Week on a Plate

The week digested: Aldi’s expansion and Instagram’s promotion restrictions

Catch up on the food news from September 16-20, including Greencore’s Brexit recipes and Burger King’s plastic push.

20 September 2019

Aldi aims to increase reach within the M25

Aldi wants to more than double its stores from 45 to 100 within the M25 motorway in the next six years. The discounter reported an 11% sales rise to £11.3bn in the year to December 2018. Investment worth £1bn will be dedicated to open the new stores, as well as upgrade existing sites and distribution centres.


Instagram rolls out censorship rules for diet products

Instagram will restrict the promotion of weight loss products, including diet teas, to users under 18 years of age. It will also remove all posts that make a miraculous claim about certain diet or weight loss items that are linked to a commercial offer like a discount code.


UK’s biggest sandwich maker preps Brexit recipes

Greencore, which reportedly supplies 60% of sandwiches in the UK, has told the Financial Times it has extensive plans in place for Brexit, including changing up its supply chain. “We’re trying to plan for port disruption and mitigate it by changing recipes and looking for local suppliers where they exist,” said chief executive Patrick Coveney. “About one-quarter of our products would have a different no-deal Brexit recipe if needed.”


Burger King takes whopper plastic action

As of yesterday (September 19), all Burger King children’s meals will no longer contain plastic toys, as part of the fast-food chain’s ambition to reduce its plastic output by 320 tonnes a year. McDonald’s has pledged to make a similar move, trialling initiatives to swap the toys for either fruit or a book.


Crunch time for casual dining

More than 1,400 restaurants have fallen into insolvency in the year to June 2019, an increase of 25% compared to a year before, research has shown. It is the highest number of restaurant closures since 2014 and reflects an oversaturated mid-market for casual dining. But problems not only plague chains but also independent outfits, according to accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young. Only restaurants with strong brand loyalty and a differentiated offering will survive the crunch, it added.


Beyond Meat sausages landing in Tesco

Tesco will debut Beyond Meat's plant-based sausages in store at the end of September. The product is made with peas, fava beans and rice, with a trace of beetroot for a meaty colour and coconut oil to create juiciness, all wrapped in a casing made from algae. Appearing in the chilled section, the pork-like sausages will sit in the meat cabinets in 458 Tesco branches priced at £4.95 for two. Lewis Hamilton's new joint, Neat Burger, will be the first UK restaurant to stock the sausages. This week also saw Tesco’s CEO, Dave Lewis, affirm that he will not be stocking American chlorine-washed chickens, regardless of any US-British trade deals. “The feedback that comes back from the UK customer is 'I prefer not to have it'. By and large, UK customers reject that idea,” he said.

Plant-based Impossible Burger lands in supermarkets

Meanwhile, Beyond’s American rival Impossible Foods makes its first move into retail today (September 20), supplying its Impossible Burger to outlets of Californian Gelson’s Markets. The brand has been unable to enter Europe so far due to the prohibition on GM foods.


Own label driving sales at Asda

Asda has credited development of its own-brand range, quality and availability, particularly in the fresh space, for growing like-for-like sales, as it reported total revenues rose by 3.1% to £22.9bn. Online sales also grew after work on its mobile and web applications.


Farming reform needed to tackle carbon emissions

Researchers have called for reforms to farming subsidies after a report found more than £1m per minute is provided globally to farmers, which promotes high-emission cattle production, deforestation, destruction of wildlife and pollution from excessive fertiliser use. The subsidies should be channelled into storing carbon in soil, producing healthier food, cutting waste and growing trees, rejecting the idea that the money was needed to supply cheaper food, according to the Food and Land Use Coalition, a collective of food, farming and green research groups that produced the report.


Climate change could lead to food security calamity in UK

A government committee has warned that the UK is facing a food security crisis because a fifth of imported fresh food comes from areas threatened by climate change, while Brexit has created uncertainty around trading relationships. There were calls for a national food council to be established to cover food production, nutrition and public health issues, as well as introducing strict annual targets to reduce the UK’s food waste. The committee's report also urged the government to promote healthier and more sustainable diets, including a reduction in meat and dairy products.


Bryon battering continues

The family of a teenager who died after eating a Byron burger has hit out at the coroner’s office, claiming investigation delays resulted in the loss of evidence. Owen Carey’s family also criticised Byron for behaving dishonourably after it hired a criminal barrister to represent the chain at the inquest.


Kippers make a return to British plates

Retailers and independent fishmongers are seeing a revived interest in kippers. Once a British staple, it fell out of fashion in the 80s and 90s, but a resurgence on fine-dining restaurant menus seems to be fuelling a comeback. Waitrose reported a 6.5% increase in kipper purchases over the last 12 months, while searches on the Sainsbury’s website for the fish increased 100% during the same timeframe. “High in protein, low in calories and packed with nutritional benefits – more of our customers are buying kippers as part of a well-rounded diet,” said Jeremey Langley, Agriculture and Fisheries Manager at Waitrose & Partners. “Although the increases are fairly modest now, they are growing, and we think kippers could be a big food trend again in the next two to three years.”

image credit: Getty Images

Invasive species provide guilt-free protein

A former environmental adviser to Theresa May is advocating for Brits to eat more Muntjac deer, crayfish and other invasive species that have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Rather paradoxically, a restaurant called Native in London has a number of invasive species on the menu, including crayfish, pennywort, pineapple weed, grey squirrel and Muntjac deer.


Leftover fish bits used for packaging

A bio-plastic made from fish offcuts could replace plastic packaging. Using red algae to bind proteins from fish skin and scales, a biodegradable and compostable material called MarinaTex can break down in a soil environment in four to six weeks and be disposed of through home food waste collections. An estimated 492,020 tonnes of fish waste are produced by the fish processing industry every year in the UK.


Gut health guru

The Times interviews Dr Megan Rossi, a nutritionist, dietician and research fellow at King’s College London, who specialises in gut health. On the back of her new book on the subject, she talks about how fad diets don't help the gut and how we should be eating 30 different types of plant-based foods a week – but there's no need to go vegan.


Ocado sales are up

Ocado has suggested it may begin delivering Marks & Spencer groceries before September 2020 to make the transition easier for suppliers and Waitrose. However, The Times understands that Waitrose is not interested in ending its deal early. Meanwhile, Ocado reported sales are up more than 11% in the quarter to September at £386m, but warned food supplies could be hit by Brexit, including the likes of raspberries, Parma ham and mozzarella cheese. The average order size at Ocado dropped slightly to £105.42, but customers are buying more often.


Lemons may not be vegan

Wax used on lemon skins to increase shelf life may not be suitable for vegans, it has emerged, after a Twitter user questioned why a coke with lemon at Pizza Express was not labelled as vegan friendly. “The wax on waxed lemons contain shellac, which is derived from insects and therefore strictly not vegan,” said a spokesperson for the pizza chain. Beeswax is also commonly used for the same purpose, though there are non-animal products available that perform the same function.

image credit: Getty Images

On the sauce

According to Uber Eats, nearly half of Brits think we should have a condiment with every meal, while sales of mayo are up 10% to £171m. Even Tom Kerridge has launched a gherkin ketchup at his restaurant in the Corinthia Hotel in London. The Times takes the condiment aisle for a taste test, including ketchups, brown sauce, mayo, mustard and hot sauce. Real Good from Ocado takes the ketchup crown, while Halen Môn black garlic ketchup is deemed the best brown sauce and Lucy’s lemon mustard mayonnaise is the best mayo. There are two winning mustards: Tracklements sweet mustard ketchup and Sauce Shop South Carolina BBQ. Blowing out the competition in the hot sauce category is the Eaten Alive smoked sriracha fermented hot sauce.



It’s not all healthier food on the menu at KFC – at least not in a number of the chicken chain’s American branches, where it’s trialling a chicken patty sandwiched between two doughnuts as well as a basket of chicken tenders that comes with a side of doughnut.


Festival bites off more than it can chew

A seafood festival in Plymouth has comes under fire from conservationists for using the near-threatened blue shark as part of a cookery demonstration, which was then served up to onlookers. It is understood the shark was landed as by-catch, with the restaurant behind the furore claiming it would have been wasteful not to eat it.

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