Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: demand for poultry soars and Ocado buys 100,000 COVID-19 test kits

All the news, reviews and trends from 28-29 March, including landlords taking legal action against restaurants withholding rent payments and Tesco putting a one-item limit on essentials

30 March 2020
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image credit: Getty Images/Pixabay

Food news

Demand for chicken soars

Chicken purchasing increased by more than a fifth year-on-year by both volume and value in the week to 14 March, according data firm Nielsen, as housebound consumers seek cheaper food. The British poultry industry said it was struggling to keep up with demand, egg purchasing also rose by a similar amount to £15.2m. 

 

Ocado buys 100,000 COVID-19 test kits

Ocado has bought 100,000 COVID-19 testing kits for staff which the food delivery company said would help keep grocery supplies flowing and protect both staff and the public. It has paid £1.5m for the testing kits, with 40,000 already delivered and a further 60,000 to come, but has promised to hand them over to the NHS if required.

 

Carluccio’s faces insolvency

Carluccio’s is expected to call in administrators this week as the company feels the pain of being forced to close its restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Italian-themed restaurant chain is believed to be trying to ensure that its 2,000 employees can be put on leave and paid 80% of their wages under the government’s job retention scheme.

 

Restaurant Group also fights for survival

The Restaurant Group has shelved a £500m debt restructuring as credit markets dry up, with the FTSE 250 company now exploring options to raise money including an emergency rights issue. The news comes after the firm recently brought in accountancy firm RSM as administrators to pub business Food & Fuel, and Mexican chain Chiquito filed legal documents in advance of bankruptcy.

 

Landlords mull legal action over non-payment of rent

According to the Financial Times, landlords are threatening legal action against retailers and hospitality businesses after many withheld rent payments to save cash during the lockdown. The Vietnamese noodle chain Pho, Escape Hunt and Caffe Concerto are among those that have been threatened with action.

 

Aldi introduces all-day priority shopping for emergency workers

Aldi will now let workers for the NHS, police, or fire service have priority in all their stores no matter what time of day they shop. All NHS, police, and fire service staff need to do is show their ID at the door, and they’ll be allowed to the front of the queue and to enter the store as soon as social distancing guidelines permit.

image credit: Pixabay

Asparagus season faces cancellation

The asparagus season may have to be cancelled this year as travel restrictions caused by coronavirus mean most of the pickers, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, cannot reach the UK. Asparagus is harvested from April to June, while strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are all harvested from May.

 

Tesco puts one-item limit on essentials

Tesco is limiting customers to just one item each of essential products such as milk, bread and eggs in some of its Express stores. At one branch, signs on shelves read: “To help give everyone access to essential items this product is limited to only 1 per customer.” Tesco said this had been implementing on a discretionary basis to cope with local demand and were not company-wide.

image credit: Pixabay

Black market venison on the rise

The closure of food vendors amid the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in “black market” venison steaks being sold door to door by hunters. The Scottish Venison Association has warned that the trade is illegal and is urging people not to buy illicitly sourced game.

 

Food trends

Shortcomings of online food delivery in the spotlight

The disruption and unprecedented demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic has “laid bare the limitations of online grocery delivery”, according to the Financial Times. Ocado was particularly put under the microscope, with the company having three centres in the UK, only one of which has yet to reach its full capacity.

 

Eating in is the new eating out

In the Independent this weekend, Clare Finney looks at how restaurants are adapting to survive in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic through its restaurant-style takeaways. She found that many restaurants are not only seeking to produce high-quality meals for customers but are also seeking to replicate the experience of eating out as much as possible. The London Restaurant Resistance, a database of all independent restaurants in the capital city offering deliveries, reveals one restaurant is offering its napkins and glasses, while others are providing curated playlists.

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