Week on a Plate

The week digested: Sainsbury’s and Morrisons cull managers

Catch up on the food news from January 20-24, including the CMA’s investigation into the Just Eat-Takeaway.com merger and Greenpeace’s attack on the poultry industry.

24 January 2020

Boss of Sainsbury’s to step aside amid wider job cuts

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe has stepped down in the wake of the failed deal to secure a tie-up with Asda. The news comes as the supermarket prepares to lay off hundreds of managers as part of cost-cutting measures.


Morrisons to cull 3,000 managers

Sainsbury’s aren’t the only ones cutting upper-level jobs: Morrisons plans to axe 3,000 managers, replacing them with shop-floor workers who will staff bakery, butchery and fishmonger counters.


Just Eat merger in ‘shocking’ investigation

The Competition and Markets Authority have stepped in at the last minute to investigate the proposed £6bn merger between Takeaway.com and Just Eat. Cat Rock Capital, a hedge fund that has stakes in both businesses, described the unexpected move as “shocking.”


Vegan Leon burgers overtake meat patties

Sales of vegan burgers at Leon have overtaken meat burgers for the first time. Meat alternative products currently make up 60% of total sales, according to the healthy-food chain, which cites the Love burger (beetroot-soya patty, smoked gouda-style cheese, tomatoes and pickles) as its most popular product.

image credit: Leon

Food waste figures are mixed bag

Good news: total food waste has fallen by the equivalent of 7% per person in the past three years, with retail, hospitality and household waste reduced from 10m in 2015 to 9.5m in 2018. Bad news: UK households (which contribute the biggest proportion of food waste) are still chucking away 4.5m tonnes a year, worth £14bn – the equivalent of 10bn edible meals, according to WRAP.


The feathers fly over soy imports

A Greenpeace report claims that the UK poultry industry is indirectly responsible for deforestation in South America: trees are being cut down to make way for soya, which is being used to feed UK chickens. The charity says that British companies are not doing enough to ensure their supply chains for animal feed are clean of unsustainable soy, naming and shaming major retailers as well as restaurant chains.


Multipacks undergo plastic purge

Tesco has pledged to remove plastic packaging from multipacks of baked beans, soup and tuna – some of the biggest-selling groceries in UK supermarkets. This will apply to both own-brand and branded items, including Heinz, John West and Green Giant. “Removing plastic-wrapped multipacks from every Tesco store in the UK will cut 350 tonnes of plastic from the environment every year,” said Tesco boss Dave Lewis.


Aldi raises the wage bar

Aldi is raising its minimum hourly rate from £9.10 to £9.40 (£10.55 to £10.90 inside the M25), making it (for now) the best-paying major supermarket chain. It also has plans to recruit an additional 3,800 staff.


Sri Lankan orders soar

Deliveroo has announced a 116% rise in the volume of orders from Sri Lankan restaurants between 2018 and 2019, with top orders including kottu – a dish made with sliced up bits of roti bread, vegetables, egg and either chicken or meat.

Ulundu Vadai
image credit: Paradise

Burger chain bites the dust

Handmade Burger Co has fallen into administration for the second time, closing all 18 of its sites.


Itsu looks to raise money for US expansion

Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe is allegedly exploring plans to float the Japanese chain on the stock market in the next few years. The money raised will be used to open 1,000 new stores in the US over the next few years.


Climate campaigners advocate cutting animal consumption by a fifth

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change claims Brits need to cut meat and dairy consumption by 20% in order to meet the government’s 2050 target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions.


NPD drives sales at Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat saw sales rise 11% in the 13 weeks to December 29, driven by its £100 Velvetiser (a hot chocolate maker) and a new vegan chocolate dubbed Nutmilk.

image credit: Hotel Chocolat

Orders fill up for milk bottles

Morning milk rounds have come back from the dead thanks to increased consumer concern around plastic pollution. McQueens Dairies in Glasgow, for instance, claims its family-run business has seen delivery rise from 30,000 bottles a week two years ago to 170,000.


No Hula Hoops for the Hundred

KP Snacks has agreed not to put its brand logos (which include Hula Hoops, McCoy’s and Tyrells) on children’s replica team shirts. The move comes three months after health campaigners criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board for selecting the company as its main sponsor for new cricket format the Hundred, claiming that it could have a negative effect on childhood obesity.


Cheesy crisps ranked

The Telegraphs taste test this week focuses on cheese-flavoured vegan crisps. In this (very specific) category, Kettle Sheese & Red Onion (created with plant pushers Bosh!) scores full marks for its “red Leicester-style seasoning, which is derived from a base of maize starch and gluten-free oat fibre.” Eat Real Cheezie Straws (with a white-cheddar flavouring made from rice flour, sugar, salt and yeast extract powder), Tesco Free From Cheese Flavour Tortilla Chip (with yeast extract powder and cocoa butter) and Hippeas Take It Cheesy (another yeast-extract-based number) also score well, while Ten Acre The Story Of When The Cheese Met The Onion and Qwrkee Vegan Cheese fava bean puffs score a still reasonable 6/10.


Rooting for agroforestry

Agroforestry can be a successful mechanism for growing produce and restoring the environment, according to the Financial Times, citing examples in Costa Rica where the growing of crops amidst trees has yielded fruit (and veg).


Big Mac gets saucy

McDonald’s will be selling its Big Mac burger sauce for a limited time from February 12. The 50ml pots will retail for 50p and have a seven-day shelf life.


Best fish and chips are found in… Nottingham?

The Cod’s Scallops in Nottingham has been named the Fish and Chip Shop of the Year at the National Fish and Chip Awards. Entrants were judged on their fish and chips, sustainability, menu innovation and ability to cater for dietary requirements.


Broccoli shots are the new celery juice

Broccoli shots have arrived on UK shores from Hong Kong thanks to a company called Broc On. The business claims that its product (which costs £75 for 30 powder capsules, to be dissolved in water) is rich in sulforaphane, a molecule common to cruciferous vegetables that studies indicate may benefit brain, heart and liver health.


Positive nutrition

Healthy-eating guru Amelia Freer takes the Evening Standard through her approach to eating well on a budget and with minimum effort and time. Her new cookbook, Simply Good for You, came out in December and focuses on what you should eat, rather than what you should avoid, in your diet.


What are the hardest foods for vegans to give up?

Everyday household ingredients like eggs, butter and milk are the hardest to give up for vegans, according to an article in Metro, which also suggests agave and maple syrup as an alternative to honey.


Is veganism strangling vegetarianism?

“Vegetarians are the squeezed middle, the unfashionable centrists, neither black nor white,” according to The Telegraph, which questions whether vegetarianism has become redundant thanks to the abundance of vegan-friendly innovation.

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