Week on a Plate

The week digested: discounters capture more retail sales and Beyond Meat’s European production facility

Catch up on the food news from May 27-31, including The Co-op’s £300m sustainability bond and the takeaway packaging ban scheduled for 2021.

31 May 2019
chefshealthmeat alternativepackagingplant-basedrestaurantssupermarkets

Discounters continue to capture sales

Aldi and Lidl continue to steal market share from the big four supermarkets in the UK, according to the latest figures from Kantar. Sales at Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons fell in the three months to May 19, while sales at Tesco were flat. Meanwhile, Aldi and Lidl sales increased by 11.1% and 8.5% respectively.


Takeaway packaging bans scheduled for 2021

Hundreds of millions of takeaway boxes and cups made from expanded polystyrene will be banned by the government in 2021 because the packaging is difficult to recycle. The Foodservice Packaging Association expressed concerns the ban would affect independent operators and mobile caterers who are least able to afford expensive alternatives.


Processed food dubbed deadly by two research projects

In another strike against heavily processed foods, two European studies have found that people who eat large amounts have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death. The studies looked at foods like breakfast cereals, ready meals, muffins and ice creams made in factories with industrial ingredients. Researchers called for public health authorities to advise people to cut down on this type of food, but in the UK they are so popular that they make up half of the national diet.


Co-op opts for Fairtrade

The Co-op is investing substantial sums in supplying and marketing Fairtrade products, after shareholders voted in favour of the supermarket’s commitment to Fairtrade goods. Around £300m was raised by issuing the first sustainability bond for a British retailer, with bondholders expected to rake in annual interest of 5.125% on their investment.


CBD quandary leads to restaurant closure

The Canna Kitchen, which opened in Brighton last year with a menu of CBD oil-infused dishes, was closed earlier this month following a police raid. The owners have said they sought assurances that it was legal to sell things like CBD from police and the UK Trading Standards Agency before opening and were told it wasn’t a criminal offence. A Sussex police spokesperson said the raid was part of an investigation into money laundering and the supply of class B drugs. However, the Canna Kitchen owner said the money laundering allegation had nothing to do with his business and the industrial hemp that was seized was imported legally with all taxes and duties paid.


Hurdles fail to slow CBD NPD

Across the pond, Ben & Jerry's are planning to make CBD-infused ice cream once the plant extract is legalised federally in the US. The US Food and Drink Administration is conducting a public consultation on the legalisation of CBD until July, examining the potential health risks of the compound, including the long-term effect on the liver. Ben & Jerry's are encouraging its fans to make submissions to the FDA, while assuring consumers that its CBD will be sustainably sourced. New Frontier Data, a Denver-based analytics firm, estimates CBD product sales were worth $390m in 2018, which could triple to $1.2bn by 2022.

image credit: Getty Images


Beyond Meat plans production facility in Europe

Beyond Meat’s stock price appears undented by concerns that it will find it difficult to realise its valuation. It revealed this week that it will open its first production facility outside the States in the Netherlands in 2020, in partnership with Dutch company Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat.


Quorn estimates 35% rise in demand

Quorn sales rose 7% last year to £220m, as an increasing number of Brits following meat-free diets snatched its products off shelves – the company estimated that demand has grown by 35% since 2016. The growth was partly fuelled by the success of the Greggs vegan sausage roll, which Quorn noted had exceeded sales expectations by 70%. NPD was also a significant factor in the success, though investment in future projects saw the company’s profits fall £5m to £27m.


How olive oil production is killing songbirds

A Telegraph investigation has revealed that the UK’s retailers could be stocking olive oil produced using a method that kills millions of songbirds a year. “Many harvesters across Italy, Spain and France suck olives from trees using machines, and do this at night, which means sleeping birds who think they have found sanctuary in the olive branches are dazzled by the bright lights and sucked to their deaths,” reports the paper, which adds that Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's are unable to say for certain that the process was not used to produce products they stock.


Pork prices predicted to rise

Pork prices across the globe are predicted to go up, as China’s battle with African swine fever rages on. It is estimated that a third of China’s pig stock will be wiped out this year, forcing the country to rely on more imports and making pork less affordable for people in poorer countries.


Algae suffocates salmon

Salmon is set to get pricier after algae ravaged Norwegian farms, suffocating eight million fish in one week – which could affect half the stock expected this year. Scotland has also been affected.


Halloumi fries fill chillers

Tesco is adding halloumi fries permanently to its chillers, promoting them from Christmas special to permanent presence. Aldi started stocking halloumi fries last July and was forced to limit customers to two boxes per purchase due to the popularity.


image credit: Tesco

Emotional analytics: a $25bn-dollar industry

The Telegraph digs into the world of ‘emotional analytics,’ a burgeoning market that is set to be worth $25bn by 2023. The field focuses on using artificial intelligence to monitor human reactions to external stimuli – in retail terms, it could be used to track how happy consumers are with particular products and their prices, which could then inform changes to store layout, advertising and the cost of certain items.


Sales rise across Ramsay empire

Gordon Ramsay's restaurant group has overcome a multi-million-pound loss last year to record pre-tax profits of £0.5m in the year to August 2018 – only the second time it has made a profit since 2012. The group reported a 4.3% rise in sales to £53.6m, with Ramsay revealing plans to expand Street Pizza, his bottomless pizza concept, outside of London. The chef new Asian concept, Lucky Cat, has taken 3,000 reservations – in spite (or perhaps because) of controversy related to alleged cultural appropriation.


Sugar from corn cobs

The Guardian looks at the work of chemist Javier Larragoiti, who has created a healthy sugar substitute. His patented fermentation-based process turns wasted corn cobs into xylitol, which is commonly extracted from birch wood and is often used in chewing gum.


Outlaw in the capital

Chef Nathan Outlaw’s new £4m restaurant in the Goring Hotel, called Siren, will open in June. Outlaw will split his time between his Cornwall restaurant and London, overseeing things at Siren at least two days a week. Half the menu will be based on Cornish seafood and products, while the other will be “completely off the hook,” according to Outlaw, using whatever comes in fish-wise as well as ingredients from the garden, which includes 150 herbs.

image credit: Siren

Sorella chef explains his new venture

The Evening Standard talks to chef Robin Gill, who is behind restaurants The Dairy and Sorella in Clapham, about his latest opening in Battersea. Darby's will encompass a restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, bar and butchery on the premises.


Premier Foods loses leadership

The chairman of Premier Foods has announced he is retiring in July after just two years in the role. This, combined with the resignation of the company's chief executive in January, will leave the top two jobs at the business empty.


What a difference a year makes for GBK sales

Sales dropped 7% and like-for-likes 4.2% at Gourmet Burger Kitchen last year, according to the chain’s parent company, Famous Brands. The upmarket burger concept posted a £2.7m loss for 2018, compared with a £3.2m profit in 2017.


Going organic

The Guardian rounds up 10 foods that often have high pesticide or antibiotic levels, encouraging consumers to buy organic alternatives instead. The items listed include berries (particularly strawberries and blackberries), tofu, chicken, kale and spinach, milk and eggs.


Prada opens bakery brand in London

Fashion brand Prada has opened its first bakery outside of Milan, unveiling Marchesi 1824 in Mayfair, London, where food development is led by master pastry chef Diego Crosara, who was the world champion for pastry at the 2006 Culinary World Cup.


Returning to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle

The Times heads out to the woods with Nick Weston, the founder of Hunter Gather Cook, to learn about foraging, fire making and wild cocktail making, as well as to promote the eating of game. The trip also includes lunch in a 30ft treehouse with an open-air kitchen where everything is cooked over fire, in the clay oven or in the smoker made from an old safe. Items on the menu include oak-planked salmon and poached egg with wild leaves, and wood pigeon carpaccio with horseradish leaves.

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