We recently heard that the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is suffering from rising sea levels and vast excavation of sand for building. This makes fishing difficult and crop growing very difficult. This is the heartland of agriculture providing food for the rest of the country. This is a story to follow.
Adrian Binsted, Editor
The Benson Group is one example of an innovative packaging manufacturer in the UK. Above: “Benson’s design team created packaging with a concorra opening and carry handle, adding a point of difference for a leading popcorn brand.”
The Benson Group (www.bensongroup.co.uk)
For the last few years there have been enormous efforts made in this country to reduce packaging materials used to protect our food and make it safe. We now have thinner cardboard outer packaging, thinner cans for our canned foods, ever lighter-weight glass containers without mentioning the plethora of plastics materials that have been reduced in thickness.
There are now more packs than ever that tell you that they cannot yet be recycled, only in a few local council areas, or only at your local supermarket.
So many jobs have been lost in the packaging and converting industries through quantity reductions in the UK. How much time is wasted by all those committees and government-funded organisations to arrive at this situation.
We all want to do our bit to save the planet apparently, but we are stymied by regulations that do not necessarily work. We still want to buy a pack of food that does not fall apart. A pack that can be opened safely without the paper ripping, the foil tearing, or simply the weight of the product being too much for the container.
There is still a great deal of work to be done. We are lucky in this country as we enjoy a British food industry that has a huge pool of talent from food technologists, engineers, packaging technologists and production people who make sure that our food is safe. Other countries look to the UK to lead in this area, let us make sure that it happens.
Henkel, an adhesives manufacturer for the packaging industry, showcased numerous innovations and proven adhesives systems at Interpack 2014. Committed to food packaging safety, they have also launched an initiative to support the fight against global food wastage.
At last it looks as though the supermarkets have realised that we do not all want two packs for the price of one, the famous BOGOF deal, so hopefully for most people needing less rather than more, we shall now reduce the amount of food waste. At least it is a start.
It is noticeable that the pricing strategy at supermarkets is now all over the place. It is little wonder that the food manufacturers and particularly the suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables are not that happy with their ‘remuneration’.
Next, up we come to my hardy perennial, packaging and packaging waste. It appears that quite a few local authorities in the UK now collect from households, who are required to sort into different bins and boxes, but the collectors now put everything together – for re-sorting later presumably.
There are many new developments in the packaging industry and undoubtedly we will be able to see even more at the forthcoming Interpack Show in Düsseldorf this May. There are numerous new ideas for creating packs for the ever-increasing ready meals markets of the world as the new product developers of our food industry deliver ever better products, ever more adventurous dishes. The burgeoning middle class in India and China are creating an expanding market for better quality products that are better packaged, in particular they are looking for prepared meals.
Spring is here and we have a batch of important exhibitions taking place in the coming month or two.
Exhibitions that we have visited recently covering the machinery sector have been well attended and more importantly the exhibitors have told us of their surprise at the level of genuine enquiries that they received. It looks as though business confidence is coming back across the food industries and people are prepared to invest in the latest technology in food processing equipment, packaging equipment, robotics and indeed in hygienic pallet systems and end-of-line equipment.
Spring may be here but then so is the wet weather as was predicted by the Met Office. This is a double-edged sword as we need the rain for the crops but those who have been flooded will not take too kindly to more water. As I said in my last article, the flooding of large areas of agricultural land will both take time to dry out and will be affected by the standing water that means it could take a long time to come back into agricultural production.
For our technologists and scientists we are looking forward to the Institute of Food Science & Technology’s 50th Anniversary Conference in London this May which this year will also include the Annual Binsted Lecture.
The effects of flooding in the South of England look as though they will be with us for some time to come as further rain is predicted by the Met Office for the coming weeks.
The immediate problems for the many farmers and householders still affected by so much standing water has prompted the Government to issue a Health Advisory.
Will food prices rise in the longer term is a subject for discussion as is what to do to prevent these catastrophic conditions affecting such a large swathe of our country again.
How to protect our homes, our farms, our businesses, when the inexorable power of water comes knocking at our doors will exercise minds greater than mine. We need expert advice from water engineers, civil engineers, builders and architects to ensure that flood plains are not developed without greater thought of flood proofing at the very least.
Our geologists and civil engineers need to consider coastal erosion to see how we can defend our shoreline; and they need to consider our roads and railways as we plan into the future with projects already proposed, to ensure safety against wind and water. All of these things affect our agricultural and food production industries at some stage.
TETRA PAK® ACQUIRES MITECO
Acquisition strengthens Tetra Pak’s capabilities in processing of carbonated soft drinks
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (4 March 2014) – Tetra Pak®, the world leader in food processing and packaging solutions, today announces the acquisition of Switzerland-based Miteco, a leading provider of production solutions for soft drinks, fruit juices and liquid food, with a particular strength in carbonated soft drinks.
Established in 1982, Miteco is a privately held company with 70 employees across sites in Switzerland, Italy, UK and South America.
“The acquisition of Miteco positions Tetra Pak as a world leader in production solutions for carbonated soft drinks, with an unrivalled product portfolio backed by strong technical support and broad geographic presence,” says Tim High, Executive Vice President of Tetra Pak Processing Systems. “It also extends the company’s beverage production capabilities in a number of key areas, including sugar handling, dissolving, refining, mixing and blending beverage ingredients, providing an important complement to our existing portfolio of processing solutions.”
The acquisition by Tetra Pak will extend Miteco’s current global reach, thanks to Tetra Pak’s established business presence in more than 170 countries worldwide.
Guillermo Fernandez, Sales and Operations Director of Miteco says, “We are confident that becoming part of Tetra Pak will allow the Miteco business to continue to grow. Tetra Pak’s global presence, plus the combined knowledge and skills of our two companies, promise improved solutions and better services for both existing and future customers worldwide.”
ABOUT TETRA PAK
Tetra Pak is the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company. Working closely with our customers and suppliers, we provide safe, innovative and environmentally sound products that each day meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people in more than 170 countries around the world. With more than 23,000 employees based in over 80 countries, we believe in responsible industry leadership and a sustainable approach to business. Our motto, “PROTECTS WHAT’S GOOD™,” reflects our vision to make food safe and available, everywhere.
More information about Tetra Pak is available at http://www.tetrapak.com
It worries me sometimes to read, hear or see those who should know better, telling us how we could produce much more food here in Great Britain so that we could replace food imports and banish food miles.
Most of us in the food industry know that the land area in this country already supports a larger population that most if not all of the countries in Europe.
A recent suggestion was that Scotland could vastly increase meat production. Excellent meat, but the Highlands do not have much suitable grazing with so much granite around. Another proposal was to double fruit production – which would actually mean higher prices since we cannot compete with the vast amounts of excellent quality imports that arrive by the shipload from Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Can we double the vegetable production in this country. Why not dig up all the golf courses, bowls greens, tennis courts, parks and football pitches just as was considered during the Second World War. I know that because my father, Raymond Binsted sat on the committee of five people with the Minister of Food to find ways to feed our nation under siege.
Plenty of people out there want to tell our industry what to do – most of them with little knowledge of how UK PLCs largest industry by far, operates.
PAFA has come out fighting on the side of sense and the packaging industry.
Plastic bags, lightweight plastic bags, recycled plastic bags and so-called lifetime carrier bags are all in the news again.
I have said before that the idea of charging for plastics bags in the shops so that you and I can safely separate our food shopping is ridiculous. We should not put our health at risk for the benefit of some ill thought-out legislation to make us pay for the privilege of putting our shopping in a bag. Perhaps we should ask the shop to carry our ‘loose’ fruit and vegetables to our homes. So really it is just a tax after all!
At last PAFA has come out fighting on the side of sense and the packaging industry. We are already in danger, as I have said many times, of reducing packaging too far; its strength, its usefulness as a guard against the migration of harmful materials into the foods that we buy at the shops.
At the moment we have bags that are so thin that the bag breaks with just a couple of groceries inside, requiring a second bag to contain our shopping – what a great idea to reduce the use of bags! What we need are bags that are strong enough to carry as much grocery as we can hold; then, that saves bags.
I have been against the so-called lifetime bag for a long time on the basis of hygiene. We now have microbiologists and bacteriologists suggesting that the uncleaned, unwashed bags, kept in the broom cupboard can harbour germs and bacteria.
What we need is some sensible thinking from the quangos and the government advisers. As I have said many times, scientists and technologists have designed food packaging for a reason; so that we have less tummy bugs and we live longer!
More and more people are talking about food waste and how to resolve the problem. Both the food industry and the supermarkets, as well as food distributors are dealing with the problem rather well.
If food manufacturers have mislabelled product or have underweight or overweight rejected product then these can often be recycled, relabelled, or repackaged in their own factories. Other products and overstock, subject to certain parameters, are donated to charities working with the needy.
Some food factories and some larger supermarket sites already have their own anaerobic digesters or they have regular collections by the waste and recycling industry.
Agriculture, by and large, uses its own waste for feedstock, for spreading on the land, or again using anaerobic digestion to create their own electricity or heating.
People tell us that there are millions of tonnes of food wasted in the UK every year. This is hardly correct as so much already has a ‘home’.
I believe that the great fear for our industry is that the academics will spend their time and use Government funds researching unnecessarily, and the politicians will debate incessantly, without either listening to the experts working in our own industry who are already solving the problems of excessive food waste.
Our industry does not create food waste for fun as that costs money and wastes time; so leave us in peace to get on with our research and our projects without even more legislation.