Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past week

By Stephen Daniells contact

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Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past week
From comments on the new GMO labeling rule from the US Department of Agriculture, to a “new generation” of plant-based protein products from Spanish start-up Foods for Tomorrow, here’s a round-up of the top seven global food and beverage news items from the past seven days.

USA

First up, Nestlé, the world’s largest food company by revenue, was called out by an investor for falling short on its long-term, sustainable growth mission​.

In a letter to the food giant, Daniel Loeb, CEO of Third Point, a New York-based asset manager with $18bn in capital ($3bn in Nestlé), wrote: “Although the company has taken some steps consistent with our suggestions, the modest pace and magnitude of these changes suggest that Nestlé feels satisfied with its position.”

This came after Nestlé Global reported organic growth of 2.8% for the first three months of 2018 with full-year guidance of between 2% and 4%.

“Nestlé describes itself as a company focused on ‘nutrition, health and wellness,’ but many categories and brands continue to fall outside that definition,” ​wrote Loeb.

“We believe the company should simplify its overly complex organizational structure and split internally into three divisions organized around beverages, nutrition, and grocery to improve focus, agility, and accountability,” ​he added.

Our sister site FoodNavigator-USA also summarized the public comments to the USDA’s GMO labeling rule​, which have exposed sharp divisions about whether it should include refined ingredients from GM crops, or foods produced via modern gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR.

The proposed rule ​(which USDA hopes to finalize later this year) omits a definition of ‘non-bioengineered,’ which could become a contentious issue if companies believe they have the green light to make non-BE claims on anything not included in the ‘bioengineered’ definition.

Consumers​ do not consider animal ingredients from animals fed bioengineered feed to be ‘non-GMO,’ and the regulation must clearly and explicitly prohibit such representations,” ​noted Whole Foods Market in its comments to the USDA.

The Organic Trade Association  added: “The final rule should clearly state that products exempt from mandatory disclosure as bioengineered foods, such as milk from cows fed genetically modified feed, may not by default automatically qualify for a ‘negative’ or ‘absence’ claim solely because the food is not required to bear a disclosure.”

And from the consumer side, market researcher Mintel found that consumers are equating ‘clean’ with ‘healthy’​, which is not necessarily what the industry means.

“Clean label often refers to products with free-from claims, simple ingredients and minimal processing. The concept of clean label has been used by the food industry for many years, but clean-related terms have now emerged as part of consumers’ vocabulary as a new way to say ‘healthy’,” ​said Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst at Mintel.

Consumers seem to be responding positively to terms such as ‘clean label’ and ‘clean eating’ as products promoting these descriptors tend to be perceived as ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’, according to Mintel Purchase Intelligence report.

Europe

In Europe, France’s Roquette announced it will acquire US caramel color supplier Sethness​, which has four manufacturing facilities in the US, France, India and China.

“This acquisition will help accelerate Roquette’s growth plan in the food and beverage market, and further drive value for our customers,” ​said Jean-Marc Gilson, CEO of Roquette, which already operate two joint ventures with Sethness in France and China.

Also in Europe, Spanish start-up Foods for Tomorrow announced it has develop a “new generation” of plant-based protein products​.

After two years of development, the group launched its plant-based protein products in April under the Heura brand. During its first year in the market, Foods for Tomorrow has seen a 44% month-on-month growth, with sales totalling €225,000. Last month’s revenue accounted for more than €50,000 and its expected growth for the following three years would see the group hit sales of around €2.7m.

Heura is made from soy, a legume that is high fibre, isoflavones, protein and lysine. It does not contain gluten or added sugars, is low in saturated fats and has no cholesterol. It is a source of potassium, magnesium and phosphorus and has a high content of proteins of high biological value, fibre, iron and vitamin B12.

“[T]he objective was to create a plant-based protein with layers and fibrous texture very different from the fluffy and gummy textures of tofu or tempeh,” ​said Foods for Tomorrow founder and CEO Marc Coloma. “We wanted to give a totally new approach from all perspectives with the picture in mind that this is the best way to accelerate the introduction of plant-based protein products in the mass market diets.”

Asia

New Zealand’s drink industry said it would be open to copying the Australian beverage industry's recent commitment​ to a 20% sugar reduction across its portfolio by 2025.

“This is a fantastic initiative by Australian Beverages Council and certainly an area that the New Zealand Beverage Council is excited to be talking to our members about,”​ said Stephen Jones, communications and engagement manager of the New Zealand Beverage Council (NZBC).

“Not only is this pledge about reducing the contribution over-consumption of sugary drinks makes to our obesity rates, it is about increasing choice for consumers through the development of new low and no-sugar varieties.”

The Australian Beverages Council pledge has the backing of firms such as Coca-Cola South Pacific, Coca-Cola Amatil, PepsiCo, Asahi Beverages and Frucor Suntory, with more expected to come on board in the coming months.

Finally, Australia's Country of Origin Labelling rules come into force last week​. Regulators announced they would embark on spot checks for 10,000 items to ensure adherence.

All food businesses will need to comply with the CoOL Information Standard, which specifies how claims can be made about the origin of food products being sold in Australia.

Priority foods include meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, most dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt and cheese), breakfast cereal, bread, nuts, honey and non-carbonated fruit juices.

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