Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: sugar consumption soars and raw milk rises

The news, reviews and trends from September 21-22, including Greencore's expansion plans and plant-based university catering.

23 September 2019
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Food news

Britons indulge in sugar rush

Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that the nation is consuming 2.6% more sugar than it did before 2015. There has been an overall drop of 3.9% in the amount of sugar in products, but this is well short of the voluntary 20% target PHE set food manufacturers for 2020, and in categories like chocolate and puddings the amount of sugar has risen. The figures have led to calls for a sugar tax to be introduced that is similar to the one previously levied on drinks, which saw a 28.8% reduction of sugar in beverages.


Universities encouraging plant-based lifestyles

More and more universities are going exclusively vegan or vegetarian, following in the footsteps of Cambridge, which claims it has cut its carbon emissions by 33% per kilo of food purchased by banning red meat and unsustainably sourced fish. “The majority of universities are now working towards dedicated vegetarian and vegan food outlets, and they’re all working on initiatives centred on plant-based cuisine, whether that be on hospitality menus to deliver catering or the offering to the students,” said Mike Haslin, chief executive of university catering organisation Tuco.


From sandwiches to sushi

Greencore's chief executive has said he hopes to continue acquiring companies that can help diversify the company's portfolio, as it explores options like sushi and hot meals. The UK's largest sandwich maker recently acquired Freshtime to improve its ability to deliver salads and chilled snacks.

image credit: Getty Images

Business rates and bailiffs

More than 69,000 companies were targeted by bailiffs in the year to the end of March due to an inability to pay business rates, according to property consultancy Altus. The figures are likely to inflame existing tensions over the tax – last month, retailers like Marks & Spencer, Harrods and Iceland demanded the chancellor address the issue and safeguard the future of bricks-and-mortar establishments.


Salmonella surges back to prominence

The risk of salmonella-related food poisoning is alive and well, despite the Food Standards Agency claiming that it had been all but eradicated in 2017.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism unearthed evidence of 45 poisonings this year, with 25 egg-laying flocks culled after testing positive for the bacteria.


M&S CFO resigns

Marks and Spencer’s chief financial officer, Humphrey Singer, has announced his resignation. The announcement comes just over two weeks since the company revealed its falling share price meant it would drop out of the FTSE 100 for the first time.


Tipping furore at Carluccio's 

Some front-of-house staff at Carluccio’s have claimed they are worse off by several hundred pounds a month after a change in tipping policy that sees a share of credit and debit card tips go to managers. This has led them to join union Unite to try and reverse the management decision. 

Sainsbury's to tap into loyalty card data 

This week will see Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe reveal ideas to revive the retailer’s flagging fortunes. His plans are expected to include ways to use Nectar Card data to increase sales as well as proposals to slow the losses of its banking division.


Food trends

Milking it

The milk of yesteryear is seeing a resurgence in popularity, as consumers are increasingly looking to buy organic, non-homogenised milk sold in glass bottles. In fact, the Raw Milk Producers Association has noted a 600% increase in sales of raw milk (completely unaltered milk direct from the cow’s udder) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while Waitrose has witnessed a 54% increase in searches for it this year.


image credit: pong-photo9/iStock/Thinkstock

Food reviews

Lagom, London E8 1DU

Wood-fired cooking is the order of the day at this semi-permanent pop-up inside the Hackney Church Brew Company, with Jay Rayner praising its approach to both meat and veg. “A slab of bone-in pork belly is slow-cooked then rubbed with fermented chilli and the sweet sugary hit of liquid jaggery from the kithul palm, before being allowed to wallow in the gentle heat and smoke of the grill,” he writes, before going on to claim that the non-meat dishes are even more striking, including golden beetroot, which is roasted over coals, then sliced thin and dressed with a “fine acidic emulsion punched up with molasses, along with crushed hazelnuts and torn mint leaves.”


Loyal Tavern, London SE13UW

The height of millennial foodism, according to Kathryn Flett, the grub here pays careful attention to provenance and includes a dish of charred mackerel with apple and pine nuts that is served “on a big, pink salt block, the idea being that this redeployed racehorse’s salt-lick infuses the fish the longer it sits: however, if you don’t let it sit (we didn’t) it is basically just a silly plate.” At the helm is former Duck and Waffle executive chef Tom Cenci, who also cooks up “finely spiced lamb skewers in a minty-almondy aioli” as well as a blackened cauliflower with sesame yogurt and green sauce that “punched above its weight courtesy of chilli so triggering that my taste-buds demanded a Safe Space in which to repair themselves.”

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