FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Dew fresh and the science behind it
Everybody knows how tempting fresh fruit is, especially covered in a film of moisture. It is as if the earth’s mist has risen and has left the fruits of the field fresh and covered in an irresistible, barely perceptible and yet ever so appealing film of water that seems to be evaporating with each moment... A dew-kissed cherry, blueberry, grape or strawberry – healthiness personified. Fresh raspberries are naturally slightly damp, but apples and pears are lacking in this area, and not only in terms of attractiveness. Because the fresh fruit is surrounded by damp air, they are prevented
There is science behind everything – to entice customers, to guarantee quality, to conduct market research and to keep produce fresh for longer. To shape or digest foodstuffs. Science is not meaningless. Neither are people. The theme of this newsletter is science, and not only the automated kind...
from drying out and a slight cooling takes place – the water droplets evaporate and take heat from the air, which keeps the fruits fresh for longer. Once again, the supermarkets not only recognise the benefits of dew-covered fruit, but actually make this their policy. An innovative Dutch company plays an important role in thousands of supermarkets in tens of countries: Contronics. Contronics develops and builds ‘mist machines’. These are machines that provide fresh fruit or vegetables with a blanket of moisture that ensures the products are shrouded in moist air. Fresh produce is living produce, that
Read on… The science behind dew fresh: mist. Is ‘the numbers tell the tale’ always as relevant as it seems? Food from the printer? Why not? Can our intestines think? Do they have a brain? The science of selection, mastery of Fruit d’Or. The science of cultivation; other parties report. Plants bite back: the science of self defence. Berrico’s new website. Better yields thanks to experimenting with light. About new techniques used by supermarkets to tempt customers to buy more.
Dew fresh continuation are kept alive for longer using this method. The inspiration for the idea comes from nature itself – the morning dew that shrouds the soil and crops in a misty blanket, which affords them some protection against the sun’s rays which follow. Contronics does not just supply supermarkets, but also production companies that use the ‘mist’ during the harvest, and to transport companies looking to minimise distribution losses. The company has already sold some 15,000 units, of which 99.9% were outside of the company’s native Netherlands. Most units are sold in the southern European member states. This is largely culturally determined. The more northerly the localisation
of supermarkets, the less unpackaged fruit and vegetables they carry – they are more convenienceoriented. More pre-cut fruit and vegetables are sold, often packaged in a protected atmosphere. Shops in southern Europe place more emphasis on freshness. Contronics claims that its method results in a better preservation of weight in fruit and vegetables and that it limits the loss percentage. This likely makes it an attractive alternative to fruit and vegetables in sealed packaging. Response?
The numbers tell the tale
Management of companies and organisations requires parameters to inform policies. But at the present time, this begs the question – which parameters? Production data, benchmarking (how are we faring compared with our competitors), or market research? For those who ask the right questions and find suitable answers, management is not rocket science. But who succeeds in this? The more answers we find, the more questions they pose. Certainty is not assured. The numbers tell the tale, but the question is, do the answers help us much further? An example that may or may not help you: customer loyalty in FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), namely in the field of food products. Research shows that the commitment of consumers to A-brands leaves a lot to be desired – that is, if we consider a score of 32% to be low. One could also be intensely satisfied with this score because it appears that loyalty to own brands is even lower – reaching a mere 3%. In other words, the consumer experiences the qualities of the own brand as nondistinguished – it is not a trusted value.
An A-brand appears to be valued more, and yet the market share of own brands has risen sharply in recent (in some countries more than others, but the trend is clear). So: a low price leads to more popularity and a higher buying rate, but not to loyalty. Consumers prefer to identify with an A-brand than with an own brand – at least, in the Netherlands, where the research data originate. The A-brand seems to be experienced as more exclusive and desirable than the own brand, but the latter is continually gaining ground. Partly his is because research shows that a large group of people considers own brands to be of equal quality to A-brands. Research provides answers, but which conclusions can we draw from them? Modern market research methods are much less costly than those of the past. Therefore, it is tempting to do more research, but does research always increase knowledge? It is a question that undoubtedly occupies many managers of A-brands and retailers. Response?
Food from the printer?
3D printing is on the rise: from modelling buildings through to the actual production of those buildings – these days it is all possible. Steel, plastics, card or wood – modern 3D printers can make products in all of these materials. So why not food? British firm Choc Edge has developed a chocolate printer that is able to produce all possible forms – for example logos. American firm 3D Systems has been producing 3D printers since 1989 and together with ChefJet has developed a line that can be used by professional users to produce ingenious confectionary. Some bakeries, patisseries and restaurants are familiar with this production method, but for the consumer these installations are – as yet – out of reach. That is set to change soon, if Natural Machines has anything to do with it. This Spanish manufacturer expects to introduce a food printer as early as next year, that is not only affordable for the consumer, but that also breaks the traditional focus on chocolate and sweet pastries. The Natural Machines 3D printer can handle sizes up to 25 x 16 x 12 centimetres. The unit works with capsules containing a maximum of 123 centilitres. It can process five of these capsules to produce a final result. De machine can produce both savoury and sweet products, in the most diverse forms. Pizza, ravioli, vegetables or fruit in arty forms – it will be possible and affordable. It seems that it will soon be possible to reproduce the artistic flowers or flowers that adorned many Chinese rice tables of the past, on a small scale, using automated methods – either using the traditional carrot or a different ingredient – no problem. The manfacturer tells us that the food printer will be available from 2015. Response?
The brain In the previous newsletter we put a spotlight on the workings of the human brain. Our brain resides in our head, that is known. That we also have a kind of ‘brain’ in our intestines, is less known. Yet we attribute many feelings to our abdomen – butterflies in the tummy, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, feeling something in your gut – it appears we ought to take our abdominal feelings more seriously.
Dutch biologist Midas Dekkers has referred to this on several pages in his book De kleine Verlossing of de lust van het ontlasten (Relief, or the urge to excrete) – the intestines carry out their tasks autonomosly – even with a certain intelligence – and their function has a significant influence on our mood. French documentary maker Cécile Denjean goes even further in her film La ventre, notre deuxième cerveau. She claims that our intestines are capable of thought, that they can weigh up advantages and disadvantages. Responsible for this are neurons, just like in our brains. In her documentary, she claims that our ‘lower brain’ takes a large number of decisions, leaving our ‘upper brain’ more room and time to control other processes. Apparently our mental health is to a large extent determined by the processes taking place in the belly – further still, by the bacteria that are present there. Cécile Denjean invites scientists from all over the world speak in her documentary. Connections are made between illnesses such as Alzheimer’, asthma, autism, allergies, Parkinson’s and the presence or absence of certain bacteria in our intestines. You are what you eat, or, translated to Midas Dekkers – you are what you digest.
Our thinking digestive system seems to play an important part in our mood, our wellbeing and our health. Our digestive system is therefore an operating system that should be taken into account. This development fits seamlessly in the current trend to attribute numerous health values to that which we consume. The documentary can be viewed on YouTube (not in all countries) and can be purchased or hired (on demand) via French TV channel Arte. Response?
The science of selection Our trade partner Fruit d’Or, known for its blueberries and cranberries, sets high demands for the quality of its end products. Striving for perfection begins with a stringent selection of the resources that are to be used. The quality of the produce is a given, but the quality of the process may be even more important, especially if it concerns natural products whose quality varies from one harvest to the next. Fruit d’Or starts the production process initially without making too much distinction. The freshly harvested cranberries are thoroughly washed and rid of their stalks, weeds and other contaminants. Then the entire yield is slowly brought down to freezing temperature. When the berries are woken from their winter sleep, this once again happens gradually and carefully. They are rinsed once more, in a slow centrifuge. Then the selection takes place: the berries are spread out on a production line, where advanced laser equipment carefully scans for berries that are damaged, do not meet the colour requirements, or have other blemishes. Those berries are removed under air pressure without so much as a pardon. That does not mean that those berries are not used – every part of every berry is used – there is no waste. While the remaining berries are sorted by size, before being dried or frozen, the rejected berries are sent off to be concentrated. After the press, the seeds of the berries remain, but fortunately they have a use too – a beautiful oil is
pressed from them, that is comparable in quality to a good olive oil. After the press, a residue from the seeds remains, from which valuable proteins are derived to enrich sports drinks. So: a thorough, ruthless selection based on quality does not necessarily result in waste. On the contrary – by choosing good resources and methods, waste is avoidable. Fruit d’Or is proof of this. Response?
The science of cultivation Earth’s booming population and increased wealth are causing the global demand for food products to grow rapidly. A logical consequence of this is that farmers and growers adjust their production processes. Mechanisation has taken off in a big way – planting, irrigation, harvesting – human labour has been reduced to a minimum. Many alternatives to conventional soil cultivation have been developed, with mixed success – growing on glasswool, rockwool and coir are popular, but increasingly soft polymers and even hard PU foams are being used as growing mediums. Until now food production was an activity that was primarily the realm of growers and farmers. But that
too is slowly shifting, for increasingly large corporations and even multinationals are involving themselves in crop cultivation. The market of seed distribution and multiplication was already in the hands of large corporations, but the new development goes a step further. Industrial companies apply new methods to drive the production to new heights. One of many examples is a factory in France where lettuces is grown. Not on soil or substrate, but on water. With a yield of hundreds of lettuces per year per square meter, this ‘grower’ (can we call them this or should they be called a ‘producer’?) is many times more productive than the most efficient agrarian. Response?
The The science science of... of... self self defence defence Plants are living organisms – they grow and bloom, they attract insects or employ other methods to reproduce, but... they also defend themselves against attack. And they warn each other – just as birds do – of possible dangers, so that other plants can take measures to defend themselves. Nature is full of examples, even in this area. The tobacco plant is a champion of self defence. This crop only produces the poison nicotine when the plant is being eaten. Nicotine is deadly, even in tiny
amounts. Other plants produce scents that attract the natural enemies of their attackers. It has been scientifically proven that plants also activate their defence mechanisms before they themselves come under attack – when the danger occurs in their surroundings. Conclusion: even plants are not entirely defenceless. They can defend themselves – or cause themselves to be defended – to a certain extent. Response?
Berricoâ€™s new website Earlier this year we proudly launched the new Berrico website. Compared with the previous website, this site is much more extensive, yet with improved navigation. More text, more (better) images, all combined with more information, in better grouping and dosing. The new design was strongly inspired by the subject of berries â€“ natural colours and contours feature strongly throughout. Our new website gives decisive answers about Berrico FoodCompanyâ€™s expansive product range, mission and strategy. The website also provides a lot of background information about numerous berry varieties. It includes historical stories, true or otherwise, health benefits ascribed to berries, properties, and numerous possible uses of berries as a natural product. Earlier editions of the newsletters are also accessible via the site, and of course arti-
cles about forthcoming trade fairs and other news. A broad reach, and now in four different languages, so more accessible for our customers than ever before. On www.berricofood.com you will be introduced to one of the most beautiful products that nature has given us: the berry, in all its forms. A feast for the eyes and for the soul! Response?
Experimenting with light The Innovation and Demonstration Centre Smaak at the Wageningen University & Research Centre is experimenting with LED lighting to improve greenhouse crop cultivation. The trials are intended to reveal, amongst other things, how strawberries react to different types of LED lighting. A total of four different races of strawberries are exposed to three different types of lighting, after which the academic researchers determine if there are consequences in terms of the flavour, vitamine content, sugar content and acidity of the strawberries and if so, which ones. Experiments with LED lighting in tomato cultivation show that lighting does have an influence on the fruit. The variations in LED lighting have different impacts on the growth process. Response?
Book review: Die Supermarkt-Lüge (The Supermarket Lie) German author Jörg Zipprick penned Die Supermarkt-Lüge in German. It was translated into Dutch and adapted for the Dutch market by Will Jansen (of gastronomy magazine Bouillon) as De supermarktleugen. This diminutive book has a less than subtle subtitle, simply translated as ‘Exploiting farmers and sales tricks’. However, the title and subtitle should not deter one from reading the content, as it is certainly worthwhile.
are critically examined and the reader is taught what to look out for when buying fruit, dairy and fish, amongst other products. The authors have also put a lot of effort into investigating E-numbers and their disadvantages (they devote less attention to their advantages). In addition, they cover the myriad of quality labels with reference to a number of examples, which are individually analysed. For a relatively small book, it contains an overwhelming amount of information, which for the most part, is relevant.
The authors respond to numerous questions, such as: - Why are vegetables always positioned at the front of the shop? (Because we like to start shopping responsibly, before giving in to less responsible purchases further along.) - Why are we always routed to the left through the shop? (Because going left is counterintuitive and therefore takes us longer.) - Why are the trolleys so large? (As long as we are able to put products next to each other, it does not look like much. Once we start to pile them on top of each other, we feel like we are buying too much.) And so on. De science of selling – something most supermarkets are extremely adept at. Before any other retail branch, they call upon scientists to recognise human behaviour, and to anticipate it.
Die Supermarkt-Lüge is a recommended read for anyone associated with food retail, especially because this little book gives so much insight into the methods employed by supermarkets and the science that they are based on. Do not expect any praise from this book, as the title makes clear. The book is the result of a critical, if not cautious, perspective on the sellers of foodstuffs, but also on the producers and regulators. For this reason alone, Die Supermarkt-Lüge is worth reading. Not for self-affirmation, but to learn which practices are commonplace and how one can judge them. The German edition appeared with Ullstein, the Dutch edition in Bouillon. The English edition is not yet available. Response?
In the comprehensive chapter ‘The supermarket, department by department’ numerous products
We would like to meet you at one of the following trade fairs:
• Sial, 19 - 23th October 2014, Paris France. Canada Pavilion, stand 4 N-064 • Health Ingredients Europe, 2 - 4th December 2014, Amsterdam The Netherlands. Stand D7-3 • BioFach, 11 - 14th February 2015, in Nuremberg Germany. Canada Pavilion Berrico FoodCompany bv P.O. Box 2296 8203 AG Lelystad Nederland Tel: +31 (0)320 266055 Fax: +31 (0)320 266050 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like to speak to us sooner? Call or email us anytime. We always like to hear from you.
Please send us your feedback… We welcome comments and suggestions. We produce this newsletter to inform and inspire you and we are grateful for your input. Do you have some news that may be of interest to our other contacts? Tell us about it and perhaps we can include it on our website or in this newsletter. Do you have criticism? Let us know and we will endeavour to take it into account. Do you have a piece of news that may be suitable to include in this newsletter? Let us know! We welcome feedback!