Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Sunday Times Rich List and Tesco slashes product ranges

The news, reviews and trends from May 11-12, including controversial octopus farms and how coffee increases life expectancy.

13 May 2019
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Food news

The nation’s richest revealed

The Sunday Times Rich List is out and there are a number of figures from the world of food and drink among the thousand-strong compilation. Highest ranked is Richard Caring, the owner of Caprice Holdings, whose £650m wealth makes him the 213th richest person in the UK.


Tesco slashes product ranges

Approximately 20% of Tesco’s 40,000 products will be removed from shelves, as the retailer attempts to stave off the growing competition from the German discounters. Household products are rumoured to be facing the deepest cuts, reports The Sunday Times.


Octopus farms dubbed unethical and dangerous

A group of researchers at New York University have denounced plans for octopus farms, which they say are “ethically inexcusable and environmentally dangerous,” according to The Observer. Around 350,000 tonnes of octopus are caught every year and served as a delicacy in Europe, the US, China and Japan, but the rising global demand has led some companies to explore how they can breed larger quantities of the marine animal.

image credit: Getty Images

The solution to recycling is a joined-up approach

As consultations on how to solve the packaging problem come to a close, The Observer talks to the Recycling Association’s new president, Craig Curtis, about why simpler packaging is easier to recycle, while highlighting some of the worst plastic offenders, including Tesco’s Ripe and Ready Conference Pairs (“three separate types of plastic, none of which can be recycled”) and Caprisun pouches (“not recyclable at all due to the different layers of plastic – the same applies to cat food and baby food pouches”). Part of the problem is the lack of a joined-up approach, according to Libby Peake, a senior policy adviser at the Green Alliance thinktank, who notes that “some [manufacturers and retailers] are switching to paper, some to biodegradable plastic – they all have merits in their own right but if they’re conflicting, the system doesn’t operate.”


Coffee increases longevity

A scientific study has found that a coffee a day keeps the doctor away, reports The Sunday Times. Writing in the European Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers found that “moderate coffee consumption (e.g. 2-4 cups a day) was associated with reduced... mortality, compared with no coffee consumption.” Which constituents of coffee are responsible for these effects, however, remains unclear.


Are delivery companies encouraging obesity?

The big delivery companies are promoting high-fat meals to areas that already suffer from high rates of obesity, according to The Sunday Times. Its analysis showed that Deliveroo recommended KFC as a top choice to people living in Doncaster (where seven in 10 are overweight or obese) and Durham (67% are overweight or obese). “The order of the suggested choices are the result of an algorithm that takes into account customer reviews, location and delivery time,” notes the paper, while adding that Just Eat has a similar problem but is working with charity Shift to try and offer more healthy options to economically deprived areas with high levels of obesity.

image credit: Getty Images

Kraft Heinz needs to jazz up its portfolio

What’s behind Kraft Heinz’s problems? According to Neil Saunders, managing director and retail analyst at GlobalData Retail, a lack of new product development. He told The Telegraph: “They focused very much on savings. While there were savings, they took their eye off the ball in terms of product innovation. It left them with a large entity with a weak customer offering. Their brands are old fashioned and have been very slow in growth. At the same time, new brands are taking up shelf space and attracting consumer interest.


The Roots of the matter

A biopic about sauce maker Levi Roots has been announced. According to The Guardian, the film will “will show Roots’ tough life, from extreme poverty to violence.”


Food reviews

Scully, London SW1Y 4AH

Jay Rayner praises the “inventive, idiosyncratic” cooking at Ramael Scully’s restaurant, which dabbles in everything from beef tendon crackers to “slow-cooked goat, marinated in a pulverised mess of chillies and served with black barley and smoked labneh.” Most impressive of all, however, are the veggie dishes, including a salad of yellow and red tomatoes with green strawberries, shaved coconut and edible flowers that is served with a jug of sweet-sour dressing.

Soutine, London NW8 7SH

Dining at this new venture from Corbin and King “was all exactly as it should be, which is to say the food satisfied perfectly,” writes Kathryn Flett, who tucks into pea and mint soup and confit de canard with braised puy lentils. “The menu is C&K at their most comforting: it may be predominantly French, but no horses were frightened – much less cooked – in the making of it.”

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