Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: retailers and foodservice operators respond to coronavirus crisis

All the news, reviews and trends from 14-15 March, including M&S launching its savoury Easter eggs and an organic coating that extends the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables

16 March 2020
coronavirusfast foodrestaurantssupermarketssustainabilitytechnology

Food news

Retailers warn against panic buying during coronavirus crisis

The UK’s biggest supermarkets and food retailers have called on the public to be “considerate in the way they shop” and not buy “more than is needed” during the coronavirus crisis. The plea comes after some shoppers have begun piling their trolleys with vast amounts of supplies, prompting Aldi to limit customers to four units on all products yesterday. George Eustice, the environment secretary, will meet supermarket CEOs today to discuss plans to ensure food supplies. The news comes as shoppers have also found it increasingly difficult to book delivery slots online.


Coronavirus prompts KFC to pause “finger lickin’ good” ad campaign

KFC has paused a “finger lickin’ good” advertising campaign amid increasing attention being placed on hygiene due to the spread of coronavirus. “It doesn’t feel like the right time to be airing this campaign, so we’ve decided to pause it for now – but we’re really proud of it and look forward to bringing it back at a later date,” a KFC spokesperson told The Independent.


Deliveroo launches ‘no-contact’ service

The coronavirus outbreak has also prompted Deliveroo to announce the launch of a “no-contact drop-off service”. The food delivery company’s founder Will Shu said the new option would enable customers to request the food is left on their doorstep, while Deliveroo is also providing restaurants with additional packaging and seals for orders. Meanwhile, Shu added that “riders who are diagnosed with Coronavirus and find that they are unable to work during this period are eligible for financial support”.


Carluccio’s calls for rent relief amid coronavirus slump

Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has said it is seeking three-month rent relief from landlords due to a business slump sparked by coronavirus. Speaking with the Financial Times, CEO Mark Jones said footfall in central London had fallen 40% and encouraged the sector to work together to mitigate financial stress and prevent business closures.


M&S to offer savoury Easter treats

With Easter now less than a month away, Marks & Spencer has announced it will be offering a savoury product to its range this year with the launch of its first ever cheese Easter egg. The product will be available to buy this Wednesday (18 March) at a cost of £8.50 for a box of six. It will be made from Barber’s farmhouse cheddar, with a Red Leicester ‘yolk’ middle, and hand-dipped in a duck egg blue wax ‘shell’.


Aryzta take $900m hit on bakery closures and disposals

Frozen bakery goods firm Aryzta, which owns the Cuisine de France brand in Ireland, has booked impairment charges of more than €900m due to disposals and a sharp fall in the value of its North American business. The charges include a €297m goodwill impairment relating to the sale of the bulk of its 44.5% stake in the French frozen-food retailer Picard to Zouari, a Tunisian investment company. Earnings at the group’s North American business slumped by 24% in the six months to the end of January.


Food interview

James Rogers, CEO of Apeel

Food waste is one of the biggest dilemmas facing the industry currently (10% of all greenhouse gases are linked to food waste), but US company Apeel believes it has come up with one solution to the problem. Apeel prolongs the shelf life of fruit and vegetables through a natural edible coating product that slows water loss and oxidation. “When I can go pick up local Apeel strawberries in the summer and have them last until winter in my fridge, that’s when I know we’ll have made it,” CEO James Rogers says.


Food reviews

The best places to eat in Birmingham

Award-winning chef Aktar Islam provided a rundown of his favourite Birmingham (“From Michelin-starred restaurants to exciting bars and the country’s finest street market, what’s not to love?”) food hotspots in the FT Magazine this weekend. For a Monday lunch Islam likes to visit Tiger Bites Pig (“can smash out a Taiwanese bao bun better than anyone I know”), claims Original Patty Men is the city’s best burger and that Craft Dining Rooms is an “innovative addition to the city’s dining scene.”


Bastible, 111 South Circular Road, Dublin D08 RW2K

Jay Rayner is in Ireland this time for his weekly restaurant review, with the food critic putting Dublin’s Bastible (the name of a traditional Irish cooking pot) under the spotlight. At Bastible, Rayner is greeted with a tasting menu (“the prospect of a tasting menu makes my left eye twitch, but here on a Sunday lunchtime it becomes a joyful dance”) of hard-crusted sourdough with salty butter, thinly sliced and compressed ox tongue (“it arrives pierced on the still-smoking twig on which it was grilled”) and a tartare of Dexter beef under an artichoke cream. Rayner also praises the rest of the menu: “This has been my most detailed account of the food I was served in a long while, but Bastible warrants it. Even so I know I have left out details. It’s that kind of place.”

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