Americans consuming more candy
It seems that more and more Americans are developing a sweet tooth.

Confectionery wholesale dollar sales grew 1.6% in 2002 to $15.8 billion, while retail sales increased to $24.3 billion, according to U.S. Dept. of Commerce Report MA311D.

The overall confectionery tonnage rose 2.7% to 6.9 billion lb for 2002. In addition to overall growth, the per capita consumption increased 0.3% in dollar sales and 1.4% in pounds. These figures translate into $54.83 in wholesale dollars and 23.9 lb/person in 2002.

The gum category reached $1.8 billion in wholesale dollar sales for 2002, recording a 1.9% increase. Chocolate and non-chocolate candy showed slightly slower sales growth, each recording a 1.6% overall increase. Wholesale dollar sales reached $8.7 billion for chocolate candy and $4.8 billion for non-chocolate candy.

Mobile citrus processing plant introduced
Just as “not from concentrate” products have dramatically transformed the industry over the past decade, a new method for in-grove fruit processing may change the citrus and beverage industries.

Grove Squeezed, LLC demonstrated its new mobile citrus processing plant at the 43rd Annual Citrus Processing Short Course in Clearwater, Fla. The system, invented five years ago by long-time grower Burgess Chambers, was designed to keep the $9-billion citrus industry in Florida economically viable. The process shortens the time between harvest and extraction, thereby significantly reducing the factors that affect the physiology of the fruit-temperature, time, and handling.

By bypassing the market inefficiencies of transporting the fruit to the processing plant and eliminating the extra handling, the Grove Squeezed system hopes to increase efficiency as well as increase the quality of the product. Philip Nelson, Professor of Food Science at Purdue University, who observed the system in field trials stated, “By reducing the amount of time and handling from harvest to extraction, Grove Squeezed’s method of in-field processing should result in a higher yield and quality of juice.”

UK, US opinions on GM foods differ
After a considerable number of debates throughout the United Kingdom, the public rejected the case for growing and eating genetically modified (GM) foods. The opinions over GM foods in the United States have not changed in the two years since the debate first started.

A report, “GM Nation?” the national debate on GM issues, was submitted to Parliament in September. It summarizes the findings from more than 1,200 letters and 600 meetings attended by more than 8,000 people since June 2003. There was some evidence that the meetings were skewed in favor of the GM opponents—some observers counted five opponents for every supporter or neutral party. Despite the claims of “hijacking” the meetings and letters, more than 37,000 people registered their views on the public debate Web site.

In contrast to the popular rejection in the UK, knowledge about GM foods is almost nonexistent in the U.S. A survey released by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology in September shows that the opinions of its safety are as divided as they were two years ago. At least in the U.S., confidence in GM foods is higher for foods reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration and tends to be higher for modified plants than for modified animals.

Addressing safety concerns about power loss
Whether it’s due to a blackout or a hurricane, electrical power loss raises a number of food safety concerns. In response, the Food Safety Network has developed a Factsheet on keeping food safe during a power loss. Available at, the Factsheet states that when the power goes out, refrigerator and freezer temperatures can rise above 4°C, considered the danger zone for perishable food. Bacteria grow quickly between 4°C and 60°C, and perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, and eggs can support rapid bacterial growth at danger-zone temperatures. A power outage of 2 hr or less is not considered hazardous to food that was held at safe temperatures below 4°C or above 60°C prior to the power outage.

Stress eating may be biologically driven
A group of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have reported that the tendency to overeat in the face of chronic stress is biologically driven.

The report, “Chronic Stress and Obesity: A New View of ‘Comfort Food,’” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers speculated that people eat comfort food in an attempt to reduce the activity in the chronic stress-response network with its attendant anxiety. They think that their research with rats may explain at least a part of the obesity epidemic occurring in our society.

Group urges improving school feeding programs
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has posted a press release on how parents, teachers, and school administrators should work to improve the nutritional quality of the meals, snacks, and drinks available to students.

In its School Foods Tool Kit, CSPI suggests that the community set nutritional standards for snacks sold outside of the official school meal program to combat obesity in children and teenagers. Such standards might ban soda, limit portion sizes, and require snacks to have 10% or less of calories from saturated plus trans fat, and have 35% or less of its weight from added sugars. Despite rising public concern over obesity and poor nutrition, schools sometimes don’t wish to curb soda and junk food sales for fear of losing desperately needed revenue.

Unlike the foods in vending machines, school lunches have actually been improving over the past ten years, as their fat, cholesterol, and sodium have decreased, while fruits and vegetables have become more plentiful. CSPI says that one easy way for schools to improve meals further is by having cafeterias switch from whole or 2% milk to 1% or fat-free milk.

Rates of obesity have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the past two decades. Although some food industry groups try to put most of the blame for childhood obesity on physical inactivity as opposed to poor nutrition, CSPI says that it would take 75 minutes of biking for a young person to burn off the calories in a 20-oz bottle of soda.

Call for World Food Prize nominations
Nominations for the 2004 World Food Prize may be submitted from October 16, 2003, through February 29, 2004.

The World Food Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,” is awarded annually for a specific, exceptionally significant achievement at any point along the full range of the food production and distribution chain, including, but not limited to, soil and land; plant and animal science; food science and technology; nutrition; rural development; marketing; food processing and packaging; water and the environment; natural resources; physical infrastructure; transportation and distribution; special or extraordinary feeding programs; social organization and poverty elimination; economics and finance; policy analysis; and advocacy and implementation. The prize carries with it a monetary award in the amount of $250,000, which is presented to the Laureate during a ceremony in his or her honor held in mid-October in Des Moines, Iowa.

The prize is generally intended to be awarded to one person, but in exceptional circumstances where an additional person (or persons) has collaborated in an indispensable way, more than one person can be included in the nomination.

An academic institution, private or public organization, or government unit may submit as many nominations as it sees fit. Individuals may generate nominations, but the nomination must be endorsed by and submitted through an academic institution, private or public organization, or government unit. All creditable nominations remain active for three years.

Nominations are reviewed by members of an anonymous committee of international food and agricultural experts, and their selection of each new Laureate or Laureates is made public in July or August each year.

For details, visit the World Food Prize Web site at or contact the Secretariat by mail at The World Food Prize Foundation, 1700 Ruan Center, 666 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50309 (phone 515-245-3796, e-mail [email protected]).