink packs’ aimed at generating cut-through during the key summer period.

The strategy, said the company, revolves around tapping into the Aussie’s love of sports through collectable summer sports-themed packaging, featuring imagery from a range of sports including rugby, cricket, basketball, tennis, soccer and athletics.

The signature packs are signed by sporting legends and Powerade Ambassadors Greg Inglis, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Bogut.

Appearing from early November, the limited edition packs will be promoted in-store at point-of-sale and supported on social media channels in the build up to summer.

As the summer sport season kicks off, the campaign will be boosted through outdoor media calling on consumers to ‘Smash the Sweat’.

Sarah Illy, Brand Activation Manager, Powerade, said: “We all love an Aussie summer, but with the hot, sticky conditions it becomes even more important to stay hydrated. So this summer we are challenging people to ‘Smash the Sweat’. Being a sports-obsessed nation, we decided to tap into that trend through our collectable sport-themed packs to encourage people to be active and stay hydrated.”

“The limited edition bottles have been inspired by Australian sporting legends with the objective of keeping Powerade ION4 top of mind for rehydration needs. Powerade ION4… is scientifically formulated to help replace four of the electrolytes lost in sweat and is an ideal way to ‘Smash the Sweat’ this summer,” said Illy.

 

UN calls for sustainable food systems, improved global nutrition

Opening its 43rd plenary session in Rome today in the wake of major global agreements on sustainable development and climate change, the main United Nations body focused on food security and nutrition, called for an urgent transformation of the world’s food system and nutrition to eradicate all forms of extreme poverty, hunger, and malnutrition by 2030.

In her opening remarks, Amira Gornass, the Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), stressed the importance of establishing a “sustainable food systems is in essence working to achieve the food security and nutrition-related targets of the 2030 Agenda.”

According to José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who also addressed the meeting, “there is a clear failure of food systems to deliver healthy diets to people,” as more than half of the world population suffers from one or more forms of malnutrition, including hunger, micronutrient deficiency and obesity.

As such, Mr. Graziano da Silva encouraged people to turn to CFS for answers, stating, however, that efforts to tackle nutrition and food systems will require extended partnership, including action from diverse stakeholders, as noted by Elisabeth Rasmusson, the Assistant Executive Director of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP).

“We must renew our efforts to build more sustainable food systems, which are better able to withstand changing weather patterns and extreme events and respond to nutritional needs — building resilience into our food systems, mitigating the risks, and ensuring we are more prepared for climate shocks in the future,” she added.

The key goals of the food system transformation must be achieved in “an increasingly adverse context where population growth, a shrinking resource base, climate change and urbanization will challenge our ability to find new ways of working and interacting,” added Mr. Graziano da Silva.

In addition, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze stressed the urgency of the issue by saying: “We need to do more, do it better, faster and together […] to transform rural areas into places where people can live fulfilling lives, and plan for a bright future; where every one of the world’s three billion rural people is able to adapt to climate change; and were each day starts and ends with access to food that is nutritious and plentiful.”

In addition to acting as the UN system’s guiding body for food security and nutrition debates, CFS is structured to allow participants from civil society, the private sector, other UN agencies and international financial institutions, research bodies and other non-state actors a voice in policy decisions. This plenary, the 43rd, has set a record with more than 1,400 registered participants, according to FAO.

Delegates will also endorse two sets of policy recommendations, one regarding the role of livestock in sustainable agricultural development and another regarding the importance of connecting smallholders to markets.

Image: FAO/Oliver Bunic

Global water crisis a concern for food and drinks makers

Market research company Euromonitor International’s white paper “Sustainability and the New Normal for Natural Resources” has revealed that reliable access to natural resources is of critical importance to governments, businesses and consumers.

According to the whitepaper, in 2015, the World Economic Forum mentioned water crisis as the number one long-term global threat.

Still underestimated by many businesses, water risk is a very serious and complex issue which threatens wildlife, human access to clean water and continuation of business through shortage, flooding and pollution.

A well-managed water strategy, conversely, can help build a resilient and innovative business and a strong ethical brand image.

“Water stress and poor water stewardship can have a sizeable impact on profit and a huge impact on businesses’ reputation and operations.

The most obviously affected sector is the food and drinks industry, where water is a key input.

But many other sectors are also at risk, including apparel, energy and beauty and personal care,” says Sarah Boumphrey, Global Lead of Economies and Consumers at Euromonitor International.

The whitepaper also reveals that a large amount of packaged food companies’ growth is increasingly reliant on water-stressed regions with India having the largest area harvested for cereals in 2015.

It also mentioned that soft drinks and beer record the highest absolute volume of water consumption and are highly vulnerable to water risk.

The prediction is that by 2020, 50 per cent of the global laundry detergents market by volume will be accounted for, by water-stressed countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and the US.

Tomra acquires Compac for A$65m

Norway’s Tomra Systems has agreed to a buyout deal of NZ$70m (A$65m) for Kiwi fruit sorting company Compac Holdings.

The 100 per cent acquisition of the Auckland based packhouse automation systems maker by Tomra will see it expand extend its global operations.

The deal is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

“Market forces have driven double-digit growth at Compac over recent years, and we have rapidly become a global business from humble New Zealand roots,” Compac chief executive Mike Riley said.

He also added that the merger will see Compac being able to meet the increasing demands for their products and services in a more “scalable and operationally efficient manner”. Executive vice president and head of Tomra sorting Volker Rehrmann explained,

“Compac serves complimentary food sorting markets, which is a very welcome addition to the Tomra sorting food business. We see our customers’ needs evolving and with our complementary solutions and an increased ability to leverage our combined food sorting technologies, we are ready to meet future customer needs.”

Despite the acquisition, Compac’s leadership will stay in place in the new structure, operating as a standalone entity while Tomra will still continue to offer its existing product portfolio.

Tomra has also said it will continue to invest in Compac’s R&D activities as the Norwegian group’s “centre of excellence for lane sorting” worldwide.

Australian consumers demanding sustainably sourced seafood claims new research

Some 75 per cent of Australian seafood consumers believe in order to save the ocean, we have to consume fish and seafood only from sustainable sources, making it a top priority, reveals the Marine Stewardship Council’s annual report and independent research launched today.

This represents a significant shift in consumption habits as Australian seafood shoppers say they value sustainability over price, with 51 per cent willing to pay more for sustainably certified seafood, according to the report.

The new consumer data is the largest ever global analysis of attitudes to seafood consumption and was carried out by independent GlobeScan, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“This research released in conjunction with MSC’s latest annual report shows Australian consumers are voting with their wallets to future-proof our oceans by opting for sustainably certified seafood.”

“This is not just a passing trend, it’s an evolution strongly driven by consumer demand that demonstrates greater engagement on traceability and consideration towards our food sources”, said Anne Gabriel, Oceania Program Director, MSC.

“With four out of five households (85 per cent) of Australians purchasing seafood on a regular basis, there’s an opportunity for consumers to make a tangible difference by choosing to source sustainable seafood.” In fact, noted Ms. Gabriel,

“Some 69 per cent of Australian seafood consumers state they want to know that the fish they buy can be traced back to known and trusted source.”

The consumer insights data also found that:

• A majority (54 per cent) of seafood consumers are likely to trust the source of the products if they are ecolabelled

• 71 per cent of Australians believe brands’ claims about sustainability need to be labelled by an independent org.

• Globally, 66 per cent of respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, which is up from 55 per cent in 2014 and 50 per cent in 2013 (Nielsen’s The Sustainability Imperative, October 2015)

• 36 per cent of Australians say they are purchasing more ecolabelled seafood than a year ago

These figures support findings of the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, which showed that over the previous year, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew by more than 4 per cent globally, while those without grew less than 1 per cent.

A full copy of the report can be found here

Trimming the excess: how cutting down on junk food could help save the environment

Looking for a new reason to cut down on “junk” food? Besides the obvious health-related benefits, I showed in a recent study that discretionary or junk foods make up a significant proportion of food-related environmental impacts.

For an average Australian household, my research found that discretionary food contribute 33-39% of diet-related water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and land use.

Why is this a problem? In a warming world with a growing population and dwindling resources, we can no longer afford discretionary consumption that harms both our own and the planet’s health.

Although the topic of sustainable diets is becoming more popular, the debate and proposed policies have not sufficiently questioned the proliferation of junk food products that use scarce resources to produce empty calories.

Sustainable and healthy

The global food system accounts for around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, 70% of water use and 38% of land use. We urgently need to meet climate targets and ensure food security. But it is increasingly recognised that making agriculture more efficient (to produce more food while using less resources) will not be enough. More sustainable diets are therefore essential.

National dietary guidelines are designed to help us eat more healthily. Recent iterations in Brazil, Sweden and the Netherlands also stress the importance of health and sustainability.

Animal-derived foods generally have bigger total environmental footprints than plant foods. This is because of the significant amounts of land, water and feed required by livestock and the methane released by ruminants.

Many recommendations to achieve healthy and sustainable diets have therefore justifiably focused on the need to reduce meat and animal-derived product consumption.

Diets such as the Mediterranean, rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes and wholegrains, seem to achieve the right balance between health and sustainability. A key characteristic of the traditional Mediterranean diet is the limited amount of discretionary food.

Enter junk foods

The Australian Dietary Guidelines describe discretionary foods as: “foods and drinks not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs, but that may add variety. Many of these are high in saturated fats, sugars, salt and/or alcohol.”

By contrast, non-discretionary foods are those belonging to the core food groups: fruit, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy and unprocessed meat.

We all know that discretionary foods are unhealthy, but how do different products compare in terms of environmental impact?

There is a serious absence of research quantifying the environmental impacts of these foods. We would expect that the more processing our food goes through, the greater its overall impact due to cumulative energy and other input requirements.

However, my research shows that it depends on a number of factors – an issue highlighted in other studies on the general environmental impacts of diets. Junk foods almost always use more energy, but land and water use vary between products. Work in this area is still evolving.

However, this variability should not get junk foods off the hook, especially given their contribution to obesity. The question becomes whether these foods are consumed in excess, or whether they have displaced core foods – as can be the case for poorer socioeconomic groups.

The average energy intake of most Australians is above that recommended for their age and activity levels. That means we have to eliminate excess energy consumption, and we could consider eating junk food as a form of food waste.

If less discretionary food is produced, this means either that more unprocessed ingredients are available in their more nutritious forms, or that less agricultural production is necessary. Both could reduce environmental impacts.

What can we do about it?

Well, it’s complicated. The solution should ultimately tackle the heart of the problem, which is why we overconsume these foods in the first place.

Encouraging dietary shifts away from junk foods is challenging because of their cheapness, taste and convenience. Discretionary foods are also aggressively promoted to consumers due to their high profitability.

This last point epitomises what is fundamentally wrong with our food system, and why it’s not supporting health and sustainability in the way it should. While carefully selected food taxes and subsidies, in addition to better labelling and restrictions on junk food advertising, can help reduce their consumption, these consumer-oriented measures are only part of the solution.

Food producers should ultimately be held responsible for the proliferation of cheap discretionary food. We need to encourage divestment away from unhealthy, unsustainable products through regulation and public pressure, following the example of measures to address climate change.

As the developing world continues to transition towards more “Westernised” diets, food consumption patterns are likely to become even more environmentally intensive.

To feed more people sustainably we need to trim off the excess by not only reducing the consumption of animal products, but also by fighting overconsumption of discretionary foods and the associated waste.

The Conversation

Michalis Hadjikakou, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Environmental Sustainability, UNSW Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

John West receives global sustainability award

John West Australia has been awarded the Best Engagement Campaign at the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Awards in London, a first by an Australian organisation.

Earlier this year, alongside the WWF-Australia (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a world leading brand commitment was made, to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the canned tuna industry in Australia, thanks to Pacifical, supplied by the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, controlled by the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement).

The alliance with WWF, MSC and Pacifical is the result of years of the entities working together to find a way to overhaul John West’s supply standards within Australia, moving towards a more sustainable future for the world’s oceans.

By engaging consumers with a captivating social and environmental message, and promoting pro- social behaviour through traditional and new media channels, John West Australia surpassed its competitors to win the prestigious accolade.

“We’re extremely proud to be the first Australian brand to win this international award, being recognised on a global scale is instrumental in making real change. We’ve worked closely with our partners over the past 4 years to make this category shift – it’s timely momentum as we move into the next phase in leading the industry,” said John West Marketer, Stephanie Dore-Smith.

 

Keeping Modern (Food) Manufacturing Secure

In the classic factory of the 1950s, security was simple. Managers strolled from their offices on a floor that towered over plant activity, closely observing whether shift crews below were doing what they were supposed to do.

Because employees knew the eyes of a supervisor may be upon them at any time, they were less inclined to cheat the system – such as slipping any of the company’s property or product into their pockets, or sabotaging a machine out of spite. And motives were, on the whole, aligned: what was good for the business was good for everyone involved.

Fast-forward six decades and it’s a different story. With advancements in information and communications technology, the manufacturing industry has undergone significant transformation.

Today, manufacturing employees are more likely to operate advanced technology from their computers and mobile devices, rather than undertake physical work. They are empowered to connect remotely, set their own hours and even self-determine how to effectively perform assigned duties.

As opposed to their factory counterparts of prior generations, their tools aren’t welding machines, circular saws and drills; they’re tablets, smartphones and thumb drives. They don’t follow instructions from an assembly book stocked on a shelf; all best practices/guidance are stored in files on a server.

But that’s also where an abundance of sensitive, proprietary data about customers is kept, as well as information about electronic payments to both suppliers and workers.

With the rapid rise of sophistication and autonomy, it’s clear that something important has been lost: the protective eyes on the floor. And this has security implications for both the insider threat and external cyber security threats.

The Insider Threat

Years ago, those eyes made it more difficult for a disgruntled crew member to surreptitiously slip a blueprint into his lunchbox.

Today, it’s much easier for the same worker – perhaps unhappy after years of stagnant career progression – to abruptly quit, transfer the entire R&D library onto a thumb drive and deliver the stolen information to a competitor.

Without proper monitoring and auditing controls in place, the current level of empowerment – which ultimately serves a positive, productive purpose for organisations – can be abused.

That’s not good for the enterprise, and it’s not good for employees. But it’s fairly unfeasible to “watch” over everything when there are so many employees now connecting to manufacturing systems both inside and outside a traditional factory environment. Toss in an expanding influx of contractors, partners and other non-staff enterprise users, and you invite additional risk.

Especially since many of these parties aren’t vetted to the same degree of scrutiny as full-time personnel. It’s worth noting here that not all security breaches are the result of a malicious insider.

Personnel or contractors may play the role of the unintentional insider where they can be ‘tricked’ into downloading malware and introducing this into the network.

Or they can lapse into sloppy habits, such as sending corporate materials to their home computers on vulnerable, private email accounts.

Of course, they can also outright lose things (devices, USB flash drives, etc.) which can end up in the wrong hands.

To combat the insider threat, manufacturers need to empower the organisation to better protect the information and data that helps make it profitable. Whilst it’s important to give employees the latitude they need to do their jobs the business also needs to retain visibility into their actions.

A robust security measure that is able to do this includes three important pillars:

1. Data capture – implementing a lightweight endpoint agent can capture data without disrupting user productivity. A system like this can monitor the data’s location and movement, as well as the actions of users who access, alter and transport the data. Collected user data can be viewed as a video replay that displays keys typed, mouse movements, documents opened or websites visited. This unique capability provides irrefutable and unambiguous attribution of end-user activity.

2. Behavioural audit – understanding how employees act will help pinpoint unusual or suspect behaviour enabling closer monitoring for those deemed high risk.

3. Focused investigation – if a clear violation is detected it’s important to pinpoint specific events or users so you can assess the severity of the threat, remediate the problem and create new policies to stop it happening again.

The Outside Threat

With significant changes to the manufacturing landscape businesses also face significant threats from outside criminals. Over the last decade there has been huge uptake of technology and online systems to create new efficiencies and improve operational effectiveness through the sharing of information.

However with every opportunity comes risk; and given the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoTs) and big data it’s no surprise that cyber security has been elevated to one of manufacturers’ biggest risk factors. In fact, according to IBM, manufacturing was the second most targeted industry in the US for cyber-attacks in 2015.

So whilst networked products, known as IIoT in manufacturing, means there are virtually endless opportunities and connections that can take place between devices, it also means there are a number risks due to the growth in data and network entry points. In many cases, manufacturers have been quick to embrace the benefits of IIoT but still have some catching up to do in order to adequately protect their data, customers, products and factory floors.

Australian manufacturers need to consider multiple cyber security threats including factory threats, product threats and operational threats.

For example, if equipment controllers are not adequately secured it is possible for an outsider to attach malware ridden PCs to the OT network while performing routine maintenance. Similarly, manufacturers must take great care in preventing any products, like driverless cards or robotics, from being compromised as not all cyber-attacks are focused on the network but can also affect how a computer processor or piece of technology operates.

For manufacturers to fully realise the benefits of IIoT securely, it’s important they identify security weaknesses and put a process in place that can mitigate not just current but future risks.

This means any security system should be:

1. Simple and flexible – your security solution should be able to scale with your operations and be easy to use.

2. Unified – in today’s environment you’re likely to split IT functions between cloud and on-premise technologies to maximise the advantages of each approach. By implementing a unified solution you can eliminate the extra cost and duplicated work of systems that have separate management to consolidate cloud services and on-premises solutions in a single console with one visibility, policy and reporting system.

3. Fault tolerant – there’s no point in having a security system if it goes down when you need it most. Prevent interruptions in network security by having traffic rerouted to a trusted partner in the event that a security appliance goes offline.

Ultimately, even though the threat of cyber-attacks in manufacturing is a reality, there are multiple ways Australian businesses can move forward without fear.

 

 

Forcepoint

www.forcepoint.com

 

 

 

Trendy foods should come with a recipe for sustainability

The soft creamy flesh of a ripe avocado makes an attractive and healthy addition to many of our shopping baskets. Smashed, crushed or sliced on toast for a celebrity chef breakfast, it is a fruit which is savoured across the world.

But it seems that avocados may not be as green as they look. And their trendy status may be environmentally unsustainable. Their popularity has led to profitable opportunities for farmers, leading to major environmental concerns about production causing deforestation in Mexico, a nation that produces 30% of the 4.7m tonnes harvested globally.

What was once an exotic ingredient for many now makes regular appearances in culinary (and political) lives.

The European Union imports some 440,000 tonnes of avocados each year. And while the food production industry is keeping up with demand, we rarely stop to consider the environmental impacts of trendy food, distracted as we are by the new experiences and health benefits it delivers.

The rise of the avocado has displaced forests because of increased production, with the incentive of increased profit leading to an environmental impact. Similar patterns are seen for soy beans and maize where production and trade is dependent on specific global regions.

These pressure points in the global food system remind us of the wider problems associated with the year-round supply we demand from food retailers who need the semi-tropical regions of the world to provide them.

The environmental impact caused by our appetites is an issue which also has been highlighted by other “luxury” goods such as chocolate and coffee, where fair trade principles have changed the way we purchase foods. Many of these issues concern the ingredients we need to create food tastes and experience.

Consider garlic, another essential ingredient of guacamole. World production of the bulb has risen from 4m to 24m tonnes per year since the 1960s. Around 80% is produced in China.

The huge demand for high value crops that provide specific tastes such as garlic and chilli (which has also seen exponential growth in global production) have also resulted in the emergence of crop smugglers who now sustain a multi-million Euro illegal – and largely unseen – industry. It all makes life very complicated for anyone who wants to eat a healthy diet and keep up with food fashion with a clear conscience.

For while certifications associated with biodiversity and sustainability are established for fish, coffee and chocolate, they are either rare or entirely non-existent for many of the herbs, spices and ingredients we use in low volumes that are high value and strong in taste.

Food rules

Many of the larger volume crops such as cereals, sugar and many fruits now have a legacy of assurance and traceability where sustainability is assessed along their supply chains. It started with Birdseye’s “in pursuit of the sustainable pea” report, one of the first food brands to look at these wider values.

Programmes of assessing the sustainability of food production have been established for decades now with organisations such as the UK’s LEAF and the international Global GAP. But it seems strange that we should focus solely on the environmental certification of fish, meat and food staples and not worry about the high value ingredients we use because we use them at low volumes.

So what are the solutions? First, consumer awareness is key, and guidance on using understandable measures of sustainability is an important part of becoming responsible consumers.

Second, urban and “vertical” farming, where crops are grown in stacked layers in controlled environments, have an important role to play. They allow restaurants and other consumers to source herbs, garlic and leaf vegetables from local growers who can competitively supply high value products in low volumes. We are currently working with restaurants to measure the impact of sourcing these ingredients locally.

Of course, there are limits to locality, and to my knowledge, avocados have not yet been successfully grown on a commercial scale in Sheffield. If they were, they would certainly not be sustainable. But we are making progress in certificating foods so that we do not have to stop eating these products but actively engage to support sustainable development of their markets – this is well described in the Rainforest Alliance’s high impact Follow the Frog campaign.

In the 18th century, botanical collectors grew tropical fruits in heated greenhouses across the UK. Our current system of access to avocados and other semi-tropical foods will only improve on this energy intensive production if responsible production that does not destroy the environment is proven. Food suppliers must qualify their sustainability values and they have many challenges. I think we are getting much better at communicating these credentials so that we have confidence in what we eat from the global supply chain.

The Conversation

Wayne Martindale, Senior Research Fellow, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sheffield Hallam University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

De Bortoli Wines sustainability track record the first to go platinum in NSW

De Bortoli Wines has been awarded NSW’s first Sustainability Advantage Platinum Project certificate, in recognition of environmental leadership and commitment to innovation.

The certificate recognises ‘The De Bortoli Method’, a unique potassium recovery system designed to eliminate the environmental impact of potassium build up in soil and significantly reduce dependence on imported caustic cleaning agents.

Sustainability Advantage is the NSW Government’s flagship program, offered via the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), which encourages and enables sustainable best practice in the NSW business community. De Bortoli Wines is one of just 12 NSW companies (and the only winery) to achieve Gold Partner recognition, and is now the first to attain a Platinum Project.

The OEH presented the Platinum Project certificate to the De Bortoli Wines Environment Team today at a ceremony at the family-owned business’s Bilbul Estate near Griffith.

“De Bortoli Wines is widely recognised as a leader in the business community for its demonstrated commitment to sustainable production and consumption,” said Tom Grosskopf, Director, Metropolitan Branch, NSW OEH.

“With this Platinum Project, which is circular by design, De Bortoli Wines should consider itself as a world leader in the pursuit of beyond zero waste and zero harm.”

The De Bortoli Method is the culmination of five years of research and development, and is one of numerous innovative sustainability practices De Bortoli Wines has implemented over the past decade, as it strives to become a ‘Zero Waste Winery’. Initiatives include wise water management, energy efficiency and improved waste management.

De Bortoli’s potassium recovery system utilises electrolysis to recover potassium from spent winery wash water and produces a cleaning solution (potassium hydroxide) for reuse at the winery.

It is designed to extend the life of the business’s wastewater farm, which was established in 2005 when the winery switched from sodium based cleaning agents to potassium based cleaning agents to lessen the winery’s impact on the environment. Fodder and grain crops are grown using the winery’s wastewater and are sold to offset the majority of wastewater management costs. The De Bortoli Method aims to decrease the tonnage of potassium irrigated on the farm to equal the amount of potassium removed by cropping.

This technology has the potential for commercial application across the wine industry or for other manufacturers that use caustic cleaners. In addition to improving wastewater recycling, by reducing the usage of imported caustics, it has the potential to deliver significant savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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