News briefs: Salt reduction, Flower Foods merger and food prices

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

This week, the FSA holds an event focusing on salt-reduction
initiative, Flower Foods announces its merger with Holsum Bakery,
and the American Bakers Association addresses food prices.

Industry continues focus on salt reduction ​The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) demonstrated its dedication to salt reduction in an event held last week to disseminate best practice arising from salt-reduction initiatives. Eighty stakeholders, including nutritionists, dieticians and delegates from industry and academia, attended to learn about eight projects initiated by the FSA and run around the UK. Industry representatives included Hanneke Veldhuis, business manager at DSM Food Specialities, who said it was "interesting to see how a big organisation like the FSA is able to engage action in local organisations to bring it into practice". ​Veldhuis added: "It's especially interesting to see from an international perspective different ways of working."​ Maureen Strong, Nutrition Manager at AHDB Meat Services, said: "It's been great to hear about these local targeted projects, which have been running in parallel with industry-wide activity to reduce the salt in the food chain." ​ The event highlights the industry focus on salt reduction. The FSA recommends a limit of 6g of salt per day for the general population, and less for children. Its targets for 2010 say products should have a 1 per cent salt content, but bread typically contains 1.2g per 100g. Numerous scientists are convinced high salt intake is responsible for increasing blood pressure (hypertension), a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe. Although sodium is useful in food production and is also an essential mineral, governments have been leading salt reduction initiatives in light of concerns about the effects of excess salt (sodium chloride) on health and about the amount of salt in processed foods. A new blooming partnership ​ Flowers Foods, a US producer and marketer of packaged bakery foods, has entered into a merger agreement with family-owned Holsum Bakery. The two groups hope the merger will provide new possibilities for geographical expansion, as well as allowing for an increased product range George Deese, CEO and president for Flowers Foods, said: "Holsum and Flowers have similar operating strategies and business ethics. This merger of Holsum and Flowers further strengthens our operations and brings new talent to our company. We look forward to the growth opportunities the merger will provide as we strategically expand our geographic footprint." ​Flower Foods operates US 36 bakeries that produce breads, rolls, snack cakes and pastries, which are distributed both as fresh and frozen products. Holsum Bakery owns two bakeries in the Phoenix area. The merger will be structured as a merger of a wholly owned subsidiary of Flower Foods in exchange for cash and Flowers stock. The value of the deal was not included in yesterday's announcement. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval. Americanbakers call on Congress for positive action ​Representatives from the American Bakers Association (ABA) made a trip to Congress last week to urge it to address the commodity crisis and other priorities for the baking industry. Food prices have soared in the past few years, with the cost of maize and rice doubling since 2000, while the cost of wheat has tripled. The problem has been blamed on increasing consumer demand from emerging markets and increasing populations, a competing demand for grains for use in biofuels, the rising cost of oil and poor weather conditions. More than 85 top executives from the baking industry travelled to Washington to discuss the rising food prices along with food safety, raw material availability and alternative fuels, and presented the group's three-point action aimed at combating the current food crisis. The plan addresses three areas:

  • It seeks the development of energy efficient alternatives and alternative fuel research

  • It urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for corn-based ethanol, because it considers it to harm the economy and says domestic supplies are not adequate to meet the standards.

  • It pushes for the elimination of the ethanol import tariff and the domestic blender's credit, allowing progress toward meeting RFS goals without harming food stocks.

The trip saw the industry members focus on ethanol, advocating for the $.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol to be lowered to a level at or below the per gallon subsidy for blending ethanol into gasoline. ​"However, the policies must be balanced with the needs of traditional agriculture and ensure a reliable safe food supply for our nation," said Robb MacKie, president and CEO for ABA. The trip saw the industry members focus on ethanol, advocating for the $.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol to be lowered to a level at or below the per gallon subsidy for blending ethanol into gasoline. said Robb MacKie, president and CEO for ABA.

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