Tetra Pak outlines environmental plans

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Date: Wed, 22 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


European environment ministers have refused to approve a GM food crop designed by US biotech giant Monsanto.

Ministers failed to reach a majority decision on a European Commission proposal to approve the importation and feed use of Monsanto's GT73 GM oilseed rape into the EU.

At a council meeting in Brussels this week, 19 out of the 25 environment ministers voted against approval of the crop, genetically modified by Monsanto to resist the company's own herbicide, glyphosate. Experts from EU member states failed to reach an agreement on GT73 in June.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declared that GT73 is "as safe as conventional oilseed rape for humans and animals, and in the context of the proposed uses, for the environment." However, there remains a great deal of public mistrust in EU nations about GM food.

The final decision on the approval of GT73 will now be left with the European Commission, which has stated that it believes the introduction of the crop for industrial processing and animal feed should be authorised. If GT73 is eventually approved, it will be the third GMO to be authorised for use in the European Union since May this year.

The European Commission broke a de facto moratorium on GM foods earlier this year and pushed through approval for a GM sweetcorn supplied by Swiss biotech firm Syngenta, the first approval of a GM foodstuff since 1998.

Further information: www.monsanto.com

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

UK sausage firm takes control of Biofilm

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


UK sausage casing company Devro has announced that it has acquired control of Biofilm, a 50/50 joint venture between itself and partner Westone Products.

Devro will now hold a 90 per cent stake in Biofilm. Under the terms of the deal, Devro did not received any financial consideration, but has instead "released Westone Products from certain contingent indemnity obligations and all future financial commitments".

Biofilm was created in 2003 to develop products based on dissolvable thin film technology used to deliver ingredients and other active ingredients, such as breath strips, Food Navigator reports.

The technology involves a fast dissolving substrate that can incorporate ingredients into its matrix. The technology is currently still in the development stage, but the company has seen interest from the retail segment,

"A commitment to this edible film technology will broaden the base of our business, that currently has a 55 per cent market share of collagen casings," Devro's CEO Dr Graeme Alexander told the website.

Biofilm's original test facility in Devro's Moodiesburn plant, has since been upgraded to a pilot production unit near to Glasgow in Scotland, which will be capable of supplying commercial volumes of products.

Further information: www.devro.plc.uk

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

Starbucks launches website to boost business

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Coffee company Starbucks has launched a new website to celebrate 20 years of its Starbucks Christmas Blend.

Digital agency Wheel has created the site, which has been developed to inform and educate people about Starbucks' heritage and to boost the company's position as "the coffee experts".

Cathy Heseltine, marketing director at Starbucks, told Revolution: "The Internet allows us to produce engaging content for our target audience and create a third place for Starbucks customers outside of the stores, the office and home.

"Wheel has produced a warm and exciting website that shows Starbucks' heritage and passion for coffee."

An online advertising campaign is also being run to attract people to the site, aimed at women aged between 25 and 35.

Features of the site include a coffee table book full of background information, the option to send cards or invites and perfect things to have with a Starbucks beverage.

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

ABF increases brand marketing spending

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Associated British Foods (ABF) has announced that it has centralised all its media planning buying into one place with Zenith Optimedia, as part of plans to increase media budget by 50 per cent.

The firm is looking to up media spending to £20 million next year, in order to support a number of new product launches, according to Media Bulletin.

Previously activity was split between four marketing agencies, with Zenith holding around £8.5 million of the company's account.

ABF produces brands including Twinings, Silver Spoon sugar, Ovaltine and Ken Hom stir fry sauces.

Zenith has already held responsibility for marketing for brands such as Kingsmill, Ryvita, Allinson and Sunblest at ABF.

With group sales up five per cent during this financial year and operating profits increasing by 12 per cent, the company's chairman believes the firm is strongly set for further growth.

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

EU takes action over olives

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A new research project is being conducted by the European Commission to help reduce the environmental impact of olive production.

Brussels is keen to establish a balance between boosting olive consumption for its health benefits but also making sure environmental impacts are lessened, according to Just Food.

Olives are particularly recommended for their health benefits, which include helping the cardiovascular system.

However, according to the EU's TDC-Olive (technology dissemination centres) project, olive production can use up huge amounts of water in semi-arid areas and also produce residues that are hard to recycle and dispose of.

The new scheme will now set up a company with qualified staff to support new technology which will maximise olive production waste recycling and cut water use.

It is thought previous problems have been worsened by the small average size of producers.

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

Retailers set for Christmas rush

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


UK food retailers are preparing for two of the busiest days in their stores this Christmas, with latest evidence suggesting people are leaving their food shopping to the last minute.

Asda and Tesco are both expecting high numbers of customers today and tomorrow, with Tesco already having sold 250,000 frozen turkeys, 800,000 packs of smoked salmon and one million Christmas puddings.

In addition, Tesco has announced that it is offering a sale today on over 1,000 products online and so far 44 per cent of British households have shopped there.

A survey by KPMG International revealed that because Christmas occurs on a Saturday this year consumers have left it a lot later than usual and around 13 per cent claimed they would wait until Christmas Eve to buy their Christmas food.

"Expect a surge on fresh food today and on Friday as shoppers get their final bits and pieces,' said Edward Garner, an analyst at Taylor Nelson Sofres, told Bloomberg.

In the UK, Tesco has 1,878 stores and Asda owns 265.

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

Innovative food firms receive more support from EU

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Food companies that develop new plant varieties, to stop rivals copying their innovative work, are to get better rights under new EU plans in 2005.

The European Commission has called on the EU Council of Ministers to comply with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants and help to increase its scale throughout the EU.

According to Just Food, the new moves will provide "breeders of new plant varieties an exclusive property right, on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles".

With further EU support it is hoped that all EU companies will get protection and not just those firms from the countries that were part of the convention in the past.

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

Consumers opting for farm shop food

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


UK farm shops are experiencing a sales boom this Christmas, whilst many high street retailers are still yet to see record shoppers.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), has welcomed the results, as consumers choose to purchase locally produced or fresh foods from farm shops.

The regional director of the CLA, Dorothy Fairburn, told the BBC: "I think people have realised actually just what a pleasure it is to shop locally.

"They can go to their local farmers market and their local farm shops and get really good fresh quality produce without any of the hassle."

In fact, some farm shops have actually struggled with stock and are selling out because of such high demand for the festive period.

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

NFU issues response to Defra's cattle consultation

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The NFU has called for a review of categories today at Defra, in response to its cattle disease compensation consultation.

Helping to provide industry opinion, the NFU hopes to provide the government with organised information and help to identify key problems in Defra's proposals.

NFU President, Tim Bennett, said: "There is a need for review, however, the government's proposed category system is too narrow and does not take into account the differing breed values that exist in the market place.

"The NFU believes it is essential we retain professional valuers in the compensation process, which is still the best approach to ensure accurate valuations. The lack of an appeals mechanism is not acceptable."

The consultation is hoped to gain comments on the rationalisation of the compensation arrangements for the control of notifiable animal diseases, which the government feels needs a complete overhaul.

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

Brits revealed as the true chocoholics

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A report from market analysts Datamonitor has stated that the British are the biggest consumers of chocolate in Europe.

Brits eat 24 pounds of chocolate a year, about the weight of 154 Mars bars.

Cadbury Schweppes, Masterfoods and Nestle are the main competitors for the chocolate bar market in the UK.

Chocolate bars make up 44 per cent of all chocolate sales by volume, and the most popular bars are Kit Kat, Twix and Mars Bar.

Datamonitor has predicted that as People become more health and diet conscious, the major confectionery companies will launch low carbohydrate and sugar free products.

UK manufacturer Nestle has recently launched a low carbohydrate version of the Kit Kat in the UK.

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

NFU allows producers to stay in energy scheme

Date: Fri, 24 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


The National Farmers Union (NFU) has announced that it will allow poultry, meat and egg producers that have just missed energy targets to stay in the Climate Change Agreement scheme.

The scheme run by Defra is aimed at saving energy through producers and on farms, which the NFU agreed to in 2000.

Through the scheme, producers were entitled to an 80 per cent reduction from the energy levy if they aimed to save energy with the NFU.

Charles Bourns, chair of the NFU poultry board, said: "Farmers may have missed their goal for all sorts of reasons, for example, a change in management or a reduced stocking density from legislation (for conventional egg producers). That's why the NFU is advising members to take stock after Christmas and work out what is the best policy for their business in the new year."

Since energy prices are rising, the NFU has agreed that members in the scheme who are not meeting their targets at present should evaluate the benefit of buying carbon to stay in the scheme against the discount they currently receive.

Producers will all be sent a letter over the Christmas period about the current situation and farmers will be sent an update of their performance data early next year.

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

Twin process key to cutting obesity risk

Date: Fri, 24 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


Regular exercise alone is not enough to cut the risk of death from obesity, according to new research.

The study which followed 116,000 nurses over 24 years was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and found that a twin process of exercise and weight loss is the key to lowering the risk of dieing from obesity.

Obese women who work out for 3.5 hours per week have a death rate 91 per cent higher than lean women who exercise for the same amount of time, according to the study, yet this figure rises to 142 per cent for obese women who do minimal exercise, thus underlining the importance of regular exercise.

Lean women who only exercise for 3.5 hours per week or less also increase their risk of premature death from obesity and by 55 per cent compared to more active females.

These findings were summed up by lead author Dr Frank Hu, who said: "If you are overweight or obese, exercise is good for you even if you don't lose weight.

"For people who are lean and sedentary, it's really important for them to get out of the couch and exercise, even if they don't have to lose weight."

Professor Neil Armstrong, from the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre in Exeter, told the BBC that as obesity is linked to a range of diseases, it is crucial that the problem is tackled.

"If you really want to do something about obesity, it really needs to be a two-fold process, which includes aerobic exercise and a reduction in energy intake.

"Obesity is related to many diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, so it's a very important issue."

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

UK ready meals sector continues to grow

Date: Fri, 24 Dec 04 Type: DirectNews Item


A new report out today by food and grocery think tank IGD has revealed that the ready meal sector in the UK is now worth £1.5 billion.

According to findings from the 'Food Consumption 2005' report, the sector is now growing at a rate of six per cent each year and is set for further growth.

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD's chief executive told Just Food: "The UK food industry is a world leader in terms of offering convenience foods. It has innovated through applying new food and packaging technologies.

"Consumption trends, changing demographics and lifestyles indicate that the pace of change is only likely to get quicker. Shoppers also want greater customisation (i.e. products that suit their specific needs) and success will go to those players that offer new and innovative food solutions."

Figures indicate that more than half the population now spends less than 30 minutes preparing their main meal and 11 per cent spend even less with under 10 minutes.

Further consumption figures show that poultry still remains the preferable meat to beef, fish ready meals have higher consumption than white fish and tinned fish and potato consumption is dropping whilst pasta and rice is rising.

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

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