Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Just Eat's merger and the decline in vegan restaurants

The news, reviews and trends from July 27-28, including the campaign against open supermarket fridges and the ice cream ‘goldmine.’

29 July 2019
deliveryice creamrestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarketssustainability

Food news

Just Eat acquisition to create £9bn business

Just Eat is close to a merger agreement with a Dutch rival called Takeway.com. The proposed deal would create a £9bn delivery business, reports The Sunday Times.

 

Fridges cause environmentalists to lose their cool

“Almost 25,000 people have signed a Parliament petition urging MPs to force supermarkets to use fridge doors,” writes The Telegraph. Campaigners claim that if grocers enclosed refrigeration units, they could cut energy usage by a quarter. DEFRA estimates that retailers consume 3% of all electricity in the UK.

 

Is the rise of veganism killing vegan-only restaurants?

A number of vegan restaurants have closed around the UK, leading some to question whether vegan-only establishments can survive in today’s eating-out market, according to The Telegraph. "By offering exclusively vegan food, some venues may have made it more difficult for themselves to reach the majority of customers," said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality. A spokesman for The Vegan Society noted that part of the issue may be how mainstream veganism has become: "Once if vegans wanted a choice of interesting dishes, they and their non-vegan dining companions would have had to go to a vegan restaurant. But now they can all eat out at Wagamama or a pizza chain or an independent pub or restaurant that realises that it makes sense to cater well for vegans."

Wagamama's vegan breakfast

Get the scoop: ice cream a ‘goldmine’

Following the heatwave last week, it’s hardly surprising that ice cream was in the news over the weekend. According to Kantar data, the ice cream market is worth £1.1bn a year, with Magnum the overwhelming favourite, totting up £192m in sales in the year to January 26. While the majority of the top 10 brands by sales are old favourites, Kantar analyst Isabel Bourke told The Guardian that the success of newcomers like Halo Top shows that there’s money to be made in ice cream: “Shoppers are really open to trying new things, and that makes it a goldmine for manufacturers who can have more confidence in bringing out new products.”

 

NHS supplier says it may run short of hot food

Apetito, which supplies approximately a fifth of all hot meals at NHS hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales, is stockpiling 2m meals in advance of the October 31 Brexit deadline, according to The Times. However, due to the proximity to Christmas, the company says it may not be able to store as much stock as it needs to avoid shortages.

 

Greater financial security may impact online shopping

Online payment is to be more stringently regulated from September 14, impacting the ability of some consumers to buy goods over the value of £30. Those who do not have phone reception in their homes – an estimated 3%, according to Ofcom – or who do not possess a mobile will be unable to access one of the key methods of authentication that banks will require under the new rules, according to The Guardian.

 

Storm in a teacup

M&S has stopped automatically handing out free mini oat biscuits with cups of tea or coffee, in an attempt to reduce food waste, but some customers have complained about alleged ‘stinginess.’ The supermarket has said the complimentary biscuits are still available on request. “M&S is caught between a rock and a hard place on this one,” consumer expert Sue Hayward told the Mail on Sunday. “It’s saving waste by stopping automatically dishing out free biscuits, but facing complaints from customers who are moaning that they can’t get a free biscuit.’

 

Save the spud

Bord Bia is hoping to land funding from the EU to promote potatoes to millennials and generation Z, writes The Sunday Times. The Irish food promoter has uncovered diminishing interest in the humble spud among younger generations compared to their elders and wants to reverse the food staple's unfashionable image.

image credit: YelenaYemchuk/Getty Images

Great Taste Awards preview

The Telegraph highlights five products that have won three Great Taste stars this year. The full announcement is due this Thursday, August 1, but ahead of that, the paper’s Xanthe Clay (who was on the judging panel) reveals that St. Andrew’s Cheddar, Lemon Curd Orkney Ice Cream, Irish Black Butter, Packington Free Range’s whole pork shoulder and Old Tom Beer are among those receiving top marks.

 

Food interview

Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and restaurateur

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Jamie Oliver speaks bluntly about what led to his restaurant group falling into administration and his inability to save it: “I have to take full responsibility,” he told the paper. “I did believe I could turn it round. I put in £3 million, another £3 million, then another £3 million, however the numbers went. But there was no good news.”

 

Food reviews

Heritage, London W1D 6DF

The signature dishes at this restaurant fail to impress Jay Rayner, who describes the fondue of gruyere and raclette cheese as “one of the most irritating fondues I have ever attempted to eat,” while noting philosophically of the charbonnade: “If you like the meditative business of grilling pieces of prime animal for yourself, and can blank out the stupid cost, it’s not a bad way to pass the time.”

Circolo Popolare, London W1T 1HX

“Could this be the first upscale restaurant where the food is irrelevant?” ponders Marina O’Loughlin, as she enters this circus of a restaurant, filled with eye-catching interior design and dishes that are flamboyantly presented – even if the food is, to quote the critic, “crap.” But you don’t go for the eats, you go for the experience, notes O’Loughlin, adding that in a London food scene that tends towards “beardy boys perving over produce in austere little restaurants with all the brio of operating theatres, this feels deliciously transgressive.”

 

Maremma, London SW2 1PE

“Simple and produce-led,” Keith Miller strews compliments left, right and centre at this Tuscan joint, enjoying cold roast tomato soup (“a rhapsody on the theme of its lead ingredient, earthy and sweet, with a comma of lemon ricotta and an intense bloblet of whizzed-up herbage”) as well as a pasta dish of wild boar belly/chop, cooked with sticky figs and a sweet balsamic reduction.

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