Tetra Pak outlines environmental plans

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Big Food Group announces interim results

Date: Thu, 02 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The Big Food Group has released its 2004 Interim Report today, with results showing an operating profit of £27.1 million and a rise in profit to £13.4 million.

In addition, the company expanded its food retail outlets, with the Booker cash & carry business increasing its service to more than 1,700 Premier customers and Woodward Foodservice sales rising by 27 per cent.

Meanwhile, Iceland trading has been boosted by 224 new format stores and a number of new efficiency programmes have been implemented.

According to the company, the first half of the year saw the effects of increased competition and more adverse weather conditions.

The company explained large supermarket chains have influenced retail prices throughout the period, but the firm had responded by boosting its strategic investment plans to drive sales and ensure margins and costs are controlled.

Big Food revealed it was still in talks with Baugur and a decision is set to be made within the next few weeks.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Conservation expert urges farmers to maximise potential of CAP reform

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A leading conservationist has called on UK farmers to make the most of opportunities being opened up by the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Speaking at the Smithfield Show in Earl's Court, London, Peter Nixon, director of conservation at the National Trust, declared that farmers needed to move towards meeting consumers' demands and adding value to their produce.

"Farming only has a future if our critical natural resources, soil, air and water are managed well," he said.

"This is nothing new, previous generations of farmers have long been guided by the principle of good husbandry. But decades of CAP-orientated farming have undermined this principle.

"CAP reform offers a real chance for change - from which everyone in the long run will benefit."

Reform of the CAP begins in January 2005 and, under the changes being introduced, many nature conservation organisations like the National Trust will be able to claim a Single Payment for the land they own, The Journal reports.

Conservationists are expected to look to conservation grazing to improve and maintain grassland with benefits for wildlife and farmers will have the opportunity to provide and manage herds as "grazing services".

Mr Nixon said changes to the CAP payment system mean farmers needed to examine all the possible options to make use of their assets.

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Warning over cereal and dairy margins

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A leading farm consultant has warned farmers that margins may be squeezed further next year, as pressure remains on the cereals and dairy sectors.

Andersons said government projections of total income from farming for the 2004 calendar year of £3.24 billion were higher than expected, The Scotsman reports.

"That is largely due to the total income from farming being calculated on a calendar-year basis - so the low cereal prices from this summer's harvest have not yet fed through," Francis Mordaunt, a partner with the firm, explained at the Smithfield show.

Mr Mordaunt predicts that next year's total income figure will be closer to £3 billion when this year's low grain prices are taken into account and he added that there is currently no evidence to suggest that combinable crop prices will recover in 2005.

The farming expert added that dairy prices were weakening further, in spite of European markets remaining strong and exchange rates fluctuating.

Decoupling of farm subsidies next year from production is expected to have a widespread effect on the industry. Mr Mordaunt claims that only the most efficient beef farmers will make a profit without using the single farm payment and predicts that many might decide to quit the industry.

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Naked chef begins cooking in schools

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


TV chef Jamie Oliver has gone back to school, only this time he is cooking the dinners.

Mr Oliver's latest television venture, Jamie's School Dinners, takes him to Kidbrooke comprehensive school in south-east London. He worked for a week in the school kitchen, according to the Guardian, developing new recipes with the canteen staff.

The chef and Trisha Jaffe, the school's headteacher, have used the programme to improve the eating habits of children in one of the country's most deprived catchment areas. More than half of the pupils are on free meals and many of the parents are unemployed, single or on disability benefit.

Meals produced on the school's limited budget include Mediterranean braised lamb with cous cous, lasagne with mixed leaves, and spicy cheese tortillas with salad. The menu had previously featured burgers, chicken nuggets, sausage rolls, beans and chips.

However, some of the 1,400 pupils are resisting the changes and there has been a noticeable dip in the number of children using the canteen.

Ms Jaffe said: "If you are on free school meals or on restricted money, are you going to take the risk of using that up and getting something you don't like? Many vote with their feet. We are slowly working on the kids. We don't expect to wake up one morning and for every child to have gone through the barrier."

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Robinsons revamps product range

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Robinsons is to change bottle designs and flavours of its High Juice and Barley Water ranges, as the result of a £30 million investment from Britvic.

New bottle designs were first introduced in June on added value squashes, but new packaging will be rolled out after research showed the easy grip style was popular amongst consumers.

In addition, a new flavour 'Blood Orange' is being introduced to the High Juice range.

Britvic's brand controller for Robinsons, Jonathan Gatward, told EDP24: "The new packs and new flavour take us one step closer to achieving our goal of making Robinsons the number four grocery brand in the next five years.

"We are building on our strengths in line with Right Choice, making squash easier to understand, encouraging consumers to trial the sector through innovative new flavours while offering more choice for shoppers and building sales for our retail customers."

Robinson's is currently the number eight grocery brand in the UK and its parent company Britvic has been shortlisted for a Food from Britain Export award.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Simultaneous BSE ban lifting called for

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Following the announcement of changes to BSE control measures by the Government, the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) have called for the lifting of bans to be completed simultaneously.

According to the group, the ban on cattle over thirty months old from entering the food chain and restrictions on exports to Europe, should happen at the same time to ensure there are no problems in the flow of the market.

Andrew Garvey told the BBC: "The first point is to say we and the industry are lobbying to have the bans lifted simultaneously because it's quite critically important to the flow of the product."

Mr Garvey claims that there are export markets awaiting the product and that major buyers in Europe are constantly calling on EBLEX for a supply of English cow beef.

Once bans are removed, approximately half a million extra animals will enter the market place.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

UK experiencing demand for sugar free sweets

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A new study by Euromonitor has shown that there is an increasing demand in the UK for sugar-free confectionery.

According to results, combined sales of sugar free items including gum, confectionery and chocolate, increased by 26 per cent from 2002 to 2004.

It is thought the sector has been boosted by innovative product launches and increasing consumer demand for healthy products, Food Navigator reports.

The sector has taken around £229 million in sales and sugar-free gum on its own has accounted for £174 million.

However, research has suggested that UK food manufacturers still place sugar free confectionery low down on its list of priorities.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Continued government efforts against obesity

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The English public health White Paper spells out a wide range of measures which apply either to England or the UK.

The paper 'Choosing Health' is focused firmly on reducing obesity rates and improving diets.

The White Paper states that by mid 2005 a simple code indicating fat, sugar and salt content in processed foods will be created across the UK, The Western Mail reports.

The government has also started to work with the food industry to reduce portion sizes and cut salt, fat and sugar content and communications regulator Ofcom will examine food advertising aimed at children, with legislation due for consideration in 2007.

More than 110 national organisations already support the Children's Food Bill which aims to improve the health benefits of children's food and protect children from the junk food and drink marketing.

The Welsh Assembly has also established a Food and Fitness Task Group for Children and Young People and officials are currently drawing up a coherent plan, which includes improving primary and secondary school meal standards.

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Honey can fight cancer

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Honey and royal jelly could be used to fight cancer, new research claims.

Scientists from the University of Zagreb, in Croatia, found that a number of natural products from honey bees, propolis, royal jelly, caffeic acid, honey and venom, such as stopped tumours growing or spreading in tests on mice.

Writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture this month, the research team said the way in which the bee products work to combat the tumours is not clear.

The team suggests that the chemicals cause apoptosis (cell suicide) or necrosis of the cancerous cells, or they exert directly toxic or immunomodulatory effects. The honey bee products may also reduce harmful oxyradicals in cells or body fluids.

But they said the products should be considered for use along with, not instead of, chemotherapy treatment.

Dr Nada Orsolic, who led the study, said: "These results suggest the benefits of potential clinical trials using propolis or honey, combined with chemotherapeutic agents."

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Technology contributing to obesity

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The development of new technology is making us fatter, according to health economists.

Carol Propper, professor of economics at Bristol university, claims that technology is making the production of food cheaper and has made work far less strenuous.

Delivering the 2004 Royal Economic Society Public lecture, Professor Propper said that advances such as the microwave oven, preservatives and packaging had cut down the time taken to prepare food and caused us to eat more.

However, our average calorie intake has not risen much and more people are on diets than ever before. Exercise has become more expensive and has to be done in free time rather than forming part of work.

An American study recently concluded that 40 per cent of Americans' average weight gain was due to advances in agriculture and processing that had made food cheaper and 60 per cent was due to technical progress in workplaces.

(no further information)

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

EU commissioner says GM seed levels should be "as low as possible"

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The new European Union farming commissioner, Marianne Fischler Boel is recommending that GM seed levels mixed with non-GM seeds should be as low as possible, ahead of an EC decision on GM seed levels in 'GM-free' seed batches.

Previous estimates of the level of GM seeds allowed to mix with non-GM seeds have been between 0.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent, a threshold that has prompted opposition from organic campaigners, anti-GM campaigners and the Green Party.

"'In my opinion [GM seed levels] must be as low as possible because otherwise I think that you'll have the GMO spread anyway," Ms Boel commented to the BBC.

"It's very important that we consider the balance between the price of the seed and the risk of mixing up. If we have to go at zero the seed will be so expensive that it will not be possible for the organic producer to be in the market," she added.

The commissioner suggests a framework on legislation for the 'co-existing' of GM crops, organic crops and other types of crops in EU member states.

The Bright Project, which has been studying the result of rotating between the crops of Herbicide tolerant oil seed rape and GM modified herbicide tolerant varieties of sugar beet, has found that GM crops are no more harmful to the environment than normal crops.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Expert denies scientific case for low GM seed levels

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A Cambridge University professor is arguing that there is no scientific case for there to be low levels of GM seeds mixed with non-GM seeds.

Professor Derek Burke's comments come in response to comments made by the farming commissioner Marianne Fischler Boel, who stated that that the level of GM seeds contained with non-GM seeds, under the label of non-GM, should be as low as possible.

"As a scientist I'm saying there 's no scientific case for these low limits," asserted the Professor to the BBC. "I don't quite understand why she's saying that remark. It's certainly not for safety reasons.

"If people want to stigmatise GM and say it's so dangerous, quote on quote that we have to treat it as a poison, then that's a political decision."

The European Commission is due to make a decision over the level of GM material allowed to be mixed with groups of seeds labelled as GM free.

Previous estimates of the level of GM seeds allowed to mix with non-GM seeds has been between 0.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent, and anything above those levels would need to be labelled GM.

Earlier this year, the Government allowed the growing of a commercial variety of GM maize and oil seed rape.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

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