Week on a Plate

The week digested: Jamie Oliver’s restaurants shuttered and plastic straws officially banned

Catch up on the food news from May 20-24, including confirmation that the Eat estate will become Veggie Prets.

24 May 2019
chainsgut healthplasticrestaurantssupermarketsvegan

Jamie Oliver’s restaurant estate implodes

Jamie Oliver's restaurant group has collapsed with 22 sites closing and 1,000 jobs lost. Three sites at Gatwick Airport will remain open during the administration process, but Jamie's Italian sites and the Fifteen and Barbecoa restaurants in London have all closed. Staff blamed poor management of the group for the collapse and criticised being delivered the news via a conference call. A 10-year deal with the US caterer Aramark to open franchise sites in universities and hospitals in the UK is unaffected. Mutterings are spreading that creditors may go after Jamie’s own fortune, since he personally guaranteed payment.

 

Straws and stirrers officially banned

Plastic straws and drink stirrers will be banned from sale in England next year, with suggestions that this could be followed by restrictions on plastic plates and cutlery in 2021. Restaurants, pubs and other catering establishments will be prevented from displaying plastic straws or providing them automatically from April. Currently, 5bn plastic straws are used each year along with 300m drink stirrers. More than 80% of people support the ban, which makes exceptions for those with medical needs who require the use of straws. However, environmental campaigners called on the government to be bolder and make producers responsible for their plastic waste.

 

Eat to become Veggie Prets

The news emerged last week that Pret A Manger was readying to snap up Eat, but the deal was only confirmed on Wednesday, conditional upon approval by the Competition and Markets Authority. The plan is for all of Eat’s 94 shops to be turned into Veggie Prets, with Pret CEO Clive Schlee saying: “We have been developing the Veggie Pret concept for over two years and we now have four hugely successful shops across London and Manchester. The acquisition of the Eat estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbocharge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it.”

M&S considers bigger grocery stores

Marks & Spencer has revealed a slump in annual profits which could see it fall out of the FTSE 100 for the first time, with like-for-like food sales down 2.3% in the 12 months to March 30. It is also closing a further 20 stores that sell clothing and food under one roof and 25 of its smaller Simply Food convenience stores. Chief executive Steve Rowe said there were also plans to open 95 mainly food stores over the next five years and is looking for larger stores with car parks to sell a bigger range of groceries to appeal to a broader market.

 

15 branded restaurant sites closing a week

More than 750 restaurants have closed over the last 12 months – the equivalent to 15 sites a week – data from CGA and Alix Partners has revealed. Chains, including Gaucho, Prezzo, Carluccio’s and Gourmet Kitchen Burger, have contributed significantly to the closures. Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, predicted more tough times ahead, including rising costs and declining footfall.

 

Bank backs vegan meat for lucrative longevity

Vegan meat is not a fad and will account for 10% of the £1.4tn a year global meat market by 2029, according to analysts at Barclays, due to increasing awareness about the environmental impact of animal farming and animal welfare concerns, along with the rise in healthy eating. Meatless alternatives to ground beef, sausages and burgers were popular with customers, but taste and price will dictate further widespread acceptance, said the bank.

 

Vegan tuna swims onto Morrisons shelves

Loma Linda’s vegan tuna has gained its first UK supermarket listing. It will appear in the tinned fish aisle of Morrisons and will come in 142g cans and 85g on-the-go pouches.

A healthy gut’s many benefits

Arthritis, athleticism, cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease and sleep – all can be affected by gut health, according to an article in The Telegraph, which cites a bevy of studies into the burgeoning scientific (and food development) area.

 

Phone usage linked to increased spend

Mobile phone usage in the supermarket leads to an average spend increase of 41%, according to research from the University of Bath. Apparently, the distraction of a mobile phone causes shoppers to wander along more aisles, so that they are confronted with more products. The result is an average basket worth £33.73, compared to £23.91 for those not using a phone.

 

A taste of Ramsay’s Asian eating house

Gordon Ramsay's Lucky Cat is set to open on June 24 and details of the Japanese-inspired menu are beginning to emerge. Reports suggest that dishes will include seared otoro (tuna belly) with soy, wakame seaweed oil and baby kale, and Orkney scallop with yuzu and sweetcorn hot sauce, wasabi leaf and lime. Featured on the dessert menu will be a passion fruit and yuzu soufflé with lemongrass and ginger sorbet, as well as robata-roasted pineapple and coconut Chantilly.

 

Specialist recycling facilities needed

Councils are sending millions of plastic pots, tubs and trays made with PET to the incinerators rather than recycling, because of a lack of specialist facilities in the UK to process them. While the plastic is not ending up in landfill – instead being burned to generate electricity – this method does cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Pasta is king

The Times calls pasta the biggest dish of 2019 and takes a look at how it’s influencing the UK market, from Tim Siadatan’s Padella to Pasta Ripiena in Bristol.

 

Snuffling around for true truffle

Truffle has risen from decadent ingredient to everyday constituent of everything from pizza and mash to crisps and popcorn. However, many consumers don't realise that these products are using oil created from synthetic flavouring, rather than using actual truffle, and some are questioning whether this fact should be made more transparent.

Are late dinners feeding obesity?

With the average British family eating dinner at 7.47pm, is the shift to consuming food later in the evening bad for the waistline? The Times takes a look at the research in this space, nothing that a number of scientific studies have shown adverse health effects related to late-night munching.

 

Schools require better cookery classes

Chef Tom Aitkens has complained he is struggling to recruit good trainees due to lack of cookery education in schools. He has called on the government to improve the teaching of food-related subjects.

 

Forests over farming

Rewilding Britain has called for billions of pounds in farm subsidies to be transferred towards creating native woodlands and meadows in an effort to tackle climate change and carbon emissions. The group claims farmers would not lose money and food production would not fall. The plea comes following the Committee for Climate Change’s recommendation to government that 30,000 hectares of trees be planted a year to make Britain carbon neutral by 2030.

 

Hospitals shun healthy snacks

NHS staff, patients and staff are shunning healthy options, with three quarters of purchased snacking products consisting of crisps, sweets, cakes, pastries and muffins, an audit has found. Researchers have called on radical restrictions on the availability of junk food in UK hospitals, suggesting caps to limit the calorie, fat, sugar and salt content of individual items and encouraging people to make healthy eating choices.

 

Chicken and gummies

Fried chicken specialist Mother Clucker has teamed up with alcohol gummy brand Smith and Sinclair to create a picnic hamper that will be delivered to parks by Deliveroo. The hamper, which will be available throughout June, contains nine glasses of prosecco, a range of Smith and Sinclair goodies, a blanket and a choice of food from Mother Clucker.

 

A bee in its burger bonnet

McDonald's has created the world's smallest restaurant, complete with signage and a drive through. It’s not for humans, however, but bees. Created to celebrate World Bee Day, the McHive is planned for restaurant roofs worldwide, with five already in place in Sweden.

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