Danisco introduces natural yeast and mold killer in the US

Danisco introduces natural yeast and mold killer in the US

 

Until now, even the best label friendly food protection solutions have played second fiddle to synthetic chemical competitors in terms of their ability to inhibit the growth of yeast and mold in culinary food products. But with the launch of Danisco’s new BioVia™ YM 10, manufacturers can meet market demand for natural, clean-label products without compromising their shelf life and food safety standards.

“Food manufacturers are well aware of consumer demand for more natural products with friendlier labels, but many have hesitated to choose a natural food protection solution because they wanted every bit of the effectiveness they could get from traditional chemical alternatives,” said Brett Thompson, global product manager at Danisco. “We think BioVia™ will change that. It simply takes that objection to natural solutions off the table.”

Increased Shelf Life Naturally

BioVia™ YM 10 is a natural antifungal blend specifically designed to enhance the quality and shelf life of approved culinary items. Challenge studies have demonstrated that BioVia™ YM 10—a patent-pending blend of cultured dextrose and plant extracts—is effective against mold, but distinguishes itself from many other market offerings by being particularly effective against difficult-to-control spoilage yeasts. In one study, for example, barbecue sauce was inoculated with a cocktail of acid preservative-resistant yeasts at high levels. While the control lasted only 30 days, the sauce treated with BioVia™ YM 10 at 0.5 percent held yeast to undetectable levels for over 100 days—congruent with potassium sorbate.

Initially available for use in the United States, BioVia™ YM 10 provides:

  • A natural, sustainable solution with a clean labeling option
  • A synergistic, multi-component system highly effective against difficult-to-control spoilage yeasts and molds
  • Effectiveness against yeast and mold over a broad pH range (2-7)
  • Improved oxidative stability for fat—and oil-containing foods
  • Blended antimicrobial components that have a long history of safe use in foods

BioVia™ YM 10 is part of Danisco’s Care4U™ range of natural protective solutions, which also includes MicroGARD® fermentates, NovaGARD® antimicrobial blends, Nisaplin® and Natamax® natural antimicrobials, HOLDBAC™ and other protective cultures, and GUARDIAN™ natural extracts.

Danisco’s Care4U™ range of natural food protection solutions, reinforced by DuPont Qualicon science-based pathogen detection and microbial monitoring systems, together help companies protect their products, productivity and brands. For more information, or to contact a Danisco representative for assistance with a specific formulation, visit www.daniscocare4u.com.

 

Chr. Hansen partners with Amino Up Chemical Co. of Japan to develop innovative formulations

Chr. Hansen partners with Amino Up Chemical Co. of Japan to develop innovative formulations

 

Chr. Hansen A/S (Hoersholm, Denmark) has entered into a five-year partnership agreement with Amino Up Chemical Co. Ltd. (Sapporo, Japan) to develop unique dietary supplements and to explore the opportunity within functional foods utilizing the strong nutritional ingredient portfolios of each company. The new collaboration between Chr. Hansen, a global leader in the area of clinically-documented probiotics, and Amino Up, a research driven company focused on natural plant-derived ingredients, will yield exciting new products that best synergize the effects of each company’s flagship ingredients.

“It is thrilling to be partnering with a company that shares the same ideals and principals as we do at Chr. Hansen: A science-first approach, proven safety, and high investment in R&D,” says Brian Peeters, Partnership Manager, Human Health & Nutrition, Chr. Hansen, who was instrumental in coordinating the partnership.

Lasse Nagell, VP Global Sales, Human Health & Nutrition, Chr. Hansen, added, “The products we are now working on together with Amino Up has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of others.”

“Chr. Hansen and Amino Up share a number of common attributes such as our founding history and corporate philosophy. I believe we’ll be able to create a close partnership in a wide range of areas, not only product development but also giving back to the society by innovating health together,” says Ken-ichi Kosuna, Chairman, Amino Up, who founded the company in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan in 1984.

“Some studies have already confirmed synergistic effects of our new products. These products are being finalized to be introduced to the global market”, says Dr. Hajime Fujii, Executive Director, R&D Division, Amino Up.

The first products to come from the new partnership will be launched regionally in the beginning of 2012. The global sales and marketing of the new products will go through Chr. Hansen A/S, with the exception of Japan, which will be serviced by Amino Up.

About Amino Up Chemical Co., Ltd.

Amino Up is a biotechnology company that produces nutritional supplements from the blessings of nature. The products are all novel bioactive substances backed by scientific evidences, and they are marketed globally. The company has carried out collaborative researches with over 80 institutions worldwide, ranging from universities to research institutes and medical hospitals. The products are manufactured in sustainable plants in Sapporo, Japan that complies with ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 22000:2005.

 

CLICK Espresso Protein Drink debuts new packaging

CLICK Espresso Protein Drink debuts new packaging

CLICK Espresso Protein Drink® has a reputation as a great tasting, frappe-style beverage that health-conscious consumers appreciate as CLICK provides the gourmet taste and energy they crave along with protein, vitamins and minerals their body needs. With CLICK’s newly released packaging, consumers now understand that CLICK is not just another protein shake. With a double-shot of espresso coffee, CLICK is their gourmet, coffee-house drink enhanced with protein, vitamins and minerals to support their health and weight management goals.

“CLICK is a stand-out, first to the market product,” claims company co-founder Greg Smith “our original packaging was very Apple-like, clean, and sleek. It did stand-out, but the consumer had to read the label to understand the uniqueness of the product. As CLICK rolled out into stores nationwide, the feedback from retailers as well as consumers indicated our packaging needed to better communicate that CLICK is a multi-functional coffee beverage not just another protein shake with coffee flavoring.”

CLICKco LLC worked with Design Five the original creators of the CLICK logo and packaging. “Getting the clear messaging is a challenge for innovative products like CLICK” according to Ron Nikkel, President of Design Five, “while we received great feedback on the eye-catching design of the original, the fact that CLICK can be a healthier alternative to a consumer’s favorite gourmet coffee house drink did not come across.”

The new label now features a glass of CLICK in a gourmet coffee cup, a distinct difference from the image of a protein shake, highlighting another unique feature CLICK offers; a protein drink that can be enjoyed hot as well as cold. Another significant change is highlighting the two flavors. The CLICK mocha flavor now comes in a canister with a rich, chocolaty background while the CLICK Vanilla Latte flavor is featured with a creamy white background. The CLICK logo remains intact as the CLICK branding message about living an active, healthy lifestyle is still the key component of the branding message.

In conjunction with the new look and feel of the packaging, www.drinkclick.com also has a new look and feel. “Our website better communicates for the CLICK consumer how they can get more from their coffee drink and especially these days, more is better” shares Kelli Arbuckle, Marketing Manager for CLICKco. Whether it’s as an all-in-one morning meal replacement, a nutritional supplement to your work-out or an afternoon, pick-me-up snack, the new site better communicates these benefits to our consumers.” In addition, the site is integrated with Word Press so consumers now have access to up to the minute news and giveaways allowing CLICKco to readily publish press releases.

Why coffee and protein?

“From the 15 grams of high quality protein, the gourmet espresso coffee and the 23 essential vitamins and minerals packed into each serving, we have always been proud of what goes into CLICK,” states Greg Smith. “With CLICK we believe we are helping people stay energized, get their nutrition, support their weight loss goals and enjoy a delicious treat. It is hard not to be proud of that.”

Recent studies suggest that, when combined with an active lifestyle, a diet high in protein promotes natural weight loss by curbing the appetite and reducing calorie intake. Diets high in protein may also help reduce blood fat levels and maintain lean tissue. Now a healthy, natural weight loss solution is just a CLICK away.

CLICK, the boost your energy, curb your appetite, and burn fat so you can perform drink™, is available at Amazon.com, GNC.com, Drugstore.com, Bodybuilding.com, and is CLICK’n in The Vitamin Shoppe stores nationwide.

About CLICK (www.drinkclick.com)

CLICK is the brainchild of Greg and Beth Smith, a Fresno, California couple who owned a small chain of women’s fitness centers. The Smiths were seeking a delicious, healthy beverage for their members in response to the growing wall of sugar based energy and espresso drinks on the market. Their simple solution – a protein based, espresso, all-in-one energy drink – that makes you feel that you are doing something good for yourself one cup at a time.

CLICKco LLC located in Clovis, CA strives to be an ethical company providing better-for-you premium all-in-one beverages to enhance those seeking healthier lifestyles. For more information, log on to www.drinkclick.com.

 

London calling for PureCircle as EU stevia approval beckons

London calling for PureCircle as EU stevia approval beckons

The UK is to be at the heart of PureCircle’s efforts to crack the European Union market for stevia, once regulatory approval for the all-natural sweetener is confirmed.

The company has announced the opening of its new European headquarters in London and has appointed a respected British nutrition scientist to the board of its educational body, the Global Stevia Institute.

The authorities in Europe are expected to approve stevia as early as November, bringing to an end years of lobbying to allow the zero-calorie sweetener to be used in food and beverage products across the continent.

PureCircle believes the UK in particular holds significant promise for stevia. It is already one of Europe’s largest markets for sweeteners and in research conducted in July PureCircle found that 70 percent of UK adults were more conscious of their sugar intake than they were five years ago.

The company hopes that the appointment of Dr. Margaret Ashwell to the board of its Global Stevia Institute will “further its education and outreach efforts in Europe with increased attention to the UK market.” Ashwell is a scientific consultant who has worked closely with the UK government’s food industry watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, in the area of nutrition and obesity.

The Global Stevia Institute was set up in 2010 to lead PureCircle’s efforts to spread the word about stevia’s nutritional benefits among health professionals, the industry, politicians and consumers.

Commenting on the company’s new EU base in London, Jordi Ferre, president of PureCircle’s commercial division, said: “Our direct UK presence will enable us to partner with customers across Europe. Sales, marketing, and application support will all be available through the UK operations, further demonstrating PureCircle’s industry leading ability to provide solutions to customers throughout product development stages.”

See the forthcoming October 2011 issue of  Functional Ingredients magazine for an in-depth analysis of stevia’s prospects in the European Union, post-approval.

New Hope 360 Blog

7 top vegan beers in honor of Oktoberfest

7 top vegan beers in honor of Oktoberfest

It’s the end of September and Oktoberfest, every beer-o-phile’s favorite Germanic festival, is wrapping up next week. While breweries are churning out specialty harvest brews in celebration of the event, vegan beer snobs shouldn’t raise that stein to their lips just yet. Surprisingly, some breweries use animal products in their beer production.

Beer (and potentially wine as well) can contain animal substances such as gelatin, casein, isinglass, or albumin (derived from eggs). While these materials are commonly used as clarifying agents and are measured in trace amounts in the final product, I find it hard to believe that strict vegans would be pleased to learn their frothy libation of choice has been filtered through a sieve of animal byproducts.

While the best way to be positive that a pint is completely vegan is to contact the manufacturer directly, below are my top seven, ahem, tried-and-true delicious choices that will satisfy both vegans and their carnivore counterparts.

Abita Beer
Abita Springs, LA
Try: Fall Fest
Tasting notes: caramel, cloves; yeasty

Chimay
Baileux, Belgium
Try: The Chimay Triple
Tasting notes: sweet, bitter, and golden in color

Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
Milton, DE
Try: Punkin Ale
Tasting notes: malty, pumpkin, caramel, and brown sugar

New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, CO
Try: Hoptober Golden Ale
Tasting notes: medium to full-bodied, citrus finish

Oskar Blues Brewery
Lyons, CO
Try: G’Knight Imperial Red
Tasting notes: piney, sticky, and hoppy

Sierra Nevada Brewing
Chico, CA
Try: Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale
Tasting notes: soft and creamy, bitter and fruity

Woodchuck Hard Cider
Middlebury, VT
Try: Limited Release Fall Cider
Tasting notes: crisp apples and nutmeg, earthy

So grab the sauerkraut and the tofu Bratwurst, and have a hoppy Oktoberfest!

Natural Foods Merchandiser

What does sustainable packaging mean?

What does sustainable packaging mean?

Sustainability can encompass far more than whether a wrapper is recyclable, says Adam Gendell, who works with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. “Something that’s good from a greenhouse-gas or carbon-footprint standpoint isn’t necessarily good from a recyclability standpoint,” he says.

Considerations include which raw material was used and how it was grown, transported, manufactured, processed, packaged, sold and, ultimately, used by the consumer, says Marc Major, cofounder of Cleargreen Advisors in Boulder, Colo. And then there’s the issue of what happens to the package when the consumer is finished with the product—will it be recycled or composted?

Sustainable packaging—especially for products that typically come enveloped in plastic—can simply mean choosing recycled or post-consumer plastics over virgin plastic. There are two main types of recycled plastic: PET, or #1 plastic, can be translucent or tinted, making it the clear choice for water and soft drink bottles—though the higher the percentage of recycled material, the more discoloration that occurs, says Marny Bielefeldt, marketing manager at St. Louis-based Alpha Packaging. HDPE, or #2 plastic, is never clear, so it’s often used for nonfood products such as laundry detergent.

Some companies are moving toward bioplastics like PLA, which is made from corn rather than fossil fuels. But PLA has its own drawbacks: The plastic is more brittle, and it doesn’t provide an adequate moisture or heat barrier for many products. Plus, the corn is often genetically modified.

To quantify their efforts, some manufacturers conduct a lifecycle assessment—an attempt to study a product’s impacts on energy, water, toxicity and wildlife habitat. But, Major notes, “they’re very expensive, very time consuming and not that accurate.”

So while it’s important to consider every detail in the big picture, Major says manufacturers shouldn’t be deterred from making smaller improvements. “The perfect becomes the enemy of the good,” he says. “This is an urgent set of problems, and the more delay we indulge in, the less likely we are to solve the whole situation.”

Fear of killer flu drives sales of immune ingredients, claims new report

Fear of killer flu drives sales of immune ingredients, claims new report

Concern about epidemics such as the deadly swine flu is driving European sales of immune-boosting functional ingredients higher, according to market analyst Frost & Sullivan.

In a new report, the London-based researcher says ingredients manufacturers in this space are “cashing in”on the growing awareness of the role of a healthy immune system inpreventing flu-like diseases and respiratory infections.

Frost & Sullivan also believes demand for ingredients with heart health benefits is on the increase as consumer awareness in this area increases. Senior research analyst Sneha Pasricha, said: “The sheer extent at which cardiovascular disease affects the population in Europe, including those with hypertension, offers significant opportunities for ingredient manufacturers.”

In a new report titled “European Market for Nutritional Solutions in Immune & Antihypertensive Health” Frost & Sullivan forecasts European sales of ingredients in these two areas will rise from a combined $578 million in 2009 to $839 million by 2016—growth of 45 percent over seven years.

However, the analyst also warns that suppliers will have to work hard to increase knowledge and understanding of their ingredients among consumers because the market is so crowded.

Pasricha said, “Manufacturers must make efforts to ramp up awareness levels among consumers about the scientific-backing and the mode of action of their immune and anti-hypertensive health ingredients. Proactive research initiatives by manufacturers supporting their ingredients efficacy, empowered with apt promotional efforts, could prove instrumental in increasing consumer and customer trust and acceptance.”

Natural Foods Merchandiser

The cost of sustainable packaging

The cost of sustainable packaging

Most product improvements come with a higher price tag, and that’s true for some—though certainly not all—sustainable packages. Neil Grimmer, CEO of Nest Collective food brands, says pricing premiums could go “north of 20 or 30 percent,” but some manufacturers absorb the costs rather than pass them onto retailers and consumers.

For companies with a socially responsible ethos, the extra expense often becomes part of the business plan. “I think the good business models out there already have those considerations incorporated into them,” says Adam Gendell, who works with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. “Thinking about the environment is now an integrated part of thinking about improvement of the product. I don’t think any companies have gone broke trying to make better packaging.”

Nature’s Path offsets potential costs by reducing the size of packaging and therefore spending less on materials, according to Jason Boyce, sustainability manager for the organic cereal and breakfast company. Reduced packaging also means products have smaller footprints on store shelves, so retailers can stock more items—and generate more sales—per square foot to offset any price increases from manufacturers.

Even when manufacturers choose new materials over smaller packages, price doesn’t have to be an issue. Marny Bielefeldt, marketing manager at St. Louis-based Alpha Packaging, says the making bottles from recycled plastic costs only about 10 percent more than from virgin plastic. Plus, as more manufacturers use recyclable plastics and compostable plastics, the price is expected to come down, while the price of oil—which is necessary to make plastics and to fuel the transport of heavier containers—keeps rising.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Selling shoppers on sustainable packaging

Selling shoppers on sustainable packaging

Once upon a time, a package had a simple job to do: protect the product inside. But then manufacturers realized packages were effective marketing vehicles and designed them with plenty of real estate to crow about a product's benefits. Packages got bigger, shinier and sturdier. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the landfill: Consumers started to care about sustainability.

A recent report from Accenture, a global management consulting company, found that 80 percent of consumers believe climate change will affect their lives, and they're looking for products and packaging that offer sustainable solutions. According to the Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based business research company, demand for sustainable packaging is projected to increase 3.9 percent annually, creating a $41.7 billion market by 2014.

Consumers expect natural products, in particular, to come in sustainable packages. “Looking at the environmental benefits of your packaging is really necessary to maintain the brand attributes of your marketing,” says Adam Gendell, project associate at GreenBlue, a nonprofit organization that oversees the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

At Natural Products Expo West in March 2011, the Responsible Packaging Coalition—a nonprofit collaboration of organic and natural products stakeholders—reinforced this concept by rewarding eight companies for raising the eco-bar on packaging standards. (Look for new awards at Natural Products Expo East this month.)

Here's a look at some of the top issues and trends in sustainable packaging that you'll likely see at Expo East and beyond.

Mixed motives

Many manufacturers green their packages simply because it's the right thing to do. “A lot of companies take sustainability very sincerely,” Gendell says. Others attempt to play into consumer perceptions of sustainability without making any authentic changes—but that group is shrinking. “We've been seeing a fairly significant reduction in the amount of greenwashing out there,” Gendell says.

That doesn't mean manufacturers can't make green by going green. “If you're a consumer packaged goods company, you are motivated to make money,” says Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based advertising agency focused on sustainability. “You are looking at greening your products for a couple reasons. One is to save money by using less material and incurring lower fuel costs.” Another is the notion—misguided though it may be—that greening your package will win you more business. “The percentage of the population that buys based on the package is very, very small,” Shelton says.

But the biggest reason companies are turning to eco-packaging? “Because Wal-Mart says so,” says Shelton.

Though maligned in the past for its environmental record, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer, which has more than 3,800 stores in the U.S. and another 4,500 worldwide, has mandated that its suppliers reduce packaging by 5 percent by 2013. That may not sound like much, says Marc Major, cofounder and principal of Boulder, Colo.-based Cleargreen Advisors, but “Wal-Mart has the volume to make very small things add up.”

If you're skeptical of Walmart's commitment to green packaging and natural products, consider this: The chain is the largest retailer of organic milk, and also carries products from organic and natural stalwarts such as Amy's, Avalon Organics, Earth's Best, Muir Glen, Pacific Natural Foods and Spectrum Naturals. As consumers begin to see reformulated packaging from these brands—in mainstream stores, no less—they'll undoubtedly come to expect it from others.

Thinking outside the bottle

Perhaps the most significant trend in sustainable package design is lightweighting—reducing the size and weight of the package to conserve materials as well as transportation fuel costs. Manufacturers also are focusing on new, more eco-friendly packaging materials.

Other sustainable packaging innovations recently introduced by natural products manufacturers include:

  • Plum Organics and Revolution Foods—part of the Emeryville, Calif.-based Nest Collective of brands—use plastic-and-foil pouches (known in the industry as flexible laminates) to hold baby and toddler foods, instead of traditional glass jars or plastic cups. One truck, using 250 gallons of fuel, can carry 364,000 pouches; it would take nine trucks and 2,250 gallons of fuel to carry the same number of jars, the company says. And because the pouches are less prone to breakage, there's less food waste.
     
  • In 2010, Richmond, British Columbia-based Nature's Path began packaging 12 of its cereals in a stand-up version of its Eco Pacs: recyclable, resealable bags that eliminate the need for an outer box. The company says this innovation uses 66 percent less packaging than a standard cereal box and averts more than 437 tons of paper every year, the equivalent of more than 2.2 million newspapers. Nature's Path also offers 50 cereals in its EnviroBox, which uses thinner cardboard and reduces packaging by 10 percent.
     
  • Burlington, Vt.-based Seventh Generation made a splash at Expo West 2011 with its molded-pulp laundry detergent bottle. Made from recycled cardboard boxes and newsprint, the outer package resembles an egg carton, right down to the hinge. The two halves open to reveal a thin plastic pouch that holds the liquid. The bottle uses two-thirds less plastic than a 100-ounce laundry detergent bottle, but does an equal number of wash loads. “It's made out of only polyethylene plastic—the same type of plastic they make grocery shopping bags out of,” says Peter Swaine, packaging director for Seventh Generation. And just like those bags, the liner can be dropped off in grocers' bins for recycling, while the cardboard can be recycled curbside.
     
  • Durham, N.C.-based Burt's Bees now puts its soaps in wrappers made from Terraskin—a tree-free, mineral-based paper alternative that degrades after six to nine months when exposed to direct sunlight and moisture. The new wrappers also use less material than the old boxes.

The starting line

Manufacturer packaging innovations are just beginning, however. In the case of Nature's Path Eco Pacs, the bag is recyclable, but the company is on the hunt for a new film—the industry term for the thin plastic—that is compostable and not made from genetically modified organisms, says Jason Boyce, Nature's Path sustainability manager. And Nest-brand pouches, though BPA and phthalate free, are neither recyclable nor compostable, according to Nest Collective CEO Neil Grimmer. Instead, the company works with Trenton, N.J.-based recycler TerraCycle to upcycle Revolution Foods packaging, turning them into pencil cases and lunch bags.

For Justin Gold, founder and CEO of Boulder, Colo.-based Justin's Nut Butter, upcycling isn't the answer. “The energy and resources it takes to separate and clean that product before you can transform it into another product won't push the needle,” he says. “It's a clever alternative to throwing things away, but it's not forcing us to [develop] something better.”

Gold is particularly invested in the issue because some of his products come in portable squeeze packs, so consumers can refuel while biking, hiking and skiing. But like Nest's pouches, Justin's squeeze packs use nonrecyclable, noncompostable film. “I basically got frustrated because we had a premium organic product in a nonsustainable, wasteful package, and I just felt criminal doing that,” he says.

Even with a sustainable film barrier, nut butter squeeze packs present an additional hurdle, Gold says. “They have a liquid that might be a little acidic or oily, and they're hard to contain. The last thing I want is for peanut butter to burst or compost prematurely in your pocket.”

To find alternatives, Gold hosted a “Squeeze Pack Summit” in Boulder last October, attracting the likes of Wal-Mart, Cargill, Nestlé and GU. With some of the best minds in the industry working on the problem, Gold hopes to eventually create a more sustainable squeeze pack.

The film used in Justin's Nut Butter packaging is made up of three thin layers glued together. Gold's short-term goal is to get one layer from a sustainable source and, over time, convert the other two layers. “As far as compostability goes, there aren't many communities that can compost anyway, so let's focus on where film resin comes from for now,” he says. “In the future, we'll worry about compostability.”

Gold says his company has looked at four different films since the summit, and is sharing the information with his competitors. “We're not interested in owning this technology,” he says. “Not only does [sharing the technology] make the world better, but it drives down our cost because more people are using it.”

Strength, consistent availability and cost are the sticking points for what currently seems like the most promising film for products such as Justin's peanut butter pouches. “We're doing life tests to make sure it holds up to the vigorous activities our consumers do,” Gold says. “Then we'll discuss if it's available to use.” And then he'll decide whether the company has to raise prices or if it can absorb costs.

Still, others question why anyone needs squeeze packs at all. Major, who focuses on sustainable packaging at Cleargreen Advisors, says a better solution would be a reusable design—say, a sleeve that consumers could refill with peanut butter.

One company that has taken that notion to heart is Replenish, based in West Hollywood, Calif. The company's dishwashing product is contained in a spray bottle made from recylced PET plastic. The bottle has a recessed bottom with a screw-in socket, so consumers can attach a “replacement pod” filled with concentrated cleaning solution. The consumer then turns the bottle upside down, squeezes the pod to fill the measuring cup with cleaner concentrate and fills the bottle with water. Each pod makes four full bottles of cleaner, and the bottle itself can be used for years.

Convenience still trumps sustainability

For all of the creativity in package design, the biggest hurdle is consumer acceptance. “The best innovation in the world isn't any good if people don't want to buy it,” Major notes.

For most consumers, the package alone isn't a selling point. “Unless it provides a health or convenience benefit, you're going to have a tough sell,” Major says. “If it's the same price, the same quality and it's more sustainable, then they'll go for it. Otherwise, they'll say, ‘I'm sorry. It's a recession, and what can one package do for the world?'”

Shelton has run focus groups on this concept, and her results echo Major's point. “The consumer can't perceive that the package innovation in any way makes their life less convenient,” she says. “What we heard in focus groups about the Seventh Generation bottle is, ‘It's two pieces now, so do I have to recycle it in two different ways? It looks flimsy—am I really gonna get through 66 loads before it falls apart? It looks like it's going to make my life less convenient.'”

In fact, if a “green act” requires an increase in time commitment and price, participation rates drop 13 percent, according to a recent report by Dallas-based market research firm MARC Research. “To change behavior, the incentive to change must be compelling. This gets back to the idea of tangible benefits,” the report notes.

Retail strategies

To sell customers on what's holding the product as well as what's in the product, adopt the following strategies:

Use loyalty cards.

Starbucks offered free coffee to people who brought in their own mugs on Earth Day. Natural products retailers should offer similar incentives, says Carolyn Cozad, president of Bounce Enterprises, a holistic business consulting practice in Henderson, Nev. “If you have a loyalty card, you could track the purchases of people who are buying a certain percentage of goods in sustainable packaging, and you could reward them for buying more, maybe with a discount.”

Educate.

Rafael Mael, marketing strategist at Baltimore-based Brand Launcher, says retailers—particularly those in the natural and organic space—often assume their customers have more insight about environmental issues than they actually do. “The key is to accept that consumers, as well-intentioned as they may be, are bombarded with confusing, conflicted messages,” he says. “It's your job, as the retailer, to explain in crystal-clear language what, exactly, the differences are.”

Consumers need specific, concrete numbers to make the environmental benefit tangible—and not just once, but repeatedly, via different media, Mael says. Distribute educational articles near products with sustainable packages or at the cash register. Use videos, but don't limit them to your website; play them on an in-store monitor, where the effects will be more immediate.

Demo.

“People always think of demos as food sampling, but they don't have to be,” Cozad says. “Show what [a sustainable] package looks like when it breaks down versus another one that doesn't break down.” For example, after Frito-Lay reformulated its compostable but notoriously loud SunChips bag, the company produced a time-lapse video (available at sunchips.com/healthier_planet.shtml) that depicts the bag disintegrating over 14 weeks. Ask manufacturers if they have like-minded videos that you can broadcast in store.

Alternately, Cozad says your demo could be a simple display of several products, with shelf talkers indicating the breakdown time—or other environmental advantages—of  each.

Collaborate with partners.

Gendell and Major say retailers must not see themselves as isolated in the eco-packaging effort. “Think of sustainability as giving you the opportunity and excuse to build a bigger team,” Major says. “Collaborate with people outside your organization.” One strategy: Encourage customers to drop off compostable packaging at your store, and develop partnerships with local composting facilities to pick it up.

Set standards.

Gold says more retailers could follow Wal-Mart's example and require that manufacturers use sustainable packaging. After all, many naturals retailers have standards regarding preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients in their foods. Why not apply similar standards to what holds the products you sell?

Walk the talk.

To show your customers you care as much as manufacturers do, consider investing in sustainable packaging in your deli and produce sections. (For tips, see “Foodservice packaging ideas” on page 43.) 

Laurie Budgar is a Longmont, Colo.-based freelance writer and editor.

New GM ruling plunges EU market for honey ingredients into crisis

New GM ruling plunges EU market for honey ingredients into crisis

 

The European Union market for honey is in turmoil after the European Court of Justice ruled that any pollen in honey derived from genetically modified plants constitutes a GM ingredient and must be authorized for sale in the EU and, if permitted, labeled.

The decision places a huge question mark over the future marketing in the EU of food and beverage products, and dietary supplements, containing honey-based ingredients that may contain GM pollen—wherever in the world the honey has been produced.

In theory, it means that if a product contains a honey-based ingredient that contains GM pollen, the GM plant from which the pollen came must now be authorized in the EU for the product to be permitted for sale on the EU market. If it is not, then the product will be banned.

However, even if it is authorized, the GM pollen will have to be declared on the label. This is likely to be a real blow to the food industry since, unlike many consumers in the US market, the majority of EU shoppers are vehemently opposed to buying products containing GM ingredients.

The ruling came as a result of a dispute between the State of Bavaria, in Germany, which grows GM maize on several plots, and a local beekeeper. In its judgment, the court said: “The Court observes that pollen is not a foreign substance or an impurity, but rather a normal component of honey, with the result that it must indeed be classified as an ‘ingredient’.

“The pollen in question consequently comes within the scope of the regulation [on GM foods] and must be subject to the authorization scheme provided for thereunder before being placed on the market.”

Irene Wohlfahrt, scientific consultant at Germany-based regulatory consultancy Analyze & Realize, said: “According to our understanding, this ruling means that all honeys that are produced within the range of GMOs can potentially contain GM pollen.

“If that is the case, and GM pollen is found in a honey above a certain amount, the honey in question needs to contain a reference to GMOs on the label, and it needs to obtain a marketing permission. Theoretically, this applies to all honeys produced outside of the EU.

“Also, we understand from this ruling that all dietary supplements made from honeys containing GM pollen are subject to the same ruling.”