Author Archives: agribusiness

Round Salt

This is rather an old story, but one that always comes to my mind when I think of food research and product development in “off the main track” areas.

Will round salt revolutionise food development?.jpg

These Indian scientists have really worked on influencing the shape of the salt crystal during the crystallisation process. They have found that they could add glycine and recycle the excess to produce a product with anti caking and improved flow properties.

Interestingly they appear to have been in competition with other researchers focussing on physical methods.

Filling In Forms

Today I had to fill in a form to allow some blood to be drawn for blood tests.

The form was first of all designed in A4 and then printed onto A5. Being a busy form on A4 it was almost impossible on A5 epecially without 20/20 eyesight, which many of their clients are – thats what aging is about you need more testing and see less!

Then a few lines in the following were called for

ID Number Date of Birth Age

which I filled in as follows:

471104nnnnnn 1947/11/04 60

Yes the first six digits of my ID make the other data redundant. The form is designed for cmputer capture so the waste of time is repeated!

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Colourants From Hibiscus Rosella – image test

Scientists in Taiwan have persued the potential of the bright crimsom colour of hibiscus and developed a feeze dried, stabilised product that shows promise.

In this time of a growing demand (although from a small part of the world’s population) for natural food ingredients, could this develop into a market for West Africa’s experience in producing hibiscus

               photo by JIGGS on

Link to Full Article in Food

Hibiscus extracts show extra potential as colourant powders

By Stephen Daniells

14/12/2007 – Freeze-dried extracts from hibiscus stabilised by trehalose or maltodextrin can provide colourants for a range of food applications with superior stability, report researchers from Taiwan.

When formulated into a model beverage, lead author Kiattisak Duangmal from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok reports that the hibiscus extracts performed well in comparison to commercially used colorants: San Red RC and synthetic carmoesin.

Hibiscus extracts are already used by the food industry to give colour and flavour to beverages. The new research, published in the journal LWT – Food Science and Technology, indicates that when the extracts are freeze-dried as powders, they could offer a stable colourant for industry.

Across the desert to Timbuktu in a car fuelled by chocolate

The Independent reported on two “environmental activists”Andy Pag and John Grimshaw who were setting out to drive from Dorset to Timbuktu in a car powered by chocolate waste.

They left their home town of Poole, Dorset, on a cross-Channel ferry yesterday. They are travelling in a Ford Iveco Cargo lorry powered by fuel which began life as chocolate, in an attempt to raise awareness of “green” biofuels. Their 4,500-mile (7,250 km) trip across the Sahara desert to Timbuktu in Mali should take about three weeks.The pair have taken with them a small processing unit to convert waste oil products into fuel, which they will then donate to an African charity, along with the lorry. They are taking 2,000 litres (454 gallons) of biodiesel made from 4,000kg (8,818lb) of chocolate misshapes – equivalent to 80,000 chocolate bars.

But they will not be able to dip into their tank if they feel peckish because biodiesel does not look or smell like ordinary chocolate. It is made from cocoa butter extracted from the waste chocolate.

The BBC showed a picture of the cargo lorry they are traveling in

Chocolate Powered Lorry to Timbuktu

It is interesting that this comes at a time of discussion in Africa about first generation biofuels and their role in Africa.

Its my own feeling that we have been discussing too long and have been left behind by the developments in Europe & USA, which are now revealing the problems. We should rather be focusing on second generation biofuels which don’t run the risk of taking food from the poor and use waste like this initiative.

Centre for the Promotion of Exports from Developing Countries (CBI)

The Centre for the Promotion of Exports from Developing Countries (CBI) is established by the EU to facilitate importers from Developing Countries.


While its focus is wide it does have specific focuses on Food Ingredients, Organic Foods, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Preserved Fruit and Vegetables etc. Within these sections there are detailed market reports, information on regulations and standards, databases of suppliers and services , links, information on CBI projects, news and reports.

The information is free to developing country and only requires a cost free, short registration.

Herb Data New Zealand

The amount of information in the Herb Data NewZealand library is hard to conceive.


Looking more like an alternate therapists dream, it holds practical information such as how to build a steam distillation plant

Steam Distillation

The bulk of the library is links to data on a large number of plants. Each plant is described in a detailed page including mongraphs and articles. Scattered through these links are articles on everything from anatomic terms and images, through arrow poisons to dyes and tans.

Links to Herbs

The link is of course the plant material and its use with a focus on health.

This information is useful just as a reference, but would presumably be in valuable to a business person looking to start an activity in this sector.

Cameroon Supplies WFP

The following reported by

The port city of Douala is still a major hub for international food aid heading to Chad and Central African Republic, but the World Food Programme (WFP) in Cameroon is buying an increasing amount of its requirements locally.
Of the 70,000mt of food aid WFP’s regional office in Cameroon is forwarding to emergencies in neighbouring countries this year, about 26,000mt has been produced in Cameroon.

WFP told IRIN that the percentage of food it purchases in West and Central Africa for distribution in the region grew from 13 percent in 2005, to over 30 percent for 2007 with Cameroon being the largest supplier followed by Burkina Faso.

is a good sign that the old processes are changing.

The problem is that the supply will only continue while the food shortages continue and we all want to see those ending. There is the difficulty of the effect of sales of large quantities on the food price and availability. This needs to be managed carefuly to ensure that food security is not negatively impacted.