Week on a Plate

The week digested: Greggs reaches £1bn landmark and Aldi sees 10% rise

Catch up on the food news from March 4-8, including the shutting of 20 Giraffe sites and Lidl’s retirement of bags for life.

8 March 2019

Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner shut sites

Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) plans to enter a company voluntary agreement (CVA), which will see the closure of 20 Giraffe sites and seven Ed’s Easy Diner restaurants across the UK, including in Manchester and London’s Holland Park. Combined, the brands currently have 70 outlets. Tom Crowley, chief executive of BRG, blamed increasing costs, oversupply of restaurants in the sector and a softening consumer demand for the closures. The CVA will also see rent reductions at 13 sites, as long as the deal is approved by creditors on March 21.


Just Eat delivers profits

Just Eat expects to make £1bn in profits this year after announcing a 43% growth in revenue in 2018 to £779.5m and gaining 4m new customers globally. In other news for the delivery company, interim chief Peter Duffy has said he isn't in the running for the top job permanently. Meanwhile, Hello Fresh reported it delivered nearly 200m meal kits last year - an increase of 44% - resulting in revenues of €1.3bn.


Aldi sees 10% sales rise

New supermarket sales figures for the 12 weeks to 24 February showed a 1% decline for Sainsbury's, while Aldi and Lidl celebrated rises of 10% and 5.3%. Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all enjoyed small increases. Kantar Worldpanel also revealed that one in 10 shoppers had started to stockpile groceries before Brexit.


Greggs reaches £1bn landmark

Greggs sales exceeded £1bn for the first time in 2018, with strong demand for its breakfast range, steak bakes and sausage rolls. Its vegan sausage roll also provided a boost to the start of 2019, attracting a lot of media attention and making it into the chain’s top five bestselling products. It is also developing hot meat options like pasta, goujons, potato wedges and soups, and is looking to delivery to sell evening meals. However, it warned that Brexit could impact and the bakery chain is stockpiling materials which have a longer shelf life to cover several weeks of production.

Lidl retires bags for life

Lidl is trialling the removal of its bags for life from 54 stores in Wales as often they are only being used once and then thrown away, with less than 1% returned for replacement. Instead, shoppers can purchase heavy-duty bags or freezer bags. If the initiative is rolled out across UK stores, it would save 80m bags and 2,500 tonnes of plastic a year. Campaigners are hoping other supermarkets will follow Lidl’s lead.


Ads for Freddo Frogs croak it

Advertisements for Cadbury's Freddo Frogs are the latest to have fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Agency, which has banned them for breaking rules limiting children's exposure to junk food. Manufacturer Mondelez argued the ads weren't for high fat, salt and sugar products and were aimed at parents, but the Children's Food Campaign said the ruling was only made many months after the complaint in July 2018 and there are no meaningful punishments from the regulator.


Eggs banned by TfL in bid to curb childhood obesity

In other ad-related news, Farmdrop, which sells meat and veg from local producers, has had its advertisement rejected by Transport for London because it included eggs, butter, bacon and jam – all foodstuffs deemed too high in fat or sugar by TfL’s new guidelines to combat childhood obesity. The online supermarket later cropped the image to occlude these items and this was accepted by TfL – despite the fact that it still included nut butter. Why would that be a problem, you ask? Read on…


Is peanut butter the unhealthy option?

Some peanut butter snacks branded as healthy may contain more calories than a meal, according to the National Obesity Forum. M&S, Pret and Pure were all singled out for the "unbelievably high" calories in their peanut butter snacks, as well as significant levels of fat.


Scanning the aisles

Forget scanning barcodes, how about just scanning items? That’s the premise of new image-recognition technology developed by Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club, which claims the process will speed up checkout for consumers.


Robo revolution

Are robots set to take over chef’s roles? The Guardian takes a look at the rise of robots in restaurants, fast-food chains, dining rooms and even on doorsteps as delivery gets in on the action.


Olive harvests get battered

Freak weather events in Italy have seen the country’s olive harvest drop by 57% this year, costing the sector €1bn already. Farmers will have to turn to olive imports in April. Olive harvests in Portugal and Greece are also expected to be affected.

image credit: Getty Images

Campaigners continue crusade against America

Campaigners are concerned that the UK will rush into a trade deal with the US, which will lower food standards, allowing in chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed animals. The Soil Association will be releasing a food risk list for trade talks that includes the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and food colourants in US agriculture. Former farming minister George Eustice said animal welfare is woefully deficient across the Atlantic.


LettUs leaves mark on John Lewis

Waitrose and John Lewis could soon have shoppers picking popular salad leaves from urban allotments inside shops. A Bristol start-up called LettUs Grow, has been awarded government funding to develop the systems, which could contain lettuce, kale, watercress and red cabbage microgreens.


The Aldi effect

The Guardian takes a look at the Aldi effect and how the discount supermarket has transformed the way Britain shops over the last three decades.


British brands still selling abroad

Retailers around the world are buying 24,000 British product lines, including Yorkshire Tea and Mr Kipling cakes, from Ramsden International. The wholesale exporter, which is run out of Lincolnshire and earns over £58m a year, said that while Brexit does pose a threat to the business, it is cautiously optimistic.


CBD coffee

Cannabidiol coffees are piping hot right now, according to the Evening Standard, which looks at where the brew is popping up in London and why it’s a brave new frontier.


Cocoa improves alertness

A study by Oxford Brookes University and the University of Palermo has found that cocoa rich in flavonoids can reduce fatigue in sufferers of multiple sclerosis. The research revealed a 45% improvement in alertness and 80% increase in walking speed when participants were given cocoa high in flavonoids.


Love it or hate it: Marmite Easter egg

Asda is releasing a Marmite-flavoured, vegetarian chocolate egg for Easter.


Souffle pancakes on the rise

Food Spark spoke about souffle pancakes back in 2017, but The Guardian reports that the wobbly pancakes are the latest food craze in New York.

British vs European cold cuts

As the British charcuterie business is booming, The Times takes a look at how the cured meats compare to their European counterparts.


Dealing with bad TripAdvisor buzz

The Telegraph has assembled a simple guide to responding to bad TripAdvisor reviews. Essentially, you have three options: ignore them, like Stephen Harris of acclaimed pub The Sportsman; politely respond, like the Hope & Anchor pub in Brixton, London; or give them a tongue lashing, like Cornish pub Plume of Feathers.

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