Week on a Plate

The week digested: coronavirus anxieties cause stockpiling and chocolate prices on the rise

Catch up on the food news from 2-6 March, including Greggs reporting record profits and Tesco planning to price-match Aldi

6 March 2020
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UK public begin stockpiling on coronavirus fears

Britons are increasingly beginning to stockpile food and other essential goods, sparked by fears over the spread of the coronavirus. A total of 90 people had tested positive in the UK at the time of writing, prompting the public to become more concerned about being forced to self-isolate at home. Domino’s also said it was stockpiling products in the UK in preparation. In related news, the UK government announced that workers suspected of having coronavirus will get sick pay from day one


Greggs posts record profits on vegan sausage roll success

Greggs has reported a 31.1% year-on-year rise in pre-tax profit to £108.3m in 2019, as the bakery chain continues to reap the rewards of its vegan sausage roll success. Like-for-like sales increased 9.2%, although Greggs also said sales in 2020 had slowed due to bad weather and raised concerns about the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak.


Tesco to price-match Aldi

Tesco is planning to price-match Aldi on hundreds of branded and own-label goods in a bid to win back customers from German-owned retailers after rebuilding its profit margins. According to Tesco’s chief customer officer, Alessandra Bellini, the campaign “will help time-poor and budget savvy customers get Tesco products at Aldi prices on products that matter to them”. 


Chocolate prices set to rise as Easter nears

The CEO of Swiss chocolate maker Lindt has warned of higher chocolate prices ahead of Easter due to the world’s largest cocoa growers substantially increasing their costs. Suppliers from Ghana and Ivory Coast are charging $400 per metric tonne above the international benchmark for bean shipments from October onwards. Chief executive Dieter Weisskopf said: "Over the next few months, you’ll see price increases. Not just us."


Impossible Foods cuts prices for restaurants

Plant-based burger manufacturer Impossible Foods has slashed the price it charges restaurants to stock its products in an effort to compete with its meat counterparts. Burgers from companies including Impossible and Beyond Meat can sell for as much as 25% more than meat burgers in US fast-food chains, with Impossible revealing this week it had cut the prices by 15%.


Mars apologises for chocolate shortage

In other confectionary news, Mars Wrigley has apologised for a shortage of chocolate caused by a “mechanical breakdown” at one of its factories. The company owns brands including Maltesers, Bounty, Celebrations and Minstrels.


Just Eat Takeaway.com launches arbitration proceedings against rival Delivery Hero

Just Eat Takeaway.com has begun arbitration proceedings against Delivery Hero, alleging its rival violated a standstill agreement by increasing its stake in the newly merged business. The agreement was signed in April last year after Takeaway.com acquired Delivery Hero’s German operations for €930m partly funded by the former’s shares.


McDonald’s launches VIP gold card

Fast food giant McDonald’s has announced the launch of 1,000 VIP gold cards through which customers can win free food for a year. The card, which comes after Nandos and Greggs launched celebrity versions, will give customers one free meal every week for a year and is available through the McDonald’s Monopoly.


Potential Asda bidders line up

The billionaire founders of EG Group, Zuber and Mohsin Issa, are the latest to be rumoured to be lining up a bid for Asda after its owner, Walmart, said it was consider a sale. According to The Times, EG Group will face competition from private equity firms including Apollo and TDR Capital but that the world’s biggest private equity firms were unlikely to bid.


British Honey Company to float on the NEX

The British Honey Company has announced plans to float on the NEX growth market, raising £1.5m and valuing the business at approximately £10m. The company, which was founded in 2014 by Michael Williams, plans to use the funds to expand in the US market.

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