Week on a Plate

The week digested: fruit juice linked to cancer and KFC commits to higher welfare standards

Catch up on the food news from July 8-12, including online shopping predictions and more problems for Patisserie Valerie.

12 July 2019
chainsdrinkfast foodfood wasteonline shoppingrestaurantssupermarkets

Fruit juice linked to cancer

It’s not just fizzy drinks that could raise the risk of cancer, with new research showing that drinking a glass of fruit juice a day could also have an impact due to the high amounts of sugar. Tea with two sugars was also identified as a risk. However, the researchers aren’t advising people avoid drinking fruit juice, but instead suggest consumption in moderation.


KFC commits to higher welfare standards

KFC is the first UK fast-food chain to sign up to new European welfare standards for farmed chickens, which include a pledge to purchase slower-growing breeds, along with stricter auditing processes and reducing stocking density to give birds more space in barns. The standards also require investment in environmental benefits like providing perches, pecking objects such as straw and vegetables, and natural daylight. KFC uses an estimated 60m chickens each year, but the large chunk of poultry sales in the UK occur through supermarkets. The fast-food chain’s commitment is expected to be place pressure on other operators and supermarkets to get on board.


The march of online shopping

Online shopping could account for more than half of retail sales in the next decade as younger, digitally native consumers grow up, according to a report by analyst Retail Economics. It predicts a digital retail revolution is only just beginning, with artificial intelligence and personalised marketing contributing to future growth. People aged 25 to 44 are more likely to buy food and other items online, the research found. Shops in travel hubs, homes and offices have a better chance of surviving in bricks-and-mortar formats, according to Retail Economics, as do those that are part of shopping centres and destinations that also contain leisure facilities and restaurants.


The digital grocery battlefield

Looking more specifically at online grocery, The Telegraph rounds up how the major retailers are investing in digital capabilities, from the Ocado-M&S tie-up to Tesco’s £3.bn share. Though online orders are only worth a fraction (£11.6bn) of the overall UK (£193bn) at the moment, it has become an increasingly hotly contested area, as companies eye the future – fuelled, no doubt, by predictions like the one above.


Patisserie Valerie problems continue

Another 14 Patisserie Valerie cafes will be closed after a detailed review of trading performance and locations by its new private equity owner, with up to 100 jobs expected to be lost. The chain launched a new summer menu last week with redesigned patisserie and cakes, including strawberry gateau, Black Forest chocolate sponge, baked cheesecake and millefeuille and introduced an all-day brunch menu. Meanwhile, Patisserie Valerie's former auditor, Grant Thornton, has been put under increased scrutiny by the Financial Reporting Council, which described the quality of its work as unacceptable and ordered the company to come up with a plan to overhaul its audit work.


A new way to preserve fruit

Edible fruit coatings from Apeel Sciences that increase the shelf life of fruit (and thus decrease food waste) are expected to appear in the UK this year. Food Spark has previously reported on the technology, which debuted in the US and was initially showcased using avocadoes.

image credit: Apeel

£2bn windfall estimated from container return schemes

Introducing a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, cans and glass could boost the UK economy by £2bn, according to a government assessment. This figure was calculated based on the reduction of waste going to landfill as well as environmental impacts on air and water pollution, along with less carbon emissions associated with producing raw materials for new containers. The government is currently investigating what type of scheme to introduce in the next two years, with an announcement expected in the next few months.


M&S may close more stores

Marks & Spencer CEO Steve Rowe told investors at the annual meeting on Tuesday that more store closures could be on the horizon, as he looks to cut legacy stores that aren’t pulling their weight. The chief executive also noted that he hopes to double food sales to £12bn in the next five years as part of a distribution deal with Ocado, responding to shareholder concern over the £750m price tag of the partnership. M&S is also in the news this week after introducing miniature models of iconic foods made with plastic, with consumers questioning the company’s commitment to plastic reduction.


Ocado revenue grows despite warehouse fire

The fire at Ocado’s warehouse in Hampshire back in February has cost the online retail £110m, although it expects to reclaim the full amount from its insurance. It also knocked 2% off the sales growth of its retail business. The warehouse building is a write-off and Ocado has plans to rebuild it by late 2021 or early 2022. In spite of this, for the six months to June 3, revenue grew by over a fifth to £70.8m.


Morrisons adds vegan pasty

Morrisons has released a vegan version of the Cornish pasty, made with vegan mince, potato, swede and onion. The own-label item joins the retailer’s vegan sausage rolls and will be sold for £1.75 a piece – more expensive than the standard meat original.


Bake Off winners advises Brits to can it

Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain has a show coming to the BBC, commencing July 15. Called Time to Eat, it will encourage using canned food in cooking – and the papers are loving the idea, pointing out that the French and Spanish consider some tinned eats a delicacy.

image credit: Getty Images

Small cans are big trend

Speaking of cans, Pepsi has predicted smaller ones will be a longer-term trend in the fizzy drink category. Snacks and a new line of colas made with real fruit juice have helped the brand’s profits climb to $2bn from $1.8bn the year before for the 12 weeks to June 15.


What’s causing the rise in allergies?

Following news over the weekend that deadly allergic reactions appear to be on the rise, The Telegraph looks at some of the possible reasons behind the increase, while admitting the true cause is unknown. Theories include genetics, lack of vitamin D, the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ (children not being exposed to enough bacteria) and the microbiome (processed food and antibiotics negatively affect gut health, which subsequently leads to susceptibility to developing allergies).


Syrian refugees driving uptake of Middle Eastern cuisine

Syrian refugees are bringing their cuisine to the UK as they settle in the country, with the popularity of the nation's food on the rise – and it's not just in London either.  A number of restaurants and bakeries have popped up in Scotland, where nearly a fifth of Syrian refugees have settled since coming to the UK, reports The Guardian.


Could supplements actually harm health?

New data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that nutritional supplements are ineffectual against cardiovascular disease. In fact, in some cases they can even be harmful, according to research leader Dr Safi Khan: "A combination of calcium and vitamin D was associated with a higher risk of stroke." A review of 277 randomised controlled trials also questioned the efficacy of the so-called Mediterranean diet.


Eco-conscious initiatives

The Evening Standard profiles the eco warriors looking to prevent food waste with everything from foraging tours, community fridges and cocktails using coffee grinds.

image credit: Getty Images

Return of the traditional market

The Telegraph theorises that a backlash against impersonal self-service checkouts is fuelling the success of traditional markets. Figures from Mission for Markets indicate that the UK’s market traders experienced a collective turnover of £3.1bn in 2018, having grown an estimated £200m each year since 2012.


Ice cream vans parked

The days of hearing and seeing ice cream vans on the streets could be coming to an end. There are 2,500 to 5,000 vans operational in the UK, but only 10% do street trading in the face of growing competition from ice cream parlours and supermarkets, as well as an increasing focus on children’s health. Vegan ice cream, however, has never been more popular, according to one ice cream vendor.


Asda employees are in the money

Nearly 25,000 Asda employees who bought discounted shares in parent company Walmart could cash in a total of £62m, thanks to the US retailer’s soaring share price.


Wetherspoons LFLs grow

Wetherspoons has reported a successful summer so far, with like-for-like sales increasing by 6.9%, while total sales were up by 6.6% for the 10 weeks to July 7. Pub boss Tim Martin also said the operator was ready to leave the EU, having made arrangements to replace French champagne and German beer with alternatives from the UK, Australia and America.


Regulator investigates potential abuse of beer tie

Staying in the pub sector, Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, which has 2,700 locations, is being investigated by the regulator as to whether it imposes unfair terms on publicans who try to cut the beer tie – an arrangement where they are required to buy beer from the owner of the premises. Publicans have until August 5 to submit information to the inquiry.


Another chef asks to return Michelin stars

French chef Marc Veyrat, who owns La Maison des Bois, has hit out at the Michelin inspectors after he lost one of his three stars. He has demanded his restaurant be removed from the guide, lashing out at the "profound incompetence" of the inspectors. The guide has refused his request.


Army brunches on smashed avo

Even the English army is embracing the trend for brunch, introducing a new menu of avocado on toast, egg-white omelettes and smoothies after it found dwindling numbers were turning up for traditional fry-ups in the morning. The pilot scheme is being tested in North Yorkshire and could be rolled out to all army bases next year.

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