Week on a Plate

The week digested: sugary milk alternatives and smoothie bans

Catch up on the food news from December 2-6, including how Instagram is influencing Christmas groceries and Las Iguanas’ planned expansion.

6 December 2019

Hot drinks with milk alternatives may be smuggling in sugar

A new study by Action on Sugar has revealed that hot drinks with milk alternatives may be less healthy than those made with cow’s milk. The organisation found that Starbucks’ venti latte with oat milk contained seven teaspoons of sugar and 350 calories compared to the same drink made with semi-skilled milk, which contained five teaspoons of sugar and 168 calories; Pret’s regular hot chocolate with rice-coconut milk, meanwhile, contained 10 teaspoons of sugar compared to the four teaspoons in Leon’s whole milk version. Action on Sugar expressed concern that consumers were often unaware that drinks with plant-based ‘milks’ might be less healthy than the regular versions.


Smoothie ban for Scottish schools

New nutritional regulations for Scottish schools could see children from disadvantaged backgrounds get less fruit and veg due to the decision to ban smoothies and fruit juice.


Christmas gets colourful thanks to Instagram

An enormous 78% of the UK share pictures of their Christmas dinner on social media, according to new research by American Express Shop Small. Millennials are leading the charge, with almost half of this age group saying they would be changing up their meal to make it more photogenic. As part of this, sales of colourful foods are on the rise, including red cabbage, rainbow carrots and purple brussels sprouts.

Retail 2050

The Financial Times has consulted a range of experts to reveal how the shopping experience could evolve in the next 30 years, from shortening food supply chains that “serve consumers more reactively and with a lower environmental impact” (John Lewis futurologist John Vary), to more stark differences between ‘buying’ and ‘shopping’ as consumers come to expect a more experiential, social aspect to visiting stores (Kristina Rogers, Ernst & Young’s global head of consumer).


Las Iguanas pushing ahead with expansion plans

Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas plan to launch five new sites a year across the UK from 2020, despite rising costs and competition. Owners Casual Dining Group also have plans to expand the franchise overseas.


Halloumi shortage on the horizon

The UK is the largest importer of halloumi, gobbling up 40% of Cyprus’ output, but new regulations could see supply dry up. The Cypriot government hopes to protect its signature cheese from imitators in the EU by having it certified as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, but farmers in the country are arguing that the stringent production rules associated with this – including making halloumi from 50% sheep or goat’s milk (up from 20%), as well as ensuring the animals only eat five types of plant – would make it hard to produce sufficient quantities.


French wines and cheeses face US import tariffs

In response to the proposed French tax on major US tech companies such as Amazon and Google, the Trump administration have threatened to impose substantial import tariffs on French wine, cheese and other products, with the UK and other European countries also at risk.

Preserving crop diversity

A group of scientists are hoping to ensure future food security by gathering more than 370 wild species of staple crops. The Crop Trust, in partnership with the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank, has sought out alternative varieties of rice, barley, beans and potatoes, which may be more resilient to drought, flooding and extreme temperatures than their farmed relatives. Crop diversity could also help ensure that world populations would not go hungry if a disease was to wipe out a particular species.


Deliveroo commercial is third-most complained-about advert of 2019

Deliveroo’s ‘All Your Family Favourites’ advert has been banned by the Adverting Standards Authority. Reportedly one of the most complained-about commercials of the year, the 30-second clip was accused of misleading consumers into believing that it was possible to place a single order that encompassed several different restaurants at no extra charge.  


EU blasted over balsamic vinegar ruling

Italian producers of balsamic vinegar have criticised the judges of the court of justice at the EU after losing a legal battle to prevent a German company, Balema, from using the names ‘aceto’ or ‘aceto balsamico,’ which they claimed was a violation of geographical food designation terms.

image credit: Getty Images

Michelin completes sale of Bookatable platform to TripAdvisor

As part of a ‘strategic partnership’ between the two influential companies, Michelin has sold its Bookatable restaurant booking platform to TripAdvisor. The deal will add 14,000 restaurants from around the world (picked by Michelin guide inspectors) to make it the largest online booking platform.


Just Eat takeover rivals continue bitter war of words

Takeaway.com, the Dutch food delivery group seeking a merger with Just Eat, have accused rival bidder Naspers of scaremongering in an attempt to convince shareholders to accept their ‘low ball’ cash offer.


Ocado raising money for robot warehouses

Online grocer Ocado is looking to raise £500m to help fund the creation of dozens of robot-powered warehouses around the world, with the company to issue bonds that will turn into equity if stocks climb by between 40% and 45%.

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