Hot Right Now: Alcohol impacts on COVID-19 risk, palm oil sustainability attacks, Penfolds' phygital retail approach and more of our social media trending news

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Alcohol impacts on COVID-19 risk, palm oil sustainability attacks, Penfolds' phygital retail approach and more news trending on our social media feature. ©Getty Images
Alcohol impacts on COVID-19 risk, palm oil sustainability attacks, Penfolds' phygital retail approach and more news trending on our social media feature. ©Getty Images

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Alcohol impacts on COVID-19 risk, palm oil sustainability attacks, Penfolds' phygital retail approach and more news trending on our social media feature in this edition of Hot Right Now.

Alcohol and COVID-19: Good news for red wine drinkers, but blow for beer boozers?

People who consume red wine between one to more than five glasses a week had a 10 to 17% lower risk in contracting COVID-19, but beer drinkers had a heightened risk, according to a recent study.

Conducted by researchers from Shenzhen Kangning Hospital and Southwest Hospital, they analysed 473,957 subjects from the UK Biobank cohort to investigate the association between alcohol consumption with COVID-19 risk and mortality. 

It was also revealed that white wine and champagne drinkers who consume between one to four glasses per week had a 7 to 8% lower risk for COVID-19, compared to non-drinkers. This protective effect was not significant when they consumed five or more glasses per week.

Palm oil attacks? Why EU’s latest sustainability plans risk alienating Indonesia amid free trade talks

Palm oil industry experts have warned that the European Union’s (EU) latest proposed regulations on deforestation carry major risk of upsetting Indonesia amidst ongoing free-trade negotiations.

The EU recently published anti-deforestation regulations in the name of sustainability, basically calling for the ban of all commodities produced from deforested land, whether this deforestation was legal, controlled, strategically planned or not.

“Deforestation and forest degradation are occurring at an alarming rate, aggravating climate change and the loss of biodiversity,”​ said the EU via the draft regulations.

Penfolds goes ‘phygital’: Wine giant turns to high-tech sensory upgrades to boost retail purchases

Wine giant Penfolds has turned to high-tech sensory upgrades in its Singapore in-store displays as it strives to drive sales in the absence of wine sampling opportunities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

With sampling and tasting becoming near-obsolete in stores after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region, products that depend on sensorial experiences to attract consumers such as wine have had to find entirely new ways to draw in consumers.

This led the firm to believe that consumers were experiencing a distinct lack or gap in their wine-shopping experience, thus working to innovate what it calls ‘phygital’ in-store displays to improve this shopping experience.

“In introducing this brand new phygital mode of retail marketing and display, we hope to revitalise shoppers’ experience by directly addressing their concerns and needs,”​ Penfolds International (South East Asia, Japan, Korea, Europe, Middle East & Africa) General Manager Yodissen Mootoosamy said.

Malaysia ‘won’t be fooled with’: Minister promises ‘aggressive’ fight against foreign pressures on palm oil

Malaysia’s minister in charge of palm oil has promised to put up an ‘aggressive’ fight against pressures on the industry from foreign powers such as the EU and US when she goes to Brussels in March, in addition to promising local automation within five years to relieve labour pressures.

The EU plans to phase out palm oil imports by 2030, largely based on sustainability concerns which the palm oil sector has denied. In May 2021 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) accepted Malaysia’s request to establish a panel to present its protests against this move, which Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) YB Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin revealed will commence in March this year.

Datuk Zuraida, who oversees the palm oil sector, also made an impassioned pledge to the palm oil industry earlier this month, at the Malaysian Palm Oil Council’s (MPOC) Reach & Remind Friends of the Industry Seminar and Dialogue 2022, promising to battle against palm oil dissenters and defend the sector during the hearing in Brussels.

“The case has been filed, and we are going to provide complete dossiers [and research] regarding all that has been done in Malaysia regarding these accusations and to [refute them],”​ Datuk Zuraida told the floor.

Where’s hot? Three emerging categories to watch for food industry growth in 2022

As the Asia Pacific region continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, these three emerging categories are showing significant potential for food and beverage growth moving into 2022.

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