We spoke with Robyn Eijlander, senior project manager Microbiomics and Food Safety at NIZO, on the Dutch company’s work on the relationship between spores in milk powder and predicting spoilage in UHT milk products; Eric Morrison, head of Risk & Commercial Solutions at Fonterra’s ingredient division, NZMP, about refreshing its risk and commercial solutions, and to Martin Engdahl, product director for automation and digital, Tetra Pak, about its connected packaging platform.
We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with INTL FCStone’s Liam Fenton.
Relation between spores in milk powders and predictability of spoilage of UHT milk products
Scientists from Dutch company NIZO, in collaboration with Abbott, bioMérieux, FrieslandCampina, Nestlé and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, have identified a practical and reliable microbial method to enumerate heat-resistant bacterial spores in milk powders.
The presence and survival of such spores in dairy powders can cause spoilage of UHT-treated reconstituted liquid products. The study, published in the International Journal of Dairy Technology, provides tools to standardize tests and enables improved interpretation of spore count test results, in relation to spoilage risks in UHT dairy products.
Many methods are in use to detect heat-resistant bacterial spores in milk powders. Potentially different outcomes resulting from the application of different methods can lead to disputes between producers of milk powder and their customers, for instance, producers of UHT milk.
This is why scientists evaluated various methods commonly used in the food industry to enumerate heat-resistant spores in milk powders. They compared the most efficient and practical approach with the current ISO method for Enumeration of Specially Heat-Resistant Spores of thermophilic bacteria in Dried Milk (ISO/TS27265; 2009).
It was found that application of the Consortium method provides similar predictability of spoilage of reconstituted UHT-treated milk as the ISO approach, provided that specifications of spores in milk powders are 10-fold higher (e.g. 1000 cfu/g when using the Consortium approach and 100 cfu/g when using the ISO approach).
The major advantage is that the Consortium method includes heating for 30 minutes at 100°C. This is much more practical than heating at 106°C, which is in compliance with ISO TS27265; 2009, but requires special apparatus not commonly available.
The continued use of multiple enumeration methods, and subsequent differences in results and interpretations poses challenges in global trade. Robyn Eijlander, senior project manager Microbiomics and Food Safety at NIZO, said, “This study presents practical tools for the detection and enumeration of highly heat-resistant spores. This allows for harmonization of the interpretation of spore concentrations in dried milk within the entire dairy industry, which helps to avoid disputes between producers and customers. Furthermore, the results improve our insights into the prediction of spoilage of reconstituted UHT-treated liquid dairy products.”
The Spores Consortium
Spores are a primary concern for the food industry: due to their potential high heat-resistant properties, they are the number one cause of spoilage of a wide range of processed foods. In 2013, the Spores Consortium Initiative was launched to reach consensus on the use of the method mentioned above. Together with partners in the food industry, scientists from NIZO have now expanded the Consortium to cocoa powders and plan to address similar issues in various other non-dairy powders, such as soy and pea protein concentrates.
NZMP moves to soothe uncertainty
NZMP, the global dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra, has refreshed its risk and commercial solutions.
During volatile and uncertain market conditions, these solutions help customers gain confidence through improved price and supply certainty.
Eric Morrison, head of Risk & Commercial Solutions at NZMP says the refreshed solutions are designed to remove complexity and reduce supply risk for NZMP’s dairy ingredients which are sold in more than 130 countries.
Morrison said, “External and often difficult to predict factors such as weather events, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical events can impact supply, demand and pricing. We wanted to provide our broad customer base with options to reduce complexity and take back some control. Over a number of years, and with plenty of customer feedback, we have developed a range of market-leading solutions. Each is intended to reduce the distraction and noise which volatile markets can bring, and that’s what we’re hearing. Our solutions are supporting many of our customers achieve their priorities and focus on what they do best.”
NZMP recently showcased its four hero Risk and Commercial solutions at Gulfood in Dubai and Food Ingredients China (FIC) in Shanghai.
Morrison said NZMP’s local sales teams work closely with customers to understand their objectives and how NZMP’s solutions can best support them.
“We also have a specialized Risk and Commercial Solutions team who are based out of Singapore, the Netherlands and New Zealand and who are available to discuss options with customers.
“A good example is a customer’s leading consumer brand in the repack milk powder segment, operating in the Middle East and Africa market. The repack market in general is price sensitive and significant increases in commodity prices can put pressure on margins and market share. They’ve also experienced challenging supply conditions on occasion due to adverse weather events in supply regions. Our NZMP PriceLock solution for a 12-month period allowed them to lock in their supply and eliminate volatility from their milk powder pricing.”
He added, “Another customer is a well-established nutrition company in the South and East Asia region. They were seeking to secure supply for the next nine months while also protecting their margins in the event ingredient prices increased significantly. They chose our NZMP PriceCollar solution which allowed them to secure their ingredient supply with the pricing linked to a market index but constrained to an agreed range, providing the customer comfort that their ingredient pricing could only increase to a certain pre-agreed limit.”
NZMP’s four new pricing categories are:
NZMP PriceLock: Market volatility can affect margins, budget, plans and competitiveness. NZMP PriceLock protects customers from dairy ingredient price fluctuations by giving price certainty and supply security for up to 18 months for ingredient purchases across powders, dairy fats, cheese, proteins, specialty and organics.
PriceCollar: Provides flexibility for pricing to move within an acceptable range so customers can benefit from a potential downward market movement.
PriceBreak: Gives customers the benefit of a lower fixed price when a break point is agreed, along with security of supply for the duration of the agreement
Double-Cap Collar: Provides the certainty of fixing supply and the flexibility of a more customisable collar range in return for adding a second trigger cap. If the trigger cap is exceeded the customer receives a discounted market price
Tetra Pak launches connected packaging platform
Tetra Pak has launched its connected packaging platform, which will transform milk and juice cartons into interactive information channels, full-scale data carriers and digital tools.
Driven by the trends behind Industry 4.0, and with code generation, digital printing and data management at its core, the connected packaging platform will bring new benefits to food producers, retailers and shoppers.
For producers, the new packaging platform will offer end-to-end traceability to improve the production of the product, quality control and supply chain transparency. It will have the ability to track and trace the history or location of any product, making it possible to monitor for market performance and any potential issues.
For retailers, it will offer greater supply chain visibility and real-time insights, enabling distributors to track stock movements, be alerted when issues occur, and monitor for delivery performance.
For shoppers, it will mean the ability to access vast amounts of information such as where the product was made, the farm that the ingredients came from and where the package can be recycled.
Ivan Nesterenko, vice president, Cross Portfolio at Tetra Pak said, “We are unlocking new opportunities for our customers to get more value from packaging than even before. No longer is it only about product protection and functionality, it is about connectivity. The future of packaging is undoubtedly digital: this launch is a step towards a truly intelligent package, and we are excited to collaborate with our customers on this journey.”
Tetra Pak has completed pilots with its customers to test the new connected package and its performance in retail in Spain, Russia China, the Dominican Republic and India, working with beverage, juice and milk producers. In Spain a customer increased sales by 16% through a scan and win campaign.