Sara Langen

World Food Prize Laureates sought
Nominations for the 2002 World Food Prize are due February 28, 2002.

The prize is awarded to an individual for achievement in any field involved in enhancing food production and distribution and increasing food availability and accessibility to those most in need, thereby reducing hunger, poverty, and human suffering and improving health, nutrition, and well being.

The award is given annually and includes a $250,000 prize that is intended to inspire and recognize outstanding accomplishments in improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Information on the nominating process is available at www.worldfoodprize.org or by contacting Judith Pim at 515-245-3796 or [email protected].

Consumers want easy meals
Nearly 80% of all suppers consumed in America are taking place at home, according to The NPD Group, Inc.’s 16th annual edition of its Report on Eating Patterns in America.

The consumer research group’s report, released in November, includes information on all aspects of Americans’ eating habits. Although the number of suppers prepared by females declined from 78% in 1995 to 76% in 2000, women are still the main people doing the cooking. That fact has led to a desire among women to find easier ways to prepare meals.

The easiest way to make every meal less work is by serving fewer dishes, causing consumers to drop side dishes. Last year, the average supper consisted of 3.6 dishes, the lowest number in the 16 years of the report and 8% smaller than 10 years ago. In 1990, 65% of suppers had at least one side dish, but last year that number was only 56%. The side dishes most often eliminated are vegetables, potatoes, salads, and bread.

The second way is by spending less time assembling the main dish. Although there is still a main dish at supper, it is more likely to be a frozen product. The percent of suppers served with a frozen main course reached an all-time high in 2000 of 11.5 %, up 22% from just five years ago.

The third way is by inviting fewer people over to share a meal. Last year, the average American household served 52 meals to guests (including breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks). That is down from 94 in 1985 and 72 in 1995.

Although Americans are interested in making meal time easier, they are not increasing the meals they take out from restaurants. For the first time in 12 years, the number of meals purchased at a restaurant to be eaten at home dropped from 141 in 1999 to 138 in 2000. This decrease is directly related to the number of new, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products available.

The report is based on the results of over 30 research studies conducted by NPD, based in Port Washington, N.Y., including the daily food and beverage consumption of 5,000 Americans. For more information contact Harry Balzer at 847-692-1704 or [email protected].

IFIC conducts consumer food biotech survey
Sixty-one percent of Americans believe and can state how biotechnology will benefit them or their families in the next five years, according to a consumer survey conducted by the International Food Information Council.

Consumers expect benefits such as improved health and nutrition; improved quality, taste, and variety of foods; reduced chemical and pesticide use on plants; reduced cost of food; and improved crops and crop yields.

The survey was conducted in September 2001 by Cogent Research and was commissioned by IFIC, which is based in Washington, D.C. Approximately 1,000 telephone interviews were conducted among a national sample of adults 18 and older in the continental United States. For more information, go to www.ific.org.

Doctors recommend yogurt with live active cultures
Doctors who take time to discuss nutrition with most of their patients recommend the consumption of yogurt with live active cultures, according to a survey released in November.

The Live Active Culture Yogurt Survey, funded by the Dannon Co., Inc., surveyed 565 randomly selected primary care physicians across the country to ascertain whether they believe there are health benefits associated with regular consumption of live active cultures. Of those queried, two out of three doctors who counsel the majority of their patients on nutritional issues recommend yogurt because it offers overall nutritional benefits. Some of the benefits include maintaining intestinal microflora and overall intestinal health and being a good source of calcium, especially for those who are lactose intolerant, since the live and active cultures produce lactase which breaks down some of the lactose in milk.

The survey was conducted in July 2001 by Monroe Mendelsohn Research. For more informaton, contact the Dannon Co., Inc., 120 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591.

COMPANY NEWS
All American Foods
opened a Technical Center in Mankato, Minn., in November. The Technical Center houses the research and development and technical services departments. All American develops, manufactures, and markets food ingredients for food service and retail food manufacturers, at its four manufacturing facilities in Mankato and Waseca, Minn.

BioChemix Inc. and Oncology Sciences Corp.’s food division have formed a new food ingredient company called Applied Food Sciences, LLC. The company will specialize in developing and marketing proprietary technologies such as dietary supplement ingredients, functional ingredients for food and beverages, and food and beverage processing. The food division of Oncology Sciences Corp specializes in food and beverage health enhancement technologies. Both companies are based in Austin, Tex.

Bunge Ltd. broke ground in November on a multi-million-dollar shortening and oil research and development center in Bradley, Ill. The 19,000-sq-ft facility will unite North and South American R&D operations and will be named Bunge’s Oil Center of Excellence. It will be completed in August 2002. Bunge is based in White Plains, N.Y.

Beef processor Excel Corp. signed a letter of intent in November to acquire Taylor Packing Co., Inc., Taylor By-Products, Inc., and related companies. Taylor is a beef processor located in Wyalusing, Pa. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of this month. Excel plans to open a case-ready meats facility in Hazelton, Pa., which Taylor could help supply. Excel, based in Wichita, Kans., is a red meat processor with production facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Frymaster, LLC relocated the Gardena, Calif., operations of Dean Industries to Frymaster’s corporate headquarters in Shreveport, La. All manufacturing, sales, and marketing for the two brands will be consolidated under one corporate identity. The separate new Dean facility complements the existing Frymaster plant. Frymaster manufactures commercial fryers for the foodservice industry under the Frymaster and Dean brand names.

General Mills has expanded Medallion Laboratories’ fee-for-service capabilities as a direct result of General Mills’ acquisition of The Pillsbury Co. This acquisition combines the resources of TPC Labs and Medallion, which both provide analytical and customer services to the food industry. The new, larger Medallion will have increased expertise in the areas of microscopy, packaging testing, special projects, and problem solving, as well as improved capacity in routine chemistry, nutrition labeling, and microbiology. General Mills is based in Minneapolis, Minn.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. announced that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its fruit and vegetable preparation business in Europe and has engaged Credit Suisse First Boston to assist in this process. Annual sales are approximately $70 million. Based in New York, N.Y., IFF creates and manufactures flavors and fragrances.

Odwalla, Inc. has signed a definitive agreement with Coca-Cola Co. to become a separate business unit of Minute Maid Co., Coca-Cola’s juice division. Coca-Cola has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Odwalla common stock for $15.25 per share in an all-cash tender offer. Based in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Odwalla produces juices, vegetable drinks, fortified beverages, smoothies, shakes, soy, and lactic beverages. Beverage producer Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta, Ga.

Orafti announced in November that it acquired Remy Industries, a Belgium-based producer of food ingredients made from rice. The acquisition is the result of Orafti’s search for alliances with and acquisitions of companies in the field of specialty food ingredients. The Orafti Group, based in Belgium, produces functional food ingredients and liquid sweeteners. Remy produces rice starches, flours, and proteins.

Procter & Gamble Co., based in Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced a new tortilla chip snack called Torengos in December. The white corn chips are curved to hold salsa and dips and come in 5.6-ounce resealable triangle-shaped cans. The new product is the company’s first new snack food brand since Pringles Potato Crisps debuted in 1971.

Smithfield Foods, Inc. has announced an agreement to acquire beef packer American Foods Group, Inc. Combined, the companies will rank fourth in beef processing, with a 9% market share. The agreement calls for Smithfield Foods to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of American Foods, which produces boxed beef, ground beef, and value-added beef products. Smithfield foods is based in Smithfield, Va.

by SARA LANGEN
Assistant Editor