Third CleanSmoke Coalition Congress took place in Frankfurt

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. As far as CleanSmoke is concerned, this fire is caused by the increasing enthusiasm for an innovative process that allows smoking foods in a healthier and more sustainable way. CleanSmoke is real, freshly produced smoke from primary smoke condensate. Harmful substances such as ash, tar or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are removed prior to smoking. This modern process has replaced conventional smoking in America and Scandinavia to a large extent. It is the declared mission of the CleanSmoke Coalition, founded in 2017, to advance CleanSmoke in the rest of Europe. Members from the US and six European countries met late October in Frankfurt at the third CleanSmoke Coalition Congress.

Coalition chairman Uwe Vogel drew a positive balance of the first year of the coalition’s activity: “We managed to bring the CleanSmoke Coalition to life and to achieve first important results.“

Establishing CleanSmoke as best available smoking technology in the EU

The coalition is in close contact with European institutes, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Seville, an exchange which has produced first results. The EU, for example, has added the CleanSmoke procedure to a regulation draft for best available technologies (BAT). In a REFIT program in May 2018, the European Commission has confirmed that CleanSmoke is a smoking process.

In Germany, the coalition is in contact with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture as well as organic food producers. Some of the achievements here are first organic certifications as well as the introduction of the CleanSmoke label for foods that have been smoked using the new technology. This label signals to consumers how the product has been smoked, so they can make an informed decision. The coalition is also waiting for the explicit inclusion of the procedure in the EC Eco-Regulation, following a recommendation by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Lawyers Jens Karsten and Dr. Markus Grube, of law firm KWG, work hard to achieve a consistent labelling of the CleanSmoke process as actual smoke in Europe. Dr. Benjamin Voß and Alf Uwe Belz of proFagus highlighted a particular challenge: The admissions of primary smoke flavours within the European Union expire by the end of 2023, which means that the coalition should work towards CleanSmoke being added to the new positive list 2.0.

Unlocking new markets – through sustainability, safety, and taste

During his market evaluation, Uwe Vogel explained why he is convinced of the future success of CleanSmoke in Europe.

Vogel used Sweden, where no less than 90 percent of all smoked foods are produced using CleanSmoke, as a prime example. Prior to the introduction of CleanSmoke, the biggest demands of the local food industry were an increased focus on protecting the environment through reduced emissions, as well as high-quality products and procedures. Therefore, to establish CleanSmoke, research institutes formed part of the communication strategy from the beginning.

The launch in Poland was similarly successful. In the early 1990s, consumers were concerned about harmful substances in foods. Today, CleanSmoke holds a market share of around 30 percent in smoked foods in Poland because approval by regulatory bodies could be achieved.

In France, market actors were mainly interested in avoiding harmful side products of conventional smoking, such as PAH’s, while maintaining the typical smoke taste at the same time.

Today, the food industry in developed countries is mainly faced with questions of food safety, a healthy diet, and sustainability by consumers. “CleanSmoke can convince in all three areas and bring about true change“, summarizes Uwe Vogel.

CleanSmoke, a contribution to the environment

In a lecture that led to an animated discussion, Hannah Helmke, director of consulting firm right. based on science,  addressed one of the biggest challenges of the food industry: an industry that produces 29 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions can contribute significantly to limiting global warming to the 2 degrees demanded by the UN. The various actors in the food industry are now asked to familiarise themselves with processes that are suitable for lowering emissions.

Hannah Helmke emphasized that companies can gain a competitive advantage when incorporating measures to reduce global warming in their planning.

Curse and blessing: The needs of Millennials

Marketing strategist Jürgen Michalzik took a look at millennials, born between 1980 and 2000. This generation is basically online all the time. They seek to combine personal advantages and indulgence with friends, family, and social responsibility.

For millennials, food quality and quality of life are one and the same. On the one hand, they question everything – while being open to new things such as CleanSmoke at the same time, according to Michalzik. “A forward-looking food industry should welcome millennials with open arms, listen to them, take them seriously and let them participate“, recommends Michalzik.

The power of a good story

Andreas Severin, owner of communications agency crossrelations, warned against the assumption that superior technologies that break existing rules will sell themselves. While the benefits of CleanSmoke are obvious, we tend to overrate the conventional and mistrust new inventions. “In order to be successful, innovations need trust“, remarks Andreas Severin.

This trust can, for example, be gained by demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In the case of CleanSmoke, this means that producers and retailers have to provide verifiable facts about the new technology, namely that it lowers company and environmental costs and makes smoked foods even better. They have to address the emotions and values of consumers, such as millennials and take them seriously.

The CleanSmoke process meets the issues of the industry with so many aspects: it is about sustainability, food safety, resource and occupational safety, but also about taste and efficient, healthier production options. Those who are particularly concerned about sustainability and food safety should be able to consciously perceive products smoked with CleanSmoke in the future. The consumer should be given a fair chance to consciously choose one or the other smoking method.

„We are on a very good path because the manufacturers have understood us and expressed their interest in the process. Next, we expect signals from the judiciary and the food retail trade so that the right course can be set and every food manufacturer can change its production“. This is where Uwe Vogel sees great opportunities for the future.

Clean Smoke on the Rise
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