Week on a Plate

The week digested: traditional breakfast cereals and condiments fall from favour

Catch up on the food news from October 28-November 1, including a Harvard study that shows calorie counts have limited consumer impact.

1 November 2019
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Demand for Kellogg’s breakfast cereals continues to fall in the US  

Kellogg’s snack portfolio, which includes Pop-Tarts and Pringles, helped the company’s third-quarter performance as the demand for its breakfast cereals continued to fall. Organic snack sales in North America, the company’s largest market, rose by 5.2% compared with a year ago as sales of breakfast cereals in the region fell by 4.8%. Americans are turning their backs on traditional cereals and are instead going for cheaper, protein-rich breakfast products from fast-food chains and healthier snacks such as fruit bars.


Calorie counts alone have little impact on consumer behaviour

Harvard University has published a study that indicates calorie labels on menus may make little overall difference to intake. The research, which looked at 50m restaurant transactions in the US over three years, found that while diners initially ate 60 fewer calories on average when calorie counts appeared on the menu, this fell to 23 by the end of the study. “These results imply that calorie labelling alone may not be enough to make sustainable reductions in calorie intake in fast food restaurants," concluded the researchers.


Marks & Spencer to release first own-brand halal ready meals

Marks & Spencer is to become the first major British retailer to sell own-brand halal ready meals, with the move in response to the rapidly growing demand from Muslim customers. Halal versions of six dishes, including chicken arrabbiata and chicken jalfrezi, will be on sale from next week in 36 stores across the country.

image credit: Getty Images

Beyond meat records maiden net profits

Popular plant-based pioneers Beyond Meat have recorded their first quarterly profit as consumers’ growing appetite for meat alternatives continues to grow. The American company, which is known in the UK for their pea-protein-based Beyond Burger, recorded a maiden net profit of $4.1m in the three months leading up to September 29, compared with a $9.3m loss for the same period a year earlier.


Quarter of the world’s pig population expected to die of African swine fever

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), about a quarter of the global pig population is expected to die due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF). As many as 100 million pigs have already died in China as a result of the ASF epidemic which hit last year, with global pork prices rising due to the country’s increasing demand. US pork sales to China have doubled and European pork prices are now at their highest for six years.


South Korean acorn craze hits

A South Korean health craze for eating acorns has emerged after the country’s experts declared the nut a superfood that could help prevent obesity and diabetes. Locals mash the nuts up and boil the starch into jelly-like blocks which are then eaten with seasonings or made into noodles or dumplings.

image credit: Getty Images

Just Eat takeover squabble takes new turn

The ongoing takeover battle for Just Eat has grown even more bitter following allegations from Cat Rock Capital Management, an American activist investor which owns 3% of the food delivery company, which has claimed that Just Eat investors were being “directly and materially harmed” by share sales undertaken by Delivery Hero, a German rival, who have rejected all claims. The takeover fight started last week after Prosus, the international internet assets division of Naspers (which owns 22.3% of Delivery Hero), made a £4.9bn hostile cash offer for Just Eat, disrupting an all-share merger between the company and Takeaway.com that had been agreed in July.


Falling demand for cheese at heart of Kraft Heinz sales hit

Net revenues at American food giant Kraft Heinz fell by 4.8% in the last quarter with lower sales volumes of both natural cheese and cold cuts blamed. These lower sales can be attributed to the recent trend for healthier eating in the US with several Kraft Heinz staple products, including their Oscar Mayer meats brand, affected.


Tomato ketchup falls out of favour

Perhaps tied into the Kraft Heinz issues, global demand for tomato ketchup has declined, in part because millennials are turning away from the classic condiment. While for the UK consumption saw a slight rise – 1.5% between January and April – other nations have seen dramatic falls, with Europe’s biggest ketchup exporter, the Netherlands, reporting that demand from Germany declined 23% while France’s went down 12%.


Pizza Hut and KFC owner knocked by $3bn value cut

Yum! Brands, owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, has posted huge losses in its third-quarter earnings, with shares falling dramatically due to a mark down in investment in Grubhub, the American food delivery service. Yum! also took hits in terms of both profits and earnings per share, falling 13% and 42% respectively on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Grubhub shares plunged by 43% after a full-year forecast warned about increased competition and a slowdown in the sector.


Ugly Butterfly restaurant with zero-waste focus coming to Chelsea

Adam Handling has announced plans to open a new restaurant, Ugly Butterfly, which will focus on zero-waste upmarket dining. Opening on Chelsea’s King’s Road on November 13, Ugly Butterfly’s dishes will contain food that would normally be thrown away, with the majority of ingredients coming from Handling’s restaurant at the Belmond Cadogan hotel. Some examples are Handling’s signature cheese doughnuts (made with leftovers from the Cadogan cheese board), a tartare with beef from retired dairy cows, lobster shell soup and deboned crispy chicken feet, fried and topped with caviar.

‘Forest in the sky’ restaurant to open in November

A new London restaurant from dining group D&D is to open next month that will contain a “forest in the sky” with more than 100 trees and shrubs. The £5m project, named 14 Hills, will be one level below the largest public roof garden in London, which is located at the top of the 120 Fenchurch Street office block. Executive Chef Thomas Piat, formerly at Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud, will be overseeing the kitchen.


Return to battery eggs could be consequence of no-deal Brexit

Battery hen eggs could return to UK supermarkets if the government fails to form a new trading deal with the EU, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned. The body has said that their pleas to have tariffs on eggs to protect against cheaper alternatives from rival countries that permit the caging of hens has been ignored. “We will be importing eggs produced in those very same cages we banned in 2012,” warned the NFU president, Minette Batters.


Heating up the chicken market

Over in the US, fried chicken chain Popeyes has announced its spicy chicken sandwich will return to menus on November, after selling out and causing a social media meltdown when it originally appeared in August. The sandwich features breaded chicken in a buttermilk batter, served on a toasted brioche bun and garnished with pickles and mayo. 


Amazon Fresh fees ditched in the US

US subscribers to Amazon Prime will no longer have to pay delivery fees on thousands of groceries, allowing them to choose one-hour and two-hour slots at no extra charge. The move has prompted questions about whether UK users will soon see the same benefits, with Nick Carroll, an analyst at Mintel, noting that while there may be short-term losses, it could also stimulate faster growth of the Fresh service.


Foie gras ban passed in NYC

New York City Council overwhelmingly passed new legislation on Wednesday banning the sale of foie gras at restaurants, groceries, delicatessens and other venues across the city from 2022. Grocery store owners and restaurant operators could be hit with a maximum fine of $2,000 if caught selling the controversial item, with NYC joining California in prohibiting it.


And the GBBO 2019 winner is…

This week witnessed the season finale of The Great British Bake Off, crowning ‘underdog’ David Atherton the winner, after he cinched the show with his picnic showstopper: a cheeseboard made from biscuits and pancakes with an edible tablecloth.

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