Category Archives: Catering Business
Open only to the trade, the first show opened 17 years ago and since then, has expanded enormously to embrace all aspects of the speciality food market.
Kara Bowen, Event Manager, said “Speciality & Fine Food Fair has, without a doubt, been at the forefront of the UK’s gourmet food and drink industry for nearly 18 years. Buyers from retail, foodservice and wholesale rely on the Fair as it provides an exclusive opportunity for discovery and inspiration. It is also a fantastic platform for producers to grow their business.”
Debut and Returns
This year, more than 700 food and drink producers attended, including nearly 200 suppliers making their debut. Among a number of new features, the old favourites such as the Discovery Zone, the Great Taste Awards and the Chocolate Trail were eagerly awaited. The Discovery Zone unveiled the latest food and drink delights from new businesses. Its stands are exclusively reserved for companies who have only been trading in the UK for up to 36 months.
Despite the unpopular sugar tax, chocolate and confectionery are still firm favourites. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is heralded as the UK’s finest trade showcase of luxury and gourmet chocolate. The Speciality Chocolate Trail did not disappoint and led visitors through the halls of Olympia to over 50 fine and artisan chocolate producers.
Savour the Flavour: Live Kitchen, also drew the crowds. It featured practical tips and advice from some of the industry’s best known chefs and personalities.
This demonstration was supplemented with Food for Thought which offered visitors workshops on trending topics, and Scale Up which provided in-depth round-table discussions on key business queries. Topics covered included Cooking Successfully with Allergies, Mastering Cheese and The Proof is the Provenance.
A company that attracted a lot of interest was Grub, which offered edible insects. Apparently, as well as being tasty, insects are nutritious and sustainable, high in protein, minerals like iron and calcium and containing essential amino acids like Omega 3 and 6!
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair offers a platform for artisan food and drink, from centuries old heritage brands to up-and-coming new food businesses. The success of the 2017 show is to be repeated next year from 2 to 4 September at the same venue.
AC Services (Southern) has again received the SafeContractor accreditation. This seal of approval is issued by Alcumus and is testament to the company’s health and safety arrangements, policies and qualifications of contractors. This third party accreditation scheme confirms a company’s competency in the practice of health and safety.
AC Services received the accreditation following a stringent vetting process which examined all health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.
Indeed there are a further 300 nationwide businesses, from several key industries, who have signed up for a separate scheme to select only accredited contractors for services including building, cleaning, maintenance, refurbishment or electrical and mechanical work.
Seal of Approval
AC Services will continue to use the SafeContractor seal of approval on their documentation and marketing material and will be included on the SafeContractor website, accessible only to registered users and signed up client organisations, enabling them to choose a potential accredited contractor.
Gemma Archibald, Director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: “Major organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies in place. More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that AC Services has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector.”
Helen Hagger, MD of AC Services is delighted but not surprised at the accreditation. “We take health and safety extremely seriously and our organisation has adhered to the highest standards both in the office and in the field when we service our clients. We are proud to consistently employ best practice in our operations and the SafeContractors seal of approval is testament to this.”
As the gateway to South West England, the region has much to offer in terms of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish.
Powells of Olveston is located in South Gloucestershire and is passionate about the produce it sells, and with good reason.
Powells sources all of its produce locally and ethically, working closely with local farmers and fishermen. This enables it to guarantee traceability on all meat and fish and ensure it is of the highest quality. The company offers lamb, pork (including sausages), chicken, duck, beef and line caught and dayboat caught fish.
It is the fish for which Powells is renowned. It’s wet fish includes cod, bass, dover and lemon sole, pollack, halibut and haddock. While the oily fish includes mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines, herrings and whitebait.
Another company that is making its mark in Bristol is Plough to Plate. Launched in 2003 Plough to Plate has built a superb reputation. So it is known for “sourcing the finest hand crafted and artisan products and supplying them to discerning chefs and specialist retailers throughout the region”.
Plough to Plate offers everything from micro-brewery beers, award-winning cheeses, hand raised pork pies, authentic charcuterie, slow risen breads and artisan chocolates. Billed as “an encyclopedia of regional fine food”, the company also sources unusual or exotic items. These include fresh truffles or a 25-year old DOCG balsamic vinegar.
Arthur David promises food with service! Founded in 1962, the company now grows its own produce, often supplying products unavailable at market. Fruit is succulent, such as red skinned Victoria plums as well as Muscat grapes, Discovery apples, English Somerset cobnuts. While vegetables available include baby leeks, baby carrots, baby turnips and all the coloured baby beets. More unusual vegetables include new season coloured carrots in purple, white and yellow, along with a range of purple and orange cauliflowers.
Another of the farm producers is Frocester Fayre Farm Shop. It has an abundance of meat, from Welsh Black and Aberdeen Angus cattle reared at Church Farm. All cattle are fed on a diet of grass, silage and barley, all grown on the farm. 150 hens and 20 ducks supply the shop and kitchen with eggs.
The owners butcher and sell all the meat in the shop. With the pork and lamb left to hang for a week, whilst the beef is hung for a minimum of three weeks. From this meat come delicious sausages, burgers, meat products and delicious faggots, all made in the farm shop’s kitchen.
Frocester aims to “use as many local ingredients as we can keeping ‘food miles’ and our ‘carbon footprint’ to a minimum. We are a genuine family business and our aim is to give all our customers excellent quality food at affordable prices”.
Finally, Jekka’s Herb Farm farm boasts the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK. Jekka’s Herbetum was created in the grounds of the farm in 2013. It is a gastronomic delight for anyone interested in good food containing over 300 culinary herbs carefully planted in raised beds.
Recent research has suggested that the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021. Given that the industry employs almost 10% of the entire UK workforce and since the economic crisis has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector, it is a valid concern.
Currently, hospitality is the sixth largest contributor to export earnings and fourth largest employer, accounting for 4.49 million people or 10% of the workforce and over 180,000 businesses.
EU Workers and a Booming Market
The sector’s economic contribution could now decrease due to cost pressures from wages and business rates together with the labour squeeze. Figures show that around 65,000 hospitality staff come from EU workers. If this workforce is unavailable then labour productivity will cease to improve and will remain at 2016 levels. The report suggests a “1% fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.”
It’s not all bad news: the hotel industry has been booming . London is predicted to be at 80% occupancy by the end of the year, with average room prices reaching £142 and 8,000 new rooms in the pipeline. ‘Staycationers’ are being credited with a rise in regional travel, with more domestic visitors travelling around the UK.
To fill the potential labour force gap, plans are already in place. According to Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, “over 700,000 Europeans work in hospitality and tourism and although we are determined to rely less on EU service workers over the coming years it will take time. The industry would need to recruit an additional 65,000 UK workers each year in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers to replace churn and to power growth.”
Filling the Void
The BHA is calling for a detailed study by the Migration Advisory Committee on behalf of the government on the number of visas. This should cover “all strategically important sectors including hospitality and tourism, the fourth largest industry in the UK. Britain needs services workers as well as scientists and engineers.”
However, the Office for National Statistics reported an increase of 13.6% since last year in the number of 16-24 year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET). This, according to the BHA is a labour force! And it’s not the only sector of society that has potential. “[Our] strategy focuses on three main sections of the populations – the unemployed, returners to the labour market such as older people, and the next generation. So far our industry has delivered 67,000 apprenticeships, work experiences, and career opportunities through the BHA’s Big Hospitality Conversation for Britain’s young people,” continues Ufi Ibrahim.
The hotel and hospitality industry offers a massive opportunity for those who are unemployed, looking to enter the workplace or who want a career change, from front of house to backroom staff to kitchen operatives. Calls for government to enhance and promote those opportunities are welcomed by all to ensure we have the hospitality staff we need.
During the summer season, we cannot rely on the weather to be clement enough for us to spend a day at the beach so for many, the welcome attraction of a theme park or other local venues is quite literally, a port in a storm.
Amusement parks are popular destinations throughout the world generating billions in revenue for the relevant countries and operators. The largest and most profitable is beyond doubt the Walt Disney Company with more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in revenue from its parks followed by Universal Studios Theme Parks.
Although the UK is unable to compete on such a scale, the amusement parks that we have see significant visitors annually. Alton Towers competes with Thorpe Park and Drayton Manor Park as the leading theme park attractions in the UK. In 2016, the most visited free attraction was, for the ninth consecutive year, The British Museum with nearly 6.5 million visitors. This was closely followed by the National Gallery which had more than 6.2 million visitors and the Tower of London topped the list of paid-for attractions with 2.7 million visitors.
Going to the Zoo
Interestingly, Chester Zoo experienced its highest ever ranking, in second place, with nearly 1.9 million visitors and this seems to be a new trend, as a new survey from VisitEngland shows that gardens and zoos saw the most significant growth in visitors to attractions last year. The survey collected information from over 1,500 English attractions, and reported that stately houses and castles saw an increase of 7% in visitor numbers, and country parks a 4% increase. Gardens and zoos showed a growth of 8%.
According to VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, “there are so many outstanding attractions offering year-round experiences throughout the country and it’s great to see Brits enjoyed 2016’s ‘Year of the English Garden’. Attractions are a much loved and valuable part of the tourism landscape, adding colour and variety to the visitor experience and encouraging people to get out and explore, driving the value of tourism across the regions.”
However, if you prefer the thrills and spills of adrenaline pumping rides, then you will have to wait another five years for what is being deemed the biggest, best and most advanced theme park to hit UK shores…a theme park to rival Disneyland Paris!
London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), is behind the idea and is planning to have the resort constructed on the Swanscombe Peninsula in North Kent to be opened by 2022. The company has stated that it would create at least “five themed areas including a cartoon circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and Entertainment City”.
If the plans are approved then the theme park would not only offer more than 50 rides but it would also come with a 2,000 seat theatre putting on shows to rival the best of the West End. Rides at the park will be inspired by Paramount Films as well as the BBC and Aardman Animations.
There is no doubt that theme park attractions bring in a fortune in revenue to the UK with caterers and catering staff comprising a major part of the workforce. At AC Services (Southern), we have a vested interest in all food and drink related issues, so we welcome the possible arrival of a new theme park.
The sudden currency depreciation triggered by the June 2016 decision brought sterling to its lowest level against the dollar for over 30 years. As a result, July 2016 was a record month for inbound visits from EU countries with 2.3 million visits, 3% up on last year. And the trend has continued.
According to forecasts, inbound tourism in Britain will continue to be the fastest growing tourism sector. International visitors are expected to grow by over 6% a year in comparison with domestic spending by UK residents at just over 3%.
In 2016, 37.6 million overseas visitors came to the UK in 2016 spending £22.5 billion. These record breaking figures represent a 4% increase in volume compared with 2015. It gets even better when compared with figures just released, that overseas residents made 3.7 million visits to the UK in April 2017, an increase of 19% when compared with April 2016.
Where Do They Come From?
France, USA and Germany were the top three countries in terms of number of visits to the UK accounting for 39% of visits. Inbound visitor spend was highest in London with 53%, the rest of England 35%, Scotland 8% and Wales 2%.
Visitors from the USA spent £3bn in Britain for the first time, while visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, increased by 46%, with spending up 18%. According to a report in the Guardian, “UK hotel chains have reported a leap in tourist spending since the vote, while the home lettings website Airbnb said its UK-listed properties welcomed 1.6 million guests between June and August .”
Where Do They Go?
For the tenth year in a row, the most popular British tourism attraction was the British Museum with 6,420,395 visitors in 2016. Outside of London, the most popular attraction last year has surprised many, with Chester Zoo attracting more visitors than the likes of Stonehenge and Edinburgh Castle.
The Tate Modern increased its popularity, due mainly to the new 10-storey extension which was opened in 2016, leading to an increase of 24% of visitors on the previous year. In 2016, 1.38 million people visited Stonehenge.
In employment terms, tourism has consistently been the fastest growing sector in the UK, and forecasts indicate that by 2025, the industry will be worth over £257 billion. It supports almost 3.8 million jobs, which is around 11% of the total UK number. This is excellent news for an industry that has been beset with difficulties, not least the terrorism acts that have threatened to destabilise travel and tourism.
The UK has always had a massive tourism potential, and has been exploiting this potential overseas. Post Brexit and the decline of the pound, it is now cheaper to come to the UK than ever before and people are taking advantage. For those businesses involved in tourism in Britain, there has never been a better time to capitalise on an enthusiastic and lucrative market.
The use of apps has helped to ease the way people order food. Recent research shows that the use of restaurant apps has increased across all age categories. Now about a third of all customers use apps to order and pay for food.
The way food is delivered has also changed over the past few years, with companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Hello Fresh recruiting madly in order to fulfil demand. It is now easier than ever to order food to go.
In 2016, fast food registered a current foodservice value growth of 3%. This was thanks to affordable prices, the growing popularity of food to go and the wide range of products now available to cater for different dietary requirements. Last year, McDonald’s was at the top of the fast food chain with 6% of foodservice value sales.
According to the Cardlytics Spending Index, spending in fast food, quick service restaurants leapt by 34.1% in the past year. There are a number of reasons for this rise, including the pricing war between supermarkets. Their cheaper price means we have more money to treat ourselves. Another reason is the increasing popularity of paying via contactless card.
“The average spend in QSR outlets is generally under £10,” said Smith of Cardlytics. “It is possible that people previously paid for their meals in cash, but are now using contactless, meaning the transactions are captured by our data.”
There are also more choices when it comes to fast food. This has traditionally been associated with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and in general food that has been deemed as not nutritionally valuable.
However, fast food is getting healthier and bolder. Pret A Manger recently made permanent its 40-item Veggie Pret pop-up experiment in London, with plans for expansion. Sushi shops have become a particular favourite. Major chains have been promising to source fresher ingredients with fewer additives and free-range chicken is showing up on more menus.
The fast food industry is booming. More and more drive-thrus and pop-up restaurants are being set up and the choice is far broader than ever before. The nature of the industry means that many operators are open for longer than traditional restaurants and cafes. There is therefore more wear and tear on ovens and cookers. At AC Services (Southern), we advise fast food outlets to regularly check and service their ovens. This includes having a daily cleaning regime in order to maintain optimum performance.
Wiltshire boasts numerous attractions including Stonehenge and Salisbury Plain. It is a favourite for visitors through its pre-Roman archaeology and rolling hills as well as towns and cities that thrive on tourism.
Hospitality plays a key role for pubs, restaurants and hotels in Wiltshire and the region is proud of its culinary heritage. There are numerous food suppliers in Wiltshire who serve the catering industry and who provide excellent food and beverages, many of them sourced locally.
The Fine Food Company has been supplying speciality food to catering establishments for many years, delivering produce that is sourced fresh and picked by hand directly from speciality food markets and manufacturers.
The company runs monthly promotions on some delicious products, for example this month on offer is exotic flavours from Lovingtons Ice Cream and a Chutney of the Month from The Bay Tree Food Company. Regular food includes prepped vegetables, fresh mushrooms and truffles, fruit purees, charcuterie, terrines, pates and pies as well as speciality poultry and meat.
Offering a personal service and locally sourced produce, is Lovejoys. The company specialises in requests from chefs for specialist crops such as Pink Fir apple potatoes, Ruby Red chard or Stripy beetroot. A statement from the company says: “we are unique in the industry in our desire only to supply within 90 minutes from our base in West Wiltshire”.
Lovejoys also offers its own prep room for chefs with limited time. A large amount of the vegetables are grown exclusively in Bromham and the surrounding area, and all eggs are laid just three miles from the premises. In addition, all milk and cream come from farms in Wiltshire, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset.
Award-winning organic lamb and mutton can be found at Langley Chase Organic Farm. It is reared on a small organic farm in the Wiltshire countryside from rare breed Manx Loaghtan. Langley Chase has already won 19 National Organic Food Awards including Best Organic Meat, Best Organic Lamb and Best Organic Mutton in the UK.
Manx Loaghtan is a distinguished rare breed that is high in flavour and greatly lower in fat and cholesterol than commercial breeds. According to the company, “each lamb and mutton is selected and butchered to each customer’s requirements and delivered direct to the door.” The company also makes chorizo salami, and uses the rest of the animals to make beautiful sheepskin rugs, wool and clothes.
Wiltshire Food & Drink
For food and drink look no further than Ashton Farms, with over 700 lines of fresh, chilled, frozen and ambient foods and an extensive range of soft drinks. This family business prides itself on its customer service, with little touches such as cheese and eggs being still packed on site. Time is spent sourcing the very best quality and time is also spent on building relationships with suppliers.
Wiltshire eateries have an enormous range of food suppliers that can cater for the traditional and the exotic. With the weather in the last week reaching record highs, summer has officially arrived and the great British public are heading outdoors. For catering establishments, offering a wider choice of food has to be an extra incentive to attract visitors!
Look out for the next in the series of AC Services Southern’s spotlight on local food suppliers with South Gloucestershire and Bristol in August.
Commercial Kitchen is the multi-award nominated trade show for the UK’s catering equipment industry and attracts over 2,000 visitors.
Visitors and exhibitors
Exhibitors came from all parts of the industry, with over 80 leading industry suppliers showcasing innovative catering equipment, devices and services. The show attracted representatives from big names like EAT, Pret, Costa, Sainsbury’s, Subway, Tesco, Debenhams, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Casual Dining Group, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, Zizzi, Greene King, Thwaites, Whitbread, Gate Gourmet, Merlin Entertainment Sodexo, Brakes, National Trust and Bourne Leisure.
In addition there were visitors from the widest range of public and private sector industries from independent restaurants, schools and universities, to local authorities and attractions.
There were plenty of people to see and hear at the show. Conversation sessions included Vivek Singh, executive chef and founder of The Cinnamon Collection, Claire Clark MBE and Robert Quehan, head chef at The Redwood Bistro, Bishopstoke Park.
Panel discussions covered pub kitchens, sustainability, kitchen design, the important role of equipment distributors, multi-site restaurant innovation, foodservice consultants, hospital kitchens and prison kitchens.
Rational Oven Award
The show also featured the Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge Awards where the top ten exhibitors to have secured the most visitor votes were invited to pitch their new innovations. The results saw four companies receiving gold awards, four being awarded silver and two taking home bronze. The Rational SelfCookingCenter XL was awarded silver.
AC Services (Southern) was delighted to see the Rational appliance recognised and appreciated for its reliability, performance and innovation.
A Show to Attend?
For those in the catering business, it’s worth considering whether to attend next year’s Catering Equipment Show. Perhaps the words of two key attendees may help.
. “We are always looking for the latest in technology to improve our kitchens’ efficiency and food quality. Commercial Kitchen is the perfect event to identify tomorrow’s technology today and network with industry experts,” Kumour Uddin, executive group chef at Anglian Country Inns .
“As someone who wants the best equipment for our teams and customers, Commercial Kitchen and the Catering Equipment Show is a good and very relevant show for me. I look forward to attending again and watching this important event grow over the coming years.” Dirk Wissmann, senior equipment buyer at Pret A Manger.
They may not draw the same crowds as the winter sports, but there now seems to be an explosion of cricket with the Champions Trophy. But more importantly it’s the start of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup taking place between 24 June and 23 July and which is attracting great excitement.
Hosted by both England and Wales, the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup is an international women’s cricket tournament which has been going for 11 years. It is the third time it has been held in England (after the 1973 and 1993 tournaments), both of which England won. No pressure there then…
Eight teams have qualified to participate in the tournament: Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Lord’s will host the final, and other matches will be played at the home grounds of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Good news for cricket fans: the ICC announced that 10 games will be shown live on television, while the remaining 21 matches will be streamed live via the ICC website.
For those who are unfamiliar with women’s cricket, it may surprise you to learn that the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup is the oldest and most prestigious international women’s cricket tournament in the world.
It was first held in 1973 two years before the inaugural men’s tournament. Since 2005, it has held a regular four-year slot. However, the international scene originally stretches back to 1934, when a party from England toured Australia and New Zealand and won.
To date, ten World Cups have been played in five different countries with Australia winning six titles and England three .
Where and When
The timetable for the qualifying matches is as follows:
- 24 June: England v India, County Ground, Derby
- 24 June: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 25 June: Pakistan v South Africa, Grace Road, Leicester
- 26 June: Australia v West Indies, County Ground, Taunton
- 27 June: England v Pakistan, Grace Road, Leicester
- 28 June: South Africa v New Zealand, County Ground, Derby
- 29 June: Sri Lanka v Australia, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 29 June: West Indies v India, County Ground, Taunton
- 2 July: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 2 July: India v Pakistan, County Ground, Derby
- 2 July: South Africa v West Indies, Grace Road, Leicester
- 2 July: England v Sri Lanka, County Ground, Taunton
- 5 July: England v South Africa, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 5 July: Sri Lanka v India, County Ground, Derby
- 5 July: Pakistan v Australia, Grace Road, Leicester
- 6 July: New Zealand v West Indies, County Ground, Taunton
- 8 July: South Africa v India, Grace Road, Leicester
- 8 July: New Zealand v Pakistan, County Ground, Taunton
- 9 July: England v Australia, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 9 July: West Indies v Sri Lanka, County Ground, Derby
- 11 July: West Indies v Pakistan, Grace Road, Leicester
- 12 July: Australia v India, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 12 July: England v New Zealand, County Ground, Derby
- 12 July: Sri Lanka v South Africa, County Ground, Taunton
- 15 July: England v West Indies, Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- 15 July: India v New Zealand, County Ground, Derby
- 15 July: Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Grace Road, Leicester
- 15 July: South Africa v Australia, County Ground, Taunton
The final will be held at Lord’s on 23 July.
The Women’s Cricket World Cup provides an opportunity for most catering businesses to run slightly different events than those for other sporting tournaments as it spotlights women’s sport. Given women’s sport is growing faster than men and the South West England focus of these matches it would be silly to miss out.