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Articles from 2014 In November

Will FDA's new menu labeling rules help stem obesity?

Will FDA's new menu labeling rules help stem obesity?

Would you still order a tub of movie theater popcorn if you knew it contained 1,200 calories?

Four years after a menu labeling law was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, last week the Food and Drug Administration finally announced regulations that will take effect November 2015.

The requirements are surprisingly pervasive.

They extend not just to cafes and chain restaurants that operate 20 or more locations, but also to entertainment venues like movie theaters. Even vending machines aren’t exempt from the labeling rules, as those who own 20 or more must display calorie information. Single-location bakeries, cafes and restaurants are exempt from the ruling.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD in a statement. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) supports the FDA, citing that the regulations will offer improved transparency. “We believe that the Food and Drug Administration has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern with the proposed regulations and is providing the industry with the ability to implement the law in a way that will most benefit consumers,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA.

Does calorie posting work?

Some states won’t have to do much to comply with regulations. In an effort to stem obesity (currently more than one-third of American adults are obese) New York has required calorie menu labeling in restaurant chains since 2008.

But the research is still out on whether calorie counts alter consumer purchasing decisions. A 2011 study published in American Economic Journal examined transactions from Starbucks and found that calorie posting reduced food calories by 6 percent—an average of 247 to 232 calories per transaction—but made no significant difference in beverage purchases.

Research from Johns Hopkins suggests the real benefit of calorie labeling is to incentivize chain restaurants to offer lower-cal dishes. For example, from 2012 to 2013, new menu items in 66 of the 100 largest U.S. restaurant chains contained an average of 60 fewer calories.

Here's the big question: Will consumers still purchase the Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta even though it clocks in at 2,290 calories?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

S&W files patent for unique stevia variety

S&W files patent for unique stevia variety

S&W Seed Co. (Nasdaq: SANW) announced it has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for stevia plant variety "SW107."  Variety SW107 exhibits increased concentrations of Reb-A sweetener, higher leaf mass production and an improved taste profile that has little or no aftertaste. SW107 has been bred to address commercial processing markets in North America, South America, and other regions of the world that have climates suitable for it.

Companies producing consumer food products, as well as ingredient manufacturers, recognize the value of stevia as an all-natural sweetener in beverage, dairy, baking and snack products. Stevia's health benefits include zero calories and minimal glycemic impact and stability when heated. Since the primary sweetener used in stevia-based products, Reb A, comes 100 percent from agricultural sources, the Company believes that improved stevia varieties, like SW107, with increased yield and Reb A content will be very desirable commercially. 

The Company believes SW107 is well qualified to be successful in the commercial market. SW107 has a number of differentiating factors, including enhanced leaf yield, Reb-A output, and taste profile, as well as plant vigor that includes superior overwintering and later flowering attributes compared with the majority of the plant population from which the line was derived. In field trials throughout the western United States, SW107 yielded approximately 40 percent more leaf, 60 percent more Reb-A content, and more than a 100 percent increase in the Reb-A to stevioside ratio, as compared to test samples from stevia varieties now in mainstream production. S&W believes these results, coupled with an improved aftertaste profile, mean that SW107 will be economically attractive to stevia farmers and to the commercial volume stevia processing community.  With the filing of this patent application, the Company will begin seeking agreements with consumer products companies, ingredient manufacturers and stevia mass processors. 

Mark Grewal, chief executive officer of S&W Seed Co., commented, "This patent application marks a significant milestone in our stevia development program. With the huge growth in demand for stevia in the last five years since we entered the industry, food manufacturers and processors have expressed a desire for reliable sources of stevia leaf production outside of China. Due to the higher leaf mass of SW107, which adds to yield, the high Reb-A percentage, and its improved taste and plant vigor characteristics, we believe SW107 addresses many of the economic challenges that farmers and producers in North and South America have faced to date."

Variety SW107 was classically bred from germplasm that is proprietary to S&W's stevia program that first commenced in 2009 under the direction of Dr. Clint Shock, who is an internationally recognized expert on stevia. S&W's stevia research and development team has crossed hundreds of lines of stevia plants, many of which were collected over many years, with a goal of developing stevia varieties that have unique properties for commercialization. The Company is optimistic that SW107 will be followed by other promising varieties.  S&W's research and development team hopes to develop other new varieties that have distinctly different sets of plant attributes and can address other market needs.  SW107 initially is targeted at North and South America, where stevia plant production has been somewhat limited. 

To date, stevia production and extraction has largely been based in China and, to a lesser extent, South America. SW107 initially is targeted to be produced in North America and South America, where there have been insignificant commercial quantities grown due to farming economics. S&W believes SW107 will facilitate the growth of stevia in mass commercial quantities in these regions due to its high plant productivity (yield) and enhanced levels of Reb-A to extract.


Hormel reports record Q4 sales

Hormel reports record Q4 sales

Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL) reported record performance for the fiscal year 2014 fourth quarter and full year.

All comparisons are to the fourth quarter or full year of fiscal 2013.


Fourth quarter:

  • Record diluted EPS of $0.63, up 9 percent from $0.58 per share
  • Segment operating profit increased 9 percent
  • Record dollar sales of $2.5 billion, increased 9 percent; volume up 3 percent
  • Grocery Products operating profit down 21 percent; volume down 5 percent; dollar sales down 3 percent
  • Refrigerated Foods operating profit up 10 percent; volume up 1 percent; dollar sales up 9 percent
  • Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit up 45 percent; volume up 7 percent; dollar sales up 11 percent
  • Specialty Foods operating profit down 14 percent; volume up 15 percent (volume down 7 percent excluding sales of CytoSport Holdings, Inc. (CytoSport) products); dollar sales up 31 percent (dollar sales down 4 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products); CytoSport acquisition-related charges, including transaction costs and inventory adjustment to fair market value, were approximately $9.3 million
  • International & Other operating profit up 3 percent; volume up 6 percent; dollar sales up 13 percent

Fiscal year:

  • Record diluted EPS of $2.23, up 14 percent from diluted EPS of $1.95
  • Segment operating profit up 16 percent
  • Record dollar sales of $9.3 billion, up 6 percent; volume up 1 percent
  • Grocery Products operating profit down 9 percent; volume up 3 percent (volume down 3 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY® products); dollar sales up 3 percent (dollar sales down 2 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY products)
  • Refrigerated Foods operating profit up 45 percent; volume flat; dollar sales up 9 percent
  • Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit up 23 percent; volume flat; dollar sales up 4 percent
  • Specialty Foods operating profit down 20 percent; volume down 5 percent (volume down 10 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products); dollar sales down 3 percent (dollar sales down 11 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products)
  • International & Other operating profit up 19 percent; volume up 15 percent (volume up 5 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY products); dollar sales up 19 percent (dollar sales up 10 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY products)

The company reported fiscal 2014 fourth quarter net earnings of $171.3 million, up 9 percent from net earnings of $157.3 million a year earlier. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $0.63, up 9 percent compared to $0.58 last year. Sales for the quarter were $2.5 billion, up 9 percent from the same period in fiscal 2013.

For the year ended Oct. 26, 2014, net earnings were a record $602.7 million, up 15 percent from net earnings of $526.2 million last year. Diluted net earnings per share were $2.23, up 14 percent from diluted net earnings per share of $1.95 last year. Sales for the year ended Oct. 26, 2014, totaled a record $9.3 billion, up 6 percent from last year.

“We enjoyed a strong finish to the year, delivering record fourth quarter sales and earnings,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. “Our Refrigerated Foods and Jennie-O Turkey Store segments were able to capitalize on growth of value-added sales and higher meat commodity markets to lead the way.”

“We hit the nine billion dollar mark in annual sales for the first time in our Company’s history, fueled by our branded, value-added product portfolios. We closed the year with record earnings per share of $2.23, a penny above the midpoint of our full year earnings guidance issued last November,” commented Ettinger. “Our Refrigerated Foods, Jennie-O Turkey Store, and International segments each delivered double-digit segment operating profit growth this year. High meat input costs and related pricing hampered growth of certain Grocery Products brands in the back half of the year. We have also substantially completed the integration of the MUSCLE MILK® brand in our Specialty Foods segment,” remarked Ettinger.

"This morning we announced a 25 percent increase to the dividend, or $0.20 per share, making the annual dividend $1.00 per share in 2015. This marks the 49th consecutive year in which we have increased our dividend, consistent with our objective to deliver superior total returns to our shareholders," stated Ettinger.


Grocery Products (16% of net sales, 19% of total segment operating profit)
Grocery Products segment profit decreased 21 percent and sales were down 3 percent, primarily due to sustained, record high meat raw material costs and soft sales. Products delivering growth this quarter include HORMEL® bacon toppings, as well as HERDEZ® authentic Mexican foods and WHOLLY GUACAMOLE® dips, which are part of our MegaMex Foods joint venture.

Refrigerated Foods (48% of net sales, 33% of total segment operating profit)
Refrigerated Foods segment profit increased 10 percent driven by strong pork operating margins and growth of foodservice value-added products. Sales for the quarter were up 9 percent, with the increase led by retail sales of HORMEL BLACK LABEL® bacon, HORMEL side dishes, and HORMEL party trays, and foodservice sales of HORMEL FIRE BRAISEDTM meats and HORMEL fully cooked sausage.

Jennie-O Turkey Store (20% of net sales, 35% of total segment operating profit)
Jennie-O Turkey Store delivered excellent results this quarter, with segment profit up 45 percent, driven by the continued sales growth of value-added products and beneficial turkey commodity prices. Sales for the quarter increased 11 percent, led by sales of JENNIE-O® lean ground turkey and JENNIE-O® turkey bacon.

Specialty Foods (11% of net sales, 5% of total segment operating profit)
Specialty Foods posted operating profits 14 percent lower than last year. The lower results were caused by charges relating to the acquisition of CytoSport, including transaction costs of $4.8 million, along with an inventory adjustment to fair market value of $4.5 million. Segment sales increased 31 percent, largely attributable to the addition of MUSCLE MILK® protein beverage sales.

International & Other (5% of net sales, 8% of total segment operating profit)
International & Other posted segment profits 3 percent ahead of last year on 13 percent sales growth. Results were driven by continued growth of our China businesses and increased pork exports.

“In fiscal 2015 we expect to exceed our stated goals of 5 percent sales growth and 10 percent earnings growth by continuing to provide consumers with innovative, value-added solutions,” stated Ettinger. “We anticipate pork commodity prices and pork operating margins to normalize as the year progresses, providing input cost relief for our Grocery Products team, but leading to challenging comparisons for our Refrigerated Foods group in 2015. Jennie-O Turkey Store is entering the new fiscal year with strong sales momentum and beneficial grain markets, but will likely experience less favorable commodity meat markets. International & Other will continue to deliver growth through expansion of its China business, and Specialty Foods will benefit from the inclusion of the CytoSport franchise, consistent with our acquisition expectations,” commented Ettinger.

“We expect non-recurring charges of approximately $0.04 to $0.06 per share to be incurred early in fiscal 2015 as a result of the potential exit from our business in Vietnam and the closure of our Stockton, California Grocery Products manufacturing facility,” remarked Ettinger. “Excluding these expected non-recurring charges, we are setting our 2015 non-GAAP1 earnings per share guidance range at $2.45 to $2.55 per share2."

Effective Nov. 14, 2014, the company paid its 345th consecutive quarterly dividend, at the annual rate of $0.80.


2014 Sustainable Beauty Award winners announced

2014 Sustainable Beauty Award winners announced

Organic Monitor has announced the winners of its 2014 Sustainable Beauty Awards. The awards give recognition to organizations pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the beauty industry. Reflecting the growing diversity of sustainability, various types of organizations are award recipients.

About 140 international executives attended the Sustainable Beauty Awards reception at the Paris Marriott Champs-Elysées on Nov. 24. From about 100 entries, winners and runners-up were selected per award category.

Sustainability Pioneer
Cruelty Free International is the winner for its global campaign to end animal-testing methods for cosmetic and personal care products. The organization was instrumental in pushing for the EU ban, and is now campaigning for legislative change in China, Brazil, the US, and other countries. Organic Monitor commends the organization for raising awareness of animal-testing methods at the global level, as well as promoting alternative methods.

Neal’s Yard Remedies is runner-up for its sustainable sourcing projects and carbon neutral retailing. As well as setting up sourcing projects for organic and fair trade ingredients, all its concept stores are certified carbon neutral. Finalists for this award category were Asia Plantation Capital and Surya Brasil.

Sustainability Leadership
Aveda is winner of the sustainability leadership award. Since its formation in 1978, the American firm has pioneered many sustainability projects, involving raw materials, production, packaging, renewable energy, waste management and CSR.

Runner-up is Whole Foods Market. Apart from its various green initiatives, the natural and organic food retailer receives recognition for its body care standards, which have encouraged many brands to ‘clean up’ their formulations. Other finalists were Jurlique International and Yves Rocher.

Sustainable Packaging
The French company Laboratoires Nuxe is the winner. It has used eco-design approach to reduce the weight of its Nuxe face care jars by 75 percent, giving significant reductions in energy use, resources, as well as lowering its environmental footprint.

Surya Brasil is runner-up for using green plastics in its Sapien Women range. By replacing conventional polyethylene with sugar cane-based ethanol, its packaging captures carbon dioxide during the production process. Finalists in this award category were Organic Essence and Pangea Organics.

Sustainable Ingredient
AAK is the winner with Lipex SheaLight, which replaces silicones or synthetic esters in personal care formulations. Since it is produced from shea oil, the functional material has both environmental and social impacts.

Mibelle Biochemistry is runner-up with PhytoCellTec nunatak. The anti-aging active is sourced from an “ice age plant” by sustainable processing methods. Finalists were Induchem with Biogomm’age, and Berkem with saponins extracted from Opilia celtidifolia leaves.

Green Formulations
Two Australian cosmetic brands topped this award category. Abaché Organics (Greenlab Organics) is in first place with its range of professional organic hair care products. Zk’in by Pure & Green Organics is runner-up. Both brands received high green ratings for their certified organic product ranges. Finalists were Erbaviva and Less is More (LIM Cosmetics).

Sustainability Lifetime Achievement
The late Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients, received the first sustainability lifetime achievement award. Receiving the award at the reception, Kieran Stordalen, his wife and business partner commented: “This is a great tribute to Horst’s passion to make positive change.” Widely recognized as a sustainability visionary, Horst Rechelbacher passed away in February this year.



Salt-N-Easy shakes up specialty salt category

Salt-N-Easy shakes up specialty salt category

Salt of the Earth Ltd.’s innovative Salt-N-Easy, the new chefs’ secret for roasting vegetables, poultry and fish, gained incremental sales and market share in the Israeli specialty salt products market in less than four months.

Salt of the Earth’s innovation strategy—to create innovative product line based on global food trends of health and indulgence—resulted in the impressive performance of its key product. Salt-N-Easy enables the domestic gourmet cook to utilize salt as a functional ingredient during roasting. The innovative product won SIAL Innovation Selection 2014 awards.

Salt-N-Easy was introduced on July 2014 to the Israeli retail market, targeting consumers who enjoy cooking at home. The main advantage of the product line is creating a delicious recipe with minimum effort (average of two minutes of preparation). The product launch was combined with a small campaign on social media and blogs, print magazines and points of sale. In fewer than four months, Salt-N-Easy increased the gourmet salt category sales, attaining a 5.4 percent market share without any cannibalization.

Israeli cuisine has changed dramatically in the past few years. Popular TV shows like “MasterChef” and the rise of gourmet restaurants using fresh ingredients have led the way to inspire “gourmet-like” recipes created at home. The Israeli consumer demands clean label ingredients and products that use natural ingredients rather than synthetic ingredients and preservatives.

“Most sauces for oven cooking are processed and contain unhealthy fats and chemical preservatives,” says Giorit Carmi, marketing manager at Salt of the Earth. “Salt-N-Easy is an all-natural, exotic, clean-label blend of coarse sea salt and spices.”

A significant health benefit of Salt-N-Easy is due to the coarse salt’s ability to absorb heat and dissolve it effectively during the roasting process. As a result, the dish keeps moisture level and preserves the juiciness on the interior of the roasted chicken or fish, without having to add any fat or oil.

“Although Salt-N-Easy is a salt-based product, we positioned it as a ‘cooking aid/food enhancer’ for the gourmet cooking,” notes Carmi. “The launch of this line to the leading Israeli retailers is a case study for our goals to penetrate the international retail market. The main difference is that we will be able to market it also as a private label product.”

Study backs folic acid supplementation pre-conception

Study backs folic acid supplementation pre-conception

Taking folic acid before conception significantly reduces the risk of small gestational age (SGA) at birth, suggests a new study published Nov. 26 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

This UK population-based study and systematic review assessed the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on the risk of the baby being SGA at birth, defined as birth weight less than the 10th centile or in the lowest 10 percent of babies born.

Being small for gestational age is associated with increased neonatal morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of chronic diseases in later life such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems, states the study.

Folic acid supplementation has already been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and it is recommended in the UK for women to start folic acid supplementation pre-conceptually. However, uptake is low, state the authors, and previous studies have suggested rates of pre-conceptual uptake to be between 14.8 percent and 31 percent, with lower uptake in younger age groups and ethnic minorities.

The total study population represents a diverse group, with a mean maternal age of 28.7 years, a median BMI of 24.7 and 42 percent were first time mothers. Additionally, the majority were non-smokers (81.7 percent).

Of 108,525 pregnancies with information about folic acid supplementation, 84.9 percent had taken folic acid during pregnancy. Time of commencement of supplementation was recorded in 39,416 pregnancies, of which folic acid was commenced before conception in 25.5 percent of cases.

Results show that the overall proportion of babies with a birth weight under the 10th and 5th centile was 13.4 percent and 7 percent respectively. The highest rate of SGA occurred in pregnancies where no folate had been taken, with 16.3 percent under the 10thcentile and 8.9 percent under the 5th centile.

When comparing pre- and post-conceptual folic acid supplementation, the prevalence of birth weight lower than the 10thcentile was 9.9 percent and 13.8 percent respectively, while that of birth weight under the 5th centile was 4.8 percent and 7.1 percent respectively.

The authors conclude that although folic acid supplementation is a standard recommendation in the UK, it is a policy that is poorly followed and strategies to increase uptake must be evaluated.

Additionally, further research is needed to focus on how folic acid supplementation produces its effect on birth weight and how the dose of supplementation can be optimised in women considered to be at higher risk of SGA, state the authors.

Khaled Ismail, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the study said: “Increased uptake of folic acid prior to pregnancy and throughout the first trimester could have significant public health benefits given the poor outcomes associated with SGA babies. New strategies are therefore vital to improve the lives of both mothers and babies.”

John Thorp, BJOG Deputy Editor-in-chief, added: “The population study is the largest database to look at the timing of folate intake and the risk of a baby being SGA. The findings of this study are of particular importance because growth restriction is known to be associated with poor short and long term outcomes and currently there are no established preventative treatment options for SGA.”


Study shows athletes recover faster with HYDRO.365

Study shows athletes recover faster with HYDRO.365

Endurance athletes consuming sports drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes plus Lacprodan® HYDRO.365—Arla Foods Ingredients’ whey protein hydrolysate—outperform athletes using sports drinks alone, a new study reveals.

The study involved 18 top-class runners from Team Denmark taking part in a one-week training camp. The athletes were training twice a day, every day (apart from on one rest morning) equating to 13 training sessions during the week.

The athletes were divided into two groups of nine, with each receiving isocaloric diets (diets containing the same amount of calories). One group consumed a traditional sports drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes before and after each training session, while the other group consumed pure HYDRO.365 before each session and both a sports drink and HYDRO.365 afterwards.

The run-test was undertaken initially before the camp and then again following the conclusion of all 13 of the training sessions held over the course of the week, making it possible to compare the impact of the HYDRO.365 supplementation during the training camp. The results demonstrated that the athletes who consumed HYDRO.365 before and after training performed better in a final 4km run-test than the sports drink-only group, with a mean improvement of 17 seconds. The whey protein group also experienced less muscle damage compared with the sports drink-only group.

Troels Laursen, head of health and performance nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “This study shows that HYDRO.365 doesn’t just improve muscle recovery, but that improvement leads to a performance benefit. The results demonstrate that, for athletes who need to train hard every day, there is no better sports nutrition ingredient to help them do this.”

Danish triathlon champion appointed brand ambassador
Meanwhile, Arla Foods Ingredients has announced that leading triathlete Allan Steen Olesen is to act as brand ambassador for HYDRO.365. Allan, who is 31 years old and from Copenhagen, is the defending Danish champion in the short distance triathlon series and turned professional this year. He said: “Recovery is everything when you train hard every day and this protein really does the trick. My recovery times have been reduced dramatically, giving me a clear head start. I’ve experienced the benefits, which has made it easy to become an ambassador for HYDRO.365.”

Troels added: “Allan is the perfect ambassador because he’s exactly the kind of elite endurance athlete who will benefit from this exceptional protein. He commands the respect of the sports community and will be able demonstrate its benefits through his performances.”

HYDRO.365 can be used in a wide range of sports supplement product applications, including clear beverages, gels, bars, powders and tablets. It will take center stage for Arla Foods Ingredients at Health Ingredients Europe in Amsterdam from 2-4 December 2014. Arla Foods Ingredients is exhibiting on Stand E5.


ADM's commitment to Ghana cocoa industry turns 5

ADM's commitment to Ghana cocoa industry turns 5

ADM Cocoa marks five years of excellence in cocoa processing in Ghana—with positive socioeconomic impact for the people of the Ashanti region, in particular, and Ghana as a whole.

Cocoa and chocolate expert ADM Cocoa is marking five years of dedicated cocoa processing in the Ashanti Region, with a continuation of the successful partnership with key stakeholders, such as the Ghana Cocoa Board, and a string of important local initiatives.
Since opening the world-class cocoa processing facility in Kumasi in 2009, ADM has created over 250 jobs at its 75,000-square-meter purpose-built site, which houses a bean warehouse, processing plant and finished goods’ warehouse. ADM has also nurtured a local supplier network of more than 200 suppliers.
A founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation, ADM has pioneered numerous areas of social improvement across the region. Since 2011, ADM has invested US$90,000 into its health outreach program targeting HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, enabling it to reach over 13,500 people in 67 communities. The company has also been instrumental in driving educational progress through various initiatives, such as training for post-secondary students on agri-logistics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and a donation of computers for the Kaase primary school. 
To mark its fifth full year of activity in the region, ADM is further extending its work in the areas of health, education and sustainability. This will comprise a donation towards the construction of a mechanized water facility for the Asuhyiae Health Centre situated in a cluster of cocoa growing communities in the Ahafo Ano North District of the Ashanti region, as well as a donation to the Otumfuo Charity Foundation in support of school refurbishment and sponsorship of awards for teachers in deprived communities.
Nicolas Poyade, ADM Cocoa general manager, Kumasi, remarks that “when ADM first came to Ghana in 2005, the opportunity to build a sustainable cocoa business was evident for all to see. With the passion of the local community and the support of our business and government partners like the Ghana Cocoa Board, we’ve proved that it wasn’t just business: it was about sustainable business and doing the right things in the right way.”
“We’ve embedded all our key operating principles—The ADM Way, best practice manufacturing processes and a ‘zero incident culture’ in terms of health and safety,” John Scott Donkoh, plant manager adds. “As a result, we’ve been able to achieve zero lost work day cases in the first six years since construction began.”
Dr. F.K. Oppong, deputy chief executive (A&QC), COCOBOD comments, “ADM’s socio-economic contribution to the cocoa industry in Ghana, particularly in Kumasi, cannot be underestimated. We can only urge them to go beyond what they are already doing to improve the livelihoods of both those living in cocoa-growing communities and Ghanaians in general, to the benefit of all.”
ADM Ghana celebrated five years of cocoa processing in Ghana on Oct. 9, 2014.


Is it our job to change the way poor people eat?

Is it our job to change the way poor people eat?

In a Nov. 19 Slate article that I believe everyone in the natural, organic and healthy products industry should read, Tracie McMillan investigates what happened when Whole Foods opened its first store in Detroit in June 2013. The piece explores not only how Whole Foods tried to address the challenges of operating in a part of America that was seen as having had become “empty, savage and foodless,” but also digs into how elitism and racism act as barriers to healthier eating and living for many people that Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb says the retailer wants to reach. “The mission of this store is to serve all Detroiters,” Robb told McMillan.

Following the stories of several Detroiters who are on a quest to fight their obesity problems through healthier eating, McMillan’s piece hits upon some tough questions and issues that our entire industry, not just Whole Foods, must confront.

The price conundrum

Healthy, quality food often is more expensive than junk food for many well-documented reasons, including the current setup of our food system. Not surprisingly, price and Whole Foods’ “Whole Paycheck” reputation are a major focus of the Slate article. Writes McMillan, “Whether they knew the [Whole Paycheck] moniker or not, one of Detroiters’ worries about Whole Foods before it opened was price, which ranked as a top concern when the company solicited community input about the store.”

In addressing the subject of price with McMillan, Whole Foods naturally zeroed in on quality and product standards as part of the equation. “It’s not a fair comparison to compare our grass-fed, organic beef to factory-farmed beef,” one Whole Foods employee in Detroit told McMillan.

This is a fair argument, but in other discussions of pricing for basic food staples such as eggs, yogurt, peanut butter and cereal, McMillan portrayed Whole Foods as defensive and unwilling to “engage in a direct conversation about price.”

My question for industry is, how do we address the issue of price in a transparent way that prevents us from becoming defensive and allows us to focus on issues of health and quality?

Cultural relevance

The reality is, many of the value propositions of our industry such as organic certification, the humane treatment of food production animals and GMO labeling are simply not important to many shoppers—and for good reason. “If it [organic] was a little cheaper, if it was the same price as the other stuff, maybe. But to me, it’s overpriced,” one Detroit mother told McMillan. “As long as it’s not spoiled, molded, or expired, I’m good with it.”

How do we make things such as organic matter to people who struggle just to put food, let alone healthy food, on the table? Is this something we should even be trying to do?

One commenter to McMillan’s article attempts to answer that question for us: “Trying to sell someone who’s poor, sick and has terrible nutrition on the benefits of higher cost organic produce is actually akin to trying to convince someone who’s starving that they should spend their food money on art to nourish their soul. There’s a prioritization issue here.”

The poverty barrier

As McMillan points out, poverty is at the heart of all the challenges facing any company, retailer or other organization working to make healthier eating a reality for more people, particularly those who need it most.

As a poignant case in point, McMillan shares the story of Spencer Torry Brown, a chronically ill and obese woman who doesn’t have a car and lives on disability checks. As much as Brown desperately wants to lose weight and get healthy, she’s overwhelmed by thought of achieving her health goals with so little resources. “For the indisputably poor people like Brown, who aspire to buy what Whole Foods sells, the prices simply aren’t low enough to work,” McMillan writes.

As an industry, is there a way we can help systematically tackle the issue of poverty so that more people can afford what has become the luxury of health and wellness?

In the end, these are all difficult, complex questions that I believe will become even more important for our brands and retailers to address as the gulf separating the haves and have-nots continues to increase. Sure, we as an industry can continue achieving impressive double-digit growth rates fueled by the purchasing habits of more well-off consumers, but the moral issue remains: Access to healthy food should not, as Whole Foods’ Robb told McMillan, be the “province of the rich.”

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below.

Approved claims open doors for weight management

Approved claims open doors for weight management

Health claims approved by the European Commission offer significant potential for nutrition companies operating in the weight management category, according to botanicals supplier Naturex.

Naturex has developed two innovative convenience food concepts incorporating active ingredients authorized to carry generic Article 13.1 claims related to maintaining a healthy weight. The products will be on show on Naturex’s booth, Stand F4, at Health Ingredients Europe 2014.

The first concept is Slimming Noodles enriched with glucomannan (dietary fibre) from konjac, which means the product is permitted to carry the claim “contributes to weight loss” as part of a calorie-controlled diet. The Slimming Noodles are prepared with a delicious stock containing a blend of unique aromatic flavoring extracts, which makes it possible to reduce salt and fat levels and enhance the health credentials of the product further.

The second concept is a Gluco-Control ‘Mug Cake’, an apple and cinnamon-flavored muffin presented in a cup and formulated with oat beta-glucans, which are approved for the claim “contributes to the reduction of post-prandial glycaemic response”. Controlling blood sugar levels is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.

Leslie Lannebere, business manager at Naturex, said: “The European weight management sector was worth US$2.8 billion in 2013, according to Euromonitor. It is a thriving category and the key to success in this market is to create products that help people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight while also offering convenience, delicious taste and a pleasant eating experience. Our Slimming Noodles and Gluco-Control Mug Cake concepts tick all the right boxes in this respect. Not only are they highly effective and backed by approved health claims, but they also taste fantastic and showcase just what is possible with the right ingredients and recipes.”

She continued: “In spite of concerns about the impact of the European Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation, in fact there are many approved claims which provide the opportunity for companies to develop healthy food and beverage products backed by substantiated and approved claims. The applications we have created for Health Ingredients Europe will inspire companies who are looking for fresh opportunities to create new weight management products that will really resonate with consumers.”

Health Ingredients Europe takes place in Amsterdam Dec. 2 to 4, 2014.