Companies continue to reformulate foods

1 December 2015

Food companies are continuing to make big strides in the reformulation of popular foods to make them healthier, in line with consumer demand, says Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council. 

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FGC welcomes investor guide to food and beverage industry

24 November 2015

The NZ Food & Grocery Council welcomes the release of the 2015 edition of the ‘Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage Industry’ by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich says it’s a fantastic resource and a must-read for anyone wanting to get a detailed understanding of New Zealand’s major food producers. 

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Government’s obesity package pragmatic

19 October 2015

The Food and Grocery Council welcomes the Government’s package of initiatives to tackle obesity in children.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says it’s a pragmatic approach to a concerning problem.

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Bill on supermarket adjudicator, code of conduct – FGC media response

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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TPP will be NZ’s most lucrative trade deal

6 October 2015

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement  will be the biggest and most lucrative trade deal in New Zealand’s history despite dairy not getting exactly what we all wanted it to get, says Katherine Rich.

“There have been big gains for some sectors and small gains for others, but the main thing is that the agreement will be a big net gain for New Zealand.

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DHBs remove fizzy sugary drinks - FGC media response

30 September 2015

The Bay of Plenty Times, Tauranga, asked FGC to comment on moves by the Department of Health to remove fizzy and sugary drinks from DHBs.

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Protecting children against unhealthy food marketing

28 September 2015

FGC has responded to a Viewpoint article in the NZ Medical Journal by Stefanie Vandevijvere and Boyd Swinburn entitled ‘Getting serious about protecting New Zealand children against unhealthy food marketing’.

The authors claimed that the marketing of unhealthy food products to children is “powerful, pervasive, and predatory”, and said previous studies found that food marketing targeted at children through various media is “predominantly for unhealthy food products”. This claim was substantiated by citing academic work published 5-15 years ago – well before the introduction of stringent industry rules regarding advertising food.  The whole opinion piece creates a misleading impression of the current New Zealand marketing environment.

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Obesity report to target emphasis on food education

8 September 2015

An impending report on childhood obesity will point to the need for a stronger emphasis on food education in schools, according Sir Peter Gluckman. The WHO report is due out in the next few weeks and could coincide with a Health Ministry report to Cabinet on an integrated plan to tackle obesity.

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Dairy opportunities abound in SE Asia, report finds

Growing consumer demand in South East Asia offers plenty of opportunity for the New Zealand dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer-ready products into the region, a new report shows.

The Government has released the report that assesses possible “build”, “buy” and “niche” strategies across seven dairy consumer product categories (drinking milk products, yoghurt, condensed/evaporated milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and infant milk formula) in six countries (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines).

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20% sugar tax: Medical Journal paper flawed

18 August 2015

A much-quoted paper published in the NZ Medical Journal by public health academics from the Universities of Auckland and Otago is riddled with flaws, an independent review has found.

The FGC-commissioned review, by economist Dr Brent Wheeler, was entitled ‘Sweet and Sour: Advocacy for Sugar Taxes Rests on Fallacious Reasoning and Ignores Experience’.

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Academics’ criticism of breakfast cereals irresponsible

3 August 2015

A claim by university academics that breakfast cereal is associated with obesity and among “the unhealthiest food available” in New Zealand supermarkets is incorrect and irresponsible, says the NZ Food & Grocery Council.

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More food activist research from Auckland University

30 July 2015

The latest research from Auckland University on packaged foods in New Zealand supermarkets is another disappointing example of food politicking dressed up as academic research, says NZ Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

“But what’s even more disappointing is that the paper is flawed due to its misuse of a specific food scoring system (the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion – NPSC) that was developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand solely for the regulation of health and nutrient claims about foods.”

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Poll on food advertising to children flawed

20 July 2015

A poll that found 73 per cent of adult participants favoured stronger restrictions to reduce the amount of unhealthy food and drink advertising and promotion to children used questions that created the false impression there is a lot of advertising directed at children, says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich. 

The Horizon Research poll of 1620 New Zealanders’ attitudes to junk food marketing restrictions was commissioned by the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health.

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Mexican tax on sugar 'a complete flop'

Mexico’s much-quoted tax on high calorie foods and beverages containing sugar is proving to be a complete flop, says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

Mrs Rich was in Mexico City recently and took the opportunity to gather some background on how effective the tax has been just over a year after it was implemented.

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Fizzy tax won't solve NZ's obesity problem

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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Additives and food processing aids – FGC media response

20 July 2015

The NZ Listener asked FGC for comment on the use of additives and food processing aids and on their inclusion in food labelling.

Some, but not all, of FGC’s comments were featured in their July 25 issue in a cover article weirdly entitled “The Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets – Would you like wood pulp, animal enzymes and oxidised fat with that?” It draws on a recent book by writer Joanna Blythman ‘Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets’. 

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Production, packaging and sale of foods for children - FGC media response

20 July 2015

Fairfax Media asked FGC for comment regarding the production, packaging and sale of foods for children.

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More calls for taxes on food – FGC media response

7 July 2015

The NZ Herald asked for comment on the research paper out of Auckland University which recommended both a combined food tax and subsidy option and also a greenhouse gas tax option.

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Academics should do homework before demanding tax on salt

5 May 2015

Academics should their homework on food production and the work the food industry is doing before making the same old calls for taxes on things such as salt, says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

She also said taxing salt would put up the price of many foods, and that would hit the poorest particularly hard.

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FGC submits on MPI cost recovery proposals

FGC has made a submission on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ proposals concerning cost recovery. It will be available in the Submissions section of this website shortly.

MPI says the purpose of the proposals is to update fee rates and improve policy settings. MPI has been holding stakeholder meetings around the country to explain its proposals. More than 250 biosecurity and food safety fees, charges, and levies are involved.

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Country of origin labelling - FGC media response

20 March 2015

Supermarket News asked FGC for its stance on country of origin labelling in light of what it perceives as growing demand for this from consumers, particularly those in Australia after the recent recall of Nanna’s berries following a hepatitis outbreak.

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Banning sugary drinks in council buildings – FGC media response

11 March 2015

The Otago Daily Times asked FGC for reaction to a proposed trial by Dunedin City Council to ban sugary drinks in council buildings, including Moana Pool and Forsyth Barr Stadium. This followed a presentation to the council by public health professionals.

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Food prices up, bread stays same - FGC media response

17 February 2015

The NZ Herald asked FGC to comment on a Statistics NZ report on food price inflation. It showed that while prices of lamb, beer, milk, fish & chips, and apples all increased between 2009 and 2014, the price of bread remained the same at $1.80 per loaf. 

The Herald asked: From the council’s perspective, are these price increases fair?

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Report reaffirms NZ has one of best food safety systems

The second report into the Fonterra whey protein concentrate incident reaffirms that New Zealand has one of the best and safest food production and regulatory systems in the world, says NZ Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

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Response to Commerce Commission report

Press Release 20 November 2014

The Food & Grocery Council is not surprised by the Commerce Commission’s findings, given New Zealand’s current legal framework, says Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

We stand by our statements, based on information received from members earlier this year, that Countdown did ask some suppliers for payments related to trading in previous periods. 

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Unanimous vote of confidence for Board, Chief Executive

The Board and Chief Executive of the NZ Food & Grocery Council have received a unanimous vote of confidence from a record number of delegates at their annual conference in Queenstown.

The conference was probably the council’s most successful of recent times, with 360 delegates from FGC’s 230-strong company membership attending.

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Industry plays active role in helping improve Kiwis' health

The food industry plays a vital and active role in helping to improve the health and nutrition of New Zealanders through helping shape legislation, in reformulating food, enhancing education, and by delivering community programmes aimed at better health, FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich told a Nutrition Foundation symposium on health and food on October 30.

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FGC members feature on Most Loved Brands list

FGC members have featured strongly on the list of Most Loved Kiwi Brands for 2014, as determined by Colmar Brunton’s recent survey.

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Health Star Rating system a positive move

10 September 2014

hs3The Government’s decision to pick up Australia’s voluntary front-of-pack Health Star Rating system was a positive move and was heralded as such from both inside and outside the industry. Certainly, Kiwi shoppers liked the idea of more at-a-glance information about what’s in the food they’re buying, and this was evidenced by a NZ Herald poll which found that 80% surveyed supported the scheme.

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Caffeine drinks for children - FGC media response


The NZ Herald asked FGC for comment after a man took photos he claimed showed Monster energy drink company handing out 550ml cans containing 176mg of caffeine to kids aged between 8 and 11 in a central Auckland skate.

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Food in school canteens - FGC media response

3 September 2014

sl1The Christchurch Press posed questions to FGC (3/9/2014) on the issue of food in school canteens. It did not publish these comments or a story about food in school canteens.

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Healthy-Food labelling – FGC media response

26 August 2014

Consumer magazine asked for the food industry’s perspective on the front-of-pack health star labelling system to go with an article on snack bars. Does the Food and Grocery Council have a position statement on this issue? Do members intend to take up this voluntary system? What timeframes are in place for companies that will proceed? Will companies will display the health star rating on their whole product range or a small selection of products?

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Air in Packets - FGC media response


The Sunday Star-Times asked FGC about air in bags of chips, bagel crisps, cereals and other products: How much air is in the packets? Is there more air than food? Is there a ratio of air-to-food that packaging companies aim for? What is the reason behind the air in the packet? Is it misleading to consumers when they get a big packet/bag but most of it is air? why/why not?

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Recalibration of supplier-retailer relationship needed, says CE


For any type of business negotiation to be successful there has to be a degree of trust and respect – trust that the person on other side of the table is playing with a straight bat, and respect for the position they represent.

It’s also about playing fair.

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Front-of-pack labelling system a positive move

Press Release 27 June 2014

The Government’s decision to join Australia’s voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling system is a positive move, says NZ Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

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Over-indulgence of calories from all foods key to obesity

24 March 2014

Sugar is not the problem when it comes to obesity, it's over-indulgence of calories from all foods that's the problem. Balancing energy in with energy out are the keys to healthy diet, writes Katherine Rich.

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Katherine Rich: Measured discussion sign of positive change in obesity debate?

20 March 2014

Did I recently detect a change in the obesity debate? A change from the hysteria that usually surrounds the issue to something more rational? If I’m right, it will mark a change that won’t be before time.

The source of my optimism was an article circulated by Fairfax NZ under the heading “Link found between obesity and religion”, which reported on a study which found that Pacific Islanders have a greater risk of being obese if they attend church!

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FGC cooperating with Commerce Commission investigation

Press Release 20/2/2014

The Food & Grocery Council is cooperating with the Commerce Commission investigation into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour towards suppliers by Countdown, CEO Katherine Rich said today. 

"We will support our member companies if they decide to participate.

"We welcome that the identity of submitters will be kept confidential."

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FGC companies do not sell energy drinks to schools


Food & Grocery Council member companies do not sell energy drinks to schools, CEO Katherine Rich said today in response to calls for energy drinks to be banned from schools. 

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FGC on WPC inquiry report

Press Release 11/12/13

The report of the independent inquiry into the whey protein concentrate incident released today reaffirms to the world that New Zealand has one of the best and safest food production and regulatory systems, says Food & Grocery Council CEO Katherine Rich.

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Katherine Rich: Plunging the depths of the obesity argument

31 October 2013

When Christchurch supermarket owner Phillip Blackburn was likened to a drug dealer for wanting to sell beer and wine in his newly built New World, it plunged new depths in a debate about what can and can’t be sold in supermarkets.

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Katherine Rich: Fonterra did right thing - never a risk to babies

15 October 2013

All New Zealand food manufacturers breathed a sigh of relief when the tests came back showing there was never any botulism risk from Fonterra’s batches of whey protein. After several weeks of uncertainty and worry for mum and dad shoppers, the company, the food industry, and the country as a whole, the news was greatly welcomed. The negative result meant there was never a risk to babies anywhere in the world.

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Bank’s sugar report ‘unbalanced, not based on evidence’

18 September 2013

A report on sugar consumption by international bankers Credit Suisse provides “an unbalanced view of the world’s obesity problem and the role sugar plays in the human diet,” FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich says in an article published on the influential Asian food website Food Navigator Asia.

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FGC welcomes Fonterra recall review

Press Release 4/09/2013

The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council welcomes the release today of the results from Fonterra’s internal operational review into its recent precautionary recall.

FCG Chief Executive Katherine Rich said the review had been thorough and had asked the tough questions about how and why the recall occurred, so that the company can move forward.

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FGC on Fonterra announcement

Press Release 28/8/2013

The news that there was no botulism risk from Fonterra’s batches of whey will come as a huge relief to consumers around world, as well as to the company and the New Zealand food industry, says Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

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Work to be done on Aust health star rating labelling system, says Katherine Rich

The recent announcement that the Australian Government is to adopt whstarsat it calls a “health star rating” labelling system on packaged foods has caused something of a stir across the Tasman.

A Front of Pack Labelling (FoPL) system, designed to give consumers at-a-glance information about the food they are buying, has been an issue that trans-Tasman governments, by way of the joint Australian and New Zealand Ministers Food Regulation Forum, have been wrestling with for several years.

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Katherine Rich: Hold on – the new reality is starting to bite


mThe Food and Grocery Council’s annual general meeting in Auckland this month was attended by more than 300 grocery supply leaders – a record for FGC.

One guest speaker was Maile Carnegie (pictured), Managing Director Australia New Zealand of Procter & Gamble, one of the top consumer goods companies in the world and the owner of some of the best-known brands in beauty & grooming, household care, and health & well-being. She spoke about the new reality for grocery suppliers and how this is changing the way people shop and the way retailers sell goods. And that new reality is driven largely by new technology.

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Katherine Rich: Taking advantage of the rise of China

jkNew Zealand’s past, present, and future is in food. Since the first shipment of 842 cases of canned meat left New Zealand for England in 1870, followed 12 years later by the first consignment of 4,909 frozen carcasses, New Zealand’s economic destiny has been tied to primary sector exports.

Those shipments, made possible by Kiwi ingenuity developing workable refrigeration technology, were turning points for farming and the economy. And we didn’t look back.

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Katherine Rich: Fighting the obesity epidemic

eh1 February 2013

Claims that the food industry promotes and sells food and beverages containing sugar and other calories but is not interested in being part of the solution to the obesity epidemic are made out of ignorance.

You don’t have to dig too deep to see that, in fact, the food industry – from the supply community through to retailers, and even some fast-food restaurants – is involved in many innovative programmes designed to promote healthy food choices. They are trying very hard to change people’s habits.

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Sellman’s labels would make fizzy drinks look healthier than milk


traffic lights

Press Release 27/2/2013

The traffic light labelling system for food and beverages championed by Professor Doug Sellman will make fizzy drinks look like a healthier food choice than milk, says Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

Prof Sellman recently used the death of an Invercargill woman to push his argument that a classic traffic light system – which “would provide a red, amber, or green  indication for four components, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt, on the front of supermarket products” – could be part of a solution to prevent such extreme cases of unhealthy consumption.

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Katherine Rich: True colours

In this age of instant social electronic media, many pitfalls abound for the unwary. A rushed, unconsidered response to something can result in a “tweet” or a Facebook post that can go viral within seconds, never to be pulled back.

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Katherine Rich: Taking it to the Aussies


There’s nothing Kiwis enjoy more than a bit of healthy trans-Tasman rivalry, whether it’s on the sports field or off it. So when the Food & Grocery Council picked Melbourne – that most sporting of Australian cities – as the venue for its 2012 annual conference, we knew there might be some interesting outcomes.

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Industry working hard to reduce salt in products

Press Release 16/11/2012

Food companies continue to make good progress on reducing salt levels in many products, building on more than a decade of work in this area, says FGC CEO Katherine Rich.

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Katherine Rich: The real cost of plain packaging

4 /10/2012

Trademarks have been around since humans established any form of commerce. They have been used not only to show who made the products but also who owned them.

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Folic acid decision 'common sense'

Press Release 30/8/12

The NZ Food & Grocery Council says the Government’s decision to not mandate folic acid fortification of bread but to maintain the voluntary regime is a victory for common sense.

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Katherine Rich: Essential that product recall process is right

There are two words which no one in the grocery sector wants to hear on a Friday afternoon: product recall.

Publicly recalling any product is the last thing any company wants to have to do. It’s costly, it tries the patience of retailers, and such a move, for even the most minor reason, can cast doubt into the mind of consumers.

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Katherine Rich: Olive oil – in defence of quality

The olive oil producing countries of the Mediterranean guard their reputations very jealously. Probably about as jealously as New Zealand guards its dairying reputation. To an olive oil producer in Spain, Italy, or Greece, the subject of extra virgin olive oil and how it is produced is as important as the quality of milk powder or cheese is to Fonterra.

The stringent production methods and quality controls the large corporate oil producers have developed down the generations is nothing short of obsessive. It has to be because, for many regions in those countries, olive oil is the lifeblood of their economies. Without it they don’t survive. Like primary production in New Zealand.

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Katherine Rich: Food prices need to be in context

Across the street from the Food & Grocery Council’s office in Wellington is a fresh-food shop with a footpath billboard. Recently it proclaimed “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” It’s an obvious-enough statement, and it’s why anything to do with food, be it quality or prices, makes news. That’s especially so around the second week of each month, when Statistics NZ dishes up its latest food-price data.

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FGC welcomes reduction in acrylamide

Press Release 01/05/2012

The Food & Grocery Council is welcoming a significant drop in concentration of acrylamide in potato crisps, and says it will continue to work with industry to find ways of lowering its levels in other foods, CEO Katherine Rich said today.

She is responding to the release of a report – Acrylamide in New Zealand Food and Updated Exposure Assessment – prepared by the Institute of Environmental Science & Research (ESR) for the Food Safety Authority (now the Ministry for Primary Industries).

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Katherine Rich: In search of progress on health claims

There’s nothing more natural than wanting to know exactly what you’re eating. You know, how much juice is in the fruit drink or how much fruit is in the jam or relish. 

But there’s another vital piece of information about our food – and that is how healthy it actually is for you. Sometimes we know that’s not important because we are eating treat food – but on many occasions we do have an interest. And that leads directly to what food manufacturers can and cannot say around nutrient content and whether or not there are health benefits from the food – and, indeed, the evidence necessary to support such claims.

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Katherine Rich: Snake-oil theories won’t solve obesity problem

There’s not much doubt that New Zealand has an obesity problem. The OECD says Kiwis are the third-fattest people in the world. We’re also told the problem is growing, and that’s something that we as a country should be concerned about.

But to turn this problem around we need to concentrate on what will work. We don’t need stupid ideas that are nothing more than modern-day snake-oil theories. That’s what putting a tax on sugar is.

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Food and Beverage Project a major asset to industry

Press Release 26/10/2011

Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council welcomed the release of major food industry reports by the Hon David Carter today inAucklandas part of the Ministry of Economic Development’s extensive Food and Beverage Information Project.

“Knowledge informs better business decision-making and these food and beverage market reports provide a vital overview of what’s happening in our multi-billion dollar food and beverage industry.”

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Parallel imports cause headaches for grocery suppliers

Press Release 29/09/2011

“Many parallel imported grocery products fail to comply withNew Zealand’s food and grocery laws and damage the reputations of many local brands”, says Katherine Rich Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council.

“While it’s clear we’d prefer retailers to support local Kiwi suppliers, we don’t debate their legal right offer parallel imported goods.

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Katherine Rich: Traffic labelling the lazy option


Last month in FMCG magazine, Trina Snow of Nargon wrote an excellent piece on the Council of Australian Government’s labelling review which is currently underway. 

The review is an ambitious piece of work which endeavours to seek some clarity on what the best methods of front-of-pack labelling might be.

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Food industry helps lead the charge on salt reduction

Press Release 21/03/2011

World Salt Awareness Week (March 21-27, 2011) is an ideal opportunity to highlight the many hundreds of tonnes of salt that food companies have removed from their food products, says the Food and Grocery Council’s CEO Katherine Rich

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Marmite smuggling Denmark's new crime

Press Release 26/05/2011

New Zealand’s food and grocery companies are incredulous atDenmark’s bizarre decision to make breakfast spreads like Marmite and Vegemite illegal under food safety laws, says Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council.

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Teethy grin after ERMA dental whitener announcement

Press Release 29/06/2011

The Food and Grocery Council welcomes the release of today’s decision by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) that protects the sale of low risk dental whitening products in supermarkets.

“It’s a common sense decision for a range products that have been readily available to theNew Zealandpublic for years”, says Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (FGC). 

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Palm oil labels won’t inform shoppers or save wildlife

Press Release 21/06/2010

The Food and Grocery Council is concerned that calls for mandatory labelling of palm oil might mislead consumers by implying that the world’s most sustainable vegetable oil crop is a toxic ingredient best avoided, says Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

“The opposite is true. When grown on appropriate farming land, palm oil is the most environmentally sustainable, cost effective and versatile vegetable oil available in the world today.”

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Katherine Rich: Sustainable palm oil

October 2009

Reading headlines such as “Deadly Palm Oil In Your Trolley”, one could easily get the false impression that any New Zealand firm using palm oil is personally responsible for the demise of the orangutan and the world’s rainforests.

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