Skills abound in FGC

One of the privileges of working at FGC is that every day I get to talk to such fascinating people.

Be they from member companies when I am out and about visiting them, related industries and businesses, or regulators and law makers, they all contribute in some way to the single most important sector of the New Zealand economy.

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Forklift safety: 5 ways to reduce incidents

James Watters of Linfox shares his company’s policy on forklift safety:

One of the biggest hazards in a warehouse or distribution centre is the operation of forklifts. While forklifts are compactly designed to make them highly maneuverable, this can lead to low stability if they are not operated with caution. Fully loaded, a standard forklift can weigh approximately five tonnes. Even at low speed, a forklift collision or rollover can cause serious injury to workers and pedestrians, and even death.

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Exclusive Foran address standout in big FGC year

20 August 2018

Chief among the benefits that companies get from belonging to the Food and Grocery Council is exclusive access to information, seminars and networking events.

These cover anything from export, health & safety, and sales strategies, to retail data and insights, high-quality speakers, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with managing directors and peers from our biggest suppliers and our main retailers, as well as country managers of some of the biggest FMCG companies in the world.

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Many reasons for high milk prices in NZ

21 August 2018

An article on Stuff, entitled ‘Milking it: NZ's milk price: Who's getting rich?,’ blamed "astoundingly high” prices on our lack of retail competition, a market dominated by one big supplier, and  the fact that what Kiwis pay is skewed by international prices because so much of our production is turned into export commodities.

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Katherine Rich: attacking our treats a step too far

20 July 2018

Now they’re going too far. As if years of using erroneous figures as “evidence” to back calls for taxes on sugar in everyday foods and beverages wasn’t bad enough, anti-food campaigners are now turning to some of the things that bring a little joy to our lives – treats

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Technology set to radically change the way we shop

3 July 2018

Last month I wrote here about predictions by some food industry experts on the shape of the food industry in 2050.

When some panelists from our industry were asked at the Food for the Future summit in Singapore what they thought the food world would look like in 30 years’ time, they said there would be no stock farms, no animal ingredients in foods, and no meat section in supermarkets. The commentators were from companies promoting plant-based proteins which no doubt affects their views, but their comments were interesting nonetheless.

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Predictions of uneasy truce, rather than trade war

An analysis of the uncertainties surrounding world trade in light of moves by President Donald Trump predicts that China and the US are likely to arrive at “a long, uneasy truce rather than a binding agreement or a full-scale trade war".

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Media has duty to publish accurate wellbeing material

The newspaper headline was enough to get nutritionists wondering: “Fat enzyme breakthrough kept mouse thin on pizza and burgers diet”. Those of us with a questionable diet were wishfully thinking that at last here was something that meant we could eat fast foods to our heart’s delight.

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Our food future - plant-based food only?

No stock farms, no animal ingredients in any foods, and definitely no meat section in supermarkets. It doesn’t sound right, but according to some food industry leaders it’s what the food world could look like just 30 years from now.

Last month I was at the Food for the Future summit in Singapore, as a guest of Food Industry Asia, where some of the sharpest minds around were asked to predict what food would look like in 2050. That’s when the world’s population is predicted to be close to 10 billion (at the time of writing it was 7.6 billion and increasing by 200,000 per day!).

It was a fascinating session.

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Obesity dominates food scene in 2018

As predicted, the food industry year is shaping up to be dominated by what more can be done to reduce obesity. This is no surprise, since New Zealand’s obesity rate remains one of the highest in the developed world. It’s a problem everyone should be concerned about.

As promised, the Government is now moving into action on the issue.

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Labelling of food exports to Australia

The two-year transition period around the correct labelling of food products exported to Australia ends on 1 July.

Any products that have old labels at the end of the transition period can still be sold until the end of their shelf-life, but food labelled after 1 July 2018 must follow the new rules.

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Chocolate industry could match wine, honey success

Being raised in Dunedin, the presence of the Cadbury factory looming large not far away down the hill made sure chocolate played a big part in my youth.

Cadbury World was the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of my schooldays, and I visited it many times with school over the years, as I’m sure did every kid in Dunedin over the years. I recall our class getting into trouble on one visit for sewing extra pockets into our blazers to fill with chocolate!

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Has the tide on the sugar tax debate finally turned?

Has the tide on the sugar tax debate finally turned? Has evidence and common sense prevailed?

A week can be a long time in politics, but a couple of recent events have given me hope that the tide has turned – that we may be able to stop wasting time debating a policy intervention that’s been proven to have little or no effect on improving health outcomes and concentrate on things that stand a much better chance.

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Industry focuses on minimising waste packaging

9 March 2018

Reducing packaging waste has been a focus of grocery manufacturers for many years, and a lot of work continues to be done to consider such issues by the Food and Grocery Council’s sister bodies the Packaging Council and the Packaging Forum.

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New Government means a busy year ahead

13 February 2018

I’m picking 2018 to be the busiest year in the food and grocery sector for some time. That’s mainly because we’ve got a new government with new polices, new ministers, and new approaches.

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On the lookout for new opportunities

10 January 2018

The NZ Food & Grocery Council is always on the lookout for ways to create opportunities for member companies and the wider food sector, either in our domestic market or in an export market. One way we do this is by helping them make connections with supermarket buyers.

We recently had a great opportunity to do this by way of an initiative designed to showcase products that are market ready, and the result proves the industry is thriving with innovation.

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'The biggest problem is people can't cook'

Everyone agrees New Zealand’s rate of obesity remains a real concern. The New Zealand Health Survey 2015/16 shows that 32 per cent of people over 15, and 11 per cent of children were obese. Of those, 47 per cent of Maori adults, 15 per cent of Maori children, 67 per cent of Pacific adults, and 30 per cent of Pacific children were obese.

Well-known nutritionist Claire Turnbull summed up perfectly one of the main reasons for those figures when she said “the biggest problem in New Zealand is people can’t cook”. What she was saying was that if you’re cooking a meal at home and sitting down and eating it as a family, it’ll more likely be a much healthier meal than picking up some fast-food.

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Taking care this holiday season

The holiday season can be a time for celebration, but it can also feel overwhelming, with demands at work and home. It’s important that staff are supported to find balance, build resilience, and boost their mental wellbeing so they can continue to do their best work.

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BIMs: MPI, Trade and Export Growth

8 December 2017

The Briefs for Incoming Ministers, which are produced by each Ministry for their relevant Minister, were published yesterday.

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Update on acrylamide

FSANZ has published an infographic on acrylamide for the food industry, together with some updated web content that draws heavily on the content of the Food/Drink Europe information.

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Conspiracy theories masked as analysis

In an era when consumers are sceptical of 'fake news', a further concern is brewing, says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

Of concern within food circles is what seems to be a new academic fashion of over-analysing email exchanges and using them to affirm food industry conspiracy theories. Its worrying effect is to cast serious debate and the genuine science behind it into the shadows just when science-based illumination and debate is most needed.

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Public money spent on poor research

5 October 2017

Public money is being used to support research by some academics who use poor and inconsistent definitions to back their work, says Katherine Rich.

“This leads to results that don't clearly outline or quantify problem areas that can be targeted for effective change.”

She was writing after Otago and Auckland university researchers published a study that used cameras around the necks of 168 children to show what they were seeing. They claimed the results showed children were bombarded by junk food advertisements in schools, homes and on the streets. They said the way to reduce exposure was to impose a sugary drinks tax and regulate ‘junk’ food marketing and what foods can be sold in schools.

“This study was unbalanced,” says Katherine Rich, in FMCG Business magazine.

“For a start, they counted as advertisements the number of food wrappers the children saw! It’s hardly surprising they were the main images captured by the cameras, but that’s deliberately misleading people into believing packaging exists solely for marketing purposes, and that’s completely untrue.

“Nor was there analysis of exposure to all foods.”

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Sneaky vegetables

Times have changed from the ‘meat and two veg’ psyche many of us inherited from our past, and so should our view of the wonderful fresh vegetables available.

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Joint approach needed on food literacy

12 September 2017

Harvard University Dining is big business. The self-sustaining department serves 25,000 meals a day during the academic year and five million annually. It has a staff of 650 and annual foodservice revenue of nearly NZ$90 million.

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Lion's Alcohol&Me programme a big hit

6 September 2017

An online programme aimed at educating New Zealanders on safer alcohol consumption is proving to be a fantastic resource everyone should check out, says NZ Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

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Katherine Rich: Home cooking to fight obesity

I was sorting through some old boxes of books recently when I came across my Home Economics book from school, or as it used to be called “Manual Training”. I think it was about Form 1 (today’s Year 7 equivalent). And the cover page? ‘Cooking Is Fun!’

Inside were many recipes and cooking tips we had been taught by our Home Economics teacher Miss Flower, with one page even bearing the burn marks from where a hot pan or pot had been placed on it. I’m not sure if that was by design or accident, but what I am sure of is how much I enjoyed those classes and learning the basics of cooking – key skills for life.

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Katherine Rich: Country of Origin Labelling

Walk into any major supermarket and the first thing you see are bins filled with fresh fruit and vegetables. And they all have stickers or cards on them denoting their country of origin – grapes from California, pineapples from Queensland, Kiwifruit from Te Puke, bananas from the Philippines … you name it.

I suspect most of us agree that shoppers are keen to know where their fresh produce comes from, especially when they know they’re out of season in New Zealand. 

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NZ v Australia

28 June 2017

Some food prices in New Zealand are higher than in Australia due mainly to economies of scale that come with a bigger population base, says FGC. The NZ Herald and Radio NZ asked FGC to comment on claims by ex-pats living in Australia that their food bill was much lower than in New Zealand.

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Facts behind fad diets

Paleo, detoxes, clean eating, raw diet, no sugar … there’s a seemingly endless stream of different so-called ‘diets’ and new ‘health’ foods which are often accompanied by some elusive and alluring promise of quick weight loss and magical health benefits.

You may even find the odd celebrity as part of the promotion of these.

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Smart food swaps

Very small differences to diets every day can make a big difference over a period to wellbeing and weight. Drastic changes or the latest fad diets are not needed - they so often don’t work because the food and taste is so different.

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Added sugar: the answers

Sugar is found naturally in a lot of foods we need as part of a healthy diet. But how much should we have? Why is too much added sugar bad for us? How can we decrease it? The answers are at

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Maintaining a good pulse

If someone told you about a food that was low in fat, gluten free, a good source of protein, fibre and vitamins, comparatively cheap, and good for the planet from a growing perspective – you would want to know what this seemingly wonder food is.  

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Palm oil most sustainable oil crop

27 April 2017

The food industry is not aware of any evidence that palm oil as a source of saturated fat is more detrimental to health than any other source, says Katherine Rich.

Responding to a media inquiry, she also said palm oil was the world’s most productive and sustainable oil crop, producing more oil per hectare than any other, and switching to

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Sector helping keep consumers informed

21 April 2017

A recent move by DB and Lion to voluntarily add nutritional information to bottles, cans, and packaging for their beer products is a further example of food and grocery companies working hard to keep consumers informed, says Katherine Rich.

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How about the non-diet approach?

“I’m allowed only 2000kcal a day”. “I can’t have that because it’s bad for me”. This is the typical diet mentality. But how many of us have stuck to that diet and lost weight, only to lapse and regain all the weight?

The non-diet approach removes restrictions of diet and preoccupation with weight. Read about it on

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In search of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a major role in our diets. It’s essential for bone development and health and it’s needed to absorb calcium from the diet and to help deposit a range of minerals into bones.

The problem is Vitamin D is quite different to any other nutrient because few foods provide enough for our needs. So what foods are the best? Check out our website Healthy Balance.

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Retail crime ideas worth considering

Retail NZ’s solutions to tackle the rising rate of retail crime should be explored, says Katherine Rich.

They include: more resources for a Police Retail Crime Taskforce that attacks the issue; a social investment programme that encourages people to understand the impact of crime and the importance of property rights; and an infringement notice regime for petty offences that works like speeding tickets, where Police impose fines.

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Quick Food Facts: SALT

There have always been questions around salt, so we asked an expert nutritionist to compile the latest information on the subject. Why should we reduce salt in our diet? How much do we eat? How much we should be eating? Where does most of our dietary salt come from? Why do we use salt at all? How much should we eat?

Go to our website Healthy Balance for the answers.

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Microbeads: ahead of the ban

21 February 2017

Comprehensive sustainability policies are now the standard across the operations of responsible companies, with those in the New Zealand food and grocery sector leading the way.

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Health stars help to fight obesity

7 February 2017

Helping New Zealanders fight obesity by making it easier to shop healthier is the motivation behind a new video on the Health Star Rating system released today by the NZ Food and Grocery Council.

The video is the final in a series, written and presented by dietitian and Registered Nutritionist Nikki Hart, which tackles food subjects people are often confused about: what to eat for breakfast, fad diets, processed foods, and how to use the new Health Star Rating (HSR) system.

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Industry, media ‘must ensure consumers get food facts’

6 December 2016

The food industry and the media have a responsibility to ensure consumers are receiving information about food based on fact, not fads and hearsay, say two public relations practitioners.

Jane Dodd and Adelle Keely say in an FGC Leaders Series video interview that there is so much information available that it’s hard for consumers to decide what’s right.

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SMAs ‘more cost-effective way of getting products to market’

30 November 2016

Sales and marketing agencies offer manufacturers and distributors a better and more cost-effective way of taking their products to market, says Alliance Marketing Managing Director Paul Kenny.

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Katherine Rich: Lessons for export success

20 November 2016

Throughout the course of my week I speak to a lot of people in the FMCG industry who run and direct the companies, both tiny and huge, that comprise a massive chunk of the New Zealand economy. And it is massive: $34 billion in domestic retail sales, more than $31 billion in exports, directly or indirectly employing about 400,000 people. The $31 billion in exports was 72 per cent of total merchandise exports in 2014. In addition, food and beverage is our biggest manufacturing sector, representing 44% of total manufacturing income.

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Katherine Rich: Reaching for the Health Stars

10 November 2016

It’s been said countless times that tackling obesity is not about attacking just one or two products, as some public health activists would have us believe. Putting a tax on sugary drinks and removing sweets and treats from supermarket checkouts seem to be the only solutions they have, but we all know it’s about much more than that – it’s about choosing foods wisely and it’s about moderation.

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More big companies outsourcing sales activities

7 November 2016

More big food and grocery companies are seeking specialist help from sales and merchandising agencies as cost and margin pressures increase, says Crossmark NZ Managing Director Grant Leach.

Speaking in an FGC Leaders Series video interview, he says that typically around 10 per cent of New Zealand companies have outsourced their sales and merchandising activities but that is changing.

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Innovation critically important, says Mondelez head

26 October 2016

Product innovation is critically important for business because it’s one of the keys to unlocking growth, says Mondelez International’s New Zealand Country Head James Kane.

Speaking in a NZ Food and Grocery Council Leaders Series video interview, he says innovation was critical to staying ahead of the competition.

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Staying in NZ good for economy, says Brew Group

30 August 2016

Companies that stay to produce in New Zealand rather than move to low-cost economies are doing very good for the economy, says Brew Group CEO NZ Mark Hamilton. He was speaking in an FGC Leaders Series video interview on sustainability.

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Middle leadership 'has key role' in company culture

11 October 2015

Creating a high-performance team culture means mid-level leaders have a key role to play in communicating to staff the right thing to do for a business and the community it operates in, says Coca-Cola Amatil Managing Director NZ and Fiji Chris Litchfield.

In a NZ Food and Grocery Council video interview, he says culture is very important for his company because it wants to make sure its employees “get the most out of coming to work and we get the most and best out of them”.

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Consumers want moderate alcohol stance, says DB

22 August 2016

Advocating moderate alcohol consumption is an extremely important part of DB Breweries’ response to what its consumer are saying they want, says Managing Director Andy Routley. In a video interview with FGC for its Leaders Series, he says the main consumer trends influencing their business are an increasing consumer awareness of wellness, and drinking moderately.

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The truth about the health stars

19 August 2016

Shoppers will have noticed the significant rollout of the Health Star Rating (HSR) labelling system for packaged foods over the past 12 months. There are now more than 1000 products carrying Health Stars, allowing shoppers to make comparisons between products within grocery categories.

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Important to find ways to keep women in FMCG

10 August 2016 

Back in the “olden days”, as my children refer to the 80’s, the government ran a major public campaign to encourage young women to broaden their work horizons and think about different careers. The slogan was “Girls Can Do Anything”, which might sound a bit twee in today’s world, but I remember that at the time it was an empowering message to many of my generation. We heard the message and started to think beyond traditional female jobs.

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Going digital to boost supermarket safety

27 July 2016

Helping ensure grocery supplier representatives and merchandisers who go into supermarkets come out safely is the driving force behind new technology being rolled out by online training company Intuto.

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Engaging staff cuts H&S incidents, improves productivity

19 July 2016

Engaging staff in health and safety had a big impact on manual handling incidents and productivity at Chep NZ, Country Manager Mike O’Brien says in a video in the FGC Leaders Series video.

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Katherine Rich: Australia's code will affect suppliers

10 July 2016

Friday 1 July was a momentous day for Australia’s food and grocery industry – that was when their Food & Grocery Code of Conduct kicked in. For all companies supplying Woolworths, Coles or ALDI with brands or private label products (including those based in New Zealand) the Code means a new set of principles and rules overseeing supplier/retailer relationships.

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Health and wellness priority for staff, products

12 July 2016

Health and wellness is the top priority for snack company Griffins when it comes to both the staff it employs and the products it sells, as CEO Alison Barrass explains in the latest FGC Leaders Series video.

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Manufacturers obliged over safety and information on packs

5 July 2016

Food manufacturers have an obligation not only to make sure their products are safe but also to give consumers as much information about them as possible, says Len Croudis, Country Manager for SunRice.

He was speaking about food safety leadership in an FGC Leaders Series video.

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Katherine Rich: Imagine a world without food standards

1 July 2016

A presentation by Katherine Rich to a seminar celebrating 20 years of the Food Treaty between New Zealand and Australia.

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Taking on FMCG talent gap challenges

28 June 2016

The FMCG industry is suffering from a talent gap in marketing as skilled people are drawn overseas to where the big budgets are.That’s the view of Hamish Marr and Kevin O’Shannessey, of Synergy Consumer, who discuss industry talent and retention in the latest FGC Leaders Series video.

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Movies expose children to worse behaviour than advertisements

21 June 2016

Children are exposed to far worse behaviour in television programmes and movies than they are in advertisements, says Lindsay Mouat, CEO of the Association of NZ Advertisers, in the latest FGC Leaders Series video about industry codes around advertising food to children.

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Craig Cotton: Personalising h&s strengthened people-first culture

Personalising health and safety was one way an FMCG leader was able to strengthen the strong people-first culture in two companies he was responsible for.

Craig Cotton, former Country Manager of Independent Liquor and former Chief Executive of the Better Drinks Company, says in an FGC Leaders Series video that the culture around the businesses was to put people first.

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FGC Comments: Health Star Rating

FGC comments on the Health Star Rating scheme:

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Alison Barrass: Progress eliminating safety risks

7 June 2016

The food and grocery industry is making significant progress in eliminating safety risks across the supply chain, says Griffins Foods Chief Executive Alison Barrass. She was speaking in the latest FGC Leaders Series video.

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Mark Callaghan: Meeting consumer needs the key

30 May 2016

Understanding consumers’ changing needs, offering them choices, and educating them on those choices is what the food and beverage industry is all about, says company director (former CEO of Frucor) Mark Callaghan in an FGC Leaders Series video.

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Pic Picot: Renewable energy should be NZ selling point

19 May 2016

New Zealand manufacturers should be skiting to the world about making their food and groceries with renewable energy, says Pic’s Peanut Butter CEO Pic Picot in the latest FGC Leaders Series video.

“A lot of countries are making their electricity by burning fossil fuel, and I think it’s a market advantage that we’ve got in New Zealand that we don’t recognise enough.”

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Good policy requires good science

16 May 2016

Professor Shaun Hendy of Auckland University has recently published a book, Silencing Science, which presents his theory that many scientists in New Zealand are being constrained from sharing their expertise and speaking about many topics of public importance.

While FGC acknowledges his point that in some instances scientists bound by employment agreements may not able to speak, particularly those undertaking commercial research, his use of the New Zealand Government’s decision not to fortify all New Zealand bread with folic acid as an example of scientists being silenced is not supported by the facts.

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Katherine Rich: Everyone has a role in health & safety

15 May 2016

Those in our industry know well the importance of being mindful of potential hazards in supermarkets and grocery stores, but here’s a number that may surprise you: 4529. It’s the number of ACC claims made by grocery workers last year.

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Kelly Smith: Industry faces talent challenge

12 May 2016

The food and grocery sector has to do a better job of attracting, developing and retaining good-quality talent, says industry training and development leader Kelly Smith in FGC's latest Leaders Series video.

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Katherine Rich: Fighting diabetes epidemic

1 May 2016

The numbers are scary: 422 million people worldwide had diabetes in 2014, up from 108 million in 1980, and 347 million in 2008; the prevalence of diabetes among those over 18 years of age rose from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014; in 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and a further 2.2 million were attributable to high blood glucose; almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70.

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Veronique Cremades: Helping consumers understand choices

26 April 2016

The food industry is built on trust and it’s up to companies to make sure their consumers understand what they are buying, says the New Zealand Country Manager for Nestlé, Veronique Cremades.

In the third video of the FGC Leaders Series, Mrs Cremades says consumers buy brands on trust so it’s very important for companies to create a constructive and informative dialogue with consumers.

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Katherine Rich: May the health stars be with you

15 April 2016

It’s star wars – but not as we know it! The Government’s campaign to increase shoppers’ understanding and awareness of the food Health Star Rating system promises to be putting stars in our eyes for some time to come – through to June 2018, in fact. It’s certainly a comprehensive campaign, especially in the first three months.

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Katherine Rich: You can't tax people slim

1 April 2016

For more than a year now, public health activists around the world have been pointing to the Mexican soda tax as proof that taxes on sugar in food and drink work.

As recently as February, the British Medical Journal was quoting US and Mexican researchers as saying the 10 per cent tax had cut sales by 12 per cent in the first year, with the average person purchasing 4.2 fewer litres of sugar-sweetened drinks in that time. The BMJ article was based on data from Nielsen home panels in 2014.

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Sharna Heinjus: 15m nappies composted

29 March 2016

Composting 15 million babies’ nappies and recycling 1.6 billion soft plastic items are just two of the real and potential outcomes from a comprehensive sustainability strategy operated by multi-national company Kimberly-Clark.

General Manager Sharna Heinjus says that through a strategy called ‘Our Essential World’, her company ensures it’s focused on the right things and is making positive progress against its three key pillars: people, planet, product.

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Geoff Shaw: training talent

21 March 2016

Sharing business intelligence and some of the ideas that make FMCG businesses successful is the aim of a new series of videos launched by FGC.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says there are some great leaders and thinkers within the FGC membership and idea behind the videos is to have them sharing some of their insights.

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HEALTH & SAFETY: Business snapshot

10 March 2016

The Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum has published a snapshot of how health and safety is governed, managed, and organised in New Zealand business.

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Nikki Hart video: Eat better to live longer

8 March 2016

New Zealanders are healthier today than they were 50 years ago, and improved diet is one of the main reasons, says Registered Nutritionist Nikki Hart in FGC's final video in its series on healthier eating.

“Life expectancy has been steadily increasing, and women can now expect to live to around 83 years and men till about 80 – and with a bit more nutritional care we could improve the odds further,” she says.

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Nikki Hart video: Shoppers should have a plan

24 February 2016 

Having a supermarket shopping list is good for your budget, can ensure variety, and limits ‘treat’ items, says dietitian and Registered Nutritionist Nikki Hart in FGC's third video on healthy eating.

The video, entitled ‘Smarter Shopping’, is full of great tips about where consumers can find the most healthful foods in supermarkets, how to read labels, and how to compare products

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Folic acid: fortification must consider risks and benefits

February 2016

Professor emeritus David Smith of the University of Oxford, Professor Helga Refsum, of the University of Oslo, and Professors Jacob Selhub and Professor Irwin H Rosenberg of Tufts University, Boston, have written to the British Medical Journal regarding any decision to fortify bread with folic acid.

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Nikki Hart video: Identifying snacks vs treats

2 February 2016

Balancing snacks and treats is a challenge for many people but the secret is in identifying them, according to food and nutrition expert Nikki Hart in FGC's second video on healthy eating.

The four-minute video shows that all foods and beverages can fit within a person’s overall pattern of intake but only if the intake is balanced within their needs.

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OBESITY: Videos help inform debate

By Katherine Rich (in FMCG Business and Supermarket News), February 2016

The Government’s package of initiatives to tackle obesity in children was welcomed by most people when it was unveiled in October. It was a pragmatic approach to a complex problem and recognised that families, individuals, industry, government, and public health officials must all do their bit to help solve it.

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Grocery Code of Conduct

12 November 2015

NewstalkZB asked FGC for comment on a bill that had been drawn from Parliament’s members’ bill ballot. It was the Commerce (Supermarket Adjudicator and Code of Conduct) Amendment Bill, which is designed to establish an independent supermarket adjudicator to develop a code of conduct for relationships between supermarkets and suppliers. It was in the name of Green MP Mojo Mathers.

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Nikki Hart video: Energy gap easier weight-loss option

15 December 2015

Creating an energy gap is the key to preventing weight gain, according to food and nutrition expert Nikki Hart in the first in a video series who features in the first video in a series on healthier eating by FGC.

The four-minute video shows how small changes in our food or activity can create the all-important energy gap that shifts our body towards burning body fat for energy, rather than storing excess energy as fat.

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HEALTH STARS: Benefits aplenty

By Katherine Rich (in Food NZ) 19 October 2015

As more food products with the Health Star Rating logo appear on supermarket shelves, it’s time to address several of the unfounded but popular criticisms that surround what’s proving to be an excellent system.

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HEALTH STARS: Gathering momentum

By Katherine Rich (in Supermarket News) 15 October 2015

It would be interesting to get direct feedback from those who work on the shop floor, but by now I’m hoping most shoppers agree that the voluntary Health Star Rating system is proving to be a very useful tool in helping them quickly and easily identify healthier foods on our supermarket shelves.

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ADVERTISING: Facts show children not targeted

By Katherine Rich (in Supermarket News) 15 September 2015

There’s a lot of confusion and ignorance around the marketing and advertising of foods to children, be it on television, online, or simply on product packaging which is designed to catch the eye on a supermarket shelf.

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Media comment: flushable wipes

7 September 2015

Consumer Magazine asked FGC to respond to issues surrounding the issue of flushable wipes:

  • Does FGC have any sales data on this product category? We’ve seen some sales forecasts for the US and the UK which indicate it’s a growth category.
  • Does FGC have a position/comments on the negative criticisms that these products don’t break up like regular toilet paper and so can cause issues in some pipes/water systems? The criticisms have been both locally (NZ) and internationally.
  • What steps is the industry taking in this category? Are there any plans to “redesign” products so they disperse more easily or is industry happy that the technology is acceptable?


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WHITE BREAD: Not white trash

By Katherine Rich (in The Dominion Post) 7 September 2015

One of the more surprising recent headlines about the food industry was splashed across the front page of The Dominion Post newspaper as if heralding a dramatic piece of news. It read “Forget sugar - white bread’s the new villain”. With its accompanying graphic, it took up at least half of the page, so it was certainly eye-catching. Unfortunately it was unhelpfully false. And it wasn’t just the headline.

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NUTRITION: Errors abound in academic paper

By Katherine Rich (in FMCG Business) 1 September 2015

In the modern age of mobile devices and predictive text spelling, mistakes aren’t considered to be such a sin, but when university academics present themselves as experts on the food industry and can’t even spell Coca-Cola correctly ("Coco Cola"), it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the academic paper.

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TAX: Calls for move on staple foods surprises

By Katherine Rich (in Food New Zealand) 10 August 2015

Recent calls by Auckland University academics for a tax on basic staple foods such as bread, meat, and eggs caught commentators and the general public by surprise. Other nutrition and food researchers were also left more than a little bemused. A tax on breakfast cereals and milk? Surely not. 

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ALCOHOL: Shelf placement of no-alcohol beer

By Katherine Rich (in Supermarket News), 1 August 2015

Ever since the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act 2012 came into effect there have been issues with interpretation – everything from the many requirements of local alcohol plans administered by councils, to exactly where in supermarkets certain sorts of products should be placed.

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TAX: Claims don't add up

By Katherine Rich (in FMCG Business) 1 August 2015

When Benjamin Franklin said there are “only two things certain in life: death and taxes” he was spot on. After all, times were much simpler back then.

Fast forward to 2015 and he might be inclined to amend it to something like “death and Auckland University academics coming up with new taxes on everything we eat and drink”. Because that seems to form the big part of their contribution to the obesity debate. No new ideas around education or getting schools and communities to buy in to programmes that might lay the foundation to change attitudes around diet and exercise.

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SUGAR: ‘Addictive sugar’ letter – FGC response

17 August 2015

Katherine Rich responded to a letter to the Editor of The Press which said the Government’s excuse for a lack of action over controlling sugar in food was that “it’s entirely a matter of individual responsibility (as has been said by the Food and Grocery Council’s Katherine Rich, Peter Dunne and others).”

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SALT: FGC challenges claims on levels

FGC challenged a paper published in Nutrients Journal (28 May) by academics from the University of Auckland.

The paper concluded that only very slow progress had been made in lowering sodium levels in food products, that levels fell far short of WHO recommended levels, and that a renewed focus across the food sector was needed in New Zealand was to meet its United Nations commitments.

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ALCOHOL: Expert debunks alcohol-cancer claims

Claims by academics at an Alcohol and Cancer conference in Wellington that even moderate consumption causes cancer have been debunked by an international expert on alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

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HEALTH & SAFETY: Worksafe survey released

13 July 2015

WorkSafe NZ has released its 2014 Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours Survey reports have been released and are available.

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SUGAR: Fizzy tax won't solve obesity problem

By Katherine Rich (in Supermarket News) 1 July 2015

Sugar tax supporters believe a 10% tax on fizzy drinks like in Mexico will be a magic solution to New Zealand’s obesity problem. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Local activists such as Boyd Swinburn were overjoyed following the release of a study by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. It claimed the tax reduced purchases in Mexican households by an average 12% at the end of the first year, and that “taxes imposed on sugar-sweetened beverages can help change behaviours in benefit of public health”.

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OBESITY: Report highlights NZ's epidemic

4 May 2015

The Ministry of Health has published a document on the body weight of New Zealanders drawn from data collected from about 13,000 adults and over 4000 children each year between 2011 and 2013.

Entitled Understanding Excess Body Weight, it reviews the current status of our obesity epidemic, exploring the increase in obesity over the past 36 years.

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FOOD FACTS: MPI dishes up

With the passing of the new Food Act 2014, MPI has produced some very useful fact sheets for general use by both suppliers and retailers.

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Changes to Weights & Measures

19 September 2014

Changes have been made to Weights and Measures legislation and regulations concerning traders who sell products by weight or measure.

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Food standards and additives - putting the record straight

19 September 2014

An article in the NZ Herald by Wendyl Nissen claims FGC had run a campaign earlier this year to discredit her. The problem was that like many of her columns, this article contained errors.

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Folic acid: update on report

March 2014

Professor emeritus David Smith of the University of Oxford, and Professor Helga Refsum, of the University of Oslo, have updated earlier advice (February 2012) to the NZ Food and Grocery Council on the issue of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.

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