Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. 


 Salt content in Australian ready meals has risen by 31% since 2010, new research reveals. This means the average ready meal contains 50% of an adult’s recommended daily salt intake, with some containing well over the maximum daily amount in a single serving. The report jointly published by the Georgia Institute for Global Health and VicHealth examined the salt content of 1478 supermarket ready meals including popular pasta, curry and noodle dishes, as well as traditional meat and vegetable meals. The serving sizes of ready meals vary significantly, thereby affecting how much salt is taken in a single serving. The number of supermarket ready meals captured increased from 208 products in 2010 to 473 products in 2017.

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO, Kelly-Ann Jolly said reducing the amount of salt in processed and packaged foods could save thousands of lives each year by reducing heart, stroke and kidney disease and until there is a commitment to reformulate these foods with less salt, we will continue to see an increase in the number of Australians with high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart disease, a condition that affects close to 6 million Australians. The “unpack the salt” campaign was launched in August by VicHealth and the Heart Foundation to raise consumer awareness about the high levels of salt in processed and packaged foods.

 Source: Breaking News - Foodnavigator - Asia. 4/10/17

Author: Lester Wan 3/10/17.  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.



 Food companies have been urged to simplify food date labels worldwide by 2020, by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) , which counts Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Nestle, Carrefour and Unilever amongst its members. The CGF last month called for companies to simplify “sell by”, “display until” and “best before” dates, which can cause confusion and cost families huge amounts through unnecessarily waste. It urged retailers and food producers to take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste by 2020: use only one label at a time; make a choice of two labels – one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. “use by”) and one food quality indicators for non-– perishable items (e.g. “best if used by”); and undertake consumer education, so that they better understand what date labels mean.

At a recent meeting the CGF - a network of 400 of the biggest consumer goods companies across 70 countries, along with Champions 12.3 – a coalition of more than three dozen leaders across governments, business and civil society, approved the call to standardise the date labels worldwide by 2020. Companies were also urged to partner with non-profit organisations and government agencies to educate consumers on how to interpret date labels. Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food worldwide is wasted each year.


Author: Rick Pendrous  9/10/17  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.



 Food, beverage and grocery Australia’s largest manufacturing sectors – are set to be hard-hit by rising gas prices and other pressures. The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) State of the Industry Report 2017 states that the rising cost of gas could put at risk the sector’s 33% of Australian manufacturing jobs. Tanya Barden, CEO, AFGC,  said that input costs are rising on everything from commodities to labour to energy, and the six years of retail price deflation and rising labour costs the industries have undergone “continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure”. The report, compiled by EY, highlights strong employment growth and encouraging capital investment (4.7% increase) in the last financial year. However, unexpected increases in input costs as well as falling exports and flat overall turnover could impact the recent turnaround.

Glenn Carmody, consumer and industrial products market segment leader, EY, commented: “Growing markets in Asia and the improvement of market access through free trade agreements should further support the industry’s growing export market and provide additional opportunities.” He did also point out that the sector faces a number of challenges including a decline in productivity.

Source: www.foodnavigator - asia. com/Headlines/Markets/Australia    24/10/17

Author: Lester Wan 18/10/17  Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd



 The number of South Australians requiring assistance to access food has increased by 21% over the past year, a charity says, with electricity prices largely to blame. The latest report by charity Foodbank SA indicates more than 102,000 South Australians needed help to get food in the past year, compared with 85,000 the previous year.

Foodbank SA CEO Greg Pattinson said the figure was the worst the organisation had seen and was largely attributed to rising electricity prices, although job losses and lack of employment opportunities were contributing factors. “The main difference seems to be in bill shock, where people are having to seek food because of unexpected or high bills and, in particular in South Australia, we’re seeing utility bills as being the big one”, he said.

The ACCC today (24 October 2017), released a report that found the average power bill for South Australian households had increased by 48% since 2007 – 08. While the rest of the country suffered increases largely due to increased network costs, in South Australia it was attributed mainly to generation costs.

South Australia Council on Social Services,  (SACOSS) when speaking as part of antipoverty week, says there was little awareness of the extra costs being shouldered by people on low or fixed incomes. It said that people often had to pay more for groceries, utilities and telecommunications because they did not have the disposable income to buy in bulk or pay up front and earn discounts.

SACOSS  policy officer, Greg Ogle said, “We can actually look and understand just how inadequate income supports like Newstart and Youth Allowance are, so we are certainly calling for an increase in income support payments to help people who are struggling with these poverty premiums”.

Source: ABC News 16/10/17. Credit:

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AuthorRay Dennis