Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Godiva and Uber get in on the coffee game while companies prepare for junk food ad ban

The news, reviews and trends from December 15-16, including the alleged Asda-Sainsbury's assault on suppliers and the spread of norovirus.

17 December 2018
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Food news

From bean to (office) table

To counter investor fears over the slowing growth rate in its domestic market, Starbucks is pushing coffee delivery as a new source of revenue, reports the Financial Times. The multinational chain plans to team up with Uber to give 2,000 outlets delivery capabilities, building on the success of the concept in China, where 30 cities began sending Starbucks straight to customers’ doors three months ago.

 

Storm dampens retailers’ Christmas hopes

High-street retailers took another drenching over the weekend, after Storm Deirdre kept Christmas shoppers in some parts of the UK away from stores, according to the Guardian. Unsurprisingly, bad weather boosts online shopping.

 

Godiva’s gamble on coffee and chocolate

Chocolate brand Godiva plans to expand its cafes from 40 to 2,000 sites over the next six years, writes the Financial Times. Seeking to capitalise on the unstoppable global coffee craze, the company have been exploring potential deals to sell its business in Japan to fund the growth.

 

Cheesed off

Around 2.2m kilograms of cheese will be thrown in UK bins this Christmas, according to a survey conducted by Borough Market. Six in 10 consumers said they would probably throw away some of the cheese purchased for festive meals, notes the Guardian, largely because they were either too full by the time they got to the cheese course or they had purchased an experimental selection with some cheeses that nobody liked. Overall, dairy producer Arla has predicted Brits will fork out £2bn on cheese this Christmas, with familiar favourite cheddar the most purchased variety.

image credit: Getty Images

Court rules against Competition and Markets Authority

Following news that the Competition and Markets Authority would be unable to release its preliminary assessment of the Asda-Sainsbury’s merger by January, the retailers won a judicial decision to give them more time to submit documentation to support their proposed merger and prepare for a main party hearing, reports the Financial Times.

 

Asda-Sainsbury’s prepare for ‘joint assault’ on suppliers

In related news, Asda and Sainsbury’s are allegedly gearing up for a “joint assault” on suppliers, providing the merger is approved: “Senior sources at the company told the Sunday Telegraph they plan to use their bigger purchasing power to squeeze the large multinational suppliers, such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle, into agreeing better terms.”

 

Junk food ad ban looms

McDonald’s, Just Eat and Deliveroo are among the companies in discussions with Transport for London over its impending ban on junk food advertising. The Sunday Times alleges a number of businesses are mulling legal challenges to the move, which aims to halt the appalling growth in childhood obesity.

 

FSA investigates vomiting bug

Over in the US, an outbreak of E.coli bacteria in romaine (and now cauliflower and red leaf lettuce) has rocked the food industry, but here in the UK, we should be more concerned about the norovirus, aka the 'vomiting bug.' The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found that one in 20 lettuces in the UK harbour the virus, reports the Sunday Times, while almost 4% of frozen raspberries were also affected. “One should not expect to find a norovirus in one’s lettuce or raspberry,” said the FSA. “When the virus is detected it is clear that guidance [on food hygiene] is not being adhered to and that in consequence the pathogen is entering the food supply chain.”

 

Food trends

Best dishes of the year

The end of the year always sees a flurry of predictions and reflections in the media. At the Observer, these include not just a round-up of the year’s best cookbooks (no surprise to see Simple by Ottolenghi there, amidst entries from the chefs behind Honey & Co. and River Café), but also a list of best things critics and chefs ate this year. For Andrew Wong, it was semi-germinated coconut in the Seychelles; for Clare Smyth, it was aged rare-breed pork; and for Chantelle Nicholson, it was a monkfish with lemon juice, salt, cep powder and a cep and bergamot sauce, cooked by the Sportsman’s Stephen Harris.

Food interviews

David Page, Chairman of Fulham Shore

The Sunday Times digs into the life and times of David Page, from making his name at Pizza Express to his current focus on growing young upstart Franco Manca.

 

Food reviews

Restaurant 92, Harrogate HG1 1HQ

In a mixed review, Jay Rayner finds things to love in the truffled arancini (“delightful, comforting spheres of waft and soothe and loveliness”) and the roasted guinea fowl (served “with fronds of roasted mushroom, a paunchy truffled potato terrine and pieces of charred sweetcorn”), but is less enthused by a dessert of Jerusalem artichoke sponge and a starter of crispy, salt and vinegar lamb skin. And don’t get him started on the slow arrival of the food and the chilly temperature of the restaurant…

Camillo Benso, London W1S 1LQ

“The only things that are flirting with the kind of quality you’d expect from this kind of attitude are some excellent carta di musica bread and fried matchsticks of zucchini,” writes Marina O’Loughlin, in a damning review that criticises the mediocre food and lacklustre service at this Mayfair newcomer.

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