Week on a Plate

The week digested: the sale of Wagamama and how the new budget affects the food industry

Catch up on the food news from October 29 to November 2, including fungi farms, giant Yorkshire pudding wraps and making food from air.

2 November 2018
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Wagamama to join Frankie and Benny’s

The Restaurant Group plans to acquire the Wagamama chain – but only if shareholders don’t vote down the deal at the GM in early November, a distinct possibility after shares plunged following the announcement of the £559m price tag.

 

Waitrose Food editor bites the dust

The editor of the Waitrose Food magazine has stepped down after a furore about his "ill-judged" joke about killing vegans.

 

Waitrose & Partners’ MD is proud to be niche

In a case of good (or perhaps well-judged) timing, Waitrose & Partners also chose this week to come out with its annual food trend report, while its managing director penned an article for the Telegraph on why the company is proud to be niche, Brexit, the rapidly reshaping grocery sector and an uptick in mindfulness among shoppers.

 

Recycling kicked down the road

Recycling companies have condemned the chancellor’s delay in introducing a tax on packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic until April 2022, saying that the commitment was too vague to lead to investment in better recycling facilities.

 

Discounts for small businesses

Retailers with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can look forward to a third off their business rates under the new budget, which has also earmarked £675m for a Future High Streets Fund to revitalise town centres.

 

Watchdog eyes Ocado
The Competition and Markets Authority is to start monitoring how Ocado treats suppliers after the online retailer's annual turnover passed the £1bn mark. Amazon, however, was judged not to have reached the threshold, as only grocery sales are tallied.

 

Fish fingers are good for the environment

The Marine Conservation Society said one of the most popular British eats could be good for the oceans, after it found that 85% of fish finger content is from sustainable sources.

image credit: Getty Images

Just Eat it

Just Eat are likely to lobby against being targeted by the chancellor’s digital tax, though publicly the company was more interested in promoting its higher sales. Italian, Chinese and Indian were the most popular orders in the UK. However, its profits were diminished by investments in creating its own distribution networks, while also taking a hit from competitors like Deliveroo and UberEats.

 

Patiserrie Valerie shareholders grudging approve deal

Luke Johnson has admitted that Patisserie Holdings was three hours from going bust as shareholders in the café chain – despite receiving few answers to what exactly happened – overwhelmingly backed emergency fundraising to plug a £40m black hole in its accounts.

 

Ditching the tills

Walmart is doing away with traditional checkouts  at one of its new shops. Customers at Sam’s Club Now, which will open in Dallas, Texas, will scan and pay for products using a phone app. However, they will have to have a shop assistant check their app at the end of a trip.

 

Living on air

A group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. The only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The plan is to use it as a bulk ingredient in processed foods

 

Kale to replace Brussels sprouts

A shortage of Brussels sprouts will see restaurants offering up kale in its place, according to a trader at New Covent Garden Market. Chunky chips are coming off the menu too, as restaurants struggle to source enough potatoes.

image credit: Getty Images

Scottish salmon gasp for breathing space

Environmental campaigners want a ban on all new fish farms until far stricter controls are in place, after accusing Scotland’s salmon farming industry of breaches, including sea lice infestations and fish mortalities.

 

Veganism reins in diabetes

Research suggests that going vegan can keep type-2 diabetes in check and may slow progressive nerve damage associated with the disease

 

Charcoal still hot

Lost Boy Pizza will open a new site in Camden with its signature charcoal pizza bases.

 

Giant Yorkshire pudding wrap, to go

As part of its Christmas menu, Eat is launching a giant Yorkshire pudding wrap filled with turkey, sage and onion stuffing, crispy bacon, sage mayonnaise and cranberry sauce and other festive-inspired meals

Good cholesterol?

The rise of a small group of dissident scientists that deny cholesterol is bad for people and encourage people to eat more saturated fat is dangerous and irresponsible, according to leading scientists and medical authorities.

Butcher on the chopping block

Crawshaws, a chain of butchers, has fallen into administration, partly because of the rise of discount retailers.

 

Fungi farms

Plug-in fungi farms are mushrooming in New York City. Smallhold, the company that created the idea, grows around 100 pounds of various mushroom types a week, then distributes them three-quarters grown to climate-controlled, do-it-yourself mini ‘farms’ in retailers and restaurants. The system could also work for lettuce and herbs in the future.

 

A big pizza pie

Deep-pan pizza is back, according to chef Neil Rankin, who takes inspiration from New York to recreate a familiar pizza style with outlandish toppings – “the more unusual the topping, the more orders we get.”

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