Tag Archives: consumer

Sensor Film in Packaging Detects Food Deterioration.

I’ve always been a bit of a disbeliever in relying on sell by dates and quality management system for the food safety of cold chain products. The thing that always worries me is that once the product leaves the factory the manufacturer has no control over how the product is handled. If the refrigerated fish got left in a trolley for several hours before being put back in the fridge the sell by and use by dates are pretty meaningless. But this doesn’t have to be true about every food delivery in Quebec City, as these services are snappy, & deliver food fresh, & which, are a far better option compared to buying meat from the market.

Now a really interesting solution – don’t judge the quality just by time, monitor it.

Indication of the spoilage of meat and fisg using Biogenic Amine sensor in food packaging

from: Fraunhofer Research Institute
(click image for full story online)

The Fraunhofer Research Institute has developed a sensor film that changes colour from yellow to blue when close to decaying meat or fish. So this film incorporated into the packaging will warn the consumer of whether degradation has started or not.

The sensor responds to the concentration of biogenic amines, chemicals that are generated by the decay process. The system is inexpensive making it more affordable than electronic solutions that would measure a temperature history as an alternative.

To me this is a real interesting solution, where the packaging is actually measuring the production of an indicator of food deterioration – what about detectors for rancid oil, esters in beer and acetic acid in yogurt.

Do Food Processors Give Consumers Less Than They Think.

The finding of this study reported on in Science Daily raises the question of how well the food manufacturers are, or want to educate the consumer to understand what their products contain and how this compares to other products.

Bottled tea beverages may contain fewer polyphenols than brewed tea.jpg

from: Science Daily
(click image for full story online)

So the consumer has understood correctly that the antioxidants (mainly polyphenols) in tea are good for them. Wanting tastier and more convenient sources of polyhenols they try and start to use bottled tea based beverages.

But what health benefit are the processors giving them – as always that depends, but a recent study by Shiming Li, a natural product chemist at WellGen Inc showed that bottled teas have polyphenols as low as 5% of a brewed cup of tea. This means that the antioxidant benefit of 1 cup of tea would be equivalent to 20 bottles of this tea.

Besides missing the health benefits bottled teas contain sugar, additives which means that drinking the large volumes to get the antioxidants can have other negative effects on the diet.

How many other products reflect a similar situation where the consumer is not really aware of what they are getting. Many fruit juice blend proclaim “100 % pure juice” not clearly noting the addition of water. Amarula Cream leads consumers to think it is produced from fruit collected in the community but in fact only a small fraction of the alcohol is. The actual quantity of sugar in carbonated beverages is not well understood. Organic, free range, corn fed and other similar terms related to “new age” foods are also not well understood and the certification of compliance is completely unclear to the consumer.

Think about it and email me your examples which I will publish!

Consumers Design Chip/Crisp Flavour

I bought this interesting packet of potato chips (crisps to others) a few days ago as I was interested to see the face of a white housewife seemingly advertising chips on the supermarket shelf.


photo by Dave Harcourt
(Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License)


However it turns out to be something quite different which seems to me to be an interesting take on product design.

Simba have set up a competition allowing consumers to design their own flavours and submit these for consideration. The competition brought in 180 000 suggestions which were reduced to 20 and eventually the 4 winners now appearing online ready for your vote.

Simba What_s Your Lekker Flavour - Home.jpg

(click the image to open website)

There was also competition on the supplier side with flavour houses being challenged to come up with flaours for the new products.

The winner will receive R 200 000 and 1% of all sales of the product for its life. The public voting for their preferred flavour can win weekly prizes of R 500 and two prizes from the final draw of R 50 000.

What do I think about it? – a brilliant marketing and product definition exercise but unfortunately although the Look up and Run Chicken had a new and interesting flavour, any taste of snoek or achaar were missing from Brendan Johnston’s chip!

By the way Walkie Talkie in this case refers to chicken heads and feet! which are also called Look Up and Runs. So a nice South African feel to the competition!

It will be interesting to see how it develops from here. Let me know what you think of this and watch this blog or subscribe to the RSS feed to hear how this develops.


Business Manual – Setting Up and Running a Small Fruit or Vegetable Processing Enterprise

This is another food processing based business manual by Peter Fellows like others I have reviewed eg
Business Manual – Small-scale Root Crops and Tubers Processing and Products
Free Online Information – Milling & Baking Enterprise Design
Processing Fruit & Vegetables

The latter being similar to this manual but with more of a technology focus and less of an enterprise focus.



from: CTA
(click image for full story online)


The manual starts off with a discussion of how to identify a market, test its feasibility, serve it and maintain customers and where and how to set up the food processing plant. Only then are processes and technologies discussed. The manual ends with sections on quality assurance & legislation and planning and managing production and finances.

All the sections of the manual contain practical calculations, tips for success, case studies, chapter summaries and checklists, which help to make the material real and reinforce the learning process.

Valuable practical information including a bibliography, a list of Institutions offering support to small-scale processors, a glossary and a list of acronyms can be found in the appendix.

Advertising Claims in 2008

Once agin its interesting to look at what claims have been made by new product launches in 2008.


Natural comes out top in new product claims 2008.jpg

from: Food & Drink Europe
(click image for full story online)


Mintel, who derived the results from their Global New Products Database, found that globally 23 % of all new products launched made natural claims lower than the high of 36 % in the UK.

While products claiming added nutrients appeared on only 5% of new products (much down on 2007) those claiming to have some component reduced (eg fat, calories) represented 18%.

This can be interpreted to mean that natural is a new focus of those looking for healthy living, with lest emphasis on additives and reduced foods.

‘Convenience’ and ‘ethical and environmental’ appeared on only 12 and 5 % of new products respectively highlighting the need for innovative natural products,

I doubt that this applies in African markets and present it as maybe a indication of what the future could hold.

More Organic Foods in the Food Crisis

In a previous post I looked at some UK & US information that focussed on the expenditure of consumers on organic foods as the food crisis pinched with price rises.

Now Food Processing reports on a spending survey of over 1 000 consumers.


Loading “Toops Scoops | Culture of the Recession | Food Processing”.jpg

from: Food Processing
(click image for full story online)


The survey which was actually to see how people handled the recession rather than just to look at the effect of the food crisis, it found that over a half spent less on Organic Foods.

Some other findings were

    • Nearly half (44 percent) of U.S adults report their diets are becoming less healthy as food prices rise.
    • Two-thirds (66 percent) are cutting back on overall spending
    • 90 percent are considering opting for a simpler life.
    • 43 percent are spending more consumer electronics including flat-screen TVs and video games to save on out of home entertainment


Food Trends Viewed Through Labelling

Food & Drink Europe report on the the frequency of new product label claims determined by International market research company Mintel.


No additives or preservatives lead label claims_ Mintel-1.jpg

from: Food & Drink Europe
(click image for full story online)


This kind of information gives some kind of view of the trends in what the consumer wants. Some previous posts refer to other information –

This survey was difficult to compare directly with the previous information posted because of the approach.

The UK & Europe both had “no preservatives or additives” as the most frequent advertising claim, being used on around one fifth of all labeling on new launches. This is in line with the wellness/health type issues of the previous post.

The USA had Kosher as the most frequent labeling message on new foods, being used on over a third (38%) of new products. The “no preservatives or additives” was the second most frequent in the USA, making it overall the most used claim.

Other claims used frequently included ‘organic’, ‘All natural’, ‘low/no/reduced transfat’, ‘microwaveable’, ‘time/speed’, ‘low/no/reduced sugar’, and ‘gluten-free’.