The week digested: Danone plans to milk plant-based sales and the global threat to food production

Catch up on the food news from May 6-10, including 10-second meals and the arrival of Wahlburgers.

10 May 2019
meal kitschainsdeliverynuts and seedsplant-basedsustainabilityvegan

Danone plans to milk plant-based sales

Danone is coming for the healthy food market. The company’s chief executive, Emmanuel Faber, wants to see plant-based sales rise from €1.7bn today to €5bn by 2025, alongside growth in the organic and GM-free categories. Danone’s current plant-based sales come predominantly from milk alternatives (80%), with contributions from non-dairy yoghurts (15%) and desserts (5%). Going forward, the Paris-based business will target non-dairy ice cream, vegan cheese and vegan baby food, according to Faber.

 

Food production under $577bn threat

A UN report into the state of the world’s ecosystems has identified major threats to the environment and wildlife, including converting forest and grasslands into farms, overfishing and overhunting, and loss of biodiversity. Loss of insect pollinators presents a growing global threat to food production and could result in a $577bn annual decline in crop output, while 600 species of livestock could become extinct and a further 1,000 are under threat.

 

Delivery companies take a slice of Domino’s sales

Competition from the likes of Just Eat and Deliveroo is impacting the sales of Domino’s pizza. The UK and Ireland account for 90% of sales for the business, and while like-for-likes in the UK grew 3.1%, order volumes fell by 2.7%. On the bright side, its cheeseburger pizza has been popular with consumers: Domino’s has sold 1.62m of them since the November launch. The franchise is also working on creating a vegan option. Meanwhile, its dispute with franchisees continues to impact British openings.

 

HelloFresh welcomes 32% more customers

The world’s largest meal-kit maker continues to grow its active users and sales, which rose 32% and 42% respectively in the first quarter of 2019. However, while the company’s sales increased to €420.1m, it also increased its deficit, with losses growing to €26.1m from €21.7m last year.

image credit: Hello Fresh

Ocado and Morrisons loosen ties

Morrisons has ditched its exclusive deal with Ocado to deliver its groceries, allowing the supermarket to “dance at more than one wedding,” as chief executive Dave Potts put it. Ocado agreed to relax the original agreement between the two companies in exchange for Morrisons giving up space in Ocado’s Erith warehouse – a move made necessary by the fire that destroyed Ocado’s facility in Andover, reducing its capacity. Morrisons is said to be considering expanding its partnership with Amazon. It also reported a 2.3% rise in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to May 5.

 

10-second meals

Speaking of Ocado, the company also revealed it had invested part of £7m into Karakuri, a start-up that builds robots chefs. Currently, its devices can make customised ice creams and cocktails, but upcoming projects include a machine that is designed to make a meal every 10 seconds. Ocado plans to test the machines later this year, amid speculation that they could be incorporated into the grocer’s one-hour delivery service, allowing customers to order ready-made food that is manufactured daily.

 

Amazon Go backtracks in light of discrimination accusations

Amazon Go has added its 12th location to the portfolio this week – but the opening in New York is also a step back for the concept, which for the first time will accept cash, despite being launched as a cashless concept. The move comes amid a growing wave of resentment in the US against stores that will only accept digital payments, as some claim this discriminates against the poor. Legislation has already been passed in Philadelphia banning cashless stores, with other American cities are mulling whether to follow suit.

 

Wahlburgers readies to open in London

The burger concept backed by Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg is preparing to open its first non-US site. Wahlburgers is scheduled to debut in Covent Garden on May 20, serving up American classics like Sloppy Joes and Thanksgiving Burgers.

image credit: Wahlburgers

Mothers should get a little bit nutty

A study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health has found that pregnant women who eat nuts frequently are likely to have more intelligent children. Cognitive function, attention span and working memory were all improved in youngsters whose mothers consumed around three 30g servings of nuts a week during their first trimester. The results are thought to be related to nutrients like folic acid and fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6), which accumulate in the neural tissue of the developing foetus.

 

Brew-tea-ful

The Times takes a look at the health benefits of tea. Though new research warns that drinking a cuppa too hot could dramatically increase the risk of cancer, a warm tea has been shown to improve mental clarity, prevent heart disease and diabetes, benefit the gut, relieve stress, aid weight loss and prevent glaucoma.

 

Selfridges makes palm oil progress

Selfridges has ensured nearly 300 of its own-brand foods are completely free of palm oil as part of its sustainable strategy. These products include chocolate, biscuits, cakes and mince pies, with the milestone achieved nine months ahead of target. The upmarket retailer wants 50% of all products to be better for people and the planet by 2022.

 

EU is ‘outright dangerous’

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has accused the European Union of being “outright dangerous” with its use of natural resources, including food, land, fibres and timber, claiming it would take 2.8 planets to extend the current rate of EU consumption.

 

Gin makers seek to avoid a berry big problem

The exploding popularity of gin is seeing craft distillers grow their own juniper to boost the use of home-grown ingredients and ward off any potential supply issues if a no-deal Brexit occurs, as most juniper is currently sourced from southern Europe.

image credit: Getty Images

Kraft-y moves

Kraft Heinz is delaying its first quarter results as the US Securities and Exchange Commission continues to investigate accounting irregularities. Meanwhile, Kraft and Germany’s largest supermarket chain, Edeka, are locked in a battle over a price increase for its ketchup. Edeka has not been supplied with the ketchup since January and instead created its own brand in time for barbecue season.

 

Patisserie Valerie creditors to get crumbs

Banks, which are owed around £7m by Patisserie Valerie, have blocked the creation of a committee of creditors, meaning other companies could miss out on recouping as much of their money back.

 

Business rates should be independently reviewed

An independent review of business rates is desperately needed, according to the CBI president and chairman of Tesco, John Allan, who said the tax is contributing to high street retailers struggles. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, went further, calling for a royal commission to examine the system, which she said was not fit for purpose in the modern economy and impacted on profitability for businesses.

 

Plastic power play

The British Plastics Federation lobbied government officials to get a tax on single-use plastics dropped, delayed or watered down, according to The Guardian. The trade body for the plastics industry said any charge could shrink the industry by 45% as manufacturers turned to alternative materials. The tax will be introduced in 2022 on any plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content.

 

Noises off

An app that measures noise levels in restaurants to help people find quieter places to dine has received 500 submissions in the UK since launching in November. Campaigners argue more inclusive places are needed for those who are hard of hearing.

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