The Baguette Factory in Angola marks the first success for MECATHERM’s turnkey concept to industrialise bread production

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Just one year after the launch of its turnkey solution, “The Baguette Factory”, MECATHERM has announced that it has completed its first project in Viana, Luanda, the capital of Angola. The DIMASSABA – Le Comptoir d’Export group chose MECATHERM, one of the global leaders in industrial bread and pastry products, for a turnkey that industrialise bread production. The “DimaPao” factory, which will provide the first industrial bread production line in the country, was opened on 6 February 2019 and many local representatives attended to the inauguration event.

The country’s Minister of Industry, Bernarda Martins, the French Ambassador of Angola, Sylvain Itté, and the delegation from French network of entrepreneurs, MEDEF International, took the opportunity to welcome this brand-new project by attending the inauguration alongside Hussein Bourji, President of the export company DIMASSABA – Le Comptoir d’Export and Olivier Sergent, President of MECATHERM.

The Baguette Factory is a complete solution including a fully automated production line, a customized support in project management ranging from finding financial partners and conducting technical studies, to setting up the factory, recruitment, personal training and technical support. This unique global approach allows investors in growing countries to move into the industrial bakery sector, regardless of their level of familiarity with the industry or with managing large-scale projects.

DIMASSABA – Le Comptoir d’Export is a family-run group which has been importing flour into Angola for many years and which wanted to diversify its business by producing finished products on an industrial scale. The project is to offer bread of a consistent quality meeting the highest international standards in terms of food health and safety, in order to work towards food independence in Angola.

The “DimaPao” industrial bakery unit will start business with a production capacity of 150,000 95-grams round rolls per day; this is equivalent to over 6000 bread rolls an hour, allowing the ability to meet the high demand. The opening of this site has generated around 80 direct jobs and over 150 indirect jobs related to bread sales. Each day, bread are distributed in small businesses all around the town, or are sold in the streets by the “zingeras” – women who walk through the town with baskets full of bread on their heads which they have bought that very morning from the factory, or home-made sandwiches.

The DIMASSABA – Le Comptoir d’Export group will not stop at this first success. Hussein Bourji plans to ensure a production that can meet the needs of the entire region of Luanda. He also aims at developping the business in other towns in the country. The group is interested in producing derivative products such as brioches, milk rolls and sandwich bread or buns: products not yet industrialized, despite the very high market demand.

Source: Mecatherm


Barry Callebaut envisages expansion in Southeastern Europe

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The Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Serbia and the City of Novi Sad to construct its first chocolate factory in Southeastern Europe.

The state-of-the-art facility will be located in Novi Sad, Serbia, about 90 km northwest of the country’s capital Belgrade, and is planned to have an initial annual production capacity of over 50,000 tonnes. Total investment volume over a period of five years is projected to amount to EUR 50 million (CHF 56.7 million). The factory is expected to be operational by 2021. Before the signing, the Barry Callebaut delegation was welcomed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vu?i?.

Barry Callebaut has been very successful in Southeastern Europe over the past few years. Novi Sad is the perfect location for us: It is the second largest city in Serbia, it has a reputable university and thus offers us access to the resources we need to realize our plans. With the new factory in Novi Sad, in line with our ‘smart growth’ strategy, we will be able to expand our footprint in the region and supply current as well as new customers with a wide range of chocolate, compound and filling products. The factory will serve as a regional hub from which Barry Callebaut can address the rapidly growing chocolate markets of Southeastern Europe.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, Chief Executive Officer of the Barry Callebaut Group

We are very happy and proud to welcome an export oriented market leader into Serbia’s food industry. Not only will Barry Callebaut bring state-of-the-art technology and expertise to our country but also investments and employment for our people. Serbia will do its utmost to make this a success.

Aleksandar Vu?i?, President of Serbia

25th annual National Pie Championships awards best pie makers in the country

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The 25th Annual National Pie Championships from the American Pie Council took place April 12-13 in Orlando, Florida at the SeaWorld Orlando Renaissance Hotel. Some of the world’s best bakers competed in a variety of pie categories in amateur, professional, and commercial divisions.

A total of 728 pies in categories such as fruits, nuts, and pot pies were entered across the three divisions, being sampled by more than 200 judges throughout the two-day competition. This year, Harlan Bakeries in Avon, Indiana was the top commercial pie maker, with 19 blue ribbons.

“All of these pie enthusiasts represent the best of the best in the pie-making industry,” says Linda Hoskins, Executive Director of American Pie Council. “Over the past 25 years, we’ve grown our pie family of members, while continuously spreading and upholding one of America’s most time-honored traditions through generation after generation – the art of pie making. We’re proud of our 25 years fostering America’s love affair with pie and can’t wait to see what our bakers cook up over the next 25 years!”

Other top commercial winners included:

  • Weston Foods, Brownsburg, Ind. – 18
  • Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Fla. – 14
  • Rocky Mountain Pies, Salt Lake City, Utah – 12
  • Publix Supermarkets, Lakeland, Fla. – 11
  • Jessie Lord Bakery, Torrance, Calif. – 9
  • Table Talk Pies, Worcester, Mass. – 8
  • Michele’s Pies, Norwalk, CT – 5
  • Walmart, Inc., Bentonville, Ark. – 5
  • Wick’s Pies, Winchester, Ind. – 4
  • Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich. – 3
  • Something Sweet, New Haven, Conn. – 3
  • Sunset Grill, Clearwater, Fla. – 3
  • The Rose Plantation, Fruitland Park, Fla. – 3
  • Lisa’s Pie Shop, Atlanta, Ind. – 2
  • Mike’s Pies, Tampa, Fla. – 2
  • A Fish Called Avalon, South Beach Miami, Fla. – 1
  • Wayne’s Family Restaurant, Oconto, Wisc. – 1
  • World of Pies, LLC, Norcross, Ga. – 1
  • Norske Nook, Osseo, Wisc. – 1

In the professional division, David Earheart from Kansas City, Missouri won Best of Show for his Iceland’s Café Loki-Inspired Rye Bread Cream Pie. The pie is based on Café Loki’s Rye Bread Ice Cream, which Earhart discovered on a walking food tour of Reykjavik. It is layered with a cream filling, toasted rye bread, piped meringue, and a caramel sauce drizzle.

In the amateur division, Rhonda Hull from Little Rock, Arkansas took home Best of Show for her Denali Caribou Crunch Pie. Layers of the pie honor the colors of the caribou she saw amidst the mountains of Denali National Park. Set atop a crunchy, chocolate cookie crust, there is a layer of white chocolate mousse with cookie and caramel cups, followed by a caramel-pecan layer, and topped with a chocolate mousse-like layer with white chocolate pearls and white chocolate-coated waffle cones.

Open to pie makers in the U.S. and Canada, the APC National Pie Championships are judged based on appearance, taste, consistency, crust, and the overall product. The event is an opportunity for companies to get their pies in the spotlight, and substantially increase sales.

For more information on the American Pie Council, this year’s National Pie Championship winners, and the 26th APC National Pie Championships in 2020, visit



Bakery Sales Booming

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Customers want fresh bakery products like bagels, cookies and doughnuts for breakfast.

In the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) “What’s In Store 2019” report,   Mintel research found that among in-store bakeries in the U.S., sales growth continues a steady climb, growing 3.5-4% annually.

The research firm predicted that the market will surpass $19 billion in sales by 2022, a 40% increase over its 2012 performance and 21% ahead of 2017’s total sales.

In addition to providing indulgence at any time of day, one category in which consumers are still willing to treat themselves is the breakfast daypart. Fresh bakery products offer an easy and quick option for the morning meal, according to Mintel.

Kokil Singh, principal, client insights at IRI told IDDBA that “bright spots” within the category include bagels/bialys, pastries/doughnuts, pie and cakes, cookies — which he described as the biggest driver in sales dollars — and tortillas. Singh continued explaining that the uptick in sales in the bakery segment can be attributed to both “unit sales and higher average price per unit, as well as diversifying assortment.”

Nielsen Fresh saw dessert category sales rising to $5.3 billion, up from $5.2 billion the year prior. Cookies, according to Nielsen, saw an increase from $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion, doughnuts from $982 million up from $957 million, bagels $192 million from $189 million and muffins $767 million from $727 million.

Bread can be the centerpiece of a store’s bakery program because it shows a commitment to providing fresh products and going beyond the commercially packaged fare, said Eric Richard, IDDBA’s education coordinator. The bread can also cross categories, bringing, for example, the freshness message to the sandwich category.

A fresh doughnut program is also easy for most convenience stores to implement, Richard said. By thinking outside the box (for example, doughnuts with sweet-and-salty toppings) and offering the highest quality items, convenience stores can effectively compete on the same level as standalone bread and doughnut shops, he pointed out.

“Pay attention to what’s going on in independent bread bakeries and doughnut shops to get the pulse on what consumers are looking for,” Richard said.

Indulgent inspiration

Even with all the buzz about eating healthfully, consumers are still willing to indulge when it comes to bakery items, reported Tim Dysart, vice president of Dysart Travel Stops, which operates eight stores in Maine. Products are baked at the chain’s main restaurant in Hermon, Maine, and delivered daily to the stores.

Among the most popular bakery products are nine varieties of cookies (especially pumpkin chocolate chip which are available year-round), three kinds of whoopie pies, two types of brownies, cream horns and homemade bread, which is used on sandwiches as well as sold as loaves.

Cookies are packaged in quantities of seven for grab and go. The other items are packaged individually.

Dysart said he expects bakery sales to continue to grow because “we have products that are a little different from what you’ll see anywhere else.” In addition to its regular assortment, the stores feature cookie limited-time offers that rotate roughly every other month.




43 percent of Millennials purchase frozen foods

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As we set to close out “National Frozen Food Month”, new data from the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) revealed the frozen food sector has experienced a resurgence thanks to more brands rolling out innovative products in response to consumer demand for healthier options.

In 2013, NFRA launched its “Real Food. Frozen” campaign to showcase how frozen foods are created using real ingredients, chef-inspired recipes and fresh flavors. The campaign was developed to increase positive frozen food conversation and to communicate to consumers that the most versatile foods can be found in the frozen food aisle, including options for every lifestyle and every food occasion. NFRA generated a major increase in year- over-year social volume and engagement through its owned and partner content. Key messaging centered around how frozen foods are affordable and offer convenience, lack of waste, comparable nutrition value and portion control

According to NFRA, frozen food manufacturers are delivering innovative options, with the number of wellness claims on frozen food packages increasing and driving growth in the sector. Specifically, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) claims increased 10.1 percent, followed by organic claims (9.3 percent). gluten-free claims (4.2 percent) and free-from artificial colors/flavor claims (6.3 percent) in 2018 over the previous year.

“There is so much innovation in the aisle today. Products are now aligned with new consumer dining habits and health trends, and new foods and cuisines are enticing and satisfying today’s foodies,” said NFRFA President and CEO Skip Shaw. “Established brands have been freshening their lineups while innovative startups have been launching new concepts, all spurring 26 percent of all U.S. grocery shoppers shopping the aisle more frequently, and 43 percent of Millennials buying more frozen items.”

NFRA noted a continued shift in the conversation and changing consumer perceptions about the benefits of frozen foods. What’s more, the frozen category has benefited from increased media coverage and social media play. Consider the $4.7 billion frozen pizza sector that witnessed a 5.2 percent increase in dollar sales in the last year. The frozen vegetable sector also was up by the same amount, according to Nielsen data.

As consumers’ eating habits are changing, they are recognizing the value and convenience of frozen foods for every meal occasion. According to Nielsen data, dollar sales of frozen food rose significantly in 2018. Subcategories witnessing the largest jumps in sales were smoothies (13 percent), frozen breakfast meals (8.3 percent), waffles (4.9 percent), breakfast sausages (4.4 percent) and breakfast sandwiches (3.9 percent).

Furthermore, Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Food Market Outlook 2018” report noted the frozen dinner and entrée market hit $10 billion in retail value, with growth coming from higher-priced products offering premium ingredients, as well as those perceived to be healthier, more nutritious, and made from real and natural ingredients. The reported predicted plant-based foods will continue to drive innovation as natural, organic and “real” food resonate with consumers as do nutritious ingredients like beans and grains.



Lesaffre opens baking centre for ‘industrial customers’ in Austria

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Lesaffre has inaugurated a new ‘baking centre’ in Austria, allowing it to better support it customers in bringing new products to market.

The new facility in Austria, which has been operational since early 2019, adds to a growing network of Lesaffre baking centres and will be the group’s first entirely dedicated to industrial customers. The company claimed the opening would allow it to enhance its service offering and open up new opportunities within Europe.

Jérôme Lebriez, president for Oriental and Central Europe at Lesaffre, said: “In this new baking centre, suited to industrial scale pilot trials, we offer our customers and partners the possibility to carry out tests on our premises by simulating their own conditions and constraints, and without disrupting their productions. This will allow us to develop tailor-made solutions with them.”

The facility houses an ultra-modern pilot industrial bakery, built around four zones: a dough preparation zone, a shaping zone, a cold treatment zone with a forced-air freezing cell, and a baking zone. In addition, there is a laboratory area dedicated to evaluating the quality of finished products, including their shelf-life, preservation, and texture. In all, the centre is more than 600 square metres in size and boasts cutting-edge technology that will allow Lesaffre to better engage with its clients.

Lesaffre CEO Antoine Baule said: “Innovation is part of the company’s genes and will be one of the keys to meeting the many challenges of tomorrow. We want to help our customers by codeveloping with them technical and industrial solutions that meet their own innovation needs. Setting up this Baking CenterTM in the heart of a region that plays such an important role in the evolution of food trends is essential for Lesaffre.”

The French company said the latest investment reflects its continued commitment to its talent, technology and to finding new solutions for customers’ problems.

It has previously expanded its capabilities through acquisitions: last July it acquired bakery ingredients company Delavau Food Partners as part of its expansion in North America, and then in November bought Italian biotechnology company Gnosis – a specialist in fermentation-derived ingredients for food and nutraceuticals.



Sustainable plastics: What bakeries need to know

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The movement to fully recyclable and biodegradable packaging materials has been gradual as consumers become more educated about the danger plastics pose to natural habitats like oceans. It’s a slow tide rising, but many experts predict that sustainable packaging is about to wash over most consumer packaged goods (C.P.G.s) within the decade. The question for baked foods and snack producers is how to convert to these materials without raising prices beyond consumer expectations.

Many laminate films today are not fully recyclable. Metals, certain resins and other materials in films and bags prohibit them from being reused. And the reality is that 100% recyclable films and bags can cost up to 20% more and sometimes come with process performance tradeoffs. Bakers need to weigh the importance of these materials against their bottom line. Will consumers pay 10% more for a bag of chips if the packaging is fully recyclable? The answer is not always clear.

According to the 2018 PMMI report “Snack Foods — Packaging and Processing Market Assessment and Trends,” a lack of sustainable packaging is not yet an obstacle to a purchase decision for consumers. Just because something is or isn’t recyclable doesn’t weigh heavily on purchasing decisions yet.

Innova Market Research recently conducted a survey that showed about 25% of consumers in the United States, U.K. and Germany said biodegradable or compostable packaging is an important consideration when they purchase food. PMMI predicts that recyclable and biodegradable packaging will grow slowly over the next two to three years but will be more relevant, and occupy a much larger segment of the market, in 5 to 10 years.

For example, Kraft Heinz, Chicago, and Nestle, Vevey, Switzerland, have converted their packaging processes, both pledging to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Transitioning to these types of films can affect process speeds, but technology over the past five years has improved significantly. There are now many drop-in replacement options for bakers and snack producers if they are willing to make the investment.

Capable of converting

When deciding to convert to recyclable or biodegradable materials, consider seal strength and barrier quality. For years, the sealability of sustainable packaging materials has been problematic, and the barrier properties have been relatively weak compared with their traditional counterparts.

Roy Langlois, market development manager, Jindal Films Americas, said a lag in processing speeds for some types of films remains, but the quality of certain seals and barriers are now comparable with conventional polypropylene bags and films. Made under the SealTough brand, Jindal’s material has a thinner gauge than traditional wraps, so speeds on a horizontal wrapper are often reduced, but the seal temperature can be lowered and requires less time, so manufacturers can potentially save on energy. It also features puncture resistance, enhanced clarity, improved modulus and seals that can exceed 5,000 g per 25 mm.

The recently developed line of Ethy-Lyte films from Jindal was designed as a drop-in replacement for traditional films. The clarity and printability of this film can be used as an alternative to oriented polypropylene and polyethylene films in a variety of applications.

 “Whatever you would run the same gauge polypropylene at, you would run this film,” Mr. Langlois said. “There is no change if you’re going to run it on a printing press, a bag line, or any type of snack food application.”

It’s not uncommon for equipment suppliers to partner with materials companies to help food producers convert materials.

Packaging equipment suppliers such as Formost Fuji work with material suppliers and bakers to ensure converting makes sense for the processes and the bottom line. Dennis Gunnell, president, Formost Fuji, said there are some challenges with running certain recyclable or compostable materials on the company’s flowwrap machines, but it often just requires testing to see how fast it can run and what seal temperatures are needed.

“The last thing we want is customers going out, getting a truckload of film ordered and then finding out that either it’s more troublesome to run or that they have to slow their speed down by 40%,” Mr. Gunnell cautioned. “They need to get us involved early on to do the testing, so they know long before they make the commitment.”

Mr. Gunnell said material suppliers can ship their films to Formost Fuji, where they can test it for performance.

“Oftentimes, the speeds do slow down, but we can still meet their needs because typically nothing changes other than a few adjustments like changing the temperatures on the sealer,” he said.

Cavanna Packaging partnered with Taghleef Industries and others to develop bio-based biodegradable films for the global market. NATIVIA bio-based films can be converted employing the same technologies with more traditional polyolefin-based plastics, so the conversion costs are similar.

“Minor adjustments such as modifying processing temperatures or modifying the make-up of inks or adhesive components may be necessary,” said Francesco Barbangelo, applications engineer, Taghleef Industries, Inc. “Process modifications are usually minor adjustments and considered normal whenever a different type of material is used.”

Bio-based resins typically have a higher price per pound compared with polyolefin-based plastics. The capabilities are there; it just comes at a price.

Convenience vs. sustainability

Converting to sustainable materials helps not only the environment but also company branding. But such promotion only goes so far if it is still inconvenient to the consumer. That means it must have all the same functionality and not be too complicated to recycle or properly dispose of new types of packaging.

Jorge Izquiedro, vice-president, market development, PMMI, described it as a battle between convenience and health-and-wellness trends. Today, many products like crackers are individually wrapped for portability and shelf life. If consumers open a carton of crackers, they will see another layer of single-serve plastic packaging. While convenient, this creates more plastic usage and waste.

To know which to recycle can be confusing and inconvenient because of the amount of material and different types of components, Mr. Barbangelo said.

“Unfortunately, the public remains unsure which types of plastics can or cannot be recycled in the current systems,” he said. “Recyclability of certain materials is largely dependent upon the availability and capabilities of the recycling facilities across the U.S., which vary greatly across states and localities. This variability can make it difficult to effectively communicate which materials can be recycled, and where.”

Nova Chemicals, a polyethylene producer, is working to simplify things by replacing multi-material packages with polyethylene-based recyclable film structures.

“Polyethylene is a 100% recyclable material,” said Paul Tas, food packaging market manager, Nova Chemicals. “Only when it’s combined with other materials to make a package or end-use product can it become hard-to-recycle or non-recyclable.”

Nova also manufactures grades of polyethylene to address oxygen barrier performance issues typically associated with simpler laminates. SURPASS HPs167-AB resin, a high-density polyethylene, provides a 50% higher barrier than traditional polyethylene. This can extend shelf life for baked foods or snacks. NOVAPOL PF-0118-FI resin enables packaging to be recycled multiple times.

“We foresee these types of products taking on a bigger role and are looking at other opportunities,” Mr. Tas said.

Demand for bio-based and biodegradable materials is driven by the development and commercialization of higher performance and cost-effective bio-based packaging films, Mr. Barbangelo added. Taghleef Industries’ and Cavanna’s NATIVIA BoPLA and EXTENDO products are an example. NATIVIA bio-based films are currently used in lamination with paper in bakery and snack applications. Mr. Barbangelo said they offer a broad set of advantages like being biodegradable and industrially compostable, suitable for paper stream recycling (in Europe), having better breathability and being produced from renewable resources.

Public education about and improvements to recyclable and bio-based materials that match the look, feel and functionality of traditional wraps and bags will close the gap that still exists between convenience and sustainable options.

Is it worth it?

In today’s market, consumers are increasingly considering the environmental impact of packaging. Because of this, C.P.G.s have begun to assess, or in some cases changed, their business strategies to capitalize on the trend. Mr. Tas said many global C.P.G.s have announced flexible packaging changes by 2025 and that companies should assess their own situations on a case-by-case basis.

“Consumer awareness around end-of-life plastics issues is incredibly high,” he said. “More people are demanding greater sustainability and accountability from the brands they buy from. Sustainability is here to stay, and the challenge for all of us is to deliver the benefits of plastic packaging and ensure one-time use packaging can be re-used or recycled.”

A circular economy focused on recycling has benefits that are operational as well as strategic, on micro- and macro-economic levels.

“This is a trillion-dollar opportunity with a long-term potential for those participating and can result in significant gains in innovation, job creation, economic growth and resource preservation,” Mr. Barbangelo said.

Because the cost equivalence isn’t there just yet, some food producers are reluctant to convert all their packaging materials. But Mr. Langlois said that a major shift is just a few years away, if it hasn’t already begun.

“The conversations are happening every day,” he said. “What we say is, ‘Here’s the solution that we have, the one that we think would provide a lot of value to you.’ Maybe it’s not tomorrow or next month, but maybe in the next six months this is going to be a game changer. And then the next year, it might be commonly accepted, and then the next two years it might be the industry standard.”



All of the World’s Yeast Probably Originated in China

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Baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, yeast that lives in infected toenails—they all descended from a common ancestor.

When scientists in France set out to sequence 1,000 yeast genomes, they looked at strains from all the places you might expect: beer, bread, wine.

But also: sewage, termite mounds, tree bark, the infected nail of a 4-year-old Australian girl, oil-contaminated asphalt, fermenting acorn meal in North Korea, horse dung, fruit flies, human blood, seawater, a rotting banana. For five years, two geneticists—Gianni Liti, from the Université Côte d’Azur, and Joseph Schacherer, from the Université de Strasbourg—asked for samples of Saccharomyces cerevisiae from nearly everyone they met, whether doctors in French Guiana collecting human feces or Mexican tequila makers.

“It’s easy to get a thousand wine strains,” says Schacherer, “But that’s not how we wanted to proceed.” They wanted little-known wild strains of yeast that live all over the world in a great variety of environments. And they wanted these samples to see if they could confirm their suspicions about the historical origin of yeast. The results of their analysis, published in Nature, suggest that yeast came from, of all places, China.

The most telling clue is that yeast in and around China has the most genetic diversity of anywhere in the world. Liti had already suspected this, having worked with Chinese researchers who collected yeast from remote primeval forests. But the massive sequencing confirmed just how unique yeast in East Asia are: There are more differences between yeast strains from Taiwan and Hainan—both tropical islands off the coast of China—than there are between strains in the United States and Europe, separated by the entire Atlantic Ocean.

The out-of-China hypothesis for yeast is not so different from the out-of-Africa hypothesis for humans. Among Homo sapiens, Africa has the most genetic diversity of anywhere on Earth. All humans elsewhere descend from populations that came out of Africa; all yeast elsewhere descend from strains that came out of East Asia. Once wild yeast strains made it out of Asia, humans likely domesticated them several times to make the yeasty foods that we know: beer, bread, wine.

How yeast strains are different from each other turned out to be surprising, too. A standard way to measure difference is to take the same gene in two separate yeast strains and compare how many letters have changed—like typos that have accumulated over time. But Liti and Schacherer found that the number of times a particular gene is repeated in the genome—a phenomenon known as copy-number variation—actually accounts for more of the differences between, say, strains used to brew tasty lagers and strains that live on insects in the wild. In other words, it’s not just the sequence of the gene that matters, but the number of copies the yeast has.

This could be true in other species as well, says Ed Louis, a yeast geneticist at the University of Leicester—possibly even in humans. But copy-number variation is not as easy to study in humans, whose genomes are more than 200 times the size of yeasts’. So studies looking for genes that factor into heart disease, for instance, usually spot-check the genome for single-letter changes. The yeast results suggest that maybe human geneticists should take a closer look at copy-number variation, too.

Applying insights from tiny, single-celled yeast to big, multicellular humans is not so far-fetched. We share a lot of the same cellular machinery—in many cases, you can replace a yeast gene with its human version and the yeast goes on functioning just fine. Because yeast strains reproduce quickly and grow easily in the lab, scientists long have used it to study genetics.

Leonid Kruglyak, a geneticist at UCLA, calls the new study a “treasure trove of information.” He’s already planning experiments based on some of its data. Kevin Verstrepen, a geneticist at KU Leuven who has sequenced many strains of domesticated yeast used in beer, is also enthusiastic: “Everybody in the yeast community is quite excited,” he says.

And if you’re wondering if wild yeast can indeed be used to brew beer, the answer is yes. Yeast is yeast. It turns sugars into alcohol. But don’t expect great results. “We’ve done quite a few of them,” says Verstrepen. “Let’s say the beers are funky.”



The FAO Food Price Index remains steady

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» The FAO Food Price Index* (FFPI) held steady in March 2019, averaging 167 points and still hovering around its highest value since August 2018. A sharp increase in dairy prices and somewhat firmer meat values were offset by declining cereal, oil and sugar price quotations. This resulted in the overall value of the FFPI remaining nearly unchanged from February but down 3.6 percent from the corresponding period last year.

» The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 164.8 points in March, down 2.2 percent (3.7 points) from February and now almost at par with its March 2018 value. Among the major cereals, wheat prices fell the sharpest, driven by large exportable supplies and a slack demand, in particular for the US origin wheat, and generally favourable prospects for this year’s harvest. Maize prices also dropped, pressured by ample export availabilities and expectations of a large crop in Argentina. International rice prices were mildly firmer in March, as weak fresh demand capped increases in the Japonica and lower quality Indica markets.

» The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 127.6 points in March, down 5.9 points (or 4.4 percent) from the previous month, mostly reflecting weakening values of palm, soy and rapeseed oils. International palm oil prices contracted in March after three consecutive rises, underpinned by renewed concerns over subdued import demand and stock build-ups in key producing countries. At the same time, quotations for soy oil retreated as profitable margins continued to boost crushing in the United States, while rapeseed oil prices dropped to an 11 month-low, tied to accumulating rapeseed inventory levels in Canada and promising crop prospects in the Black Sea region.

» The FAO Meat Price Index* averaged 162.5 points in March, up marginally (0.6 points or 0.4 percent) from its revised value for February, continuing a trend of modest price volatility observed for several months. In March, price quotations for pig, bovine and poultry meats received some support from a surge in import demand, especially from China, notwithstanding increased export availabilities from major suppliers.  By contrast, price quotations for ovine meat retreated for the third month in a row because of continued large export availabilities from Oceania.

» The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 204.3 points in March, up 11.9 points (6.2 percent) from February, registering a third consecutive increase. In March, international prices of butter, Whole Milk Powder (WMP) and cheese rose, underpinned by increased import demand in anticipation of a tightening in export availabilities from Oceania stemming from a seasonal decline in its milk production. By contrast, Skim Milk Powder (SMP) prices slipped slightly from the high values registered in February, reflecting a slowdown in demand for current deliveries.

» The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 180.4 points in March 2019, down 3.8 points (2.1 percent) from February 2019. The decline largely reflected bigger harvests in the main producing countries than previously anticipated. India is now expected to become the world’s largest sugar producer, overtaking Brazil, with the latest production estimates pointing to an 8-percent increase during October 2018-January 2019, in comparison to the same period in the previous season. Furthermore, the continued weakness of the Brazilian Real spawned additional downward pressure on world sugar prices.

* Unlike for other commodity groups, most prices utilized in the calculation of the FAO Meat Price Index are not available when the FAO Food Price Index is computed and published; therefore, the value of the Meat Price Index for the most recent months is derived from a mixture of projected and observed prices. This can, at times, require significant revisions in the final value of the FAO Meat Price Index which could in turn influence the value of the FAO Food Price Index.

Download full dataset: Excel, CSV

Download full dataset: Excel


Ingredient Suppliers Offer Insights about Future of Texturants

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Consumer demand for high-quality products and for specialties such as gluten-free items are drivers for the texturants market. The company Research and Markets forecasts a growth for the global texturants market by 2022.

For the starch market, Research and Markets forecasts CAGR of 5.85% 2018-2022. The market is competitive and driven by an increase in the trend of health and wellness and growing consumer demand for all natural ingredients.

World Bakers asked three specialists from texturants suppliers companies about the evolution of this ingredient market over the next few years.

Charlotte Commarmond, Senior Director, Marketing and Innovation, Ingredion EMEA, says that athough texture is an area of food science that has traditionally been overlooked, this is rapidly changing as its potential continues to be realized by the industry.

“In a recent study, 69% of food producers polled believe consumers exert more influence than ever before and where they lead, manufacturers will follow. The bakery industry shows continued demand for products with health and nutrition-based claims, while an increased drive towards authenticity and realness will manifest itself as a demand for less perfect, less uniform products,” Commarmond says.

Maintaining taste and texture while meeting the demand for shorter recipe development times remains a challenge for bakers, the expert adds. “This is one of the reasons why, at Ingredion, we have developed the capabilities to fast-track and scientifically predict desired textures, assisting manufacturers to get their products optimized and to market as quickly as possible,” Commarmond underlines.

She also mentions texture as a powerful and potential-filled tool at the disposal of today’s food and drink manufacturers. “It not only enables them to maintain product appeal and quality while formulating for trends such as gluten-free, clean label, nutrition plus, nutrition minus and authenticity, it also offers a way to make their products stand out, resonate and compete on differentiation, rather quality or price. For many, this could mean the difference between failure and success in a highly competitive marketplace,” Ingredion specialist stresses.

Furthermore, Will Ballantyne, category tech manager bakery, food & beverage solutions Tate & Lyle Europe, thinks that texturant innovation will evolve by continuing to support important consumer trends in gluten free, and clean label, while delivering the same taste and texture that consumers desire.

“Tate & Lyle is committed to developing products that align with the evolving preferences of consumers and meet their demand for simpler ingredient lists. The recently introduced CLARIA® Bliss tapioca-based starch line and CLARIA® Instant starches enable manufacturers to formulate with functionality similar to modified food starch in terms of process tolerance, appearance and clean taste, and meet consumer demand for simpler ingredient lists,” Ballantyne undelines.

Jerzy Baczewski, technology manager EMEA Brenntag, explains that texturants are a broad group of ingredients, and they have different functionalities. Texturants do not work alone, but interact with other ingredients in a formulation.

“Texturants are an essential part in each food product, in bakery, but also in other segments. Ingredient manufacturers will develop new products and new grades which fit the trends in the market. So it is Brenntag’s role to support the food industry in selecting the right texturant for each formulation will continue,” Baczewski says.

Texturants are a type of specialty ingredient, used to control and modify the texture and mouthfeel of the food and beverage products, largely used for the bakery and confectionery industries. Food texturants are could be made of synthetic chemicals or could be extracted from natural substances and are used as a direct additive in products to provide the required physical appearance to the food product.

Source: World Bakers