Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Soft drink herb sweeteners in the works

From Drinks Business Review:

In order to attract increasingly health-conscious consumers, several soft drink makers in the U.S. are investing in the development of natural low-calorie sweeteners, reported Reuters.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group have begun work in this regard. Coca-Cola has collaborated with Cargill and together they are working on a sweetener called Truvia. Made from a South American herb called stevia (seen here), Truvia will be marketed as a tabletop sweetener by Cargill. However, no information regarding the drinks in which the sweetener will be used has been revealed by Coca-Cola.

PepsiCo is also working on a sweetener from the stevia plant which is native to Paraguay. According to PepsiCo spokesperson Dave DeCecco, as and when the company receives approval from US health regulators, it will begin to market the new product.

Randy Gier, executive vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper Snapple, said: "We all have scientists working right now to blend new combinations of these new top-secret sweeteners that are out there. It's just a matter of time until you see a major breakthrough."

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Mayors vs. bottled water at boiling point

A committee decision throwing the U.S. Conference of Mayors' weight behind a move to discourage use of bottled water has predictably received return fire from the American Beverage Association.

The trade organization of manufacturers and distributors of non-alcoholic drinks has criticized the resolution as “sound-bite environmentalism.” It was passed at a Miami meeting of the mayors by a small majority after heated debate and is intended to phase out city spending on bottled water and an attempt to reduce purchases of the beverage.

The contention by the Conference of Mayors is that bottled water wastes water and leaves an unnecessarily large carbon footprint.

“Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who proposed the resolution. “Our public water systems are among the best in the world and demand significant and ongoing investment.”

Kevin Keane, a senior vice president of the American Beverage Association, fired back: “Unfortunately, a group of mayors have chosen to engage in sound-bite environmentalism rather than sound public policy by creating a false choice between bottled water and tap water. It’s disappointing that some mayors find it more important to attack a healthy beverage at a time when families are suffering from floods, rising fuel and gas costs and threats to their homes and jobs.

“This proposal is the cynical equivalent of being against rope until you need a lifeline,” Keane said. “There’s great irony in the fact that while companies are helping mayors in flood-ravaged communities in the Midwest recover, a handful of mayors in Miami are attacking the water products helping those residents remain hydrated and in good health.”

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

LA International olive oil competition

Wine and spirits weren't the only things judged at the annual Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits event. Top-grade olive oils also were in competition for honors.

"Special Awards," the highest given in the test, went to:

• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Domestic-Delicate: The Olive Press, Sevillano, Butte County
• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Domestic-Medium: Apollo Olive Oil, Sacramento Valley, Mistral Organic, Yuba County
• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Domestic-Robust: Calolea, Mission, Early Harvest, Yuba County
• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, International-Delicate: Hacienda Iber, Spain - North, Arag√≥n
• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, International-Medium: Azienda Agricola Librandi, Italy - South, Calabria
• Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, International-Robust: Il Casalone, Italy - Central, Toscana
• Best Flavored Olive Oil: Olivas de Oro, Rosemary, Central Coast

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

F.X. Matt back in operation

The historic F.X. Matt brewery in Utica, NY, is back in operation after an accidental fire that caused an estimated $10 million in damage.

Production resumed yesterday with a test batch of beer just five days after the fire investigators say was caused when two employees were welding equipment and inadvertently melted a plastic conveyor belt on the second floor. No one was injured in the blaze.

Matt will need to outsource bottling and canning for an unspecified period. Its canning operation was destroyed and its bottling operation damaged. Brewery President Nick Matt said he hopes bottling can be resumed on-premises within a few weeks.

Although at one time Matt brewed its own brand of beer, it now brews numerous beers and soft drinks under contract. Perhaps the best-known brand it creates is Saranac. It is run by the third- and fourth-generations of the Matt family, following the history that began in 1885 when the original F.X. Matt left the Duke of Baden Brewery in Germany's Black Forest region to emigrate to the U.S. to start his own brewery.

He worked for several years at the financially wobbly Bierbaur Brewery, then in 1888 reorganized it into The West End Brewing Co. It became one of the largest of the dozen or so breweries then in operation in the upstate city.

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