Category Archives: Blog

25 
Feb

Is British Beer in Trouble?

British Beer in trouble?

The Office for National Statistics confirmed last year what British beer drinkers have been complaining about for the past decade. Over the last ten years, the price of a pint has risen by more than 30%.

In May 2009, you could buy a pint for £2.81 and as of March 2019, the price was £3.67 on average. However, this varies from city to city: a beer in London was more than double in 2019 (55%) of the price of a beer further north.

A survey by St Austell Brewery’s Proper Job IPA also revealed that the perfect pint should:

  • have a head of 9mm,
  • be served in a ‘proper’ pint glass preferably at 5.30pm on a Saturday,
  • with a partner or best mate in a beer garden accompanied by a bag of crisps and
  • a singular lack of mobile phones!

Climate Impacts

However, this may all be academic in light of various issues encircling the brewing industry. The first is climate change: over the past few months globally we have seen severe drought, rising temperatures and epic floods. All have a substantial effect on barley yields worldwide impacting the supply used to make beer. They also affect all the other key ingredients.

Don’t think you’re safe if you drink wine…combining long-term records with global data, researchers have suggested that if temperatures rise by 2°C, the regions suitable for growing wine grapes could shrink by as much as 56%. Stoke that up by a further 2°C and 85% of those regions would no longer be able to produce good wine.

Tax Impacts

In addition, there has been an ongoing constant battle with the tax burdens facing the pub industry. UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls spoke about the issue of rising prices overall across the trade. She commented “costs continue to increase for businesses. So it is no wonder that the average price of a pint continues to climb. Even with the scrapping of the beer duty escalator, many businesses have no choice but to pass costs on to customers.”

Rise of Independents Affects Style

Also affecting British beer consumption is consumers shifting from mass-produced, low flavoured lagers from well-known, well-established beer companies to quality independent beers from craft brewers. A recent report points out a considerable growth of the no- and low-abv category. This registered a massive 381% sales increase compared to its market share only two years ago.

Traditional British beer styles such as mild, bitter and golden ale are experiencing challenges with overall production dropping from 14% in 2016 to 5% in 2019 and the percentage of featured producers brewing these styles decreasing accordingly, from 44% in 2016 to 31% in 2019.

Worker Challenge

Finally, the drinks trade has warned that the UK government’s announcement this week to deny visas to low-skilled workers is set to cause a massive challenge to the UK’s pub, bar and restaurant sector.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the points-based immigration system would present significant challenges for the pub sector. She commented “many pubs rely on workers from overseas. So it is hard to see how they will cope with such fundamental changes coming into effect in just ten months. Pubs will especially struggle with the costs and complexities of becoming a sponsoring employer in order to take on staff from outside the UK.”

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Published Date: 25th February 2020
Category: Blog, Food Sourcing, News
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18 
Feb

The Source Trade Show 2020 Report

Source Trade Show Logo 2020

Billed as the biggest and best trade show in the South West for the food and drink sector; the Source Trade Show 2020 took place last week at Westpoint in Exeter.

Here visitors sampled speciality foods and quality drinks and were inspired by ideas for hospitality and corporate entertainment. More than 200 exhibitors gathered from far and wide with 45 first-time exhibitors. It’s not just local produce on offer. Exhibitors also included innovative cooking equipment, venue furniture and the latest EPoS systems as well as advanced business services.

Among the new exhibitors were BeeWraps. This is a natural way to wrap food without the fear of any toxins leaching into the food. With zero waste, and made from 100% cotton, beeswax, pine rosin and a touch of jojoba oil; the wraps are ideal where plastic is usually used, for instance, sandwiches, fruit, cheese, fresh bread. They are also reusable.

Drink and Be Merry

For those who enjoy a little tipple, British Mûre Liqueurs exhibited small batch liqueurs from the winner of the UK Masterchef, Mat Follas. Their liqueurs on offer included Just Blackberry, Blackberry Gin, Marmalade Whisky, Roast Coffee and Rum and Properly Bitter Lemon. All of the products are made with no artificial colours or preservatives with minimum sugars used.

Still with the alcohol, Deck Chair Gin was on display with its award-winning smooth, light and refreshing 3D London Dry Gin. This is created in the heart of the English Riviera. It is crafted with seven botanicals using pure Dartmoor spring water, sweet on the tongue with a refreshing zesty orange finish. The gin is created in small batches using traditional methods and modern technology.

Cocktails All Round

New for 2020, Cocktails and Charcuterie went down a storm. Obviously, a collaboration between Somerset Charcuterie and Ginjar, the feature offered innovative flavour pairings between award-winning charcuterie and refreshingly twisted gin. Participants enjoyed pairings such as air-dried duck with burnt orange gin; black pepper salami and burnt orange gin and fennel salami with rhubarb and ginger gin.

Not Just Drink

The Innovation Kitchen brought together a variety of inspiring chefs and passionate artisans. The South West Chef of the Year winners demonstrated their winning dishes amongst other features. The programme included talks on food allergies and intolerances with Richard Valder, owner of @Angela’s in Exeter. As a small restaurant it can be tricky adapting menus to suit lots of specific dietary needs. Richard shared some of his tried-and-tested methods.

There were also demonstrations from Jim Fisher, head chef and co-owner of Exeter Cookery School. He served up a range of techniques to simplify breakfast. This included tips and tricks on how to serve the perfect poached egg time after time. He also demonstrated how to plan and produce the perfect picnic.

Ash Hamilton of The Curious Kitchen explained how to handle vegans, vegetarians and allergies; and how he creates an atmosphere that welcomes all kinds of eaters. His menu includes a whole host of fantastic dishes that focus on local, high-quality ingredients first and foremost.

The Source Trade Show 2020 demonstrated the great opportunities to learn from others in the South West on how to stay abreast of current trends.

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Published Date: 18th February 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Local food, News
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11 
Feb

Pub20 Show Report

PUB20 logo

Olympia London played host last week to the only dedicated show for the pub industry, PUB20. The two days of the event brought together more than 200 innovative suppliers; 60 experts of the industry speaking across 30 talks and the latest food, drink and technology trends.

The first day of PUB20 saw a number of talks, all pertinent to the future of the pub industry. There were talks on the design of pubs, how to entice customers in and make them comfortable. This included an exclusive look at Harp Interiors’ at-show design masterpiece, the PUB Theatre, which demonstrated the top design trends to engage the next generation. The talks reflected the industry’s determination to combat the problems it faces and present positive solutions.

Social Media and Experiential Drinks

Social media was another subject covered; with a debate about the advantages of social media, asking questions such as whether Instagram or Facebook are the best platform for pubs. The session provided inspiration and a clear understanding of how to create effective content, grow brand awareness and engage customers. Similar talks included advice on photographing drinks and placing them on the right media to attract customers.

Much was made of the dichotomy between alcohol and non alcohol drinkers. Club Soda DrinkX offered solutions for appropriate products to bring people together socially, rather than separate them based on alcohol. Experiential beverages are one of the key drivers behind the growth of the low and no market. The advice here is on “immersive, multi-sensory, premium, customisable serves which bring theatre and new rituals to excite modern consumers”.

Food in Pubs

RATIONAL contributed with a talk about the right equipment and how it can play a key role in delivering delicious pub grub in a timely manner to maximise any chef’s multitasking ability. Food featured strongly at the show, with the rise of the meat-free cuisine a hot topic. In a cooking demonstration, chef Neil Rankin showed how plant-based burgers can showcase the same skill and attention to detail as those containing meat; whilst being kinder on the profit margins as well as the environment.

There was a big focus on catering in pubs for flexitarians, those who do eat meat but are looking to reduce their consumption of meat. This group now make up 68% of UK diners, leading to diners looking to try something new while eating out. 78% of consumers think food quality contributes the most to the dining experience. And expectations of food quality has again risen in 2019. The show suggested Grilling Cheese as a solution to help address the balance between profitability and quality.

Of course, no PUB20 show would be complete without the great Sausage Roll Off. Here past winners returned to compete, create, roll and bake their own take on the sausage roll. The show returns in 2021 promising to be even bigger and better.

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Published Date: 11th February 2020
Category: Blog, Events, News, Rational
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04 
Feb

Rational’s VarioCookingCenter

Rational VarioCookingCenter at a cooklive demo

As an authorised Rational Service and Spares Partner, AC Services Southern repairs and maintains the complete range of Rational units. This includes the VarioCookingCenter previously sold under the Frima brand. So this week we’re focusing on that as one of the units we service for clients across South West England and South Wales.

Rational’s VarioCookingCenter® is the ideal multi-functional appliance for any kitchen because it can do a multitude of cooking tasks at the same time. The beauty of the appliance is the value it offers – savings in time, cost, speed and ultimately, profits.

The VarioCookingCenter® is suitable for any catering requirements, from small caterers to high-end restaurants. With over 95% efficiency, it cooks up to four times faster than conventional appliances. And uses up to 40% less power consumption.

Moreover, it has cooking versatility, letting you cook several different dishes quickly at the same time. The multi-functional cooking technology lets you bake, boil, roast, toast, braise, deep fry and a host of other cooking techniques. So if you are serving a full English breakfast; you can serve up the fried bacon, boiled eggs, sautéed tomatoes and toast all at the same time.

Pressure Cooking

The appliance also offers a pressure-cooking feature, enabling the reduction of cooking times for a range of dishes. Times for soups, stews, casseroles and braised dishes can be cut by 30% without compromising taste or quality. The built-in cooking intelligence VarioCookingControl® ensures the desired cooking level is achieved precisely.

Another major benefit of the VarioCookingCenter is its space-saving value. If you are tight on space, then this system is the perfect solution. It has an integrated water outlet which allows draining without any movement to the pan. This prevents scalding and allows the appliance to be installed without a floor channel drain. Furthermore, because nothing sticks or overcooks, cleaning time is minimised.

Expert Design

The appliance has been designed by experts using intensive R&D, testing and analysis to attain the optimum cooking intelligence. As a result, the VarioCookingCenter works day and night with minimal monitoring or checking required. Because the appliance sensitively regulates the temperature at the touch of a button, you get a perfect cooking result the next morning. This is a major boost for larger cuts of meat that need overnight boiling like ham or cured pork, beef and brisket.

The VarioCookingCenter is a sustainable and holistic approach to everyday cooking designed for resource savings using the very latest technology. Contact us here at AC Services (Southern) for more details if you need it serviced or maintained on 01454 322 222.

If you’d like to buy one, contact Rational UK or attend a local cooklive demonstration to see its suitability for your business.

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Published Date: 4th February 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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28 
Jan

Regional News Meat, Climate & Opportunity

Meat and climate choices regional news

With the ongoing debates on climate change and with plant-based foods on the increase in terms of both popularity and availability; the meat industry is being vocal in explaining the “vital importance of livestock farming” to the South West region.

At a recent seminar, stakeholders heard from a panel of industry experts and farmers. They educated visitors on a sector often unfairly blamed for its contribution to global warming.

The seminar focused on long-standing reports that livestock farming involved a choice between food production and caring for the environment. This has long been a contested issue. As Jonathan Foot, head of environment at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) pointed out, producing one kilo of beef takes a fraction of the water used to produce two pairs of jeans. He also highlighted the high nutritional value of meat.

Livestock Standards

NFU president Minette Batters said: “UK farming has some of the highest standards in the world both in terms of animal welfare and the environment…we need to encourage a return to whole foods.” The seminar also advocated the benefits of livestock resources to improve the quality of soil. This is becoming degraded but good soil equates to better crops. Livestock is also a source of natural fibres which will become more important in the move away from plastics.

Farmers in Wales are also having their say. This follows a statement by the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change hinting at the need for taxes on meat and dairy products to curb consumption by a fifth. There is also the suggestion of increasing UK tree cover from 13% to at least 17% by 2050.

According to the Farmers Union of Wales; even if all UK food production ceased overnight, the carbon emissions of the country would fall by just 10%. Farmers believe that introducing such measures will simply increase Britain’s reliance on food imported from countries with greater carbon footprints. This clearly defeats the object.

FUW president Glyn Roberts commented: “as acknowledged by the Committee, switching away from UK red meat would increase the nation’s carbon footprint because we have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of meat reared anywhere in the world.” In addition, farmers in the uplands of Wales argue that on windswept thin soils; only livestock rearing is suitable as crop production is impractical.

Moreover, the union stressed that plant-based foods aren’t necessarily more environmentally friendly. All manufactured food, it argues is very dependent on agricultural systems and available natural resources; as well as transportation and how far the product has travelled.

Give Us Your Food

Meanwhile, down in Devon, ‘imaginative’ stallholders and food sellers are being sought for the 2020 festival in Exmouth in May. The four-day event is the largest free festival in the South West and now in its 24th year.

An Exmouth Festival spokesperson said: “We’re looking for imaginative and customer-focused local food sellers, offering a wide variety of tasty choices for our hungry festival-goers to cater for their different tastes and diets”. Time to get your applications in!

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Published Date: 28th January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Food Sourcing, Local food, News
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21 
Jan

We’re Going Down The Pub!

UK pub sector growth

There’s good news for a change. Reports published today show that for the first time in a decade, UK pub numbers have risen. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number rose by 0.8%. And the main reason is down to food sales.

In 2003, four in 10 employees within the UK pub industry worked behind the bar and three were employed in the kitchen; but today, the story is very different. Pubs and bars across the UK now employ 457,000 people and of this, food staff make up 43.8% of employees.

It seems that going for a pint has transfigured into going out for a meal. This is very good news for the industry. Despite the significant closures seen over the past few years, there has been an increase in jobs. With 7,000 (an increase of 16%) more jobs in the sector in 2019 compared with 2018.

Consumer Habits

There is no doubt that our consumer habits are changing with pubs having to diversify to accommodate these changes. It may come as a surprise that one of the largest chains, J D Wetherspoon, serves more coffee than any other restaurant, except for Costa.

But the chain has proved it can put its money where its mouth is. It announced last month that would inject £200m into the business over the next five years, with the creation of 10,000 new jobs and new pubs.

In the same vein, independent and smaller pubs are serving coffee, tea and breakfast to attract a different demographic such as women and families.

Food Diversity

These changing habits are further reflected in a report just out. This confirms vegan food to be on the increase, with sales of meat-free foods expected to exceed £1.1bn by 2024.

In 2019, more than one in four new food product launches were labelled vegan. Last year, a smorgasbord of meals and snacks aimed at vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians went on the market. The uncontested leader of the pack being the outrageously popular Gregg’s vegan sausage roll.

14% of Britons consider themselves flexitarian, meaning they consume meat occasionally but their diet is mainly plant-based. This is twice as many as vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians combined. And those cutting down on meat soared from 28% in 2017 to 39% in 2019. Sales of meat-free foods rose to an estimated £816m in 2019, up 40% from £582 million in 2014.

Still Pressure for Smaller Pubs

It was also reported that the number of micropubs, small pubs and bars in the UK saw a rise in 2019 by 0.4%, the first time in over 15 years that the net figure has increased. This category is defined as those with under 10 employees, however, it is also under a great deal of strain faced with challenges such as business rates, beer duty and price matching with the big chains.

Hugh Stickland, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “While smaller pubs have been struggling to survive in recent years, bigger pubs have been growing in number. We’ll have to wait to see if this marks a revival for smaller ‘locals’.

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Published Date: 21st January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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14 
Jan

Top Tips for Catering Businesses in 2020

Top tips for catering

This year has started somewhat explosively, with concerns about the environment, bush fires, international political escalations and the future of certain members of the monarchy in jeopardy. But people still have to eat. So putting the news aside, it’s time to consider the next twelve months for catering businesses. Here are our top tips for catering businesses for 2020.

Firstly, there are no guarantees about the impact of Brexit. The best route to take is the one that is already benefiting your business directly. Top of the list is the maintenance of your appliances. Put in place a maintenance programme for your ovens. This will ensure that whatever disasters or decisions may befall us over the next twelve months; a substandard, under-performing oven won’t be one of them.

It’s All About the Planning

Secondly, plan for regular and irregular annual events. There are always catering opportunities linked to traditional dates, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, food festivals and so on. Take a look at our sporting calendar for additional opportunities in 2020. It’s an Olympic year as well as Euro 2020 for football fans and the start of the new cricket Hundred game. So if you are catering for sports fans, take advantage or provide an alternative for non-sports fans.

Staff training is essential. Don’t stint on training because if something goes wrong, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make sure that your staff are fully familiar with all relevant health and safety requirements and appliance operation, and make this an ongoing exercise. There is a plethora of H&S legislation and come Brexit, there is bound to be more. Educate your staff so that in your absence, your business will still thrive.

Goal Setting

Set goals in terms of time management and profit and loss, and make them realistic. There is nothing more demoralising than not reaching your target within the time frame allotted but be reasonable on yourself. We have endured a turbulent and uncertain few years politically, and it’s not over yet. Continue working to the highest standard professionally and don’t cut corners.

Invest in catastrophe training. As we have seen from the traumatic scenes in Australia, sometimes we are at the mercy of unforeseen and unpredictable forces. These may be natural or man-made but either way, they can cause the loss of business. Be prepared. If you are a mobile catering company, plan for both rain and shine at events. If you live in flood-prone areas, check weather predictions and plan for the safe removal or protection of appliances and staff.

Trend-Spotting

The last of our top tips for catering businesses and perhaps most importantly, keep an eye on current trends. We have seen a momentous rise in vegan and vegetarian demands for restaurants and fast food outlets in the past few years. With culinary trends changing constantly, there is always an opportunity for savvy operators to gain a foothold in a new market.

Don’t be afraid to be bold and always check out the news on AC Services Southern’s blog and like our Facebook page.

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Published Date: 14th January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens
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13 
Jan

Welcome to AC Services 2020 Calendar

AC Services 2020 calendar

2020 has arrived and with it comes the promise of a huge year of sport as can be seen in AC Services 2020 calendar for catering businesses.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games take place in Tokyo.

Football fans are eagerly awaiting the start of Euro 2020.

And with two Twenty20 World Cups, cricket fans also have the inaugural season of the new The Hundred competition to look forward to.

January

  • 3-12, Tennis, ATP Cup, Australia
  • 12-19, Snooker, the Masters, Alexandra Palace, London
  • 20 Jan-2 Feb, Tennis – Australian Open, Melbourne
  • 25, Chinese New Year

February

  • 1, Rugby union – Men’s Six Nations:
  • 1, Cricket – Australia v England women’s T20, Canberra
  • 2, Rugby union – Women’s Six Nations
  • 7, Cricket – India v England women’s T20, Melbourne
  • 9, Cricket – Australia v England Women’s T20, Melbourne
  • 12-16, Cricket – South Africa v England T20, East London
  • 21-8 March, Cricket – Women’s T20 World Cup, Australia
  • 22, Boxing – Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury heavyweight world title
  • 25, Pancake Day

March

  • 1, Football – Carabao Cup final, Wembley
  • 10-13, Horse racing – Cheltenham Festival
  • 13-15, Athletics – World Indoor, Nanjing, China
  • 22, Mothers’ Day

April

  • 2-5, Women’s golf major – ANA Inspiration, Mission Hills
  • 4, Horse racing – Grand National, Aintree
  • 9-12, Golf – Masters, Augusta National
  • 12, Easter Sunday
  • 14-19, Swimming – British Championships, London
  • 16-19, Gymnastics – British Championships, Liverpool
  • 18-4 May, Snooker – World Championship, Sheffield
  • 26, Athletics London Marathon

May

  • 8, May Day and VE Day Bank Holiday
  • 9, Football – FA Women’s Cup final, Wembley
  • 14-17, Golf – US PGA Championship, San Francisco
  • 22, Rugby union – European Challenge Cup final, Stade de Marseille
  • 23, Football – FA Cup final, Wembley
  • 23, Rugby union – European Champions Cup final, Stade de Marseille
  • 24-7 June, Tennis – French Open Roland Garros, Paris
  • 27, Football – Europa League final, Gdansk
  • 28, Cricket – first round of T20 Blast group matches
  • 30, Football – Champions League final, Istanbul

June

  • 4-7, Women’s golf major – US Women’s Open, Houston, Texas
  • 6, Horse racing – The Derby, Epsom
  • 12-12 July, Football – Euro 2020 various venues, Final at Wembley
  • 16-20, Horse racing, Royal Ascot
  • 18-21, Golf – US Open, New York
  • 20, Rugby union – Premiership final, Twickenham
  • 20, 21, Longest day then Fathers Day
  • 25-28, Women’s golf major – PGA Championship, Pennsylvania
  • 29-12 July, Tennis Wimbledon

July

  • 4-5, Athletics – Anniversary Games, London Stadium
  • 16-19, Golf – The Open, Royal St George’s
  • 17-15 August, Cricket – The Hundred
  • 18, Rugby league – Challenge Cup final, Wembley
  • 24-9 August, Olympic Games, Tokyo

August

  • 14, Cricket – The Hundred women’s final, Hove
  • 15, Cricket – The Hundred men’s final, Lord’s
  • 20-23, Golf – Women’s British Open, Royal Troon
  • 25-6 September, Paralympic Games, Tokyo
  • 31-13 September, Tennis – US Open, New York
  • 31, August Bank Holiday

September

  • 5, Cricket – T20 Blast Finals Day, Edgbaston
  • 6-13, Cycling – Tour of Britain
  • 10-13, Golf – PGA Championship, Wentworth
  • 19, Cricket – One-Day Cup final, Trent Bridge
  • 25-27, Golf – Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin

October

  • 10, Rugby league – Super League Final, Old Trafford
  • 18 Oct-15 November, Cricket – Men’s Twenty20 World Cup, Australia

November

  • 2-8, Tennis WTA Finals, Shenzhen, China
  • 7, Rugby Union – Autumn internationals, England v New Zealand
  • 8-15, Tennis – ATP Finals, London
  • 15, Cricket – Men’s Twenty20 World Cup final, Melbourne
  • 23-29, Tennis – Davis Cup finals , Madrid
  • 24 Nov-6 December, Snooker – UK Championship, York Barbican

December

  • TBC, Darts – PDC World Championship, Alexander Palace, London
  • 26, Horse racing – King George VI Chase, Kempton

So a packed year of opportunities for events targeting those interested in sport and those trying to avoid it for catering businesses in AC Services 2020 calendar.

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Published Date: 13th January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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13 
Jan

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2019

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2019

The Birmingham NEC played host to the latest BBC Good Food Show Winter from 28 November to 1 December 2019. Hugely popular and one of the most attended shows at the venue, the show was a triumph for exhibitors and visitors.

As usual, the Good Food Show presented a huge range of activities, from the Big Kitchen and Festive Kitchen to the BBC Good Food Stage and BBC Good Food Workshop. Visitors enjoyed the Travelsphere presents: A Taste of Italy & Croatia; CAMRA’s Great British Beer Experience and La Cuisine de Maille Tasting Theatre. While the new QVC Kitchen, featured host Katy Pullinger demonstrating top tips and hacks for mastering Christmas Day lunch. Real inspiration for perfecting the ultimate seasonal desserts and party food.

Food demonstrations from the country’s favourite chefs took place every day. These featured Rosie Birkett, Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, the Hairy Bikers, Ainsley Harriot and Mary Berry.

Innovations

There were many innovative products showcased at the show, with Symphonia Gin making a big noise. Scientist Dr Ulrich Dyer distils his award winning gin in his County Tyrone distillery. The winner of the Irish Gin of the Year 2019 title, Symphonia No 1 Dry Gin was also awarded a silver medal in the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition awards and got two stars in the Great Taste Awards.

Staying with the Emerald Isle, Irish Black Butter has also received a number of awards and went down a treat at the Good Food Show. Irish Black Butter was thought up by Alastair Bell. He comes from Portrush and put together the innovative use of Armagh Bramley apples, cider, brandy and spices. Vegan and vegetarian friendly, the product is also free from dairy and wheat. The new Irish Black Butter Peanut Spread is a brand new product featuring peanuts.

Food Champions

The Pished Fish booze infused smoked salmon selection was chosen as one of the Food Champions at the show. Described as a “fillet of salmon that has been cured with high quality alcohol and botanicals and smoked in small batches over wood” the company offers the most diverse range of flavours. These range from Aquavit cured smoked Scottish salmon with beetroot, star anise and juniper berries to Augustus Gloop smoked salmon cured with blueberries and raspberry vodka. There is also one called the Designated Driver, with no booze, just cherry and juniper wood smoke

For those visitors who like their food spicy, Mr Vikki’s passion for Indian food and culture has over thirty products. While the company has won over 110 awards. From XXX Hot Chilli Jam to garlic pickle and Hell Hot Habanero and King Naga; Mr Vikkis also presents a Scotch Bonnet Fudge, not for the faint-hearted.

The BBC Good Food Show Winter yet again raised interesting ideas. It will return to the same venue in the summer.

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Published Date: 13th January 2020
Category: Blog, Food Sourcing, News
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13 
Jan

What’s Happening with UK Restaurant Chains

Restaurant Chain closure

Not so very long ago, the UK’s casual dining sector was booming. At one point, major chains were expanding at a rate of one new restaurant opening every single week in the UK. Popular high street food chains were winning awards for the quality of their food. Restaurants such as Zizzi, Jamie’s Italian, Pizza Express, Byron Burger, and Five Guys were springing up everywhere. They could be found on every high street in the country.

However, the trend turned sharply and unexpectedly. In late 2017, the UK witnessed a string of these casual dining chains beginning to struggle badly; with many top names, such as Jamie Oliver with his 25 restaurants entering full-blown administration. The number of restaurants falling into insolvency in the year ending June 2019 increased by 25% to 1,412. This is the highest number of insolvencies since at least 2014. Numerous factors have been blamed for the decline, with many chains experiencing accumulative issues which have left them in a financial mess.

Great Expectations

When the trend for restaurant chain expansion was at its strongest, private equity companies were eager to invest. Billions of pounds were spent after 2013 on turning small chains into fixtures on every UK high street; with renowned restaurants vying for business in very concentrated spaces.

Now these investors want a return on their investment that simply is not available. This is due to heightened business rates (which have risen above inflation for four years), increased energy/labour costs and imported foodstuff costs. If we take into consideration the average wage of the majority of the UK’s working population; more and more of us have had to scale back on luxury spending.

Furthermore, quality has become a big issue and with many chains offering an unchanged menu from five years ago. People are beginning to realise that there are cheaper, fresher alternatives than the mass-produced pizza or burger. More vegan and vegetarian options have admittedly been introduced on menus but not much else has altered.

Biting Back

Meanwhile, over the last five years, new cuisines have become popular in the group restaurant scene. The Caribbean cuisine chain Turtle Bay now has 40+ restaurants in the UK, and shows a 143.8% five-year growth. Within the last 12 months, Indian group restaurants saw an 8.9% increase, bringing the total to 159.

Effectively, the current and alarming rate of restaurant closures shows that the eyes of these casual dining chains were literally bigger than their bellies. There were simply far too many to begin with. But although the UK chain restaurant industry may be in decline now; the right measures to reduce costs and a renewed focus on quality could yet revive these franchises. Diversity is key for the restaurant chains to bite back and entice customers to a better experience all round. There needs to be more diversification in the choice of menu and in the value of the meal as perceived by the customer.

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Published Date: 13th January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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