The Weekly: March 12, 2014

March 12, 2014

IFT Top Stories

WHO releases recommendation to lower sugar intake
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced proposed guidelines that cut the daily recommendation for sugars from 10% to 5% of daily calories. In 2002, the WHO recommended that sugars make up less than 10% of a person’s total energy intake; it continues that recommendation of less than 10%, but it also suggests that a daily intake of less than 5% would provide additional benefits.

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs),” the WHO said in its draft.

The WHO asserts that new guidelines, which assessed data from about 9,000 studies, will help reduce obesity and prevent cavities. These sugars in question include added sugars that are often “hidden” in sauces and soft drinks and those found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices, but it does not include sugars naturally found in fruits.

The WHO has opened a public consultation on these guidelines. Comments will be accepted from March 5 through March 31, and an expert peer-review process will happen concurrently.

Report

Chiquita to merge with Fyffes
Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fyffes PLC announced that they will combine, creating a global banana and fresh produce company that will be known as ChiquitaFyffes. Upon completion of the merger, the new company will have an operating presence in more than 70 countries and a workforce of approximately 32,000 people around the world.

“This is a milestone transaction for Chiquita and Fyffes that brings together the best of both companies which, we believe, will create significant value for our shareholders and offer immediate benefits for customers and consumers worldwide,” said current Chiquita CEO Ed Lonergan.

In the stock-for-stock transaction deal, Chiquita stockholders are expected to own about 50.7% of the new company, and Fyffes stockholders will hold roughly 49.3% of it. The companies expect the merger to be completed by the end of 2014. Lonergan will serve as Chairman of the combined company, and Fyffes’ current Executive Chairman, David McCann, will become CEO.

Press release

IFT announces new Executive Vice President
IFT is pleased to announce that its Search Committee has selected Christie A. Tarantino, FASAE, CAE, as its Executive Vice President. She will assume her new role on April 21, 2014; Mark Barenie will continue as Interim Executive Vice President until that date.

Tarantino currently serves as President and CEO of Association Forum of Chicagoland, which oversees 3,700 members from more than 1,600 associations throughout the Chicago area. She joins IFT with more than 17 years in association management, including noteworthy experience leading two major membership associations.

Previously, Tarantino served as Executive Director of the Academy of General Dentistry, which has 35,000 members and 62 chapters; Associate Vice President of Member Relations at the Professional Convention Management Association, where she gained significant experience in conventions; and Membership Services Director with the Alabama State Bar Association.

A native of Montgomery, Ala., Tarantino earned her bachelor's degree in political science and her masters of public administration from Auburn University at Montgomery. She currently serves on the board of Partnership to Educate and Advance Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and mentorship opportunities for at-risk high school students in Chicago.

“Christie Tarantino brings impressive credentials in association management and strategy to IFT, and her experience will be critical in advancing programs for our members and the food science and technology professions,” said IFT President Janet E. Collins, Ph.D., R.D., CFS. “She joins IFT at a very exciting time as we approach our 75th anniversary in June, and we know that with her excellent qualifications she will ensure the ongoing success of our organization for years to come.

“Finally,” said Collins, “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the members of the Executive Vice President Search Committee chaired by IFT Immediate Past President John Ruff.”

Press release

IFT Research Briefs

Non-GMO tops organic in brand choice among health-conscious consumers
Health-conscious shoppers consider whether a product has been genetically modified more important in determining brand choice than whether it is organic, according to the 2014 Market Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability MamboTrack Natural & Organic Consumer Market Research Study. The survey found that 80% of consumers look for non-GMO items, and 56% of buyers considered non-GMO a driving force for brand buying, vs 52% who said organic was key.

The gluten-free category, which attracted seven out of 10 natural shoppers, is poised for further growth, with nine out of 10 of those shoppers planning to increase or maintain spending in the category. Eight out of 10 shoppers reported buying products made with antibiotic-free (ABF) poultry, up from 74% in 2013.

"Product 'Have Nots' are driving brand choice amongst healthy consumers," said Karen Herther and Bethany Stanley, Principals of Market LOHAS who direct the MamboTrack Research. "From non-GMO to gluten-free to ABF, shoppers are seeking transparency and reading labels focusing more on what's not in the products they buy."

In addition, shoppers continue to look for value in their spending, with more than 80% using the same amount of or more coupons. Fifty-three percent of shoppers will use online/printable coupons, and 49% will use retailer/in-store coupons.

The 2014 Market LOHAS MamboTrack Natural and Organic Shopper report surveyed 1,000 health conscious consumers, a majority of whom are female (94%), 39 years of age on average, have a median household income of $82,000/year, and manage their health through their food choices (75%). MamboTrack is an online survey research panel of health and eco shoppers who have opted-in to Mambo Sprouts Marketing.

Press release

Fewer Americans report eating healthily 'yesterday'
According to data gathered by Gallup and Healthways, only 63.8% of Americans said they ate healthily all day “yesterday” in 2013. That percentage is the lowest reported in any year since 2008, down from a high of 67.7% in 2010. This may not be surprising, said Gallup, as 2013 also saw the obesity rate jump to an all-time high of 27.1%.

Healthy eating habits differed across income levels, with lower-income groups reporting eating healthily more frequently than middle- and upper-income Americans, a trend that has held steady across previous years. Despite their reporting, lower-income Americans are more likely to be obese than upper-income Americans, which Gallup suggests may be related to lower-income Americans believing their food intake to be more nutritious than it actually is. Middle-income groups continued to report the lowest levels of healthy eating and also experienced the greatest drop, from 65% in 2012 to 61.8% in 2013.

The percentage of Americans who reported eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables four days a week, however, held steady, even as more Americans reported having trouble affording the food they need and experienced more difficulty finding affordable fruits and vegetables. Gallup suggests this may be related to nationwide droughts in 2012. Upper-income Americans reported the highest rate of eating produce, at 60% compared to 58% for middle-income groups and 54.6% for lower-income groups.

Gallup and Healthways gathered this data by asking at least 500 Americans to self-report each day whether they ate healthily the whole day before and how many of the last seven days included at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, supplying year-over-year comparisons.

Report

Childhood ADHD increases risk of teen obesity
Children who experience symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are significantly more likely to become obese as teenagers, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study examined Finnish children with ADHD symptoms at age 7 to 8 and again at age 16. During the first part, researchers looked at the participants’ body mass index (BMI) and level of play; during the second part, adolescents reported their level of physical activity and binge eating, and doctors examined them to determine their BMI and waist–hip ratio (WHR). Obesity was defined using the International Obesity Task Force cutoffs for BMI and the 95th percentile cutoff for WHR.

The researchers found that children with ADHD symptoms experienced low levels of physical activity as adolescents (but were not likely to binge eat), and children who displayed low levels of physically active play time were more likely to experience more difficulty paying attention as adolescents. The researchers concluded that increasing activity for children with ADHD at an early age may help improve focus and prevent obesity later in life.

Study

Restaurant breakfasts on the rise as lunch and dinner visits decline
Although fewer people went to restaurants at lunch and dinner in 2013, their breakfasts out increased for the fourth consecutive year, reported The NPD Group. More than 12.5 billion breakfast visits were made in 2013, an increase of 3% from the previous year.

“Breakfast continues to be a bright spot for the restaurant industry as evidenced by the number of chains expanding their breakfast offerings and times,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “A restaurant morning meal serves a variety of needs. In addition to helping us jump-start our day, it satisfies the need for convenience, is less costly than other restaurant meals, and is readily available to us.”

The strongest increase was seen in quick-service breakfasts, which rose by 4% and accounted for 80% of morning meal visits, while breakfasts taken at midscale/family dining restaurants declined by 3%. NPD predicts overall growth to continue, with total breakfast visits forecast to increase by 7% over the next nine years and quick-service visits expected to increase by 9%.

Press release

Strawberry compounds enhance perception of sweetness
Researchers have isolated naturally occurring compounds in strawberries that heighten tasters’ perception of sweetness independent of actual sugar levels, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Strawberries may offer potential as a way to add the perception of sweetness to foods without using additional sweeteners.

In the study, researchers at the University of Florida grew 35 kinds of strawberries over two growing seasons, then asked a panel of 166 tasters to evaluate the strawberries’ texture and levels of sweetness, sourness, and strawberry flavor, as well as their overall liking of the fruit. Researchers found perceived sweetness intensity to be the greatest predictor of overall liking. As the harvest season went on, sugars and volatile compounds in the berries decreased. At the same time, tasters rated strawberries less favorably.

Intensity of strawberry flavor was rated as the second-highest factor in tasters’ opinions of the strawberries, and the researchers found that the presence of certain volatile compounds improved tasters’ perceptions. Six of these volatiles were found to improve the perception of sweetness independent of actual sugar content.

“These findings allow for consumer influence in the breeding of more desirable fruits and vegetables,” wrote the researchers. “Also, this approach garners insights into fruit metabolomics, flavor chemistry, and a paradigm for enhancing liking of natural or processed products.”

Study

Inclusion of eggs in new product introductions increases
New product introductions including egg ingredients were up 35% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to new product releases tracked by Mintel’s Global New Products Database, which has been collecting data on this subject since 2008. The strongest category year over year continues to be cakes, pastries, and sweet goods, which saw 158 new egg ingredient products, a growth of 65% since 2012.

The second strongest category was sweet biscuits/cookies, with 70 new releases that represent an increase of 27% since 2012. Several other categories experienced impressive growth. The wet soup category rose by 200% in 2013 compared to 2012, with 66 new products compared to the previous year’s 22. The dairy-based frozen category grew by 123%, with 76 new products in 2013 compared to 34 in 2012.

“Every year the numbers prove the value of egg ingredients’ functionality and nutrition,” said American Egg Board’s Director of Egg Product Marketing, Elisa Maloberti, “and 2013 was no exception.”

Mintel also tracked the top 10 categories over 2008–2013. They are as follows:
1. Cakes, Pastries & Sweet Goods     
2. Sweet Biscuits/Cookies              
3. Prepared Meals                     
4. Sandwiches/Wraps                  
5. Dairy-Based Frozen Products          
6. Wet Soup                         
7. Pasta                             
8. Dressings & Vinegar                
9. Hors d’oeuvres/Canapés            
10. Seasonal Chocolate

American Egg Board/Mintel data

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IFT Company News

Albertsons and Safeway announce merger
AB Acquisitions LLC, which owns Albertson’s LLC and New Albertson’s Inc. (collectively known as Albertsons), has reached a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway Inc.

The merger will create a network of more than 2,400 stores, 27 distribution facilities, and 20 manufacturing plants; no stores are expected to close. Bob Miller, Albertsons’ CEO, will become the Executive Chairman of the combined company, and Safeway President and CEO Robert Edwards will remain President and CEO.

“This transaction offers us the opportunity to better serve customers by adapting more quickly to evolving shopping preferences in diverse regions across the country,” said Miller. “It also brings together two great organizations with talented management teams.”

Safeway shareholders will receive a total value estimated at $40 per share: $32.50 in cash and the right to receive pro-rata distributions of net proceeds from primarily non-core assets with an estimated value of $3.65 per share. The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Press release

Great Range Capital acquires majority stake in Mountain Valley Spring Co.
Kansas City–based private equity firm Great Range Capital and a team of investors have acquired a majority stake in Mountain Valley Spring Co., the oldest continuously operated bottled water company in the U.S. Produced in Hot Springs, Ark., since 1871, Mountain Valley Spring Water is available in still and sparkling formats, with sparkling options recently added.

“Mountain Valley has an impressive and treasured heritage of providing consumers the finest spring and sparkling spring water,” said Mountain Valley CEO Breck Speed. “Our partnership with Great Range Capital positions us well for continued growth and success. We now have an even greater ability to deliver the high quality products and services our customers have come to expect from Mountain Valley.”

Great Range Capital acquired Mountain Valley from J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., which has held a majority share in the water company since 2004.

Press release

Sterigenics acquires Food Technology Service
Contract sterilization provider Sterigenics International announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Food Technology Service Inc., which owns and operates an irradiation facility that uses gamma radiation to supply contract sterilization services to the medical device, packaging, and food industries.

“We look forward to a seamless transition going forward and are pleased that this teaming will mean better service to our clients, and ultimately, the consumer that we are protecting,” said Sterigenics CEO Michael Mulhern.

Sterigenics is headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., and operates 39 facilities across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Food Technology Service is based in Mulberry, Fla.

Press release

UCS scorecard ranks companies' commitment to sustainable palm oil
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a scorecard that looks at how well the biggest 30 companies are doing when it comes to sourcing deforestation-free palm oil. Palm oil, which can be found in products that range from cookies and cakes to deodorant and toothpaste, is an expensive ingredient, but the costs to the environment are high. Palm oil production is responsible for large-scale forest conversion in the tropics and extensive carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming.

The scorecard highlights the level of commitment shown by the 10 largest companies in each of three sectors—packaged food, personal care, and fast food—to use palm oil that is deforestation-free, peat-free, and traceably and transparently sourced. Only six of the 30 companies were fully committed to sustainable palm oil, and none of these were found in the fast food sector.

By calling attention to these results, UCS hopes to encourage companies to increase their commitment to sustainably sourced palm oil. “Multinational companies really hold the world’s tropical forests in their hands,” said Calen May-Tobin, lead analyst for UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative. “If these companies demand deforestation-free, peat-free palm oil, the producers on the ground would be forced to change their palm oil practices.”

Here is how the companies ranked:

  • Fully committed: Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelēz, L'Oréal, and Reckitt Benckiser
  • Some commitment: Kellogg’s (which has revised its commitment level to “fully committed” since the scores were tabulated), Danone, General Mills, Heinz, Beiersdorf, Henkel, and Subway
  • Little commitment: PepsiCo, ConAgra, Colgate-Palmolive, Kao, Procter & Gamble, Avon, and McDonald's
  • No commitment: Kraft, Estée Lauder, Clorox, Burger King, CKE Restaurants, Dairy Queen, Domino's, Dunkin' Brands, Starbucks, Wendy’s, and Yum! Brands

Report

Milner Milling to acquire Cereal Food Processors
Milner Milling Co., a privately owned milling business based in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced that it will acquire Cereal Food Processors, the fourth-largest flour milling company in the United States. Milner will work with its partner milling company Pendleton Flour Mills in the acquisition, and a new name for the combined company will be announced sometime in the future.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close this spring. Once approved, the combined company, which would operate flour mills in 10 states, would have a daily milling capacity of 164,000 cwts, making it the country’s third-largest flour milling company.

Milner Milling website

FMC announces company division
Chemical firm FMC Corp. will split into two independent public companies. One of the companies, “New FMC,” will include FMC's Agricultural Solutions and Health and Nutrition segments, while the other company, “FMC Minerals,” will comprise the current Minerals segment. The proposed separation must still be approved by its board, but FMC expects the split to be completed by early 2015.

“We believe that creating two companies, each with its own publicly-listed equity, will enable the management of each company to pursue its own strategy,” said current President, CEO, and Chairman Pierre Brondeau. “This will give each company greater focus on the success factors that are most important to its business and allow the adoption of a capital structure that is appropriate to its business profile.”

Brondeau will helm New FMC, whose segments supply crop-protection products developed from science-based innovations; naturally derived products that provide texture, stability, and natural color for food applications; and binders, coatings and high-purity, high-concentration omega-3 for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications.

FMC Minerals will be led by a new CEO who will be announced in the coming months. It will include the Alkali Chemicals business—the largest global producer of natural soda ash—and the Lithium business, the only brine-to-metals producer with a broad global product portfolio.

Press release

IFT Regulatory News

Senomyx receives GRAS determination for Sweetmyx
Senomyx Inc. announced that its new Sweetmyx flavor ingredient has received Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) determination under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Sweetmyx is used to maintain taste quality in foods and beverages that contain reduced levels of sweeteners such as sugar.

“The new Sweetmyx flavor ingredient will enable the creation of lower-calorie beverages and foods that have reduced sweeteners without sacrificing taste,” said John Poyhonen, President and CEO of Senomyx. “We are particularly excited about the versatility of Sweetmyx since it allows for the reduction of either sucrose or fructose in products.”

Sweetmyx, which was previously known as S617, can be used in both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, as well as a range of foods that include baked goods, cereals, dairy products, confectioneries, snack foods, and condiments. PepsiCo was granted exclusive rights in 2010 to use the ingredient in nonalcoholic beverages, and Firmenich has lifetime rights to commercialize Sweetmyx in food products and alcoholic beverages, with exclusive rights until March 2018.

Press release

Heinz Canada recalls baby food with packaging defect
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA ) announced that Heinz Canada is voluntarily recalling six baby food products that may allow entry of “spoilage microorganisms” due to a packaging defect. The agency advises consumers not to eat the affected products.

The recall applies to the following products: peas zucchini spinach, sweet baby vegetables, beef bolognese with vegetables, beef butternut squash rice spinach, tuna sweet corn chowder, and butternut squash apricot peas couscous. Each product is packaged in a 128 mL squeeze pouch.

No illnesses have been reported, and CFIA said that Health Canada has determined the risk associated with consuming the products to be “very low to remote.” If consumers have eaten the affected products, they should watch for symptoms that may include upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Recall announcement

USDA to expand support for small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers
The United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to expand resources available to small- and medium-sized farmers so that they may build stronger businesses, reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations.

“The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We've adjusted policies, strengthened programs, and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country's agricultural and economic future.”

Plans include providing better access to USDA resources, creating revised risk management tools to suit smaller producers, and expanding access to market news information. In addition, the USDA will provide educational tools specifically curated for farmers engaged in local and regional food systems, and USDA staff will increase their outreach efforts.

News release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

International Food Nanoscience Conference proceedings available
The proceedings of the 2013 IFT International Food Nanoscience Conference are now published and readily accessible online in the March issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, which can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12055/pdf. A synopsis of the proceedings is published in the March issue of Food Technology; please visit www.ift.org/food-technology/past-issues/2014/march/features/nanoscience.aspx.

March 20–21: Chicago, Ill.
Drive in or train it in to Wellness 14
Work in or around the Chicago area? If so, there’s still time to register for Wellness 14, taking place next week in downtown Chicago. Get industry insights through three focused tracks, all centered around commercializing healthy snack foods: sodium reduction, protein enhancement, and sugar reduction. Find out what consumers are snacking on through a live panel of Chicago shoppers. And make new business connections with the 300 expected food professionals from top food companies in product development, nutrition, and sales. A Short Course on food labeling is taking place just prior to the event. Check out the online schedule, and then register for either of these events today.

May 5–27
Demonstrate your applied knowledge with CFS
What is the top reason people chose to apply for their CFS? According to a recent survey of Certified Food Scientists, the top reason credential holders chose to apply was to use their CFS credential as a demonstration of their knowledge and applied food science education. Whatever your need is, we encourage you to check out what other credential holders are saying about the program, and then start preparing yourself to take the test. Apply now for the May 5-27 testing window, and you too can be recognized at the 2014 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

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