Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: honey investigation launched and Christmas puds ranked

All the news, reviews and trends from November 23-24, including predicted shortages of pork and halloumi.

25 November 2019
Christmasmeatrestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarkets

Food news

Pork prices soar

Around 40% of China’s pigs have now been wiped out by African swine fever, sending pork prices around the world rocketing up as producers seek to fill demand – Europe has seen prices rise at least 35% since the beginning of the year. “The problem is that total global pork exports in 2018 were 8m tonnes, and China is short 24m,” said international food consultancy Girafood’s Rupert Claxton. “There just isn’t enough pork in the world to fill the gap.”


Halloumi supplies may run dry

Speaking of shortages, experts are warning that demand for halloumi will soon outstrip supply. Figures from the Cyprus Trade Centre indicate that global shipments more than doubled in the years between 2013 and 2017, rising from £66.4m to £140m – and the UK is one of the largest markets, swallowing up 40%.

image credit: Getty Images

Weetabix fined for polluting waterway

A fine of £140,000 has been handed to Weetabix, after the company pleaded guilty to polluting the River Ise with thousands of litres of diesel fuel. The business has already spent around £500,000 on clean-up operations.


Honey investigation launched

The National Food Crime Unit is investigating supermarket honey, The Sunday Times understands. The news comes after tests revealed that some of Tesco’s own-brand products contained “cheap syrups made from ordinary sugar.” According to reports, the method used to detect the adulteration is known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), “which is better at distinguishing between different types of sugars and their origins.” However, both manufacturer Rowse Honey and Tesco have questioned the reliability of NMR.


Plastic bottle sales increase

Supermarkets are being urged to install water fountains after figures were released showing that the eight leading supermarkets have seen sales of plastic water bottles rise to 1.04bn. According to a survey by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency, Aldi was the worst offender, selling 477.6m bottles.


Christmas puds ranked

Aldi may have got a slap on the wrist in the sustainability stakes, but it is winning in one area: Christmas pudding. According to a blind taste test by Which?, the retailer’s Specially Selected Exquisite Vintage Pudding came ahead of Asda, M&S and Waitrose, with Lidl rounding out the top five.

image credit: Getty Images

Food trends

Turnip tops

Also known as cime di rapa, turnip tops are trending, according to The Mail on Sunday. Ocado has begun stocking the Italian favourite, selling it for £10 a kilo.


The rise and rise of food halls

As food halls open around the country, The Guardian digs into why they’re proving so popular with consumers. According to one food writer, it’s because they are “more democratic and less formal places to eat, and the food is more affordable.” Choice and family-friendly format are also cited as reason for the success, while Mark Laurie, director of the Nationwide Caterers’ Association, noted: “There are more spaces available on high streets and in town centres. People who would have invested in restaurants are now investing in market halls.”


Meals for the elderly

The Telegraph takes a look at the benefits of “texture modified foods”: meals made from real ingredients that have been blended into a smooth paste and then moulded back into food shapes. These products are designed for elderly people who may have difficulty swallowing normal food and contain the requisite nutrients for each meal.

image credit: Apetito

Food reviews

Silo, London E9 5EN

Keith Miller heads to the London iteration of Douglas McMaster’s trend-setting zero-waste restaurant, enjoying dishes like the “obscure short-rib-like cut of superannuated dairy cow, cooked unimaginably slowly then served with ‘emerald kale,’ the leaves whizzed into a sauce, the stalks sliced thin and crisped up like winter trees. The critic also praises a quince sorbet, “crowned with a puddle of fig-leaf oil the impossibly intense iridescent greeny-blue of a peacock’s tail.”


Miller & Carter, Liverpool L3 4AF

Intrigued by the impressive sales at this Mitchells & Butlers-owned steakhouse chain, Jay Rayner heads to the Albert Dock site to see what all the fuss is about. Having opted for the Butchers Block 26oz, which includes rib-eye, fillet, rump and a marrow bone stuffed with shredded brisket for £63.50, he is surprised to find that not only does the restaurant “talks a good game” – the meat is traceable, British and aged for at least 28 days – it also actually served up a good (“I would even edge towards very good”) meal, though he does bemoan the inability of staff to properly use the deep-fryer. 

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