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

Amazon Go: Australia’s new online grocer

In 2018, Amazon, an online grocer, will open in Australia. Their launch will include an online grocery delivery service, although the global retailer is yet to announce plans for bricks and mortar Amazon Go shops in the country.

Mr. Britain Ladd, who is in charge of Amazon’sglobal grocery roll-out, said that Australia was an “attractive” market where the retailer would “launch as many services and products as possible”. He went on to say that the country would need to wait though for its Amazon Go check-out free physical stores which the company has been rolling out in America. They intend to build physical grocery stores and launch Amazon Go only after Amazon has become more established in the country and analysis determines the market will support physical stores. These stores automatically bill shoppers smart phones via electronically tagged products when they exit the store.

Amazon Go is potentially the next big disruption to food retail, after Audi and Lidl took up the traditional hegemony of Woolworths and Coles supermarkets with their arrival in Australia by attracting substantial market share.

(Jungbunzlauer newsletter 31/3/2017)

Nutrition Labelling

A new 5-C NutriScore nutrition label is said to be adopted as France’s official nutrition label.

This logo differs from the UK Traffic Light labelling in that it assess the whole nutrient profile, (e.g. saturated fats, sugar, and salt), and assigns one colour for the product. The UK traffic light system assigns a red, yellow or green dot to the fat, sugar or salt content.  The NutriScore was considered more consumer friendly to use and therefore better in assisting consumers to make more healthy food choices.

While the NutriScore has been praised by the WHO, under EU rules, it cannot mandate its use.

(Jungbunzlauer newsletter 22/03/17)

Extending the shelf life of fruit and vegetables

Australian researchers, Professor Zora Singh, a horticultural specialist and Dr Alan Payne, an organic chemist from Curtin University (WA), have developed a new way of extending the life of vegetables and fruit in a new innovative non-toxic compound for coating produce called ‘ethylene antagonists.’  Ethylene is given off during the ripening of produce and the new compounds prevent ethylene reacting by coating the produce. It can be applied as a stable solid, liquid or gas. 

Curtin University reported that half of all fruit and vegetables spoil before they are bought due to ethylene which is produced as fruit ripens.  Ethylene scavengers are inserts paced into packages to stem the ripening process by aiding the absorption of ethylene as it is produced.

(Food Navigatornewsletter 8/4/17)

New palm oil restrictions

The European parliament has voted to implement tough new palm oil resolutions, which if enforced would see its elimination from use in biofuels and enforce stricter regulations on production and certification throughout the continent.  The EU is the world’s second largest consumer of palm oil.

The reporturges the Commission to commit to the elimination of palm oil use in biofuels by 2020 at the latest and mounting pressure on existing palm oil sustainability schemes to improve their standards - with a view to introducing a unified European wide certification scheme.

(Food Navigator Newsletter 8/4/17)

Gluten intolerance may be infectious

A study has indicated that a common virus may trigger gluten intolerance in children and explain why the number of people reporting symptoms is skyrocketing.  According to the research, published in the journal Science,  retrovirus infections, which usually cause very mild symptoms, can trigger an inflammatory immune response to gluten and become a ‘key initiating event’ for developing intolerance.

Coeliac disease (gluten intolerance) is an autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in70 Australians.

(The New Daily 8/4/17)

Our daily bread

Australia finds half a million new weekly bread shoppers in a year. According to research by Roy Morgan Research almost 11 million shoppers are now spending an average of $8.20 each on their weekly loaves, buns and baguettes, making it a $89.6m a week industry. Supermarkets sell the most, accounting for more than 2/3 of total dollar market share. Approximately 8.9m weekly shoppers patronise supermarkets and 2.8m specialist bakeries and convenience stores - though not exclusively.

(RJ Whitehead 21/4/17 Food navigator Newsletter)

AuthorRay Dennis