Redlands Estate releases “paddock-to-bottle” whisky

Redlands Estate Distillery has released the Southern Hemisphere’s first paddock-to-bottle single malt whisky.

The ABC reports that Redlands grows, processes and distils its own barley for the new product, with the new whisky released yesterday.

According to Redlands’ website, the first release bottles were available by a silent auction last night.

Spokesman Robbie Gilligan said that Tasmania’s temperate climate was ideal for whisky production, and being the only company offering such a whisky would set Redlands apart.

The state’s whisky business has been growing strongly in reputation and output lately. At the end of this year there will be 20 distilleries in the state, according to the ABC, with this number only 10 at the beginning of 2014.

The World Whisky Awards held in March saw the state’s Bill Lark of Lark Distillery inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame and Sullivans Cove named Craft Distiller of The Year.

China’s taste for Australian products

Australia has an edge in the alcoholic beverages, enhanced soft drinks and fresh grocery markets in China due to our heritage, expertise and geography.

There are many new ways Australia can diversify its product offerings and capitalise on the growing number of Sino-Australian partnerships in agribusinesses which are benefiting SMEs and MNCs alike.

Alcoholic beverages

According to a British medical journal, The Lancet, when excluding non-drinkers, Chinese middle class consumers now drink more litres of alcohol annually than their Western counterparts, including Australia, the U.S, the U.K and Germany. The report cites rising wages and high-pressure workplaces for the rise in consumption. Chinese consumers drink a far greater share of spirits compared to the international average, and though the alcoholic beverage industry has faced challenges due to anti-corruption prosecution on luxurious gift giving, China still consumes a quarter of the world’s beer.

But Australia’s main opportunity is in the wine category, which is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2011-2016, driven largely by Chinese middle class families and the young urban elite. Of all Chinese wine imports in 2011, Australian wine came in second (after France), at 19 percent of market share. France has benefited from an early perception of quality in the market, but as China’s wine market grows in conjunction with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, there are significant opportunities for Australia. The Australian Grape and Wine Authority noted that the market share for Australian wine in China grew by 20 percent last year. A significant trend for Chinese consumers is the increasing desire to appreciate a brand experience whilst consuming wine. For example, Spanish producers capitalised on this and inspired interest amongst Chinese wine drinkers with three month classes at a Guangzhou school for consumers to learn all there is about Spanish wine.

Red wine enjoys a good reputation both for containing less alcohol compared to Chinese spirits and because of its luxurious connotations. The (fruity, antioxidant) health claims also appeal to older Chinese, while younger, well-travelled consumers are drawn to the flavour. New players in this category must also decide whether to tap into China’s growing e-commerce mass market, or at the other end of the scale, take advantage of China’s luxurious gift giving culture.

Tapping into craft beer

Another less-conventional avenue of opportunity is the rise of niche alcoholic beverages. China, as the world’s largest beer producer and consumer is seeing domestic production slow in tandem with the rising popularity of foreign beers amongst young consumers. In fact, China saw a 66 percent increase in beer imports in 2013.  The Shanghai Beer Festival held last Autumn even included beers made with purple rice and Sichuan peppercorns.  To tap into this market, Australian craft beer producers such as the Balmain Brewing Company in Sydney have entered China (after initially entering Hong Kong) by signing a deal with a Chinese distributor to position high end craft beers to wealthy consumers in hotel bars and restaurants. To get this right, the consumer must be understood. In an interview with The Silk Initiative, Daniel Taytslin of Gotham East, a Shanghai based spirits importer and brand developer, said that the strategy isn’t about ‘going to a traditional Chinese restaurant and presenting them with one-of-a-kind gins where they’ll just drink beer and baijiu…but more about holding an education session to have bartenders act as de-facto brand advocates’.

Enhanced soft drinks

Coca Cola’s recent purchase of a Chinese multi-grain drink maker (Cu Liang Wang) is an example of the dynamic nature of China’s soft drink industry.  As the interest in sodas wane (the market saw a 3 percent decline in 2012), China’s fruit and vegetable soft drink industry is currently growing at 20 percent annually.  There is a lot of variety in this sector, with soft drinks flavoured with fruits, vegetables and even traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients.  The industry has also seen products combining different market categories, such as Super Milky Pulpy Juice, a drink developed by Coca-Cola that mixes dairy and juice.

Tapping into China’s $66 billion soft drink industry (2013) with annual growth of 15 percent requires a deep understanding of the consumer due to its flavouring and distribution challenges. The opportunity here for Australia, particularly smaller producers, is to focus on product ingredients and how these are processed. Instead of competing with conglomerates such as Coca Cola and Suntory, who are jostling with Chinese groups such as Wahaha, Australian producers should focus on strategic-in-market partnerships. For example, Zhu Xinli, the head of Huiyuan Juice (which holds 51 percent of the juice market in China), has been eyeing investments in Australian agribusiness. He suggests that there are “1.3 billion Chinese consumers crying out for premium Australian products,” whilst also emphasising the importance of co-operation between Australian and Chinese producers on “all aspects, including technology.”

Fresh groceries

China’s $1 trillion grocery market is transitioning to suit the changing demands of China’s 600 million online customers. Consumers are demanding fresh groceries to their door. Already, Australian steak is available through online retailers such as T-mall, and fruit and vegetable producers, such as Australian nectarine farmers, are eagerly awaiting approval to sell their goods through online retailers.

Fruit and vegetable imports do not necessarily have to target high end consumers. This month, Canada’s Mucci Farms sent its first shipment of ‘cutecumbers’ (mini cucumbers) to a wholesaler in Shanghai, with the CEO saying the terrific reaction to the product is due to the fact that it’s new and interesting and has a crunchy and sweet taste with no seeds. Chinese consumers are known to try new products, particularly foreign, and with fruits and vegetables still a common snack in China, new interpretations of traditional groceries such as cucumbers will attract curious consumers.

There is also value in agricultural expertise which should not be overlooked as a key point of positioning in a country dominated by sub-par wet markets. For example, Jiang Quan of the Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, has sought out Australian producers in particular to improve the production of Chinese pears. Pears are indigenous to China though there is growing awareness that Chinese growers can benefit from modern techniques and technologies.

Let's go organic

With regards to production techniques, the $500 million ‘niche’ organic industry in China is actually the fourth largest organic market in the world. Recently, the market has been growing at over 30 percent a year as concerns over pollution continue to rise. Larger foreign producers who have applied early for China’s elusive organic license include Fonterra, Anchor and Angove (wine), though Australian fruits, particularly citrus, will benefit from superior perceptions of quality and safety.

John Moore of Summerfruit Australia says that marketing to the whole of China makes no commercial or logistical sense when it comes to organic produce. Instead, he says to focus on the upper middle class in tier one cities where 48 percent of consumers look for, and are willing to pay for, imported fruits. He also notes that as it only takes 14 days for the products to reach Shanghai by sea, Australian producers have no competitors to rival their fruits for quality, sweetness and taste. Australia also benefits from its location in the Southern Hemisphere and can provide fresh counter-seasonal crops, such as apples, to northern producers.

Andrew Kuiler ( is the managing director of Shanghai-based food and beverage consultancy, The Silk Initiative. 


SA food and wine industry to benefit from grants

Twelve South Australian companies have shared in more than $340,000 of funding under the first round of the Export Partnership Program.

Seven of the twelve companies are from the food and wine industries, each receiving between $18,050 and $31,225.

Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said there has been a resounding response from South Australian exporters with 48 fully completed applications received in this first round alone.

“This indicates a healthy appetite from South Australian businesses to explore global markets,” Hamilton-Smith said.

“Under the Export Partnership Program, current and aspiring exporters can apply for funding up to $50,000 to pursue international market development.

“The 12 successful recipients will use this funding to grow their knowledge and export capabilities through coaching, training, market intelligence, and also to execute planned activities overseas to market their products.

Hamilton-Smith said he expects the high level of interest in the program will continue and is likely to increase with an active calendar of ministerial trade missions in 2015.

“The government will lead business missions to India and South East Asia during August where we’ll be accompanied by a number of South Australian sectors looking to build their presence in these important markets,” Hamilton-Smith said.

“This is part of a targeted strategy by the South Australian Government to support exporters through facilitation services, diplomacy, awareness raising and critical funding to address the cost of export marketing activities.”

“A number of sectors stand to benefit from the new grants, including aerospace, creative industries, food and wine and services.

“Markets being pursued for a diverse range of proposed activities include China, India, South East Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.”

Round one recipients                                                                              Funding awarded

AEM Cores Pty Ltd                                                                                    $31,000

Barossa Vintage Pty Ltd                                                                             $31,000

Elderton Wines                                                                                          $31,225

Ezy-Fit Hydraulics                                                                                      $30,000

Ferguson Australia Pty Ltd                                                                         $50,000

Kilikanoon Wines Pty Ltd                                                                            $27,475

MacTaggart Scott Pty Ltd                                                                            $6,000

Pindarie Wines                                                                                          $30,075

Prism Defence                                                                                           $14,500

Rossi Boots                                                                                               $50,000

Saltbush Livestock Pty Ltd                                                                         $24,500

SEAPA Pty Ltd                                                                                           $18,050


Australia has a big role to play in feeding the world

Joanne Daly, CSIRO; Rachel A. Ankeny; Richard Richards, CSIRO; Sally Gras, University of Melbourne, and Stephen Powles, University of Western Australia

This article is part of our series on the Science and Research Priorities recently announced by the Federal Government. You can read the introduction to the series by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, here.

Joanne Daly
CSIRO Fellow and former Group Executive of Agribusiness and Chief of Division at CSIRO

Agricultural and food industries are an important part of the Australian economy and national identity. They are set to remain so as global demand for food rises over the next four decades.

While not seen as a major part of Australia’s GDP, these industries provide employment across both rural and urban Australia. They sustain rural communities, provide the majority of food consumed in Australia, and underpin our retail and food services industries. They also provide important export earnings, while having important interactions with our environment’s water, soil and biodiversity resources.

Research and technological innovation have long been integral to the success of our agricultural and food industries. Our hard-won reputation for high quality, safe and clean food is founded upon this bedrock.

Research and innovation continue to grow in importance, as our industries look to respond to increasing global demand for food. Producers will need to overcome major environmental challenges due to climate change, land degradation and biosecurity threats while also sustaining and increasing rates of productivity growth. Processors will need to remain competitive with low cost competitors and imports.

The science and research priorities for food recognise the need for research into three broad areas: supply chains; barriers to accessing healthy food; and enhanced food production.

Agricultural and food industries are so pervasive in our society that the other eight research priorities – particularly Soil and Water, Transport, Advanced Manufacturing, Environmental Change and Health – will also have significant implications.

A recurring theme across the Food priorities is the integration of knowledge and cutting-edge technologies. This enhances connections between producers and processors to respond to ephemeral market opportunities and changing consumer preferences.

It allows us to better target inputs in production and processing, not only for profitability but also to better manage land, water resources and biodiversity resources. And it enables reduction and reuse of waste streams.

Sally Gras
Director of the ARC Dairy Innovation Hub and Associate Professor at The Melbourne School of Engineering and Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute at The University of Melbourne

The new research priorities address key issues facing Australian food producers, spanning primary production, post-farm gate manufacturing, distribution and export.

Food safety, stability and shelf life are essential for the export of Australian food products to distant markets across Asia. Research could improve fresh and long life food products, such as yogurt and UHT milk, while new packing and preservation technologies could assist both domestic distribution and export.

Research on provenance and clean, sustainable production could also assist Australian manufacturers to compete on food quality rather than price, potentially accessing higher value markets.

New methods to recover water and byproducts may improve the profitability and sustainability of manufacturing. Food waste could also be reduced and recycled across the supply chain. Energy consumption is not directly mentioned in the Food priorities, but novel technologies could be used to increase energy efficiency, while the Environmental Change priorities may also assist industry adaptation.

The Advanced Manufacturing priority highlights the need to de-risk, scale up and add value to Australian manufactured products – research that could stimulate both product and process innovation. The focus on healthy Australian foods also encompasses some aspects of nutrition.

The priorities are well aligned with the new Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, which aims to improve access to global supply chains and international markets. The priorities also build on the research networks and strengths established through the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research Program, and will allow broad multidisciplinary contributions.

Stephen Powles
Director of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative at the University of Western Australia, and grain farmer, Kojonup, Western Australia.

I applaud and welcome that Food and Soil & Water are among the national research priorities. As never before, food is needed for a rapidly growing world. Australia already is a major food exporter, and being underpinned by research and development, we are poised to make substantially greater contributions to feeding the world.

Australia has competitive advantages in clean and green high quality grains, dairy and meats for global markets, especially booming Asia. However, there are many challenges and much R&D will be required if we are to sustainably deliver much higher quantities of quality Australian food.

Only through creative R&D will we be able to sustainably lift production from our fragile soil and our very limited water assets. Adverse climate change requires we attain even greater water use efficiency in our rain-fed Australian agriculture.

Conversely, in irrigated agriculture we have much to learn to better use water and to unlock the clear irrigated agricultural potential in northern Australia. Momentum is building to lift food production in northern Australia, and there are real opportunities but many challenges and underpinning R&D is essential.

At the post-farm gate level, Australia must establish how to build, label and capitalise on our clean, green, ethical and nutritious foods. With our high costs, sectors must develop and embrace all technologies to be competitive, including robotics in production and manufactured food items.

In my view, it is research and technologies in precision agriculture and robotics that require greatest attention if Australia is to substantially and sustainably lift food production and help feed the world.

Rachel Ankeny
Professor in the School of Humanities and convener of the Food Values Research Group at the University of Adelaide.

These priorities outline key issues facing the food industry if we view foodstuffs as products and expectations as primarily economic. They call for research on social, economic and other barriers to access to healthy Australian foods, which is to be applauded.

But what is largely missing are the challenges associated with human beings: producers, processors, retailers and distributors of food; consumers who make choices about what to purchase and eat; and policymakers who regulate the industry.

Also lacking is any explicit discussion about food security. In the narrowest sense, Australia is food secure; there is enough food per person on average. But there are deep social, political and pragmatic problems with making nutritious foods available, particularly in remote communities. Hence we experience food insecurity.

To build healthy and resilient communities (also covered in the Health priority), we must use (social) science to investigate the diverse barriers to food access and consumption.

Agricultural communities face challenges to their resilience, in part due to threats to their “social license to operate”. Sectors of the public are increasingly anxious about contemporary agricultural practices and their potential impacts on health, animal welfare and the environment.

They view efforts to make agriculture more efficient and sustainable as in conflict with historic shared values underlying traditional and small-scale family farming.

Hence the call to develop production capacity requires scrutiny not just as a technical problem, but in its broader socio-cultural context. “Sustainable” can refer to environmental, economic, and/or social sustainability. “High intensity” production, and especially novel technologies, are frightening to many and may continue to erode their trust in the food system.

Education alone is not sufficient. Understanding of technological and scientific issues associated with agriculture involves a mixture of values, attitudes, and knowledge.

Many opportunities exist if we read between the lines of the priorities about the types of research and ingenuity that are required to meet the challenges: social science is needed.

Richard Richards
Program Leader of the High Performance Crops for Australia group at CSIRO

Australia has been a world leader when it comes to food production in challenging environments. We have an enviable record, particularly in improving crop water-use efficiency whilst maintaining our clean and green image. The opportunities globally will open up for Australia if we can maintain this record as the challenges ahead globally are immense.

We must double global crop production by 2050 to feed 9 billion people. This must be done on less land area than we currently crop, with less water available and in the face of climate uncertainty. Food produced must not be at the expense of land degradation and it must be affordable, reliable and of high quality.

To achieve the productivity gains required by 2050, we must firstly close the gap between the theoretical potential yield at any location and any season based on temperature, water, sunlight and soil, and the current farm yield. This gap for our major food crops currently varies from 20% to 80%.

We must also aim to increase the potential or theoretical yield by increasing total photosynthesis and biomass. Ideally this will be achieved by increasing crop duration and light capture as well as improving the underlying biochemistry of photosynthesis. This will not only increase potential yield but also water-use efficiency.

This challenge is only achievable if there is additional investment in agricultural research. The rewards for Australia and the world are immense. Continuing economic prosperity for Australia will be one but also important will be reduced malnutrition, poverty, environmental sustainability and improved global stability.

Read more in the series on the science and research priorities here.

The Conversation

Joanne Daly is CSIRO Fellow at CSIRO.
Rachel A. Ankeny is Professor of History at University of Adelaide.
Richard Richards is CSIRO Fellow at CSIRO.
Sally Gras is Director ARC Dairy Innovation Hub and Associate Professor at University of Melbourne.
Stephen Powles is Director Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative at University of Western Australia.

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

Coopers keeps on hopping as an Australian brewing icon

According to Glenn Cooper, Coopers Brewing chairman and great, great, great grandson of founder Thomas Cooper, it’s the secondary fermentation they use that makes the company’s iconic brew so popular.

“We are one of the few brewing companies in the world that use secondary fermentation – there are a few brewers in Belgium that use it but in Australia, we are certainly the only traditional beer brewer that use this secondary fermentation process.”

“Its one of the many things that makes Coopers beer so great.”

As Australia’s largest and only family-owned brewery – starting way back in 1862 – the South Australian-based company sold almost 70 million litres of beer in the 2013 financial year.

Launching its limited edition 2015 Extra Strong Vintage Ale, Coopers is also finding that despite Australia’s crowded beer market, its Pale Ale and Sparkling Ales are as popular as ever – thanks to both the evolving palette of Australian beer drinkers and its own research and development.

“The philosophy behind the 2015 Extra Strong Ale, as with previous vintages, was to ensure it was brewed with rich and intense flavours,” Coopers’ Managing Director and Chief Brewer Dr. Tim Cooper said.

“Five hop varieties have been carefully combined to become the feature of this year’s Vintage Ale.

With a bitterness rating of 60 International Bitterness Units (IBU), the company said that the 2015 Extra Strong Vintage Ale “will stand up well as the beer matures, augmenting its cellaring potential.”

This is in conjunction with the strain of yeast they are using, which the company said, stems back from 1910, and is, as the company press release noted, “reliably designed to produce delicious esters and fruity flavours during an extended fermentation.”

However one term that the company does not like to use is ‘craft brewer’, a term that does not sit well with the company’s scions.

“We are still very much a traditional beer brewing company,” said Glenn Cooper.

Joel Shean, Coopers Trade Marketing Co-ordinator noted a survey from a few years ago whereby beer drinkers were asked to classify a range of beer brands.

While some of the brands were thought of as standard beers and others as craft beers, “no-one knew exactly where to put Coopers.”

Now with its Vintage Ale in its 15th year and with over 150 years of brewing history under its belt, Coopers Brewing is finding that tradition is a great way to move its iconic Australian beer into the future.


Food & Beverage Supply Chain training centre receives funding

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC), hosted by the University of Newcastle, will train the next generation of multi-disciplinary researchers capable of designing and managing safe, sustainable, and cost-effective food supply chains.

The training centre received $2.1 million in ARC funding through the Industrial Transformation Research Program, which will employ three postdoctoral researchers and support 10 PhD students.

Based at the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast campus, the centre will bring together a diverse set of research organisations and industrial partners to ensure the research carried out, and training provided, are both at the cutting-edge and industrially relevant.

The food industry is important to the Australian economy with 15 percent of the national workforce involved in food production and food exports equating to $30.5 billion each year.

The National Food Plan White Paper states the vision for Australia’s food system is a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply, supporting access to nutritious and affordable food.  Key to achieving this vision are safe, sustainable, and cost-effective, food supply chains.

The ARC Training Centre for Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation will support the development of new and innovative postharvest treatments to improve horticultural market access and reduce waste in the horticulture supply chain.
Centre Director Professor Rick Middleton said the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre scheme had a focus on postgraduate research that was directly linked to industry needs.
"The ARC Training Centre for Food and Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation brings together researchers both in operations research (optimising logistics) and in food science."

The University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Environmental and Life Sciences form part of the training centre.

Researchers at the centre will collaborate with the University of Sydney, The Georgia Institute of Technology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Ghent University Global Campus, as well as industry organisations Coca Cola Amatil (Australia), Sunrice, Batlow Fruit, and the Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company.


Kellogg’s to donate three millions serves of cereal

Kellogg’s will donate three million serves of cereal to Foodbank, as part of Kellogg’s Global Breakfasts for Better Days initiative.

The cereal will go to children and families in need in an effort to provide support for those that currently start their day hungry.

Kellogg’s senior brand manager Janine Brooker said she was proud of the donation.

“Relieving hunger at breakfast for children and families in need is an issue that is close to my heart as a mother, as well as something that is part of Kellogg’s philanthropic DNA,” Brooker said.

Kellogg’s global Breakfasts for Better Days commitment is to donate one billion serves of cereal and snacks between 2013 and 2016. Kellogg’s in Australia and New Zealand committed to donating 12 million serves and reached this target two years early at the end of 2014.

The donation coincides with the release of Foodbank Australia’s Hunger in the Classroom report, which revealed 95 percent of teachers surveyed said it was difficult for students that come to school hungry to reach their full potential academically, and in physical activity such as sport.

“…We wanted to do more and the Hunger in the Classroom report shows exactly why Kellogg’s is continuing to support Foodbank, whom we have partnered with for the past 17 years,” Brooker said.

“Our relationship with Foodbank has seen millions of serves of cereal donated, and contribution towards the opening of 33 new Foodbank School Breakfast Program clubs nationally this year.”

In July, Kellogg’s will release specially-marked packs of Kellogg’s cereals in Coles, Woolies and IGA stores. Each pack purchased will help to provide breakfast to children and families in need in Australia.


Northern suburbs food manufacturing park a possibility

A food manufacturing park in northern Adelaide is being considered by the South Australian government to help adapt to a post-General Motors Holden manufacturing future.

The ABC reports that a directions paper raises the possibility of a food manufacturing, packaging and distribution centre, with the government looking for at least 40 hectares of land for the site.

"We are just placing ads now for requests for information from industry, from land holders and from developers to come to Government and let us know what land they have got available so we can assess if we go ahead with the food park where the best area would be," the state’s manufacturing minister Kyam Maher told the ABC.

Maher said that food manufacturing had grown for the last 17 years straight.

The government is also considering the defence, construction and healthcare industries. It is seeking feedback on the discussion paper and aims to release an economic plan for the north of Adelaide by the end of the year. The consultation process also involves the mayors from suburbs including Playford and Salisbury.

Holden will end car manufacturing at Elizabeth in 2017. It has begun scaling down it operation, and is scheduled to re-rate production from 290 to 240 vehicles a day today.


80 jobs axed at Hobart Cadbury factory

International has continued cost-cutting, with news this morning that it would
be shedding 20 per cent of the jobs at Claremont’s Cadbury factory.

ABC reports that workers were told at the beginning of their shift 80 jobs were
to be cut at the site, which in March withdrew a grant application worth $16 million for its visitor’s centre.

“In March this year we announced
a $20m investment in the Claremont site for this year as the start of a journey
to make Claremont more efficient and therefore sustainable,” Mondelez’s
local managing director Amanda Banfield said in a statement.

“As a result around 80 roles
will no longer be required; however we’re confident the majority of these will
be attained via temporary contract conclusions and voluntary

AMWU said the $16 million grant application should be re-invested into Tasmania’s manufacturing sector.

“As we see major job losses all over Tasmania, we’re seeing the
State and Federal Governments just shrugging their shoulders. It’s not good
enough,” said the union’s state secretary, John Short, who added that the
factory had been operating for 90 years.

“Some of the people at
Cadbury — their parents and their grandparents worked here. But where are their
kids going to work?” he told the ABC.

Denison MP Andrew Wilkie said that the job losses would be hard on the Hobart

“This is 20 per cent of the chocolate factory’s
staff, many of whom live in the Glenorchy city area which already has one of
the highest unemployment rates in the state,” he told The Mercury.

company has blamed a decline in sales for recent cuts.

announced a 3 per cent decline in revenue for the year to December earlier this

However, net profits were up 43 per cent, following cost reductions such as a 60 per cent decline in R&D spending, 186
redundancies and a size reduction in its Freddo Frog and Cadbury family-sized
chocolate blocks. It also booked a $30 million tax credit.


Bega Cheese wins manufacturing grant

19 successful applicants for the first round of the Manufacturing Transition Program were awarded nearly $50 million yesterday.

The applicants come from a range of different industries, including food and beverage, mining, aerospace and medical technologies, and receive up to 25 per cent of costs to co-invest in new capital equipment and plant improvements.

There were $48,139,024 worth of of funds allocated for projects worth $254,456,429, which supported “high-value” manufacturing.

A joint statement from industry minister Ian Macfarlane and prime minister Tony Abbott yesterday said the grants were in line with an election pledge to focus on “areas of competitive strength”.

“Bega Cheese will be able to invest in more sophisticated and knowledge-intensive manufacturing, creating high value jobs in areas where the greatest economic opportunities exist,” said Eden Monaro MP Peter Hendy, according to Bega District News.

Bega’s project involved investment in new equipment to increase the production of lactoferrin from milk solids.

Hearing implant maker Cochlear will use its $3.25 million grant to “bring back manufacturing capability on-shore for its next-generation hearing implants” through upgrades at three sites.

Other successful applicants in the competitive grants programme included Ferra Engineering, Mulgowie Fresh, and Nissan Casting Australia. There were 79 applicants.

To see the full list of recipients, click here.


New Midfield dairy factory in VIC to create 250 jobs

Meat processing business Midfield Group has received approval to build a milk factory in Warrnambool, Victoria, which will be constructed adjacent to its abattoirs.

The ABC reports that 250 jobs will be created at the factory. The news follows the announcement last week that Midfield will begin building another, “almost identical”,facility in Penola, South Australia.

The Victorian factory was approved by the state parliament yesterday.

The Warrnambool Standard reports that Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne denied their Warrnambool approval was a knee-jerk reaction to Penola.

South West Coast MP Denis Napthine, who was premier when the factory expansion was announced last year, said the news was beneficial for jobs and the agricultural sector.

"Growing marketing opportunities in the rapidly-expanding Asian economies underpin this important local investment," he said.

Construction in Victoria will begin immediately, and there are plans to begin production in July next year.

Midfield will spend $60 million converting the Penola site from a former potato processing plant to a dairy processor. It has said it will not open the Warrnambool site until Penola is operational.

Both will serve the growing Asian market for dairy products.

"The milk powder produced at the site will be targeted at exports markets that include China," SA premier Jay Weatherill told The Australian Financial Review.


Over 200 workers “stood down” at JBS Australia sites

Meat processor JBS Australia has reportedly cut "hundreds" of jobs at two sites, with the meat workers’ union claiming two other sites may also see cuts.

Stock and Land reports that the Brooklyn, Melbourne and Bordertown, South Australia plants would shed 200 and 60 positions respectively.

The news source was told by JBS director John Berry that the workers had been stood down and “not sacked”.

Berry told the ABC that cyclical market conditions were to blame.

“My understanding is JBS is not the only processing business that has made this decision; there are others in the industry," he said.

The AAP reports that the union believes high prices for lamb are behind the reduction in capacity.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), which found out about the news just last Friday, said that factories at Cobram (Victoria) and Longford (Tasmania) may also be affected.

"It's us now trying to play catch-up to find out what the processes are and who they've laid off, who they've relocated onto day shift or found work for in other parts of the factory,” Victorian secretary Paul Conway told the ABC.

"We've kind of got the news late, and haven't been able to sit down and work through any of that stuff. It's happened fairly quickly."


Beef and milk factory planned for Darling Downs

A Toowoomba construction company is seeking council approval to build a $80 million beef and milk processing facility at Queensland's Darling Downs.

The ABC reports that FK Gardiner and Sons (FKG) submitted a development application to local council to build the facility near Charlton on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

Group manager of property development with FKG, Dallas Hunter told the ABC that, if approved, the facility would handle 10,000 head of cattle a week and employ 300 workers. It could be up and running by 2017.

FKG is best known as a civil construction company. However, it also has a history of involvement in agriculture. As the Toowoomba Chronicle reports, the company now runs 11,000 hectares of agricultural property near Cecil Plains and, as such, is the Darling Downs' biggest farming company.

Hunter told the Chronicle the new facility would help diversify the company’s operations.

"With the slowdown in the gas industry, we're hoping agriculture might fill the gap,” he said.

"We're spreading the company as wide as we can as part of our risk management and diversification."

He said there was demand for Australian food from overseas and the produce could be exported from the Wellcamp Airport.

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio told the ABC that the airport, along with other other new infrastructure such as the range crossing and the possibility of inland rail mean Toowoomba has the potential to become a food processing hub of the future.


Australia on show at SIAL CHINA 2015

Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Organic and a number of food and beverage exporters will be representing Australia at SIAL CHINA 2015.

SIAL CHINA 2015 is Asia’s mega food and beverage exhibition will feature 2,734 exhibitors from 82 countries and regions in an 115,000 square metre exhibition space for three days.

The exhibition will be held May 6-8 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre and will welcome 55,000 visitors from around the world.

Meat and Livestock Australia will return to SIAL CHINA with meat exporters and traders including Cedar Meats Australia, Dunnet & Johnston Group, Fletcher International Exports, Garra International, Hunter Valley Quality Meats, IMTP, Jack’s Creek, KC Natural, Ralph’s Meat Company, Samex Australian Meat Company, Sanger Australia, Stella Foods Australia, Teys Australia, Thomas Foods International and WAMMCO International Southern Meats.

Australian seafood exporters will be at the event with Ausab, Hot Dog Fisheries, Kinkawooka Mussels, Natural Oysters, South Australian Prawn Co-op, Mori Seafood, Safcol Australia and Tony’s Tuna International.

The largest organic industry group in Australia, Australian Organic, is exhibiting at SIAL China for the first time, in conjunction with Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Company, Coolibah Herbs, Eco Farms, Gemtree Wines, Kialla Pure Foods, Murray River Organics, Nature’s Gift, Pana Chocolate and OZGANICS Organic Foods.

Other food and beverage exporters from Australia at SIAL China 2015 include: Almond Board of Australia, Alpine Berry Farm, Australian Natural Snack Company, Bickford’s Australia, Brookfarm, Ceravolo Estate, Laucke Flour Mills, Lemon Tree Dairy, Michiko Formula Australia, Raw Materials, SalDoce Fine Foods, San Remo, Shaw Vineyard Estate and Superbee Honey. 

Key events include:

  • Retail & Hospitality Forum(Hall E1) – exchange industry information and retail & HORECA inspirations
  • La Cuisine by SIAL (Hall E4) – high level culinary demonstrations and competitions endorsed by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS)
  • SIAL Innovation – discover the market trends and new products through a unique innovation observatory; 93 selected products from 229 products presented by 120 exhibitors and 11 finalists competing for the Gold/Silver/Bronze Awards
  • World Tour by SIAL (South Lobby) – understand the specific characteristics of food markets by geographical area and obtain all the information required to define your export strategy
  • China National Specialty Tea Brewers Cup Event (Hall W5) – to explore the essence of tea brewing, to better present a tea story and to lead the young back to traditional tea-drinking habit
  • The Consumer Goods Forum (Hall E1) – this event provides a unique global platform for the development of global industry processes and standards as well as sharing best practices
  • The Fresh (Hall E3) – a 360 degree showcase for the gourmet experience from food materials to cooked dishes
  • Chocolate World (Hall W4) – live demo with chocolate dessert by prominent chefs from hotel groups around the world

Registration is open until May 5 and visitors can register for free at


US company makes beer from “outer space” ingredient [VIDEO]

Ninkasi Brewing Company of Oregon, USA, has brewed a
stout beer using yeast that has been to outer space and back.

CNN Money reports that Ninkasi spent nearly $US 80,000
on the project.

It was able to send a payload 77.3 miles (about 124.4
km) above the earth, with the yeast surviving the trip enabled by UP Aerospace.

This was the second attempt by Ninkasi, with the first
seeing the yeast perish in high temperatures after a rocket was lost for 27
days in the Nevada desert.

A limited supply of Ground Control beer will be sold,
retailing for just under $US 20 a bottle.

Click here to see a video about the project.


Manufacturing error sees David Jones chocolate eggs recalled

David Jones has recalled its Hotel Chocolat milk-free
chocolate eggs, because there is a chance they may contain milk.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the 400 gram eggs from
Hotel Chocolat had the “potential presence” of milk, the NSW Food Authority

The eggs are sold in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, Victoria
and WA.

“The product is advertised as ‘milk free’ but may
contain traces of milk as it was manufactured in a factory that uses dairy in
other products,” advises the NSW Food Authority.

Consumers can return the eggs and get a full refund.


New Coke product hoped to revive falling Australian sales

Coca-Cola Amatil is hoping the upcoming launch of a new product in early April will reverse the company’s falling Australian revenues.

The Herald Sun reports that the new product, Coke Life, will launch on April 7. The launch will be worth $10 million and see a million cases of Coke Life delivered to 30,000 stores by the end of July.

A general move by consumers away from highly-sugared drinks has hurt Coca-Cola Amatil’s sales, which were down 2 per cent in 2014. Net profit was down 25 per cent in the year.

"We've seen a fairly steady decline in the sparkling category over a period of years in volumes of 2 to 3 per cent,” CCA CEO Alison Watkins told The Australian Financial Review.

“We would hope for people who have given it up and don't like Coke Zero it gives them an alternative and people who only have one a week can feel a little less guilty about that.”

Last year also saw CCA announce the closure of its Bayswater plant and the relocation of its three lines to other sites, as part of a three-year cost-cutting effort.

Coke Life is the first new product from Coca Cola since Coke Zero in 2006. Life has 35 per cent fewer calories than regular Coca-Cola, and is sweetened through a combination of cane sugar and stevia.


Hockey approves JBS’s $1.4 billion takeover of Primo

Brazil’s JBS has been given approval to acquire Primo Smallgoods.

The ABC and others report that treasurer Joe Hockey approved the $1.4 billion sale to JBS’s US subsidiary, with conditions that contact processors retain access to Primo (Australian Consolidated Food Holdings).

Under the conditions, JBS must ensure:

– “the Scone abattoir in NSW must remain open and retain its capacity for consignment killings accessible by third parties

– JBS reports to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) on its compliance every six months, and

– the transaction be reviewed in three years.”

Primo’s operations include five pig processing plants in Australia and New Zealand and about 3,000 employees.

Dow Jones reports that JBS will benefit from an Australian reputation for premium farm produce. It comes after last year’s China-Australia free trade agreement was reached, from which Primo would benefit through lowered tariffs for imported smallgoods.

The announcement came after the ACCC last month said it would not oppose the sale, as it would not substantially reduce competition in the beef processing sector.

Nationals Senator John Williams said this was evidence that competition laws were not doing their job against “creeping acquisitions”, he told the ABC.

“If you just go along buying one company, then another company, then another company, taking small steps, that's OK by the law,” he said.

"We need to change the law so that cannot happen because we're going to end up having two or three companies running this nation, which would be a disaster."

His concerns about reduced competition were highlighted by NSW Farmers Cattle Committee chairman Derek Schoen, who said that JBS and Primo were direct competitors, and prices for farmers would be pushed down.

“The acquisition of Primo by JBS will (make it) incredibly difficult for any new entrants to enter the market," Farm Weekly reports him as saying.


Tartar products maker turns to bioenergy, saves $2 m in a year on gas

Australian Tartaric Products grape waste-powered biomass
reactor has saved the company over $2 million in power bills so far, according
to the company.

BRW reports that the reactor, which is fueled by winemaking
waste products – including grape marc (skins and pips), which was previously used as
compost – was completed last year at a cost of around $10 million.

ATP chairman Malcolm Taylor said that feasibility studies
began in 2008 as rising gas prices began to bite. Plans were put on hold due to
the Global Financial Crisis, but by 2011 it was important that action be taken.

“As the cost of gas went up and up, the cost of production
was going up and squeezing the margin considerably,” Taylor told BRW.

“All the indications were that it was going to potentially
become uneconomic to produce.”

The investment was assisted by grants worth $1.7 million from the federal government and $1.8 million from the Victorian government.

According to the company, in its first year of operation the
biomass reactor has saved around $2 million in gas costs as well as producing
60 per cent of the ATP’s electricity.

The Colignan (near Mildura) plant in north-west Victoria has
operated since 1991 and makes natural tartaric acid, natural cream of tartar and food grade spirit, supplied to the wine industry.

Global Stevia market registers a robust growth

The global Stevia market is expected to reach US $ 565.2 Million by 2020, due to shifting consumer preference.

According to a Future Market Insights report “Global Stevia Market – Market Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2014 – 2020,” the global stevia market is projected to grow at a single-digit CAGR during the forecast period, accounting for US $ 565.2 Mn by 2020.

Stevia extracts are finding increasing application in soft drinks and juices, ice creams, and various other products. This is attributed to its high-intensity natural sweetness properties. Due to these factors, share of the stevia market is expected to account for around 15 percent of the overall sweetener market by 2020.

The global stevia market is sub-segmented on the basis of the type of liquid, powdered and leaf form. The powdered stevia sub-segment is projected to account for around 65.4 percent share of the total stevia market by 2020, owing to ease of availability and use. The liquid stevia sub-segment, on the other hand, is expected to record a CAGR of around 9.0 percent during the forecast period.

All forms of stevia extracts are extensively used in end-use industries such as dairy, bakery, confectionery, beverages, packaged food, snacks and others.

Increasing introduction of products with stevia-based sweetener ingredients in various end-use industries is expected to bolster growth of the global stevia market by 2020.

Increasing popularity of such products owing to growing modern retail, urbanization, awareness and health concerns and changing preferences of consumers are major factors driving growth of this market.

Apart from the application in the food and beverages industry, introduction of products with stevia-based sweeteners across end-use industries such as bakery and confectionery is expected to bolster growth of the global stevia market by 2020. Furthermore, the global stevia market is driven by the need for effective alternatives for artificial sugar-based products owing to changing consumer lifestyle, increasing product visibility in urban areas and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for rebaudioside A as an ingredient in food products in European countries.