Week on a Plate

The week digested: McDonald’s introduces vegan meal and Ocado promises cheaper prices

Catch up on the food news from December 9-13, including Amazon’s blocked Deliveroo investment and this year’s top-rated restaurants.

13 December 2019
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McDonald’s steps up its vegan game

Right in time for Veganuary (and post-festive-season guilt), McDonald’s has announced it will be releasing its first-ever vegan meal. Going on sale on January 2 in the UK, the breadcrumbed Veggie Dippers are made from red pepper, rice, sundried tomato pesto and split peas, and will be accompanied by vegan-friendly fries and a soft drink for £4.99.

image credit: McDonald's

How nutritional is meat-free fast food?

On the subject of fast food, how healthy are these meat-free meals? The Telegraph has asked a nutritionist to make her assessment, and the results are mixed. The upcoming Veggie Dippers seem to be the healthiest: they are higher in fibre than meaty options and (as part of a meal) come in at an acceptable 658 calories, though they are unlikely to contain enough veg to meet one of your five a day and are quite high in salt. Gregg’s sausage roll, meanwhile, was dubbed “very high in both saturated fat and salt,” raising a “nutritional red flag.” Finally. Burger King’s vegetarian bean burger was praised for its protein and fibre content but criticised for being high in salt.


Cheaper prices and greater choice promised from Ocado/M&S 2020 deal

Ocado has said that its partnership with M&S will provide customers with lower prices and more choice than with the existing Waitrose agreement, which is due to expire in 2020. M&S paid £750m for half of Ocado’s UK retail business as part of an ongoing expansion of its grocery division.


CMA steps between Amazon and Deliveroo

In what one analyst described as a “remarkable decision,” the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has thrown a spanner in the works of the proposed Amazon investment in Deliveroo. “If the deal were to proceed in its current form, there’s a real risk that it could leave customers, restaurants and grocers facing higher prices and lower quality services as these markets develop,” said Andrea Gomes da Silva, executive director of the CMA. The companies have until Monday to come up with solutions to the CMA’s concerns or face a full investigation that could lead to a bar on the investment.


Change of PACE for labelling?

The Royal Society for Public Health has been advocating this week for the replacement of calorie counts on food labels with details of the amount of exercise required to burn off the food item (e.g., 42 minutes of walking or 22 minutes of running). Recent research from Loughborough University has found physical activity calorie equivalent or expenditure (PACE) labelling was more effective at reducing calorie consumption.


Avocados with edible coatings reach Europe

Large supermarkets in both Germany and Denmark will stock avocados that have edible, plant-based coatings that keep the fruit ripe for twice as long. The ground-breaking tech, from US company Apeel, is being tested by Asda in the UK on a range of different fruits and vegetables.

image credit: Apeel

Have we reached peak livestock?

Scientists have warned that livestock production needs to reach its peak in the next decade in order to address the growing climate emergency. The agriculture sector is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases.


Chilango enters CVA

Chilango has confirmed that it has entered a company voluntary agreement, following speculation that it was seeking to do so last month. As part of the controversial proposals, customers who invested in so-called ‘burrito bonds’ are being asked to swap their debt for shares in the company.


Animal-free dairy milks investors for $140m

Vegan dairy brand Perfect Day has raised $140m in its most recent round of funding. The California-based company specialises in creating dairy proteins casein and whey without the use of actual cows. The company hopes to use the money to expand its animal-free dairy product range, having sold out of its small run of limited-edition ice cream pints almost immediately after they went on sale.


Major supermarket sales slow as Christmas approaches

Total British grocery sales slowed to 0.5% in the 12 weeks to December 1, according to research from Kantar, with the traditional big four supermarkets losing the Black Friday market battle to discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.


Five Guys cheeseburger crowned most ordered dish in London

Deliveroo has revealed its most-ordered dishes in London of the year, with the cheeseburger from Five Guys coming out on top. Grilled harissa chicken from Farmer J in Leadenhall Market was the second most popular dish, followed by chicken Milanese from Simple Health Kitchen on Baker Street.


Getting territorial – with cheese

The Telegraph digs into British ‘territorial’ cheeses, as cheesemakers and consumers look beyond the Christmas classics of Stilton and “something gooey from France” to explore traditional, locally produced options. The paper recommends a number of cheeses to try, including Fellstone Wensleydale, Duckett’s Caerphilly, Sparkenhoe Shropshire Blue, Jonathan Crump Gloucester and Appleby’s Cheshire.

image credit: Butlers Farmhouse Cheese

OpenTable reveals best-rated restaurants of 2019

Restaurant reservation service OpenTable has revealed its annual list of the top 100 restaurants in the UK based on verified diner reviews. The ranking placed Core by Clare Smyth in first place, followed by The Ledbury and The Five Fields. Contemporary British and European cuisines were most popular with consumers, making up 19% and 12% of the list respectively.


Another Jamie Oliver brand bites the dust

Fifteen Cornwall has closed with immediate effect, resulting in the loss of around 100 jobs, in another blow to the remnants of Jamie Oliver’s once impressive empire.


Cronut creator to open non-bakery site in London

Pastry chef Dominique Ansel is to open a cafe-restaurant in Covent Garden this coming January, with his famous cronut – a cross between a croissant and a doughnut – not on the menu.


Pret owners to donate millions after Nazi past revealed

The Reimann family, whose portfolio includes Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Pret a Manger, are to donate £35m to fight antisemitism and to help Holocaust survivors after an investigation into their history revealed that members of Germany’s richest family had been Hitler supporters and had used forced labour during WW2.


Pigeons force catering company closure

In what has been a record month for food company sanctions in Ireland, a Dublin catering company has been forced to close after pigeons nesting above a food packing area were found to be producing a “significant” amount of faeces.


TV’s Fred Sirieix to leave Galvin at Windows

Celebrity maître d' Fred Sirieix has announced that he is to leave his role as general manager of London restaurant Galvin at Windows following 14 years of service.

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