Weekly Roundup: USDA organic regulation review for 'fairer, more competitive market', Counterfeit Wonka bar warning – Food Ingredients First

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01 Apr 2022 — In industry news this week, sustainable supply chains, plant-based investments and food safety were in the spotlight. Meanwhile, the US government updated organic dairy regulation and Japan was highlighted as a critical target market for UK red meat. 
In brief: Food safety
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned the public not to buy or eat counterfeit Wonka bars sold in shops and online. The bars may be unsafe to eat, as there is a possibility that they are produced or repackaged by unregistered businesses and by individuals who could be contravening food hygiene, labeling and traceability laws. Some counterfeit Wonka Bars removed from sale have been found to contain allergens that were not listed on the label, posing a significant health risk to anyone who suffers from a food allergy or intolerance. The FSA’s warning comes after a sharp increase in reports of counterfeit chocolate bars on sale over the past year.
In brief: Business moves
Rabobank and its subsidiary DLL started to wind down all activities in Russia and leave the country. Rabobank had few commercial interests in Russia, with an aggregated direct net exposure of €400 million (US$444 million) in January which has since been reduced to €300 million (US$333 million). It is mainly Rabobank’s subsidiary DLL active in the country, with the leasing of machinery in the agricultural sector. DLL had already discontinued new activities in February.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) continued its partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company and Unilever to fund and pilot sustainable innovation in supply chains through its 100+ Accelerator program. Launched in 2018, the 100+ Accelerator is a global incubator program that works to solve supply chain challenges by supporting start-ups across water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable agriculture, climate action, inclusive growth and biodiversity.Plant Alternative's Shicken range recently led a round of funding.
Veg Capital increased its investment in Plant Alternative’s chef-made Shicken range of Indian ready meals and kebabs, leading their recent round of funding with a £2 million (US$2.6 million) investment earmarked to support the company’s scale-up. The investment comes shortly after the Costco launch of the product. 
 In brief: Investments
Farmland LP, manager in converting conventional farmland to organic in the US, closed Vital Farmland REIT LLC, raising over US$130 million in equity capital from family offices, institutional and accredited individual investors and clients of numerous registered investment advisors. Vital Farmland REIT LLC is Farmland LP’s second fund since its inception in 2009, and the proceeds will be used to continue to invest in high value-add projects on its farms in Oregon and Washington, US. 
In brief: Sustainability
The FAO has welcomed a UN decision to establish an annual International Day of Plant Health, an issue critical in addressing global hunger as plant pests and diseases cause massive crop losses and leave millions without enough food. It will be held every 12 May. The day is a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health, marked in 2020-2021. The resolution sets out that healthy plants constitute the foundation for all life on Earth, ecosystem functions, food security and nutrition, adding that plant health is key to the sustainable development of agriculture required to feed a growing global population by 2050.The International Day of Plant Health was established by the FAO in addressing global hunger.
The FAO 37th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, hosted by the Government of Ecuador, has been concluded. The focus was on healthy diets, inclusive rural societies and sustainable agriculture. Ministers met to foster healthy diets, galvanize inclusive rural development, promote sustainable and resilient agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss ways to mitigate the impact of rising food and fertilizer prices on the world’s largest net food exporter.
In brief: Achievements
European dairy cooperative Arla Foods’ DANO brand won “Most Loved Milk Powder” at the Best Brand Award in Bangladesh for the seventh time in a row, for the company’s growth of the early-life and nutrition-focused brand. The brand demonstrated a steady 10% growth until 2021 when it increased to 25%.
International pizza chain Pizza Express was lauded by global non-profit Lever Foundation for its commitment to source only cage-free eggs and egg ingredients worldwide by 2025. The London-based restaurant group operates over 500 locations across Europe, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Pizza Express has only used cage-free eggs and egg products in its UK stores since 2017.
In brief: Agriculture
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the Origin of Livestock final rule for organic dairy. This change to the USDA organic regulations will promote a fairer, more competitive market for organic dairy producers by ensuring certified USDA organic dairy products are produced to a consistent standard. USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will oversee the new rule, which allows a dairy livestock operation transitioning to organic, or starting a new organic farm, to transition non-organic animals one time and prohibits organic dairies from sourcing any transitioned animals.Pizza Express has committed to use cage-free eggs.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board identified Japan as a critical target market for the UK’s red meat sector, with the country being one of the world’s largest beef importers – importing 585,000 metric tons of fresh and frozen beef last year, worth £2.7 billion (US$3.55 million). Exports of beef from the UK to Japan were worth £1.78 million (US$2.34 million) in January – almost a fifth of the total value in 2021. The latest figures from HM Revenue And Customs show that 334 metric tons of beef were exported to Japan in the first month, up from 24 tons in the same period last year. The figures come after a strong year for beef exports to Japan with volumes of 48%, adding £9.7 million (US$ 12.7 million) to the sector.
Irish banana distributors Fyffes opened a new banana ripening and distribution center in Balbriggan, North County Dublin. Representing an investment by Fyffes of €25 million (US$28 million), the center will have an output of over 7 million bananas a week, about 60,000 metric tons annually for supply to Irish retailers, wholesalers and food providers.
By Inga de Jong
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