Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: the world’s first zero-waste restaurant and Ocado tipped for growth

All the news, reviews and trends from 7-8 March, including sales of plant-based food surging and warnings that coronavirus could “decimate” the hospitality sector

9 March 2020
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Food news

Sale of Tesco’s Thai and Malaysian operations nears

The sale of Tesco’s Thai and Malaysian businesses is getting closer with the supermarket’s board expected to meet over the weekend to discuss competing bids, according to the Financial Times. The deal is set to gain approximately $10bn with three Thai conglomerates (Charoen Pokphand, Central Group and TCC Group) in the running.

 

Ocado tipped for success

In a Questor Telegraph column, online grocer Ocado is being tipped for growth as it gradually shifts its focus towards being an international technology business. In recent years the company has formed partnerships with nine major retailers in countries including the US, Japan and Australia at a time when consumer confidence in the UK has weakened. Ocado Zoom, which allows customers to receive their groceries within an hour of the goods being ordered, was also highlighted as a major differentiator for Ocado.  

 

Coronavirus could “decimate” the night time economy

Hospitality operators have warned that coronavirus could “decimate” the night time economy due to the continued loss of bookings as more people choose to stay at home. This week operators have seen a drop off of as much as 70% in bookings in some cases. “There is no doubt that this is going to decimate the night time economy,” said Jonathan Downey, co-founder of London Union. “We are not only seeing seasonal drops in numbers. It’s almost catastrophic.”

 

image credit: Getty Images

Taking back control (of the seas)

Environmental campaigners are putting pressure on the government to ban industrial supertrawler fishing boats from UK seas as part of its Brexit negotiations over fishing rights. Campaigners claim the ships, which can net and process as much as 250 tons of fish a day, are responsible for a growing number of dolphins washing up dead on British shores. John Hourston, from the Blue Planet Society, said: “It’s just been a long stream of dolphin deaths, I have never seen anything quite like it.”

 

Tuna fishing leads to plummeting dolphin population in Indian Ocean

In related news, as many as 90% of dolphins in the Indian Ocean have been wiped out since 1980 due to the widespread use of gillnets used to catch tuna. Gillnets are walls of netting that are hung in the water column and are either allowed to drift from floating buoys, or can be fixed in one place. Their use is illegal on the high seas, but the laws are often ignored.

 

Plant-based sales surge in the US

Sales of plant-based meat alternatives in the US soared 18% year-on-year to nearly $1bn, according to Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association. The rise on the previous year’s figures comes as overall plant-based food sales increased by 11% to $5bn in 2019, compared with the total US retail food market, which grew by 2%.

 

Short-sellers target embattled Glanbia

Hedge funds have increased their short positions in embattled nutrition group Glanbia, with short-sellers now controlling approximately 1% of the company’s shares. The Irish nutrition group’s share price has almost halved in the last 12 months with a near 8% decline in underlying earnings to €276.8m for last year.

  

Food interview

Doug McMaster, chef-patron at Silo

In an interview in the Financial Times, Tim Hayward spoke with Doug McMaster who is chef-patron at London-based restaurant Silo, which claims to be the world’s first zero-waste restaurant. “My vision, core to Silo, is to work with nature,” he says. “I feel like this is coming from an artistic place, actually. I don’t necessarily really think that I’m changing the world. I just think, as a direction of my life, if I’m going to create some kind of meaning, I’m going to follow this premonition about a zero-waste restaurant.”

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