Tag Archives: Catering business

10 
Oct

The Restaurant Show 2017

Restaurant Show 2017 logoOne of the major exhibitions of the catering calendar took place at Olympia last week with visitors and attendees surpassing expectations.

Entering its 30th year of exhibiting, The Restaurant Show 2017 is an eminent trade event catering to those owning, operating and working in restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs and other hospitality establishments throughout the UK.

Incorporating Bar & Pub, Conscious Hospitality and Catering Equipment Expo, the Restaurant Show 2017 featured over 450 suppliers. All offering products, ideas and networking opportunities for anyone involved in the industry.

Live Events

There was plenty to keep everyone entertained and informed. It included live events, with culinary demonstrations, premier competitions and seminars addressing key industry trends, innovations and new talent.

The Show provided a daily Business Insights session. Here leading industry experts discussed the latest industry news, trends and controversial issues. These included how pubs can continue to stay relevant in the face of changing consumer behaviour.

There were also talks on wine tasting, serving tea and coffee, food presentation and the rise of the flexitarian. This is a cross between veggie lovers and carnivores who choose vegetable-based dishes mid-week and save sustainably-produced high quality meat for special occasions.

Bar & Pub Show

The Bar & Pub Show also hosted seminars with the focus on getting the most profit from serving drinks. Topics ranged from sake to cocktails. Did you know that 9.2 million consumers regularly choose cocktails at the bar making it a £499m category?

There was also a discussion on raising the bar with premiumisation. This is catering for young people, who simply don’t drink like we used to. Thus they are looking for more than just a cheap pub or bar.

Rob Fink, Founder of Big Drop Brewing explained that “more and more adults are moderating their alcohol consumption… including the 18-24 age group, in which 1 in 5 are teetotal, so pubs and bars have to adapt to stay relevant. But whilst people…are also being more demanding about their choice of drink and craft beers have been instrumental in making people think differently and expect more from their beer.

Restaurant Show 2017 Awards

The Restaurant Show also hosted the National Chef of the Year and The Young National Chef of the Year competition. These have been running since 1972 and are considered the UK’s most respected and sought-after culinary titles.

After a two-hour cook-off in front of a packed audience The National Chef of the Year 2018 was awarded to Luke Selby for his starter of sea vegetable minestrone, mussels and farfalle pasta with a poached scallop, British caviar and a lemongrass scented buttermilk sauce. His main course was roasted fallow deer, blackberry, celeriac, sprouts and bacon served with a venison sauce finished with chocolate. And for dessert warm walnut almondine, ginger infused bramley purée, caramelised cox apple filled with apple compote with cinnamon and ginger ice cream.

Other competitions included the UK Pastry Open and Kikkoman Masters. While three Compass Chef of the Year events focused on apprentice, junior and senior chefs.

The Restaurant Show 2017  lived up to all expectations. The industry is expanding and adapting constantly to changes in legislation, governmental policies and the impact of Brexit. This Show gave visitors and exhibitors the ideal opportunity to discuss issues relevant to the future of the hospitality industries under Olympia’s roof 

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Published Date: 10th October 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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26 
Sep

One down and six to go!

Lunch! 2017 logo food to goIt’s a veritable smorgasbord this week with events related to the food industry. lunch! 17 opened at ExCeL London for two days, welcoming visitors in their thousands. For those who missed the show, worry not, there’s another one, the Food Entrepreneur Show opening this Wednesday. And 5 other shows at Excel.

lunch! 17 offered up its biggest and best show yet, with a new venue, over 330 exhibitors, two education theatres, thousands of products and tons of tasty treats. Dedicated to the food-to-go sector, the show celebrated its 10th anniversary with a packed itinerary. This included a number of influential keynote speakers.

Awards Galore

lunch! 2017 saw the return of the Innovation Challenge Awards, showcasing the most innovative products in the food-to-go sector. This year, there were 70 new products presented to the public.

In addition, the Start Up Zone presented a plethora of  start-up companies from across the food-to-go sector. 24 companies not normally found at trade shows displayed giving visitors the opportunity to see, taste and source innovative products. New companies included 4SOME Health, C’go Drinks, Doughlicious Ltd, Iraw Healthy Habits and The Hangry Food Company Ltd.

The Café Life Awards 2017 organised by the Café Society took place at the end of the first day of lunch! This was acclaimed as celebrating the leading operators in the café industry, hosted by celebrity chef Theo Randall. The awards “highlighted those involved in the sector who are pioneering and leading the market, whether in the development of new products or the creation of excellence in the high street.”

The Live Challenges this year included the Da Vinci Gourmet Speciality Drink Challenge, the Norseland Toasted Cheese Sandwich Challenge, the Florette Food to Go Challenge, New York Bakery Croll Challenge and the judging of the Café New Drink Innovation Award.

Food Entrepreneur Show and Five Others

Food Entrepreneur Show 2017Following lunch! 17 at ExCeL is the Food Entrepreneur Show 2017  on 26 and 27 September 2017. Exhibitors, suppliers, feature zones, live demos and talk shows are all on the menu. The show is the best opportunity for any entrepreneur striving for success in the food and drink industry.

The show runs alongside the Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation Expo, Restaurant Technology Live, Bar Technology Live, Hotel Technology Live, Restaurant Design Show and Street Food Live. So something for everybody!

The seminars and talks promise to be entertaining and informative, with subjects such as Marketing in 2017, Bear Traps, The Recipe For Future Takeaway Success, How Sustainable is Your Restaurant? And my particular favourite, Busy Fools, Honey Pots & Burgers.

Food & Drink Innovation Awards

The Food & Drink Innovation Awards at the Food Entrepreneur Show recognise the pioneers that have made an outstanding impact on the food industry in the last year. Four awards are up for grabs to those who have a product or service that is breaking boundaries in the food sector.

In addition, throughout both days of the show, the FoodTalk Radio Show will be interviewing new exhibitors, gaining insights into the concepts behind their products, services, and business. The event is completely free to attend and all of the seminars and features are free too.

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Published Date: 26th September 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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19 
Sep

Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2017

Speciality & fine foodAnother September, another Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia. The venue opened its doors to the eager hordes of visitors and exhibitors to this prestigious event from 3 to 5 September.

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.

Flavoursome

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.

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Published Date: 19th September 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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18 
Jul

Tourism in Britain 2017

Tourism in Britain 2017It seems that despite the negativity and uncertainty post-Brexit, tourism in Britain has done rather well out of the decision to leave the EU.

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 [2016].”

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.

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Published Date: 18th July 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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11 
Jul

Brexit Update

Brexit updateAt the time of this Brexit update, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the Brexit deal.

While for the food industry, there is grave concern over the final negotiations and the impact on this sector of industry.

Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. It contributes over £28bn a year to the economy. As a nation, we produce just over half of what we eat and we depend on European imports for 25% of our consumption. These are uncomfortable figures for the government when trying to negotiate a fair deal for everyone.

Divorce Deal

Under the terms of Article 50, a divorce deal has to be reached by the end of March 2019. There is no deadline for a longer-term trade and partnership deal so there are indications that the latter will be thrashed out endlessly.

One of the most important issues for the food industry is that of harmonisation. There are over 4,500 EU regulations regarding farming, food and environmental standards that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have to deal with.

UK exports currently depend on this sort of harmonisation of rules. These range from the size of tins to the amount of sugar in a jam. The latter was introduced to respond to market trends for less sugary food. It was initiated to bring the UK in line with Europe so it could develop export markets in Europe.

Food Workers

Another major cause for concern is migrant workers. Currently, farmers, food processors and food manufacturers employ 500,000 foreign workers. The government has already made clear its commitment to curb immigration but the food industry recognises that the end of the freedom of movement created by Brexit will lead to the requirement for UK permits and visas. If workers cannot afford these permits, the traditional seasonal workforce is under threat.

Defra, Agriculture and Food Legislation

And then we come to the role of Mr Gove, the new secretary of state at Defra. One of his first tasks is drafting the agriculture bill promised in last week’s Queen’s speech. This bill will take the UK out of the common agricultural policy, which the UK has been part of for the last 40 years.

The bill gives £3 billion subsidies to farmers to keep them sustainable and competitive to compete in globalised commodity markets. However, the problem is the replacement policy as 40% of all European legislation relates to food and agriculture and 80% of all UK food legislation has been negotiated in the EU. Mr Gove has promised better trade deals and cheaper food when Brexit occurs. Only time will tell.

Finally, there is the issue of the European Union’s single market. This is different from the EU.  This is what Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein belong to. As well as eliminating tariffs, quotas or taxes on trade, it includes the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. It also aims to remove “non-tariff barriers” which include differing rules on packaging, safety and standards.

Whatever happens, there are unchartered waters ahead. The food industry and the catering businesses closely allied to it must be prepared for any changes. So look out for our next Brexit update.

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Published Date: 11th July 2017
Category: Blog, News
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04 
Jul

UK Fast Food Industry Booms

Fast Food IndustryThe fast food industry is enjoying a lucrative period, with technology serving a useful purpose for deliveries and ordering. Worth £18 billion a year, this sector has gone from strength to strength.

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.

Spending Up

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.

More Choice

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.

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Published Date: 4th July 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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13 
Jun

The Catering Equipment Show 2017

Catering Equipment ShowThe NEC at Birmingham played host to the Catering Equipment Show last week from 5-6 June.

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.

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Published Date: 13th June 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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18 
Apr

Something Unusual is Rising in the UK Events Industry

UK events industry trendsAccording to a 2016 report, the UK events industry sector is worth a minimum of £42.3B to the UK economy. Conferences and meetings are the most lucrative, followed by exhibitions and trade events with sporting events a close third.

With over 25,000 businesses in the sector, it is a market that is continuing to grow and for caterers, this presents an ideal opportunity.

2016 saw a notable rise in demand for conferences and meetings. This has been put down to the growing need for companies to communicate with staff and contacts face-to-face.

In addition, certain industries, such as pharmaceutical and finance, have seen changes to laws and regulations. This has led to a rise in meetings, as companies rush to update staff. Add Brexit to the mix as companies meet with clients to discuss the proposed changes and the result is clear: corporate is coming back.

The rise of the unusual venue

There are more than 7,000 major outdoor events held each year from festivals, agricultural shows, sporting and charity events through to smaller local craft events. This shows the capacity of the UK events industry to effectively host such events.

One area that has been increasing in popularity is the unique and unusual venue market. These venues range from wineries, sporting stadia, guildhalls, zoos, ships, theatres, castles, racecourses, visitor attractions, museums and distilleries. In fact anywhere that can accommodate people.

Unusual venues have always been very popular for corporate events. The government and public sector are particularly fond of unusual venues, which are used for 30% of their business.

However, choosing an unusual venue is not a random act. Corporate organisers choose a venue that has to motivate, inspire and encourage their clients. Although the classic purpose-built conference centre or hotel group still take most market share, unusual and unique venues are rapidly catching up.

How unique are you?

Unique is described as “something arresting, with individualism and personality, something outside of convention, defined by its difference”. Unusual venues offer rarity, and are pleasantly surprising, and rewarding and often capitalise on the UK’s culture, history and heritage. Castles and museums may be tourist attractions but for the events organisers, they’re also ideal venues.

Regardless of the venue, attendees have to be fed, and for the catering industry the UK events market is massively lucrative. If you are involved in catering, keep your eyes open for venues that could be suitable for corporate meetings and suggest them to events organisers. Or maybe suggest your own venue. Meetings and conferences are making a comeback, so make sure you jump on the bandwagon!

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Published Date: 18th April 2017
Category: Blog, Events, News
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28 
Feb

Food Trends 2017 Personal and Exotic

Food Trends 2017 Poke SaladTrends come and go in the food industry with new, exotic and unusual menus springing up everywhere. We’ve come a long way from the prawn cocktail and black forest gateaux of the 1970s, which, if those of a certain age recall, was the menu of sophistication.

So what are the food trends 2017? Apparently, food is to get personal again, with the consumer calling the shots. The recent Waitrose report highlighted that the humble aubergine is fast replacing traditional carbs such as bread and pasta. The store reported an 18% increase in sales of the vegetable, with an increasing number of people opting to replace burger buns, chips and pasta for aubergine substitutes.

According to  Olive Magazine, vegan food is getting a lot of attention so get your barley risotto recipe perfected. Grains are the in-food at the moment with many chefs using them in salads as a healthy and hearty food group. Look for siyez salads as the new superfood.

Following on from a surge in interest in Jamaican food, ital (jerk spices and citrus flavours) is having an influence on vegan cooking in the UK. Also look out for Polynesian favourite poke. This raw fish salad marinated with lime, soy and sesame is becoming a fast favourite.

Vegetable yoghurt comprising carrot, beetroot, sweet potato and tomato flavours infused with yoghurt is becoming increasingly popular. For those who wrinkle their noses at the concept, think of the UK’s old favourites, chive and onion dip or cucumber raita!

Ant Fever and Other Superfoods

It may not be to everyone’s taste and indeed some thought it a joke at first but insects are most definitely on the menu. Meadowsweet porridge with ants won last year’s Rude Health Porridge Championship. They are said to balance the sweetness of the porridge with a certain sharpness and, a mantra for all things healthy, they are packed with protein.

Other superfoods to look out for are red algae, described as ‘bacon flavoured seaweed’; Kakadu plums said to contain 100 times more vitamin C than an orange; offal such as beef and pork hearts, liver, brain, kidney and other organs; goji berries; bone broth; coconut sugar; and pea protein which is both dairy and gluten free and 100% vegan friendly.

Watch out for variations on the traditional dough found in pizzas. The Dough restaurant in Bristol for example offers a choice of pizza base: turmeric and seaweed two options! And there are now more recipes for using miso. Allegedly it goes very well with marmite or mashed with sweet potato.

Fruit and Veg

At a time when the industry is worrying about fruit and veg, or rather the availability of some of our favourites, new names have started to emerge. Rambutan, mangosteen and kumquats are primed to hit British supermarkets.  As is camel’s milk, which has 10 times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow’s milk.

On the beverage front, watch out for orange wine which is proving very popular. Or there is Aquavit with its botanical infusions of caraway or dill. And watermelon water, which is essentially cold-pressed watermelon juice is supposed to be ideal for natural rehydration.

In the week that it was announced that British strawberries are available two months early, it is clear that traditional thinking may no longer work as well in the commercial kitchen. So have a look at the food trends 2017 and see what might work for you.

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Published Date: 28th February 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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24 
Jan

Inclement Times for Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetablesNobody enjoys bad weather. We have experienced storms, snow and gales over the past month and for the majority of people, spring cannot come soon enough. However, spare a thought for the farmers and importers of fruit and vegetables not only in the UK but all over the world.

According to a recent report from the BBC, bad weather including flooding, poor light levels and cold has created a ‘perfect storm’ of poor growing conditions.

Heavy rainfall in Spain’s south-eastern Murcia region has led to intense flooding. Italy has experienced extreme cold weather. The combined result is a number of field crops such as peppers, aubergines, lettuce, courgette and broccoli failing!

Putting this into context, Murcia is estimated to supply about 80% of Europe’s fresh produce during the winter months. With the heaviest rainfall in 30 years, this now threatens its production ability. Hence supermarket shortages of lettuce and courgettes.

Importing Lettuce

“The situation has got so bad that some fruit and vegetables suppliers have taken to importing lettuces from the US, a development that up until now has been pretty much unheard of,” said Nationwide Produce food marketing company managing director, Mr O’Malley. He continues saying that both the price and availability of vegetable crops is likely to be affected, with poor planting conditions meaning that some crops planted before Christmas for harvest in 2017 are also likely to suffer.

According to the report, “the yield of courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes, broccoli and peppers from Spain are down by about 25%, while prices had risen between 25% and 40%”.

This is particularly worrying for Britain which imports 50% of its vegetables and 90% of its fruit. In 2015, the UK exported £18 billion worth of food and drink, which is dwarfed by the £38.5 billion it spent on importing food and drink.

Damage Limitation

So what can the UK do in terms of damage limitation? We have already realised that prices have risen after Brexit: whether temporarily or permanently is yet to be determined.

Tony Howard works for a large independent fruit and vegetable wholesaler and cites tomatoes from the Netherlands as an example. “Before Brexit the average price of a box of tomatoes was around £4 and now it is around £6,” he says.”We try to work for a gross profit of around 10%. Secondary wholesalers and catering people have to work for a larger margin because they don’t do the volume that we do. So by the time it gets to somebody’s plate that box of tomatoes could cost £10.

Do we invest in technology, such as in Japan, where the world’s first entirely automated lettuce farm is due for launch next year? We already have driverless tractors following pre-programmed routes and drones over fields assessing crop health and soil conditions. The Hands Free Hectare project in Shropshire is attempting to farm a field without a human setting foot in it at all.

Or do we capitalise on the shortcomings and adapt the cost and the choice of menus to reflect more seasonal, more local produce? Can local market gardens re-emerge with greater crop offerings?

It appears that to divert a crisis, UK food growers need to come together to devise a solution. The market is already changing regardless of the weather so this must be seized upon as an opportunity to change methods.

A Sliver of Sunshine?

Not all is doom and gloom however. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) states that 75% of fresh food sold in UK stores is raised or grown in the UK. UK supermarkets also sell 75% of the organic food bought in the UK, compared with the 1.7% sold in farmers’ markets.

For organic food, 88% of the carrots, 67% beef, 93% lamb, 100% milk and 100% of eggs are produced in the UK. It could be the same with  fruit and vegetables if the food chain works together for the longer term.

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Published Date: 24th January 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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