By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: The state of sustainability

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “greenie.” Yeah, I was a religious user of Chicago’s blue bags and even kept a blue bin that the city’s finest garbage collectors claimed they recycled. I even still segregate paper, glass, tin and plastic for the trucks rumbling down my alley every week, although the city discontinued the blue bag program last summer -- makes me feel like I’m one with Kermit.

All city residents eventually will get a “blue cart” for recyclables, although my ward still only has a drop-off center. Seems that the blue bag program really wasn’t working as well as it should have, so the city opted for a slow rollout of blue carts. For me, the blue bag program was great and convenient. I especially loved the bags for both their color and strength.

But as the real greenies pointed out, the idea of blue bags and plain garbage being sorted out once it was compressed at a recycling center proved less efficient than originally designed.

Consequently, when all these packaged consumer goods companies began touting their sustainability, I kept thinking about Chicago’s blue bag recycling program. The notion makes you feel good, and there are many who actually follow through on the notion, but it really doesn’t work as well as it should.

So call me a bit skeptical about sustainability, a term that suggests lip service for what really is a noble cause. Just cause I’m a curmudgeon doesn’t mean I can’t be a lukewarm environmentalist. (We all have to start somewhere.) Listen, I was recycling pop bottles for a two-cent deposit to earn cash for candy and comic books when I was in grade school. Okay, so I had to lie when the storekeep asked me if I had bought the soda in his shop, but it was for a good cause -- me.

Thus, when I had a chance to attend this year’s State of the Industry conference sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), I couldn’t help but notice that Jim Chambers, president of Cadbury North America, was going to speak on the values proposition.

I didn’t realize he was going to speak about values as in corporate, community, consumer and personal values. (We’ll leave family values out of this since I’m sure it will come up during next year’s elections.) Chambers, who has this wonderful dry sense of humor, pointed out that John Cadbury, a Quaker, actually founded Cadbury to become “a force for good in a troubled world.”

Insistent that healthy and educated employees performed best, John became one of the first to support women in the industry, offering opportunity and education for the “weaker sex.”

Fast forward to today, and Cadbury and its 55,000 “colleagues” have -- as Chambers points out -- committed themselves to ethical/sustainable sourcing, responsible governance, reducing its carbon footprint, water and packaging reduction, investing in communities -- both local and global -- and nurturing and rewarding its employees. Call it a holistic approach to sustainability.

No doubt, executing such a grand plan takes effort, and like Chicago’s blue bag program, may result in a variety of challenges, the first being buy-in from Cadbury “colleagues” throughout the organization.

Chambers, however, did convince me that there’s more to this sustainability effort than just lip service. But it was Darcy Winslow, founder of Designs for a Sustainable World Consulting and a long-standing executive of Nike, Inc., that drove home the power of the individual in this sustainability effort.

Noting that the Millennial population (born between 1977-2000), which number about 76 million, have a strong sustainable values base (more than half), Winslow not only provided some stark facts about the need to go “green,” but pointed out that these consumers will act on their values.

Moreover, in sharing her experiences on how Nike made a commitment to lessen its carbon footprint, she introduced the audience to the power of the individual by showing “The Girl Effect” video. That kind of brought the whole sustainable discussion full circle, back to John Cadbury’s efforts to engage women in industry.

Have I become a sustainable fanatic after attending these presentations? I’m still more of a foodie than a greenie, but it’s certainly made me think differently. I expect to continue recycling, although I’ll wait for the blue cart.

Just one last word -- Kudos to the NCA for putting together a strong program. In spite of all of us experiencing tough times, attending such affairs does broaden one’s mind and enhance possibilities.

NCA sponsors Chicago-area allergen handling/labeling conference

Allergen handling and labeling will be the subjects of a two-day conference sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, to take place in Geneva, Ill., March 24-25. Topics of discussion will be an introduction to food allergens, allergen management in design and development, raw material sourcing, plant design and confectionery processing, cleaning and sanitation, verification and testing, product labeling strategy for confectionery items, and training and education. Speakers will include Tom Mackie, owner of Quality & Food Safety Consulting, as well as experts from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (www.foodallergy.org) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (www.farrp.org). The conference will be held at the FONA Center at FONA International. For more information or to register, contact Alison Bodor, alison.bodor@candyusa.com.

Shaman Chocolates launches new dark chocolate flavors

Soquel, Calif.-based Shaman Chocolates, whose profits help support the Huichol Indians, has added two new flavors to its collection: Organic Dark Chocolate with Acai, Lemon & Orange and Organic Dark Chocolate with Green Tea & Ginger. Both flavors combine the health benefits of superfoods with certified organic and Fair Trade chocolate. Organic Dark Chocolate with Acai, Lemon & Orange bars take advantage of the antioxidant, omega fat, protein and fiber properties of Acai berries, while Organic Dark Chocolate with Green Tea & Ginger bars feature the antioxidant, flavonoid, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering and fat-burning benefits found in green tea. The new chocolate bars are available at retailers nationwide or at www.shamanchocolates.com for $3.00 per bar.

Ganeden, Heartland partner to produce probiotic sweetener

Ganeden Biotech, Inc., a manufacturer of the patented probiotic strain GanedenBC30, has partnered with Heartland Sweeteners, a producer and distributor of zero-calorie sweeteners, to produce an artificial sweetener fortified with probiotics. Ganeden Biotech’s probiotic strain was chosen for the sweetener because of its ability to survive manufacturing and baking temperatures while remaining shelf stable.

The companies will work together to develop the zero-calorie, probiotic-enhanced sweetener in the coming months. Once it is finished, the product will be distributed at retail grocery stores nationwide. The new sweetener can be used in traditional sweetener applications such as tea or coffee, as well as in baked goods.

“This collaboration marks a significant step forward in our effort to take probiotics beyond the yogurt aisle,” says Andrew Lefkowitz, CEO of Ganeden Biotech. “We are partnering with Heartland Sweeteners to quickly bring to market an innovative product that can help support and maintain a healthy digestive system and boost immunity.”

For more information, visit www.ganedenlabs.com or www.idealsweet.com.

Navitas Naturals offers new kits

Now you can make your chocolate and eat it, too, thanks to Navitas Naturals’ new Organic Superfood Chocolate Kits. The kits are available in three antioxidant-packed varieties: goji berry, cacao nib and goldenberry. Each features an original recipe by best-selling cookbook author Ani Phyo (www.aniphyo.com) and creates 12 organic chocolates; all users need to complete the task is a knife, a small bowl, a large bowl and an ice cube tray. Ingredients include organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic mesquite, organic lucuma and organic maca. The suggested retail price per kit is $9.99. For more information, visit www.navitasnaturals.com.

sweet of the week: thinkproducts thinkThin bites

Founded by former fashion model and mother of two Lizanne Falsetto, Ventura, Calif.-based thinkproducts recently launched thinkThin bites, featuring two portion-control bars per package. Designed for diet and weight loss, the bars are all-natural, high in protein and calcium, gluten-free and low-calorie (75 calories per bar), with zero grams of sugar. thinkThin bites come in White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Toffee Nut and Cookies and Cream flavors, and retail for $1.69 per package. They are available at Whole Foods stores, independent natural retailers and online at www.thinkproducts.com.