Week on a Plate

The week digested: Tesco boss steps down and Deliveroo’s expansion plans

Catch up on the food news from September 30-October 4, including research that suggests meat may not actually harm health and the MSC’s latest recommendations on sustainable fish.

4 October 2019
deliveryhealthmeatseafoodsupermarketssustainability

Tesco boss steps down

Tesco boss Dave Lewis has announced he is leaving the supermarket chain next summer to spend time with his family, adding that the business was now in a position of strength following the turnaround programme he initiated five years ago. Despite his departure, Lewis also revealed further growth plans, including doubling Tesco's online capacity in the UK by opening 25 urban fulfilment centres at the back of existing stores over the next three years and launching a subscription service called Clubcard Plus, which will offer customers £40 off two big shops a month and discounts on its ranges. Ken Murphy, who has spent most of his career at Boots, will take on the role in 2020.

 

New study suggests meat does not harm health

A new study has reignited the debate over the health effects of eating red and processed meat, despite everyone from the WHO to the NHS recommending people cut back on consumption. The Canadian-led research said there was no certainty that red meat caused diabetes, cancer or heart disease, and eating up to four portions a week would not cause harm. The research has split the science community: some agree that evidence from previous studies was generally poor while the methodology for the new research is thorough; others called the latest study flawed.

 

Deliveroo targets expansion over short-term profit

Deliveroo plans to expand its offering into 50 UK towns and cities as it reported a loss of £232m last year, despite a 72% rise in global sales to £476m. This loss is largely down to an aggressive rollout that saw it double its operations.

 

MSC advises ditching cod for haddock

Eat more herring, plaice and haddock but avoid North Sea cod, wild Atlantic salmon and whiting – that's the new advice from the Marine Conservation Society's sustainable fish guide. Consumers who love cod are advised to look for fish from the north-east Arctic or Iceland. UK-farmed oysters, mussels and king prawns are highly recommended, described as delicacies available on people's doorsteps, while wild sea bass is also back on the occasional menu after recovering from overfishing.

image credit: Getty Images

Greggs tempers sales increase with warning over no-deal Brexit

Greggs posted a significant rise in sales (13.9%) in the nine months to September compared to last year, but the chain has warned that Brexit concerns have slowed store openings and increased cost pressures, amid fears of disruption to key ingredients and equipment. It has begun stockpiling bacon and tuna in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, having leased extra warehouse space as part of the plan, although this will only avert shortages for a few days. It has also switched to sourcing cheese and sugar from Britain and looked at how it can replace imported ingredients like tomato and lettuce if necessary.

 

Are plastic microparticles poisoning the body?

New evidence has been presented by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) that shows plastic chemicals may cause babies to develop breathing problems, the main source of exposure being through eating food in plastic packaging. However, while the average person ingests up to 102,000 pieces of microplastic annually, other researchers have said that there is no evidence that the relatively small concentrations of plastic entering the human body are not significant enough to impact health.

 

Animal welfare assured in new LatAm trade deal

A new trade agreement between the EU and Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay will ensure only eggs that meet certain animal welfare requirements qualify for duty-free importation. Some commentators have called for the measure to be extended to meat and egg products as well.

 

America tightens tariffs on food

A 25% tariff is set to be imposed by the US on EU goods, including Scottish whisky, while cookies, salami, butter and yoghurt from some countries will also be affected.

 

Brewery releases half-meat, half-vegan burger

BrewDog has released a new burger that it describes as 50% vegan and 50% beef. Dubbed the Hybrid, it features a Beyond Meat patty and a beef patty, stuffed inside two matcha tea buns with vegan gouda cheese, crispy onion straws and potato rosti. The brand says the move is designed to lure in those who are sceptical about plant-based meat alternatives.

Cricket board criticised for KP Snacks sponsorship

Health campaigners have questioned whether the England and Wales Cricket Board has chosen the right sponsor for the debut of a new fast-paced format dubbed The Hundred. Reacting to news that KP Snacks has struck a deal with the body, a representative of the Children’s Food Campaign told The Telegraph: “Quite frankly we’re stumped as to why the English Cricket Board would consider a salty, high-fat snacking brand as an appropriate partner for The Hundred… The ECB should be swinging behind the government target for halving childhood obesity by 2030, not becoming complicit with junk food industry spin.”

 

Carbon-efficient tomatoes given green light

Giant greenhouses that are low carbon are planned for sites in Norfolk and Suffolk and could be large enough to grow 10% of the UK's tomato crop. The tomatoes would be grown using the heat from Anglian Water’s water treatment facilities as well as using nutrient-rich H2O rather than soil. The plan for the greenhouses has been created by the UK's largest clean energy fund, which claims the concept is a world first, with other features including funnelling the carbon emissions from an on-site electricity plant into the greenhouses for the plants to absorb. Crops are expected to start growing in autumn 2020.

 

The hunt for less flatulent sheep

Greenhouses with a lower carbon footprint aren’t the only initiative to tackle emissions revealed this week. Scientists are working to create a breeding programme to find sheep that would produce less methane, while also looking at how to reduce the environmental impact of feed.

 

Cheeky tweet lands Burger King in trouble with ASA

Burger King has been rapped on the knuckles by the advertising watchdog, which banned a tweet from the fast-food chain about selling milkshakes, ruling it condoned antisocial behaviour and encouraged political protesters to throw the beverage on politicians, as happened to Brexit party leader Nigel Farage. The Advertising Standards Authority received 24 complaints that the tweet was irresponsible while Burger King responded that it was just tongue in cheek, adding that it did not endorse violence.

image credit: Getty Images

Jamie Oliver still has brand power

Jamie Oliver paid himself £5.2m last year despite his restaurant chain folding. His business group announced its 2018 results this week, revealing that underlying profits increased by 4.9% to £43.5m in the year to December 2018. This came from publishing, licencing and TV interests, along with deals with Tesco and Shell. However, pre-tax profits almost halved to £7.8m, mainly due to a £9.8m one-off charge related to the restaurant business, which collapsed earlier this year. Internationally, his business has expanded, with 12 new sites opened.

 

Plastic preys on the mind of younger generations

A survey by Girlguiding UK has found 88% of those aged seven to 21 feel it is urgent everyone does more to protect the environment. The organisation’s half a million members will be making a new pledge to cut their consumption of plastic use and commit to either drinking from a resuable bottle or cup, stopping using clingfilm or throwaway cutlery, or campaigning to reduce plastic waste. 

 

Where is the oldest restaurant in the world?

An Italian trattoria named La Campana in Rome is claiming to be the oldest restaurant in the world, saying it has been open since 1518. The statement is part of a campaign to knock off a Spanish rival who currently holds the accolade.

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