Cold chain technology to support Australian food exports

The global markets for technology, beauty and food products are growing at an impressive rate, with consumers in all corners of the globe expecting availability, prompt delivery, and a visible supply chain.
Food is perhaps the most challenging export for any country, as it necessitates precise delivery timings, strict customs compliance and sophisticated and reliable technology to maintain freshness and prevent contamination – with no margin for error.
For Australia to maintain food export compliance as global demand grows, its logistics industry will soon need to invest in the development of cold-chain technology, an industry expert told Logistics & Materials Handling.
“As Australian food exports reach further afield, it’s crucial that the cold-chain technology used during transport can be trusted to maintain freshness, consistently,” said a representative of logistics technology manufacturer FEMC Australia.
According to the expert, improving technology will be increasingly important for transporting perishable items to countries with immature cold chains.
“While the Australian cold chain is robust – a necessity given the tough climate – many countries importing its goods do not have the technology required to guarantee safe delivery,” she added.
The representative noted that by expanding into new markets, Australian exporters have the opportunity to further their reputation for quality, but the health implications of substandard cold storage through the supply chain could put this at risk.
Trade agreements with emerging markets will compound the issue of cold-chain compliance, she said.
“Initiatives by the Australian and world governments, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and recent free-trade agreements, highlight the fact that the importance of geographical borders is diminishing in the face of global demand,” the FEMC expert noted.
“Quality perishable goods are integral to Australia’s global import value proposition, so cold chain logistics technology needs to grow alongside the industry.”

Are brands doomed?

IRI predicts private labels will continue to grow as retailers tap into key consumer trends and create more premium-tier products that create shopper intrigue and engagement. ​
IRI’s latest Point of View Report has revealed that private labels accounted for 18.1% of all Australian FMCG dollar sales in the 52 weeks to 21 May 2017 and that its growth has outpaced national brands. Private labels’ dollar growth of 3.9% during this period amounted to an additional $662 million in sales, compared to just 2.2% growth for national brands.
IRI’s channel insights manager Daniel Bone said: “Private label has reached an important pivot point in Australia as supermarkets refine their strategies to respond to elevated consumer expectations and shifting market dynamics. Retailers are making changes in their private label ranging strategies, which is driven by a need to counter Aldi’s private label share gains. But there is also the prospect of intensifying private label competition from international retailers and those operating in adjacent channels.”
Aldi’s current double-digit dollar growth in Australia and the share gains of discounters worldwide proves that private label is critical to a retailer’s value image and, by implication, overall performance. More than three-quarters of Aldi sales currently derive from private label products, versus less than a quarter in the supermarket majors. The affinity Aldi shoppers have for the retailer’s private label range underpins why two-thirds of Australian households now shop with the discounter, according to IRI’s research.
The private label price advantage remains pronounced
The price gap between private label and national brands remains significant across Packaged Grocery, Petrol & Convenience (P&C), Liquor and OTC Healthcare channels.
Private label products are, on average:

  • 44% cheaper in Packaged Grocery
  • 28% cheaper in Petrol & Convenience
  • 54% cheaper in Liquor
  • 16% cheaper in OTC Healthcare

IRI’s research revealed that almost three-quarters of Australian shoppers always compare price before choosing brands. With wage growth at a record low and household debt surging to record highs, IRI expects the private label price advantage will place further downward pressure on ranging and margins for national brands for the foreseeable future.
Private label performance varies across channels
Private label performance is still relatively underdeveloped in Australia, especially in comparison to Western European markets such as the UK where almost 50% of sales are private label. Locally, IRI’s report shows that Packaged Grocery and Petrol & Convenience are the only channels where private label accounted for a double-digit share of total dollar sales. Packaged Grocery (+4.1%) and Petrol & Convenience (+11.8%) also recorded the fastest annual dollar growth in 2016-17.
Packaged Grocery stood out, with 93% of all private label dollar growth derived from this channel. However, the double-digit growth of private label items sold through Petrol & Convenience stores was eight times faster than branded. The growing significance of the low-price, high-volume self-serve Hot Drinks category has been one of the main drivers of this.
Specialised ranges represent the next wave of growth
IRI predicts the next wave of private label growth will be from range diversification and premiumisation.  In identifying high-performing private label products in Australia and overseas, IRI foresees four key themes that will accelerate private label gains:

  • Natural & Organic: A focus on natural, organic and fresh.
  • Free-From: Catering to more specific dietary requirements.
  • Ethics & Purpose: Aligning with consumers’ values, and passions.
  • Upscale & Celebrity: A higher level of quality and creativity.

“Going forward, we expect more specialised and sophisticated private label innovation to emerge as a source of inspiration for Australian shoppers and to show that ranged products are truly unique. It will be especially important in the Grocery channel where retailers will need to inspire more food curious and healthy minded Australian shoppers,” Mr Bone said.

Australian cold-chain industry forms food-waste advocacy group

Australia’s first advocacy group to improve compliance and standards in the handling of food at all levels of the cold chain has been established at a meeting in Queensland.
The inaugural session of the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) on 7 August 2017 brought together representatives from the manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain industries.
The Council has reportedly been established in response to mounting community pressure about the costs and environmental damage of food wastage, with the AFCCC positioning itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
“The new Council is not about promoting an industry – we want to change the industry for the better, said Interim Chair, Mark Mitchell.
“One of our priorities will be to apply whatever pressure is needed in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold chain food handling are properly followed.
“There’s lots of rhetoric in government programs, associations and among food handlers and suppliers about commitments to food waste reduction and cold chain compliance, but little, if nothing, is being done at any level about improving the cold chain, and ensuring that standards are followed. Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.”
The interim directors of AFCCC are Stephen Elford General Manager Australia New Zealand, Carrier Transicold; Mark Mitchell, Managing Director, SuperCool Australia Pacific; Peter Lawrence, Technical Director ANZ, Thermo King; Kyle Hawker, Transport Manager, Simplot Australia; Adam Wade, National Transport Leader, Lion; Kevin Manfield, General Manager – Products & Markets, MaxiTRANS Australia; plus a nominated individual representing the transport industry.
The AFCCC asserts that on average, Australians waste 860kg of food per person annually, with at least five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from food wastage.
Mitchell noted that Australian industry is well placed to attack the issue.
“Performance across the cold-food chain can be improved with better equipment and handling processes as well as with improved monitoring and assessment to determine where the weaknesses lie,” he said.
The new advocacy group’s first priorities will be contributing to both the development of the National Food Waste Strategy and becoming part of the CRC designed to address food waste and fraud.

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Ampacet establishes state-of-the-art VIC facility

Ampacet Australia, provider of masterbatch to the plastics industry for use in products such as food packaging, has established a new state-of-the-art site and Centre for Excellence in Dandenong South, in Melbourne’s southeast.
The facility has a fully functional laboratory for product development and quality assurance and it is expected the Dandenong South site will produce masterbatch products – solid or liquid additives used to colour plastics.
Ampacet also plans to export flame-retardant products from the plant to China.
Wade Noonan, Minister for Industry and Employment, attended the official opening of the facility on 18 July.
“Ampacet Australia joins an ever-growing list of manufacturers choosing to base their operations in Dandenong – one of the nation’s largest manufacturing precincts,” he said.
“We are excited to watch this company grow and take its products to the world.”

McCain to move into state-of-the-art robotic cold storage facility in Melbourne

McCain Foods Australia today announced a contract agreement with cold storage provider NewCold.
NewCold’s will manage the storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products at the storage provider’s new warehouse in Truganina, Melbourne, as part of a 10-year agreement commencing in July 2017.
Construction has significantly advanced on the automated facility, which will consist of an integrated system combining automated, state-of-the-art pallet handling systems, using in-house warehouse and control software developed by parent Dutch cold storage innovator, NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics.
Taso Kourou, Supply Chain Director at McCain Foods ANZ stated that the facility upgrade will drastically improve logistics capabilities, meeting the needs of local and international customers, demanding improved efficiency from production to distribution of frozen products. “The storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products in the new automated facility will give us a more stable temperature regime and highly accurate stock control,” he said.
Louis Wolthers, Regional President for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India & China at McCain Food said that the McCain team is keen to see the outcomes of the new agreement take effect. “From a sustainability perspective, through the use of the warehouses’ highly controlled in-and-outflows combined with efficient cooling equipment, energy usage per pallet stored is up to 50 per cent lower compared to a conventional storage option,” he said.
The warehouse’s unmanned stacker cranes, conveyors and automated truck unloading systems will handle receipt, storage and retrieval of palletised products, all together dealing with more than 11,000 pallet movements per day.

Drive Yello -revolutionizing food delivery in Australia

Drive Yello is revolutionising the way food is delivered. 

Named by Fairfax as one of 13 Australian start-ups to watch this year, Drive Yello is a delivery management platform and market place with a difference, allowing vendors to outsource their delivery capability completely. Franchises, restaurants, chains, cafes and small food producers simply post delivery jobs and the Drive Yello team provide them with a reliable, trusted delivery driver on-demand. The platform allows vendors to search, hire, manage, track and pay drivers for either one-off deliveries or full shifts. As a result, businesses save significant time and money on managing deliveries internally.

Founders Steve Fanale and Johnny Timbs came up with the idea for Drive Yello on Halloween of 2014. Steve describes hanging out at Johnny’s place sipping a few glasses of red wine when Johnny’s phone went off. “It was one of Johnny’s pizza stores with the news that three of their delivery drivers had unexpectedly called in sick. Johnny started trying to find drivers to fill in to no avail and had to make do with the staff he had. It occurred to us that it was crazy that we couldn’t book a driver on-demand like we could order a cab. That evening, the idea for Yello was born,” says Steve.

With the popularity of websites and apps such as Menulog and Delivery Hero, the pair saw the increasing need for delivery drivers. In fact, there are approximately 166 million delivers per year in Australia. “Consumers now expect food delivered to their door with one click of a button on their smartphone. It’s vitally important for businesses to be able to provide this on-demand service and not risk letting down their customer base if a driver calls in sick or misses a shift,” says Steve.

Yello gives food vendors the ability to post shifts to the Yello driver market to find qualified and rated drivers, who they can then track and message. Vendors are also given the choice as to whether they would prefer to pay drivers directly or pay through the Yello platform. Vendors can also use the Yello platform to manage their existing drivers.

“Drive Yello gives businesses the opportunity to grow by saving costs and time associated with managing deliveries. A lot of businesses just don’t have the management tools, systems in place or time to manage delivery drivers. Simply finding good drivers and training them is hard work, let alone the hours involved in managing shifts every day,” says Steve. “It also provides an exciting business opportunity for vendors who currently can’t offer home delivery to increase revenue.”

Increased efficiency, improved monitoring, reduction of administration and accessibility to a crowd-sourced work force makes Yello very attractive to businesses across the food service industry. From independent vendors to major franchises and menu aggregators, Yello is a platform that the industry is crying out for. Current businesses that use Drive Yello include Crust Gourmet Pizza, McDonalds, Delivery Hero, Elvis Pizza and Zeus.

Daniel Wedgwood, a Delivery Hero Key Account Manager, says “Drive Yello has been the ultimate solution in enabling the extension of our takeaway delivery capabilities across Sydney CBD and East. As a start-up ourselves a few years back, we understand the challenges of establishing a successful business model in a highly competitive marketplace. It’s these similarities along with market-leading tech and driver tracking that were a good fit for our needs. With the power of Yello we are looking forward to expanding our delivery footprint further.”

High definition cameras improve safety and quality for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables

With consumers increasingly demanding convenient and fast-to-prepare foods, frozen fruits and vegetables, such as green peas, beans or berries, are a growing market segment in the food industry.

At the same time, food safety regulations are tightening and consumers have come to expect an impeccable product.

A major concern is the potential presence of foreign materials, such as small stones or pieces of glass, wood or plastic in the packaged product.

Optical sorters with InGaAs cameras are highly effective in detecting and removing these objects. Buler pioneered the use of this sensor technology in optical sorting in 2007.

Now, the market leader is introducing InGaAsHD. With double the resolution, these high definition cameras are able to detect foreign materials down to half the size previously possible, resulting in substantially better detection and removal.

InGaAsHD will be available in the SORTEX E product range and will enable processors of frozen fruits and vegetables to meet the highest safety requirements, while ensuring maximum quality of their product.

Frozen fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, green peas, sweet corn or baby carrots, are a fast growing market segment in the food industry.

Not only do they meet the demand for food that is quick and easy to prepare, in or out of season, but they can even be nutritionally superior to retailed fresh produce, as they are harvested at their peak ripeness -when most nutritious -and frozen soon after, preserving their vitamins and antioxidants.

"While increasing amounts of frozen fruits and vegetables are being processed, food safety regulations are tightening in most countries and processors have to guarantee the safety and quality of their products," is how Stephen Jacobs, Global Product Manager at Bühler, sums up the challenge.

Among the biggest safety concerns are foreign materials, such as small stones, pieces of wood and glass, or slivers of plastic. If contained within packaged frozen food products, they will pose health risks -including lacerations, choking or broken teeth. For food processors, they may result in expensive product recalls and damage to reputation.

With its vast range of optical sorting solutions, Bühler has worked for decades to enable food processors to efficiently identify and remove foreign materials.

This is achieved by using a variety of sophisticated detection technologies. InGaAs cameras, for instance are very effective for separating foreign materials from good product of the same colour.

They are based on semiconductor sensors made from indium gallium arsenide alloy and operate in the short ware infra-red range (SWIR). As a consequence, they are able to detect even the subtlest of colour differences that cannot be seen in the visible spectrum.

Bühler pioneered the use of this technology for use in the packing line, as a final check, to ensure that difficult–to-detect packaging materials such as light coloured wood in potatoes, cardboard in carrots and coloured plastic in vegetable mixes, were quickly identified and accurately removed from the product stream.

Bühler has continued to advance this technology and the development of the new high definition InGaAsHD cameras now mark the latest step in this process: “By combining a new hardware, software and lens package, we were able to engineer a new camera with double the resolution. As a result of this in-house development, our sorter will be able to identify foreign material objects down to half the previous size”,  as Benedict Deefholts, Head of Sensor Development at Bühler, describes the key advantage of the new HD cameras.

Thanks to this development, Bühler’s sorting solutions for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables now offer even better detection and removal capabilities for a wide range of foreign materials in several different stages of the processing and packing line and is particularly beneficial for processors with stringent safety specifications such as for the baby food market.

The new InGaAsHD cameras are now available for Bühler’s SORTEX E product line. Processors that are already operating SORTEX E optical sorters with Enhanced InGaAs cameras will be offered an upgrade option, enabling them to benefit from the improved detection performance of the new HD cameras with their current solution.

Chinese parents get instant confidence on Australian dairy

Camperdown Dairy International has adopted a ground-breaking platform to allow Chinese consumers to quickly check the authencity and provenance of its products using just their smartphones.

Developed with product identification and inspection experts Matthews Australia and the cloud-based authenticity platform Trust Codes, the system prints each tin of infant milk formula with a unique QR code with human-readable information managed by iDSnet.

The printed QR code allows consumers to scan and identify the individual product and report its history; it also displays key information about Camperdown Dairy International, Australian dairy products, and how best to consume the product.

In China, where food safety is a top concern and QR codes are commonplace, each Trust Code assures consumers that the product is not counterfeit, is not subject to a recall, and is not beyond its shelf life –among other safety checks. The Trust Codes platform uses a proprietary algorithm based on scanning history to validate each individual product.

Camperdown’s General Manager, Gavin Evans says “We recognised that Chinese consumers want surety that the product they give to their children is real, and is sourced from the country of origin that is stated on the packaging. We want them to be able to easily access that information with just their smartphone, and they can do this at the retail store or later at home.”

“The code works with any smartphone. There is no dedicated app to download, which we considered to be a major barrier to adoption.”

“Matthews and Trust Codes worked together to provide us with a solution that integrates seamlessly with our production line. Our tins are laser-marked during production and can be scanned at any point in production, distribution, retail or post-sale.”

Camperdown is one of only eight Australian infant-formula manufacturers approved by the Chinese Government.

Since being granted its Chinese infant-formula manufacturing and export licence in July 2015, Camperdown has been focused on increasing production at its Melbourne-based site to supply China and the domestic market.

Chinese regulators are requiring infant-milk formula producers to provide comprehensive tracking and identification systems in response to consumer concerns about food safety.

“To safety this requirement, we chose Trust Codes for the ‘proof of provenance’ system coupled with Matthews Australasia, who delivered with their iDSnet software platform, a solution that integrated the production line with a scribing laser that then marks the can with the unique Trust Code embedded in the printed QR barcode. The solution also incorporates in-line validation with a camera-based system to ensure each printed code is verified and then uploaded to the secure Trust Codes Cloud.”

Matt Nichol, National Key Account Manager and Laser Specialist at Matthews, says “The Trust Codes’ solution provides advanced cryptographic code generation, fraud-tracking algorithms and the consumer interface. Matthews configured their production-line, iDSnet, which integrates with Trust Codes and the advanced Solaris laser scribing system, to provide Camperdown with an end-to-end solution.”

Camperdown’s Gavin Evans says, “We were up and running in weeks –well ahead of other infant-milk-formula processors. Between Matthews and Trust Codes, we were provided a lot of expertise –not just about technology, but about how the systems are used in China to assure customers about our product.

“I have no doubt that their system and their people have made our compliance with Chinese product laws and consumer expectations much easier.”

Trust Codes’ Director Paul Ryan was particularly pleased with the speed at which the project was delivered.

“Working with Matthews went completely to plan. Their plan quickly integrated their laser printing system with our platform using their award-winning iDSnet software solution to deliver a ‘set-and-forget’ solution for Camperdown.

“At Trust Codes, our mission is to make our customers’ products the most credible on the planet. Camperdown and Matthews are showing the way.”

Schweppes Archerfield replaces paper with voice

Schweppes Archerfield Distribution Centre (DC) has called upon integrations systems supplier Dexion and Vocollect by Honeywell to deliver automated voice-directed picking.

Prior to automated voice‐directed picking, Schweppes Archerfield used manual paper processes. This system relies on workers planning their picking routes based on paper picking sheets, which led to inefficiencies and also allowed for human error.

Schweppes Australia’s Archerfield DC operates five days a week, 24 hours a day and can pick up to 16,000 cases every day.

Under the new automated system, workers are directed via the Vocollect SRX2 wireless headset to a specific location in the warehouse to pick a specific type of product, eliminating the chance of manual intervention.

Queensland distribution manager of Schweppes Australia, Mike Heide said that in the first week of using the voice system, picking errors were reduced by 90 percent. “Our employees now have greater freedom, mobility and safety,” he said.

Paul Phillips, regional manager of Australia and New Zealand for Vocollect said the system helps enhance the facility’s customer service levels.

“The Vocollect Voice solution directs workers to their correct location, tells them how many cartons or products they need to pick, gets them to confirm this back to the system – taking a carton count, all of which helps ensure correct products are picked and go right to the customer,” Phillips said.

Image: pca.org.au

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