Category: Packaging & Ingredients

Science Fare

Food Science Blog Pic

Source: Institute of Food Technologists

The science of sustenance. Diet developments. Munchie modification. Whatever alimental alliteration you choose, it’s all covered under a food processor’s “Research and Development” department. Almost all food manufacturers have an R&D division whose responsibility it is to improve existing products and manufacturing processes, extend current product lines and develop entirely new foods. Today we highlight some of what’s trending in food development.

Apples and Orange (Bananas)
Color is extremely important when it comes to food perception. Studies have shown that when it comes to our experience of food, food color is more important than food labeling or food taste. On a related note, food presentation garners similar results. Enter the “Arctic Apple”, a new breed of non-browning apple. Arctic Apples look and taste like a regular apple, but do not brown like traditional cut apples unless they sustain significant damage, like a fungal or bacterial infection. Proponents of the Arctic Apple feel that nonbrowning apples are more attractive to consumers, and thus will reduce food waste and increase fruit consumption.

Bananas are also getting a makeover. Scientists are currently testing a “super banana” with orange flesh that’s derived from genetically-modifying the banana’s amount of beta-carotene. The peel is yellow and it tastes like a normal banana, but the inside fruit is an attractive shade of cantaloupe orange. The hope is that the super banana will eventually help to prevent blindness in malnourished children around the globe.

A new variety of “Burgundine” asparagus is currently being trialed in the United Kingdom. Burgundine asparagus is the result of crossing normal green asparagus with an heirloom breed of purple asparagus. The resulting violet-hued stalks contain less lignim, the substance that makes asparagus fibrous, and can be eaten raw or cooked. Bring on the dips!

There’s Diamonds in Them Thar Jars
Put down the spoon and back away from the jar. That peanut butter that you were about to lick might be better suited for your home safe than for your cupboard. By mimicking the conditions of the earth’s mantle, a researcher in Germany has turned peanut butter into diamonds. What the what? Yes, peanut butter diamonds. Diamonds need carbon combined with intense heat and pressure in order to form, and, as it turns out, peanut butter is a pretty good source of carbon. Don’t run to Costco just yet, though. The peanut butter diamonds are small, fragile and impure, and eventually disintegrate.

Lick Or Treat
A Google search for “licking the yogurt lid” yields over 90,000 results, Facebook pages and blogs are dedicated to the activity, and ad campaigns by Yoplait and Muller have been based around it. Until recently, however, there was no solution to the obligatory-yogurt-stuck-on-the-lid phenomenon. Morinaga Milk, a Japanese company, has changed that. They’ve developed a nonstick technology for yogurt lids that’s inspired by the lotus leaf, which is known for repelling water and staying dry and clean. As to the obvious question as to why no one’s thought of this before, apparently it’s quite difficult to simultaneously repel yogurt while maintaining container sealability. Pesky physics.

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Healthy People, Healthy Products, Healthy Planet

earth-day-foodToday is Earth Day, and our blog usually focuses around Nelson-Jameson’s social and environmental sustainability practices. This year, however, we’re taking a “big picture” approach, and exploring the overall food industry’s sustainability outlook. We’ll take a closer look at the ways in which food manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers are taking steps to increase sustainability and reduce waste in the supply chain.

So, what is sustainability? Well, in this context it means that a business’s industrial practices and strategies create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony while permitting the fulfillment of social and economic needs of present and future generations. For the food industry, sustainability is a major strategic issue for the entire food supply chain—agriculture, manufacturing, packing and distribution.  With an expected 60% increase in global food demand by the year 2050, the food industry is facing increasing pressure regarding raw materials, ingredient sourcing and food production in a competitive environment of constant supply chain optimization and control. Given the circumstances, achieving sustainable practices seems pretty daunting. So, what can be done?

One of the largest and most popular initiatives involves focusing on food waste. Food waste is food that is discarded or unusable, and it occurs at all levels of the supply chain. An estimated 40% of all food produced in the United States is never eaten. General food waste solutions focus on three overall strategies—Reduce, Recover and Recycle. Food waste can be reduced by improving product development, storage, packaging, procurement, marketing, labeling and cooking methods. It can be recovered by connecting potential food donors (food service providers, food retailers and food processors) to hunger-relief organizations. Finally, food waste can be recycled to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy and natural fertilizers. In addition to the positive environmental and social implications, managing and reducing food waste is also advantageous to the food industry’s overall financial health. Food waste is estimated to cost the commercial food service industry in the US approximately $100 billion per year, US consumers approximately $43 billion per year and global food processors approximately $750 billion per year.

Another way in which the food industry is increasing sustainability is through strengthening the links between industry and agriculture. Agribusiness is said to build sustainable food systems by providing more nutritious, healthy and foods and assuring increased food security. Many food manufacturers are reevaluating their ingredient and raw material sourcing, and are finding that building direct relationships with local agribusiness is efficient from both a cost and energy standpoint.

Using environmentally-responsible packaging is another example of a strategy in which many sustainably-minded members of the food industry are engaging. Americans recycle at only an average rate of 34.5%, so the majority of food packaging ends up in landfills or as street litter. Therefore, there’s a general perception that the onus to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling is on the makers of packaged foods and beverages. Although packaging only makes up a small part of a product’s environmental impact, packaging heavily influences buying decisions—especially those of sustainably-minded consumers. Therefore, many manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce plastic and paper waste in their packaging, while finding ways to make it easier for consumers to recycle, reuse or compost that packaging.

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Now Trending

At the beginning of each calendar year, The Wide Line publishes a blog summarizing upcoming food processing, restaurant and grocery trends. In preparation, we comb through industry journals, blogs, briefs, articles and websites for the latest and greatest in the world of food. We then whittle it down to the pacesetters, the sure-bets and the must-knows. So, without further ado, here are the food fads that will most impact what we produce and consume in 2015:

Asian Invasion

Matcha Tea (Source: Japanese Green Tea)

Matcha Tea (Source: Japanese Green Tea)

Through travel and tech, the world’s population is becoming increasingly culturally-savvy. Consumers have developed more sophisticated palates, wanting to experience bold and exotic foods and flavors reflective of their curiosities and interests. Look for regional Asian cuisine, like Japanese and Fillipino, to make appearances on menus and in grocery aisles. Japanese matcha tea, praised for its antioxidant and metabolic properties, will flavor everything from ice cream to sushi; while binchotan, an odorless, smokeless Japanese charcoal, will cook foods quickly and cleanly. Fermented foods (like Korean kimchi) will also continue to gain popularity, while coconut sugar will gain market traction with health and sustainability claims.

Eat Local & Read the Label

Prep Pad (Source: The Orange Chef Co.)

Prep Pad (Source: The Orange Chef Co.)

As opinions on sustainability, food ethics and ingredients become more culturally-pervasive, consumers increasingly want to know exactly what they’re eating and from where it came. Look for more locally-sourced meats, locally-grown produce and locally-crafted foods popping up in restaurants and supermarkets. Grains milled on-site for use in pasta, bread and pizza will also gain momentum. Along similar philosophies, food packaging will begin to move toward “clear” labeling, making package claims simpler and more transparent for the consumer. “Prep Pad”, a new countertop scale that links with an iPad, can also give its owners more detailed nutritional information.

Artisan Everything

Artisan cheeses (Source: Saveur)

Artisan cheeses (Source: Saveur)

The coveted consumer group known as “Millenials”—those born from 1982 to the early 2000’s—have embraced the artisanal food movement through their love of unique foods with authentic origins. For years, craft breweries have been at the forefront of the trend. Look for them to continue to lead the way by experimenting with ingredients known as “gruits” (herbs, spices and aromatics) in order to broaden taste profiles. Microdistilled spirits are also gaining popularity in the artisan beverage category, while artisan cheeses and ice cream are trending in the dairy category. Artisan butchery and house-cured meats are becoming increasingly popular in foodservice.

Protein’s Still King

Protein sources in food (Source: Functional Fitness)

Protein sources in food (Source: Functional Fitness)

A recent industry report concluded that “protein is the hottest functional food ingredient trend in the United States”. Protein is being added to food in order to “deliver a large range of benefits” from “promoting satiety” to helping with “weight loss and management”. Protein-rich grains and seeds, led by the ever-popular quinoa, will continue their impressive popularity. Rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, kamut, spelt, freekah and farro will also become increasingly pervasive. In the meat and poultry category, quality and origin are increasingly important, while dairy is finding its way into new snacks, beverages and savory products. Eggs, Legumes and Nuts are also growing in popularity as alternative forms of protein.

Smokin’ Hot

A smoker used to make a cocktail (Source: New York Times)

A smoker used to make a cocktail (Source: New York Times)

Consumers will increasingly seek bolder, more intense flavor experiences. Smoking food “deepens flavor and aroma, adding richness to meals and drinks.” Based upon the rise of hot sauces such as sriracha, smoked food is predicted to be everywhere—from vegetables and butters to cocktails and cheese. Watch for home-cooks using backyard smokers and adding liquid smoke to recipes.

 
Despite increased awareness of health and nutrition and a growing appetite for adventurous cuisine, consumers still rely on three main factors when making decisions regarding food: convenience, taste and price. So, food processors—anticipate the trends, but remember the motivators. People may change what, how and why they eat, but they still gotta to eat.

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Nelson-Jameson Release 2014-2015 Edition of Buyers Guide

NJ_2014_15BG_cover (1)MARSHFIELD, WIS., June 5, 2014 – Nelson-Jameson, Inc. announces the release of the much anticipated 2014-2015 edition of their Buyers Guide.

Customers will notice that the new edition includes more than 50 additional pages of new and innovative products for the food and dairy industries including expanded offerings in the popular color-coded and metal detectable product lines. The easy-to-use “How to Order” boxes, terminology, and other guides were expanded to help provide customers with a one-stop source to find the right product for their applications.

The newly designed color-coded insert also includes eight additional pages of products to expand Nelson-Jameson’s already extensive color-coded offering. In an effort to give customers even more options, Nelson-Jameson now has many more color-coded products available in pink. The catalog offers many hard-to-find and specialty products exclusive to Nelson-Jameson, as well as hundreds of supply items used daily.

Customers can request a FREE copy of the Nelson-Jameson Buyers Guide by calling 800/826-8302, or visit nelsonjameson.com.

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Every Day is Earth Day at Nelson-Jameson

MC900440106Today is Earth Day 2014. Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a grassroots demonstration supporting environmental issues. Millions of people participate each year, and it has developed into a day that inspires awareness of and appreciation for the earth’s environment.

Like many of you, Nelson-Jameson has incorporated both sustainable and green practices into our everyday functioning. We feel that it’s the responsible thing to do—not just as a corporate entity, but as a distribution partner in a global supply chain. Our core business model of goods procurement – providing a wide line of products in multiple categories from hundreds of manufacturers – naturally facilitates a reduced logistical footprint through consolidated shipping, receiving and packaging.

Additionally, our manufacturers and customers benefit from the resulting cost-savings advantage that is gained from these distribution standards and processes. So basically, it’s a win-win.

Other external green and sustainability measures that Nelson-Jameson takes include:

• Recycling supplier/customer packaging materials and pallets that pass through our warehouses as a function of the normal course of trade.

• Recycling pallet wrap and shredded paper for packing outgoing shipments.

• Encouraging customers and suppliers to utilize electronic methods for receiving purchase orders, invoices, quotes, order confirmation and other order statements.

• Utilizing electric fax and invoice processing.

• Banking as much as possible through ACH methods.

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