Week on a Plate

The week digested: new waste recommendations and Christmas releases

Catch up on the food news from November 4-8, including Marks and Spencer’s improved food performance and dessert success at Creams.

8 November 2019
chainsdeliveryfood wastedessertpackagingsupermarkets

WRAP’s new waste recommendations

A new government-backed report by waste reduction organisation WRAP is encouraging retailers to remove sell-by dates as well as best-before dates on certain items like potatoes, claiming that better labelling could save 2m tonnes of food from the garbage. The charity has also released guidelines for the reduction of plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables that will help cut back on single-use plastic while avoiding increases in food waste.

 

Sainsbury’s profits fall 91%

Sainsbury’s first-half profits have plunged 91% after the UK retailer took a £200m write-down on the value of its supermarket estate. The company have said it took the hit to its balance sheet from a series of store closures. CEO Mike Coupe took the opportunity to rail against Britain’s current planning permission, which some say makes it too difficult for businesses to adapt their properties quickly to the changing market.

 

Morrisons unveils pig-out options for vegans

This week saw Morrisons unleash a foot-long vegan sausage roll, made with seasoned soya mince. The 466g item costs just a £1 and is a plant-based sequel to the retailer’s meat-filled foot-long sausage roll released in 2017. In a month’s time, the supermarket will be adding another vegan version of a porky classic: the No Pork Pie is made from soya and pea protein, and is scheduled for release in time for Christmas.

M&S improves performance

Food sales at M&S have grown in the third quarter, amidst price reductions and range simplifications. However, the clothing side of the business dragged down profits.

 

Chinese owners of Pizza Express to buy £80m worth of bonds

Hony Capital, majority shareholders of the debt-ridden Pizza Express restaurant chain, have announced plans to buy £80m's worth of bonds (which have been trading at a reduced price), thereby increasing their hold on the company.

 

Pret’s inclusive Christmas sandwich menu

Pret’s Christmas sandwich menu also dropped this week, including the addition of a gluten-free Christmas Lunch sarnie with free-range turkey, herby pork stuffing, port and cranberry sauce and mayo, served on a slice of gluten-free seeded bread. Also available are a vegetarian item (roasted butternut squash, spicy rocket and nutty Christmas-themed pesto, finished off with yoghurt mayo, crispy onions and caramelised pecans) and the vegan Very Merry Christmas Lunch (grilled carrots, crispy onions, baby leaf spinach, port and orange cranberry sauce, vegan stuffing and caramelised pecans).

Healthy eating challenges for elderly adults

Research published by the Royal Voluntary Service has revealed that almost 1m elderly people skip meals because eating alone makes them feel lonely. The authors of the study noted that eating alone can have a negative impact on people’s health – 41% of the over 70s interviewed said they only sometimes followed a healthy diet.

 

Scooping up customers

Sales at desserts chain Creams rose 37% to £40.1m in the year to March, with profits rising 76% to £1.6m, according to accounts filed this week. The brand opened 21 new outlets over the period, while selling 1m scoops of gelato every week. “Our round-the-clock and great value offering has growing appeal among multiple customer demographics, including teenagers, young adults, students and families,” said founder Adam Mani.

Salmonella crisis for major hummus supplier

Zorba Delicacies, the dip supplier, has extended its product recall due to an ongoing salmonella scare. The company, which has products in most of the UK’s major supermarkets, had issued a recall for some of its products with use-by dates up to November 7 last week, but this has now been extended to include other products in the Zorba range up to November 17. Last month, Zorba were fined £93,000 in Wales for supplying egg-free branded tzatziki dip that contained egg.

 

Fourth top executive departs as McDonald’s value plummets

Following the exit of chief executive Steve Easterbrook over an affair with a colleague, McDonald’s have announced that David Fairhurst, human resources chief, has also left, with investors wiping $4bn off the value of the fast-food company. Fairhurst is the fourth executive to leave the company in recent weeks.

 

Delivery dilemma

The Telegraph speaks to a number of food critics to get their opinion on what can and cannot be delivered, noting that there are certain dishes that simply do not travel well. “Anything braised or in a marinade will be fine,” says The Guardian’s Jay Rayner, while The Telegraph’s own William Sitwell notes that canapés, tempura and pasta are all likely to arrive in a less-than-appetising state.

 

EU urged to change farming policy to stem decline in wildlife

Scientists are lobbying for an urgent overhaul of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), in order to stop the intensification of farming practices that is leading to a decline in wildlife. According to a letter sent to the incoming president of the European commission, the current system is “turning rural areas into green deserts of uninhabitable maximum-yield monocultures.” Following the news, Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs noted that Brexit would allow the UK to create its own regulations: “Leaving the EU presents an opportunity to design a bespoke agricultural policy and reward our farmers for enhancing the environment, including protecting and improving biodiversity.”

 

UK cake-decorating competition disqualifies Hong Kong-protest themed cake

A three-tiered cake, featuring a Guy Fawkes mask and mini political slogans, has been disqualified from a cake competition in Birmingham. The cake, which alludes to the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, also has a miniature record playing the unofficial anthem of the protest, ‘Glory to Hong Kong,’ and emits a vapour designed to look like tear gas. A statement from Cake International said “the content and message behind the cake has been viewed as offensive and led to complaints from attendees.”

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