Marketwatch -- September 2009

Oil Be Seein’ Ya
Eliminating trans fats seems to be a trend that will not go away, almost like the Energizer Bunny of trends. Companies continue to find ways to eliminate the vilified elements of their products, and Unilever is the latest.

The giant has announced its entire soft (tub) spread portfolio in the U.S. will be reformulated. The objective is the removal entirely of partially hydrogenated oils and, therefore, trans fats, by the second quarter of 2010. The move comes after an extensive three-year research and development effort, the company notes.

Unilever has already begun removing the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Brummel & Brown, Shedd’s Spread Country Crock and Imperial soft spread products sold in tub formats. Saturated fat content of the products remains 2g or less per serving, and, according to the company, product taste and performance is unchanged.

More is More
Frozen pizza as a category has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years, as new technology has allowed for a different taste experience out of the microwave, and premium toppings and ingredients have fueled innovation in oven-baked varieties. The troubled economy has not hurt, either.

Consumers are turning more and more to home-baked pizzas as an alternative to going out to pricier restaurants. Those restaurants, however, long ago learned that having a presence in grocery is a wise strategy. Gino’s East of Chicago, for example, has had its Authentic Deep Dish Pizza line for some time and has now augmented it with a new, handmade Classic Sausage Patty variety, a one-of-a-kind pizza topped with a 6oz sausage patty, as well as a Spinach & Garlic pizza. Each pizza weighs in at 2lb. 

League of Superfruits
The açai berry has joined blueberries and black currant berries as the latest Superfruits of choice. The açai berry features a powerful nutrition profile, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and E, calcium, fiber, phosphorous, potassium and protein. The website,, even claims the berry may reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss and improve hearth health.

As Mark Saur, president and founder of Old Orchard Brands, explains, “The açai is a rich, dark-colored Superfruit that is packed with nutritional value. The challenge for the consumer has been how to reap the health benefits of the fruit, while keeping calories and sugar intake low.” Old Orchard has, therefore, introduced an açai berry version of its Healthy Balance line of reduced-sugar juices, one boasting only 29 calories per 8oz.

Singing the Blues
New research has found blue food dye may be used to reduce damage caused by spinal injuries. The researchers, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG)--the same blue food dye found in M&Ms and Gatorade--into rats suffering spinal cord injuries. After the injections, the rodents were able to walk again, though with a limp. They did find one side effect: treated mice temporarily turned blue.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and follows up on similar research the center performed five years ago. The compound tested at the time, while it did help the patients somewhat, also had dangerous side effects. BBG had no such problems and, when given to injured rats immediately after injury, led to the astonishing results. Rats who did not receive a dose never regained mobility. The researchers are preparing an application for the FDA to approve the first clinical trials of BBG on human patients.

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* Treatt plc has expanded its range of nature-identical specialty chemical products for the formulation of savory flavors.
* Naturex and Natraceutical Group reach an agreement to merge Natraceutical’s ingredients division into Naturex, expected to come into effect before the year’s end.
* A new peptide from Glanbia Nutritionals significantly improves measures of vascular health, according to a recently published human clinical study published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal.
* Vitiva has been granted USDA NOP certification for its organic rosemary ingredients line.
* Cargill will offer a fourth session of The Chocolatier’s Workshop, its three-day seminar in Lititz, Pa., Nov. 9-11.
* Alberto Jiménez-Díaz, a graduate student in the School of Food Systems at North Dakota State University, is the second recipient of the Roger Briess Scholarship presented through the American Society of Brewing Chemists Foundation.
* Wixon Inc. named Mike Brewer as technical account manager of the Protein Group.
* Solbar Industries Ltd. announced that Yossef Gohary, Solbar Ningbo general manager, has been chosen one of the top 100 outstanding managers in China. The award is given once every five years by the Chinese Authorities/The Ministry of Economic Development, together with three national TV stations and the main economic newspapers.
* Recognizing that kosher food sales have been growing at twice the rate of the overall food market, expanding in the U.S. from $150 billion in 2003 to over $200 billion in 2008, according to Packaged Facts, Advanced Food Systems has developed a range of kosher ingredient systems. 
* Virginia Dare appointed Sandy Liang to the position of food technologist and Stephanie Lynch as business development director. 
* AkzoNobel has signed an exclusive agreement with Viachem Ltd. to sell and market its Dissolvine® Food Grade Chelates in the