By Deborah Cassell
Executive Editor
Candy Industry
Retail Confectioner

getting fresh: TV lacks nutritional value

How many hours of TV do you watch per week? I’m a slave to my DVR, which allows me to catch favorites like “Glee” (I’m a super Gleek) and guilty pleasures such as “The Bachelorette” (don’t judge) long after primetime has passed, once I’ve returned home from board meetings and tennis matches, for example. (I’ve still got the entire last season of “Lost” saved for future viewing. Please, no spoilers!) Between morning views of the “Today” show and flips to “The Weather Channel,” late-night movies and other DVR stores, it’s hard for me to say just how much TV I’m watching, not to mention what kind of effect it’s having on me.
 
One of the best parts of DVR is that it allows you skip past commercials, which can turn 40 minutes of actual entertainment into a 60-minute stretch of programming. But not everyone has the ability to record TV for later viewing. And some, dare I say it, actually enjoy watching paid advertisements (including those lengthy “made for TV” infomercials hawking mineral makeup, skincare products and the ubiquitous Snuggie).
 
Of course, many of those ads are for food.
 
It’s said that you are what you eat. But what would you be if you ate what you saw … on TV? A new study featured in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (www.adajournal.org) reveals that American television, in particular, may be a contributing factor when it comes to obesity.
 
Okay, so this may not be earth-shattering news. We all know that figurative “couch potatoes” may turn into literal ones, should they overindulge in the laziest of American pastimes. But it’s not just that the act of watching TV could result in less physical activity and more snacking. It could actually be what you’re viewing.
 
According to the aforementioned study, “televised food advertisements, which encourage viewers to eat the foods promoted for sale, constitute a de facto set of dietary endorsements.”
 
When researchers compared the nutritional content of food choices endorsed on TV to actual nutritional guidelines, the findings were staggering.
 
“Using a cross-sectional design, food advertisements were observed during 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday-morning televised broadcast during the fall of 2004,” the study explains; results suggest that “a diet consisting of observed food items would provide 2,560% of the recommended daily servings for sugars, 2,080% of the recommended daily servings for fat, 40% of the recommended daily servings for vegetables, 32% of the recommended daily servings for dairy, and 27% of the recommended daily servings for fruits.”
 
Furthermore, said diet “would substantially oversupply protein, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while substantially undersupplying carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, E, and D, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium,” it reports.
 
Stop the presses. That’s even worse than I would have thought. Is there really that little nutritional value to American TV? Just how many fast-food advertisements are aired in any given day? What about those “Drink Milk” and “Power of Cheese” campaigns? Or those ads promoting whole grain and fiber? I guess healthier commercials from associations pale in comparison to the number of spots reserved for industry giants like Burger King and mouthwatering chains such as Sonic, not to mention manufacturers of beverages, candy and snacks (seriously, I’m not going to mention them.)
 
Commercials aside, I wonder about actual programming. If one watches too much of the Food Network, for example, is he or she more likely to cook fatty comfort foods like Paula Deen or eat at more greasy-spoon roadside diners like Guy Fieri? (That said, he or she might also be more likely to cook light like Ellie Krieger … here’s hopin’.)
 
Science isn’t my strong suit, but I’m sure there’s some link -- a cause and effect, if you will -- between what you watch and what you eat, even if it is subconscious. That relationship may be good (preparing lower-fat desserts) or bad (investing in a deep fryer). But it’s one worth exploring for advertisers and TV networks as well consumers, especially those with children who are easily influenced to demand a cheeseburger at the mere mention or sight of one onscreen.
 
I’m sure Michelle Obama would have a few words to say on this subject.
 
As for me, I look forward to more studies on the TV/nutrition front. I also look forward to next week’s “Glee” finale, which I will no doubt record for later viewing, sans commercials. Who knew technology might save us from consuming extra calories? Now if only it could stop me from watching “The Bachelorette” …


Hershey reaches labor pact

Yesterday, The Hershey Company announced that it has reached a tentative labor agreement with the union representing employees at its 19 East Chocolate Ave. and West Hershey facilities located in Hershey, Pa.
 
If the union’s rank and file approve the pact, Hershey's Board of Directors will be asked to review and approve a significant modernization project, one which would expand and modernize the West Hershey manufacturing facility into one of the world's largest and most advanced chocolate-making facilities.
 
Current production in the 19 East Chocolate Ave. plant, as well as a portion of the workforce, would relocate to the West Hershey facility. Additionally, the company would continue to occupy a portion of the older 19 East Chocolate Ave. facility as administrative offices. The company expects to finalize the accord in June.
 
For more information, visit www.thehersheycompany.com.


Chairman Andreas Jacobs and CEO Jurgen Steinemann (r.),
during the inauguration of the Barry Callebaut factory in Extrema MG, Brazil.
(Photopress/AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

Barry Callebaut opens new chocolate factory near São Paulo

Last week, Barry Callebaut AG, the world’s leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, officially opened its new chocolate factory located in Extrema, Minas Gerais, near São Paulo -- the company’s first chocolate factory in South America. According to Barry Callebaut, the factory marks another cornerstone in its strategy to “selectively expand its geographic presence to emerging markets that offer above-average growth opportunities.”
 
The $15-milion chocolate factory in Extrema has been designed to meet the highest quality and food safety standards. The plant has an initial production capacity of 20,000 tons, which easily can be doubled based on demand. In addition, 70 new jobs were created as a result of the investment.
 
The new factory will make high-quality dark, milk and white chocolate as well as compound for artisanal and for industrial customers, but no end-consumer products. Capacity utilization at the plant is expected to rise rapidly. Eighty percent of the factory’s production is targeted toward the rapidly growing food service market, which includes restaurants, fast food restaurants, bakeries, pastries, in-store bakeries, caterers, hotels, chocolatiers, and hospital and school canteens.
 
For the distribution of food service products manufactured in Extrema, Barry Callebaut has signed an exclusive distribution agreement in 2009 with Bunge, a leading agribusiness company. Every day, Bunge serves about 25,000 points of sale in Brazil.
 
“Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world with a population of more than 190 million, and the country has returned much faster to its earlier growth dynamic than most other economies after the recent economic turmoil,” Barry Callebaut CEO Juergen Steinemann said at the grand opening.
 
“In addition, the Brazilian government as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are expecting a GDP growth of up to 6% for 2010,” Steinemann explained. “Against this background, and based on growth forecasts for the Latin American chocolate market of more than 3% in volume terms [Source: Euromonitor International] annually over the next three years, we see a tremendous market potential -- not only in Brazil but in the entire region. Seventy-five percent of the Brazilian GDP is generated within a radius of 500 kilometers from Extrema.
 
“With our existing cocoa factory in Ilhéus, Bahia, and now our new chocolate factory in Extrema,” he continued, “we are close to our local customers and well positioned to achieve our goal to also become the No 1 chocolate supplier to Brazil’s fast-growing food service industry.”
 
Barry Callebaut has been present in Brazil with a cocoa factory in Ilhéus, Bahia, since 1999 and employs more than 300 people in the country. Today, the company operates nine cocoa and chocolate factories across the Americas.
 
For more information, visit www.barry-callebaut.com.


Mars debuts plant in Dubai

As a result of experiencing double-digit growth in the Middle East since 2000, Mars GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), the leading regional manufacturer of chocolate products in the area, opened a new $40-million plant in Dubai last week.
 
His Excellency Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulauyam as well as numerous government officials and business partners attended the inauguration ceremonies of the 6,000 sq.-meter (64,583 sq. ft.) facility, which will produce MARS and SNICKERS bars.
 
As Ahmed Bayoumi, general manager of Mars CGG, noted, the subsidiary posted nets sales of $450 million last year.
 
“We are pleased that consumer demand in the Middle East has and continues to general opportunities for table long-term growth,” he says. “This has led to the investment of more than $100 million in our manufacturing unit since 1998. We are committed to strengthening our position as the leading chocolate manufacturer in the Middle East and our increased presence in GCC will help us achieve this growth by supporting consumer and customer needs in the region.”
 
Mars GCC built its first plant in Dubai in 1988, which produces a complete rangy of GALAXY chocolates. It distributes products to more than 20 countries in GCC, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
 
For more information, visit www.mars.com.


'Chocolate bonds' to fuel Hotel Chocolat's retail expansion

Hotel Chocolat, the London-based chocolate retail chain, has found a unique, out-of-the-chocolate box solution to help finance its expansion at home and abroad -- “chocolate bonds.”
 
As part of its effort to open more stores in the United Kingdom and in Europe, while simultaneously expanding its manufacturing site in the United Kingdom and investing in its plantation in St. Lucia -- a projected investment of $7.2 million -- the company has launched chocolate bonds available to its "chocolate tasting club" members. And while companies asking shareholders or members for funds for expansion is nothing new, rarely do shareholders receive returns in chocolate.
 
As a result, Hotel Chocolat members can invest GBP2,000 ($2,916) or GBP4,000 ($5,832) with a gross annual return of 6.72% or 7.29%. The difference is in the return, which will be paid in chocolate.
 
"We have ambitious plans for the future, and, when it came to considering the funding of these plans, we decided to think somewhat differently," says Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and ceo of the Hotel Chocolat family of companies. "Rather than borrow in the traditional way and pay interest to a big bank, we would much prefer to provide a return to our customers -- in chocolate -- through a chocolate bond."
 
Hotel Chocolat surveyed its members before launching the bond and insists it is "delighted" with the "positive reaction" it has received.
 
For more information, visit www.hotelchocolat.com.


Sweet of the week: Camille Bloch Mousse Chocolat

Camille Bloch Mousse Chocolat from Dorval Trading Co., Ltd., Nanuet, N.Y., has been reformulated with a lighter mousse filling. It’s available in dark chocolate, milk and new extra rich milk chocolate. The packaging also has been updated for a more sophisticated look. The suggested retail price per box is $5.29-$5.59.
 
For more information, call 1-845-624-3031 or visit www.dorvaltrading.com.
 
Check out other new products from the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo at www.retailconfectioner.com.