Wales to open £2m sustainable food packaging hub

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The £22 billion Welsh food and drink industry is to get a productivity and sustainability boost from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), following a £2 million award by the Welsh Government to build a Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre. AMRC Cymru has secured the BITES (Business, Innovation and Tourism Escalator Scheme) funding to develop an emerging technology demonstrator specifically for the food and drink sector that will accelerate the adoption of waste-reducing eco-innovations by integrating Industry 4.0 technologies in the packaging industry. The aim is for the sustainability centre to become a hub for the uptake of emerging technologies and materials in the food and drink packaging supply chain. Beyond that, Welsh Government want the AMRC to take a lead on the adoption of waste-reducing eco-innovations in the sector that work towards increased productivity and lower Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The demonstrator will exhibit the AMRC’s capabilities in advanced automation, collaborative robotics, additive manufacturing and visualisation; there will also be prototyping and functional test equipment for new packaging solutions and ideas. “These technologies are widely used in other industries but don’t really exist within food and drink. There are new challenges for us as food and drink packaging companies work in a high-speed, low-cost environment, so the demonstrator will display how the technologies can be implemented in a different manufacturing set up,” said Bobby Manesh, AMRC Cymru’s Food and Drink Technical Lead. The £2 million funding will be used in two key areas at AMRC Cymru: the development of an emerging technology demonstrator that comprises a re-configurable, modular system for prototyping production processes; and equipment infrastructure that supports the progress of new designs, materials and processes. “The hub will have a central demonstrator based on a conveyor system which will be linked together with collaborative robots, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and our own engineers wearing exoskeletons. Everything will be visualised and tracked through cameras so we will have a digital twin of the process that can be viewed on a screen in real time,” said Bobby. Welsh Government, in partnership with the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board (FDWIB), have set out a vision to develop Wales as a ‘food nation’. A key part of this plan is a commitment to innovate the food and drink sector across Wales, the UK and internationally. Objectives of the Food and Drink innovation programme include reducing single-use plastics and replacing them with environmental-based alternatives, data capture, real-time monitoring and introducing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Speaker line-up revealed for World Biogas Summit 2020

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In its second year, the annual World Biogas Summit, has gathered an impressive line-up of speakers for the 2020 demonstrating the growing recognition of the role of biogas in achieving net zero. The three-day conference, taking place online from 6th until 8th October 2020, is organised by the World Biogas Association (WBA) in partnership with the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA). It will welcome representatives from the UK Committee on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, the Global Methane Initiative, the UN’s Climate Technology and Climate Network, SHV Energy, Greenlane Biogas, Gaz Reseau Distribution France, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Zero Waste Europe, the International Solid Waste Association,  the Canadian, American, South African and European biogas associations, among others. Also joining the proceedings will be the former Agriculture Minister of France under President Francois Hollande, Stéphane Le Foll. Headlining the Summit with keynote addresses will be:
  • Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change
  • Keisude Sadamori, Director for Energy Markets and Security, International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • Stéphane Le Foll, Former French Agriculture Minister and now Mayor of Le Mans Bram Graber, CEO, SHV Energy
The 2020 Summit will also provide a preview of WBA’s next major report ‘Biogas – The Roadmap to 2030’, which will establish what needs to happen if the industry is to deliver its full potential over the next decade, including a 12% reduction in global emissions by 2030, and discuss how the industry can best contribute to achieving Net Zero; help restore soil health, and underpin city projects for low carbon urban development. Another crucial topic will be how to finance the growth of the AD and biogas sector to fulfil this huge potential. “We will be honoured to welcome such a calibre of speakers to what is only our second World Biogas Summit,” said WBA President David Newman. “This follows from the success of the WBA’s World Biogas eFestival in May which also saw key players in both the political and business arena contribute their experience and expertise. “Ahead of publishing our report on the roadmap that we need to follow to achieve the industry’s potential to reduce global GHG reductions by 12% by 2030, creating 12-15 million new green jobs in the process, their insights will be particularly opportune.” Charlotte Morton, ADBA Chief Executive, added: “The line-up of such eminent speakers demonstrates the growing recognition of the significant role biogas has to play in the development of a global green economy, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We are very excited about this year’s Summit and look forward to hearing the views of these influential figures on such important topics as climate change, sustainable urban development, soil health and how to finance the establishment of a prosperous, Net Zero world.” Register for free here.

Method developed to authenticate black pepper, detect food fraud

A new method has been developed in Denmark to prove the authenticity of black pepper, the most widely used spice in the world, and to detect fraud. In a PhD project at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Amelie Sina Wilde initially used so-called spectrometry to take ‘fingerprints’ of samples of both pure pepper and of fraudulent goods before feeding these ‘fingerprint’ data into a model that uses the dataset to distinguish between genuine pepper and diluted products. Similar methods exist that can examine oregano, but this is the first time a method has been developed specifically for black pepper. Tests have shown the method to be sensitive enough as to be able to distinguish between the peppercorn itself and other parts of the plant. As well as her authenticating efforts for black pepper, Wilde has also developed a method for analysing whether something is real of synthetic vanilla as part of the PhD project. She has used this method to examine whether different foods actually contain real vanilla. The study looked at different foods such as vanilla sugar and different milk and soya products that have been marketed as containing real vanilla. The analysis shows that for one fifth of the products it is doubtful that they were made with real vanilla flavour. In her studies, Wilde found that a recently developed vanilla flavour production method can potentially be used to imitate the marker typical for real vanilla flavour. This new production method is more environmentally-friendly than previous methods and was clearly not invented to support fraudulent activities. However, it offers an opportunity for sophisticated criminals to perpetrate food fraud and as such, the example shows that analytical methods have limitations and must constantly be adjusted to new market situations.

Nestlé & Dawn Foods sign sweet bakery agreement for EMENA

Nestlé and Dawn Foods have signed a long-term sweet bakery contract for co-branding cooperation in the Europe, Middle East & North Africa (EMENA) Region. The companies have partnered in product innovation for a range of sweet bakery products, starting with muffins and cookies. Dawn Foods will create recipes and a range of bakery products, made with ingredients from Nestlé. “We selected Dawn Foods as our EMENA partner because of the high quality of their bakery products, their capability to convey our brands experiences to the consumers, and their leading position in the sweet bakery industry,” says Vincent de Clippele, Head of Nestlé Professional EMENA. The first product launched will be a muffin, filled with milk chocolate and covered with KITKAT topping. “The muffin made with KITKAT is the result of Dawn Foods’ market leadership in American pastry and the strengths of Nestlé’s confectionary brands which gives the unique KITKAT product taste experience,” said Steven Verweij, President, Europe & AMEAP, Dawn Foods. “Dawn Foods and Nestle Professional have agreed a long-term commitment to co-design new bakery products that carry the essence of the brand by combining state of the art bakery mixes with the best branded ingredients.”

Stockpiling for Brexit – what you need to know

The UK is no longer a member of the EU, but that’s not the end of Brexit. As you probably know, officials are trying to agree how the future relationship will work. Boris Johnson says an agreement on trade must be done by 15 October. What does a “No Trade Deal” mean? The UK left the EU on 31st January with a deal called the withdrawal agreement. Negotiations on the future of the UK-EU relationship were always intended to be held during the 11 month transition period, which started immediately after Brexit day. The transition period ends on 31 December 2020 and the deadline for extending it has now passed When transition ends, the UK will automatically drop out of the EU’s single market and the customs union. If a new trade deal is not agreed upon by then, tariffs and border checks would be applied to goods travelling from the UK to the EU, and the UK could also choose to do this to EU goods. Quite clearly these tariffs would make UK goods more expensive and harder to sell into the EU and full border checks would cause long delays at ports. Even if a trade deal is reached, it would not eliminate all checks – so UK businesses do need to prepare and have a plan in place. The effect on businesses With the Brexit trade deal being still so unclear, the issue of stockpiling is increasingly becoming the centre of focus for businesses in the UK. As we do not know what is in store, many businesses are sceptical about investing in fixed contracts for extra space for storage or operations. How can Lauralu help? A temporary warehouse is the ideal solution to the stockpiling dilemma. Lauralu can develop high-quality warehouses that are ideal for storing every type of product. Its temporary buildings can be assembled in a matter of days and can be moved to suit your needs, with the current Brexit situation we think temporary warehouses will make a massive difference and take a heap of stress away for businesses. Hire a temporary warehouse Lauralu’s temporary warehouses are available to hire from six months to five years, which makes it the perfect short-term solution. Its highly experienced team can design and install your warehouse within 14 days, regardless of the size of your storage requirements. Warehouse extensions You may already have a warehouse, but like most businesses, due to stockpiling you are running out of space. Lauralu has developed the ideal solution; warehouse extensions. The company can link these to your current warehouse and can increase or decrease the addition as your business changes. Variety of buildings to choose from Depending on your business, you might need a certain type of warehouse, for example, if you store perishable items such as medicine, you may need an insulated temporary warehouse. For this reason, the company have a huge variety of options available for you to choose from to make sure we can fit your requirements If a temporary warehouse will help ease your Brexit headache get in touch with Lauralu today.

Coca-Cola European Partners reaches major sustainability milestone

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Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), in partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain, has revealed that all plastic bottles across its core brands made in Great Britain are now made with 50% recycled plastic (rPET). The move means Coca-Cola in Great Britain is now using over 21,000 tonnes of recycled plastic per year and rPET now accounts for 50% of all plastic used in bottles across the Company’s core range made in Great Britain. With this change Coca-Cola increases its rPET usage by a further 25% marking another major step on the journey towards the Company’s ambition to help create more sustainable packaging options where all plastic used in bottles comes from recycled or renewable sources. All of Coca-Cola’s bottles have been 100% recyclable for many years. To announce the step forward and the increase in recycled material, bottles will carry new labels notifying consumers of the change and encouraging them to recycle the bottle. The move comes as part of the business’s long-term investment in the UK’s circular economy since helping to establish the UK’s biggest bottle-to-bottle plastic reprocessing facility in Lincolnshire in 2012 which reprocesses bottles collected from households across the UK. Stephen Moorhouse, General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners Great Britain, said: “This milestone marks an important step towards our ambition across Western Europe to remove all non-recycled plastic from our bottles. “One of the key challenges the industry currently faces is that there isn’t enough food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK to switch to 100% rPET across our entire range. There needs to be more high-quality recycled plastic produced, so it’s vital to make sure we collect more bottles in an efficient way, and stop it ending up as waste. “Although all our bottles have been 100% recyclable for many years, too many are still not being recycled. That’s why we support the introduction of a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), consistent across Great Britain and coupled with investment in infrastructure. This will really encourage more people to recycle and will help more bottles to be collected in a clean, efficient way so that they can be remade into new bottles again.” The Coca-Cola Company more broadly is continuing to invest in the latest recycling technology to help reach 100% recycled plastic in all its bottles and CCEP has also recently taken another important step on the journey towards this goal by funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste. Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP and The Coca-Cola Company’s ambition to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. In Great Britain Coca-Cola has worked closely with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) for 20 years, sharing a vision to minimise waste and promote resource efficiency and circularity, from jointly investing in Recycle Zone on-the-go recycling facilities in 2008 through to being one of the founder members of UK Plastics Pact. Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP, said: “It takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic compared with using virgin material, and it’s always important to remember that using recycled content in the manufacture of new products and packaging is the whole point of recycling. “Not only does it mean that less new plastic is being used, it also ensures that it is being kept in the packaging recycling system and out of the environment. “We are seeing momentum building on the use of recycled content in plastic packaging and this announcement by Coca-Cola, one of our founding UK Plastics Pact members, is good news for the environment and good news for industry.”

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.”