Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: leaked food reports and face recognition in retail

The news, reviews and trends from August 3-4, including the complete closure of Spudulike and Marks & Spencer’s growth plan.

4 August 2019
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Food news

School food shortages

Fresh food in schools could run out due to no-deal Brexit panic buying, according to a report leaked to The Observer. The Department for Education document notes: “Warehousing and stockpiling capacity will be more limited in the pre-Xmas period. The department has limited levers to address these risks. We are heavily dependent on the actions of major suppliers and other government departments to ensure continued provision.” According to the DfE, the worst-case scenario could see costs rise from £40 to £85m a year for schools.


Alterations to agriculture essential to fight climate change

A draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (also leaked to The Observer) claims that society must change the way it produces food and manages land in order to combat greenhouse gases and global warming – cutting carbon emissions from factories, cars and power plants will not be sufficient.


M&S reveals growth plan

Family shoppers and larger stores are part of a Marks & Spencer plan to draw in more customers, according to The Guardian. A renovated shop in Hempstead Valley, Kent, is a prototype for these changes, which the supermarket hopes will enable it to attract more customers.

Scientists explore ways to target plastic in water

Magnetic coils thinner than a hair could help break down the microplastics in water. Researchers at Adelaide and Curtin University in Australia have developed tech that could reduce the microplastic content in water by 30-50% after eight hours, reports The Telegraph.


Face off

Questions continue to be asked about whether face recognition technology is infringing on privacy, as some retailers are turning to the software to prevent shoplifting. Around £700m is lost every year due to theft, but less than 10% of shoplifting is now reported as police are increasingly unlikely to investigate the offence, according to The Observer.


Spudulike shutters

Baked potato chain Spudulike has gone out of business, after failing to secure a CVA or find a buyer.  All 37 branches were closed, resulting in nearly 300 job losses,” according to The Guardian.

image credit: Getty Images

Caffeine-fuelled beverages canned

Publicly funded leisure centres in Scotland will no longer sell energy drinks to under-16s, as part of plans to improve the health of children, reports The Sunday Times.


Starbucks milking plant-based consumers

Almost 50,000 people have signed a PETA petition asking Starbucks to offer plant-based milk at the same price as cow’s milk, according to Metro.


Food reviews

Bob’s Lobster, London SE1 3QX

“Solace in a bowl” is how Jay Rayner described the wine and cream-based chowder with mussels and chips at this fish-favouring restaurant, which started out life as a VW camper van but has since moved into a bricks-and-mortar space. Also on the menu are tuna tacos with “sashimi-grade tuna, wasabi-boosted guacamole, chipotle-flavoured cream and deep-fried wonton shells,” as well as lobster and crayfish rolls. As you may have guessed by now, there’s a distinct American bent to the offering, confirmed by dishes like the shrimp and grits: “a large portion of big, shell-on shrimps and a sticky puddle of ground cornmeal grits, shown a good time in the open kitchen.”

Little French, Bristol BS6 7QB

“The finest French food I’ve eaten in a long time,” according to Marina O’Loughlin, the menu here is (you guessed it) French, featuring duck with “tiny cubed and fried garlic and rosemary potatoes, given perfumed sweetness from the new season’s Provençal black figs,” and milk-fed lamb’s kidneys – “the cleanest kidneys I’ve ever encountered, fragranced with the woodsmoke that permeates the room, served with nothing more than a dollop of fine Dijon mustard.”

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