The Biotechnology Research and Development Organization, Peoria, Ill., in September awarded a $600,000 grant to zuChem Inc., Chicago, Ill., to commercialize a fermentation approach to manufacture xylitol. BRDC also awarded $300,000 to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research to collaborate with zuChem on the xylitol project. zuChem, a supplier of specialized sugars for the food and pharmaceutical industries, will use a proprietary biocatalysis technology to manufacture xylitol more cost effectively and expand the market through the use of alternative raw materials. zuChem and the National Ag Lab are currently collaborating on commercialization of a fermentation approach to manufacture the specialized sweetener mannitol, which should be on the market at the beginning of 2004.

Astaris LLC, St. Louis, Mo., on October 8 announced a restructuring plan for its North American operations aimed at improving its operational and financial performance and strengthening its position as a value-added phosphate resource. The reorganization plan, to be executed over the next nine months, will reduce the company’s production of sodium tripolyphosphate. Astaris will consolidate its food and technical phosphate salts production into facilities located in St. Louis, Mo.; Carteret, N.J.; and Lawrence, Kans. The company will close its Conda, Idaho; Green River, Wyo.; and Trenton, Mich., facilities; as well as its trans-loading, repackaging, and warehousing operations in Bedford Park, Ill. A Chicago-based distribution terminal will remain open. 

Denmark-based Danisco on Oct. 14 established a joint venture with Henan Tianguan Group Co. Ltd. to produce xanthan gum, expanding production from a primarily Chinese market to global markets. Through the agreement, Danisco acquired 80% of the shares in the xanthan production of Henan Tianguan Group, one of the largest xanthan producers in China. The new joint venture will be named Danisco Tianguan (Nanyang) Co. Ltd.

Noviant B.V.’s new $2.3-million development laboratory in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, will focus on growing the company’s carboxymethyl cellulose business for the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care products industries. CMC is largely used in the paper and pulp industries. The laboratory will provide basic analysis, product development, and application support. The company also plans to develop new CMC grades for encapsulation of food flavors and fragrances, stabilization of proteins in solution, extending shelf life of oxidation-prone ingredients, and other platforms.

Danisco on October 29 awarded Danish researcher Charlotte Jacobsen its Danisco Award for her knowledge of rancidification processes in fish oil and her work on enabling the use of fish oil in food without the products’ becoming rancid. The award carried with it a prize of DKK $250,000. Jacobsen is Senior Scientist at the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research.

Chiquita Brands International Inc. on October 21 announced the sale of its 50% interest in Mundimar Ltd., a producer and distributor of palm oil products, to joint venture partner Andalusia Investments Ltd. for approximately $21 million in cash. Chiquita will receive a fourth-quarter gain of approximately $7 million. “Although the joint venture has been profitable, this transaction is part of our ongoing strategy to divest non-core assets and focus on our fresh produce business,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cyrus Freidheim. Mundimar Ltd., with annual sales of less than $100 million, is an agro-industrial company in Honduras that focuses on the production and distribution of such palm oil-based products as cooking oils, shortening, margarine, soaps, and other consumer products.

Unilever and PepsiCo on October 14 created a joint venture, Pepsi Lipton International, that aims to expand significantly the marketing and distribution in selected markets of Unilever’s range of Lipton ready-to-drink (RTD) teas. The joint venture is expected to strengthen Lipton’s lead position within the $23-billion global RTD tea market, the fastest-growing beverage category outside North America. The creation of the 50-50 joint venture builds on the strengths of both companies: Unilever’s Lipton brand, its knowledge of tea, and its research-and-development capabilities and PepsiCo’s extensive bottling and distribution system, strong customer relations, and beverage know-how. The venture will target markets where Lipton currently has no presence.

Kerry Group, the global ingredients, flavors, and consumer foods group, announced on October 10 the acquisitions of U.S.-based Da Vinci Gourmet and Crystals International for $62 million. Da Vinci Gourmet, based in Seattle, Wash., manufactures branded flavored syrups, confectionary sauces, and tea concentrates for specialty coffee chains, specialty food and grocery stores, and foodservice outlets in more than 40 countries. Crystals International, Plant City, Fla., is a manufacturer of natural fruit and vegetable flavors for beverage, confectionary, dairy, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical applications and serves markets in 28 countries.

Kraft Foods Inc. announced on October 8 a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, an international conservation leader, to support the development of sustainable coffee production in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Central America. Kraft Foods will support sustainable coffee by funding technical assistance and training to improve living and working conditions on coffee farms, by purchasing significant and increasing quantities of certified sustainable coffee to blend into its mainstream European brands, and by stimulating consumer demand through the introduction of 100% certified products under existing trademarks in key markets within Western Europe and the U.S. The certified beans will come from coffee farms in Latin America that are audited and approved by the Rainforest Alliance and other members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network as being sustainably managed.

Cargill intends to purchase The Duckworth Group, a leading British flavor company that serves the food and beverage industry. The two companies have reached an exclusive arrangement and intend completing the acquisition by the end of 2003. Cargill is not currently in the flavor business in Europe, though it produces many flavor carriers, texturizers, emulsifiers, functional ingredients, sweeteners, and other specialty ingredients. The acquisition is in line with Cargill’s strategy “to become a world leader in integrating ingredients that play a vital role in the consumer sensory experience with foods and beverages,” said Robert R. Parmelee, President of Cargill Food System Design.

Golden Peanut Co. LLC, Alpharett, Ga., announced the groundbreaking of its new peanut flour, roasted aromatic peanut oil, and peanut extract plant in Blakely, Ga. The 70,000-sq-ft, $8-million plant is being built on a 16-acre site and should be operational in fall 2004. Golden Peanut handles, processes, and exports raw and processed U.S. peanuts and peanut-derived ingredients worldwide. It is owned by Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., and Alimenta USA. 

Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y., on October 22 announced the acquisition of Ashland Distribution Co.’s nutritional premix blending operation located in Fontana, Calif. The acquisition will allow Fortitech, a global developer of custom nutrient systems for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries, to meet increased demand for fortified products on the West Coast. Fortitech is integrating its technical and quality control programs and training existing staff at the new facility. The company also expects to add sales and operations staff. 

Drake wins dairy foods award

The American Dairy Science Association awarded its 2003 Dairy Foods Award to Mary Anne Drake, Associate Professor of Sensory Quality and Food Microbiology at North Carolina State University. She received the award, sponsored by the ADSA Foundation, on June 25 at the society’s annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. 

SFPA establishes Rushing scholarship
Students at North Carolina State University have a new scholarship opportunity. The Southeastern Food Processors Association has established an endowed annual scholarship at the school honoring John Rushing, NCSU Professor and Food Science Extension Specialist. As Executive Director of SFPA, Rushing has worked to provide scholarships for food science students in Southeastern land-grant universities. 

Poultry scientists recognized
The Poultry Science Association on July 6 awarded the American Egg Board Award to D.R. Jones, J.B. Tharrington, P.A. Curtis, K.E. Anderson, K.M. Keener, and F.T. Jones. The award’s purpose is to “increase the interest in research pertaining to egg science technology or marketing which has a bearing on egg or spent hen utilization.” They received the award for their article, “Effects of Cryogenic Cooling of Shell Eggs on Egg Quality,” published in Poultry Science (81:727–733, 2002). 

Jones is from the Dept. of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University; Tharrington and Keener are from NCSU’s Food Science Dept., and Curtis is formerly from Food Science at NCSU. Jones is with the Dept. of Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas. 

Swartzel named ASAE Fellow
The American Society of Agricultural Engineers presented its Fellow Award to Kenneth Swartzel, North Carolina State University’s William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, on July 28. He was honored for his outstanding contributions to food engineering in the area of kinetic theory and thermal processing of foods. 

Swartzel heads NCSU’s Dept. of Food Science. He also serves as Director of the North Carolina Technology Development Initiative, University of North Carolina Office of the President, and as Site Director of the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging Studies. 

Freeman receives dairy industry award
The Iowa State Dairy Association has presented its Ralph Keeling Dairy Leadership Award for service to Iowa’s dairy industry to Gene Freeman, Iowa State University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Animal Science and ISU Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture. His research interests include dairy cattle breeding, improving sire and cow evaluation, improving efficiency of milk production, and exploring factors that affect milk composition. 

ISDA established the award in 1967 to honor the late Ralph Keeling, a dairy farm operator who helped advance the state’s dairy industry. 

Lamont earns poultry leadership award
The Poultry Science Association on July 9 honored Susan Lamont, Professor of Animal Science at Iowa State University, with a national award for her research and leadership in the poultry industry. 

The Helene Cecil Leadership Award is presented to a woman who has made significant scientific contributions in the field of poultry science while providing leadership for other women in the field. Lamont’s research focuses on poultry immunology and molecular genetics. 

She became the first woman appointed to ISU’s animal science faculty and the first woman Assistant Director of Research for the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Station. She also served as the first woman chair of ISU’s Dept. of Animal Sciences. 

Craig Kennedy
is Briess Industries Inc.’s new Vice President/Chief Financial Officer. He brings accounting and finance experience gained at Kraft Foods, Grande Cheese, Sargento Foods, and most recently Lesaffre Yeast. Briess industries is the parent company of Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., producer of specialty malts in North America. 

The NutraSweet Co. has named Ihab E. Bishay Senior Vice President of Research & Development. Bishay returns to NutraSweet after three years as Senior Manager of Ingredient Technology at Pepsi Cola Co. Previously at NutraSweet, Bishay served as Director of Sweetener Product Development and led the team that developed applications and delivery forms of neotame. 

McDonald’s Corp. appointed Cathy Kapica as Director, Worldwide Nutrition. She will work with a cross-functional team to guide McDonald’s nutrition and active lifestyles initiatives. Before joining McDonald’s, Kapica served with Quaker Oats Co. as Senior Scientist and Director of Nutrition Education and taught at Finch University of Health Sciences/the Chicago Medical School and the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. McDonald’s launched in April the worldwide leadership initiative to help families live balanced, more-active lifestyles, focusing on menu choices, physical activity, and education. 

DSM Nutritional Products, formerly Roche Vitamins, awarded to Kenneth D.R. Setchell the first $25,000 Euro International Award for Innovative Research in Human Nutrition. The award is given for research with emphasis on naturally occurring dietary bioactive compounds promoting human health. Setchell is Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, and is regarded as a pioneer in isoflavone research. 

ZeaVision LLC, a nutraceutical company with a focus on eye health, appointed Terry B. Hatfield President. Hatfield has more than 30 years experience in the food and nutraceutical business, including consulting and senior executive positions at Ralston Purina and DuPont. At DuPont, he served in the Protein Technologies International Division as Co-President, handling sales, marketing, application technology, and manufacturing. 

Balchem Encapsulates has promoted Dana Putnam to Business Manager and Jack E. Garrett to Manager, Technical Services. Both senior-level managers will serve in the company’s animal nutrition and health business segment. They will assist in developing new market opportunities for the company’s microencapsulation technology and in addressing nutrition problems across the animal industry. 

Flow International Corp. has named its interim Chief Financial Officer Stephen D. Reichenbach as Vice President and CFO. Reichenbach held the interim position since November 2002. Before that, he served as Flow’s CFO from 1996 to 2001 and was then appointed CFO of Flow’s wholly owned subsidiary Avure Technologies. Flow provides total system solutions for various industries, including automotive, aerospace, paper, job shop, surface preparation, and food production. 

Stauber Performance Ingredients Inc. opened its National Sales Office in Dallas, Tex., headed by newly appointed National Sales Manager Tim Osborne. Stauber also named Kevin Cope East Coast Operations Manager of its new warehouse in Allentown, Pa. Finally, Stauber named two new account executives. Billie Tessendorf will handle Stauber’s Midwest region, and Michelle Halwick the Northeast region.