Premium Australia Foods promotes Aussie-made to China

Beginning on the 15th of August, Australian Made Campaign Retail Supporter, Premium Australia Foods (PAF), will begin a major ecommerce campaign promoting Australian-made products to the Chinese market online, via the high-profile Chinese platform SFHT.

This promotion will compliment PAF’s online presence on some of the most successful online retail websites in China – Tmall, Amazon.cn, JD and YHD.

Reducing food waste set to become the norm

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 per cent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.
 

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain.
 
“Reducing waste and getting the best use out of what we produce makes far more sense than trying to increase food production by about 60 percent from what it was in 2005, which is what it would take to feed that many people. Producing more food through agriculture has consequences for the environment. At the moment we are taking more out than we’re putting back in. It’s not sustainable and we’re losing arable land.”
 

Issues around food loss and waste are complex and variable. Developing countries are most affected by food loss during production and food shortages, with 795 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished.  Developed countries are faced with massive food waste at retail and the point of consumption while dealing with an obesity epidemic, which affects about 600 million adults. 
 

Associate Professor Morton says finding solutions for food loss and waste is difficult when countries have different economies, production methods and natural resources. “There are no simple solutions, but there are things we can do such as minimising loss in the production process, reducing recalls, improving the cool chain and funding research into making the most use of co-products.”
 

A good example of where New Zealand has reduced losses in production by growing food to more accurate specifications is in the meat industry. Retailers catering for consumers who want less fat in their food are willing to pay more for lean meat. Farmers now grow lean animals which results in less waste of unwanted fat trimmings.
 
Meat consumption has increased significantly in recent years. “Urbanisation, a growing middle class and higher income are behind the growing demand for meat worldwide,” says Associate Professor Morton. “Livestock products offer high quality protein so meat is a very important food source.
 
“Most countries grow livestock to feed their own population. New Zealand and Australia are unique in that most of what is produced is exported. Because of that, waste is not such a concern here in New Zealand, but that waste is happening elsewhere instead – retailers carrying a wide variety of foods to respond to consumer demand and having to discard safe food by ‘best before’ dates to maintain quality standards and consumers with food left on plates and leftovers forgotten in the fridge, all lead to high levels of waste.”
 

Associate Professor Morton believes that livestock products are economically and nutritionally valuable, but that the high environmental cost of their production means reducing losses is essential. “New Zealand relies on its `clean green’ image so it makes economic sense to reduce the environmental impact of food production here.”
 

While the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation supports better and increased use of co-products, it also wants to see more food items remaining in the food chain. He says that livestock co-products are often low value nutritionally but there may be opportunities to develop meat and plant protein combinations for export, if it was economically viable.
 

Food security is not a concern in Australia or New Zealand at present, but the topic is crucial elsewhere and is a stated priority in most other countries. APEC leaders see reducing food waste as a primary related task for ensuring confidence in food supply. 
 

The ‘Multi-Year Project’ aims to identify key issues and make policy recommendations around possible solutions and action plans which will ultimately be provided to all APEC member economies. APEC says increasing access to food while protecting natural resources and the environment will require intense public-private co-operation such as that envisioned by the project.

 

Australia’s most trusted food brands revealed

Reader’s Digest has once again completed its annual Trusted Brands competition, recognising and rewarding manufacturers that have earned the public’s nod of approval.

Through an independent survey conducted on a sample of 2,412 Australian adults by market research company Catalyst Marketing & Research, Reader’s Digest has recognised the most trusted brands in 46 categories of products and services across a wide range of industries.

“Many purchases are made with the heart and, even in this digital age, it’s the brands which continue to offer quality and substance that hold our trust,” said Sue Carney, Australian Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief.

Dettol claimed the number one spot with other top 10 finalists including Dulux, Colgate, Band-aid, Dyson, Twinings and Lipton. 

Rotary clothes line manufacturer Hills Hoist was again voted the country’s most iconic brand, followed by Arnott’s and SPC which both earned Highly Commended titles.

Australia’s most trusted food and beverage manufacturers include:
•    Beer – James Boag (Winner), Heineken, Corona and Crown Lager (Highly Commended)
•    Bread – Bakers Delight (Winner), Helga’s and Burgen (Highly Commended)
•    Breakfast Foods – Weet-Bix (Winner), Uncle Tobys and Kellogg’s (Highly Commended)
•    Confectionery – Lindt (Winner), Cadbury and Darrel Lea (Highly Commended)
•    Frozen Foods – Birds Eye (Winner), McCain and Ingham (Highly Commended)
•    Ice Cream – Peters (Winner), Streets and Bulla (Highly Commended)
•    Milk – Dairy Farmers (Winner), Devondale and Pauls (Highly Commended)
•    Pies – Four’n Twenty (Winner), Mrs Macs and Sargents (Highly Commended)
•    Sugar substitutes – equal (Winner), Splenda and natvia (Highly Commended)
•    Tea – Twinings (Winner), Lipton and Dilmah (Highly Commended)
•    Yoghurt – Yoplait (Winner), Dairy Farmers and Jalna (Highly Commended)

For the full list of winners, head to www.homeoftrustedbrands.com.au

2015 Food Magazine Awards blow guests out of the water

Last Friday night at a gala event held on a water-borne platform at Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour known as the Dockside Pavilion, the 2015 Food Magazine Awards not only showcased the very best in Australian food manufacturing products, they also exhibited the vibrancy of a sector is that is moving ahead in leaps and bounds in terms of innovation and exports.

With 300 guests representing a number of food making sectors, companies and regions and organised by the publisher of Food magazine, Cirrus Media, the awards actually surprised many of the guests with the innovation that was on show.

The MCs for the night, the Chaser Boys entertained well into the night and by all accounts, the sponsors and guests were thrilled at the nights’ winners.

In fact, according to many in the audience, the night was an experience well worth remembering. 

Anni Brownjohn – President – The Right Food Group and Chair – National Organic Standards Board of Australia, said: “Thank you for once again taking the lead by providing the platform for the Australian food industry to recognise and congratulate the best in the business.”

Anna Meiler Mintel’s Account Director – ANZ- said: “I just wanted to drop a quick note to day that the Food Magazine Awards last Friday were fantastic! It was so well organized, everything was just perfect, from the location, drinks, food, the Chaser (please book them every year) and the band.”
 
“I loved the fact that the exhibitors were all fairly start-up and not too established (interesting new ingredients and concepts) and the same for the awards.”

However, the most important part of the night was the announcement of the winners of the various categories, which were:

1.    Inside Out Nutritious Goods for their Unsweetened Almond Milk  (Beverages)

2.    five:am for their Organic Cacao Yoghurt (Dairy)

3.    Baked Goods award is La Tortilleria for their Corn Tortillas (Baked Goods)

4.    Della Rosa Fresh Foods Group for their Santino Ultra Premium Stone baked Pizza Range  (Ready Meals)
5.    Morlife for their Dark Chocolate 5 Berry Mix (Labels)
6.    Kez's Kitchen for their Kez's Free & Naked Choc Mud Bars (Health and Wellness)
7.    Coolsan Australia for ChillSafe (Food Safety and Innovation in non-food Award)
8.    Bake Mixes for their Chewy Cacao-Chip Muesli Bars Mix (Organics Award is)
9.    Woolworths for their Created with Jamie Beef Meatballs & Wagyu Chorizo (Meat and Smallgoods Award)
10.    NOSHU Foods for their NOSHU Guilt Free Donuts (Snack Foods Award)
11.    B.-d. Farm Paris Creek (Sustainable Manufacturer Award is)
12.    Passage Foods for their Street Kitchen – Rogan Josh – Scratch Kit (Prepared Foods Award)
13.    Kelly Cube for their Kelly Cube Wholefood Meal Kit (Packaging Design Award)
14.    Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices for their Revolutionary System of Herbs & Spices (Ingredient Innovation Award)
15.     “Heilala Vanilla (Community Engagement Award)
16.    Thank You Group (Employer of the Year Award)

The Best of the Best Award went to Kelly Cube, whose entry was described as “a scrumptious and nutritious ready to cook restaurant quality meal with a simple and fun recipe in a box, totally sustainable packaging and a concept that supports local farmers and growers. All they needed to add was free tickets to the footy finals and 12 months’ worth of video games in the back of a Ute and the world’s 3+ billion men would be instant customers. This is forward thinking combined with healthy eating with a dash of positive community engagement all rolled into one economically fat stroke of genius. This is what Australia’s food industry should be all about. “

So another year has passed and another Food Awards has rewarded a number of Australian companies for their skill and expertise in the field of food making.

Well done to all the winners, sponsors, guests and everyone else involved and we hope see you all next year!

 

Beston Global Food secures routes to Chinese markets

Beston Global Food Company (BFC) – which is set to float on the Australian Stock Exchange this month – has secured distribution for its premium Australian dairy, meat, seafood and health food products in 150 cities across China.

The company has signed the distribution deal with Chinese retail giant Dashang Group, which also has agreed to subscribe to 14.9 per cent of Beston’s stock as part of the $AUD130 million Initial Public Offering. Institutional investors committed $AUD100 million to BFC within four days of the offer being released earlier this month.

BFC’s Chairman, Dr Roger Sexton AM, said BFC had been invited to be the preferred supplier to Dashang for all Australian food and beverages. BFC also has the opportunity to create and stock a Beston Pure Foods section in the up-market stores operated by Dashang.

“BFC has formed a close working relationship with Dashang following on from the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between China and Australia,” Dr Sexton said. “Our two companies share a common objective of taking lean, green and safe products from high quality producers in Australia into the discerning consumer markets in China.”

Dr Sexton said BFC had also established a wholly owned subsidiary in China through the acquisition of the Dalian Australian Food Expo Company. The company – which consolidates about 7,000 distribution outlets across China – will manage the import, customs clearance and distribution of BFC’s food and beverage products.

In addition, BFC has a customer relationship with on-line supermarket product distributor Yihaodian – 51% owned by Walmart and with 57 million registered users at the end of 2013.

“Beston Global Food Company will operate as a branded food company which, through its stable of quality food investments, will aim to provide high quality, safe, clean (natural and/or organic) food and beverage products to consumers,” 

Dr Sexton said. "Our goal is to be recognised as a reliable, high quality and consistent provider to burgeoning global consumer markets which are becoming increasingly concerned about issues of food safety.

“With ingredient integrity and a secure supply chain consumers will be assured of an authentic, genuine, healthy food experience.”
"This approach not only recognises our responsibilities to the environment, but also maximises returns to shareholders through the ability to achieve higher "price maker" margins from health conscious consumers."

Mobile paperless HACCP inspection app

Techs4Biz has developed a paperless app for food safety inspectors to make sure their inspection meets safety and HACCP requirements. 

The mobile app takes away the hassle of lugging around packets of papers and clipboards and additional camera. The paperless app works on a variety of mobile devices (such as iOS and Android tablets and smartphones), and the speed and ease it affords saves all stakeholders time and money. 

The new paperless HACCP inspection app addresses the various limitations of conventional paper-based HACCP inspection methods including the laborious paperwork that needs to be manually filled up at every stage of the inspection. 

Apart from taking a lot of time, entering information in a paper form is not only tedious and error-prone but also confusing, especially when the inspection is being conducted in new sites environments.

The new app can help food inspectors use their mobile devices to enter data using pick lists or speech to text; take photos using the mobile device’s in-built camera; capture electronic signature; get real time access to reference material such as instructions, previous inspection history, and relevant standards (e.g ISO 22000); send completed report and images back to the office in real-time; automatically generate reports on the spot and send to clients; and follow up on required corrective actions.

Techs4Biz’s paperless HACCP inspection solution has been specifically configured to suit the inspection requirements of any type of food safety program including pest control, food handling, sanitation checks, equipment calibration, personal hygiene and many more.

Aussies show interest in fresh foods over processed

Volume sales of fresh foods increased to 5.3 billion tonnes in 2014, up 1.5 per cent from 2013, according to Euromonitor International’s latest Fresh Food in Australia report.

The report found that fresh food sales up 1.5 per cent in 2014, with nuts experience highest growth of all fresh food categories, increasing by 5.9 per cent in volume in 2014. Within the meat category, pork (2.6 per cent) and poultry (2.2 per cent) experienced the highest volume growth in 2014.

Lily Lam, Research Analyst says in 2014, Australians were encouraged by the media (cooking shows, celebrity chefs, social media) to explore new cuisines and flavours, with retailers consequently encouraged to broaden their product ranges. New fads and diets such as paleo, raw food, superfoods and sugar-less diets created a new health-conscious consumer who wants to eat healthily and Australians are showing interest in fresh food as opposed to processed alternatives. Australian-made products are also growing in popularity as the country is well-renowned for growing its own fresh fruit and vegetables, and producing some of the world’s best meat products. However, high prices, which reflect high wages and living standards in Australia, are currently limiting growth in fresh food.

Other key findings include:

Proposal to impose GST on fresh food sparks debate

Fresh food, along with health and educational services, are currently exempt from the goods and services tax (GST) in Australia. In 2014, a proposal to impose a GST on fresh food was made by the government as a way to deliver up to A$21.6 billion in extra revenue annually. This sparked debate and criticism from the opposition, as well as farmers and the public alike. This is because one of the most important factors consumers takes into account when buying food is price. Therefore, if a 10 per cent GST were applied to fresh food, overall consumption would inevitably fall. Lower demand in fresh fruit, vegetables and protein would only lead to a decrease in overall sales and poorer health outcomes. The GST debate has yet to be concluded and will be examined in the government’s strategic review of the tax system in 2015.

Supermarkets dominate fresh food sales

Supermarkets dominate fresh food in Australia, accounting for over 50 per cent of total volume sales in 2014. Leading supermarket players Woolworths and Coles continue to increase their sales share at the expense of specialty retailers such as fruit grocers and fishmongers through ongoing price wars and promotional campaigns. The major supermarkets also drive sales by sponsoring popular TV cooking shows, My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef (Coles), and Recipe to Riches (Woolworths). The online retail market continues to grow, albeit gradually, with Woolworths opening its first ‘dark store’, a dedicated online store to fulfil online grocery orders. However, internet retailing has not yet taken off as it is still considered an inconsistent service in Australia. Also new in 2014 was the emergence of fruit and vegetable bars (vending machines) to challenge Australians’ poor snacking habits.

Stable demand for fresh food expected over forecast period

Total volume sales within fresh food in Australia are expected to rise at a CAGR of 1% over the forecast period, with growth set to be driven by increasing consumer demand for fresh food over frozen and processed food. All categories are expected to grow, with nuts and fish and seafood expected to be the strongest performing areas. This will be due to promotional activities, such as nuts being promoted with the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables and fish and seafood being promoted as an excellent alternative source of protein. However, sugar and sweeteners as well as meat will continue to experience declining demand due to the fact sugar consumption is being linked with obesity while beef is associated with cancer and its harmful impact on the environment. The resultant effect will be consumers looking for product substitutes or opting for smaller volumes of high-quality premium products.

 

Calls for Australia’s leaders to reduce food waste

OzHarvest will team up with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN’s Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD) to lead the third annual Think.Eat.Save campaign in Australia and raise awareness on global food loss and waste reduction.

The campaign will launch at Parliament House Canberra on the eve of World Environment Day, June 4, and culminate in the national Think.Eat.Save event taking place across seven Australian cities (capital and regional) on Monday, 27 July.

Environment Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Shadow Environment, Climate Change and Water Minister the Hon Mark Butler MP, Deputy Greens Leader Senator Larissa Waters, UNIC Director Christopher Woodthorpe and OzHarvest CEO and Founder Ronni Kahn will come together to launch the 2015 Think.Eat.Save campaign, bringing attention to the impact of global food waste and raising national debate on how food sustainability and food security can be addressed at a local level.

OzHarvest is calling on the nation’s leaders to set a target to reduce food waste by 50 per cent by 2025 following the example set by EU nations such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Food waste is currently costing Australians up to 10 billion dollars each year.

At the launch event, a lunch made from rescued surplus food will be prepared and served to Australia’s leaders by IHG Executive Chef at Parliament House Cris Purcell together with OzHarvest’s Chef for a Cause Travis Harvey.

Members of the public will also be encouraged to make a personal pledge to reduce food waste through a digital Think.Eat.Save campaign launching on the same day.

 

Woolworths moves towards zero food waste

The man who forced French supermarkets to donate unwanted food wants to take the law global, but it may not be necessary in Australia.

France’s “zero-tolerance” law banning supermarkets from destroying unsold food and forcing them to donate it to charity has ignited the food-waste discussion in Australia.

“We need to look at what has occurred in France to try to address this inequity and waste,” said RMIT’s Dianne McGrath.

McGrath is conducting Australia’s first national survey Watch My Waste to measure food waste in the hospitality sector and says the average Australian household throws out about 20 per cent of the food they buy from supermarkets, greengrocers and other stores.

“[This] is equivalent to one in every five bags of groceries or $1,036 per household annually,” McGrath said.

“While a number of supermarkets donate small amounts of still consumable food to food rescue organisations such as FareShare, Foodbank, OzHarvest, and SecondBite to help feed the hungry, too much perfectly good food is thrown in supermarket dumpsters every day.”

But Woolworths and ALDI are already working to reduce food wastage.

Woolworths has a policy of moving to zero food waste to landfill by the end of this year.

“We work with various food charities around Australia (including Foodbank, Ozharvest) to provide food to those in need,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

“Where food cannot be used by those charities, we have a number of options including use as fertilizer and as animal feed including partnerships with some zoos. We have other smaller scale projects including electricity production.

“We also try to ensure our purchasing from farms does not create excess waste. We buy just enough to ensure we have stock for our customers while having the minimum possible left over. We are working with farmers to use more of their crop through our "Odd Bunch" produce lines. These are fruit and vegetables that might not be perfect looking but are still great to eat. We offer these at a substantial discount to our customers.”

Similarly, ALDI Australia said it’s committed to minimising food wastage.

“We have a number of processes and policies in place to ensure that very little food sold on our shelves ends up as waste,” an ALDI spokesperson said.

“On a national level, ALDI donates food no longer suitable for sale but within its use-by date to Foodbank and OzHarvest, helping to provide quality meals for people in need. In 2014 we donated 990,688 kilograms of food to OzHarvest, which equates to 2,972,064 meals. Donated food includes, fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy, raw meat, drinks, desserts, pastries and dry goods.

“Over the past five years, we have donated 369,177 kilograms of food to Foodbank, the equivalent of 492,236 meals.

“As well as our national partnerships, we also donate to local community groups where an ALDI is present.”

 

Workers in agriculture, food processing allegedly being exploited

Foreign workers in the fruit picking and food processing industries are enduring slave-like conditions, according to an ABC Four Corners report.

In the program that aired last night, it was alleged that the exploitation of workers on 417 working holiday visas is widespread.

The program claimed workers are working long hours, being subjected to verbal abuse, experiencing sexual harassment, and being underpaid.

In addition, the program said there is a black labour market operating. Labour contractors are hiring foreigners on invalid or expired visas and paying them as little as $3.95 an hour.

The program alleged Griffith chicken processor, Baiada is one company which uses labour hire companies which exploit workers. It claimed two workers were paid $18 an hour even though the award is $25 an hour.

Workers told Four Corners they were not allowed to stop to drink water or go to the toilet for long periods of time.

Baiada, Australia’s largest poultry supplier, has annual revenue of $1.3b. The company’s chickens are sold by Coles and Woolworths and it supplies Red Rooster and KFC.

Following the program, the Victorian Government said it will begin an inquiry into labour exploitation in the second half of the year.

"We're just in the process of putting some terms of reference together and putting a committee together to actually do the investigation," Victoria's Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins said.

"We need to get the message out loud and clear that every unethical labour contractor that's operating needs to know that these activities won't be tolerated in Victoria."

Image: ABC

New country of origin food labelling may wait until 2017

Consumers may have to wait until 2017 for new country of origin food labelling regulations to be fully implemented, even though the Government earlier said it wanted them this year.

According to the ABC, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said talks are already taking place. However, it will take time to make any changes.

"Those meetings will go through to around about July, August," Joyce said.

"And then we will hopefully have it back in Cabinet around about August.

"Then we'll have an implementation period which will go over about 12 months, so it'll be starting next year."

As ABC Rural reports, one meeting between government and industry recently took place in the NSW town of Albury.

One attendee, Jodie Goldsworthy from Beechworth Honey told the ABC she was hopeful about the possibility of change but was disappointed that it “seems like the proposed changes are all about adding percentages for imported versus percentages for Australian”.

The labels will show the amount of locally made content in products, including diagrams to help consumers. However they won’t let consumers know where non-Australian content comes from. There will be just an ‘overseas’ designation, not designations for each overseas country.

Goldsworthy pointed out that food grown in New Zealand adheres to the same safety standards as Australian grown food, but food grown in China meets different standards.

The move for new country of origin food labelling gained momentum after five cases of hepatitis A in New South Wales and Victoria were linked to two Patties frozen berry brands.

The berries were grown in China and it is thought that poor hygiene amongst Chinese workers as well as potentially contaminated water supplies were to blame for the hepatitis A.

Image: 9news.com.au

Sanford likely to cut 230 workers from Christchurch seafood factory

Fishing group Sanford is likely to cut 230 workers from its Christchurch mussel processing plant because of a shortage of natural spat supply.

The New Zealand Herald reports that management met with employees at the plant yesterday to deliver the bad news and said a final decision will be made by April 20.

Sanford Chief Executive Volker Kuntzsch said there is a shortage of natural spat (young mussels) because of warm water and unfavourable weather conditions.

"Wild spat supply is the single biggest constraint on the mussel industry with current spat shortages limiting future crop supply. In the long term Sanford's recent investment with government, industry and research organisations in the selective breeding of mussels (will alleviate the industry's reliance on wild caught spat,” Kuntzsch said.

“However, at this stage it is not anticipated that these initiatives will boost crop supply to levels where Sanford's South Island plants are able to be efficiently utilised for the next two to three years."

Stuff.co.nz reports that Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU), which represents the workers, will meet Sanford next week to try to extend the timeline for talks and secure favourable exit packages.

SFWU representative Chas Muir said he did not expect many staff would take up the offer to relocate because of family reasons and because many have houses damaged by the Christchurch earthquake which not be of much value on the market.

"We have gone out to a whole lot of other industries and organisations to let them know about this, so they will be aware there is now a food grade processing facility available with spare capacity,” Muir said.

"I guess there's always a possibility that an opportunity comes out of the woodwork … to utilise this facility, whether they be mussels from another source or … some other kind of food product or seafood product."

Popularity of food ‘Made in Australia’ on the rise

The proportion of Australians over 14 who are more likely to buy food labelled ‘Made in Australia’ has risen to 88 per cent from 85 per cent two years ago, according to the latest research.

The survey by Roy Morgan Research also found that 6 per cent of Australians over 14 prefer food marked ‘Made in China’, compared to 5 per cent two years ago.

Those who prefer the goods ‘Made in China’ tend to be younger (under 35) and less concerned about whether their food is fattening, genetically modified, or additive-free. And they are more likely to buy frozen or chilled ready-made meals, takeaway food, and to avoid dairy products when possible.

“Among the small percentage of Australians who are more likely to buy food if it’s labelled ‘Made in China’, certain attitudes towards food stand out. These same attitudes – from ‘I often buy takeaway food to eat at home’ to ‘I avoid dairy foods wherever possible’ – are also more widespread among Aussies aged under 35 than those aged 35+,” said Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research.

In addition, Australians from an Asian background are more likely to prefer goods ‘Made in China’. However, those from this group are still much more likely to prefer food labelled ‘Made in Australia’.

Meanwhile, the Australian Made Campaign has welcomed the Government’s decision to consult with stakeholders and undertake consumer research into its proposal to introduce a mandatory ‘Australian content’ symbol for all locally produced food products.

“The Australian Made Campaign applauds the Ministers for Agriculture and Industry making country-of-origin branding a priority and looks forward to working closely with the Government on the introduction of the new system,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said in a statement.

It is believed the Ministers will be submitting further recommendations to Cabinet in August on changes to the current labelling laws, and what the proposed new symbol will look like.

The rules for using the logo on food products are more stringent than the rules for making country-of-origin claims under Australian Consumer Law. The Australian Made Campaign has been lobbying for that gap to be closed, and an education program to be rolled out to help increase understanding of country-of-origin claims and the value proposition of buying Australian made and Australian grown products.

Image: Choice.com.au

Kraft and Heinz agree to merger

Kraft has agreed to a merger with Heinz, which will create the third-biggest food and beverage manufacturing company in North America.

AFP and others report that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian private equity firm 3G capital – the owners of Heinz – will own 51 per cent of the new entity, to be called The Kraft Heinz Company. Kraft shareholders will own the remaining 49 per cent.

Berkshire and 3D will make an extra payment of $US 10 billion to award a special dividend of $US 16.50 a share to shareholders of the listed Kraft. Heinz will again become a public company.

The deal was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

Estimated revenues for the new business would be worth $US 28 billion annually.

“This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organisations and delivering shareholder value," said Buffett in a statement.

Fairfax reports that analysts predict cost cutting at the new company, which was seen after Berkshire and 3G acquired Heinz in 2013 for $US 23 billion. Further consolidation in the food and beverage sector also predicted.

"3G has squeezed a lot out of Heinz and now they will do the same job at Kraft," Fairfax reports David Turner, an analyst at research firm Mintel, as saying.

"When Buffett invests in a sector, it gives a sign that the sector is ripe for acquisitions. This will flag up other opportunities."

Consultancy Conlumino’s research shows the top three American food companies last year by sales were Pepsico, Nestle's North American division, and Coca-Cola.

Managing director of Conlumino, Neil Saunders, told the BBC that the new company would need to a better job modernising Kraft’s products, some of which appeared to be from the 1970s.

"The packaging isn't innovative, and the product hasn't really moved on," he said.

Image: Reuters

3D food printers could help feed world’s poor

3D food printers have the potential to help end global famine, according to an influential academic.

The Australian reports that Vivek Wadhwa, vice-president of innovation and research at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, believes 3D-printed meat could be important in the fight against hunger because its production will become much cheaper than is the case for real meat.

Wadhwa (pictured), who is currently visiting Australia, told the Australian that 3D-printed meat, made from synthesised protein strings will become viable in the next ten years.

“I wouldn’t want to eat the $US300,000 3D-printed hamburger (from The Netherlands) because it was (released) too early (in 2013),” Wadhwa said.

“But in five to seven years you’ll start seeing commercial prototypes of this technology and the quality will be quite good.”

He also predicted that, within 15 years, solar energy will be able to satisfy the world’s energy needs. It will also reduce energy costs and make vertical organic food production more economically viable.

Globally, over 800 million people are chronically food insecure. And according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, malnutrition costs the world $4 trillion in GDP.

Nick Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University, told an audience at this year’s Summit Spain in Seville that world hunger should not be seen as ‘part of the human condition’. On the contrary, it can be eliminated.

Haan said that, apart from 3D printing, technologies such as the use of drones for agricultural monitoring and of micro/nano bots for pollination will have a role to play in famine reduction.

Image: wadhwa.com

Filipino food group acquires Menora Foods

Filipino food group Monde Nissin Corporation has acquired privately owned Australian business Menora Foods.

According to the Australian, the acquisition cost about $55 million, although neither party would confirm that figure.

Menora Foods was established in Melbourne in 1967. One of Australia’s largest privately owned food marketing and distribution businesses, it markets over 1500 food products and distributes brands such as Wattle Valley cheeses and dips, Peckish rice snacks, Cobram Estate olive oil, and Maille mustard.

“I am very pleased to welcome the Menora Foods team and its partners into the Monde Nissin family. Monde Nissin aspires to be a significant foods and beverages player in the Asia Pacific region, we see Australia as a very important market that we should have a strong presence in, and Menora Foods with its marketing and distribution capability provides us with a very good strategic fit in achieving our vision,’’ Henry Soesanto, executive vice president of Monde Nissin Corporation, said.

“The combination of Menora’s own brands, Wattle Valley and Peckish as well as its leading agency brands, combined with Monde Nissin’s category leading Black Swan and Nudie brands, provides a solid platform within the Australian and export markets to support growth and new opportunities.”

As the SMH reports, the acquisition follows Monde Nissin Corporation’s purchase of Nudie Juices earlier this year and its purchase of dip maker Black Swan last year.

a2 Milk Company approved for ASX listing

The a2 Milk Company Limited (a2MC) has gained in principal approval to list on the Australian stock exchange, subject to customary pre-quotation conditions.

The Auckland-based milk marketing company issued a statement which said it is not planning any capital raising as part of the ASX listing process.

According to AAP, a2MC plans keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing.

The ASX has not yet confirmed the date on which the official listing will commence. However, a2MC expects to be able to soon make it public.

The company announced its intention to list on the ASX in November.

"With a significant part of our earnings and growth coming from Australia, seeking an ASX listing is a logical strategic move for the company," Geoffrey Babbage a2’s managing director said at the time.

"Listing on ASX will enable more Australian investors to participate in the company's growth and will increase the attractiveness and liquidity of its shares. The board believes that this will benefit all shareholders."

Earlier this year, Curtin University received funding from a2MC to conduct a pilot study into the digestive benefits of a2 milk, and found that subjects on a diet of a2 milk reported less bloating and abdominal pain than those consuming A1 milk.

Dairy Food Safety Victoria to regulate sale or raw milk

Dairy Food Safety Victoria will be in charge of regulating the sale of unpasteurised or ‘raw’ milk, following the state government’s announced crack down on the product.

The ABC reports that Dairy Food Safety Victoria is contacting all licensed dairy farmers to inform them of the requirements of the new regulations.

"People who are producing dairy products not intended for human consumption, will clearly identify those products and make them so they are not able to be consumed, in the same way that other consmetics are treated," said Jennifer McDonald, the chief executive officer of Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

"There are a number of different ways that they can deter consumption, and a bittering agent is one of those ways."

The regulation change follows the recent death of a three-year-old child from Mornington Peninsula late last year who drank Mountain View Organic Bath Milk.

In addition, another four children aged one to four, from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula became seriously ill after drinking other brands of unpasteurised milk.

According to McDonald, there appear to be only four Victorian producers selling ‘bath milk’. She said that all have been co-operative and her organisation is informing them about the best ways to comply with the regulations.

Health experts say that unpasteurised milk is not safe to drink because it can contain pathogenic bacteria which are harmful to humans.

Pasteurisation involves the heating of milk for a short period of time in order to destroy any such bacteria which may be present.

Liberal MP calls for GST on food

Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan has called for the GST to be broadened to include fresh food which is currently exempt from the tax.

Writing in the AFR, Tehan said that by broadening the indirect tax to include fresh food as well as other currently exempt goods and services like health and education the government could collect as much as $21.6 billion in extra revenue each year.

He said that governments have not broadened the GST because of ‘flawed arguments of unfairness or political cowardice’.

He pointed to New Zealand as an example Australia could follow.

“Since its introduction in 1986, New Zealand has raised its GST twice. It also recognised from the start that the only way to reap a full GST benefit is to have minimal exemptions,” Tehan wrote.

“Their GST covers 96 per cent of their consumption. Australia’s only covers 47 per cent and is shrinking, down from 53 per cent a decade ago.”

“As a result, the Kiwis now enjoy a company tax rate of 28 per cent and a top marginal income tax rate of 33 per cent.”

Both the Labor Party and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) dismissed the call to broaden the GST.

"Be in no doubt: this is not members of parliament acting alone," acting opposition leader Tony Burke told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"You look at what is being flagged today and there is no doubt this government is paving the way for changes to the GST."

Burke added that applying GST on food would hit people’s pockets "every time they go and buy food, every time they go to the grocery store, every time they reach out for the fundamentals and essentials of life".

According to the NFF, including fresh food in the GST would have a negative impact on the welfare of Australian farmers and Australian families.

“We want Australians to eat more fresh food, not less. Increasing the cost of food could mean consumers demand less fresh fruit, vegetables and protein, leading to a decrease in overall sales and poorer health outcomes,” said NFF CEO Simon Talbot in a statement.

“The reality is that the retailers aren’t going to forego profit. This means that farmers are likely to be forced to absorb the increase in costs. They are not able to pass on their costs.”

Tehan said attempting to protect the poor by GST exemptions is not good policy because everybody, not just the poor, benefit from the exemptions.

Victoria legislates against raw milk following death of child

The Victorian government last week introduced laws to prevent the consumption of unpasteurised milk, following the recent death of a child who drank the product.

The ABC reports that unpasteurised ‘raw’ milk, which is sold as a cosmetic product but is often also drunk, can now only be sold in the state if it contains a gag-inducing ingredient that makes it undrinkable.

Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jane Garrett said that the government acted quickly following the death of a three-year-old child from Mornington Peninsula late last year.

The child in question consumed Mountain View Organic Bath Milk, while another four children aged one to four, from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula became seriously ill after drinking other brands of unpasteurised milk.

"We did need to act quickly because clearly, undrinkable milk was being sold in containers the same as drinkable milk, and clearly people have been drinking it," Garrett said.

"All of the advice says it is a dangerous activity and it is (already) unlawful to sell raw milk for consumption in Victoria."

According to the Daily Telegraph, NSW is likely to follow the lead of Victoria and legislate against the product.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said there needs to be national action to prevent the sale of raw milk in a form that can be consumed by humans.

Pasteurisation involves the heating of milk for a short period of time in order to destroy any disease-causing bacteria which may be present.

“There is no doubt raw milk is dangerous, even with the best hygiene pathogenic bacteria can find its way from cows into the milk and that is why we pasteurise, it’s just irresponsible to sell raw milk and pretend it’s safe, it is not,” Microbiologist Professor Michael Eyles, chair of the Food Safety Information Council, told the Daily Telegraph.

 Image: Cannings Freerange Butchers

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