Week on a Plate

The week digested: menu innovation boosts sales at Azzurri

Catch up on the food news from November 18-22, including this year’s mince pies ranked and delivery profits for Mitchells & Butlers.

22 November 2019

Menu innovation behind Zizzi owner’s growth

Items such as jackfruit vegan pizza and black and white ravioli have helped the Azzurri Group increase turnover by 7% for the year ending June 2019. The growth of food-to-go concept Coco di Mama has also been cited as a contributing factor, with CEO Steve Holmes claiming 2019 had been a good year for the brand.


Profits rise at Mitchells & Butlers

Toby Carvery has seen a rise in sales as a result of offering roast dinner deliveries via Just Eat, according to parent company Mitchells & Butlers. Priced at £7.79, the meal includes a choice of meat with apple and sage stuffing, gravy, a Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. In fact, delivery throughout M&B’s brands is paying dividends, according to boss Phil Urban, who has said he isn’t concerned about it cannibalising restaurant visits, noting: "The delivery market is growing and growing. It’s something that’s here to stay… why wouldn’t we want to play in that market?”

image credit: Getty Images

Lindt Lindor pick-and-mix stalls

Sainsbury’s will roll out Lindt Lindor pick-and-mix stands to a further 67 stores on December 2, following a successful trial of the concept at five locations. Prices range from eight balls for £3 to 28 balls for £10.


Vegan sues Burger King over cooking practices

A Burger King customer is suing the company after discovering that his vegan burger was cooked on the same grill as meat. He claims that he would not have paid for the burger had he known that it was “covered in meat byproducts.”


Pie fight

Having already rated smoked salmon, yule logs and Christmas cakes, The Telegraph has now released its mince pie rankings. The paper gave full marks to The Co-op’s Irresistible Luxury option and Marks and Spencer’s The Collection range, while giving the Tesco Finest variant a mere 2.5/5. However, Tesco’s pies fared slightly better in Which?’s mince pie rankings, which placed the UK’s largest retailer at number six out of 12. While there were several notable differences between the rankings, they agreed on one thing: M&S wins this year’s pie fight.

image credit: Getty Images

‘Air-based meat alternative’ produced by Californian start-up

A meat replacement has been created by a start-up in the US using carbon dioxide, with the process inspired by NASA. The company, Air Protein, say that the substance can be used to mimic meat products, including chicken and beef, but will be more sustainable than current agricultural practices.


Trust in Trip Advisor takes another battering

Damian Wawrzyniak, the chef behind House of Feasts, has filed a petition on Change.org calling for Trip Advisor to restrict reviews to those who can prove they have dined at a restaurant, reigniting debate over the validity of ratings on the site. While his position was backed by other chefs, Trip Advisor said it had no plans to alter its existing system, adding: “There are much better and more effective ways to catch fake reviews – and it is those methods that we use. Our combination of human moderators and fraud detection technology ensures we can identify fake reviews through the sophisticated analysis of online data.”


Vertical farming start-up grows reach

US retailer Kroger has become the latest company to partner with Infarm, a leading vertical farming company based out of Germany. The business has already discussed working with Marks and Spencer in the UK, as well as other major European supermarkets like Metro, Migros and Intermarche.


McDonald’s rolls out Christmas menu

The Big Tasty and Chicken Deluxe are both returning for Christmas, with fast-food giant McDonald’s also releasing camembert renditions of their Cheese Dippers, a Matchmakers Cool Mint McFlurry and Reindeer Treats – which are essentially carrots.

image credit: McDonald's

Ocado to renounce grocer status

The Competition and Markets Authority has agreed to Ocado’s request to be ‘de-designated’ a grocer. The company hopes to focus its attention on its software and robot tech, after selling half of its online retail business to Marks & Spencer.


SSP announces £100m buyback plan

SSP Group, which owns Upper Crust and Camden Food Co., have announced plans to buy back £100m worth of shares, after it reported a sales increase of 1.9% due to a rise in air and rail passengers over the past year (the company has close to 2,800 outlets at global transport hubs).


Jamie Oliver continues overseas expansion

Jamie Oliver Group, which saw its UK arm spectacularly collapse last year, will open 19 new branches and rebrand two Jamie's Italian restaurants in Bali and Bangkok under a new all-day dining concept, Jamie Oliver Kitchen.


Counterfeiters sell fake Irish oysters in China

Bells Isle Seafoods have stopped production of their Majestic oyster brand after it was discovered that low-quality counterfeits were being sold in China during a scheduled suspension of exports.

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