Sara Langen

Texas A&M and SureBeam dedicate electron-beam research facility
Officials from Texas A&M University and SureBeam Corp. gathered in March to dedicate a new research facility based on SureBeam’s electron-beam and x-ray technology.

The new 16,000-sq-ft facility, located on the Texas A&M campus in College Station, Tex., is the result of a strategic relationship between the university’s Institute of Food Science & Engineering (IFSE) and SureBeam. As part of the 10-year, $10-million alliance, SureBeam is providing two linear accelerators for e-beam treatment of foods and food ingredients to kill microorganisms and a third for high-energy x-ray treatment, which provides deeper penetration into products. The company will also provide a 10-year grant to IFSE to staff the facility with full-time operators and management. Operating hours will be shared between company researchers and university researchers. At the end of the alliance, all facilities will be owned by Texas A&M.

Mark McLellan, IFT President-Elect and Director of IFSE, said the partnership demonstrates the university’s commitment to be on the leading edge of science and engineering. “The electron-beam process has the potential to revolutionize the level of safety we can expect from our food products,” he said.

The SureBeam technology uses electricity to irradiate harmful bacteria and eliminate it with ionizing energy, enhancing food quality and extending shelf life, without compromising taste, texture, or nutritional value. The technology is already in use by a number of companies.

Some of the facility’s first guests when it opens this summer will be members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

SureBeam is headquartered in San Diego, Calif.

Study forecasts future trends in food manufacturing and retail
Food manufacturers and retailers face substantial consolidation and internationalization over the next five years as they innovate with brands and retail formats to satisfy changing consumer habits and demands.

These findings are the result of a study conducted by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. The study report, “State of the Art in Food: The Changing Face of the Food Industry,” draws its conclusions from a survey of 220 leading food executives from 19 countries in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific, along with detailed interviews with 65 senior-level executives.

The research shows that global brands will dominate, with 20–25 global brands emerging in various categories of fast-moving consumer goods. These brands will occupy a leadership position in more than 100 countries and will be owned by approximately 10 global brand manufacturers. At the same time, manufacturers will “marry” global brands with “local jewels” to meet consumers’ growing demands for local products.

Retailers will also increasingly brand their stores and wrest more control of the supply chain as they attempt to build stronger relationships with consumers. The report shows that with better supply-chain integration, Europe could realize cost savings of 8 billion euros by 2010, while savings in the United States could total as much as $7 billion if retailers and manufacturers worked together. But the absence of collaboration at the current time will make it difficult to realize significant cost savings.

The study also finds that retailers could achieve greater efficiencies by partnering with other retailers on warehousing and distribution systems.

The report concludes that most food retailers have had little success utilizing the Internet as a viable option to reach the consumer. The e-commerce channel will remain a challenge and will represent no more than 5% of the global food business in 10 years.

As the balance of power continues to shift in favor of the retail segment, changes will occur in the buying process, primarily in the area of fresh and chilled products. Eighty-three percent of manufacturers and 96% of retailers expect the share of fresh products to increase, reaching as high as 60% of store sales.

P&G sells olestra plant
Procter & Gamble Co. announced in February the sale of its olestra plant in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Twin Rivers Technologies, L.P., located in Quincy, Mass.

The sale of the plant is consistent with P&G’s goal of maximizing the use of current assets. P&G will retain ownership of the Olean brand and technology and will continue to fulfill contractual agreements with manufacturers of salted snack foods. Twin Rivers will supply P&G with the required volume of olestra to fulfill these needs. P&G will continue support of products with Olean.

Twin Rivers Technologies is a fatty acid producer and key supplier to P&G. Based in Cincinnati, P&G markets more than 250 brands of consumer products worldwide.

Tetra Pak produces retorted food in cartons
In February, Tetra Pak launched a new carton packaging system for retorted food to be packed in cartons.

The new system is suitable for wet shelf-stable food that traditionally has been packed in cans or glass jars, such as soups, sauces, tomato products, fruits, vegetables, and pet foods. The cartons have the canned-food advantages of staying fresh and healthful without refrigeration, a result of having been through thermal processing (retorting). The system processes the food at a speed equivalent to that of traditional can systems. The new product looks like the existing cartons for liquid foods, but is produced differently and has a new opening solution.

Tetra Pak is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

EU seeking Food Safety Authority director
The European Commission is seeking an Executive Director to head up the new European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The Authority is a major component of the reform of EU food law launched by the Prodi Commission in its January 2000 White Paper on Food Safety. The commission also recently launched an effort to identify suitable candidates for the Management Board of the Authority. The Executive Director will be responsible for ensuring that the Authority becomes a major voice on food safety matters. The main task of the Authority is to provide scientific advice and support for community legislation and policies in all fields having a direct or indirect impact on food and feed safety. One of the first tasks of the Executive Director will be to constitute the Authority’s new Scientific Committee and Panels, and to recruit administration and scientific staff. For more information, visit www.efsa.eu.int or http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/efa/index_en.html.


You won’t want to miss the IFT 2002 Annual Meeting & FOOD EXPO® June 15–19 in Anaheim, California. It’s a gold mine of innovation and knowledge. Log onto www.am–fe.ift.org to register.

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by SARA LANGEN
Assistant Editor