ANZ review: The Top 10 most-read Oceania food and beverage stories from 2023

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Read our top 10 most-viewed food and beverage stories from Australia and New Zealand throughout 2023.
Read our top 10 most-viewed food and beverage stories from Australia and New Zealand throughout 2023.

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Read our top 10 most-viewed food and beverage stories from Australia and New Zealand throughout 2023, featuring The Mad Foodies' healthier RTE meals, All G Foods' precision fermented proteins' Singapore debut, caffeine consumption concerns and more.

More than a ‘glorified TV dinner’: Australia’s The Mad Foodies translates research into low-carb, high-protein RTE meals

Australia-based brand The Mad Foodies has set its sights on satiating growing demand for ready meals that are not only convenient and tasty, but also infused with science-backed nutritional benefits.

Years of extensive research by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, led to the development of the CSIRO Low-Carb Diet, an evidence-based eating plan that is lower in carbohydrates, and higher in protein and healthy fats.

The findings were published in a book series that serve as a self-guide — including a range of recipes and meal suggestions — for consumers to learn how to implement the Low-Carb Diet in their daily lives, and were utilised by The Mad Foodies in the development of its RTE meals.

Australia’s All G Foods scales up for debut of precision fermented proteins in Singapore by end-2024

Sydney-based precision fermentation firm All G Foods doubled down on R&D and consumer insights research to complete its first finished product, with an eye on the APAC, Middle East and US markets.

With the world’s population projected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, the planet “simply does not have the resources” to provide food for all its human inhabitants, said Roman Buckow, Chief Technology Officer of All G Foods.

“We saw an opportunity to take the best that nature has to offer — in terms of cow’s protein — and complement it with science and cutting-edge technology to develop cultured dairy proteins via precision fermentation. The goal is to bring high-quality and tasty Australian-made dairy products to local and global consumers,” ​Buckow told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Caffeine concerns: Oceania consumers’ inadequate understanding of beverage contents a risk

Data from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) revealed lacking understanding in local consumers regarding caffeine content in daily foods and drinks and the relevant side effects, posing a risk of overconsumption.

Pursuant to FSANZ’s proposal to review permissions for caffeine in general foods and sports foods as well as risk assessments for sensitive sub-populations in late 2022, the agency has conducted a systematic review covering 65 studies across 2010 to 2022 to examine consumer behaviour and understanding of caffeinated foods in the local food system, particularly the risks related to overconsumption.

According to the review, consumers are not always aware that a product contains caffeine especially when this is not made clear on the label, and many consumers continue to consume more of such products even when experiencing caffeine-related side effects.

Time to add value: Can Australia and New Zealand seriously compete in the alt-protein space?

Australia and New Zealand have been lagging behind when it comes to alt-protein innovation and advances, with capital and commercialisation challenges holding the sector back.

While Australia and New Zealand are some of the world’s biggest agricultural producers, alt-protein producers in these countries largely rely on importing high value inputs, such as protein concentrates for plant-based meat.

According to think tank Food Frontier, the challenge lies in creating higher value ingredients, instead of importing them.

"Both Australia and New Zealand have relied heavily on mining and farming the land and exporting the raw products because there’s been a ready market for them. What is now becoming essential in order to grow their economic complexity is turning these products into higher value downstream products for both domestic and export markets," ​said Food Frontier’s executive director Dr Simon Eassom.

Applicable to all: Australia’s new mandatory alcohol pregnancy warning labels enforceable on imported beverages

Australia started enforcement of mandatory pregnancy warning on all alcoholic beverages earlier this year, a requirement that also applies to imports.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) first announced that Australia was considering the implementation of mandatory pregnancy warning labels for alcoholic beverages back in 2019.

The alcoholic beverages sector in Australia has maintained that there is a ‘working and effective’ ​labelling scheme already in place with no need for legislation to govern it, with major players such as Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) and Australian Grape and Wine previously having submitted protests against the move.

Nevertheless, FSANZ proceeded with the transition to and enforcement of the alcohol pregnancy warning label over the past three years, and from July 31 2023 all beverages with above 1.15% ABV must carry the label in accordance with strict size, format, colour and font specifications.

Bringing the oat milk home: Otis eyes ‘huge’ cost reductions and production boost with NZ infrastructure

New Zealand oat milk pioneers Otis Oat Milk has highlighted that its first production plant in the country will boost growth and provide ‘huge’ cost reductions.

Otis Oat Milk was established in 2019  and has made a name for itself as one of the country’s leading oat milk brands – but had faced major growth hurdles due to a severe lack of local production infrastructure.

“The lack of infrastructure [for oat milk production] really surprised us previously, as New Zealand has such an abundance of world class dairy production - we’ve had to ship our New Zealand-grown oats to Sweden for manufacture due to the lack of a local factory with the technology required to produce premium oat milks to the gold-standard we demand,”​ Otis Co-Founder Tim Ryan told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Guilt-free gummies: Funday highlights gut-friendly formulation and single-serve packaging as major success factors

Australian guilt-free confectionary firm Funday highlighted its unique gut-friendly ingredient formulation as well as its one-bag-one-serve packaging as major success factors.

When we last spoke to Funday in 2022, the firm had just hit the 1,000 retail outlets mark and told us of plans to make it to 3,000 outlets by the end of 2022 – a target which it achieved earlier this year.

“Funday natural sweets are now in Chemist Warehouse and Woolworths outlets worldwide, as well as some 450 Ampol gas stations, WH Smith stores as of last December, and more retailers to come as of this month (January 2023),”​ Funday Founder Daniel Kitay told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

‘Maori edge in Asia’: New Zealand targets SEA’s untapped potential for trade and food tech innovation

South East Asia’s food tech expertise offers a ‘huge area of potential collaboration’ to creating value-added Maori products, with significant interest apparent on both sides to pursue agri-food innovation, industry experts said earlier this year.

A delegation of nine Maori food and beverage entrepreneurs visited Singapore and Thailand via a programme organized by the Asia New Zealand Foundation to explore new opportunities for collaboration in South East Asia.

The programme sought to connect the delegation with private and public stakeholders in the South East Asian food innovation ecosystem.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia​, senior business advisor Ethan Jones highlighted that it was key to have diverse Maori trades represented in its delegation.

Fast, not furious: New Zealand food sector welcomes ‘expeditious’ development of new Grocery Code of Conduct

The food and grocery sector in New Zealand acquiesced for the government to develop the first full version of the new Grocery Code of Conduct to speed up introduction earlier this year, but also stressed that administration will subsequently need to move out of its control.

After years of debate over the introduction of a local Grocery Code of Conduct, the bill to introduce this was finally introduced to parliament late last year, with its first reading formally taking place on November 24 2022.

The select committee for this bill prepared a follow-up report on the bill which was recently submitted to parliament in March 2023 with several updated recommendations – one of which was for the minister in charge, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Dr Duncan Webb, to develop the first version of the code.

‘New avenue of justice’: How much can new China IP protection policies aid Zespri’s quest against unlicensed kiwifruits?

IP protection policies in China introduced earlier this year could help New Zealand kiwifruit powerhouse Zespri to pursue its fight against individuals growing and selling its golden kiwifruit.

Zespri had revealed that it was bringing another lawsuit to China’s Intellectual Property Court in Nanjing against two individuals that the firm has claimed to be cultivating, selling and marketing its SunGold Gold3 kiwifruit illegally.

The golden kiwifruit is viewed as a much more premium variant than regular green kiwifruit, and New Zealand farmers pay significant amounts, up to NZ$800,000 per hectare, to Zespri for a growing licence.

Zespri first lost control of SunGold in 2016 when Chinese planter Haoyu Gao smuggled SunGold cuttings from New Zealand to China, and has been struggling to regain control over this variant ever since.

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