Week on a Plate

The week digested: Nestle and Unilever reveal how much plastic they produce and Morrisons celebrates strong sales

Catch up on the food news from March 11-15, including Wasabi considering offloading some of its business and pressure piles on junk food advertising.

15 March 2019

Tonnes of plastic packaging coming from food and drink giants

Coca-Cola has disclosed it produced 3m tonnes of plastic packaging in 2017, the equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute. It revealed the figures to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is campaigning for more transparency and action to tackle the plastic pollution issue. Other companies disclosed their figures including Nestle, which puts out 1.7m tonnes of plastic packaging annually, Danone racked up 750,000 tonnes and Unilever came in with 61,000 tonnes. However, many companies refused to publicly admit their figures, including PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer and Walmart.


Shopping experience improvements has Morrisons pleased with profits

Morrisons reported an 8.6% rise in pre-tax profits, while revenues increased by 2.7% to £17.7bn for the year to end of February 3. Dave Potts, chief executive, said it was the third consecutive year of strong sales and profit growth for the supermarket group, attributing the gains to improving the shopping trip and its product ranges, as well as reacting to consumer trends. Wholesale supply services to McColl’s convenience stores also gave the supermarket a boost in profits.


Is Wasabi losing its spice?

For the first time ever, Wasabi is considering whether to sell a stake in its business. The discussions come amid speculation that it is struggling financially, after Companies House issued a notice that it intends to strike the Japanese chain off the register if it fails to file its accounts for 2018 within two months. Wasabi responded that it is in the process of complying, with a spokesperson saying the Companies House notice was “invalid.”


Pressure increases on junk food makers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE) are both gunning for food giants who are targeting children with junk food ads. The WHO said companies are exploiting digital loopholes to reach youngsters on YouTube and Facebook, while PHE has said that ads for items that are high in fat and sugar should be completely banned if children are exposed to them in any way – currently, such ads are allowed if three-quarters of the audience are found to be adults.


School puts the kibosh on sugary snacks

A primary school in Kent is banning sugar treats from its premises, after the headmistress said that parents are being pressured into allowing their children to eat unhealthy snacks for celebrations like birthdays. The same school has previously banned fruit juices for rotting teeth. While some on social media criticised the move, a report published last week by Public Health England revealed that children missed more than 60,000 school days in the last year so they could go to the dentist for tooth extraction.


Easter eggs are getting cheesy

Sainsbury’s will be releasing an egg made entirely out of cheddar cheese for Easter. Made by Butlers Farmhouse Cheese, the egg also comes with a packet of oatcakes and a sachet of chutney. Emma Garvey, cheese buyer for Sainsbury’s said the supermarket was looking for unique products that consumers could gift, as well as catering to cheese aficionados nationwide. Both Asda and Morrisons have previously stocked blue cheese eggs.


Vegans claim NHS is discriminatory

The Vegan Society has claimed that the National Health Service’s Healthy Start programme may be discriminatory because its vouchers for families and pregnant women on benefits cover cow’s milk but not alternatives like soya or almond. The organisation says that fortified plant-based milk is nutritionally comparable to the bovine product and that the NHS "must give due regard to the needs of vegans to ensure compliance with legal duties, and so that vegans do not experience unlawful interference or discrimination."


New York import is bringing fast food to the halal market

International fast food chain The Halal Guys, which started as a street food stall in New York, is heading to London – opening in Leicester Square at the end of the month. Two more sites are earmarked for the outfit including Earl’s Court. Its food includes chicken and beef with rice and salad or wrapped up in a pita, while it also caters to the plant-based crowd with its falafels and sides like fries, hummus and baba ganoush.


Restaurants embracing sustainable cuts of meat

Offal is getting a boost due to the sustainability agenda, according to The Evening Standard, which takes a look at where you can get everything from tongue to tripe in London’s restaurants. Its list includes St John, Flank, Black Axe Mangal, Barrafina and Ceviche.


What’s influencing Brits buying habits?

The nation’s shopping basket is changing, according to an annual update from the Office for National Statistics, reflecting trends like an increasing interest in baking and the popularity of peanut butter and popcorn. Flavoured teas also made the list for the first time. Smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home are having an influence too.


Eat 17 gobbles up innovation award

The Guild of Fine Food announced the best independent food and drink shops in the UK this week. Winners included Aubrey Allen (winner of the Delicatessen & Grocer category), Sheridans Cheesemongers (Specialist Cheese Shop), The House of Bruar(Food Hall) and Eat 17 (Innovation Award).

The Halal Guys


Is momentum growing for a sin tax on meat?

The United Nations has called for an emissions tax to be applied to meat to encourage more people to adopt a plant-based diet. It has also come out in support of lab grown meat as it said it has the ability to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production.


Are meat alternatives and cultured meat the future of food?

Meanwhile, The Guardian takes a look at whether the engineered vision for food, like the bleeding plant-based burger from Impossible Foods and cell-grown meat, is the new mega trend and future of food.


Paul and Emma Ainsworth on their Padstow restaurants and pub

The Times profiles Paul and Emma Ainsworth as their burgeoning collection of food joints contributes to Padstow’s image as a place that is on the culinary map. The couple have two restaurants, one for high-end cuisine and the other more casual dining, a six-bedroom boutique hotel, a soon-to-open cookery school and a newly bought pub with plans to deliver classic British soul food there.


Less pizza for Domino’s

Tensions with its franchisees means Domino's will be opening fewer sites this year as the pizza group reported mixed financial results for 2018. Like-for-like sales in the UK were up 4.6%, but underlying pre-tax profits fell 1.1%.


A makeover of curry sauce

London chip shop Poppies is teaming up with Gunpowder and Som Saa to create curry sauces, which will run in a month long promotion for each. Gunpowder will do an Indian-inspired sauce, while Som Saa is turning to gaeng hung lae, a curry flavoured with turmeric, coriander and cumin for its variety. The trio want to see more Londoners ordering curry sauce as a condiment.

image credit: Getty Images


Tariffs for a no deal Brexit

As uncertainty continues to surround Brexit, a no deal exit will see nine in ten tariffs scrapped for imported goods, but the UK Government would still collect money for beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products to protect farmers and agricultural products.


Business rates bludgeoning struggling stores

British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson has criticised government plans to raise business rates by £200m, as a number of well-known brands have gone under in the past year. “We have a system where business rates were defined hundreds of years ago. They are no longer fit for purpose, the burden is just too high and it needs to come down,” she said, adding, “If you look at business rates, it’s a much bigger proportion of the total of business tax than it is in almost any other developed country.”


A crackling good time

Which company makes the best pork scratchings? According to The Telegraph, it’s Serious Pig, whose ‘snackling’ crispy skin strips are perfectly paired with pieces of apple.


Small-plate menus ruin restaurant dinners

The Guardian rages against the small plate’s revolution and puts forward a number of arguments on why this food trend should wither away.


Pub’s fit out not to chef’s taste

Chef Daniel Clifford, who appears as a judge on the BBC Two programme Great British Menu, is suing an interior designer over the furniture installed in his gastropub Flitch of Bacon in Essex. Claiming £190,000 from the designer, Clifford told the court, that the “cheap” furniture saw chairs being broken when people sat on them and tables that cut the number of covers in the restaurant. However, the designer is counter suing, alleging that the accusations are just a way to attempt to delay or avoid payment.

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