Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Deliveroo rides new investment and fruit juice gets fresh health warning

The news, reviews and trends from May 18-19, including record Leon sales and breakfasts from around the world.

19 May 2019
breakfastdeliverydrinkplant-basedrestaurantsrestaurant openingsupermarkets

Food news

Deliveroo takes it away

It was a busy weekend for food delivery news, driven by the announcement last week that Amazon had invested significant money in Deliveroo. Just Eat’s position in the FTSE 100 is thought to be under threat, according to The Times, after its share price was undermined by the news of the funding. Meanwhile, Deliveroo lauded its success over Uber Eats, claiming it had lured away more than 70 restaurant partners while losing “just a handful” to its rival, according to The Telegraph, which also suggested that the future of delivery would centre on surge pricing, loyalty programmes and drones.


Fruit juice worse than fizzy drinks?

The fructose content of fruit juice could lead to a higher risk of health issues than cola or lemonade, reports The Telegraph. A US study of 13,000 adults found that a 340ml glass of juice a day could increase the risk of early death by almost a quarter, while the same volume of a sugar-sweetened drink such as cola was linked to a 6% increased risk.


Leon funnels record sales into new restaurants

Leon has posted record sales of £65.2m for 2018, up 15% on 2017, writes The Sunday Times. However, it also hit a third consecutive year of annual loss due to the cost of opening new restaurants, in addition to industry-wide issues related to higher wages and business rates.

image credit: Leon

Richard Caring in talks to sell stake in Annabel’s to Qataris

Qatari investors are mulling a 25% stake in Mark Birley Holdings, which owns Annabel’s, George, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club. According to The Sunday Times, Richard Caring is leading the talks, in hopes of reducing the company’s debt.


Food trends

Big Food invests in plant-based

“Plant-based is not a threat,” Wayne England, who leads Nestlé’s food strategy, tells The Financial Times. “On the contrary, it’s a great opportunity for us. Many of our existing brands can play much more in this space than they do today, so we’re accelerating that shift, and there is also space for new brands.” Nestlé is just one of the Big Food companies who have invested in meat-free lines, alongside Danone, Unilever and US meat producer Tyson Foods.


Breakfast smorgasbord

The most important meal of the day is getting an international injection thanks to Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily Elyse Miller, who is digging into global brekkie recipes, reports The Sunday Times. Divided into categories such as eggs, yoghurts, cereals, pancakes, toasts, sandwiches, breads, pies, pastries and cakes, dishes selected by the author and trend forecaster include Singaporean soup bak kut teh, Malaysian roti prata (flatbread with curry sauce), Icelandic skyr, Bolivian empanadas and South Indian dosa.

image credit: Getty Images

The secret behind the Greggs’ vegan sausage roll

The Guardian looks into the Quorn product that goes into a Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, from “a dried seed culture derived from a fungus found in soil,” through fermentation and onto raw white paste that is then transported to factories for seasoning and shaping into a diverse range of products.


Food interviews

Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks & Spencer

As Marks & Spencer announces that it is on course to shut 100 outlets by the end of 2020, The Telegraph speaks to the retailer’s CEO about what changes he’s making to try and turn the business around. According to Rowe, IT tech has been updated to make web pages load faster while warehouses have been shut down. “However, the biggest challenge will be dragging its dated stores into the modern age,” writes The Telegraph.


Food reviews

The Coconut Tree, Cheltenham GL50 4JA

This burgeoning Sri Lankan street food chain brings a “raucous, rough-edged enthusiasm to the food,” according to Jay Rayner, who tucks into such specialities as the hot battered spicy cuttlefish (“deep-fried crunchy strands of cephalopod, the colour of a sunset, are made to sing by the sugary tangles of heavily caramelised onion and spices which shatter under the teeth like butterscotch”) and clay-pot fish (“the stew bobs with slabs of tuna which have not yet disintegrated in a thick, hot and sour liquor with an unashamedly peppery kick”).

Gloria, London EC2A 3QR

“I’m ashamed to admit I order the YouPorn pizza,” writes Marina O’Loughlin of a tackily named take on the classic Neapolitan salsiccia e friarielli pizza, which is “so vast that I leave with most of it in a box.” The critic finds the quality of produce and the size of the portions at this London outpost of the French Big Mamma Group “genuinely surprising,” from the lasagne (“10 layers of the stuff, possibly in need of a shovel rather than a fork”) to the lemon pie (“a towering fin of chiffony Italian meringue”).

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