Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: 85,000 high street jobs have ‘disappeared’ so far this year while Aldi gets into a row over roe

The news, reviews and trends from November 10-11, including why retailers and major drinks brands may soon be paying 10 times more towards packaging recycling.

12 November 2018
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Food news

Retailers and drink brands to shoulder more recycling costs

The government is planning to shift more of the expense associated with recycling used packaging onto supermarkets and major drink brands, according to the Guardian. A new waste strategy that is expected in the next few weeks will raise contributions from retailers and producers from £70m a year to between £500m and £1bn a year, unnamed sources told the paper.


85,000 jobs “disappeared” from the high street

Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate around 85,000 retail jobs “disappeared from Britain’s high streets in the first nine months of this year,” reports the Guardian, as a number of chains and independents went into administration or agreed CVAs. There are now more than 4,400 unoccupied premises across Britain’s high streets, according to retail analysis firm Local Data Company.


Row over roe

Aldi’s low-cost caviar is misleading consumers, alleges London Fine Foods’ Kenneth Benning, since the sturgeon roe it uses has been “engineered” or “enhanced” to increase its lifespan. The retailer’s product is supplied by West Yorkshire-based KC Caviar, which rinses roe in saline solution and puts them in a calcium bath, in order to change the molecular structure of the eggs and increase longevity, reports the Times. “There is nothing wrong with these eggs but it would be misleading for Aldi to claim that they are real caviar,” added Benning, who owns a sturgeon farm in Exmoor.

image credit: Getty Images

Cows and climate change

It will be nearly impossible for the UK to achieve its target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 unless the nation eats less pork and beef, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). “‘Enteric fermentation’ in Britain’s sheep and cattle, which causes them to fart and burp, produces the equivalent of 23m tons of CO2 a year,” notes the Sunday Times


Minimum wage hike increases the pressure

In a piece on the factors contributing to rising costs in foodservice, the Telegraph suggests that the increase in the minimum wage disproportionately affects the hospitality industry. Greggs, The Restaurant Group and Wetherspoon are likely to suffer the largest decline in earnings when the change comes into effect in April, according to a senior analyst from Canaccord Genuity, while Mitchells & Butlers, Fuller’s and Marstons will also be among the top 15 worst-hit businesses.


Halloumi is still hot – perhaps too hot

Britain’s supplies of halloumi might soon dry up, reports the Observer, after the Cypriot government begun allowing dairy exports to China last week. The UK is the second-largest consumer of the cheese (following Cyprus itself).

image credit: Getty Images

Big Mac versus sandwiches

Is a Big Mac healthier than a high-street sandwich? Questionable, but it does have fewer calories than Greggs' Mexican chicken baguette and Pret A Manger's avocado, olive and tomato baguette, reports the Daily Mail, which leaps on comments made by the CEO of McDonald’s UK that he eats at the fast-food chain twice a day – albeit mostly on its porridges, salads and wraps rather than the signature burger.


Food trends

Milking it

While consumers clearly haven’t lost their love of halloumi, they may have lost their love for milk. At least, that’s how the Observer frames its long-form article on the battle between the dairy industry and plant-based milks made from ingredients like soya, almond and oats. While there has been a significant rise in profits for companies selling alternative milks, they still form a small percentage of the market, but the paper suggests the future might actually lie in ‘ethical’ milk.


Plant-based proteins ranked

The Times food editor digs into the healthiness of vegan eats with the help of nutritionist Maya Oakley, putting a whole range of supermarket sellers to the test. Scoring five out of five are Cicioni’s almond and cashew non-dairy cheese (simple ingredient list and decent protein), and Summer Pride’s jackfruit in water (fat-free, low in sugar, protein rich, anti-inflammatory), while wallowing at the bottom of the list are Linda McCartney’s vegetarian beef roast (too much nutrition-less textured soya) and Emily’s Veg Crisps (too much oil and salt with little actual veg).


Food reviews

Röski, Liverpool L1 2TE

While foodie fashion is in favour of simplicity and offering up ingredients that haven’t been unduly meddled with, there is a place for the complex – and that place is Röski, according to Jay Rayner. Raw cod marinated in green tea and ponzu and dotted with wasabi mayo and fennel jam is “fresh and bright with a measured acidity, with the light waft of aniseed across the subtle fishiness of the best sashimi,” while another starter of meatless red cabbage ‘bolognese’ contains “all the flavours of your classic spag bol.” Langoustines make a repeat showing, first sauteed as a starter and topped with bread crumbs fried in wagyu beef fat; then alongside the aged sirloin with seared leeks, garlic jus and smoked mash.

Restaurant Hé, London WC1R 4PS;

Marina O’Loughlin may not really understand what she’s eating, but she definitely likes the food at this Chinese restaurant, which specialises in Jiangnan food. Included among the novel dishes are Jiangnan crispy rice cake (“a big fried dome of rice topped with a kind of Chinese ragu — spiced minced pork, sweet onion and carrot”), honey tea pork (“cubes of chewy, rich belly, sweetened and reddened, rustling in a nest of fried fresh tea leaves”) and lion’s head meatballs (“braised pork balls in brown sauce… the roughly chopped meat floating in a soy-rich sauce, green leaves forming their ‘mane’”).

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