Week on a Plate

The week digested: Lidl cracks London and Moor Hall crowned best British restaurant

Catch up on the food news from June 10-14, including research that suggests people ingest enough plastic to make a credit card every week.

14 June 2019
deliveryfarmingmeat alternativeplasticrestaurantssupermarkets

Lidl cracks London

Lidl is planning to invest £500m to open 40 new stores in London over the next five years, in hopes of overcoming difficulties the German discounters have traditionally had securing locations in the capital due to high rents. The first central London site will open on Tottenham Court Road next summer in a former Sainsbury’s.


Lancashire restaurant named best in UK

Moor Hall, a two Michelin star restaurant in Lancashire, has been named the best eatery in the UK by Food Spark’s sister publication Restaurant magazine. This year, 46 of the top 100 restaurants were located outside London, although Brat in Shoreditch took second place while Hackney Wick’s Cornerstone came in third.

image credit: Moor Hall via Instagram

Sainsbury’s trials reverse vending machines

Sainsbury’s has decided to give reverse vending machines a go, starting with a single superstore in Lincoln, though the retailer already has plans to roll the concept out to at least four other sites. Customers will receive a 5p voucher per recyclable item and will be able to exchange a maximum of 500 products per visit. The only caveat is that the packaging must come from a product that can be purchased at Sainsbury’s.


Vertical farming in the UK grows up

Ocado has invested £17m in vertical farming, with the long-term goal being to situate farms next to its warehouses, enabling delivery of the freshest produce possible. To that end, the online retailer has formed a joint venture with US vertical farming company 80 Acre Farms and Dutch technology supplier Priva, as well as acquiring a 58% stake in UK-based vertical farmer Jones Food. Ocado’s plans coincide with the news that German business Infarm, which also creates vertical farms in urban environments, has received £78.5m in funding. Infarm claims it can grow up to 680,000 plants a year in its large farming units and has plans to launch in the UK in September.


Unilever losing interest in food business

Unilever will continue to shift its attention away from food assets and more towards beauty and personal care products that have higher margins, according to CEO Alan Jope. “We’re playing very aggressively on high-quality, fast-growing beauty and personal care assets, and more selectively on food assets, especially when crazy valuations are involved,” said the chief executive, referring to Beyond Meat’s skyrocketing share price.


No-chicken nuggets

Speaking of Beyond Meat, former investor Tyson Foods – America’s biggest meat producer – is on the cusp of unleashing a new challenger in the meat-free market. Its nuggets, made with pea protein, egg white, flaxseed and bamboo fibre, are scheduled to hit supermarket shelves in the States this summer, while its blended burger meat will follow later in the year.

image credit: Tyson Foods

Iceland shows no sign of freezing store openings

Iceland has plans to open a total of 50 new stores this financial year, putting it on a par with the expansion rates of Aldi and Lidl. The frozen food chain reported sales were up 2.2% to £3.1bn in the year to March 30 due to new sites, with plans to focus on the larger Food Warehouse format.


Consumers ingesting a credit card’s worth of plastic a week

The average person ingests 5g of plastic a week – enough to manufacture a credit card. The data is part of a WWF report that also found people consume up to 102,000 bits of tiny plastic (less than 1mm in size) a year, totalling 250g. While around 90% of this is imbibed through water – 72% of European tap water now contains plastic – other major sources are shellfish, beer and salt. “Plastic is polluting our planet in the deepest ocean trenches, but now we know that it’s also polluting our own bodies, through the food we eat and the water we drink,” said Alec Taylor, Head of Marine Policy at WWF.


New Kerb market leads with female traders

Kerb's new Seven Dials Market will kick off with five female traders and include vegan concept Club Mexicana, steamed bun business Yum Bun, soda supplier Square Root, modern Chinese expert Rice Guys and Asian-style fish fryer Ink. There will be 26 traders in total at the market, which will open in early September.


Fish cuts risk of early death

Switching out red meat for fish can cut the risk of an early death by up to a quarter, new research suggests. Eating more chicken, eggs and vegetables rather than turning to red and processed meat also cut the risk.


Morrisons-Amazon tie-up expands

Morrrisons is extending its ultra-fast, same-day delivery service with Amazon to more areas, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Portsmouth. The move means the supermarket chain will become a retailer on the Amazon’s Prime Now website and app.


A case of exploding mangoes

The Philippines is being overrun by mangoes. Unusually hot dry weather this year has created an oversupply of 2m.

image credit: Getty Images

Uber drones on

Will burgers soon be whizzing over our heads? That’s the ultimate objective of Uber’s trial in San Diego, which will take place over the summer. The company is testing a system with McDonald’s that would see drones fly orders to drop-off locations, where human drivers would then complete the delivery process.


The Spotify of cookbooks

Matt Cockerill is on a mission to create the Spotify of cookbooks, compiling an online library that can be used via a monthly subscription fee and giving people access to over 100,000 recipes. In the future, he would like to expand the business to offer people complementary services, such as ingredient sourcing, shopping list generation and online grocery ordering, he tells The Times.


World’s largest catering company increases reach

Compass Group, the UK-based catering company, is set to acquire Nordic caterer Fazer Food Services for €475m, further cementing its position as the largest contract foodservice company in the world.


Leftovers of Jamie Oliver empire find buyer

Jamie Oliver’s three Gatwick Airport restaurants have been snapped up by SSP, owner of Upper Crust. The company already runs 12 Jamie Oliver restaurants in Austria, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.


Small sales increase for Tesco

Tesco boss Dave Lewis claims that his predecessor's fixation on profit margins was the reason Tesco lost its way, causing consumers to turn away from a supermarket chain they saw as self-interested, while availability and choice dropped in its stores. This week, the supermarket announced an increase of 0.4% in like-for-like sales to £9.1bn in the 13 weeks to May 25, with Lewis saying it had faced challenges with the weather and consumer sentiment. It was also revealed that Tesco shop floor staff’s pay packets will be given a boost come September, with the supermarket delivering a 10% rise in hourly pay over the next two years, bringing it in line with rates paid by Lidl and Asda. However, annual bonuses have been scrapped.


Taste of London preview

Taste of London, the five-day food festival, kicks off this month, with more than 40 London restaurants appearing. This year’s theme, Wild in the City, will encompass newcomers to the show like Brigadiers, Kutir, Berenjak, Kym’s, Indian Accent, Lina Stores and Flesh & Buns. The event will also see the debut of US chain Eggslut, before the all-day concept opens its first site in Notting HIll in August.


Kelp us

The Guardian examines the burgeoning seaweed-growing industry emerging out of Alaska, fed by a growing awareness of climate change and the rise in plant-based diets.


Diversifying representation in the restaurant industry

The Guardian takes a look at Universo Santi, a restaurant in the Spanish city of Jerez staffed by people with disabilities that aims to help employees join the mainstream workforce and give them representation in the world of haute cuisine. Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, which has twice been voted the best restaurant in the world, was a recent guest chef.

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