Bosch Australia partners with Food CRC

While the recently-announced Food Agility CRC will be funded with $50 million over ten years along with $160 million in commitments from 54 partner organisations, Bosch Australia will be a lead technology partner and will apply its agriculture technology expertise and resource to projects in connected agriculture and automation.

The Food Agility CRC will integrate the agile culture and processes of the digital economy through a whole-of-value-chain lens for fresh and processed food.

“Global food production needs to double by 2050 and the opportunity that presents to the Australian food industry is enormous,” says Mike Briers, CEO of the Food Agility CRC and UTS Industry Professor.

Bosch Australia said it is making significant investments in connected agriculture and food automation oriented activities in this region, including direct investment in Australian start-ups.

Most recently ‘The Yield’, an early stage Internet of Things (IoT) company focused on Micro-Climate sensing technology in Agriculture and Aquaculture. “

The Food Agility CRC will have a direct impact on the food and agriculture sector,” said Gavin Smith, Bosch President with responsibility for the region Oceania.
“There’s no better place than Australia to develop digital and automation solutions in food technology.”

Tumeric-rich Arkadia Golden Latte released

Arkadia Beverages has released a blend of high of turmeric, spices and organic panela sugar and called it Arkadia Golden Latte.

This turmeric blend is designed to be ready to drunk with hot or cold milk.

With no added dairy, vegan friendly and gluten and caffeine free, Arkadia Golden Latte is claimed to imbue the natural benefits of turmeric – often referred to as the most powerful herb on the planet for helping to fight a range of diseases.

Bellamy’s investors in class action

A shareholder class action against troubled infant formula supplier Bellamy’s has been filed in Victoria to give investors try try and claw back some of their losses.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn lodged the action in the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday on behalf of aggrieved investors who bought shares between April 14 and December 9 last year.
It will be a new challenge for Bellamy’s brand new chairman, Rodd Peters, who was appointed after most of the board resigned or were dumped in a recent shareholder backlash.
The Tasmanian company has suffered a massive plunge in share price and flagged a significant drop in sales in China, and twice downgraded its full-year earnings forecast.

The rebel shareholders who dumped the board at a fiery meeting on February 28 said a turnaround would be complex.
But they said they had a plan to address problems related to product distribution and pricing in China.
Maurice Blackburn principal Ben Slade said the class action was a chance for investors to seek some justice.
“We’ve put together a comprehensive set of pleadings that we’ve now filed with the court, and we are confident that will give aggrieved shareholders the best chance possible of achieving financial redress for some of their losses,” he said in a statement.

Celebrating 10 years of craft beers

The Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival, taking place on Saturday 18 March, is set celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Running from 11am – 6pm in the grounds of the heritage Mercure Canberra, the event will feature breweries from across Australia along with live bands, food, entertainment and kids’ activities.

The festival is recommended for all beer and cider enthusiasts – from beginners to budding craft brewers. Over 100 beers and ciders will be available for tasting and visitors will be able to take part in beer/cider food matching sessions, hear guest speakers, and meet the brewers.

Breweries exhibiting will include the multi-award winning Sydney Brewery, Thatchers, Little Creatures, Dad and Dave’s Brewing, Stone Dog Meadery, Yenda, Hope Estate Beer Co and many others from across Australia.

This year, the Festival will help raise funds for ACT Cancer Support, a locally based organisation that currently provides support for 950 patients.

Brazilian-inspired Anheuser-Busch InBev earnings drop causes concern

It seems beer drinking is on the nose as the world’s biggest beer maker suffers its first profit decline in its decade-long history. 

Stock prices for the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev fell as much as 3.3 per cent as the company’s fourth-quarter results missed estimates at almost all levels with the Belgium-based beer maker continuing to struggle with a slump in its key market of Brazil.

It’s “another shocker, but that’s the trough,” wrote Eamonn Ferry, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas told the Denver Post. “We had feared the worst this quarter, and so it is. There may well be an element of kitchen-sinking here.”

Spending power in Brazil, AB InBev’s largest market after the U.S., is nosediving amid record rates of unemployment, leading to a decline in AB InBev’s market share and a 33 per cent drop in earnings in that country.

The maker of well-known brands such as Stella Artois and Budweiser maintained its final dividend at 2 euros a share and warned that growth in such payments will be modest as it tries to curtail its $USD108 billion debt.

As the Wall Street Journal has noted, “a stale beer market leaves the investment case for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which brews seven of the top 10 global brands, heavily reliant on cost savings. Yet reviving interest in the drink is crucial in the long run.”


Green ants are flavour of the month in Australian gins

Green ants and other ancient foods from one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures are being used as botanicals in Australian craft gins.

Two distilleries in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia have this month released gins made with green ants, a traditional indigenous food eaten for thousands of years by the Australian Aborigines for their high protein and medicinal benefits.

The gins also use a range of other native botanicals to provide a fresh Australian interpretation of a London Dry Gin.

Applewood Distillery released its Green Ant Gin on Valentine’s Day (February 14) while Something Wild Beverages will launch its Australian Green Ant Gin today (February 22).

Adelaide Hills Distillery is making the gin under contract for newly-formed Something Wild Beverages, a division of native food company Something Wild, which specialises in sustainably sourced indigenous foods such as kangaroo, wallaby, magpie goose, native herbs and fruits.

Adelaide Hills Distillery founder and head distiller Sacha La Forgia said it took him several months to be persuaded to eat green ants and allow them to be put in his still.

“But once I did it was like an incredible flavour explosion in my mouth of lime and coriander flavours as well as a fresh acidic zing,” he said.

“It was just beautiful and I thought straight away ‘wow, they exist to be in gin’.”

A “pinch” of  green ants, which are sourced under permit from the Northern Territory, are also put into the bottles in the same way worms are used in tequila to provide the finishing touch.

“That acidic zing doesn’t carry over in the still so we include some ants in every bottle and it just lifts the palate a bit,” La Forgia said.

“By putting them in the bottle, I’m hoping to encourage people to eat one and taste it.

“When people try one their eyes light up and they get a big smile on their face.”

Other Australian native foods used as botanicals in the gin include finger lime, pepper berry, the native juniper boobialla and leaves from strawberry gum and lemon myrtle trees.


“By using more leaves I was able to use less juniper while still maintaining those same characteristics that you would normally associate with gin,” La Forgia said.

The Australian Green Ant Gin has an ABV of 42 per cent and is priced at AU$97.50 on the Something Wild Beverages website for a 700ml bottle.

The company aims to have national and possibly international distribution for the product, depending on demand.

Under the collaboration between Adelaide Hills Distillery and Something Wild, profits from the botanicals gathered on Aboriginal lands flow back into those Outback communities.

“I think now is quite an important time because we are seeing the popularity of native foods increasing very quickly,” La Forgia said.

“It’s a feel good thing but it’s also very necessary to make sure that these ingredients are sustainable and that they are still there in the future.”

Meanwhile, Applewood Distillery’s Green Ant Gin is almost sold out of its limited edition of 300 bottles. The 500ml bottles are also 42 per cent ABV and cost $120 each.

Previous limited edition gins at the distillery, based in the Adelaide Hills village of Gumeracha, have included torpedoing gin with lavender and distilling gin through saltbush.

The Green Ant Gin features ants sourced under permit from New South Wales as well as a number of other native botanicals.

Head distiller Brendan Carter said the response to the gin had been “insane” and he expected the 300 bottles to be sold out by the end of the month.

He said the main constituent that gave the green ants their distinctive sharp, citrus flavour was formic acid.

“In this particular one we also wanted to emphasise the native citruses, which I think a lot of people are getting their heads around at the moment so there’s finger limes and a little bit of strawberry gum leaf in there too,” Carter said.

“Our limited editions are a complete once off so we’ll do that and move on to something else challenging and uber creative in typical Applewood fashion.”


This article first appeared in The Lead.

Mechatronic drive awarded HACCP certification

 Understanding the extremely high standards that Australia’s food and beverage manufacturers work towards to ensure that consumers receive the highest quality products, SEW-EURODRIVE has announced the recent Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification of its mechatronic drive system MOVIGEAR type B, variant for wet areas.

Traditional machine components are not only difficult to clean thoroughly; they also generally require production areas to shut down – at least in part – for cleaning activities to take place. This procedure places strain on production timeframes, contributing to reduced product throughput affecting the overall profitability.

Machine components mounted in production or processing areas are often exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals. The shape of the component, its material composition and the method of substrate protection all play a large role in the cleaning efforts, likelihood of becoming a source of contamination and product longevity.

Designed specifically for the food and beverage industry MOVIGEAR for wet areas has a number of advantages over traditional drive solutions. Up to three core products can be assembled into a “self-draining” and compact housing: gear unit, motor and drive electronics (optional).

Combining the technical and practical advantages of all three drive components leads to an increase in the performance, efficiency and reliability. The MOVIGEAR product range can be easily integrated into most materials handling applications such as conveyor systems.

The smooth housing of the MOVIGEAR for wet areas is finished with a ‘HP200’ treatment which is burned-in-to the surface during the application process. Highly resistant to rigorous cleaning regimes, including chemical and high pressure wash down, the integrity of the surface finish eliminates the possibility of “paint-lift-off” often associated with traditional surface coatings.

The inherent anti-stick properties contribute to a reduction of debris build-up resulting in reduced cleaning efforts and system downtime. Standard inclusion of stainless steel shafts, fasteners and auxiliary fittings further enhances the MOVIGEAR for wet areas anticorrosive properties.

The totally enclosed non-ventilated mechatronic drive system is designed according to the principle of convection cooling, eliminating the need of a motor fan. Motor-fan noise spread of germs and bacteria due to air swirls are a thing of the past with the MOVIGEAR product range.

Compliant with IE4 (Super Premium Efficiency) standards, a major benefit of the MOVIGEAR is the impressive energy savings potential.



Temperature controller

Oven has announced its 5R6-900 temperature controller with ramp/soak capabilities. Contained all in one enclosure, the device can be plugged into the wall as a self-contained temperature control system, which has its own power supply.

This feature makes the device convenient for users. The controller can also be used universally, which allows the user to use the device wherever they are located.

As a solid state MOSFET bidirectional compact unit featuring an internal power supply, it is also capable of loading currents up to 10A.

The controller is suited to usage in universities, science laboratories, industrial plants and PCR research.

It features an easy-to-read digital display for controlling functions, including adjusting output voltage and setting the desired temperature.

Complete with an auto output shutdown if the sensor is opened or shorted, the unit also includes high, low and no alarm settings.

Food industry penalty rate change applauded by business

The Australian Industry Group has welcomed today’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) Penalty Rates Decision.

“The Commission has accepted Ai Group’s evidence and arguments to re-set penalty rates in the fast food industry to better align them with the characteristics and needs of 21st century workplaces,” Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said.

“Ai Group represented the fast food industry in the case.  A great deal of evidence was presented from Ai Group members, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks, and from relevant experts.”

“A very high proportion of employees in the fast food industry are young people who have study commitments during normal business hours.”

The Commission accepted Ai Group’s evidence that young people often prefer to work in the evenings and on weekends, and that many prefer to work on Sundays rather than Saturdays.

“In the fast food industry, weekends and evenings are peak times. Regular business hours have little relevance to businesses in the fast food industry and, therefore, penalty rates that were designed many decades ago around regular business hours need to be re-set.”

“In the Decision, the Commission has recognised that existing Sunday penalty rates in the fast food industry are not fair for employers and no longer relevant.”

“The new penalty rates will be phased in over at least two years to reduce the impact upon employees.”

“The five-Member Full Bench, headed by FWC President, Justice Iain Ross, made their decision on penalty rates in the fast food industry after a case which continued for over two years. The Full Bench carefully weighed up all the arguments and evidence and arrived at a fair and sensible outcome.”

“What is important now is that the decision by the independent umpire is implemented as soon as possible, and that all parties accept the outcome,” Willox said.

Nanoparticles could be the future of agriculture

MICROSCOPIC particles that have always been considered a pollutant are being studied for a range of agricultural uses.

South Australian researchers are working on a number of novel uses for engineered nanoparticles including efficient fertilisers, agricultural ‘amendments’ and a unique way to clean-up contaminated land.

Engineered nanoparticles are currently used in a range of industrial materials, such as ceramics and advanced polymers, and are also commonly used in the production of household materials, personal care products and clothing.

These particles are considered a pollutant risk if they are able to accumulate in the environment.

With a maximum diameter of just 100 nanometres, it is easy for the particles to be widely dispersed across soil and accumulated by plants.

As a result, nanoparticles have been considered a pollutant and eco-toxicological risk to both plants and wildlife.

But researchers at the University of South Australia have found that the very same nanoparticles could also prove beneficial to the growth of plants.

A glasshouse trial conducted by Dr Elliott Duncan, Dr Gary Owens and Nazanin Nikoo Jamal involved exposing rice plants to titanioum and cerium nanoparticles.

Dr Elliott said that instead of proving toxic to the plants, the nanoparticles aided the growth of the rice plants.

Current laboratory tests have focused on rice plants, but Dr Duncan said the same particles could also be used to benefit other grain crops and horticultural species, with tests expected to begin on wheat later this year.

“There’s a lot of concern in terms of whether engineered nanoparticles are toxic, whether they’re accumulated by plants and what the end effect is for humans and the environment,” he said.

“But we found these particles may actually provide some benefits for the plants, and, if we could harness those, this could be a big deal for the agriculture industry.”

The experiment demonstrated that some nanoparticles had the potential to be used as an agricultural supplement, although Dr Duncan said it was still unclear how exactly these particles helped the growth of plants.

“The mechanisms behind it and predicting whether it is going to occur and how best to harness it is still unknown,” he said.

His team will continue with glasshouse experiments to test the safety and effect of the nanoparticles.

Dr Duncan said there was also the potential for specially designed nanoparticles to be used as a way to delivery fertiliser more efficiently.

“With current fertilisers, a lot of the nutrient isn’t available to the plants – essentially the plant can only use 30 to 50 per cent, so up to 70 per cent of the fertiliser expense is just wasted,” he said,

“The idea would be that if we can improve that, you can get away with applying a lot less, which then has benefits for the economics of the farm and the environment.

“This stems from the fact that the nanoparticles are small, which means they’re quite mobile in the environment so they should be able to interact with plants a lot better than more traditional bulk fertilisers.”

The size of nanoparticles also means they possess unique properties such as a high surface-area to volume ratio, which could also make them effective for cleaning up contaminated land.

Dr Duncan is also researching the effectiveness of nanoparticles in binding to toxic chemicals such as lead and arsenic.

“To remediate a site is often quite destructive, you cause quite a big change to the environment if you’ve got to say dig it up, it’s quite labour intensive and so on,” he said.

“So this could be a faster, simpler way to remediate a site than current technologies, so we want to see whether these particles can reduce the bio-availability of contaminants, which should reduce how much is available to plants and also how much is lost into water-sources.”

Dr Duncan said more understanding was still needed around the ease with which nanoparticles could move into soil, plants or wildlife, and that long-term toxicity was also an important safety factor to evaluate.

However, if his research continues to yield positive results, he said there was the potential for a commercial product for the agriculture industry.

“We need to do it in an Australian context to see how it’s going to potentially impact our industry,” Dr Duncan said.

“We’re aware that there are risks involved with nanoparticles, but the reward could also be great too.”


From The Lead

H2Coco COCOCHOC – coconut water and choc drink

H2Coco COCOCHOC is a healthy way to treat yourself to your favourite guilty pleasure, without the guilty conscience.

Smooth and tasty, the drink combines the hydrating benefits of pure coconut water with the sweetness of natural cocoa powder. Lactose, fat and dairy free, it is also naturally gluten free and provides a high source of potassium – it’s the better-for-you chocolate coconut water blend, which offers a lighter and more nutritious way to get your iced chocolate fix.

Made using 100 percent natural ingredients, the drink is vegan friendly and contains no artificial flavours or sweeteners, no preservatives or thickeners, concentrates or chemicals. Just three simple ingredients make up the drink – 70 per cent coconut water, natural cane sugar and cocoa powder.

Even better, the drink isn’t just kind to your waistline, it’s a company that cares about the world you live in and the people that make its product. The company only works with suppliers who treat their farmers fairly, take care of the environment and invest in local communities.

Created with H2Coco’s ethos of keeping things simple, the drink is all about real taste and making healthy choices.

Nexba voted best beverage

Nexba, an Australian beverage company dedicated to eradicating sugar from soft drinks, has been voted Product of the Year (Beverage Category) by thousands of Australian consumers.

Global research company Nielsen surveyed 14,205 of Australian shoppers to determine the winners across a range of category sectors. The survey asked household shoppers to choose their favourite products across 45 categories.

“We are very honoured to receive the Product Of The Year award for our range of Naturally Sugar Free soft drinks,” said Troy Douglas, Nexba co-founder.

“With the global surge in the anti-sugar movement, we are proud to be at the forefront of innovation as the Australian brand leading the way and breaking new ground in this category.

“Nexba was first to market with our natural sugar free offering. It’s very clear people around Australia and various parts of the world are sold on enjoying a natural and sugar free soft drink in Cola, Lemon and Orange flavours.”

Two new flavoured coffees from Nespresso

Nespresso has introduced two new coffees to its Professional range following consumer demand – allowing restaurants and hotels to offer patrons more choice when it comes to the flavours of coffee they can offer. The two new coffees, Espresso Caramel and Espresso Vanilla, will form part of a permanent line of flavoured coffee, extending the Professional range to a total of 13 varieties.

Following the success of flavoured coffees in the in-home market, Nespresso is making them available to Professional customers across the hotel, restaurant, business and office sectors so consumers can enjoy their favourite coffee wherever they are. This comes off the back of an international study by Harris International that found 61 percent of Australian respondents wanted to be offered new and exciting flavours. Australians favoured Vanilla and Caramel and Nespresso has responded by adding more variety and choice to the Professional Grands Crus range.

Espresso Caramel and Espresso Vanilla are based on Espresso Forte with an intensity of seven. Consumers will be able to experience the silky flavour of Espresso Vanilla, which has a full and slightly caramelised aroma of vanilla combined with the complex Espresso Forte profile. Espresso Vanilla can also be enjoyed with milk for softer notes, evoking thoughts of vanilla-scented pastries.

On the other hand, the sweet caramel flavour of Espresso Caramel mellows the roasted notes of Espresso Forte creating a pleasant coffee reminiscent of the browning of sugar. For those who prefer a latte or flat white, add milk to unveil hidden cocoa and nutty notes.

During the warmer months, both Espresso Caramel and Espresso Vanilla are the perfect options for iced coffee recipes.


Australia’s first lentil beer sure to have pulses racing

AUSTRALIA’S first lentil beer has been released by a craft brewery in the Adelaide Hills.

Lobethal Bierhaus’ Lentil Pale Ale was launched this week following an approach by pulse processor AGT Foods.

Only about 3500 bottles and two kegs are part of the first run but the brewery sees it as a first step towards producing a gluten free craft beer.

Whole and diamond cut red lentils with grey seed coats are used as an adjunct and are milled with the with the grain at the rate of 30 per cent lentils, 70 per cent barley.

Lobethal Bierhaus Head Brewer and Owner Alistair Turnbull although the lentils did not produce fermentable sugars, they added mouthfeel, head retention and flavour to the beer.


“I would describe it as a fairly earthy flavour that we’ve balanced with local hops that matches with it. But we’ve also tried to make sure that we haven’t made it overly bitter or hoppy so it hides the lentil flavour,” Turnbull said.

The brew follows a collaboration between AGT Foods’ Canadian parent company and Rebellion Brewing Company in Regina, Saskatchewan, to brew a Lentil Cream Ale.

“They put me in touch with the Canadian brewery to pass on some of their research and the beer we released yesterday was the result of that,” Turnbull said.

“I’m already really impressed with how it behaves. What it does for the beer is fantastic.

“The guys from the Rebellion Brewing Company in Canada came here yesterday as well and they were quite impressed with it, they said it tasted great.”

Lobethal Bierhaus opened in 2007 in the Adelaide Hills town of Lobethal, about 40km east of the South Australian capital Adelaide. It includes a bespoke Malthouse (one of the very first of its kind in Australia), an all grain microbrewery (brew length 1200 litres), cellar door and restaurant.

Turnbull said the brewery’s ability to malt its own grain meant a further collaboration with AGT Foods to source sorghum or a similar grain to produce a full-flavoured gluten free product was a real possibility.

“There’s a lot of people out there who are coeliacs and they’d like to drink craft beer but they can’t,” he said.

“A lot of the beers that are gluten free tend to be more mainstream as opposed to full flavour so there’s a bit of a window there and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’m getting a huge amount of interest from that perspective.”

AGT Foods South Australian Business Manager Hayden Battle said as far as he was aware, the Lentil Pale Ale was the first beer in Australia to use lentils.

He said the company approached Lobethal Bierhaus because they wanted to use the product as a marketing tool for AGT Foods and the broader Australian Pulse industry.

“Most people like beer so it was a good opportunity to use that to our advantage,” he said.

“The majority of pulses produced in Australia are exported to be consumed overseas so if we can place the spotlight on pulses in some small way then it’s probably a good project that’s a bit of fun.”

“We’ve had discussions around creating a gluten free beer and we’re trying to source some white sorghum out of our New South Wales plant that Alistair can play around with.

“Perhaps we can also look at doing something with fava beans or chick peas in the future.”

This article first appeared in The Lead.


Rocks Brewing releases Nectarine Wit Bier

Rocks Brewing has released a new beer, namely the Conviction Series Seasonal Nectarine Wit Bier.

Originally made in Belgium’s regional areas, Witbier is believed to date back to the 1400s. The soil in these areas was rich and agrarianism was strong with farmers growing crops of barley, wheat and oats, all of which were used to brew traditional Witbiers.

This style of beer is readily open to interpretation and the company has gone to work on crafting an intriguing new take on this historical beer.

A traditional Belgium Witbier is brewed using at least 50 per cent wheat and often oats in the grist. Utilising state of the art mash filter, this new Nectarine Witbier is brewed using 75 per cent wheat, along with oats that lend the beer a beautiful creamy texture and dry finish.

Straying from tradition and adding to the intrigue and complexity of the beer, fresh nectarines have been added throughout the brewing process along with a selection of spices including coriander, ginger & all spice. As a result, this brew is a fruity, tart, spicy, light and intricate thirst quencher.

This beer is a live ale with yeast and fruit present in the cask, the beer will evolve over time heading from fresh and fruity to a more tart almost sour and funky beer, a beer that is ever refreshing yet keeps the drinker thinking and engaged.

Appearance: Pale straw with an almost milky haze and a tight white head.

Aroma: A clove and star anise style spice with sweet nectarine lingering.

Flavour: Initial nectarine sweetness finishing dry and tart.

Alcohol: 4.4 per cent abv

Sydney distillery in running for international gin title

A small Western Sydney distillery’s signature creation is in the running to be named the world’s best traditional gin after taking out the Australian title at a prestigious international awards competition.

The family-run Ironbark Distillery in Richmond NSW was awarded the title of Australia’s best traditional gin for its 313 Dry Gin in the World Gin Awards on December 18. The competition is part of the World Drink Awards and features entries from across the globe.

To win the title, Ironbark Distillery shone during a six-month testing program and will now be judged against four international competitors for the world’s best title which will be named on March 30, 2017 at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London.

To be named world’s best traditional gin, Ironbark Distillery will take on competitors from Canada, Germany, the UK and USA. The winner of Best Traditional Gin will then also be in the running for the ultimate prize of being named World’s Best Gin.

Master Alchemist and Ironbark Distillery Director Reg Papps says winning the award as Australia’s Best Traditional Gin is a major coup for the young distillery which he opened with his wife Greta just three years ago.

“We’re excited and a little overwhelmed by the award win and the opportunity to be named both the world’s best traditional gin, and potentially, the world’s best gin,” he said.

“Even to be in consideration for such an accolade is more than we could ever have imagined when we took the plunge to put everything on the line and follow our dream to open the distillery. It just reinforces for us that you should never to be scared to try something new, no matter what stage of life you’re at.

The latest accolade is confirmation that the stellar reputation Ironbark Distillery has built so rapidly is well deserved. In just its first year it was named Australian Gin Distillery of the Year (2015) at the Melbourne International Spirit Awards and in 2016 it collected multiple medals at the renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The distillery produces six products – two gins, two moonshines, a vodka and a chai spirit – with Reg’s creations combining Australian-grown grain with impeccable flavours that are proofed with purified, sterilized water sourced locally.

The spirits are filtered through a carbon filter system built by Reg, made in a specially-designed still and bottled by hand.

Ironbark’s 313 Dry Gin is also in competition at the Chinese Wine and Spirit Awards, the biggest and most prestigious wine and spirits awards across Hong Kong and China. Winners will be decided on February 20.

Doctors call for end to alcohol sponsorship of cricket

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is calling for an end to alcohol sponsorships in cricket, with currently more than 20 alcohol-related sponsorships in cricket across Australia.

The RACP is concerned about the impact alcohol promotion has on young cricket fans – a sentiment backed by the majority of Australians, with 61 per cent concerned about the exposure of children to alcohol promotions in sport.

RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President, Dr Sarah Dalton, says it’s unacceptable that young children are being bombarded with alcohol promotion both at the ground and at home watching on TV.

“It is time for a national conversation to discuss how big brewers are using sport as a channel to market their product, leaving our children as the collateral damage,” explained Dr Dalton. “It is happening in too many Australian sports and it needs to stop.

“These promotions normalise alcohol, with Australian kids getting the message that alcohol is an important part of socialising and sports,” said Dr Dalton.

“During one of the VB ODI games, I urge you to keep a tally of how many times you spot an alcohol ad or logo, either at the ground, on a player’s shirt, or in an advert on TV – I’m sure the number would surprise and shock you.

“Sadly, we know this type of marketing leads children and adolescents to start drinking earlier and makes young drinkers prone to binge drinking patterns.

Dr Dalton also criticised the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) who she says need to do more to ensure children are protected during sports broadcasts.

“Sports are the only programs allowed to broadcast alcohol advertisements before 8:30pm, on weekends and public holidays, at times when children are most likely to be watching television. Because of this it’s estimated that children under the age of 18 are exposed to 50 million alcohol advertisements each year.

“As a paediatrician, I am interested in finding out why this is allowed to happen. The ACMA needs to step up, remove this loophole, and help protect Australian children from alcohol promotion.”

Dr Dalton encouraged Cricket Australia and the ACMA to review the RACP’s Alcohol Policy, which calls for national, comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to combat the harms of alcohol.



Finalists named in Twinings design challenge

The top four finalists of the Twinings Design Challenge are Carrie Bickmore, Emma Freedman, Samantha Harris and Nicole Kidman.

Packs of Twinings Morning Tea blend featuring the four designs hit shelves from today. They were chosen by a judging panel including Archibald Prize judge Ashley Dawson-Damer, out of a field of 33 incredible designs.

Ten cents from every pack of Twinings Morning Tea sold will be contributed towards the top four’s charities of choice; Carrie Bickmore – Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer, Emma Freedman – Captain Courageous Foundation, Samantha Harris – Make-A-Wish Australia, and Nicole Kidman – Variety: The Children’s Charity.

Australians will have a chance to vote for their favourite design and voting is open, running between now to 8th May.

Whichever celebrity accumulates the most votes will have her design remain on shelf, where 10c from every pack sold will be contributed to her charity of choice over the next four years.

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Putting the focus back on Australian Sauvignon Blanc

For almost eight years, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has dominated the Australian white wine market, leaving local winemakers searching for a way to dethrone the top-selling Kiwi brands.  For Burch Family Wines, this means adjusting the production techniques used on their Margaret River and Great Southern vineyards.

Natalie Burch, Operations Manager and Director for Howard Park Wines, says that the key to creating a worthy opponent to our rival across the Tasman isn’t in imitation, but distinction.

“[NZ Sauvignon Blanc has] been very successful, but it’s not something Australia could replicate because we aren’t New Zealand,” said Burch. “So producers, like ourselves, who have Sauvignon Blanc planted have looked at how to differentiate ourselves and make the wines more interesting to drink.”

The aim for Burch Family Wines is to create a drink that hits the mark in its own right and is known for its exceptional quality and food friendliness. In this attempt to contrast the much-loved New Zealand varietal, they have carefully applied innovative techniques to their winemaking process.

“The main difference is oak,” explained Burch. “We tend to do a little barrel fermentation in French oak or extended lees/skin contact. It softens the fruit acidity of the wine a little and adds more richness and complexity.”

Demand for Australian-made Sauvignon Blanc has gone up in recent years, despite the fact that they often come with a higher price tag. This can be due, in part, to their distinctive flavours, richness and complexity, which makes them well worth the price.

As Australian winemakers become more eager to reclaim the white wine market, innovation will undoubtedly follow. This commitment to bettering the much-loved varietal demonstrates how wine drinkers can benefit from the ever-evolving nature of the industry.

“It’s a very exciting time in the industry; overall, the wines Australia are making now are better than we’ve ever made before because it is hypercompetitive,” said Burch. “There’s so much to try and enjoy. It’s a great time to be an Australian wine drinker.”

Cellar doors drive boutique winery growth in Australia

Cellar door and mail order sales are driving strong growth for small wineries, the latest survey results published by Wine Australia has found.

The trend is helping producers with estimated annual crushes of less than 500 tonnes make inroads into a market dominated by huge wine companies in recent decades.

Small winemaking businesses generated $1.1 billion in wine sales revenue in 2015–16, an average increase of 12 per cent, according to the Small Winemaker Production and Sales Survey 2016 released this week by Wine Australia in South Australia.

While retailers and wholesalers generated 47 per cent of income for small producers, cellar doors have become increasingly important sales channels, accounting for 29 per cent of domestic sales. Cellar door and mail order channels showed the largest growth, both increasing by 7 per cent for the 12-month period.

Barossa Valley producer Whistler Wines crushes about 100 tonnes a year, producing about 6000 cases. It relies on about 10 food and music themed events a year in its native Australian bush setting coupled with regular cellar door traffic to attract visitors.

Owner, grape grower and winemaker Josh Pfeiffer said using winery events and the cellar door to reach new customers and build a database of clients was crucial.

He said being able to offer something different that wasn’t widely available elsewhere and reflected the provenance of the region appealed to visitors.

“We get people coming in here every day saying they are only interested in coming to small independent wineries – they want to meet the people behind the wine and learn something,” he said.

“That’s translating across the trade as well, where wine buyers from restaurants and hotels are wanting independent, smaller brands on their lists and customers of theirs are requesting that as well.

“It’s the same in retail too with the smaller independent bottle shops.”

According to the Wine Australia report, small wineries only exported about 12 per cent of their wine, which is consistent with Whistler Wines’ experience, while exports made up more than 60 per cent of Australian wine sales industry wide.

Pfeiffer said once people had visited the Barossa cellar door they were encouraged to join the 10,000-strong mailing list where they were given access to online specials.

“For us it’s about getting people here and then keeping them here for long enough for them to remember us and want to come back,” he said.

“We do 70 per cent of our sales direct to customers and that’s one of the only reasons we are able to survive.

“If we were giving away 35 per cent to distributors or selling wholesale then all of a sudden you’re not making the margin that you need to make.”

Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers CEO Judith Kennedy said cellar door and mail order sales helped small wine companies maintain margins and bypassed the challenges some faced of securing distribution in major cities.

She said the ability to value add to a wine business through gift sales, accommodation and eateries attached to cellar doors also provided opportunities for new revenue streams.

“It can take a long time for a little wine company to become profitable but cellar doors are certainly part of the answer,” Kennedy said.

“People love the experience of actually being there, talking with the winemaker if they’re lucky and talking with the people who have had hands on experience with the wine.

“The cellar door industry in general is more buoyant now than ever.”

Research released in 2015 by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute found that a visit to a winery’s cellar door had a lasting effect on consumer behaviour, influencing their buying habits for months afterwards.

“If they like the wine and they’re OK with the price then they’ll join the mailing list and they’ll buy the wine on a regular basis,” Kennedy said.

“As their volumes increase and they have a few good harvests they put the money into improving their cellar doors.

“Sometimes you’ll find tremendously humble little cellar doors and you go back there five years later and they’ve got this beautiful establishment and a line of people going out the door.”

The 223 survey responses from Australian small wine businesses also found:

Production was up 7 per cent, with the highest average growth in wineries that produce 70,001–170,000 litres (8000–20,000 cases) (up 11 per cent).

Average revenue growth was 12 per cent in 2015–16.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of the wineries surveyed make all of their wine in their own facilities.

On average, two-thirds of grapes used by small wineries were grown in their own vineyards.

South Australia produced 51 per cent of the nation’s crush in 2016 and about 75 per cent of Australia’s premium wine from some of the oldest vines in the world.

Its 18 regions include the Barossa Valley, which is home to iconic brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass.


This article first appeared on The Lead.