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Label launched to help shoppers choose environmentally-friendly rice

A new ecolabel aims to help shoppers reduce their environmental impact by identifying rice that has been sustainably produced. The ‘SRP-Verified’ Label, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of one of the largest food crops in the world, was launched by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). The SRP is a grouping of over 100 public, private, research, financial institutions and civil society organisations led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Over 3.5 billion people rely on rice as a daily staple, but the crop has an undeniable environmental impact. Rice farming consumes up to one-third of the world’s developed freshwater resources and generates up to 20% of global anthropogenic emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The crop will also be the victim of rising global temperatures, with production expected to fall by 15% by 2050 due to climate change, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. The new Assurance Scheme is based on the SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. It is underpinned by proven best practices and provides a science-based process to assess compliance. Employing best practices in rice farming can reduce water use by some 20% and methane emissions from flooded rice fields by up to 50%. The scheme will be managed by Germany’s GLOBALG.A.P., which will oversee approval of qualified verification bodies that will be responsible for inspection of producers according to the SRP Standard. NEPCon-Preferred by Nature, a Denmark-based non-profit organisation that supports better land management and business practices, is the first to be approved to perform SRP verification audits, with several others expected to be approved soon. “SRP was established to address global environmental and social challenges in rice production. The Assurance Scheme offers supply chain actors a robust, cost-effective and transparent path to sustainable procurement,” said Wyn Ellis, SRP Executive Director. “Consumers are increasingly demanding that food is produced sustainably, and now they have a reliable way to choose environmentally friendly rice.” With the new label, consumers will be able to trace the rice back to its origin country. The scheme will also benefit an entire industry. By stocking SRP-verified rice, retailers can make significant and measurable contributions to sustainability commitments and climate change targets. Industry actors will also be able to de-risk their supply chains and ensure stability by sourcing through SRP-verified suppliers. Farmers also benefit, according to SRP, who says that switching to its practices can boost farmers’ net incomes by 10-20%. With 90% of the world’s 144 million rice producers living on or near the poverty line, this can make the difference between a secure livelihood and a family going hungry.

Nestlé launches plant-based ‘bacon cheeseburger’ in US

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Marking National Cheeseburger Day, Nestlé has launched its plant-based ‘bacon cheeseburger’ in the US. To date, this is the first time any kind of plant-based alternative to a bacon cheeseburger has been launched in the US. It will be available for foodservice customers nationwide and can be purchased under the Sweet Earth brand at the University of Massachusetts. In the months to come, additional US university operators, restaurants and foodservice channels will be added, Nestlé said. The plant-based burger patties, bacon and cheese use a combination of natural kitchen-cupboard ingredients. Nestlé food scientists, product developers and culinary chefs worked together to get the right taste, texture and appearance, as well as a good nutritional profile. They also worked alongside foodservice experts to tailor the products for use in professional kitchens, taking into account their specific cooking and serving requirements. The Plant-based (PB) Triple Play was developed by Nestlé in only 10 months, reflecting the company’s ability to further accelerate project timelines despite the current challenging environment. It is the result of Nestlé’s deep expertise in protein science as well as its global research, prototyping and accelerator facilities, allowing the company to rapidly expand its portfolio of plant-based alternatives to beef, pork, chicken, seafood and dairy products.

Kbox raises £12m to further disrupt food delivery market

Kbox Global has raises £12 million to fuel its expansion plans as it aims to further disrupt the market via its host kitchen technology. The investment from venture capital firm, Balderton Capital, will be used to accelerate the company’s UK growth plans as well as support planned international expansion and the establishment of a US base early next year. The Kbox model utilises capacity in existing commercial kitchens. The company says its technology and menu portfolio mean kitchen owners can establish an agile new revenue stream, that reflects the demographics and taste trends of their area, within days, for no upfront fee or additional investment in bricks and mortar. The company has seen exponential growth in the last quarter since it secured seed funding of £5m from Hoxton Ventures earlier this year. With kitchens in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Brighton, Kbox is on course for 2,000 operational kitchens in the UK before the end of 2021. An international rollout of the model is also underway with franchise agreements in Australia and India already signed and launching this month with a further 8 countries to be launched next year. The food delivery market has grown 40% in five years in the UK and shows no sign of slowing down in the wake of the pandemic. “These are challenging times for anyone working in hospitality and income diversification is a powerful tool to boost revenues. I’m thrilled that venues from pubs, restaurants and hotels to casinos and supermarkets are embracing the delivery first era, by firing up their kitchens with Kbox,” said Salima Vellani, Kbox founder and CEO. “To have Balderton’s backing means we can respond to the global demand for a shakeup of the old economics, for the benefit of food providers, commercial kitchen owners and consumers.” Daniel Waterhouse, Partner at Balderton Capital, added: “Salima and the team have joined the dots between rapidly increasing consumer demand for delivery meals, ever-changing food preferences and under-utilised kitchen assets in a challenged hospitality sector. “They have melded software and data science into a next-generation franchising model that can be deployed quickly to thousands of kitchens around the world. We are delighted to be joining them on this journey.”

Kraft Heinz accelerates sustainability journey

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Kraft Heinz is on track to deliver its first circular Tomato Ketchup PET bottle a year ahead of schedule, the food giant has revealed in its second-ever Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Report. As well as outlining the successes the company has made to date in the three key pillars of Environmental stewardship, Responsible Sourcing, and Healthy Living & Community Support, the report introduces new global goals within its Environmental Stewardship and Responsible Sourcing pillars. The company plans to sustainably source 100% of Heinz Ketchup tomatoes by 2025 globally, in accordance with the company’s Sustainable Agriculture Practices. It has taken significant steps to strengthen its supply chain by evolving those practices and working with growers to implement them with measured improvement. For instance, in Spain, tomato growers implemented new soil health procedures, ultimately yielding an improved 70 tons of tomatoes per acre annually. Additionally, as the company assesses the greenhouse gas emissions of its entire supply chain in order to set reduction targets, it has committed to a goal of purchasing a majority renewable electricity across all Kraft Heinz facilities by 2025. The company also aims to achieve a number of sustainability goals at its global manufacturing facilities including setting a target to decrease water use by 20% in high-risk watershed areas and 15% across all others, and decreasing waste, and decreasing energy use by 15% at manufacturing facilities globally. “At Kraft Heinz, we’re constantly re-evaluating our practices to ensure we’re being a responsible global company, as well as global citizens with a duty to bring our company and products to consumers in a healthy, sustainable way,” said CEO Miguel Patricio. “This new ESG strategy reflects a new company Value: We do the right thing. We’re actively working each day to create a company and products we and the world can be proud of.”

Every cup of Nespresso will be carbon neutral by 2020, Nestlé pledges

Nestlé has pledged that every cup of Nespresso coffee will be carbon neutral by 2022. The pledge builds on a decade of work in which the company has slashed its carbon emissions and compensated the remainder through agroforestry “I truly believe that both our business and the coffee industry can be a force for good in the world by tackling this pressing issue,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso. Having already achieved carbon neutrality in its business operations since 2017, the company’s new commitment will tackle emissions that occur in its supply chain and product life cycle. Nespresso will achieve carbon neutrality through the following initiatives: the reduction of carbon emission; the planting of trees in and around coffee farms where it sources its coffee; and through support and investment in high quality offsetting projects. This carbon neutral commitment is part of a broader sustainability ambition: to preserve exceptional coffees, build a resilient and regenerative coffee agriculture system, drive sustainable livelihoods for farmers and build a circular business. “Climate change is happening now, which means that we must all take responsibility and action, quickly,” said George Clooney, Nespresso Global Brand Ambassador and member of the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board. “It’s clear that Nespresso understands this urgency and is putting our planet and people front and centre of the choices it makes. “These ambitions and vision build on a commitment to sustainability that I have been privileged to have been involved in over the last seven years. I’ve seen how far we’ve come in that time, and I’m excited to see the good that Nespresso can deliver in the next 10 years.”

Verner Wheelock celebrates 30 years in business

Food industry training experts, Verner Wheelock, celebrated 30 years in business this month. The company based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, was founded by Professor Verner Wheelock in 1990 – the same year that the Food Safety Act was introduced in the UK. COVID-19 meant that a 30th birthday party wasn’t on the cards, so instead Verner Wheelock marked the occasion with an online lecture by a leading low-carb expert. Customers, trainers, auditors, suppliers and friends of the company joined Verner Wheelock himself and the training company staff online for the enlightening webinar delivered by Ivor Cummins. It uncovered some interesting theories about the current pandemic and the effects of Government policies and the nation’s current health, wellbeing and nutrition on COVID-19 mortality rates. Mr Cummins is the Chief Program Officer for Irish Heart Disease Awareness. For the past eight years he has been intensively researching the root causes of modern chronic diseases, with a focus on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. He has shared his research insights at speaking engagements around the world. “It was lovely that so many customers and associates took time out to celebrate our 30th anniversary with us. We’re very proud of how the company has grown over the past three decades,” said Managing Director, Alison Wheelock. “It was also great to have such an informative and thought-provoking webinar from Ivor Cummins, which was very well received by all. Here’s to the next thirty years.” Verner Wheelock has gone from strength to strength over the years, offering classroom-based courses in food safety, HACCP, auditing and specialist courses such as food allergens and food labelling. The training courses have produced several Royal Society for Public Health award-winners, and the family-run business continued to trade successfully throughout lockdown by moving courses to an online format. In addition, Verner Wheelock has an experienced ethical auditing team which operates nationwide.

Coffee brand launches first range in compostable packaging

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Spanish coffee brand Cafés Novell has launched its first range of beans and ground coffee in 100% compostable packaging in the UK. The launch comes after the brand has invested more than €1.5 million to achieve an entire “no waste” range of sustainable products. Moreover, it follows the launch of its first compostable capsule two years ago. “With this we have achieved an all round 100% compostable, organic and certified product whilst not compromising the overall quality of our coffee.  This means zero effect on the environment and zero effect on consumers,” said Director Josep Novell. Through the composting process, the film that packages the coffee disappears from the environment in 12-20 weeks, depending on the efficiency of the composting plants. These return to land as fertiliser in a short period of time, leaving zero environmental impact and constituting a future alternative to the waste generated by the capsules or packs of aluminium and plastic coffee. The one-way valve on the front of the package is also made of compostable materials. This valve is a key element to preserve coffee optimally without having to resort to vacuum containers, as it allows the release of the CO2 that releases the roasted coffee, while preventing the ingress of oxygen or moisture that can damage the coffee. The new range is currently available in the UK as three different blends in both beans and ground variety.

Tariff reductions & increased protections: UK signs ‘historic’ free trade agreement with Japan

Tariff free access for British biscuits, increased geographical indications on food and drink, and tariff reductions for pork and beef exports are among the benefits of a “historic” free trade agreement with Japan. Marking the UK’s first major trade deal post-Brexit, the agreement will increase trade between the UK and Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion. The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on a video call last week. The deal is tailored to the UK economy and secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a number of areas. It is is also an important step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This will give UK businesses a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region and help to increase the resilience and diversity of our supply chains. UK businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. Government analysis shows that a deal with Japan will deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy and increase UK workers’ wages by £800 million in the long run. As well as providing benefits for manufacturers and the tech sector, the deal brings myriad advantages for food and drink producers. This includes tariff free access for more UK goods with new and more liberal Rules of Origin allowing biscuit producers to source inputs from around the world for their exports to Japan – making it easier and cheaper for them to sell to the Japanese market. It also increases geographical indications (GIs) from just seven under the terms of the EU-Japan deal to potentially over 70 under our new agreement, covering English sparkling wine, Yorkshire Wensleydale and Welsh lamb. Moreover, Japan has guaranteed market access for UK malt exports under an existing quota which is more generous and easier to access than the EU quota. The UK is the second biggest exporter of malt to Japan, with UK producers exporting £37 million there each year. Crucially, the deal lowers tariffs on pork, beef, salmon and a range of other agricultural exports. Exporters will also continue to benefit from access to the low tariffs for key food and drink products covered by quotas, such as Stilton cheese, tea extracts and bread mixes. “This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as our first major post-Brexit trade deal. The agreement we have negotiated – in record time and in challenging circumstances – goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries,” said International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. “From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the North of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country. “Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing Britain at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies.”

Tyson verifies sustainable cattle production practices

Tyson Foods has become the first US food company to verify sustainable cattle production practices at scale. The company will work alongside cattle ranchers to verify sustainable beef production practices on more than 5 million acres of cattle grazing land in the US. Working with Where Food Comes From – the largest provider of certification and verification services to the food industry – Tyson Foods will source cattle from BEEFCARE-verified beef producers who are committed to raising cattle using practices that positively impact the land and animals, and also want to promote it. BeefCARE is a third-party sustainability verification program for cattle ranchers. The program uses third-party audits to verify that farmers and ranchers are using best practices in caring for animals, the environment, and the people and communities who support them. BeefCARE standards include practices such as having a cattle grazing management plan to help promote vegetative growth and diversity, water availability and quality, prevent/reduce soil erosion, and support carbon sequestration. More than 200 ranches are currently enrolled in the program with plans to expand the program over the next several years. To ensure improved management of grasslands and rangelands, Tyson Foods will also work with The Nature Conservancy to evaluate and enhance the environmental components of the current BeefCARE program. Nature Conservancy experts will provide input to Where Foods Comes From based on scientific analyses and land and livestock management experience. “We recognise the importance of sustainable beef production practices that take care of people, the planet and animals,” said Steve Stouffer, Group President of Tyson Fresh Meats. “Our goal is to work with ranchers to verify and, when possible, improve those practices so that we can be transparent with our customers and consumers about how cattle in our supply chain are raised.” Sasha Gennet, director of Sustainable Grazing Lands for The Nature Conservancy in North America, added: “Sustainability is a business imperative in the US beef industry to ensure long-term food production, economic security for ranchers and their communities, and a healthy environment for us all. “Tyson Foods is setting a great example of a company that is taking proactive steps to achieve a sustainable beef system that supports farmers and ranchers while improving our critical natural resources, including soil, water, and wildlife.”

Kite packaging now MPAS registered for design

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Kite Packaging is now an MPAS registered company with one of its Aerospace & Defence Packaging Design Engineers a MPAS certified designer. This registration is not only important for companies already working with Kite, but also demonstrates the commitment to excellence and expertise that is important to a range of businesses looking to Kite for specialist design capabilities. Administered by the Ministry of Defence, MPAS registration assures that Military Level Packaging design meets the MOD requirements for safe handling, storage, and transportation and reinforces the capabilities of Kites Aerospace & Defence Team.