Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Tesco mulls 15,000 job cuts while Ocado engages in secret talks with M&S

The news, reviews and trends from January 26-27, including the coffee beans destined for space and Scotland's new foodie hub.

28 January 2019
coffeeM&Smeat alternativeocadorestaurant openingsupermarketsTesco

Food news

Secret talks between Ocado and M&S

Ocado has held secret talks with M&S, reports the Guardian, a move that could signal that it is not planning to renew its current supply deal with Waitrose when it expires in 2020. There are suggestions that M&S may buy distribution centre and delivery vans from Ocado.

 

Patisserie Valerie auditor in crosshairs

Grant Thornton is in the spotlight for its role in the demise of Patisserie Valerie. Questions have arisen as to whether the auditor examined accounting journals, which may have hinted at the alleged fraud that sent the bakery chain crashing into administration last week, reports the Sunday Times.

 

Tesco mulls 15,000 job cuts

Tesco is considering plans to shut butchers, fishmongers and cheese stands in many of its largest stores as part of cost-cutting measures. The Telegraph notes that this would make as many as 15,000 jobs redundant, trimming 3.4% of the workforce.

image credit: Getty Images

Coffee goes out of this world

Two entrepreneurs are planning to launch coffee beans into space to produce the perfect cup of joe. According to the Guardianthe Coffee Roasting Capsule will carry beans into outer space, where they will float in a pressurised tank. The key to the project, however, is the return journey: the heat of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere will roast the beans all over in an even manner, thanks to the lack of gravity – an improvement on the traditional method, say the pair behind the idea, because a traditional roaster breaks some beans and scorches others on contact.

 

Unilever scheduled to reveal full-year results

Unilever’s new chief executive, Alan Jope, is scheduled to reveal almost flat operating profits of €9bn (£7.8bn) and falling sales (dropping 4.9% to €51.1bn) on Thursday, according to estimates by analysts. The Anglo-Dutch business is “also expected to be grilled over acquisition plans,” according to the Sunday Times, which notes that 25 companies have been acquired since 2015.

 

Domino’s dispute on how to divide the pizza continues

The Sunday Times reports on the ongoing standoff between Domino’s and its major franchisees, who are demanding a larger portion of the profit (currently, the split is 55/45 in favour of franchisees). Since the paper first revealed ructions between the two sides in July, it says shares have fallen 11.7%, amid speculation that Domino’s will fail to meet its growth targets if larger franchisees refuse to open new stores.

image credit: Domino's

Food trends

Fake (meat) news

The Observer gets its gnashers into the vogue for meat alternatives, questioning whether they are healthier than the traditional thing. Several nutritionists note that highly processed vegan burgers and hot dogs are just as unhealthy as beef or pork versions, despite the fact that some consumers believe meat-free meals are automatically better for the body.

 

Is this Scotland’s new foodie hub?

Bright young things (and concepts) are moving out of overpriced Edinburgh in search of greener pastures, according to the Observer. In particular, North Berwick and its surroundings have become a centre for cool coffee joints, bakeries and even a pub from Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, catering to the influx of millennials and young families.

image credit: The Bonnie Badger

Food reviews

Olle, London W1D 6NG

Diners are the window dressing at this Shaftesbury Avenue spot, writes Jay Rayner, who finds himself in a brightly lit, glass-fronted restaurant chowing down on classic, well-executed Korean BBQ. Alongside the main, meaty offering are other familiar Korean favourites such as seafood pajeon, “a cross between a pancake and an omelette” that is “full of the crunch of still pert spring onions, the softness of mollusc and crustacean, and lots of crispy frilly bits.”

 

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, 50122 Florence, Italy

Marina O’Loughlin goes on a jolly to Florence for acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura’s latest venture: an osteria inside a Gucci store. Here, she dines on reinvented versions of familiar foods, including the Emilia burger (“fatty, luscious cotechino of pork leg and beef in a brioche bun slick with parsley and anchovy salsa verde, humming with Parmesan and balsamic mayonnaise”) and a pasta dish of “creamy little beans, seafood and dusting of bottarga.”

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