Week on a Plate

The week digested: Burger King introduces vegan Whopper and food sales boost Co-op’s profits

Catch up on the food news from April 1-5, including the latest initiatives supermarkets are trialling to tackle plastics and potential food labelling changes for veggie products.

5 April 2019

Burger King’s Whopper goes plant-based

Impossible Foods has struck a distribution deal with fast food chain Burger King in the US to pilot the Impossible Whopper. It will trial the plant-based burger in 59 sites in Missouri with the aim for a national roll out by the end of the year. Over the last few months, Impossible has ramped up production from 500,000 pounds of meat alternatives to 2m pounds.


Profit win for Co-op but it cautions about 2019 conditions

Co-op is celebrating a £20m lift in annual profits as a result of increased food sales and the purchase of wholesaler Nisa Retail. Like-for-like sales in food rose by 4.4%, but the company warned that 2019 could be challenging due to Brexit uncertainty and intense competition in food retail.


New tech to help Tesco tackle plastic’s issue

Tesco is trialling technology that turns plastic recyclables into oil, including materials that aren’t typically collected by councils like plastic film and laminated plastics. Offering collection points in 10 of its stores, the technology can use the oil to create new plastics including for packaging, candles and surface coatings.

image credit: Getty Images


Paper bags introduced by Morrisons to prevent plastic waste

Morrisons is the first major supermarket in the UK to introduce paper bags, which can hold up to 16g in weight and cost 20p – the same as a standard plastic bag. It has been testing the paper bags in eight stores since the start of the year and customers had responded positively, with the measure expected to remove 1,300 tonnes of plastic a year.


Banishing single-use coffee cups affects sales

Boston Tea Party took a sales hit of £250,000 after banning single-use coffee cups, but it said it was proud to prevent 125,000 cups going to landfill. It introduced a policy last June that customers must bring in a reusable cup or pay a deposit for a returnable cup. The company called on other operators to introduce a resusable-cup policy and stop putting profits before the environment.


Plastic is a costly issue for many things

The price of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans amounts to $2.5bn worth of damage and lost resources each year, new research has found. Apart from fisheries and aquaculture being affected, recreational activities and global wellbeing are also negatively impacted by plastic pollution, while the waste is estimated to cost $33,000 per ton each year in reduced environmental value.


Don’t blame junk food, a lack of healthy eating could be causing early deaths

A bad diet is worse than smoking, causing 11m preventable deaths globally, according to research published in The Lancet. Surprisingly, it’s not junk food that is the main problem, but a lack of nutritious food being consumed like fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts. The researchers called for a shift in policy to promote healthy eating and reduced salt intake. It also found that death rates in the UK from a poor diet are more than 40% higher than in neighbouring European countries like France and Spain, while one in seven British deaths a year are caused by an unhealthy diet.


Stock market float set to aid Loungers’ growth

Loungers, which has 146 sites around the UK, is planning to float on the Aim stock market and use the money raised to pay off debt and invest in further expansion. The brand has managed to avoid the casual dining crunch with like-for-like sales growing by 6.4% in the 24 weeks to October, with its stock market value estimated as high as £300m when it floats.


Kellogg’s ditches its sugary brands

Kellogg’s is seeking to move away from sugary foods, reports The Times, as it sells its North American brands to Ferrero, including Keebler which produces cookies and ice cream cones, and cookie maker Famous Amos. The deal also includes Kellogg’s fruit snacks business and pie crusts division as it looks to focus on making breakfast cereals and savoury snacks.

image credit: Getty Images


Aldi’s halloumi wins taste test

With the UK the world’s largest importer of halloumi, The Telegraph decides to taste test six options with Aldi’s Lyttos Halloumi taking out the top marks, beating out the likes of Waitrose and M&S.


Discounters continue to creep as Asda takes second spot from Sainsbury's

With their merger on shaky ground, Asda overtook Sainsbury's to become Britain's second biggest supermarket chain, according to the latest figures from Kantar. Meanwhile, Nielsen data showed that Sainsbury’s had suffered a 1.6% decline in sales during the 12-week period to March 23, with analysts from HSBC voicing concerns that management had been distracted by fighting the provisional verdict of the Competition and Markets Authority. Tesco maintained its market lead with a share of 27.4% and a sales rise of 0.5% during that period, but the big four continued to lose ground to the discounters. Aldi recorded a 10.6% increase on year-on-year sales for the 12 weeks to 24 March, while Lidl had the second largest sales increase at 5.8%, according to Kantar.


Hefty price increases for both fresh and ambient food

Bad weather has pushed up the prices of British crops of onion, potatoes and cabbage, while global cereal costs like wheat have risen sharply making bread and cereals more expensive. Asparagus and rhubarb wholesale prices have also affected. Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen showed fresh food prices increased by 1.9% over the year, up from 1.6% in February, and ambient food inflation rose by 3.4%, the highest inflation rate since February 2013. The biggest threat to further price rises was a no deal Brexit, according to the BRC.


A tour of New York’s eating hot spots

The Telegraph identifies 24 restaurants that prove New York is still at the top of its foodie game from Jing Fong in Chinatown, mainstays like Balthazar and Italian fare at Legacy Records.


Guest chats inspire special Jikoni menus

Jikoni chef Ravinder Bhogal is introducing a new event called Civilised Sundays where guests will speak at her restaurant about their careers and cultural heritage, while a menu will be served up inspired by their work. First up will be Patricia Michelson, founder of La Fromagerie, who will discuss her 30-year career in the cheese world. Dishes on the menu will include Keralan crab-stuffed courgette flower with sorrel and coconut chutney, a smoked dhal with wild garlic, a Cornish Yarg paratha and a cheeseboard curated by Michelson.


No-deal Brexit will mean Brits have to leave food at home

Brits could be in for a rude shock if they want a taste of home while on holidays in Europe, with suggestions that a no-deal Brexit could see them prevented from taking goods like bacon, pork pies, Cornish pasties or cheddar cheese on their trip due to food safety regulations. Travellers face having their goods confiscated, including any animal-based products, and even being treated like smugglers if they attempt to conceal the food.

image credit: Bao


Meat-like descriptions could be prohibited for veggie products

It could be years off being implemented, but proposed EU laws could ban veggie or vegan producers from using words like steak, sausage, escalope, burger or hamburger to describe their products. Instead things like veggie burgers will have to be described as veggie discs. Some have claimed the change could unlock more creativity with vegetable-based products, rather than relying on meat substitutes.


Steak restaurants join up

Gaucho’s backers have agreed to buy M Restaurants, although the two chains will continue to operate independently under a new company called Rare Restaurants.


New dishes coming to Bao’s latest site

Bao’s Borough Market site is set to open on May 6 with new bao fillings on the menu like chicken nuggets and aubergine. Other dishes coming to the menu include beef meatballs with fried egg, and a curry with panko goat and frankfurter.

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