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January 2004 New evidence emerges as Parmalat investigation continues Date: Fri, 02 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Documentary evidence seized at the headquarters of Italian food giant Parmalat has spurred investigators on, according to new reports. Scrutiny of the dairy group has gained momentum following on from the detainment of eight suspects on Wednesday. A team including a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigator, Italian prosecutors, fiscal police and Parmalat's government-appointed administrator are searching for a total of around €8 billion ($10 billion) that is unaccounted for. Parma magistrates are due to resume interrogation today, with the implications for big business and the food industry likely to be far reaching. The role of Bank of America is expected to come under scrutiny, particularly as its actions precipitated the crisis when it revealed that an account purported to contain €3.95 billion in cash and securities for Bonlat, a Cayman Islands subsidiary, was a forgery. Parmalat's former auditors Grant Thornton are also facing investigation, with Lorenzo Penca and Maurizio Bianchi, chairman and partner of Grant Thornton's Italian unit, detained on Wednesday. The two have been suspended by their parent company, although Mr Penca has already handed in his resignation. Italy's head of state, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, has warned that the food giant's financial scandal represents a threat to “the prestige and credibility of the entire financial and economic system”. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. FDF calls for a 'joined-up' approach to obesity epidemic Date: Mon, 05 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The Food and Drink Federation has today called on the government to adopt a “joined-up” approach to childhood obesity. The organisation says it is important that all elements of the food chain - producers, retailers, consumers and regulatory bodies - come together to help deal with the issue. FDF deputy general director Martin Paterson told Sky News that the deal announced today by the Department of Health to channel around £2 million into a pilot education scheme on nutrition was only part of the solution. Instead he suggested the government “sit down and work with manufacturers, retailer, farmers and people in the catering business to help educate people about food, the choices we make and about lifestyle generally”. In particular this meant taking into account the importance of exercise, adding that “we are a much more sedentary nation and that our diet could be more balanced”. If changes could be made to society's inactivity, he said, then the increasing range of food products now available could achieve genuine change. Pointing to the wide range of products to be found in a supermarket, he stated: “So we have got the ingredients there to build healthy, balanced diets. We need to match that with information to help people make informed choices.” Obesity is now is estimated to affect one in 12 children by the age of six in the UK. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Babies at risk of meningitis milk bug Date: Mon, 05 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Thousands of tins of baby milk may be infected with a bug known as enterobacter sakazakii which can cause meningitis and other serious illness in newborns. Parents were put on alert when Dutch research scientists found traces of the virus in four factories producing powdered baby formula milk. Dr Jeffrey Farber, from the Bureau of Microbial Hazards at Health Canada, warned that a growing number of outbreaks of infection among premature babies provided "compelling evidence" that milk-based powdered infant formulas were a source of infection. Patti Rundell, of Baby Milk Action, attacked manufacturers of the products, claiming they had failed to "spell out the risk." The researchers, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, were funded by one of the world's biggest food makers and makers of milk formula, Nestle. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. UK producers turn to "feel good foods" Date: Mon, 05 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Some UK food manufacturers are seeking to build on the growing demand for healthy, vitamin- enriched food products among consumers by producing a range of "feel good foods". New products include so-called "happy" ice cream and milk, which are designed to help people sleep and anti-stress biscuits and chocolate are in the pipeline. Red Kite Farms offers a range of milk with added melatonin, with the natural hormone in cows aiding people suffering from jet lag. Company director Claire Pool told the BBC: "People take the tablets after returning from the States to help them sleep and get their body clock back onto the UK pattern. We thought we could do something to help people get to sleep." The news follows a number of recent studies which have revealed that consumer demand for unhealthy foods from leading brand makers is on the wane in the face of growing concerns over rising levels of obesity and health related illness in the UK. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Boots launches new range to target Atkins demand Date: Mon, 05 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Boots is set to launch a new range of products aimed at capitalising on the popularity of the high protein, low carbohydrate Atkins diet. A spokesman for the company, Jayne Mayled, said today that the foods were intended to help dieters in their bid to lose weight on the scheme. Ms Mayled told the BBC that the chain was simply seeking to meet consumer demand. “Millions of people are interested in following the Atkins programme and these products can help people kick start themselves on it.” “We are making these products available to them along with information and advice so that they can get started if that is what they want to do,” she added. However, Ms Mayled was keen to stress that the Boots chain did not necessarily recommend the Atkins diet over any other weight loss programme. “We don't endorse any particular dietary regime and equally we don't dictate to people about what they can and can't eat,” she insisted. Ms Mayled said that Boots would also be providing information leaflets on diet and healthy eating to its customers. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. EU laws may hinder rapid polyphenol market growth Date: Tue, 06 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A new report has warned that the rapid market expansion of the plant-based antioxidants which have been recognised for their disease-fighting actions, known as polyphenols, could be under threat as a consequence of pending European legislation on health claims. A number of recent studies have heralded the potent antioxidative properties in polyphenol extracts, which have attracted growing attention from the food industry with many companies keen to exploit their market potential. However, Anna Ibbotson, a food programme manager at Frost & Sullivan warned that while stricter regulation may provide clearer guidelines to industry participants, manufacturers could be also be forced to carry out expensive clinical trials and submit extensive product dossiers. Ms Ibbotson told Food Production Daily: “This will enhance the competitive position of those companies that can afford such trials, but companies without sufficient research resources may experience a reduction in marketing opportunities if they are no longer able to claim the health benefits of their products.” It is expected that growth in polyphenols will be sustained by Europe's ageing population seeking antioxidants and other ingredients with anti-ageing properties, with Frost & Sullivan estimating revenues for the overall European polyphenols market in 2003 at €77.88 million. The growing consumer trend for 'cleaner' and 'safer' foods, with polyphenols increasingly replacing synthetic colours and likely to become popular in new product formulations or as replacements for other synthetic ingredients, is also set to benefit the market. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Salty diet doubles the risk of stomach cancer Date: Tue, 06 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A diet full of salt can double the risk of contracting stomach cancer, according to a new study. A huge study of 40,000 Japanese people found that those eating the saltiest diet were much more likely to get cancer. The British Journal of Cancer reports that scientists from the National Cancer Centre Research Institute in Kashiwa noticed a dwindling incidence of cancer among the Japanese as diets became more westernised - eschewing the traditionally salty Japanese dishes. Dr Tim Key, an epidemiologist for Cancer Research UK, commented: “In Britain, stomach cancer rates are much lower than in Japan and highly salted foods are not widely consumed.” “But limiting salt intake is also important for reducing the risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.” The new warning against salty diets follows the detection of an increased risk of heart disease and hypertension as a result of the same diet. The news is likely to add fuel to the fiery debate concerning the level of salt found in processed food in this country, which has seen the Government already initiate discussions with the food industry. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. National Obesity Forum accuses food industry of fuelling obesity Date: Tue, 06 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The National Obesity Forum has today warned the food and drink industry that it could be fuelling a major boom in obesity rates in the UK. Dr Ian Campbell, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC that the epidemic was now approaching the scale of health problems witnessed at the turn of the last century. “We have as much of a problem with overweight today as we did with underweight 100 years ago,” he said. “We have two-thirds of us overweight, and one in five of us clinically obese and we are reaping the results of that now with diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.” Concerns have been raised in recent months about the inactivity of the population and the increase in obesity, particularly in children, giving rise to a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes. Recent figures suggest that one in seven 15 year olds and one in twelve six year olds in England are obese. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. US beef scares set to prompt boom in organic sector Date: Tue, 06 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Organic meat is set to continue its rapid global rise, this time in the American market, according to the latest research. Consultants at UK-based Organic Monitor say that the impact of the new BSE crisis in the US is likely to see a similar pattern emerge to the one which affected Britain after its meat scare. The US government confirmed the country's first mad cow case last month in a Holstein dairy cow in Washington state, leading to bans on the importation of US beef in a number of countries. The consultancy firm says that its research also showed that in Canada, which also had a similar crisis, organic sales boomed by 35 per cent in 2003. “Many consumers see organic beef to be safer than non-organic beef since organically reared cattle are not fed animal remnants,” said the report. The news could provide a boon for some British retailers and producers, who have already turned their attention to the organic sector with encouraging results. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Energy drinks market reaching maturity Date: Wed, 07 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The market for energy drinks in Western Europe is nearing maturity, with growth slowing and major brands keeping a narrow hold on the sector, a new report has claimed. According to British consultancy Zenith International, the phenomenal surge in popularity of energy drinks of the late 1990s is coming to an end, although the market is set to sustain strong growth over the next few years. Over 311 million litres of energy drinks were sold in Western Europe in 2003, a 6.5 per cent increase on the previous year, while market leader Red Bull has consolidated its position, claiming two thirds of total revenues and the number one spot in 12 out of the 13 countries surveyed. However, the report noted that supermarket-own products had made strong inroads into the market, with a handful of other drinks manufacturers also claiming a stake in the highly- concentrated market. “Strong marketing, wider distribution, the targeting of new consumer groups and occasions, packaging innovation and the arrival of better differentiated new products have been key contributors to current growth,” Gary Roethenbaugh of Zenith commented. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Coffee lovers help to drive up Starbucks sales Date: Wed, 07 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The growing global fascination with coffee appears to be continuing, with the world's largest coffee shop chain detailing a further 11 per cent rise in sales during December. Starbucks, the Seattle based drinks firm, says that it enjoyed a marked lift in like-for-like sales at its company-operated stores during the festive period, prompting it to raise its profit forecasts. The introduction of its loyalty card was cited as one of the major reasons for success, with its recently-launched Duetto Visa card adding to popular Christmas tipples such as egg nog lattes. Starbucks' chairman Howard Schultz explained: “A large part of the momentum of the holiday season was driven off the card, which bodes well for the rest of the year.” The loyalty card was first launched in October and has picked up momentum ever since, according to the firm. The card, which is currently only available in the United States, is the first pre-paid card that also functions as a credit card, and is now being tipped by some observers to make the trip across the Atlantic. Revenues at Starbucks rose 26 per cent to £293.7 million during the five-week period to December 28th, establishing a significant increase on sales of £233.6 million a year earlier. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. McDonald's claims new menu can help healthy diets Date: Wed, 07 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Some McDonald's restaurants in New York metropolitan area are displaying posters and brochures suggesting that the company's food products are able to fit into low-carb, low-fat and low-calorie diet plans, in a bid to attract the host of New Year dieters eager to shed excess weight. The advertisements give details and advice on how customised burgers and salads can be used to fit in with popular diets, with customers able to choose to exclude buns, condiments, and lettuce and tomatoes, although the price of items will not change. The regional program, which will focus on 650 restaurants in and around New York, is McDonald's latest effort to appeal to health-conscious consumers, which has already seen outlets in Southern California promoting salads and low-fat sandwiches, while restaurateurs in Houston are providing low-fat menu items and exercise tips. Paul E. Cottrell, a McDonald's franchisee who owns 12 restaurants in New Jersey, told the New York Times: "A lot of folks need to know that we have things that fit every aspect of their lifestyle." However, Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Washington-based consumer group, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, said: "People don't go to fast-food restaurants and expect to peruse posters. The calories need to be listed right up on the menu board." McDonald's has recently encountered difficulties on both sides of the Atlantic, with many lobby groups in the UK calling for a ban on the advertising of fast-food, claiming it has strong links to the rising levels of obesity in the population. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. McDonalds plans Wi-Fi roll-out in the UK Date: Wed, 07 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis McDonalds has confirmed details of a deal to provide its UK outlets with wireless Internet access. The move comes following a number of high profile agreements between coffee shops and restaurants to deliver Wi-Fi access. Public hotspots are growing ever more popular as the number of people with wireless enabled devices increases. As of this year enterprising customers will be able to check their email or surf their corporate networks in McDonalds. The fast food giant is looking for ways to boost sales and hopes wireless Internet in some of its choice outlets will help attract new customers. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. British children growing increasingly fussy about food Date: Thu, 08 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis British children are becoming increasingly fussy about what they eat, according to a new survey published today. Bribery has reportedly now become the only option left to parents seeking to get their children to finish a meal, with nine out of ten parents questioned saying their child would refuse to eat certain meals - 22 per cent said this was a frequent event. The poll, conducted by supermarket outlet Safeway, found that youngsters in Scotland and Wales have the pickiest youngsters, where 29 per cent of parents said their children were fussy eaters. Seven out of 10 parents said they had resorted to bribery in an effort to get children to eat their greens, with sprouts, cabbage and mushrooms proving the most unappetising dishes. Parents also revealed their worries about “pester power”, with 46 per cent saying their children had pestered them to buy snack foods such as chocolate and sweets. Almost half believed that TV had a significant impact on the demand among children. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Safeway launches 'healthy-eating' lines Date: Thu, 08 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Safeway has unveiled plans to launch a new 'healthy-eating' line for children as it seeks to capitalise on the emergence of an increasingly health conscious consumer. The retail outfit has confirmed that it will be starting two new lines, boasting more than 70 products. Marketing reports that the two new ranges will be promoted under the tagline “Try a healthier way”. The new children's food range is branded “I'd like”, and will stick to national nutritional guidelines, regulating the levels of fat, salt and sugar. The new offerings join the supermarket's existing Eat Smart range, which will also be expanded as part of the new campaign. The announcement comes amid intense debate about the quality of food being provided to children, and the incidence of obesity in the young, with a poll by Safeway itself today illustrating the popularity of snackfood among kids. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. ASA chief: fast food promotion should not be banned Date: Thu, 08 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Fast food should not face an advertising ban because it is not in itself intrinsically unhealthy, according to the director general of the Advertising Standards Authority. Andrew Brown argues the government should not target so-called junk food as it strives to tackle the problem of obesity, because it can form part of a balanced diet if eaten in moderation. Responding to the announcement by the FSA that it would be hosting a public debate on the issue of food promotion, Mr Brown told the BBC he felt it was important not to go too far in regulating the industry. “If something is intrinsically unhealthy it should be banned. If it's not intrinsically unhealthy, and has a proper role in a balanced diet, it's legitimate for somebody to sponsor it and encourage kids to enjoy it, as long as they do so in moderation,” he argued. However, the FSA appears to be increasingly concerned by the issue, with the FSA chair Sir John Krebs warning recently that childhood obesity is “a health time bomb that could explode”. In September the FSA published independent research that found advertising aimed at children does have an effect on their food choices and behaviour, but some experts questioned the accuracy of the findings. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Food giant developing calorie-free sugar Date: Thu, 08 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis In response to worldwide demand for healthier food goods, food giant Cargill has opened a plant which will produce calorie-free sugar. The new plant will focus on Erythritol, a sweetener which claims to taste like sugar, has no calories and is said to have the highest digestive tolerance of any polyol. It is possible to use the sweetener in a number of areas, including drinks, low-fat chocolate, bakery items and sugar free products, capitalising on the growing market for health conscious food. Creagor Simpson, president of Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties explained to Food Production Daily: "Erythritol is unique. It's the only all-natural, non-caloric crystalline bulk sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar, without the calories." The move to produce Erythritol is part of an increase in worldwide marketing and promotional activities which Cargill is undertaking to support the growing number of food and beverage companies looking to place the sweetener into their products. The site is now fully operational and running, with the $60 million North American facility one of the first of its kind. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Pizza Express owner considers Ask bid Date: Fri, 09 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The owner of Pizza Express has revealed it is considering making a move to interject in the proposed merger of Italian food chain Ask and City Centre, the owner of Caffe Uno. Private equity group TDR Capital says it may seek to trump the £168 million proposed by City Centre last month for the popular restaurant chain. The interest has emerged from the same group that won the battle for Pizza Express, in a £277.8 million deal negotiated last year. The deal saw former chairman Luke Johnson lose his attempt to sign the chain, as TDR's bid in conjunction with Nando's chicken restaurants owner Capricorn Ventures proved the winner. No details of a partner for the potential Ask Central bid have yet emerged. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Fife cheese company establishes new retail link Date: Fri, 09 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A spokesman for a Fife-based cheese company has hailed a new deal with organic dairy producers in Scotland that will seek to link up producers with retailers. Under the new agreement Kingdom Cheese will directly provide milk for pizza cheese, selling the produce on to various outlets. Speaking with the BBC, John Mullen said that the tie-up with the Scottish Organic Milk Producers Association made good business sense. “We were able to deal with a company that was in direct control of its milk supply, and as a company that is very important to us both in terms of pricing and in quality as well as service levels,” Mr Mullen remarked. Previously Kingdom Cheese had been sourcing its organic milk from Wales, the BBC reports. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. British favourite fish and chips began life in France Date: Fri, 09 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Research at a UK university has found Britain's typical dinner of fish and chips, may actually come from French and Jewish cuisines. Professor Panikos Panayi of Leicester's De Montfort University has begun a £6,000 research project to study the multicultural nature of UK food, and has discovered some surprising results. Mr Panayi whose work is thought to last two to three years and will be published in a book The Spicing Up of English Life, said fish and chips comes from "French frites and Jewish fish dishes". "It certainly isn't the traditional British food people might think, and of course the meal is often enjoyed with a cup of tea - the best example of the influence of the Empire on English eating and drinking habits," Mr Panayi told the BBC. In the 19th century, Mr Panayi's work shows people were more worried about eating enough food of quality rather than variety and he wants people who arrived in the UK in the 50s and 60s to contact him to help. The project will also look at the influence of Italy and Germany on ice cream and pork, as well as the effect of the first Indian and Chinese restaurants. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Food promotion outfit fires chief executive Date: Fri, 09 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A new organisation set up to represent food and drink producers across the South West has fired its chief executive after a disagreement over financial management. The Taste of the West outfit says it was concerned by a number of issues regarding Diane Lethbridge's performance. The group says that it was particularly worried about the use of public money it receives from public bodies such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Regional Development Agency. However, some shareholders in the firm say they are surprised by the decision, and are now calling for the group's finance directors to resign. The fallout from the decision will be the main subject of debate at an extraordinary general meeting to be held next week. The Cornwall manager of Taste of the West, Carole Trewin, says the firm remains committed to its brief and has urged those people whose produce is promoted by the organisation not to worry. “We are very confident that the company can continue to provide the sort of good service that it has in the past,” she told the BBC. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Action plan for organic food and farming Date: Mon, 12 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The European Commission has announced that it will be holding a "European Hearing on Organic Food and Farming Towards a European Action Plan" on 22nd of this month in Brussels. The main purpose of the hearing is to ensure the widest possible range of views can be heard from stakeholders, including experts in agricultural, environmental and consumer fields and also to gain experience from pilot schemes. An action plan will then be prepared with a list of possible actions to boost organic farming. When commenting on the hearing, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries said: "There are important questions we need to address. I hope that this hearing will provide us with valuable input to answer these questions." Over 100 stakeholder organisations, agricultural ministers and the press will be invited to participate in the conference. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Organic output grows at Sainsbury Date: Mon, 12 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Sainsbury, the UK's third biggest supermarket group, has confirmed that the proportion of British- sourced organic products on its shelves has seen a further increase. Speaking on BBC Radio Four's 'Farming Today', Sainsbury's head of organic produce Tony Sullivan revealed that 65 per cent of its organic range now comes from the UK, and he emphasised the group's continued commitment to increasing its proportion of UK sourced organics. "We have always been aware of the issue of food miles and a number of our customers expressing concern about it, and what we set out two years ago at the organic conference in 2002 was to reduce the level of imports and therefore improve the amount of British that we do," he explained. Mr Sullivan acknowledged that customers were keen to see increased stocks of UK-sourced produce on the shelves, but he also emphasised that standards on organic produced sourced by Sainsbury from abroad remained as stringent as ever. Mr Sullivan went on to explain that long-term planning with suppliers to create initiatives and programmes to boost figures had enabled the group to hit 20 per cent above the Soil Association's own figures for the amount of British organic produce, at a time when organic shortages exist in certain areas. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. FSA uses W-LAN technology to help protect food chain Date: Mon, 12 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Chiefs at the Food Standards Agency have commissioned the rolling out of a series of wireless LANs as part of their strategy to cover the whole of the UK's food chain with an early warning system. The technology has been deployed because of its high-speed, high capacity nature, enabling the FSA to keep track of any difficulty in the supply system. A new system designed by experts at Kingston Communications will implement a strategy serving more than 1,000 users. The Food Standards Agency says the technology will play a crucial part in monitoring and protecting the industry. "Our food safety role means that a highly resilient infrastructure is vital," explained Philip Cross, information systems manager at the Food Standards Agency, to vnunet. "In the event of a major food incident, we need to be able to respond quickly and we need efficient disaster recovery systems,” he added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Supermarkets set for major price war Date: Mon, 12 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The UK's leading supermarkets are heading for a pricing battle as a result of heightened competition, according to new analysis. Retail research group Verdict say they expect prices to go down, with the consumer benefiting. With the takeover of Safeway by Morrisons expected to go ahead shortly, retail specialists have identified a new price war in the coming year. Richard Hyman, a senior analyst with Verdict, says the news marks a new era in the supermarket sector, forecasting individual consumer savings of up to £40 per year. According to the study, Morrisons should offer improved competition, while Sainsbury's and Asda will continue to close the gap on market leader Tesco. Morrisons has recently been the subject of a £3 billion takeover bid for Safeway, which would see the Bradford-based supermarket's market share double. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. GM farm scale trials criticised Date: Tue, 13 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The chair of the Environment Audit Committee has described results from the farm scale trials into GM crops as "at best confusing". A decision on the commercial growth of GM crops has yet to be decided, but first the committee will today be interviewing environment minister Elliot Morley over how the trials were conducted. Speaking on radio four's Farming Today, Tory MP Peter Ainsworth said the committee would draw conclusions on the farm scale trials after Mr Morley's final oral presentation today. Mr Ainsworth said: "We've had not surprisingly a wide variety of interpretations both of the design of the farm scale trials and of their outcomes." He criticised the trials' design and their outcomes, citing a particular case where a soon to be banned pesticide was used in the maize trial, as one of the "highly complex and very technical" issues involved. Claiming there are still a number of questions to be answered, Mr Ainsworth said the maize trial could be seen as historical data due to the fact the chemicals involved are now banned, and that issues such as coexistence should have been considered. Continuing his criticism, he added: "They should also have looked at yield as well because by taking yield out of the equation they are creating a very artificial kind of farming." A further response to the trials will be given today by the government environment advisor ACRE. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Brussels' fight to lift biotech food ban Date: Tue, 13 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Officials yesterday revealed that the European Commission is to take another step towards lifting the five year ban on biotech products. Continuing its fight to authorise the sale of genetically modified sweetcorn this week, the commission is now taking the issue higher to EU ministers. However, this move comes as legal frameworks are being put in place in some EU states to oversee the planting of GM crops should the EU ban be dropped. Last year the commission did try to get a group of union experts to approve the BT-11 maize, marketed by Swiss firm Sygenta, but the plan failed. Beate Gminder, a spokeswoman for the commission explained to Reuters: "The European Commission plans to adopt the proposal (to authorize GM maize) tomorrow if there are no objections." Once the proposal has been adopted ministers have a period of three months from the end of January to make a decision. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Coca-Cola to expand range to diet lime flavour Date: Tue, 13 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Coca-Cola will be expanding its diet coke range later this month to offer diet coke with lime. The national release will be launched using a radio, point of sale and out-of-home effort by the Grey Global Agency. Grey worked with Coke in their last launch, which involved a comedy club tour in 21 cities. This promotion is another move by the brand to expand its range of flavours, after the diet coke with lemon range was launched in 2001 and cost $2 million in media and $5 million on the product. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Retail giants work together to promote new technology Date: Tue, 13 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis European retail companies including Tesco, Carrefour and Metro Group have joined together to help push the use of new technology such as radio-frequency identification and electronic tracking. New inventory tracking technology could mean a range of supermarket products could go wireless within the next few years, with a number of technical companies lining up to help. Tesco will be one of the members of the new forum launched on Monday, entitled the Electronic Product Code Retail User's Group of Europe, with some companies interested in using both types of technology together. New technology could involve pallets within stores being electronically tagged and bar codes replaced with chips, which could then be read by other devices. It would also mean easier tracking of inventories and reduced operating costs over time. The group of retailers, which is working with chipmaker Intel, believe that the technologies are superior for use in distribution centres, warehouses and on stores' sales floors. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Popularity of GM increasing Date: Wed, 14 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The use of GM is growing worldwide and is up 15 per cent on last year, reveals a report out today. Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications told the BBC's Farming Today programme: "There were seven million farmers who planted GM crops in 2003 and of those seven million, six million were from developing countries and they were mostly resource poor farmers, subsistent farmers making one euro a day." According to Mr James, 67.7 million hectares were planted globally in 18 countries and that many of these farmers were given seeds for free. Claims that this could be seen as exploitation were dismissed by Mr James, explaining the technology had already been used and commercialised in the industrial counties. However anti-GM group GM Watch was dubious over the accuracy of the claims, arguing figures were "made purely on the basis of producer estimates and some have been shown to be contrary to the findings of properly controlled scientific studies". (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Junk food ads to stay on kids' TV Date: Wed, 14 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The government has admitted that it remains to be convinced that banning junk food adverts during children's television would have much effect in the battle against obesity. Although last week Ofcom was told to make a tougher code on TV food ads, culture secretary Tessa Jowell has now said she would rather work with the food industry to promote healthier eating. "The fact is that 70 per cent of the cost of children's programmes comes from advertising and that of that about 40 per cent comes from food ads There are no simple answers. I remain to be convinced that a ban on advertising would have any significant impact," Ms Jowell told the Guardian. Since research showed 15 per cent of UK children were clinically obese, the government has been under more and more pressure to stop them filling their faces with junk food and fizzy drinks. Ms Jowell said she supports the food industry, explaining: "I would prefer not to paint the food industry into a corner as the bad guys. We need to get out messages about healthier diet and healthier eating." The ban on ads was just one of a number of suggestions made by the Food Standards Agency to help, they also put forward an idea to set criteria for commercial broadcasters on the number and types of adverts shown. Ms Jowell admitted the debate was "fraught" and "highly charged" but remained positive that if the food industry joins together with the government then there could be a positive outcome. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. MP highlights need for food info in supermarkets Date: Wed, 14 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Following the recent debate over Scottish salmon, the SNP shadow fisheries minister has argued a need for supermarkets to offer customers more information. Minister Richard Lochead was writing to Health Ministers and supermarket chains today urging them to consider setting up food advice points for the public in shops. Advice would include up to date information for shoppers on healthy eating and food safety issues, for example ensuring people were up to date on the current salmon scare. Mr Lochead said: "The recent scare stories over farmed salmon highlight the need to review how best to ensure shoppers have easy access to up to date and accurate information on food safety and healthy eating." The minister highlighted the irony in the fact that at a time when there is an obesity problem in the country, people are being scared off from eating salmon when in fact they should be consuming more healthy fish as part of a balanced diet. According to Mr Lochead, if these information points were already in place then panic over salmon would not have been so bad as the public would have been aware of the relevant information. His aim is to get the supermarkets and health minister to work together, which he believes will lead to "a boost to the current healthy eating campaign as well as ensuring that accurate food safety advice is available in easily accessible locations". (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. High fat diet creating obese pets Date: Wed, 14 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Britain's diet of huge portions of high fat food is now affecting pets, according to a British pet charity. The Blue Cross warns that as humans are growing bigger so are their pets, with 20 per cent of the animals it treats now overweight. Consumers are eating high fat, high sugar diets and increasingly having takeaways, where they don't even get the exercise from leaving the house, this is reflecting on pets as owners feed them fatty foods too. According to The Blue Cross, often the problem is a lack of education on diet. People don't eat properly themselves and don't understand what is suitable for their pets to eat. Caroline Reay, head vet at the animal hospital said: "As British people get bigger our pets are getting fatter." Similar to the problems found in obese humans, animals are experiencing bad quality of life such as "great difficulty doing the simplest of things such as walking or breathing" and are even having to be put down. Hoping to help inform owners of correct diets to try and solve the problem, this case highlights the problem of human obesity even further. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Red wine pill to be launched Date: Thu, 15 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Another product to help consumers maintain a healthy lifestyle has been invented by scientists, offering the benefits of red wine without the alcohol. After evidence that drinking a moderate amount of red wine can lower the risk of heart disease, Italian scientists are working on a red wine pill. The pill includes flavanols - the antioxidant chemicals in red wine, which boost good cholesterol and help to lower bad cholesterol. Experts developed the pill at the Pavese Pharma Biochemical Institute in Italy by taking the residue that remains after the alcoholic content of red wine is distilled away. New Scientist magazine explained how a mixture of sugars, preservatives and amino acids are added, freeze dried and then compacted. Increasing the amount of potential consumers, the pill will obviously appeal to tee-totallers and drinkers alike for the benefits of red wine without a hangover. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New kits test for food disease Date: Thu, 15 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A new testing kit will allow the food industry to test out food products for diseases and in turn prevent them. Food technology firm Oxoid has expanded its series of microbiological tests to now include ones for Salmonella and Listeria species. The new kits allow tests to be performed from selective culture, providing clearly visible results in less than 30 seconds, meaning negative samples can be eliminated rapidly, therefore reducing cost and time and allowing further identification procedures to be targeted. Oxoid claims that no special training is required to perform the tests or understand the results. These new products are just part of a growth in the number of food safety items targeted in particular at the food industry, with Oxoid now offering a broad range of test items. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. McDonald's to target children Date: Thu, 15 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Top fast food chain McDonald's is to open nearly 100 stores in China and has unveiled plans for a new startegy to launch a new kid's range. Entitled McKids, the range will promote products such as toys, game DVDs, books and child related garments and will later be offered in the US, Canada, Japan and South Korea, and potentially in Europe. Some industry observers claim that the move shows McDonald's aims to make full play of its advantages in the children's market and diversify businesses. Already the food operator has over 560 outlets in China's four municipalities and more than 70 provincial cities, with the new plans are reportedly due to the success of the company's first franchise restaurant opened in China last August. Tim Lai, North China managing director of McDonalds' China Development Company told China Daily: "Number of the new outlets is not the most important issue, the key principle for McDonald's is ensuring top-quality food and services in each restaurant." McDonalds is said to be going head to head against KFC who are putting forward a range of Chinese-style dishes to adapt to the taste of local customers. Mr Lai commenting on the move explained that McDonalds was already seen in Chinese consumers' eyes as a well known brand engaging in western fast food. Since entering China in 1990, McDonalds has invested over $200 million to set up farms and plants and has purchased $722 million of raw materials, which provided local outlets and exported globally. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. GM giant confident of success Date: Thu, 15 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The biotechnology manager at GM giant Monsanto is confident that the technology will develop after a government advisory body has approved the growing of GM maize. Government advisor ACRE agreed to the growth of GM maize after looking at results of the farm scale trials, but stated it had to be grown exactly the same way as in the trials. Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Farming Today, Dr Colin Merritt explained that although it was very unlikely that anything could happen this year because there are still some "administrative processes and decisions to be taken", the growing of GM maize in the UK was certainly likely to happen within the next twelve months. Mr Merrit was confident that the management issues raised could be dealt with and explained: "What they said was no at the moment to their being grown exactly in the management regimes used in the trials, but they added the phrase that they are aware of other work showing that small additional management processes can change that situation." The manager explained that the issue cannot be simplified into a yes or no situation and that there needed to be a much more broad ranging look concerning the subject. According to Mr Merritt public opinion on GM crops was getting more positive and taking into account the effect the public has it is now "increasingly likely that (GM crops) will become a part of everyday agriculture". However, policy director of the Soil Association, Peter Melchett was concerned that ACRE's decision was "a real serious blow" for the biotech industry. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Unilever launches Atkins inspired range Date: Thu, 15 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis As the popularity of the Atkins diet grows, Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever has introduced a new range of products, which fit in with current consumer health awareness and the diet plan. The move comes as Unilever responds to findings that its previously popular Slim Fast diet line had been shadowed by the Atkins diet. Currently operating in the US, Unilever has launched the range under existing brands such as Ragu and Lipton and hopes to extend the idea to other markets. Included in the range of 18 items are products such as sauces, marinades, salad dressings, peanut spreads and shakes. As trends show the need to be much more health conscious, the British public could be seen as an ideal target following the current obesity and cholesterol issues raised. Unilever spokesman Tom Gordijn explained: "We are launching this on the U.S. market, and it depends on the results whether we will also take this to other markets. In the U.S. an estimated 30 to 50 million people are on such diets, and the total market for low-carb products in 2005 is estimated at $1.0 billion." Although many nutritionists have advised against many of the diets available today, Unilever has also tried to follow other trends by releasing other low-carb diets as well. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Rocket growth rate in food retail sector Date: Fri, 16 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis According to data this week UK food retailers saw the highest yearly sales growth rate in the last two years throughout December 2003. The figures from analysts at Merrill Lynch were from the Taylor Nelson Sofres monthly data. In a research note published this morning, analysts described how UK-based food retailers experienced healthy sales growth momentum in the last two months of last year. Safeway and Asda were said to have benefited considerably in the Christmas season according to TNS monthly, whereas Somerfield and Kwik Save had rather slow moving sales. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Burger King offers bunless burgers Date: Fri, 16 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis As the food industry tries to offer more healthy alternatives and appeal to a mass market of dieters, fast food giant Burger King has released its offering. Trying to appeal to followers of low carbohydrate diets, the chain is offering low carb alternatives to several of its most popular menu items, such as Whopper sandwiches, without the bread buns. The Whopper will be debuting at 8,000 US restaurants and, as well as an advertising campaign to launch the low carb range, a website will be set up showing how many carbohydrates, calories and fat each meal component contains. February will see the release of new low-carb burger, the Fire-Grilled Angus Steakburger Lettuce Wrap, containing a third of a pound of beef wrapped in lettuce and served with tomato and a packet of low-carb sauce. All the new options will also be available as a value meal served with salad and diet coke or bottled water. With the popularity of trends such as the Atkins diet, ranges of this type are sure to be expanding further as retailers need to produce what customers now want in order to remain competitive. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Report finds new demand for high value dairy products Date: Fri, 16 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Food manufacturers have been urged to start pushing high value dairy products by a new EU commissioned report. As ten countries are about to be taken over by the EU in April, the report advises food manufacturers who are either already in or entering these countries to look at the demand for dairy. In the '90s the consumption of meat and dairy generally went downhill, falling by ten to 20 per cent. According to the report by the Network of Independent Experts and the Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe, the structure of meat consumption significantly changed with beef and mutton doing badly, whilst pork and particularly poultry developed well. However, although milk consumption fell and in the main did not recover until the late '90s, demand for cheese and fresh milk rose and the report's authors say the situtation is still looking positive. The report claims that the main factor was income, but that certain meats were seen as more trendy than others and health concerns and convenience had a strong impact on dairy. With the current health concerns, the report also predicts that fruit and vegetables will be a growing market as people focus on diet and health trends, stating: "Fruit and vegetable products will increasingly substitute products with high fat content and continuously expand its position in the consumption basket of consumers in the accession and candidate countries." Suggesting that expanding incomes underpin the market growth opportunities, the expected positive income trends are currently running twice as high as average. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Monsanto Technology receives good assessment Date: Mon, 19 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Revealed today, the European Food Safety Authority has issued a good scientific assessment on Monsanto's NK603 Roundup Ready corn technology. Signifying a key step in the European regulatory process, the results follow an extensive food safety assessment for the widely used herbicide-tolerant equipment and means the technology can now move forward to be considered for final approval by the European Commission and Member States. Robb Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto said: "'Monsanto is pleased with the EFSA's conclusion on Roundup Ready corn and believes this decision is a key step towards reactivating the regulatory system based on sound science. The Authority's favorable assessment of this product reinforces the findings of regulatory agencies throughout the world. "The EFSA conclusion marks the last of several scientific evaluations to be done prior to the decision on full approval for importation and use in food and feed in the European Union." Roundup Ready corn is designed to be tolerant to the active ingredient in Roundup Agricultural Herbicide and since it was first introduced growers have found numerous benefits including simpler and better weed control. The technology, part of the Market Choices program, also encourages the adoption of conservation tillage practices, which reduces soil erosion, improves water quality and wildlife habitat, while optimising yields. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New fat measuring technology developed Date: Mon, 19 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis As consumers grow concerned over the health of meat, new fat measuring instruments have been introduced thanks to an x-ray technique set to have immense implications for the pork processing and export industries. The US Agricultural Research Service is working on the equipment, which shows the ratio of lean meat to fat in a commercial cut of pork, in another move trying to meet the growing challenge faced by the meat industry to convince the public meat is healthy. According to the ARS, the new dual x-ray absorptiometry can accurately show the composition of pork carcasses and is quick, non invasive and needs little user input. Scanning for soft tissue of varied densities, the technology uses x-rays of differing levels, the latest instruments use a wide-angle technology that will scan even larger sections, increasing scanning speed. The ARS used the equipment to measure pork carcass composition by performing a complete scan of pork carcass halves, with the results from selected cross sections of the image found to be highly predictive. Scientist Alva Mitchell told Agricultural Research: "Dual x-ray absorptiometry would allow packers to know just what they are paying for, the true value of the meat and not a large amount of fat that gets cut off before shipping." Although previous instruments have allowed ratios to be determined with an acceptable accuracy, the ARS claims that the latest tests mean much more accurate technology could soon be on the market. The next step for the DXA instrument is to find a commercial packing plant to test the instrument at commercial speeds. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Atkins diet past its sell by date Date: Mon, 19 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Nutritional advice has moved on and changed according to a nutritionist discussing the Atkins Diet today. After promoters of the diet changed advice and recommended followers to consume no more than 20 per cent of saturated fats in their daily calorie intake, dietician Catherine Collins today revealed the diet to be 30 years old. Speaking on ITV Lunchtime News, Ms Collins said: "'This is an about turn by the Atkins organisation and I think it reflects the fact that this diet first originated 30 years ago. Lots of nutritionists have moved on from then. We are very much into a totally different diet." Although conventional nutritionists recommend people eat a large amount of carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, followers of the Atkins diet are told to dramatically reduce their consumption of the food group. The diet has proven phenomenally popular across the world, with a number of restaurants and food retailers changing their offerings to accommodate the trend. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New US trend - designer eggs Date: Mon, 19 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Forget designer brands, as consumers become more health conscious the latest trend in the US is designer eggs. The eggs produced by chickens fed sea kelp, flax seed and other nutritious ingredients are now making up nearly five per cent of the US egg market worth more than $3 billion. Due to the popularity in low carb diets and recent research suggesting eggs are healthier for cholesterol, the trend comes when overall egg prices in the US are at an all time high. Chickens that lay the low fat eggs are fed canola oil or other types of non animal fats and hens raised on the special diet produce eggs with lower saturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acid, iodine and vitamin E. Chickens may also have marigold added to their diet to help produce eggs high in lutein, a nutrient found to help eye health. On average designer eggs cost about $1 more a dozen than regular types and America's largest producer of designer eggs reported a 25 per cent increase in sales in 2003 compared to the year before. The positive increase comes after the exotic Newcastle Disease thinned chicken flocks and lowered production last year. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Sainsbury's planning image change Date: Tue, 20 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's is planning to restyle its current image by changing its "making life taste better" slogan. Aiming to improve results, the store, currently third in the UK, wants to replace its catchphrase with something that represents value and not just quality. A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's told the Sunday Express that no decision had been made to replace anything, but that it was looking at "the way we communicate our brand to customers, and how that reflects a combination of value and quality". Set to take place in spring this year, sources close to the company believe the image makeover could cost up to £50 million. At this time, Justin King, former boss of Marks & Spencer's food business, is due to take over from current CEO Sir Peter Davis. Mr King also spent several years working for rival supermarket Asda and will become chief executive on March 29 as Sir Peter Davis becomes chairman. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Vitamin-fed turkeys boost food safety Date: Tue, 20 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis In a move to reduce the chance of consumers contracting serious illness from meat, research has found that vitamin E could be fed to turkeys. Studying ways to control Listeria monocytogenes, a major human bacterial foodborne pathogen found in poultry, US scientists made the discovery that turkey's immune systems would be stimulated by the vitamin and then be able to clear the micro-organism that causes the disease from their bodies. Microbiologist Irene Wesley of the ARS National Animal Disease Center found that this then leads to a reduced contamination of carcasses at slaughter and during processing. Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis and accounts for 2,500 annual cases of human meningitis, foetal death and premature birth. In a 1998 study six per cent of turkey carcasses were found to have the pathogen in them. Conducted by the University of Arkansas and Iowa State University, the study found vitamin E boosts the white blood cells in turkeys that start acting when disease-causing organisms are detected. Earlier tests found the vitamin also enhances meat quality and shelf life, studies are now being planned to test the effect of the vitamin against Salmonella and Campylobacter. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Festive fat ignored by half of Britons Date: Tue, 20 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Almost half of all Britons feel guilty about over indulging, but still ignore the fact they are overweight, according to the National Obesity Forum. Even though the average adult gains 5lbs over Christmas, only 41 per cent of people actually bother to consider what sort of effect this will have on their health. UK experts have warned that the rise in obesity rates can actually cause cancer, particularly of the bowel, breast and prostate. Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, Dr Ian Campbell, explained to itv: "As a nation we need to change our relationship with food. It is only natural to indulge a bit over the festive period but there are ways of doing this and not piling on the pounds." The forum advise people to try to eat smaller portions and cut down on fat intake in order to allow their metabolism to cope, and highlight the fact that being health conscious is beneficial at any time of year. Other findings showed that whilst 57 per cent of people admitted eating bigger portions over the festive period, women were more likely to feel guilty than men. However, 53 per cent of women found it hard to lose extra Christmas weight, compared to 36 per cent of men. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Supermarket moves prompt pressure group to call for planning law changes Date: Tue, 20 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Following reports of Walmart's plans to exploit a loophole in planning law, Friends of the Earth is calling for changes to be made regarding internal extensions. The US retail giant, which owns Asda, was hoping to massively expand 40 Asda stores by installing mezzanine floors. Particularly creating a problem are plans for a store in Eastleigh, Hampshire, where ideas to put in an extra 50,000 sq ft would result in the original size of the store being doubled. Eastleigh council has refused to allow the plans to go ahead without submitting a planning application, something that Asda-Walmart has appealed against. If planning law changes, as Friends of the Earth hope, then all major internal extensions, including mezzanine floors, would require planning permission, an amendment which will be discussed in the House of Lords next week. Friends of the Earth argue that the current loophole which allows for vast expansions of non-food floorspace in out-of-town locations, makes a mockery of recent Government promises to revive town centres and reduce dependence on out-of-town car-based shopping. Evidence from previous cases where mezzanine floors have been developed has already highlighted problems that can occur, such as traffic problems and a potential threat to in-town shops. When first raised in the Lords last week by Baroness Maddock, Minister Lord Rooker promised to act on the issue saying "I cannot say whether it is a matter for the Bill or other legislation, but we take it extremely seriously". Friends of the Earth are hoping for a positive response next week, and if plans do get changed the expansion of supermarket stores is set to be greatly affected. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New barcode software aids food traceability Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis New technology has been developed to help manufacturers prepare for EU legislation on traceability next year. MAP80 Systems has incorporated reduced space symbology (RSS) barcodes in its labelling and identification software. In the new legislation, in force from January 2005, food traceability through the supply chain will become a legal responsibility, according to Food and Drink Europe. At all stages of production, processing and distribution, traceability must be possible and food businesses will legally have to be able to identify products by batch, lot or consignment numbers. RSS means that greater amounts of data can be encoded and stored in a smaller space and because they are based on the EAN system are easily implemented, and will therefore be in wide use very quickly. The legislation also means that food businesses will have to be able to identify every supplier of food, feed, a food producing animal or any substance incorporated into their food/feed products. MAP80 Systems belongs to the Prisym Group, whose chief executive Mike Daw said: "As legislation becomes ever complex we are constantly working to enhance the products we offer to assist our customers with compliance. "We know that compliance in many different industries requires an increasing amount of information on labels and traceability information needs to be accessible." Mr Daw believes that with the new EU legislation old forms of labelling will not be efficient enough. The new systems will be able to link up and trace software, providing manufacturers with a real time view of asset location through the production, processing and distribution process. The legislation has still got a year before it comes into force, but the number of food processors and producers using packaging and labelling systems that incorporate RSS technology appears to be growing. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Walkers unveils new vegetarian friendly crisp Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Walkers is planning to launch a new range of crisps that cater for vegetarians, ensuring that the firm does not miss out on consumers who do not eat animal fat-based products. The PepsiCo subsidiary has announced that it will relaunch its Cheese & Onion brand as part of this strategy. Just-foods reports that the firm will stop using animal rennet to make the popular brand, and will use a vegetarian friendly substitute. The move follows a poll of the Vegetarian Society website, which nominated the variety as the product they would most like were it available in a meat free incarnation. Walkers says the new crisp maintains the company's high standard of quality, but simply delivers a credible vegetarian alternative to the traditional product. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Parmalat may only have a future in Italy Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Italian dairy group Parmalat, currently at the centre of fraud investigations, may only survive in Italy, with just its brand names remaining in markets further afield. Analysts say the main question the industry is asking is whether Parmalat will be split into separate units and then sold off or completely closed. John Band, a dairy industry analyst, claimed that: "The administrators and government in Italy have already made it clear that they are keen for Parmalat to continue doing business in some form in the Italian market. I think there is probably enough good will towards Parmalat in the Italian market for this to happen." Parmalat's situation outside Italy is different because the company is more concerned with employment in Italy and Mr Band suggests that overseas units could have only a small chance of remaining in business. However, he believes this will not cause great repercussions for the dairy market and even if a mass brand sell off was to occur, it was extremely unlikely that big global dairy groups would get involved. One of the brands which analysts are suggesting will still do well is Loseley yoghurt in the UK, which has a good reputation and is seen as quite up-market. Mr Band added: "If the foreign businesses themselves are unlikely to find a buyer, I think that most of Parmalat's local brands will be snapped up. "Parmalat's brands are essentially local brands, and no matter how big they may be in their home market, they usually have little presence elsewhere. This simply does not fit the profile for the major dairy groups, which is why these brands are far more likely to go to local dairy operators than an international group." If Parmalat's future is in the local market then company brands are expected to live on well into the future, adding value and volume to local dairy operators and keeping suppliers and farmers in business for a long time to come. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New can technology set to improve food packaging Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis New plans to overhaul the tinplate used in the manufacture of ring pulls for canned food have been announced by an industry specialist. Arcelor Packaging has announced the development of a new product that will improve the manufacture and performance of ring pulls for the food packaging industry. The Luxembourg-based company is launching a tinplate product, called Maleis, which they claim offers considerably lower opening forces than materials currently used. During trials with canmakers, a decrease of between 15 and 30 per cent was achieved dependent on the thickness of the Maleis grade used. Arcelor director of marketing and development Luc Neuville said: "Maleis has, without doubt, a great potential for a wide range of applications in the future." The company claims that the new development offers one of the most significant advances in the industry since the ring pull was first introduced in the late 1950s, when food industry giants such as Unilever and Heinz drove the technology forward. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. US fights for changes to obesity plan Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The World Health Organisation has been forced by US officials to reconsider plans to fight increasing obesity rates. Although a draft document presented to WHO received a broad backing, the US delegation argued that more discussions would be needed before a final plan is approved, according to the BBC. Proposals designed to cut disease by promoting healthier lifestyles, include cuts in salt, fat and sugar intake in diets across the world - something the US is questioning. Food industry officials are questioning a number of the suggestions put forward by WHO, particularly recommendations on sugar which they are claiming are not even based on science. It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide are obese and 750 million are overweight, all putting themselves at risk of developing life threatening conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. WHO also proposes to change advertising and tax policies and accused the US of trying to weaken the proposals to satisfy food industry needs. US delegation head William Steiger wrote to the director of WHO and challenged the science on which plans were based. Mr Steiger objected to the singling out of certain types of food, such as those high in salt or sugar and argued for more emphasis to be placed on the individual's responsibility to eat a balanced diet. The document will be presented to the 192-nation World Health Assembly in May for final approval. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Cadbury backs down in new Coronation Street deal Date: Wed, 21 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Cadbury will continue to sponsor Coronation Street with a new £10 million deal, after the chocolate company backed down following three weeks of negotiation. After intense negotiation with ITV and Cadbury holding out for better terms for its high-profile sponsorship of the soap, the company finally agreed to continue funding the program. The contract will run for two years covering showings on both ITV1, ITV2 and old episodes on Granada Plus. Originally agreed in 1996, when 18 million watched the soap, the record breaking deal began with clips showing Coronation Street fans around the country enjoying Cadbury's chocolate and watching the soap. Marketing director at Cadbury Trebor Bassetts told The Guardian: "Our sponsorship credits first appeared in September 1996 and have been universally recognised as one of the best loved and most successful in TV history." However, since then ITV's viewing figures have fallen substantially, with Coronation Street watched by 13 million, caused by competition from Channel five and multichannel television. Graham Duff, managing director of ITV sales, said: "We are delighted to confirm Cadbury is to sponsor Coronation Street for another two years. It is not only the biggest broadcast sponsorship association in Europe but also the most popular with viewers and consumers alike." (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Tesco Express product expanded with Adminstore deal Date: Thu, 22 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Previously rather fragmented, the UK's convenience store market is becoming increasingly competitive, as Tesco revealed a £53 million deal with Adminstore, a chain of family-run local shops this week. The deal, which is still to be accepted by shareholders and go through regulatory clearance, includes 45 convenience shops, which currently trade mainly as Harts, Cullens and Europa. Tesco is acquiring the Adminstore chain to expand its Tesco Express shop format and to help it play a bigger part in the fast growing local store market, of which the Co-op is currently the leader. Managing director Jitu Patel will get a windfall from the deal for himself and his family, after starting the business as a single shop in 1979. Mr Patel told Sky News: "This is good news for us. We have built a successful business and our stores are well located for delivering convenience to customers. Tesco's knowledge and skills will take our stores to even greater heights in years to come." After the acquisition of Adminstore, Tesco will hold six per cent of the market. In the year to September 2002 Adminstore reported pre-tax profits of £2.1m, and last week Tesco unveiled a healthy 7.5% rise in like-for-like sales over the Christmas trading period. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Health warning over food dye Date: Thu, 22 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The Food Standards Agency has issued warnings over products containing food dye Sudan I. Found in a range of vegetarian products, the illegal dye has also been found in brands of Tikka Masala and could cause cancer. Consumers who find their products include the dye are being advised to return the product to the shop immediately or throw it away. Sudan I is a red dye which is used for colouring oils, solvents and waxes and has been found to be able to damage a person's DNA. The colouring is not even permitted under the 1995 Colours in Food Regulations. Products found to include the dye come from the Green Cuisine, Heath and Heather, Creative Cuisine and Green City ranges. Other affected products include batches of Chenab brand tandoori dishes, manufactured by Lubna Foods and batches of Laziza International products, imported by Opulent Foods Company. More information on the products and dye can be found on the FSA site. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Somerfield buoyed by profit surge Date: Thu, 22 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The Somerfield supermarket chain has announced encouraging half yearly results - more than doubling its profits. Pre-tax profits exceeded expectations by rocketing to £15.5 million for the six months to November 8, a sharp contrast from the £6.4 million a year earlier. The impressive results were achieved despite the cost of a new distribution centre in the North west of England. "The investment programme is renewing our stores and we continue to develop our customer offers," Somerfield's John van Spreckelsen told the BBC. The group, which bought Kwik Save in 1998, reported a 2.2 per cent increase in sales at Somerfield stores, while Kwik Save's rose by 1 per cent. Bristol-based Somerfield last year rejected a £594 million swoop by retail entrepreneurs John Lovering and Bob Mackenzie. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Defra to promote organic farming scheme Date: Thu, 22 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Farmers are being encouraged to attend regional clinics to find out more about the government's Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is running nine regional clinics across the UK during January and February. As part of the Organic Action Plan, announced in June 2003, the OFS aims to introduce a new five- year agreement for land which has been converted and which is not still subject to an OFS conversion agreement. The government is keen for more farmers to consider switching to organic production. "I am delighted that we have been able to arrange these clinics around the country," said Keith Roberts, organics team Manager with Defra's Rural Development Service (RDS). "Our role at each of these regional clinics will be to provide farmers and growers across England with the necessary information to be able to respond to the increasing demand for home grown organic food," he added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Oxfam farming report 'inaccurate and one-sided' Date: Thu, 22 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis An Oxfam report criticising the UK farming sector and proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy has been slammed by the National Farmers' Union (NFU). The NFU said in a statement that Oxfam had presented an "inaccurate and one-sided" depiction of farming in the UK, based on a very small sample of farmers. Speaking at the EFRA Committee on CAP Reform, president Sir Ben Gill said the report attempted to challenge some of the fundamental tenets of the CAP reforms. "Nowhere within this report is there any recognition of the benefits of the CAP Reform - the most radical changes ever - and the benefits it will bring to farmers, society as a whole and the third world," he said. The NFU claims the reforms would create an agricultural industry more focused on the market, providing vast environmental benefits, a more egalitarian trading system and less bureaucracy. "The underlying criticism seems to be that it is wrong to spend public money on agriculture when income levels in developing countries are lower than ours. On this basis, the same could be said about any other item of government spending," Sir Ben concluded. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Cheshire schools tackle obesity Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Schools in Halton, Cheshire are intending to play their part in the effort to tackle obesity among young people. Nutrition experts in the borough have promised action after shock research found that overweight adolescents had a 70 per cent chance of turning into overweight or obese adults. Obesity is partly blamed on schools providing foods with too much sugar and salt and now Halton's catering department are trying to promote a healthy food initiative. "A poor diet, accompanied by a lack of exercise increases the risk of heart disease, affects life expectancy and is threatening to turn us into a nation of couch potatoes," Dr Daniel Seddon, director of public health and health strategy for Halton told Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News. "Problems that arise from eating unhealthy foods are the increased risk of heart disease, cancer and now child diabetes is on the rise." Schools are working to improve physical activities, and to get youngsters to eat more fruit and vegetables, and funding has been provided for one school to provide cooking facilities. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. School eating clubs tackle obesity problem Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis As schools try to help fight the problem of obesity, a new scheme has received praise in London. Encouraging children to eat healthily, a new scheme in Pollards Hill, London, has had the thumbs up from school pupils and parents. Named the Grub Club, the William Morris Primary School has launched the club to encourage children and their parents to cook healthy meals together after school. Headteacher of the school, Melanie Haynes told This is Local London: "The club is a great idea and we are delighted to be able to provide the facilities." Parents have found a number of health benefits from the club, explaining it has helped them to understand the best food for themselves and their children as well as ensuring valuable time is spent together. Children praising the scheme explained how the club had helped them "understand all about different foods" as they try different dishes they make and to learn "about how many bits of fruit we should have a day". (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. New method developed for 'light' ice cream Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, an American ice cream maker, has claimed to have developed a new method to make lower fat ice cream taste like full fat. The new "slow churned" method is a result of five years of research and development to respond to declining sales of light ice cream. In market tests of the new style ice cream, sales were found to rise by 75 per cent in the last year. Using the new method, fat molecules are kneaded at a colder temperature, and stretched and distributed widely to give the impression there is more butterfat in the ice cream than there actually is. In blind taste tests, the company claims that eight out of 10 consumers thought the new variety was either a full fat or super premium range. Gary Rogers, Dreyer's chairman and chief executive officer told just-food: "By 2005, we will have invested a record $100m in bringing this new and innovative method of making ice cream to American consumers." A whole host of flavours will be available for the newly developed range including cookies 'n' cream, Neapolitan, strawberry and Rocky Road. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Food labelling confusing consumers Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A consultation on the information contained on food labels, has been launched by the Food Standards Agency. Aiming to clarify labels and in response to consumer queries, discussions will take place over the use of alternative phrases used on the "may contain" section of food labels. Manufacturers voluntarily use the section on pre-packaged foods to indicate a possible presence of ingredients that certain consumers may be allergic to. However, customers have concerns over terms such as "overuse" and "unnecessary use", claiming that the latter undermines valid warnings. The phrases found to be most problematic were "Not suitable for peanut/nut/sesame allergic consumers" and "Not suitable for people with peanut/nut/sesame allergy". Findings were gathered from a report commissioned by the agency, a focus group of consumer attitudes and a stakeholders meeting. Expressing how important the labelling is, the FSA told Food Navigator: "People with food allergies need to be extremely careful about the food they eat, and labelling of pre-packaged food is very important for them." According to the agency the report has shown that food labelling, particularly on products with nut traces in, is actually not helpful and leads to confusion as it is difficult to read and locate. "More informative statements on labels for products that might be contaminated with allergenic ingredients, such as peanuts, nuts and sesame seeds, which can cause severe reactions at low levels are needed," added the government-funded body. After consultation the most appropriate phrase will be added to the agency's Clear Labelling Advice, according to the FSA companies will also be obliged to include why the product is not suitable for allergic consumers. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Rivals warn Tesco deal will be bad for consumers Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis After the announcement yesterday of its £53.7 million Adminstore takeover deal, Tesco is facing fierce opposition from rivals. Subject to approval, the deal which includes 45 local shops, will see Tesco develop them into Tesco Express stores within the year. Bill Grimsey, the chief executive of Big Food Group, which owns Iceland supermarkets, has warned the ever increasing expansion of Tesco would be bad news for consumers and has demanded a full Competition Commission inquiry. Analysts have claimed that it was unlikely the deal would be referred to competition watchdogs as Tesco will still only own five per cent of the convenience store market. However it is this definition between the two markets that Mr Grimsey wants changed, claiming the industry should be seen as a whole. He argued against the ruling that was made in 2000 by the Competition Commission which sees the industry as having two separate sections - large superstores and convenience stores. Tesco has 27 per cent of the superstore market, but the Big Food chief executive does not believe Mr Leahy's claims that Tesco owns such a small amount of the convenience store market. He claimed: "Terry Leahy says he only has 5% of the market. But that is nonsense. Tesco has a huge share of the grocery market. The Competition Commission made a mistake in 2000, and all I am asking is for this deal to be referred so they can reconsider." Mr Grimsey believes that with deals such as this the choice for consumers was being squeezed and would result in shoppers having a limited selection of maybe just two stores in the future. "Ultimately choice will come down to just Tesco and Asda-Wal-Mart, maybe not now, but maybe in 10 years' time" he claimed. The deal has also faced criticism from The Association of Convenience Stores, which represents 31,500 neighbourhood retailers and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, which represents cash and carry outlets, has asked for ministers to prohibit the agreement. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Thai chicken banned by EU following bird flu outbreak Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The EU is believed to announce a ban on poultry imports from Thailand today after an outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed. Japan announced a ban yesterday and along with the 15 nation EU is the biggest Thai chicken importer, according to The Guardian. Several nations have all said they would ban Thai fowl imports if the disease was found and stocks in chicken producers' shares have plunged since the outbreak was revealed. Tests showed that the chicken population has been hit by the disease, which has seen two cases of bird flu in two young Thai boys. The virus was found in chickens after 100,000 chickens nationwide had samples taken and tested and the agriculture ministry has ordered the slaughter of all chickens in Suphanburi - the most affected area. Among the world's top five poultry exporters, Thailand had previously been denying there was an outbreak of the virus. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Sweet new exhibition celebrates history of chocolate Date: Fri, 23 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis A collection of wrappers, posters and collectors cards are all on display in a new exhibition of chocolate history. Packaging and adverts come from companies such as Cadburys, Frys and Terrys, and the display even includes a chocolate box sent in 1900 from Queen Victoria to troops in the Boer War. The £3.5 billion British chocolate industry led by Cadburys, has Mars Bars and Cadburys Dairy Milk second only to Kit Kat in sales figures, according to Manchester Online. On show at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition is on display for a month, with highlights including original Penguins and Poppets wrappers. Exhibitions officer Meg Ashworth told Manchester Online: "It is a very accessible collection with pieces going back to the turn of the century when chocolate first started to be mass produced. "People of all ages should be able to walk through and reminisce about their favourites from childhood." Britons are reportedly the biggest consumers of chocolate in Europe, with the average person eating 11kg a year. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Coke stops advertising in Britain's schools Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis In a major shift in policy, Coca Cola is to stop advertising in UK schools, to address the current concerns over children's health. The move which follows decisions to remove pictures of products from machines in Scottish schools, will involve the removal of Coca Cola adverts from the front of all 4,000 school vending machines across Britain. Products included in the machines will also be addressed with more emphasis being placed on drinks such as Oasis, Five Alive and Dasani bottled water. Pictures will be replaced with cartoons of children playing, after child health concerns such as obesity particularly focused on regular consumption of fast food and drink such as Coca Cola. Changes will be made from now until September and are described by the distribution arm of the company Coca Cola Enterprises as recognising the "conflict" between vending machines in schools and classrooms as "commercial free" areas. Head of corporate affairs at Coca Cola Enterprises, Ian Deste, argued the move would not result in vending machines being banned altogether: "There are three reasons why we are in schools. "Firstly, our products provide refreshment; secondly, we provide a valuable revenue stream to the school, and finally it enables teachers to keep children on the premises who might want to leave to buy the products elsewhere." Although welcoming the changes, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This is a sensible move but we would like to see the end of advertising unhealthy food and drink to children altogether." (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Low carb diets creating high food industry profits Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Type: Food and Drink Innovation Network (4-6) Analysis The low carb diet, the latest craze for dieters, has created a high growth market which major food makers are expected to cash in on. Experts have claimed that the craze could lead to a host of small-scale buyouts within approximately a year, according to Reuters. Major US food makers such as Kraft are expected to launch products that tie in with the diet, after making savings from a number of mergers. Although there has been controversy over new diet fads from medical experts, consumers remain undeterred in their bid to lose weight, a move welcomed by the food industry. As consumers worry over current health issues such as obesity, sales of low carb products are rising and according to research from consulting firm The Valen Group, could reach nearly $30 billion in 2004. Although big multinational companies are not commenting on different acquisition strategies, Reuters claims that interest is clearly high judging by the attendance at a recent low carb conference. Large companies like Unilever have already jumped on the bandwagon launching its own low carb lines, but experts claim others will soon follow getting a jump-start on research, brand development and manufacturing. The current situation is being compared to the soya craze of the 90s when a number of small buyouts also occurred. Wal-Mart has already started promoting low carb, with each of its supercentre stores including a large fixture piled high with low carb foods in the middle of its main aisle. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Yoghurt and dessert facility to be sold by Northern Foods Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Analysis In a move to focus on faster growing food areas, UK food manufacturer Northern Foods could be selling off Eden Vale, according to the Financial Times. Currently involved in talks, the company is reportedly planning to focus on other areas such as chilled ready meals, which are more successful. Following the company's decision to sell off its Ireland based business last month, this is another move to focus more on faster growing markets in the UK sector. With a net asset value of £19 million, speculation is focused on Dairy Crest to be the most likely successful bidder. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Convenience store market continues to grow Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Analysis As supermarkets in the food industry continue to battle it out for top spot, Sainsbury's has announced plans to expand into the corner shop market, following Tesco's recent purchase of Adminstore. Attempting to stop Tesco from dominating the country's convenience store market, Sainsbury's has reportedly made a £130 million bid to purchase the TM Group, which owns newsagent shops Martins and Forbuoys. According to The Independent, the group is also being pursued by Co-op, which wants to preserve its corner shop market share lead over Tesco. Both companies are said to be neck-and-neck in an auction process for the 1,300 stores. Sainsbury's is strongly trying to promote its smaller store formats, such as the Sainsbury's Local and Sainsbury's Central stores, and it recently signed a deal with Shell to operate outlets at its petrol stations. Meanwhile, the Co-op has been strong in the market, since purchasing the Alldays chain in 2002, which sparked the current takeover rush gripping the sector. TM Group is owned by Montagu Private Equity and Electra Partners, and has been independent since 1995. Since the area of the corner shop business is away from competition authorities, it is becoming increasingly popular. Further competition in the market is also reportedly taking place as companies queue up to purchase Londis, which put itself up for sale last month. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Latest EU regulation calls for unique labelling of bioengineered products Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Analysis Bioengineered food and feed, to be sold in the EU, will have to be labelled with a unique identifier code from April, in a new regulation passed by the EU Commission. Each product would need a code, made up of nine alphanumeric digits to guarantee tracking through the production and distribution chains. This code must then be displayed on labelling and documentation which accompanies food, feed and raw materials. The third pillar in EU regulations on bioengineered products, will involve manufacturers having to make up their own codes based on a standard EU format. According to Food Production Daily, the system is similar to the BioTrack product database, which is maintained by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as well as the Biosafety Clearinghouse, set up under the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol. Before creating a code, manufacturers must consult both systems in case either one has already assigned a particular number to a product. Once biotech products have been approved by EU regulators, companies must then notify the Biosafety Clearinghouse on the code, which will be placed on a European register. However, as recent reports show the opposition to GM products is still strong, especially from environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Coke and Pepsi plan mid-calorie cola Date: Mon, 26 Jan 04 Analysis Aiming to market a product which appeals to consumers for both taste and low calorie count, soft drink makers Pepsi and Coke are testing out a new style. The new style cola would have fewer calories than the original brand but with a different flavour to diet versions, as both companies try to target increasingly health conscious consumers. Although neither company has released full details on their plans, they have both confirmed they are looking into a mid calorie product. Reportedly, Pepsi recently applied for a patent for Pepsi LS, rumoured to stand for low sugar and if a mid calorie cola goes ahead, it would mark the biggest development at Coca Cola since vanilla coke was launched in 2002. The move comes as soft drink makers become increasingly concerned about health issues and try to appeal to consumers who are now getting more worried about problems such as obesity and have a greater awareness of their wellbeing. At a conference in New York, Cadbury Schweppes reportedly hinted that it too was looking at a mid calorie version of Dr Pepper. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. NCC calls on government to promote healthy eating Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The National Consumer Council (NCC) has made calls for the government to further promote healthy diets through a targeted national campaign. Speaking on BBC Radio Four Sue Dibb of the NCC argued that a governmental campaign could contribute substantially to the tackling of such diet-related health problems such as heart disease and obesity. She highlighted the advertising industry as a potentially vital tool in achieving these aims. "We have such a creative advertising industry in this country that they could use their powers and skills to create ads and promotions which are just as much fun and just as exciting as the junk food ads", she remarked. Ms Dibb went on to suggest that food manufacturers have some responsibility to promote healthy eating, highlighting work done by the Food Standards Agency to reduce salt intake in average diets. "'What we want to see, and it is starting to happen, is the industry looking at their regular products and reducing the amount of salt, added sugars and unhealthy fats across the range," she said. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Nutritional expert calls on junk food advertisers to stop targeting children Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The chair of the National Obesity Forum has voiced concerns that excessive advertising of unhealthy food products, aimed at children, is fuelling health problems amongst Britain's young. Dr. Ian Campbell claims that the industry spends some £40 billion a year on advertising food, half of which is targeted at children, and 95 per cent of which is high in fat and sugar. According to statistics from the National Audit Office children spend a collective total of £400 million each year on drinks and snacks, suggesting that the market for children's food is growing. "The issue here is that high-fat, high-sugar foods, which are being marketed towards children, have encouraged an increase in the consumption of unhealthy foods," Dr Campbell told the BBC. "Health should start at home, but parents need support and so we need to make sure that our kids are being reared on healthy food and have a better education about nutrition at school," he added. In response, Andrew Brown of the Advertising Association argues that advertisng for fast food products is actually in decline and that the demand for sweets is not rising extraordinarily, suggesting that the causes of the rise in obesity can be located elsewhere. "Everybody has got to get together to try and find some kind of solution," he said, adding: "It's a lifestyle issue, it's an energy issue, it's an exercise issue." (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. UK supermarkets continue to reject GM foods Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis New research undertaken reveals that British supermarkets are likely to remain GM-free in the foreseeable future as a result of consumer indifference and industry doubt. According to a survey carried out by gmfoodnews.com current opposition to GM technology is as strong as it was in 1999, when retailers first withdrew GM products from sale. At present, no UK supermarket includes GM food or ingredients in its own-label products and supermarkets are also increasingly specifying GM-free feed for animals producing their meat, milk and eggs. Among the retailers that have confirmed their support of anti-GM measures are Co-op, Iceland, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, suggesting a widespread and well-established opposition in the sector. The survey follows recent reports of the government planning to take a more open approach to the production of GM crops, but this would have little commercial impact if retailers continue to prohibit GM foods. Clare Oxborrow of the Friends of the Earth group told Food Production Daily: "We welcome the fact that supermarkets are standing firm in rejecting GM ingredients in their food. This is another clear signal that there is no market for GM food in the UK. "The government should join the supermarkets in listening to overwhelming public opposition to GM," she added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Diversifying food trends prompt Nestle research investment Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Nestle has become the latest food manufacturer to boost investment in market research in light of the growing diversification and specialisation of global tastes. Already producing a wide range of products including yoghurt, condiments, baby milk, chocolate and cereals, the Swiss company is now looking to add more specified items and exploit local tastes. The Nestle Product Technology Centre (PTC) is a new global institute for culinary research where 150 employees from 16 different countries will carry out research into new products, and variants of existing ranges. The PTC, based in Germany, cost an estimated €22 million to develop and was completed in under a year. Marcel Rubin, a spokesman for Nestl , explained its benefits to Food and Drink Europe: "No one business unit is given greater importance than any other, all are treated equally. And the important thing is not to produce as many new products as possible each year - the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity." (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. European GM foods to be labelled Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis GM foods sold within the European Union will require special labels confirming the GM status of a product, as of the beginning of April this year. A nine-digit code will be printed on bioengineered products, designed to ensure tracking throughout the production and distribution process. The code must appear on both labelling and documentation accompanying food, feed and raw materials in particular. Manufacturers will be responsible for the establishment of their own codes for new products, effective immediately, and existing products must be coded by April 13th, according to Food Quality News. The initiative highlights the growing stringency of regulatory bodies regarding GM products, largely prompted by consumer concerns over the technology. In addition, developments in GM technology lead many commentators to believe that rules and guidelines must become increasingly narrow to ensure adequate protection for consumers and producers alike. "The science of biotechnology is continually evolving, so we must ensure that our regulatory framework remains robust by anticipating and keeping pace with those changes," US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman said. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Safeway reduces salt in children's food Date: Tue, 27 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis National supermarket chain Safeway is taking steps to tackle the problem of high slat levels in children's food and drink products in a joint effort with suppliers. The retailer is focussing largely on its new range of 70 children's food products including ready meals, desserts, fruit, snacks and drinks. The range, launched this month, range has been developed with strict guidelines to contain controlled levels of salt, fat and sugar offering nutritionally balanced foods in accordance with government guidelines on salt levels. Safeway nutritionist, Claire Harrison commented on the benefits of these initiatives: "Recent months have seen a huge focus by the Government and in the media on children's diets," she said in a statement. "Salt is a major contributing factor to a poor diet so it's important to consider that what children eat now can have a huge impact on their health in the future," she added. Further measures are being taken to make it easier for customers to ascertain how much salt is in the products they buy, by providing 'salt equivalent' information on the nutrition label of its own brand products. "At Safeway, we are committed to helping customers of any age lose their taste for salt, improve their diet and create a healthier nation," concluded Ms Harrison. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Cereal and bread boosts mental performance Date: Wed, 28 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis New research into breakfast habits suggests that healthy breakfasts including cereals and bread could be vital to the performance of children and adults throughout the day. This week sees the launch of a nationwide study conducted by CDR for the Home Grown Cereals Authority that will ascertain the extent to which a healthy uncooked breakfast aids in concentration and mental stamina. Previous research has found that those who skip breakfast are more likely to suffer from poor concentration, mood swings, and impaired physical performance. "A healthy balanced breakfast, rich in whole grains and low in sugar, is the best way to kick-start your mind and body at the start of the day," nutritionist Fiona Hunter told Bakery and Snacks. "Bread and cereals are excellent sources of a huge range of essential nutrients, including the B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron and fibre. Whole grains have many positive health benefits, yet one-third of adults in the UK don't include any in their diet," she added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. EU members given 90-day deadline on GM policy Date: Wed, 28 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The governments of EU member states have been given 90 days to decide whether or not to lift the existing five-year old moratorium on GM foods. If a decision is not made before then the European commission will be granted permission to make the decision. The Commission hopes to resolve the long-standing debate over GM food production in and reassure both the US and the food industry at large of the future of bio engineered foods. Last August the US government began legal action to get the EU ban on GM produce lifted, at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Fingerprinting may help identify underage drinkers Date: Wed, 28 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has expressed interest in new fingerprinting technology designed to help identify underage drinkers. The technology works by fingerprinting visitors to pubs and bars who are also asked to provide official proof of age identification, such as a passport, at the time of their first visit. A biometric sensor would then be used to authenticate future visits. Speaking on BBC One, Paul Waterson of the SLTA said that there was a 'massive problem' with underage drinking in Scotland. "We really need all the help we can get", he remarked. "It is very difficult to tell now the difference between 16 and 17 years old and 18 and 19 year olds." Technology such as fingerprinting ID machines would "certainly would help us in that", he added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Government hears cases for organic farming Date: Wed, 28 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Discussions over the future of organic farming in the UK have taken place between government officials and farming industry representatives. Speaking at the Kindersley Centre at Sheepdrove Organic Farm government delegates heard concerns and suggestions proposed by farmers and other food producers, regarding the manufacture and distribution of organic products. One topic of debate was the Department for Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) organic farming scheme, in which funds are made available to assist conversions to organic farming and help existing organic producers maintain operations. Defra director in the South East Alison Parker commented on the benefits afforded by organic farming methods: "The use of crop rotations and the absence of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers provide demonstrable benefits for soil health, bio-diversity and the landscape," she said according to icBerkshire. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. FSA calls for sprouted seed code Date: Wed, 28 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The Food Standards Agency has made calls for sprouted seeds to be issued with specific codes, in a bid to reduce the incidence of food poisoning resulting from eating those seeds. The issue will be discussed at an upcoming seminar organised by the FSA, at which industry stakeholders will be present. Though sprouted seeds have not caused any poisoning outbreaks in the UK in over 10 years, industry officials are pressing to establish good practices that will ensure protection in the future. In the UK, mung bean sprouts, more commonly known as beansprouts or beanshoots, are the biggest sellers of spouted seeds in the supermarkets. It is thought that these could potentially pose a threat to consumers, particularly among vulnerable parties such as the very young, the elderly, or pregnant women. The FSA estimates the size of the UK market to be at 30-45,000 tonnes per year of mung bean sprouts, divided equally between retail, catering and processed foods, with a small minority of sales from alfalfa. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Food companies challenged in obesity inquiry Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis A number of food and drink manufacturers have been called upon to give evidence to the government in an upcoming inquiry into the causes of obesity. The Commons Health Select Committee is investigating the links between cases of serious obesity and the food we eat. Evidence from McDonald's, Cadbury, Pepsi and Kellogg's will be heard. The evidence follows a ruling banning McDonald's from repeating a particular advertisement for its fries, on the basis that it misleadingly neglects to detail certain aspects of the production process of McDonald's fries. The decision to query food companies highlights the growing accountability of food manufacturers in regards to obesity, as the health problem reaches epidemic proportions worldwide. McDonald's insists it is committed to improving people's awareness of healthy eating. "McDonald's is committed to improving awareness of the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle," the company said in a statement, adding: "We have widened menu choice, improved our nutritional information and encourage people to be as active as they can," according to ITV News. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Milk cleared of BSE risk Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis A number of international food regulation bodies are suggesting that there is no definite link between milk supply and the transmission of BSE to humans. The US Food and Drug Administration recently issued a statement stating milk cannot transmit BSE to humans, highlighting studies undertaken in the field. In the UK the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has expressed agreement of these claims, in addition to the World Health Organisation. The FSA points to a study in which mice failed to contract BSE even though fed large volumes of milk from BSE-infected cows. Elsewhere, neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, thinks milk almost certainly would be safe even if it came from a cow with BSE. The FSA also notes that in another study no cases of BSE were detected in the offspring of BSE cows, despite suckling their mothers' milk for at least a month. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. UK chip and PIN rollout gains pace Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The introduction of chip and PIN technology in UK retail is gathering momentum as an increasing number of retailers prepare to adopt the new payment technology. The system negates the need for shoppers to sign their names on till receipts at the point of purchase, thus eliminating the risk of fraud and cloned signatures. Instead, consumers simply type a four-digit PIN into a special terminal in the same way as when withdrawing cash from a cash machine, making the entire transaction both quicker and more secure. The system is already widely established in France, and is now expected to find widespread establishment in the UK, this year. Supermarket chain Safeway has already implemented chip and PIN payment in some of its UK stores, and trials in Northampton last year proved successful. The programme is part of an international drive to tackle credit card fraud, and the new system is expected to see a full global rollout within the decade. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Innovation keeps Lindt afloat Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Innovation and marketing have been highlighted as being largely responsible for helping chocolate manufacturer Lindt ahead of negative market trends in a potentially damaging period last year. Lindt posted an increase in sales of over seven per cent on figures for 2002, in the face of the SARS crisis, reduced market activity in the Middle East, a weak global economy and the hottest European summer in decades. According to the company, emphasis on product research and development helped overcome these problems. "The development of new, innovative products on the basis of well-founded consumer research and the yearly increase in investment in marketing has proved rewarding," the company said in a statement. In particular Lindt secured its already strong presence in the US market, helping it offset potential losses elsewhere. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Pregnant women urged to monitor diets Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis New research suggests that women should make greater efforts to maintain healthy diets before, during and after pregnancy, so as to ensure healthy births. It has been stated that women contemplating pregnancy should maintain a body mass index of between 20 and 25, and eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Although there is an increased requirement for protein, energy and other nutrients during the first six months of pregnancy, the woman's body becomes super-efficient and normally there is no need to "eat for two". According to dietetics professor Anne de Looy it is also important to sustain a stable weight, as both under and overweight women can find difficulties in conceiving. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Profits not so sweet for Tate & Lyle Date: Thu, 29 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis After warning of a rise in the cost of raw materials, Tate & Lyle has announced a 10 per cent slump in shares. Wheat and maize costs had gone up by 50 per cent on the year before, according to the group, as profits have been eroded by the price squeeze. Admitting profits from its amylum sweeteners branch in the next financial year would be "significantly below those of 2004", the group's shares went sent 30.5p lower to 273p. Analysts warned that the fall could put the groups' dividend payout at risk. Some experts had suggested that the group did not prepare properly for last year's hot summer, which caused wheat prices to rocket. A spokesman for Tate & Lyle told The Independent: "It isn't possible to buy forward very easily in Europe. Wheat is quite an illiquid market." Currently trying to reinvent itself as a more predictable value added food business, the company claimed that wheat prices had surged by 20 per cent since November. Chief executive Iain Ferguson who joined Tate & Lyle from Unilever last May, said market forecasts are still expected to be met in the current financial year because of a "satisfactory performance" in the US. Tate & Lyle also admitted it would have to take steps to reduce costs of its amylum arm and that some jobs would be lost. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Retail sector to exploit full potential of loyalty cards Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Though loyalty cards have been common among retailers across Europe and the UK for a number of years, new developments suggest that they could become an increasingly prominent feature of food retail in the future, according to Food and drink Europe. Loyalty schemes have grown in popularity since the early nineties and card penetration is rapidly approaching saturation levels. As a result, retailers have taken steps to upgrade and innovate their schemes through various means. Schemes are targeting specific demographic groups with increasing frequency, and customisation drives allow customers to tailor loyalty cards to suit individual needs. Additionally, new technologies allow retailers to use loyalty schemes o access purchase histories, giving them the ability to offer goods and services in keeping with consumers' previous buying habits. This kind of micro marketing is likely to become increasingly popular in the future as loyalty scheme membership reaches optimum levels. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Soft drinks highlighted as posing health risk Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Soft drinks containing excess sugar and artificial elements could be worse for the health than sweets, according to new industry reports. A study carried out by Food Magazine suggests that a single serving of certain fizzy drinks and dilute fruit concentrates would exceed a child's recommended maximum sugar intake for the whole day. In some cases recommended levels have been exceeded by as much as 30 per cent, suggesting that sugar levels in common children's drinks are excessive. Industry commentators highlight the fact that bottled water costs as much as soft drinks as an indicator of why they are consistently opted for by children, being easily available in shops. The World Health Organization and the UK Government recommend no more than an average of 10 to 11 per cent of daily calories from non-fruit sugars. Though no specific guidance has been published for children, there is little evidence that they have greater requirements for sugar than adults. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Food safety confidence on the rise Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis New figures published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) indicate that the number of people with serious concerns over food safety is falling steadily, marking a rise in national confidence in the food industry. The percentage of those concerned over BSE is reported to have fallen from 61 per cent of respondents in 200 to 42 per cent last year. Additionally, fears over meat safety in general have dropped to 63 per cent from 70 per cent two years previous, and concern about eggs has fallen from 26 per cent to 20 per cent over the same period. The study also reveals that the average awareness of the benefits of fruit and vegetables in diets is on the increase, as well as the fact that more people are checking the salt content of their foods. However, the study found that an increasing number of Britons are concerned over the safety of ready-made meals. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Coke set to offer bottled water Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis Global soft drink firm Coca-Cola is preparing to launch a new range of bottled water on the UK market, available in shops as of next week. The new brand, 'Dasani', will pose new competition to popular French water products such as Evian and Volvic, and popular British brands such as Highland Spring and Buxton. What differentiates the Coke product from existing bottled waters is that it is produced using an innovative new process dubbed "reverse osmosis purification". In the process water is stripped of virtually all elements other than hydrogen and oxygen, offering an increased level of purity. Traditionally, bottled waters deliberately contain a certain degree of minerals. John Sicher of the US magazine Beverage Digest explained the motives of the development to the BBC: "Coke and Pepsi by definition are beverage companies and they've got broad portfolios. They've got not only carbonated soft drinks, they've got teas, juices, sports drinks; so when water started becoming popular over here back in the 90s, it made sense for Coke and Pepsi to get into that business and it's becoming huge, huge business over here." (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Fungal find puts UK on truffle map Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis The discovery of a truffle in the Hertfordshire countryside suggests that changes in climate could be leading to the natural development of new diverse foodstuffs in the UK. The rare black truffle is thought to have resulted from the combination of an unusually hot summer last year followed by a significantly cold winter. Though it is only the size of a marble, it is still an expensive find, particularly in Britain where truffles are especially rare. Jean-Christophe Novelli, the French chef who found the fungi while walking his dog, asserts that climate changes could be responsible for changes in natural agricultural developments. "I believe we can get champagne in England if global warming goes the way it is going," he commented to the BBC. "People underestimate this country and its diversity. Maybe people will start looking for truffles now and we'll discover they are everywhere," he added. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003. Junk food and memory loss link confirmed Date: Fri, 30 Jan 04 Type: DirectNews Item Analysis A new study is suggesting that eating junk food could lead to health problems including memory loss and potentially even brain damage, in the long term. Research undertaken by experts at the University of California's Brain Injury Research Centre states that foods with high fat and sugar levels appear to significantly hinder brain activity. Experiments carried out on laboratory rats showed that elements usually found in junk food resulted in a reduced level of a brain chemical called BDNF, which protects the adult brain from damage and allows it to respond to stimuli. However, exercise was proven to allay the negative effects of excess sugars and fats. The study acts as further evidence of the health risks posed by junk foods beyond obesity and other weight-related issues. (C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.
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