Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Dimbleby dismisses veganism and ice cream sales melt

All the news, reviews and trends from June 29-30, from the appetite for tinned food to the need for more fish suppers.

1 July 2019
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Food news

Can science save the British food industry?

In his first interview since his appointment to lead a review of the British food system, Henry Dimbleby has advocated for genetically edited produce and lab-grown meat, reports The Sunday Times, while dismissing calls for increased veganism as “nanny-state-ish” and difficult to implement, especially for children. “We need to have a fourth agricultural revolution to feed the planet. This will mean knitting together traditional techniques with the best that science has to offer so we can grow food in a world hit by climate change that feeds us, does not make us ill, protects the environment and releases fewer greenhouse gases. This is a huge task and will involve a transformation of the food system,” he said.

 

Ice cream, beer and burger sales slump

Retail sales volumes have declined at the most rapid rate in 10 years in the 12 months to June, according to figures from lobby group Confederation of British Industry – and grocers fared particularly poorly. Data from Kantar shows that compared to the year before, ice cream sales were down £15m, beer £17m and burgers £6m, reports The Times.

image credit: Getty Images

What’s behind falling profit at Starbucks?

In the wake of the announcement that Starbucks suffered a £17.2m pre-tax loss in the UK last year, The Telegraph analyses what went wrong with the coffee chain, deciding that a mixture of poor food offering, overpricing and indifferent coffee quality has shown the store unable to keep up with Britons’ new standards for coffee shop culture.

 

Carluccio’s sales continue to slide

Carluccio’s sales fell by 4.3% to £137.1m last year, constituting a pre-tax loss of £23.7m, writes The Times. Around £20m of that loss was related to the closure of 29 restaurants as part of a CVA to combat rising costs and over-expansion.

 

Brain-supporting supplements are ‘waste of money’

Older consumers should abandon nutritional supplements in favour of fish suppers and regular walks if they want to preserve their mental faculties, according to the Global Council on Brain Health, which found that “nutritional products which claim to help memory, thinking skills or reduce symptoms of dementia are a waste of money,” according to The Telegraph. The organisation recommended people focus instead on food and a healthy diet to improve brain function, while being careful to stress that its research looked specifically at effects on the mind, noting that those with specific vitamin deficiencies or taking supplements for physical reasons may still find them useful.

image credit: Getty Images

Former Tesco chairman lays into former Tesco CEO

In a slightly perplexing public spat, former Tesco chairman Lord MacLaurin has slammed the man he appointed as chief executive in 1997, Terry Leahy. Speaking to The Sunday Times, Lord MacLaurin criticised Leahy for “arrogant” and “extravagant” behaviour, as well as his decision to funnel money into American business interests that failed. The critiques have been questioned by others, however, who point out that Leahy is sometimes regarded as Tesco’s most successful CEO; under his tenure, sales and profits at Tesco soared, while the number of stores shot up to 2,500.

 

Food trends

Can you believe it?

Tinned food is back in style, with sales going up £2.3m last year – the first rise in half a decade. To celebrate, The Times has rounded up the crème de la crème of canned comestibles, including Ortiz anchovies, Epicure organic black beans and Jeeva coconut cream.

 

Food interviews

Merlin Laron-Johnson, chef and forager

Elderflowers, sheep sorrel, Jack-by-the-hedge, wild strawberries and purslane are among the ingredients highlighted by Merlin Labron-Johnson in an interview with The Telegraph, the former Michelin-starred chef describes how he is bringing the art of foraging to this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

image credit: Getty Images

Food reviews

Emilia, Bonhams, London W1K 5ES

From the people behind Portland and Clipstone comes Emilia, a restaurant situated inside auction house Bonhams and dedicated to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Though bristling at the prices, Jay Rayner praises the menu, from “diamonds of mackerel, cured to a salty-sour tension, and dressed with glugs of grassy olive oil and a single disc of red chilli each,” to the saltimbocca made with Middle White pork lined with prosciutto and accompanied by “sage leaves fried to a crisp, and a silky carrot purée that is so soft and velvety it could be flogged by Olay as a new skincare product.”

 

Siren, The Goring, London SW1W 0JW

“Superb homemade bread — even the gluten-free is excellent — with whipped cod’s roe and seaweed butter; crab risotto: perfectly all’onda but with bite, scented with tarragon, spring onion and brunoise tomato, the whole small portion almost overloaded with sweet white Cornish crabmeat” – such are the delights that greet Marina O’Loughlin at this Goring spot now under the purview of chef Nathan Outlaw. Arguably the most thrilling dish, however, is the cuttlefish black pudding, described as “rich and crumbly,” studded with “chewy little chunks of cuttlefish” and served with “a dome of burnt apple sauce and remoulade of kohlrabi.”

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