Hot Right Now: Alcohol and COVID-19 link, Yili's ASEAN plans, Nestle Australia's wind-powered ambitions and more social media trending stories

By Pearly Neo

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Alcohol and COVID-19 link, Yili's ASEAN plans, Nestle Australia's wind-powered ambitions and more feature in this edition of Hot Right Now.
Alcohol and COVID-19 link, Yili's ASEAN plans, Nestle Australia's wind-powered ambitions and more feature in this edition of Hot Right Now.

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Alcohol and COVID-19 link, Yili's ASEAN plans, Nestle Australia's wind-powered ambitions and more 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.

Consumers of fortified wine between one to two glasses a week were associated with a 12% lower risk of COVID-19 compared to non-drinkers. Similarly, any consumption three or more glasses a per was not associated with lower COVID-19 risks.

‘Richer and sweeter’: Yili reveals growth strategy to conquer SEA dairy market following Indonesian factory launch

Chinese dairy giant Yili has revealed its growth strategy for the South East Asian dairy market, claiming that products need to have a richer and sweeter taste profile to entice consumers.

Yili has achieved phenomenal success in China with both its traditional (fresh milk, milk powders) and modernised (yoghurt drinks, new age ice creams) dairy products, and the dairy heavyweight is now looking to replicate that success in the South East Asian region.

Apart from its recently-launched ice cream plant in Indonesia, the firm also purchased Thailand’s largest domestic ice cream manufacturer Chomthana for US$80.56mn, together establishing what Yili calls its ‘dual centres’ in South East Asia.

“These dual centres are meant for us to expand directly into the region and enhance our capabilities to serve and respond to local markets – the two plants will develop and produce localised and differentiated products to cater to the needs of local consumers, e.g. Cremo brand ice cream in Thailand and Joyday brand ice cream in Indonesia which is Yili’s first international ice cream brand,”​ Yili Assistant President Dr Yun Zhanyou told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Change is in the wind: Nestle Australia highlights plant-based portfolio and 100% renewable energy switch

Nestle Australia has highlighted its switch to 100% renewable energy for all operations as well as its rapidly broadening plant-based product portfolio as key initiatives that will help the firm to reach its 2050 net zero emissions goal.

The firm recently converted all its operations – across all of its six Australian factories, two distribution centres, three corporate offices, 20 retail boutiques, and laboratory – to function using only renewable energy, and decided that it will be solely focusing on wind energy for this.

“We have made our first renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) with CWP Renewables, which is for 10 years – CWP Renewables’ Crudine Ridge and Sapphire wind farms in NSW will generate enough electricity to cover the electricity used across Nestle’s sites each year,”​ Nestle Oceania Director of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Margaret Stuart told FoodNavigator-Asia​.


Philippines trans-fat ban: Policy chiefs issue new guidelines and ban on-pack claims ahead of 2023 changes

Policy chiefs in the Philippines have circulated guidelines for food firms to eliminate the use of Trans-Fatty Acids (TFA) in pre-packaged processed foods by next year, including prohibiting the use of on-pack claims such as ‘TFA-free’.

It comes after the country launched a bill in 2020 and the Department of Health issued an administrative order last June under its “National Policy on the Elimination of Industrially-Produced Trans-Fatty Acids for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases”.

This banned industrially-produced TFA from pre-packaged processed food products, with health officials citing the 'alarming global and local magnitude of the problem involving Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD)'.

Suck it and see: Vietnam eco-straw brand EQUO sets sights on overseas expansion

Vietnam’s EQUO believes that the sustainability and hygienic credentials of its eco-friendly straws give it a clear edge over competitors made from paper or metal, and is starting the year with a new international launch into Singapore.

EQUO is focused on developing 100% plastic-free and compostable solutions for everyday single-use items from straws to utensils and even stationery, and aims to tackle the single-use plastic issue with its products.

“About 50% of all plastic products are in fact used only once, and only for 20 minutes or less, then takes hundreds of years to break down,”​ EQUO Founder Marina Tran-Vu told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

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