Keith’s Take: Fonterra problem is chronic, could be fatal
September 5th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Fonterra problem is chronic, could be fatal

Fonterra is front and centre of food industry conversation at the moment, but the challenges confronting the dairy giant are not exclusive to it, but are an epidemic of chronic status that threatens to be fatal to both the industry and the nation. Unfortunately it has become critical at a time when those in charge of the patient lack both the intellect and the surgical skill to perform the necessary lifesaving procedures.

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Keith’s Take: Primary industries ministry is a disaster
August 29th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Primary industries ministry is a disaster

We shouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese and other customers of New Zealand food products are less than excited by the revelation that the Ministry of Primary Industries’ review of analysis of the contaminant in Fonterra’s whey protein concentrate found it to be harmless to consumers. The issue that has not been dismissed by the latest development in this crisis is that Fonterra not only found contaminants in one of its products, but that it proceeded to supply that contaminated products to other producers as a food ingredient.

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Keith’s Take: Are there apples in that cider?
August 27th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Are there apples in that cider?

There is a cider boom in the hospo sector right now, but does anybody have any idea what cider actually is. As it stands, cider can be made from anything that has a tenuous link to fruit juice, and as such the bull cider market is a perfect allegory of New Zealand’s food industry. We make money while the sun shines on light, fruity, alcohol beverages masquerading as cider, but for those who are concerned with the healthy commerce incorporated in the craft of cider, either as drinkers, producers or hospo providers we are on a fast track to disaster.

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Keith’s Take: Dawn of the Age of the Food Nazi
August 22nd, 2013

Keith’s Take: Dawn of the Age of the Food Nazi

The newly passed GCSB bill will allow the spy agency to intercept communications from a specified “class” of New Zealanders, one the Prime Ministers deems to be a threat to the security of the nation. As more revelations of Fonterra’s mismanagement of its food safety standards increase the erosion of our international reputation as food producers could dairy farmers and their representatives be such a class? Could the whole food industry, from farm to restaurant, be classified in this way?

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Keith’s Take: Our best restaurants should be leaders, not followers
August 20th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Our best restaurants should be leaders, not followers

Being the best is often cited by restaurateurs as their raison d’être, but it is doubtful whether that best is a global best, or just a better-than-the-competition wish. The problem we have with our cuisine is that it has been based on an idea that sophistication is imported, and so we have developed a culinary culture that is nothing more than a copycat of what happens in other food cultures, and as a copycat, by definition it can never be truly the best.

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Keith’s Take: Let us eat food – we want a revolution NOW!
August 15th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Let us eat food – we want a revolution NOW!

The decision by Ngapuhi to support the maintenance of New Zealanders’ rights to gather wild seafood is a sign that the natives are troubled. In rejecting the Ministry of Primary Industries’ attempt to apply the quota system to recreational fishing, Te Iwi a Runanga o Ngapuhi are putting our food culture above their own vested interest in commercial fishing and taking a stand against the industrialisation of local food culture that has been eroding our social and economic health for 130 years.

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Keith’s Take: Time for cockies to get over themselves
August 8th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Time for cockies to get over themselves

The signs have been there for some time that cockies are far too cocky for their own good. Now that there are more pig’s ears than top milk in or export mix, it is time for the backbone of this nation to find a way to connect to the brain of said nation. The Fonterra problem is not a corporate management issue: like the meat industry problem it is down to farmers’ ignorance and their belief in their exceptionalism.

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Keith’s Take: Time for pigs to follow the sheep
August 1st, 2013

Keith’s Take: Time for pigs to follow the sheep

As a revolution it is a quiet one, but no less profound because of that. The decision by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to support country of origin labelling is a dramatic shift in attitude for our major primary industries, one not yet supported by the dairy sector, or by our grocery trade at large. But if it becomes the tipping point for honest food labelling in this country our supermarkets will never be the same again.

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Keith’s Take: Taste test dummies
July 31st, 2013

Keith’s Take: Taste test dummies

Oxford University really did get the mainstream media excited by its “research” findings that professional wine judges did not have the ability to identify the most expensive wines in their taste trials. Otherwise august publications around the globe, many of which run regular columns of opinion from the very experts they ridicule, published the results with obvious relish, revealing a distinct irony failure on their own part.

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Keith’s Take: Why don’t we trust our food producers?
July 25th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Why don’t we trust our food producers?

The Coke advertisements proclaiming their noble citizenship are large and red, but set against Reader’s Digest’s annual ‘most trusted brands’ fete they are less convincing than the giant beverage company would have hoped. Coca-Cola is probably the most recognised global food brand, but the real challenge facing the American commercial emblem and a host of other huge food brands is not recognition but integrity: the ultimate purchase question being, “do I trust this stuff enough to put it in my body?”

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Keith’s Take: Pubs’ last days?
July 24th, 2013

Keith’s Take: Pubs’ last days?

I went to a pub the other day, and while I was not shocked by the experience, the bad smell, slack service, poor beer and general poverty of the place, I was surprised that it was still operating, that the residual non-service culture of 50 years ago continues. While I often joke about how bad pubs were, the fact is that most of them still are, and their complete demise will be good news, not just for our reputation when tourists stumble on them by mistake, but for the whole hospo community.

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Keith’s Take: US finally wins Vietnam War
July 18th, 2013

Keith’s Take: US finally wins Vietnam War

Seventy years after the US Army began research into a war-on-food strategy and the scene of the most bitter defeat in US history, Vietnam, is the setting for a remarkable reversal. This time the attack on Vietnam’s food industry and culture has been achieved by stealth rather than the massive herbicide bombardments by military aircraft initiated in 1963, with the announcement that McDonald’s has opened its first outlet in Vietnam.

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