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Natural Products Industry News Beat

Electric tongue licks wine-industry fraud

To the delight of both wine-industry fraud busters and wannabe wine snobs hoping to wow with their ability to "name that vintage," Spanish scientists have developed an electric tongue designed to assess wine quality. Cecilia Jiménez-Jorquera and colleagues from the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics invented the tongue to help industry officials detect fraud in the field.

The gizmo features six sensors that measure a wine's acidity, sugar and alcohol levels. Then it (electronically) chews on the info and spits out an age and variety of the sample tasted. Previously, samples needed to be sent to a central laboratory for processing, which took awhile.

The electronic tongue is fast, portable, cheap to manufacture and can be trained to "taste" new varieties as required. No word yet on the potential for the tongue to detect "organic" claims, but imagine the potential for quality assurance if officials could have a few more tongues in their quiver of tools.

Kids' clout rings up green purchases

Kids are pushing their parents to go green, says a new study from Packaged Facts. Children between the ages of 3 and 11 are beginning to yearn for eco-friendly products, and their parents and marketing agencies are taking notice, according to "Kids and Tweens in the U.S.," the study from the New York-based market research firm.

"To paraphrase a children's icon from another era, ‘It can be easy being green,' if you're marketing children's products today," said Tatjana Meerman, Packaged Facts publisher, in a statement. "And what's interesting about the green trend among kids is that the kids themselves are fueling it. Environmental awareness, even at the youngest ages, is acute."

Americans spent $123 billion on kids' stuff in 2007, according to Packaged Facts. The firm's researchers believe that number will climb to $138 billion by 2012. Marketers may drive some of those dollars to their clients by highlighting the green aspects of their products.

Based on data from Simmons Market Research Bureau, the Packaged Facts researchers reported that a significant majority of kids ages 6 to11 express concern for environmental issues. Nearly three-quarters believe people should recycle. Forty percent are in favor of buying recycled paper products. And more than half of kids between the ages of 6 and 8 encourage their parents to buy green products. Hispanic children are far more likely than kids in other population segments to do so, researchers found.


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