Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Tesco makes higher-welfare chicken pledge and Pizza Hut cuts losses

The news, reviews and trends from August 31-September 1, including the latest research to go nuts over and the food industry’s Brexit fears.

2 September 2019
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Food news

Tesco crows about its higher-welfare chicken

Tesco has pledged to begin selling higher-welfare chicken at an affordable price from early next year. These birds will be raised in line with the Better Chicken Commitment, which means they will be slower-growing breeds that do not suffer the same intensive farming as many other fowl destined for supermarkets. However, Tesco stopped short of agreeing to ensure all its products met the Better Chicken Commitment standards, a decision criticised by the RSPCA.


Pizza Hut aims for bigger slice of the market

Pizza Hut’s pre-tax losses have decreased from £7.5m to £6.2m in the year to December 2018, though overall sales also fell from £225m to £214m. The chain has put in place a five-year growth plan that includes increasing the prevalence of its fast-casual concept (diners order and pay before the meal) as well as pizza delivery and extending its unlimited lunchtime buffets to weekends.


Going nuts is good for your health

Eating a handful of nuts at least twice a week could reduce the chance of heart-disease-related death by a fifth, according to new research. "Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fat and contain little saturated fat,” said study author Dr Noushin Mohammadifard. “They also have protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre, phytosterols, and polyphenols which benefit heart health.” In May, another study found that mothers who eat nuts are more likely to have intelligent children.

image credit: Getty Images

Fresh food shortages and regulatory hurdles

Michael Gove has been criticised for claiming that there will be no fresh food shortages in the case of a no-deal Brexit – a claim the British Retail Consortium has refuted, saying: “It is categorically untrue that the supply of fresh food will be unaffected under a no-deal Brexit. The retail industry has been crystal clear in its communications with government over the past 36 months that the availability of fresh foods will be hit as a result of checks and delays at the border.” Meanwhile, the food industry as a whole has raised concerns over the government’s failure to apply for ‘listed status’ with the European Union – countries that do not have this regulatory approval are unable to export animal products to EU countries.


Free the fish

“Only about 1% of rivers in the UK are free-flowing. The rest have all sorts of manmade barriers in them, and these limit the movement of wildlife and nutrients. It is becoming a worrying issue,” said Peter Jones, a postdoctoral researcher at Swansea University, who is advocating for smaller weirs and dams to be dismantled to grow fish populations, including salmon and trout. Jones is a member of AMBER (Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers), a project that aims to improve the flow of water around Europe and thereby promote larger fish stocks.

image credit: Getty Images

Greene King criticised over payout to former CEO

Shareholder advisory service ISS has recommended investors vote against Greene King’s remuneration report on Friday, claiming that the £850,000 payoff to Rooney Anand, the former CEO who left in May, is excessive.


Oxfam superstore cooks up world foods

Oxfam has unveiled its first on-site cafe as part of the charity’s inaugural ‘superstore,’ which aims to make charitable shopping feel more fashionable. The menu will feature an evolving menu of world foods alongside more classic cafe fare.


Food trends

Chocolate to cheer you up

The Sunday Times looks at some of the chocolate trends influencing the market, including the bean-to-bar movement and health-conscious options.


The mental health benefits of foraging

Scotland’s first Wild Food Festival is underway and will run for two weeks, promoting foraging as a way to improve mental health and combat loneliness. Some campaigners want foraging prescribed on the NHS.


Food interviews

Jason Atherton, Michelin-starred chef

Cardoons are an underrated species of artichoke that more chefs should use, Jason Atherton tells The Sunday Times. The man behind Pollen Street Social and Social Eating House also rips into the trend for katsu sandos, but praises Waitrose’s 75p pork rib shavings, which he tosses in flour, fries and marinates in adobado (a Mexican sauce), before serving with rice.

image credit: Getty Images

Food reviews

Kala, Manchester M2 4LQ

“There really is nothing extraordinary about any of these dishes,” writes Jay Rayner of the menu at Gary Usher’s latest bistro, before adding that restaurant culture is defined by places like Kala, which focus on feeding people well rather than the razzle dazzle. While chicken liver parfait, burrata dusted with walnuts and chilli, and duck confit with sweet potato puree may not sound ground breaking, Kala provides the “kind of classy, appealing food you’d like to eat repeatedly, and at a reasonable price.”


Kāwi, New York

Marina O’Loughlin describes oh-so-trendy American restauranteur David Chang’s latest effort as “more hardcore Korean than his other outposts,” serving up hwe (read: raw) clams with the “weeniest mirepoix of sofrito vegetables — so weeny it could have been made by the internet sensation Tiny Kitchen — and sweetish chilli.” This sits along other “fusiony” dishes, including a version of tteok-bokki: “chewy, gnocchi-like tubes made in-house and spiralled like Cumberland sausages, topped with a fruity, fermented-tasting sauce, crisp and smoky ‘country ham’ and what looks like popped amaranth for crunch."

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