EFSA deems mealworms safe for humans, paving way for EU-wide approval

Mealworms have been deemed safe for human consumption, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in a new opinion that will pave the way for the first EU-wide approval. The opinions, which include the first completed assessment of a proposed insect-derived food product, are a key step in the regulation of novel food, as EFSA advice supports EU and national decision-makers who authorise these products for the European market. Ermolaos Ververis, a chemist and food scientist at EFSA, coordinated the first adopted opinion on insects as novel food. “Insects are complex organisms, which makes characterising the composition of insect-derived food products a challenge. Understanding their microbiology is paramount, considering also that the entire insect is consumed,” he said. Various insect-derived foodstuffs are often heralded as a source of protein for the diet. “Formulations from insects may be high in protein, although the true protein levels can be overestimated when the substance chitin, a major component of insects’ exoskeleton, is present. “Critically, many food allergies are linked to proteins so we assess whether the consumption of insects could trigger any allergic reactions. These can be caused by an individual’s sensitivity to insect proteins, cross-reactivity with other allergens or residual allergens from insect feed, e.g. gluten. “It’s challenging work because the quality and availability of data varies, and there is a lot of diversity among insect species.” There are additional non-scientific reasons why the novel food work is challenging. “The flood of applications is a significant workload and meeting the deadline for assessments is sometimes tight, particularly if applications miss essential scientific data,” said Helle. “But, the collaboration between the experts is stimulating and it is rewarding to know that we are contributing to keeping our food safe.” The novelty of using insects in food has led to high interest from the public and the media, so EFSA’s scientific assessments are essential for the policymakers who will decide whether or not to authorise these products before they can be put on the EU market. Giovanni Sogari, a social and consumer researcher at the University of Parma, stated: “There are cognitive reasons derived from our social and cultural experiences, the so-called ‘yuck factor’, that make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans. With time and exposure such attitudes can change.” Mario Mazzocchi, an economic statistician and professor at the University of Bologna, said: “There are clear environmental and economic benefits if you substitute traditional sources of animal proteins with those that require less feed, produce less waste and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. “Lower costs and prices could enhance food security and new demand will open economic opportunities too, but these could also affect existing sectors.” EFSA’s scientists will continue to evaluate the many novel food applications in their ‘to do list’, and the decision-makers in Brussels and national capitals will determine if they should be authorised for the European dinner plate.

Tyson Foods to expand Wright Brand Bacon Plant with $26m investment

Tyson Foods is investing $26 million to expand production at the Wright Brand Bacon Plan in Vernon, Texas. Scheduled for completion by March of 2021, the expansion is expected to create 32 new jobs, bringing the total employment at the plant to more than 800. “This project is great news for our plant, our community and our customers,” said Dane Bonfy, manager of the Wright Brand plant. “We love the Vernon community and look forward to growing our team with the additional positions and meeting the growing demand for our products.” The bacon category has seen volume growth, up 18% since 2017, with new people entering the category and existing buyers consuming more bacon, most recently due to an increase in at-home meals. Surpassing category growth during this same time period, Wright Brand has increased volume by 29% as more buyers are introduced to the brand. The expansion is expected to satisfy current demand and allow room for additional growth. Tyson Foods and its family of companies operate 10 food processing plants in Texas, employing more than 12,000 team members and paying more than $480 million in annual wages as of the most recently completed fiscal year.

Cereal Partners UK launches Organic Honey and Chocolate Cheerios

Cereal Partners UK (CPUK) has launched the first organic product for Cheerios made using organic hoops from five organically-farmed whole grains, and chocolate cereal pieces. All ingredients for the Organic Honey and Chocolate Cheerios are sourced from farmers following organic farming practices and displays CPUK’s signature green banner indicating whole grain is the number one ingredient. Toby Baker, Regional Marketing Director UK and Australia for Nestlé Cereals, said: “Given that £200m a month is now spent on organic food and drink in the UK, it’s clear that sustainably conscious consumers are looking for products that are good for our planet. “This growing interest has intensified during the pandemic, with many families placing greater emphasis on leading better lifestyles, focused on wellbeing and sustainability. “As a business, our promise is to make breakfast better as well as doing our bit to help protect the planet. Our breakfast cereals already come in packaging specially designed for a lower environmental impact with cereal boxes that can be easily recycled. “The launch of Cheerios UK’s first organic cereal is yet another milestone in our own journey, which will also help meet growing consumer demand for organic products.” As well as launching its new organic product, Cheerios UK has also announced a new partnership with The Bee Friendly Trust, a charity dedicated to creating habitats for honeybees and pollinators to help them thrive. Through the partnership, CPUK will support the protection of the UK honeybee population, whose natural habitats are increasingly in danger. Cheerios UK will be raising awareness of The Bee Friendly Trust and its work by providing opportunities for families across the UK to join CPUK in helping to protect vital feeding grounds for bees.

Mars UK to remove a million miles a year from roads with £350m sustainable logistics operation

A new, multi-year partnership between Mars and DHL will see the construction of two state of the art warehousing facilities and the creation of a world class logistics operation. The new sites, based in the Midlands and East London, represent an investment of £350m and have been designed with sustainability at front of mind. The project will reduce Mars’ outbound logistics carbon footprint in the UK by 7.7%. The buildings themselves will be partially solar powered and rated in the top 1% of non-domestic buildings in UK environmentally. Mars UK transport over 1.2 million pallets of their products every year – which, if you stack those pallets on top of each other, is the equivalent of shipping the height of Mount Everest every other day. The new logistics operation will remove a million miles a year from roads – which is 40 times around the world or 8,547 times around the M25 – all while increasing warehousing capacity by over 50%, ensuring that Mars is well positioned to keep pace with increasing consumer demand and deliver their portfolio of products to future generations. Tim Walker, Supply Chain Director at Mars UK said: “Our partnership with DHL will deliver a world class logistics operation that is sustainable, smart and agile. What is good for our business is also good for the planet. This project is a meaningful step in our sustainability journey as we look to create the world we want tomorrow – which we know starts with how we do business today.” Jim Hartshorne, Managing Director, Retail & Consumer & Ireland, DHL Supply Chain said: “We’re delighted to be extending our global partnership with Mars in the construction and management of these sites. Our shared environmental commitments are supported by this investment and we are creating long term, exciting jobs in both of these communities. This project will be the foundation of the UK logistics chain for Mars for many years to come and we are incredibly proud to be selected to lead in this project.” The two purpose-built depots, ‘East Midlands Gateway’ and ‘London Thames Gateway’, will be operational in the spring of 2022 and 2023 respectively. The sites will have a combined square footage of over a million feet and they will both have state of the art high bay facilities which include innovative automated pallet storage.

Kingsmoor Packaging launches lightweighting initiative

Somerset-based thermoformed packaging firm, Kingsmoor Packaging, has recently launched a new lightweighting initiative known as KPL Cirrus™. A year in development, the move is part of the company’s continued drive to make their plastic products as sustainable and recyclable as possible. Having made significant investments during 2020 to improve workflow and provide increased capacity, as well as making reductions to their waste and energy consumption though green initiatives, the introduction of KPL Cirrus adds further impetus and clout to their sustainability vision. Pioneered by Kingsmoor’s R&D team, KPL Cirrus works by creating a unique pattern in the sidewalls of a thermoformed container. As the container is formed, a series of small pockets are created where material continually gets slightly ‘affixed’ during the thermoforming process – this in turn creates stronger sidewalls with less material, thereby creating a much lighter yet stronger pack. “As expected, there has been considerable positive interest in KPL Cirrus from our customers,” said Kingsmoor Packaging’s Managing Director, James Hill. “And while we appreciate that lightweighting might not be the ultimate answer to producing sustainable packaging, KPL Cirrus™ represents an important step towards achieving a more sustainable solution to a hugely complex problem. “Amongst the positives in this scenario – the use of less energy, less material and the increase in transport efficiency – lightweighting is ultimately about utilising the great benefits that plastics bring to food packaging, but using only what is totally necessary to make the product fit for purpose. “The initiative also enables both our customers and ourselves to reduce carbon emissions wherever we can.” As a privately-owned family-business, Kingsmoor Packaging manufactures 100% recyclable food grade packaging solutions in rPET and closed loop recycled PP for the food industry. The firm has built an excellent reputation for service and quality by offering a fully integrated in-house design and tooling service, combined with their state-of-the-art thermoforming machines. This single source offering allows them to be nimble and flexible in their operation, which for many brands is a strong selling point.

Dwayne Johnson one fourth of brand behind first-of-its-kind energy drink

A new healthy energy drink has been launched by a team of fitness, health and beverage industry changemakers including Dwayne Johnson. Available for purchase in March 2021, ZOA is a “re-imagined, first-of-its-kind” energy drink packed with clean, natural caffeine from green coffee and green tea, powerful antioxidants from camu camu and acerola, as well as vitamin D and a unique blend of vitamins and nutrients that support immune function and elevate energy levels. As well as Johnson, ZOA is co-founded by Dany Garcia, first female owner of a major professional sports league in the US, dedicated professional bodybuilder and one of the most successful producers in Hollywood; lauded fitness professional and consultant Dave Rienzi; and savvy businessman, entrepreneur and investor John Shulman. The Molson Coors Beverage Company will be the exclusive distribution partner for all retail locations as the company has recently made a series of moves to expand their product offerings beyond beer. “I am delighted to share ZOA with the customers we passionately serve. Throughout all my endeavors, I’m committed to cultivating the human experience and providing tools to be and perform at our best,” said Garcia. “Whether you’re the fiercest of athletes, pursuing excellence in the boardroom or simply need a bit more energy to conquer the day, ZOA is a clean, natural, and healthy drink providing you with the energy and nutrients that you need to take you to the next level.” Johnson said: “I’m very passionate about ZOA. I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve our eager consumers with ZOA – the ultimate healthy and immunity-supporting energy drink that’s the first of its kind, thanks to our unique combination of ingredients. “My co-founders and I spent the last 18 months formulating this healthy and great tasting product that we could all use now more than ever. Ensuring we packed it with the critical vitamins and immune support we ourselves consume daily. “ZOA is the world’s first and only healthy energy drink that contains our unique combination of 100% vitamin C, 100% vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12, and vitamin D, along with other vital ingredients. ZOA includes a host of nutrients that work to support our immune systems and provide us with a healthy dose of the caffeinated edge we need for focus, balance and success throughout our day.” ZOA will make its March debut on the ZOA website and Amazon, followed by natural, conventional and convenience stores. Those interested in learning more and being the first to receive news about ZOA can do so at zoaenergy.com and on social media @zoaenergy.

Brazilian meatless-meat brand, Future Farm, launches in UK

Future Farm, the major Brazilian meatless-meat brand, has officially launched into the UK. The range is made from 100% natural ingredients and is GMO & gluten free. It consists of Future Meatballs, Future Burgers, Future Sausages and Future Mince, made using a blend of soy, pea and chickpea proteins. Future Farm – also known as Fazenda Futuro – invests almost a third of gross revenue into R&D, enabling it to create an innovative approach to product development. Just like tech products, its meatless foods are in a continual process of testing an improvement. As they ‘upgrade’, the products continually increase in quality, moving closer to the flavour, texture and juiciness of meat with each iteration. Future Farm has a clear goal: make meatpackers obsolete by both changing the way the global population consumes meat, and reducing meat consumption by getting people to switch to its meatless products that can match, or even exceed, animal products on flavour. But the brand also has a high environmental ambition that’s close to its heart: to buy back the Amazon from the meat industry by fostering the movement towards  GMO-free and deforestation free produce in place of those that are unethical and illegal. Fighting for biodiversity and against destruction of the rainforest, all of the brands suppliers have to be members of the Responsible Soy Association. Pedro Zuim, Marketing Director for Future Farm said: “In Brazil we have the world’s greatest natural resource, the Amazon rainforest, but it’s being destroyed to grow soy to feed animals. “It just didn’t make sense to us. By replicating the same satisfaction we get from eating meat, using plants, we have revolutionised food in a way that is good for the people, the planet, and your plate.” Since launching last year in meat-loving Brazil, where over 70% of the population regularly consumes meat, has eaten more than 9 million of Future Burgers, with sales accounting for a staggering 23% of all burger sales (including meat) in Brazil’s biggest retailer. Millions more are now being enjoyed across the globe. Future Farm products are now available in Sainsbury’s across the UK.

Minor Figures launches UK’s first Barista Semi-Oat Milk

Minor Figures has launched the UK’s first Barista Semi-Oat Milk in Waitrose and Morrison’s stores nationwide. Adding to its growing range of barista standard dairy alternatives, as part of its mission to democratise vegan and plant-based diets, the new Semi Oat Milk plugs a gap in current retail offerings within this category. As the first to bring a barista semi product to the market, Minor Figures aims to help consumers who are consciously seeking to reduce sugar intake while maintaining a plant-based diet, bridging the gap for those who want to enjoy great coffee without compromise. 2020 saw the brand grow from a B2B model, servicing coffee shops, to an expanding offering within the consumer market, launching into key retail stores as well as establishing its ecommerce platform. Minor Figures has successfully secured listings across Amazon, Booths, Abel & Cole, Farmdrop, Waitrose and Holland & Barrett, in addition to growing its footprint in coffee shops to over 4,000 nationally. Semi Oat Milk is also available from the company’s website, as well as Amazon and Farmdrop.

Eddie – the first certified edible ink desktop printer

Eddie is the world’s first NSF- and GMP-certified edible ink desktop printer that prints directly onto baked goods, confectionary and more. Printed food items can be up to 89 mm wide and will be dry and ready for sale immediately after printing. Eddie prints up to 6 print objects per minute. The included carousel feeder holds up to 12 items, rotates them to the print position, the printer pulls in one item at a time, prints and sends them back to the carousel – all automatically and hands-free. Eddie was designed from the beginning to meet or exceed all regulatory requirements for the specific purpose as an edible ink digital printer. The edible ink cartridge meets all FDA and EU standards for use as a food additive. The ink cartridge itself meets cGMP standards and the entire manufacturing and cartridge filling processes are FDA-compliant and cGMP certified. Click or tap here to find out more.

SweeGen scales up sweet taste solution toolbox

SweeGen has successfully scaled-up Bestevia Rebaudioside N (Reb N), a special zero-calorie natural stevia sweetener. Reb N is a naturally occurring sweetener found in stevia leaves. The unique sensory profile of Bestevia Reb N makes it especially attractive for beverage applications, which is an application space that has already been exclusively licensed out. Following SweeGen’s commercial announcements of Bestevia Rebs B and I this year, and with the addition of Reb N, the company’s portfolio of sugar reduction solutions is the broadest available in the industry for tackling sugar reduction challenges. “Bestevia Reb N has a unique sweet profile that helps us create solutions that have a taste profile closer to both full-calorie and high intensity sweeteners,” said Shari Mahon, SVP of global application technology. “Our solutions are one of the most unique and tailored in the industry because of our access to the widest range of Rebs for sugar reduction.”