Drawing News

Of Ukrainian Pet Food, Shake ’N Bake Bags and Indian Mozzarella

Nov. 22, 2022
A roundup of some of the quirkier news.

Sometimes the news comes so thick and fast that all you can do is sit back and marvel. And make snarky comments, of course.

New Pet Food Plant Opens in Ukraine

Some of the most heartbreaking images to come out of the Ukraine war involve animals: orphaned puppies adopted by soldiers, dogs hanging around the rubble of the houses where their masters were killed. Now comes news that a Ukrainian pet food processor is opening up a second plant to make sure of production in wartime.

Suziria Group’s original plant is in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine – right where the Ukrainian army conducted the most effective counteroffensive of the war. As you can imagine, production there tended to be a little…spotty. So Suziria opened a new plant in Kalush, in the more secure western part of the country.

“The full-scale invasion of Russian troops has affected many business processes, as well as logistics,” the company’s co-owner blandly told Pet Food Industry. I’ll bet it has. Something to remember the next time you’re fretting over production schedules and ingredient delivery windows: At least you don’t have to worry about the next round of shelling.

This is just one more example of the exquisite courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia’s horrific aggression. I hope some of the food from the new plant goes to a Ukrainian army dog who ends up biting a Russian invader, preferably in the nether regions.

Shake ’N Bake Users Have to Find Their Own Bag

Convenience has always been one of the major appeals of modern processed foods. But now Kraft Heinz has decided that including a bag for Shake ’N Bake users is a little too convenient.

In what Kraft Heinz is calling the first major alteration in the more than half-century it has been marketing Shake ’N Bake, the product will no longer include a plastic bag. Users will have to find their own container to shake the product in. Kraft Heinz estimates that this will save 900,000 pounds of plastic a year.

I had no idea that Kraft Heinz sold that much Shake ’N Bake. They should just hope that, once consumers get used to doing without a furnished bag, they don’t start to notice some other things about breading. Such as, if you dredge the protein in flour and dip it in beaten egg, you can use your own breadcrumbs, seasoned however you like, and they will adhere to the surface without any need to shake at all.

That could spell doom for Shake ’N Bake. After all, breaking an egg isn’t much harder than having to hunt up a plastic bag.

Fake Cheese on Indian Pizza Costs Real Rupees

India instituted a comprehensive Goods and Services Tax (GST) about five years ago. It generates some $17 billion a month in revenue, but not without some difficulties.

One of the law’s biggest challenges is that it sets five separate tax rates on food, ranging from zero (for unpackaged food) to 28%. The problem is that no one seems to know just how much to tax which kinds of food.

Indian courts have been busy adjudicating such disputes as whether paratha and roti, which are both flatbreads, should be taxed at different rates. Often these legal battles center on ingredients.

That’s what led a court in Haryana state to declare that the “mozzarella” furnished by an Indian supplier of pizza toppings should be taxed as an “edible preparation,” which carries a rate of 18%; pure cheese is taxed at 12% The key was that in this case, 22% of the stuff was vegetable oil.

I sympathize with the food companies trying to work through the headaches caused by this law. I agree, at least in principle, with those who are calling for India’s tax rates on food to be simplified.

But as a big fan of real mozzarella, all I can say in this case is: Hooray for the Indian courts!

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.