Week on a Plate

The week digested: ice cream melts and agricultural food waste uncovered

Catch up on the food news from July 22-26, including reactions to the launch of Cadbury’s reduced-sugar bar and Deliveroo’s Sainsbury’s tie-up.

26 July 2019
food wastehealthice creamplasticrestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarkets

Food waste on farms tops £1bn

More than £1bn of food is wasted on UK farms every year, even before it has reached supermarkets, a new report from Wrap has revealed. The charity estimates that 3.6m tonnes of waste are generated by primary production – 10 times the amount thrown away by retailers – due to crops being rejected by retailers for not meeting quality standards, fluctuations in demand or problems during packing and storage. Wrap has set up a network to connect farmers and small-scale producers to find new ways to distribute surplus food.


Sainsbury’s offers pizza delivery

Sainsbury’s has teamed up with Deliveroo for a two-month trial to offer the delivery of 50 products, including sourdough pizzas, snacks, salads, dips and soft drinks. The experiment will be limited to five stores.


Starbucks invests in automation

Starbucks has acquired a stake in Eatsa, hoping to take advantage of the company’s technology to better automate its ordering process. Eatsa, which is in the process of rebranding as Brightloom, formerly ran restaurants that allowed customers to place salad orders via iPads and pick them up from tech-enabled collection points, removing any interaction with staff. It has since closed all its outlets to focus on providing its technology to other businesses.


Overall supermarket sales decline

For the first time since the referendum, total grocery sales have fallen. Data from Kantar shows that in the three months to July 14 there was a 0.5% dip, partly attributed to the later onset of sunny weather, which has reduced spend on alcohol, ice cream and soft drinks compared to last year.


Unilever cools on Magnum

Separately from the Kantar data, Unilever has revealed that its sales in the UK of brands like Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s have been affected by cooler temperatures this year. The conglomerate has also ignited speculation that Magnum could be among the brands, along with Pot Noodle and Marmite, that it plans to sell off, following an announcement that its planned sustainability agenda could involve culling brands that do not contribute positively to society.

image credit: Magnum via Twitter


Traceable ice creams

Sticking with ice cream for a moment, Wall’s is bringing a touch of transparency to its products by allowing consumers to scan a QR code that will tell them the origin of ingredients. The information will extend to the human side of production, including stories from farmers in Madagascar. Wall’s has a Vanilla for Change campaign where it works with Save the Children and manufacturing partner Symrise to provide financial education, training opportunities and health insurance in Madagascar, which is responsible for 80% of the world’s vanilla production.


Cadbury unveils reduced-sugar bar

Cadbury’s new chocolate bar recipe with 30% less sugar has gone on sale, a year after the product was announced, as previously reported by Food Spark. Initial reaction has not been particularly positive, with the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror pushing public outrage, while The Guardian and The Telegraph have run negative opinion pieces.


Franco Manca founders go from pizza to pasta

The founding duo of Franco Manca are launching a new pasta restaurant called Strozzapreti at Kerb’s Seven Dials Market, which opens in September. It will dish up fresh pasta made with durum flour and organic English spelt, antipasti and Italian desserts. Meals will include the titular strozzapreti with a four cheese fonduta sauce and herb-infused oil, alongside pappardelle with rabbit ragu and marsala livers. Ramen restaurant Nanban will also open a second site at the market.

Pub adjudicator refunds businesses

The Pubs Code Adjudicator, which regulates the industry, will return more than £800,000 to business because of lower costs, particularly as it did not launch any investigations in the past year from April. The government is currently consulting on the effectiveness of the regulator and the pubs code, with some accusing the body of not doing enough to protect publicans.


Rate of pub closure decreases

The rate of pub closures is slowing down in England and Wales – after 13,000 closures between 2001 and 2018 – with experts attributing government measures like relief on business rates and allowing communities to more easily oppose developer plans to demolish or convert pubs into flats as some of the reasons for the slowing decrease. But UKHospitality chief Kate Nicholls said the government needed to do more stop pubs disappearing from the high street.


Retailers deliver plastic-free goods

Tesco is abolishing plastic carrier bags from its online grocery deliveries in August, introducing reusable green trays. The initiative will save 250m bags and almost 2,000 tonnes of plastic each year. It is following in the footsteps of Asda, which is banning bags from delivery this month. However, both retailers said small plastic bags would still be used for fresh meat and fish for health and safety reasons. Meanwhile, Iceland is using its Hackney store to trial the removal of plastic bags completely, offering paper bags for 15p as an alternative. The move comes despite the fact that Iceland also recently announced it was reintroducing plastic to its banana packaging following a dramatic drop in sales.


Junk food is on the (eye) level

Supermarkets need to rethink store layouts as junk food is being placed at eye level to tempt shoppers, which in turn contributes to the overconsumption of calories, according to a new report. The Royal Society for Public Health found that four in 10 products positioned in prominent areas or display units were sugary foods and drinks, and nearly nine in 10 products placed at a child’s eye level throughout stores were unhealthy. More than a third of shoppers had bought unhealthy food on impulse because they saw it on offer, the report added.


Plant-based foods can reduce diabetes risk

Harvard scientists have published new research that suggests following a vegan or vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 23%. According to the study, which analysed 300,000 people, plant-based diets tend to be rich in antioxidants and improve sensitivity to insulin, helping to combat inflammation and weight gain.


Fish suppers reduce likelihood of bowel cancer

If your head isn’t already whirling from the latest onslaught of food research, consider this: fish three times a week could reduce the chances of developing bowel cancer. Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer examined data from 476,160 people over 15 years and found a 12% lower risk associated with people who regularly consume either lean or oily fish.


French heatwave could impact Britain’s turkey supply

The heatwave in France could affect Christmas cheer in the UK due to a shortage of turkeys. French breeders provide about a quarter of eggs hatched in the UK for turkeys, but these are down 10% so far this year.


Farewell to Fairtrade?

The Guardian explores whether Fairtrade is finished. While £9bn’s worth of Fairtrade-certified products were sold worldwide in 2017, major food companies are abandoning the scheme to set up their own in-house imitations. Chocolate, tea and coffee are some of the products affected, according to a study by Lumina Intelligence.


From Russia, with love

The Times takes a look at Russian food, revealing that while the cuisine’s stereotype is dumplings, potatoes and some caviar, there is much more depth to it. It takes a look at the revolution towards using homegrown food in the country.

image credit: White Rabbit

European Union mulls new environmental regulations

The EU wants to protect and restore the world’s forests – which are being ravaged by the consumption of soy, chocolate and meat – by working with governments to promote better use of land, manage supply chains and carry out research. It is also considering new regulations as the EU accounts for 36% of all global imports of crops and livestock associated with deforestation.


Squash replaces avocado

The rising cost of avocados has led some taco stands in Mexico to substitute the ingredient in guacamole with squash.


Marmite – love it or love it

Chefs with serious pedigree are introducing Marmite into their cooking, adding the spread to meat and fish recipes for the umami hit, according to The Times. Sat Bains has added it to his savoury millefeuilles, Monica Galetti from Mere uses it in an agnolotti dish and Paul Ainsworth introduced it in his chicken Rossini at No. 6 in Padstow.


The return of comfort food

Comfort food and carbs are marching forward as a trend, replacing ‘challenging’ dishes in some of the best restaurants in the UK, according to The Guardian. Examples include the crumpet with potted shrimp at Cornerstone and bubble and squeak risotto at Cora Pearl.


Is bullying in kitchens still an issue?

Have kitchens really moved beyond the culture of bullying formerly associated with the frenetic working environment? Following on from the news last week that a chef at a luxury hotel and spa was hospitalised due to a hot buttered potato, The Telegraph talks to leading chefs about the perils, past and present, of a professional kitchen.

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