Restaurants offer more poultry
The number of menu items in the United States with poultry as an ingredient has increased an average of 12% in the past three years, and the number is expected to continue to climb in the next two years, according to market research firm Mintel.

Data from Mintel Menu Insights shows that the greatest growth has come from the casual dining segment followed by fast casual restaurants. More restaurants are expected to start focusing on other proteins in response to high beef prices and recent health-related issues about beef, said Kathy Hayden, Foodservice Analyst at Mintel. The company’s data show that from Q1 2009 to Q1 2012, menu offerings of chicken fingers, the top poultry dish, increased 10%, Buffalo wings increased 19%, chicken wraps increased 35%, and chicken as a pizza topping increased 26%. Chicken snacks, which feature bitesized pieces and distinct sauces, are also popular menu items at quickservice restaurants. Hayden noted that the versatility of chicken as an ingredient means that it can be used in more ways, such as pulled chicken sandwiches, bowl meals, pot pies, stews, and more.

Blommer awarded for sustainability program
Blommer Chocolate Co., Chicago, Ill., the largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate supplier in North America, is the recipient of the Rainforest Alliance’s 2012 Sustainable Standard-Setter Award for its 50-plus years of global sustainability efforts, which have helped the cocoa industry, the environment, and farmer livelihoods.

The company began its sustainability initiatives in the 1950s when company founder Henry Blommer helped create the American Cocoa Research Institute to work on best practices in cocoa agronomy and causes and prevention of pests and plant diseases. The company in 2000 helped establish the World Cocoa Foundation to promote economic and social development and environmental stewardship in all 15 cocoa-producing countries around the world. It has invested close to $13 million in the cocoa industry to help meet rising demand for cocoa, with $3.7 million going toward farmer training and infrastructure improvements and $9 million to direct premiums to farmers for cocoa that meets quality standards. More than 50,000 farmers participate in the company’s private sustainability programs. Many of these farmers have reported increases in cocoa bean production yields of up to 30%.

The company on May 9 announced that it will invest $45 million in its cocoa sustainability efforts by 2020 as part of its Sustainable Origins program. With the demand for cocoa expected to rise by about 30% in the next 10 years, the company wants to Increase the number of farmers participating in its sustainability programs to 100,000 and provide them with training in pre-and post-harvest agronomic practices that significantly improve cocoa yields and quality and help provide them with increased income.

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Prototype aids poultry deboning
A prototype system that uses 3-D imaging and a sensor-based robotic cutting arm to automatically debone poultry may help the poultry industry maximize profits. The technology was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).

Using a 3-D vision system that determines where to cut the bird, the Intelligent Cutting and Deboning System can actually adapt to the individual bird rather than the bird conforming to the machine, said Gary McMurray, Chief of GTRI’s Food Processing Technology Division. Specifically, the bird is positioned in front of the vision system, which makes 3-D measurements of various location points on the outside of the bird. Then, algorithms estimate the positions of internal structures such as bones and ligaments using data generated from the 3-D measurements.The system has the ability to recognize bone during a cut and to avoid bone chips.

“Our automated deboning technology can promote food safety since bone chips are a hazard in boneless breast fillets,” said McMurray. “But it can also increase yield, which is significant because every 1% loss of breast meat represents about $2.5 million to each of Georgia’s 20 poultry processing plants.”

Paying tribute to innovative packaging
Several innovative packaging options for food and beverage products that increase shelf appeal, are sustainable, or offer cost or waste reduction benefits have won 2012 DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, which honor retail packaging for several product categories, including food and beverage.

Curwood Inc., A Bemis Division, USA, won the Diamond Award—the top honor in the annual awards program—for its FreshCase® vacuum packaging said to help extend the shelf life of red meat 10 times longer than store-wrapped meat by incorporating a proprietary additive in the contact layer of the barrier package, thereby reducing food waste.

Other food product-related packaging used by brands like Heinz, Kraft, Pepperidge Farm, and Cadbury won Gold and Silver awards. Packaging such as the one designed for Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats® and Goldfish Sandwich Bread™ changes how bread is displayed in the bakery aisle. The horizontal flow wrap package made of a film lamination that is said to provide excellent seal strength, tear resistance, and increased barrier for longer shelf life also features reverse printing and a pressure-sensitive Sealstrip® closure. Other packaging like the Kraft YES Pack was honored for its environmentally friendly nature. The YES Pack, which stands for Yield, Ease, and Sustainability, is a flexible gallon dressing package featuring a dual-handled design for easy carrying and a smaller spout for precision pouring. The packaging is made with 50% less energy, 60% less plastic, and 70% fewer carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, according to the company.

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Lemon compounds enhance juices
Lemon contains many nutrients and bioactive compounds, and combining it with elderberries or grapes in juice beverages led to beverages with longer shelf life and better color and antioxidant retention, according to research published in Journal of Food Science.

The researchers from CEBASCSIC in Spain added either elderberry or grape concentrates to a volume of fresh lemon juice to obtain a final concentration of 5% (w/v) of the concentrate in beverage and to control solutions in a 0.18 M citric acid buffer. They measured the bioactive composition, antioxidant capacity, and color stability of the mixtures during a period of 56 days of storage.

The researchers noted that the anthocyanins helped to preserve vitamin C in both the lemon-elderberry and lemon-grape blends and that the phytochemical composition was greater in the lemon-elderberry blend than in the lemon-grape blend.

The study, “New Beverages of Lemon Juice with Elderberry and Grape Concentrates as a Source of Bioactive Compounds,” appeared in the June 2012 issue of Journal of Food Science.

IOM weighs in on obesity
America’s progress in stopping the obesity epidemic has been too slow, and it will take a comprehensive set of solutions to create societal change, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

IOM released a report at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weight of the Nation conference in May in which it detailed strategies with the greatest potential to address the problem. It offered a number of suggestions as to how governments, healthcare professionals, educators, the food industry, and consumers can reach these goals, including increasing the amount of time spent in physical education in schools; changing marketing messages for foods and beverages, including those marketed specifically to children; creating or expanding workplace wellness programs; encouraging physicians to take an active role in advocating for obesity prevention; and increasing the amount of healthier food choices in restaurants. For more information, visit http://iom.edu or http://nationalacademies.org.

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What’s new with food companies
Blue Diamond Growers has broken ground on construction of a manufacturing plant in Turlock, Calif.
Corn Products International has changed its name to Ingredion Inc. Business units in the United States, including Corn Products U.S. and National Starch, have begun transitioning to the new name while units in the rest of North America and other countries will transition by the end of 2013.
French’s Flavor Ingredients has named Dawson Sales Co. Broker of the Year for 2011 for the work it did that year covering Northern Illinois and Wisconsin.
Grain Processing Corp. has opened its Solutions Center in the Technical Development Center at its headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa.
MicroThermics has named E2PS its full-service distributor in Brazil.
Quantum Foods has opened its Innovation Center at its headquarters in Bolingbrook, Ill., to develop, customize, and process proteins in ways to meet customers’ specifications.


Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]