Food trends at APAC Food Safety Conference

A session at last week’s APAC Food Safety Conference in Sydney explored consumer food trends.

Among the speakers were:

  • Mark Field (Senior Food and Retail Industry Technical and Commercial Executive).
  • Felipe Favaro (General Manager, Hemp Foods Australia General).
  • Paul Saeki (Kakadu Plum Business Development Manager, Indigenous Land & Sea Corporation).
  • Daniel Havers (Technical Account Manager APAC, SAI Global Assurance).

Consumer demands driving innovation and trends

Mr Field started off his presentation by telling attendees that they have “some of the most exciting jobs in the world”.

It is a job and an industry, he explained, that is seeing great change. This is being driven by consumers.

“The focus on customer insights in your business should be stronger than it’s ever been,” Mr Field said.

Consumers, according to Mr Field, are after good quality products that are affordable and that makes choice easier. In addition, these products should be ‘Instagramable’.

Mr Field also believes that consumers are challenging the industry when it comes to environmental concerns, sustainability, food waste, traceability and safety.

“These consumer demands are definitely driving an ecosphere that’s encouraging innovation,” he said.

“For me, the key thing is trialling and pace; not being afraid to change your mind if it’s not working. Adapt quickly and go again because there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind when you get more facts at hand than you had at the beginning.”

Working with hemp

When it comes to hemp, Mr Favaro said a “big part” of the value proposition is its sustainability.

“You don’t need any chemicals or pesticides [to grow hemp],” he said during his presentation. “It’s a pretty sustainable crop.”

Mr Favaro also discussed hemp’s health attributes, saying it “ticked all the boxes”. He explained that the ingredient is nutritious, low in sugar, naturally gluten free and hypoallergenic, and certified organic.

Most importantly, Mr Favaro assured attendees that hemp is safe. While hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, Mr Favaro notes that hemp has no THC.

Kakadu plum know-how

Kakadu plum, according to Mr Saeki, is only found in northern Australia.

“It’s been traditionally used as a medicine for colds and lethargy,” he said in his presentation. “It also contains the world’s richest source of vitamin C. And it’s really high in antioxidant properties…

“At the moment, [Kakadu plum] is used a lot as a super food in the health food sector. It’s also used as a natural preservative…

“The Seafood CRC and the Australian prawn industry have developed a seafood wash using Kakadu plum to wash raw prawns with which increases the shelf life by about seven days.”

Mr Saeki also mentioned a “strong interest” of using Kakadu plum in cosmetics and skincare.

“There are a number of scientific papers around regenerated skin from UV damage using Kakadu plum extracts,” he said.

Kakadu plum is additionally used in products such as kombucha, ice blocks and yoghurt.

More broadly, Mr Saeki discussed the Australian bush food sector, noting its advantages, challenges and opportunities.

“When we talk about food safety, we really rely on traditional knowledge [from our Indigenous population] because it indicates what’s safe to eat, when’s the best time to actually access it, and what you need to do to treat the food before you can eat it safely,” he said.

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