Author: Redazione Alimenta

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Beyond the Expo: the World Food Forum receives its legacy

The Emilia Romagna region decided to receive the scientific legacy of Expo 2015, as fas as the global challanges linked to nutrition are concerned. About thirty researchers and experts from different countries (Italy, Germany, Holland, Austria, Canada, United States, Nigeria and Caribbean) started the first edition of the  World Food Research and Innovation Forum, which took place in the Italian pavilion at the end of September. The event was promoted by Emilia Romagna region and was intended to foster the enhancement of the Expo’s message and the values of Milano Declaration, first of all food as an essential human right.  This is a long-term initiative which goal is to promote the dialogue and the sharing of knowledge and researches in the field of food security and nutrition globally. According to the project, the forum should be organised every two years, in the odd years. Everything will be shared in a web platform. “Someone – says Stefano Bonaccini, president of Emilia Romagna region – would wonder why our region is in charge of the project. In these last years the European Union has funded 88 projects, for a total of 26 millions of euro, in the agricultur, fishing, food, biotechnology fields; these projects are equivalent to the 17% in a national level. An important contribution to innovation in these fields comes from our agricultural platform  Rete Alta Tecnologia (High Technology Network), a group of public research centres coordinated by Aster, a consortium of Emilia Romagna region for innovation and industrial research. The platform offers a qualified support for the development of new products and processes, the selection and characterization of semi-processed materials, the planning and validation of machinaries and installations for the productions and packaging of food”.


[In the picture, The Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, during his speech at the World Food Forum]


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Ethical Spoor: a company 2.0 grows if the supply chain is sound

The research Ethical Spoor on sustainability of the supply chain was recently presented at the Expo. During the presentation also some examples of best practices of italian companies were presented in order to better explain the concept. In particular, Ima, Granarolo, Lavazza and Coop distinguished themselves for the share of value and innovation, thanks to a considerable attention to the relation with suppliers. The “control” of the company on the entire supply chain has a key role, especially in order to avoid those episods which can damage the company reputation. In a market where consumers are more and more careful, mature and aware, mistakes can be very dangerous both from multinationals and small-medium entreprises operating in the italian market.
Ethical Spoor research, titled “Integrated, connected, safe. The sustainable management of the supply chain between risks and opportunities“, identified advantages, critical points and impacts that a appropriate supply chain can have on the company in the current market and, at the same time, analyses how the supply chain can be socially responsible by the evaluation of specific concrete cases in several fields. For example, in the dairy sector, the experience of Granarolo, which focused on the traceability of the supply chain, developed a system of telecontrol of the stalls owned by the members of the company, so that it is possible to guarantee the wellness of animals that provide milk and the quality of the product.
It is also important to underline that one of the common features of the interventions on the supply chain (in the cases analysed in the research) is the increase of competitiveness of the companies. These interventions, in fact, are investiments that not only improved the efficiency, but are also an index for responsible corporate policies, especially valued by the market: 44% of the italian consumers declared to be willing to pay a “premium price” to buy products and services from companies that have developed socially responsible programs. (Photo: Nielsen).


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Demand of powder milk: conflicting trends worldwide

According to new researches of the European Commission, imports of whole powder milk and skimmed powder milk in China went back to normal standards. Although they remain under the high levels recorded in 2014, with the whole milk importation decreased by 55% and skimmed milk importation decreased by 28% in the first eight months of the year, the Commission underlines that last year the were significantly hight and not correlated to the effective need. In total, the chinese imports decreased by 32% between january and august compared to 2014, but only by 4% in august. Besides, the research highlighted that China increased its national dairy production in 2015 as well as the internal consumption. Another important datum emerging from the research is the decline of the demand within the petrol states. The situation doesn’t seem to progress as far as powder milk is concerned. Moreover, it is important to take into consideration the situation in New Zealand. On the other hand, the Commission observed that in the United States, even though the internal production is increasing, new imports from abroad are necessary in order to satisfy the increasing demand of butter and cheese. Consequently, exports in the United States are decreasing. The demand is increasing also in South-Est Asia, Mexico and Japan.
In conclusion, we can say that there are conflicting trends worldwide, some of them tell us that many buyers already have their stocks of powder milk so that the demand might decrase, even in the South-Est Asia. The only factor which could encourage the imports is the price, which reached now extremely low.

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Italian food export: boom in the first six months 2015

Encouraging news are coming for the made in Italy food. It might be the consequence of the Expo, or the economic upturn, the good news is that during the first six months of this year the exports in the italian agribusiness sector reached almost 18 billiones of euro, that is a record. The increase compared to 2014 is equivalent to 8%, thanks to the promotional campaigns linked to the Expo. In june the US market recorded +29% of italian imports, with 1,7 billions of euro only for the selling operations.  “We are in step with the goal of 36 billions in exports within the current year.
These figures are a record, which give an idea of the power that Italy is expressing in this sector and the strenght of a network of small-medium companies motivated to conquest foreign markets. The government supports them and with this special plan for internationalization in the next three years we will invest more than 70 millions euro, with a promotional campaign for the Made in Italy and a fight against the italian sounding. Consumers all over the world are seeking italian food and we want help producers to meet these needs with real italian products”. With these workds the Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina commented data provided by Istat on the external commerce in the first six months of 2015.

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The made in Italy dairy sector appreciated abroad

The export of the italian dairy products keeps being successful. Last year the italian export in this sector recorded 2,2 billions of euro, a real record, and more than 331 tons that went abroad.
Compared to 2013 (data are from Istat and are analysed by Ismea), the recorded increase was 3,3% in quantity and 4,8% in value, although ucranian crisis brought about an halve of shipments to Moscow and the euro, which is still stronger than the dollar, hasn’t encouraged commissions from the United States (-5,7% in quantity compared to 2013). According to Ismea, a new input comes from est-european markets, especially Poland, Cech Republic and Romania.
These countries have increased their import in quantity by 18%, 9% and 22%. Other significant signs, even though concerning small segment of the market,  come from China (+41%), Corea (+26%) and Emirates (+28%). As fas as the main importing countries are concerned, a positive trend comes from France (4,3%), Germany (+6,5%) and United Kingdom (+1,9%).
Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano, on the other hand, has recorded a higher increase in the UK (+9,1%), while good signs are coming from the german and french markets (respectively +3,7% and 2,1%) and lowered in the US (-5,2%). FInally, the Gorgonzola has been more appreciated in Holland (+13,9% in quantity) and in the UK (+7,3%).

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Food security: the dairy industries in US cooperate in the research against the listeria

The research aimed to increase the food security in US doesn’t stop. Especially the struggle to fight the Listeria, in other words the family of bacteria composed by ten species, one of these – the Listeria monocytogenes – being the cause of listeriosi, a illness that concerns humans and animals, often with serious consequences.

The members of the Innovation Center of the US Dairy are reinforce their struggle against this dangerous enemy. The action is leaded by a food security commission that has created the Consortium of Research on Listeria the last january, having as goal to pinpoint solutions based on scientific evidences able to protect consumers. “Consumers and customers need to be sure that the products they eat are healthy” said Tom Hedge, president of the food security commettee at the Innovation Center. “Our new research started recently aims to identify new levels of protection”.

The Consortium is financed by associated entreprises. Members that work with a cooperative attitude and face various challanges that the fight to the bacteria involves. The commission has choosen the best technologies available and the most efficient tools, in order to make the sharing of best practices possible and also the spread of education to the control of pathogenics. Moreover, in june, the commission asked to all researchers in the country to make their proposals.

“All dairy companies, no matters the size, can get gains from new tools against Listeria” says Tom Hedge, who is optimistic about the chance that new studies can identify solutions that make milk even more safe. The cooperation is the key to achieve this goal.

“It is unusual for a group of industries to organize and put together resources aimed to increase a sharing attitude and the education in order to achieve better results year after years. The cooperation among competitors can make a difference for a bigger common good”, says Hedge.

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The secret of cheese’s aroma? Nutrition and upbringing

Are the upbringing method and the nutrition, as well as the story of every single animal fundamental to define the aroma of the cheese? According to researchers of the Edmund Mach Foundation, together with their colleagues from the University of Padova, yes, it is possible.

The research group “Sensorial Quality” from San Michele all’Adige – the town where the Foundation is based – has analyzed 150 small cheese wheels made in special conditions with milk from 150 different animals: every wheel was associated with a single cow and information regarding the cow, such as age, quantity of milk produced, number of offsprings. The experiment concerned 150 brown cows raised in 30 firms in the Trento district. Through the gascromatography technic more than 50 samples were identified, all of them belong to different chemical classes that contribute to the sensorial impact of the cheese, especially smell and taste. The survey confirmed the upbringing systems’ effects and the nutrition on the final quality of the product.

The survey has also shown  that also the characteristics of the animals have an influence on milk’s quality; it is in fact possible to find a connection between the  flavour of the milk and some features of the animals, such as the lactation phases. The 150 samples analyzed in the laboratory of the Centre for Research and Innovation were obtained thourgh a wider experiment, CowPlus, funded by the district of Trento. The experiment has shown that it is possible to increase the value of the milk by focusing on the differentiation of cheeses, moving a first step towards the traceability of product, based on qualitative features such as the flavour. Now the researchers are working on another analysis, using the technic of massive spectrometry (PTR-MS), faster than the gascromatography, through which it could be possible to analyse the genetical bases of the sensorial quality of cheeses.

[in the picture, a couple of brown cows (photo from]

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Lights and shadows of the Mozzarella di Bufala DOP

The Mozzarella di Bufala is somehow marked by a controverse image and it is often the topic of controversies, because of the fake ingredients or the possible contaminations of poisons in the Fires Lands (Terra dei Fuochi). Today, thanks to focused studies made by the University of Naple “Federico II”, the La Sapienza University in Rome and the University of Parma, it is possible to dispel the myth of the mozzarella having gains for the health.

Researchers of the University of Naple are the authors of a study that has been presented during a conference organized by the “Consortium for the protection of the Mozzarella di bufala campana Dop cheese“. During the presentation results from other two researches by experts from the University of Rome and Parma were shown. The first survey was coordinated by Ettore Novellino, teacher of pharmaceutical Chemestry and toxicology at the Univesity “Federico II”, has proven that during the digestive process, mozzarella eases the growth of some peptides which have an antioxidant effect.

The second research, by Vito Corleto, professor of gastroenterology at the University Sapienza in Rome, has shown that the mozzarella di bufala is easy to digest, because of the low livel of lactose conteined. The third research, by Germano Mucchetti, professor of Science and food technology  at the University of Parma, has shown that dairy products have a low livel of salt conteined.

Obviously, these positive results shouln’t lead to a inferior security standard, especially as far as farms are concerned.


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Solid trust in the food&beverage industry in Italy, but decreasing in several countries

In Italy the trust in the food&beverage sector is not decreasing, as it is happening in the 70% of countries worldwide. The dubts concern above all the speed of innovation and its main actors. Edelman (a global and indipendent society for public relations) has presented the results of research concerning the global situation (data were taken from the Trust Barometer) during the Aspen Forum “Food Security, Nutrition and Global Health”, promoted within the Expo Milan 2015. The sceptical attitude is clear in 27 concerned markets. Singapore, Argentina, Hong Kong, The Netherlands and South Korea show the highest level of trust. In these countries, 51% of the cross-section consider innovation to fast. On the other hand, in Italy, the trust is even slightly increasing, from 63% in 2014 to 64% this year. Fiorella Passoni, General Manager Edelman Italia explains: “data show that among 5 under-sectors (retailer, food and beverage companies, fast food, food farming, livestock and fishing) the one most trusted is the livestock and fishing sector (67%)”. Passoni says: “on the other hands, fast foods has the lowest result (47%). For them the so-called ‘swing trusters’ that is the interviewed who had a weak or neutral opinion, can be an opportunity. In Italy they rapresent the 63% of the fast food segment, in line with the average global value, which is 62%. Passoni also underlines the importance in the food farming sector to better understand the consumer and his needs, in order to be able to involve him with the best tools and build a strong relationship with him.

Trust in innovation

Markets in developing countries shown a bigger opennes to change. There is still a mistrust as far as OGM are concerned: only the 30% of interviewed in Italy consider them positively, 37% in developed countries and 31% in developing countries. The majority consider technology, business targets, avidity and money to be the driving force for innovation. Passoni explains: “Consumers want to understand the reasons behind innovation in this sector and how they can bring positive effects to the society. They wish a more transparent communication with this industry as fas as the driving forces and consequences of innovation are concerned. The F&B sectors invests considerably in research and development, but it should be able to tell its story in a better way”. Finally, Passoni gives some suggestions to the main actors: “If the industry wants to keep and build trust, actors need to involve consumers and stakeholder in a trasparent and significant way. Even companies that traditionally have a B2B approach, need to start a B2B2C approach in order to be more open to partnership and start communicating with the public, underlining the net value and the advantages for the society”.

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Global or deglobalized milk market?

While the European Union abolishes milk quota and the North America negotiates the transatlantic treaty on commerce and investments with Europe and Pacific countries, Russia stops all the imports and China reduces purchases, so that the price of milk falls down. This is what we can learn from the website However, global demand and production in milk market are increasing and the unsettling aftermaths of the climate change haven’t shown up yet.

It is not surprising that many people wonder if the productive model which spreads out in the last years is really sustainable. This model consists in the evening out of technics and technologies, standardizing products (commodities), aiming to the safety of products (food safety & food security), at the expences of the diversity of products and markets. The consequence is the closing of farms and other installations, expecially the smallest ones and the ones located in territories where it is harder to be competitive against the big productions at minor costs.

In Canada, in the current context of the negotiation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, public opinion is wondering if the abolishment of quota wouldn’t have as consequence the “invasion” of milk and dairy products coming from elsewhere and so the closing of family farms which raise in avarage 70 “vaches canadiennes”. Also the generated products, such as the famous canadian production of animal seed which is exported worldwide, would pay the consequence of the treaty. Another question is whether the model to adopt should be the one of big industrialized farms spread out, for example, in California, Florida, New Zealand and Australia, which has a strong environmental impact.

In New Zealand producers believe the model based on export and free production in accordance with the need of the market is the successful one. This model has no limits and allowed to double the production in the last twenty years and made New Zealand, which produces 4% of the global milk, the leader in this sector.

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