Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: cause of Ocado blaze revealed and Just Eat’s UK growth slows

The news, reviews and trends from April 27-28, including Chicago Rib Shack’s intent to appoint administrators and Beyond Meat's IPO.

28 April 2019
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Food news

Ocado blaze caused by electrical malfunction

The fire that ravaged Ocado’s Andover depot in February was caused by an electrical fault that set the plastic lid of a robot alight, reports The Times. The online grocer, which revealed the cause of the blaze as part of a document issued to shareholders, said it had taken measures to prevent any recurrence, including introducing additional smoke detectors and removing the plastic lids from its bots.

 

Beyond Meat prepares for IPO

The Guardian looks at the significance of the IPO of Beyond Meat, the meat alternative company that is expected to take Wall Street by storm in the next four weeks with a valuation of about $1.2bn.

Analysts predict the future of Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s will reveal its full-year results for 2018 on Wednesday, with analysts expecting a drop in like-for-like sales of around 0.3%. Struggling food sales are thought to be a significant contributor to the slump, which will be somewhat mitigated by pre-tax profit growth of 6% to £626m. The Times is predicating Sainsbury’s to announce a back-to-basics campaign that focuses on quality and convenience in the wake of the failed bid to merge with Asda, as well as a continuing drive to improve its digital shopping.

 

Just Eat’s UK growth slows

Unseasonably warm weather and the timing of Easter are among the principal factors behind the lowest rate of growth Just Eat has reported in Britain for five years, writes The Times. The sluggish first quarter of 2019 saw orders in the UK rise 7.4% to 31.9m, compared to a 21% rise worldwide (Canada and Brazil were notably strong markets).

 

Chicago Rib Shack on brink of administration

The company behind the Chicago Rib Shack restaurant has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators for the second time, having previously done so in 2017. Rib Shack Holdings, which runs five sites in London and Leeds, is hoping to negotiate with landlords to avoid collapse, according to The Times.

French farmers seek cattle compensation

Cattle farmers in France are suing the state over the unexplained deaths of hundreds of cows that they believe have been caused by “harmful electromagnetic fields,” reports The Telegraph.

 

Food trends

The bottled water conundrum

Despite rising consumer concern surrounding plastic pollution, sales of bottled water rose 7% in the year to November 2018, according to figures from Kantar, while Nielsen estimates that 2.2bn litres of bottled water were consumed last year. “The introduction of the ‘sugar tax’ on juices and fizzy drinks has pushed more people to bottled water, while health awareness has boosted its desirability,” writes The Guardian, noting that though the bottles are recyclable, only around 56% are collected.

 

Food reviews

Mortimer House Kitchen, London W1T 3JH

Herb tortelli enclosing smoked burrata, pistachio and balsamico (“complementary flavours, pleasingly hand-knitted pasta”) and grilled veal with Sicilian caponata (“less like the island’s slow-cooked, tangy vegetable stew and more a deconstructed version”) catch the eye of Marina O’Loughlin, who enjoys the Mediterranean flavours and elegantly composed dishes at this fusion-y eatery. Other dishes include soft-shell crab fritti with yuzu, coriander and chilli, and grilled lamb meatballs with tahini and pickled mushrooms.

Pasta Ripiena, Bristol BS1 1JX

Some restaurants become overly focused on presentation over taste. Not Pasta Ripiena, whose folded pasta dishes are “all hilariously messy – and brilliantly done,” according to Jay Rayner. The critic tucks into mezzaluna with ricotta and black truffle in a sauce of truffle, mushroom, roasted tomatoes and sage butter, as well as ravioli “filled with sultry brown crab meat” and “lightened with mascarpone and chilli, and then buried under a cascade of crisped breadcrumbs, and the sweetest of mussels from Fowey.”

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