Week on a Plate

The week digested: Pret readying to acquire Eat and Amazon pumps millions into Deliveroo

Catch up on the food news from May 13-17, including new food waste pledges by industry giants and the proposed Asda stock market flotation.

17 May 2019
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Pret on cusp of devouring Eat

Pret A Manager is in advanced talks to acquire Eat and could convert its 90-store estate into Veggie Prets. Eat was put for sale in February after reporting a £17.3m loss in the 12 months to June 2018, although like-for-like sales have grown in the last year.

 

Amazon puts millions into Deliveroo

Amazon has invested hundreds of millions of pounds into Deliveroo, with the latest financing round raising $575m. This money will allow the delivery company to expand its geographic reach and add more staff to its engineering team in London. It will also be used to invest in new formats. Shares in delivery rivals across Europe – including UK’s Just Eat, Germany’s Delivery Hero and the Netherlands’ Takeaway – fell as a result of the investment.

 

Food waste to be halved by 2030

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Nestle were among the retailers and manufacturers who signed a pledge to halve food waste by 2030 at a symposium on Monday. Smaller portions and discounts on items that are past their best-before date were among the ideas proposed to achieve this goal, while the hospitality industry is also being pressed to do its bit by encouraging doggie bags and setting lower prices for smaller portions. Hanging over the symposium was the threat of government legislation to force the food industry’s hand if it fails to make adequate reductions in food waste voluntarily. Ben Elliott, who is leading the government campaign to cut waste, also chastised millennials as “the generation that is most shrill environmentally” but also the worst offenders when it comes to throwing away food.

 

And the most wasted item is…

What’s the foodstuff Brits chuck away the most? According to data from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), it’s spuds. “In eight out of the nine sectors (from restaurants and hotels right through to hospitals and schools), the most wasted food is potatoes,” says Eleanor Morris, the hospitality-sector specialist at WRAP. “They are also the most wasted food in households as well.”

image credit: Getty Images

Plastic is not just choking the seas, but also the skies

Plastic pollution continues to hit the headlines daily, with the latest report revealing that single-use plastic is accelerating climate change as it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of its lifecycle, from production and refinement through to management as a waste product. The research from the Center for International Environmental Law estimates that by 2050, plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total carbon budget – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants – and calls for urgent action to stem production of single-use plastic and make producers pay for the impact of their products.

 

Greater lunch spend translates to more unrecycled packaging

More people are buying lunch on the go than five years ago and this is contributing nearly 11bn items of packaging waste every year. Sandwich boxes, crisp packets and napkins – most of which can’t be recycled – are all on the rise, according to research from environmental charity Hubbub. The survey found UK workers are spending £13.6bn annually on lunch, partly because they are too busy to make their own but also because of the more varied options. Another survey has suggested the majority of litter found on beaches and rivers comes from 10 food and drink companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mondelez, McDonald’s and Nestle.

 

Walmart moots Asda flotation

Asda owner Walmart is seriously considering the idea of floating the British supermarket chain on the London Stock Exchange after a meeting with 1,200 of its managers. While preparation for the float could take years, in the meantime there are plans for £80m worth of price cuts at the retailer.

 

Morrisons boss admits unsatisfactory performance

Morrisons boss David Potts has handed back part of his annual bonus – worth £600,000 – admitting that the supermarket chain had not performed as well as expected, with wholesale, services and online trade not improving as hoped. In the year to February, overall profits were down nearly 16% to £320m, but sales have been improved by extending the range of premium and takeaway foods.

 

Waitrose leans on Ocado co-founder to prop up online expansion

Waitrose aims to triple the size of its online business to £1bn annually with the help of a new partner. Today Development Partners, which was set up by one of the co-founders of Ocado, will help the supermarket chain develop technology for three new automated distribution centres.

 

Vegan sausage roll continues to provide dividends

Thanks to the success of its vegan sausage roll, Greggs has said that its sales and profits will be “materially higher” than last year. Its breakfast range and post-4pm pizza deal are also proving a hit with customers. The bakery chain expects to pass 2,000 sites this year, as the company looks to move off the high street and into areas like motorway service stations, retail parks, trading estates and train and bus stations, as well as revealing plans to open some stores in the evening. The grab-and-go chain’s share price has risen 50% in the past 12 months.

 

Premier gets Plantastic

Premier has announced plans to launch a new brand later this year called Plantastic, which will use plant-based ingredients in desserts, cakes and soup. The food group, which owns brands like Mr Kipling and Ambrosia custard, has revealed a a pre-tax loss of £42.7m for the full year, largely due to a High Court judgement concerning pensions. Despite the impact of the ruling, the food manufacturer saw a lift in pre-tax profits in the year to March 30 by 12.1% to £88m, while revenue for Mr Kipling grew by 12%.

 

Shopping is depressing, statistics show

Grocery shopping makes people unhappy, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics. The organisation found that spending money on food reduced positive life satisfaction by 18.2%.

 

Impossible Foods valued at $2bn

Bleeding burger maker Impossible Foods has raised $300m in fundraising, bringing the company’s valuation up to $2bn.

 

Beyond Meat doing beyond well

The good news for Beyond Meat keeps on coming: its share price leaped 16% on Wednesday following the news that Canadian coffee chain Tim Horton’s will be trialling its sausage alternative.

image credit: Beyond Meat

An apple a day keeps breast cancer away

The largest randomised trial to examine the relation of nutrition to breast cancer has found that a combination of a low-fat diet and at least one portion of fruit a day cuts the risk of dying from the disease by a fifth.

 

Weekly meat-free day suggested for schools

The Soil Association has called on the government to implement a mandatory plant-based menu one day in a week in state schools.

 

America’s dairy-free cheese producers

Food Spark recently explored the UK’s burgeoning artisan market in plant-based cheese, but The Guardian is looking at vegan cheesemakers in America. Sales of plant-based cheese have grown 41% through August of last year, figures from Nielsen show.

 

High on food

The Guardian takes a look at how the cannabis industry is cashing in on the wellness trend and dietary fads by adding its product to everything from gluten-free eats to smoothies.

 

Harrods is global king of sales

Harrods has been crowned the world’s best-performing luxury department store, increasing sales by 6.8% to just over £2.1bn in the year to February 2018.

 

Tesco CEO’s payout diminished by £700k

Dave Lewis, the head of the UK’s largest retailer, received a £4.6m pay package this year, down from £5.3m in 2018. While Tesco’s remuneration committee said that Lewis had helped the supermarket reach its financial goals, it also said that it was “sensitive to the issues affecting executive remuneration and the views expressed by investors, the UK government and the wider public, particularly regarding restraint” and thus had decided not to increase the salaries of its CEO or finance boss Alan Stewart.

 

Are we ready for this jelly(fish)?

Jellyfish as a snack is something Food Spark has pondered before, but the Sainsbury’s Future of Food report has put the sea creature back on the menu. Sustainable, low in calories, and rich in vitamin B12, magnesium and iron, it's not just novel but also nutritious. While it’s not easy to get your hands on the marine animals, The Telegraph talks to some chefs and restaurateurs who have mulled over including them on their menus, including Jack Stein (chef-director of Rick Stein’s spots) and Rick Toogood (owner of Prawn on the Lawn).

image credit: Getty Images

You cod to be kidding me

The Guardian, meanwhile, is making a much tamer prediction, saying that hake could be the new cod, as the fish is cheap, delicious and sustainable.

 

Blumenthal gets cheesy

A new food exhibition at the V&A will exhibit cheese that has been created from bacterial samples of humans, including Heston Blumenthal and Professor Green. More broadly, the show will also examine the future of food culture, while visitors can order canapes choosing three things from a 15-long list of food priorities, like affordable and zero-waste.

 

Foodie London attracting tourists

Emerging foodie areas like Peckham, Hackney and Chiswick are starting to attract some of the tourist dollar, a new report has found.

 

Fry-up fumes are poisoning health

First it was roast dinners, now researchers are warning that the fumes from fry-ups could be bad for people's health, after testing showed that smoke from cooking is turning homes into toxic boxes. Sausages and steaks were singled out as being particularly bad.

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