Week on a Plate

The week digested: Michelin-starred meals for delivery and bonuses for supermarket staff

Catch up on the food news from 23-27 March, including supermarkets struggling to cope with online orders and wheat prices soaring on high demand for non-perishable foods

27 March 2020
coronavirusdeliverypubsrestaurantssupermarkets
week on a plate food spark

Michelins-tarred restaurants open delivery service

Michelin-starred and high-end restaurants have now begun operating a delivery service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, offering stripped down versions of some of their most popular and expensive dishes. More than 100 restaurants have contacted Supper, the delivery service specialising in upmarket London restaurants, which says it has added 2,000 customers since 20 March.

 

JD Wetherspoon makes U-turn on paying staff wages

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has backtracked on a decision not to pay staff until a government rescue pack kicks in – however, he confirmed they would still be freezing payments to suppliers. The U-turn comes after a major backlash from the public, with the pub chain’s 43,000 workers now set to be paid today for hours worked last week.

 

Aldi to pay 10% bonus to staff for work during COVID-19 pandemic

Aldi has followed in Tesco’s footsteps in deciding to give its staff in stores and warehouses a 10% bonus for "working tirelessly” during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the German supermarket chain, the reward will backdated to 9 March, when shoppers first began descending into stores to fill their cupboards with pasta, rice, tinned food and medicine. 

 

Supermarkets unable to cope with online orders

The UK’s biggest supermarket chains have admitted they are currently unable to cope with the substantial rise in demand for their online delivery services. Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, stressed that home delivery was “at full capacity for the next few weeks”. He added: “We ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so . . . so that we can start to free up more [delivery] slots for the more vulnerable.” The boss of Iceland said "healthy people" should go to stores to buy groceries to free up delivery slots for the elderly.

 

Supermarkets to focus on vulnerable people for online deliveries

However, supermarkets have said they plan to use the government’s list of vulnerable people to help prioritise deliveries for those most in need. “We will receive the government database this week which tells us which people in England the government considers to be the most vulnerable,” Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said in a letter to customers this week. “Where these people are already registered with us, we will start to write to them next week to offer them a delivery slot.”

Chest freezer sales soar on stockpiling panic

The sales of chest freezers have soared amid consumers panic buying to stockpile food, with major appliance supplier AO.com reporting a 200% year-on-year surge in the past fortnight. Currys PC World also said it had seen an "unseasonal" rise in the sale of fridges, freezers and chest freezers.

 

Farmers warn over harvests amid shortage of workers

British farmers have warned that there could be a significant impact on harvests this year as they struggle to hire seasonal workers from abroad amid coronavirus. According to the Financial Times, the travel restrictions imposed as a result of the virus have cut seasonal migration to just “a trickle”.

Dry pasta
image credit: Pixabay

Coronavirus pushes up wheat prices

A sharp rise in demand for non-perishable goods such as pasta and noodles during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in wheat prices in futures markets. Sales of dry pasta were up 55% year on year in the week ending 8 March, according to consumer data research company Kantar.

Restaurant Group to put Chiquito into administration

The Restaurant Group's Chiquito brand could become the first big restaurant sector casualty after filing a notice of its intention to appoint administrators, according to The Times. The decision puts up to 1,500 jobs at risk.

 

UK high street chains refuse to pay rent

Many of the UK’s biggest high street chains, including foodservice companies, have refused to pay quarterly rent due on Wednesday, asking landlords for help to weather the business storm caused by coronavirus. Burger King is among those to refuse to pay and said it needed to conserve cash to help pay staff.

 

Two Morrisons non-execs resign

According to the FT, two non-executive directors at Morrisons have resigned because of the perceived closeness of chairman Andrew Higginson, CEO David Potts and COO Trevor Strain. Neil Davidson, who chairs the corporate compliance and responsibility committee, and remuneration committee chairman Tony van Kralingen reportedly handed in their resignations yesterday over corporate governance issues.

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