Students develop technique to 3D vegan fish products

Fish-like products based on proteins from mushrooms and peas have been 3D printed via a new technique developed by students from an EU-led research project. Students from the research project Training4CRM and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have developed a 3D technique for printing fish. The first products are expected to be marketed to sushi restaurants by 2022. The Legendary Vish project is still under development and the students are currently applying for funding prior to starting a company. In April, the project was selected as one of ten innovation projects, which received € 6,000 in funding from the Austrian funding program Greenstar for start-ups with environmentally friendly or sustainable projects. The students hope to qualify for the final and thereby be in the running for winning the main prize, which is €210,000 in funding and a place in the Greenstar incubation program in Vienna. “We are in the competition with our vegetarian fish product. However, depending on the further development and marketing, we can also develop to become a 3D technology supplier for other companies – especially companies with vegetarian products, since we have developed a technology that can provide texture,” says industrial PhD Hakan Gürbüz, who is affiliated with DTU Bioengineering and works in the Dutch company Felix Printers. The group – made up of students Hakan Gürbüz, Robin Simsa and Theresa Rothenbücher – was established in 2017 for a three-year period as Marie Curie Early Stage Researchers (ESR) in the context of the international EU-led research project Training4CRM. The group developed 3D printing processes for medical technology in their PhD projects. At this early stage, they were aware that the technology of small adaptations could also be used to printing plant proteins and binders in structured form. In addition to mushroom and pea proteins, ingredients such as starch or agar-agar gelling agents and avocado or seed and nut oil fats with valuable Omega-3 fatty acids are included in the vegan fish product. Hakan Gübüz is currently supervisor for a group of students at DTU Skylab, who are working on an improved business plan for Legendary Vish, where they, among other things, carry out surveys of senior citizens’ interest in the vegan fish products. He believes that vegan fish products represent a sustainable alternative to conventional fish, partly because the production itself produces less CO2. In addition, production can be based on locally sourced raw materials and can be produced without the energy consumption of fishing vessels and transport of fish with refrigerated trucks today.

Majority of Irish F&B producers make Brexit preparedness progress despite COVID

Over 91% of Irish food and drink companies have made progress in relation to Brexit preparedness over the past twelve months, according to a new report from Bord Bia. For Irish companies continuing to operate in the UK, 55% said that growing sales within the UK market will be a priority while the remaining 45% of companies plan on maintaining sales. This is up from 36% and 41% respectively in 2019. Findings from the ‘2020 Readiness Radar’ report also show an evolution of Brexit preparedness. Last year the majority of Irish food and drink companies said they had developed contingency options for holding stock in response to Brexit, and while stockpiling is still an important factor, 2020 results show that customer relationships have progressed to more commercially-focused conversations focusing on future contract arrangements in the post-transition period, custom duties and the importer of record being identified. “Covid-19 has been the catalyst for Irish food and drink companies to realise how robust their plans are for Brexit, with 91% of food and drink companies showing continued preparedness,” said Shane Hamill, Bord Bia’s Strategic Projects Manager. “What is clearly evident is the resilience and determination of the Irish food industry to meet market challenges, with an increased eagerness to evolve conversations with UK customers on key issues relating to supply chain logistics.” 37% of Irish food and drink is exported to the UK, amounting to trade worth £4.95 billion in 2019, as it continues to be the single most important market across almost all food categories. He added: “We share this trusted partnership with the UK because of a long standing, interdependent relationship that goes back centuries. Valuable skills in risk management have been learned by the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry as a result of Brexit. “There’s evidence that the industry has been better able to manage the impact of Covid-19 because of the intensified focus on strategic planning that was implemented to manage Brexit over the past three years. In fact, the data shows that there has been an increase in optimism in the industry towards the impact of Brexit compared to 2019. “While companies are proactively preparing for Brexit and working towards mitigating risk and reducing the potential impact to their businesses, there is no doubt that their future trading relationship with UK customers should continue to be addressed as a priority.” In March this year, Bord Bia launched the Readiness Radar, an online risk diagnostic tool developed to assess industry thinking and performance around a number of priority challenges, which include Covid-19, Brexit, Challenges to Market Diversification, Sustainability Pressures, Consumer Insights & Innovation, and Talent Management. Average industry preparedness for Covid-19 was reported at 46% by respondents, an impressive figure given the speed at which the pandemic hit. In all, 45% of respondents reported having formally embedded continuity plans, while a full 72% have carried out identification and assessment of critical single source suppliers. 69% had undertaken vulnerability assessments of their most critical suppliers. All sectors have focused their attention on supply chain, which may have been driven by Brexit, as the data highlights a high level of investment by the industry in identifying and assessing critical single-source suppliers. A number of facilitated interviews were undertaken by Bord Bia as part of the Readiness Radar, and through these it was noted that Covid-19 may have aided collaboration in the supply chain, as producers and customers worked together to navigate the myriad of complex issues that the pandemic has led to. As Ireland begins to emerge from lockdown and faces into a different post-Covid-19 world, it is clear that existing risks in relation to Brexit – not least Ireland’s geographic island location at the edge of Europe – have not gone away. 80% of respondents, however, have recorded high or moderate confidence in their ability to manage customs processes. In terms of importance, Covid-19 was ranked top on the risk registrar by all respondents, followed by Market Diversification and then by Brexit. This suggests that a broader, more holistic response to risk is taking shape in our industry, supplanting the more compartmentalised approach that would have been pervasive just a few years ago. When companies whose turnover is less than €1 million (32% of total respondents) are removed from the data, Brexit is revealed as a higher priority. This could be due to smaller manufacturers having less exposure to the UK market, or less maturity in terms of their ability to develop and implement a Brexit management strategy. “Overall the data shows higher levels of confidence and preparedness for Irish food and drink manufacturers,” said Bord Bia GB Manager, Donal Denvir. “The fact that Irish companies are pushing to continue to grow sales in the UK while managing Brexit, and also feeling confident with diversifying to new markets, shows the strong impact that three years of customs, currency and supply chain preparedness training has had on the industry.”

Pioneering food packaging firm named ‘Family Business of the Year’

Eco packaging pioneers Woolcool have added another major accolade to their awards cabinet after being named the UK’s ‘Small Family Business of the Year’ for 2020. The Staffordshire-based firm, which has pioneered the use of eco-friendly wool as a superior insulator in temperature-controlled food packaging, was honoured with the award during an online ceremony streamed live on YouTube in June. Woolcool overcame entries from across the country to claim the title at the Family Business of the Year Awards 2020, with judges praising the firm’s ‘strong values’ which extend beyond the family and staff to include customers, partners and suppliers. “We are so proud to have won this award, because the notion of family is at the heart of what we do. Woolcool is family-owned, but we think of the ‘Woolcool Family’ as including not only everyone who works here but our suppliers, partners and customers too,” said Managing Director Josie Morris. “I want to thank our entire team and all the people who are part of that extended Woolcool Family for their contribution to the success of Woolcool. Awards like this are down to your hard work and support.” Woolcool was founded 11 years ago by packaging consultant Angela Morris, with the ambition to use natural materials, namely, pure sheep’s wool as an insulator for food products that need to be delivered in temperature-controlled packaging. CEO Angela, who is married to the firm’s Strategic Director Keith Spilsbury, has now handed the day-to-day running of the company to her daughters Josie and Jessica, who are Managing and Financial Directors. “I would like to dedicate this award to all of our Woolcool Family who have gone above and beyond during this very difficult and strange time – everyone has performed above all expectations in recent months,” she said. “I am regularly inspired by what our team achieves, and clearly the judges were too!” Woolcool’s packaging products, which are used by household names such as Abel & Cole, Riverford and Fortnum & Mason, have attracted new interest during lockdown, with the firm working to safely and responsibly fulfil orders. The key to Woolcool’s success is its innovative use of sheep’s wool in place of manmade insulators such as polystyrene, creating an ecologically sound option for customers who need to deliver food and medicines within certain temperature ranges. As a 100% natural material, wool is biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, reusable and abundantly available. It also lowers the carbon footprint of delivery chains, as it takes up less room in transit than manmade alternatives. After over 10 years of development and spending millions of pounds on research, Woolcool has proven that wool outperforms polluting materials such as polystyrene as an insulator. In the last year alone, through companies using Woolcool,  they have saved over 1670 tonnes of polystyrene insulation from landfill, that’s the equivalent weight of 417 elephants. Being named ‘Small Family Business of the Year 2020’ is the latest in a long line of accolades for Woolcool, who were recognised with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation in 2018.

PPMA Show postponed until 2021

This year’s PPMA Show has been postponed to preserve public health and safety in light of the continuing coronavirus crisis. The decision followed detailed conversations between the event organisers of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. The show has now been postponed until 2021 where it will take place at the NEC between 28 – 30 September. A statement from the show organisers said: “This decision has not been taken lightly. We considered the implications for visitors and exhibitors in respect of everything from social distancing, availability of hotels, travel and the preparation time required. “The Government has also not yet relaxed restrictions regarding mass gatherings, nor has it published any guidelines for staging large scale events such as ours when the restrictions are lifted. All in all, we felt the risk was too great. The health and well-being of those involved remains paramount, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.” After making the announcement, Richard Little, PPMA’s Show Director, said: “It’s the first time that we will not be staging our flagship event since the show’s inception in 1988, which is really disappointing. “While we are pleased that the COVID-19 infection rate currently appears to be declining in the UK, the future trend is by no means certain and the risk remains. “There are too many unknown variables to consider and our utmost priority is of course to ensure the safety of all those involved with our show. “We also had to consider that many of our exhibitors and visitors to our shows are categorised by the Government as key workers, providing a range of essential engineering and maintenance services to aid the critical supply of food and pharmaceutical goods. “On behalf of the PPMA, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our exhibitors, suppliers, registered visitors, staff members and media partners alike for their continued support during these unprecedented times. We now look forward to PPMA Show 2021,” he added. PPMA Show 2020 was on course to be one of the largest PPMA shows in 32 years, which reinforces its growing popularity and brand strength. In the meantime, the PPMA Show 2020 website will remain a continual information source for exhibitors and visitors, which will include enhanced media and video content.

Platform pairs farmers and smart tech for better decision-making

Glas Data has created a platform on which farmers can use smart technology to monitor livestock, housing and crop growth simultaneously to improve decision-making. Glas Data has been working alongside Ver Facil, which has adapted about 60 sensor devices for use in agriculture, as part of a research project supported by grants, research and graduates through Agri-Tech Cornwall. “We’ve been working on it for three years and the technology is really catching up now,” says Colin Phillipson, co-founder of Glas Data. “We’re simplifying it, bringing all of the data into one place so that farmers can view it.” These sensors use LoRaWAN (long range, low power) technology, which means they can be deployed around the farm without 4G or 5G connectivity or heavy batteries. “LoRaWAN is ideal for large areas – you just need one antenna on the farm, and batteries will last between three and 10 years without being replaced,” said Rob Cartwright, founder of Ver Facil. The sensors measure everything from housing environments to bulk milk tank temperature, and can even be used inside a cow’s rumen in the form of the Moonsyst Smart bolus, which monitors temperature, pH and activity even when the cow is out in the field. To demonstrate the value of these sensors and data platform, Ver Facil has installed them in Duchy College’s Future Farm, a research facility which will house 200 dairy cows and signpost the way for producers to improve technology, efficiencies and welfare. The Moonsyst Smart rumen bolus is able to predict a cow’s heat cycle, while also monitoring for lame or sick cows, and those which are about to calve. “We are also installing sensors to monitor the bulk milk tank temperature, the refrigerant cooling plant status, barn light levels, CO2, temperature and humidity,” says Mr Cartwright. “By monitoring the cows, the pasture they graze, their water intake and indoor environmental conditions we aim to improve milk yield and cow welfare.” In addition, the project will install two extra antennae to test the ability to triangulate the cows’ location – enabling the mapping of milk yield against grazing – and will monitor electric fencing and water pipes for supply outages. “We installed water meter sensors at the Royal Cornwall Show last year and identified two leaks at a saving of several thousand pounds,” said Mr Cartwright. “We can provide virtual meter readings via a smartphone and are looking to develop the means to automatically detect major water leaks.” The firm is also working with Lynher Dairies to reduce water use and better manage waste water produced from the cheese-making process. “They have to pay for their water and pay to get the waste taken away, so it’s a double saving,” said Mr Cartwright. “In addition, we installed temperature sensors in their freezers – which are housed in shipping containers. “Most other wireless technology won’t go through the steel, but one Sunday they got an alert that the cooling had failed – they managed to fix it before they lost an entire year’s worth of stock ingredients.” Temperature and humidity sensors in the cheese maturation stores will also enable the firm to better understand the cheese characteristics based on their storage environment. Another project, in conjunction with Rothamsted Research, is using sensors – including Sensoterra soil moisture and soil temperature monitors – to optimise strip grazing, while an egg production trial will see six environmental sensors installed in a chicken shed to demonstrate how the data can be used to improve welfare and production. “With 60 different sensors – and more in development – farmers can collect a lot of useful data,” said Mr Cartwright. “But that would be of no use without the means to visualise, store and analyse that information and this is where Glas Data provides such a unique service. “The dashboard has been specifically designed to map and visualise farm information from many data streams, including milk records and other sources. “At last the real barrier to using data to boost profits has been removed, opening the door to future farming, today.”

Frugalpac launch recycled paper bottle for wine and spirits

Frugalpac has launched a recycled paper bottle for wines and spirits which, it says, is “comparable in cost” to a labelled glass bottle. The 75cl Frugal Bottle is made from 94% recycled paperboard with a food-grade liner to hold the wine or spirit. It can be refrigerated and keeps the liquid cooler for longer, the company said. The first wine to go on sale in the Frugal Bottle is from the Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia. 3Q is an unwooded Sangiovese red with a hint of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cantina Goccia Frugal Bottle will initially be available to buy online and in Scotland from Woodwinters Wines & Whiskies retail stores and online. Hallgartan will be a UK distributor of wines and spirits in the Frugal Bottle. The Frugal Bottle is also under active consideration by a number of leading UK supermarket chains and hospitality groups keen to promote sustainable packaging and will be available from other retail outlets across the UK, in Denmark, and Holland over the next few weeks. “Our mission is to design, develop and supply sustainable packaging. The Frugal Bottle is up to five times lighter than a glass bottle, has a carbon footprint up to six times lower and is easy to recycle again,” said Frugalpac Chief Executive Malcolm Waugh/ “We’ve had fantastic feedback from people who’ve trialled the Frugal Bottle. As well as the superior environmental benefits, it looks and feels like no other bottle you have ever seen. “We want to deliver great wine and spirits in innovative packaging whilst helping our customers and consumers reduce their impact on the environment. “The Frugal Bottle offers a major point of difference for the global wine and spirits sector through stand out design and positive sustainable benefits.”

Kite Packaging expand thermal packaging range

Kite Packaging has added standard insulated box liners to its thermal range. According to the employee-owned business, this range is ideal for getting goods from A to B in a temperature-controlled environment at cost-effective prices. Insulated box liners help to maintain the inner temperature of goods throughout their transit periods and when used in conjunction with our gel packs or ice sheets, the products inside will maintain the desired temperature for between 12 and 24 hours. Offering an adequate amount of thermal protection and compromised from BOPP (biaxially-oriented polypropylene) outer foil layer, to reflect heat away from the products and laminated 70-micron double-lined bubble wrap inner, providing an interval of insulation and cushioning your chilled goods will be protected in transit.

Danone secures carbon neutral certification for Wexford facility

Danone’s facility in Wexford, Ireland has become the first baby formula production site in the world to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, an independent global climate change and sustainability consultancy. The company said the milestone is a step towards achieving its goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Danone Wexford employs 350 people and produces leading brands like Aptamil, Cow & Gate and Nutrilon for consumers in 41 countries around the world. “Our One Planet. One Health frame of action puts climate at the core of our growth model. The carbon neutral certification of Danone Wexford is an excellent illustration of implementing climate action to protect health of the planet and of the people,” said Emmanuel Faber, Chairman and CEO of Danone. “It is also a step towards realizing our commitment to achieving zero net carbon emissions across our entire value chain by 2050 and I truly want to congratulate our people in Wexford for realizing an ambitious vision set more than 10 years ago. “This is only a first step and we should accelerate even more to create a low-emissions, climate resilient future. It is through key investments like this one that we take a step forward towards reaching this ambition.”

3D printed animal-free steak market testing ahead of commercial launch

Redefine Meat, an innovative Israeli company 3D printing animal-free meat, has begun market testing the world’s first Alt-Steak plant-based products ahead of full market availability next year. Created using the company’s patent-pending 3D meat printing technology, the Alt-Steak products promise the texture, flavour and appearance of beef steak and can be produced in the volume and cost to enable large-scale market launch. Working with butchers, chefs, food technologists and the close collaboration of taste expert, Givaudan, Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 sensorial parameters into its Alt-Steak products – including premium beef cuts’ texture, juiciness, fat distribution and mouthfeel. Layer by layer, the company’s proprietary industrial-scale 3D food printers create the Alt-Steak products using its Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood plant-based formulations. By printing with multiple materials, Redefine Meat says it can create sustainable, high-protein, no-cholesterol steaks that look, cook, and taste like beef. “Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry,” says Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and co-founder of Redefine Meat. “To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry. “Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era in alternative meat – the Alt-Steak era – driven by production processes that will accelerate the development of a wide range of alt-meat whole muscle products and create a sustainable alternative to raising and eating animals.” The Alt-Steak products will be put to the test at a limited number of leading chef restaurants later this year. Incorporating feedback from high-level chefs and butchers, the company will then ramp up production of its 3D meat printers and alt-meat formulations ahead of market distribution in 2021.

Asia’s hospitality sector to recalibrate for recovery phase

The second edition of Food & Hotel Digital Week returns on 13 – 17 July to explore the challenges, new norms, technologies and practices for the hospitality industry post-pandemic. Themed ‘Hospitality’s New Normal – Restoring HoReCa in Asia’, the three-day industry webinar series running from 15-17 July will feature more than 45 industry thought leaders from around the world Key webinar highlights include an ASEAN Hotel Association roundtable session with speakers from hotel associations in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore & Thailand; and a discussion from the various coffee associations around the region on the trends and challenges facing the coffee markets in Asia Co-located with Food & Hotel Digital Week, the inaugural FHA Congress will be a two-day virtual conference (13-14 July) and will address the emerging and likely permanent shifts in hospitality and food industries.