Tag 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According 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!
Trends 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.
Nobody 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.
“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.
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.
As it’s almost Christmas 2016, let’s start with a festive offering. Warrens Bakery’s Mince Pie Pasty went viral after a hugely successful trial last year and this year, the bakery is back with the Mince Pie and Custard Pasty.
Described as the world’s oldest Cornish pasty makers, Warrens Bakery has a reputation for tradition. It recently launched its exclusive artisan bread range as proof that the company is continually striving to evolve.
Master baker Jason Jobling said, “We have made the pasty using rough puff pastry, filled it with specially selected mincemeat and a vanilla custard and have crimped it in the same way we would a savoury pasty. It’s glazed and topped with a cinnamon and sugar blend for extra crunch.” All pasties are hand filled, hand crimped and handmade.
What’s Your Pleasure?
What goes well with a pasty? A real ale, of course! Emal Brewery is the third business venture of husband and wife team Emma and Alex Phillips. It is a newly formed family run brewery supplying three uniquely branded ales; Isca Gold, Legio and Castra.
Influenced by the historic Roman city of Exeter where the brewery is located, these new beers are available in both nine gallon cask and bottles if preferred. “An easy-drinking golden ale balancing a touch of caramel sweetness with a gently bitter finish and a fruity hop aroma” is the description of the Isca Gold.
On to ice cream! We may not be experiencing the weather associated with a 99 down on the beach, but Salcombe Dairy has created a range of Christmas flavours, including Christmas Pudding ice cream. It comes with an indulgent brandy butter ice cream topping and is shaped like a traditional pudding…what better way to finish off a Christmas meal.
The ice cream is made using fresh full cream milk and double cream, locally sourced, which is then combined with brandy, dried fruits and mixed spices. Interestingly, Salcombe does not homogenise its ingredients, instead using a seaweed compound (alginate) as an additive to emulsify the dairy fats.
Dessert for Breakfast
Again on the festive theme, Christmas pudding organic yoghurt has been launched by Brown Cow Organics. The company introduced a 155g Christmas Pudding flavour live organic yoghurt into their multi award winning range of organic yoghurts. This is a limited edition flavour which came onto the market only last week and which represents “a seasonal artisan dairy twist to the most traditional of Christmas desserts”.
And when you are fed up of gorging on turkey and all things that have made Christmas 2016, reach for Dorset Cereals’ new range of premium mueslis. The company is aiming to rejuvenate the concept muesli with the launch of two new Bircher mueslis, a breakfast dish that originates in Switzerland. The manufacturing process includes “soaking raw oats and grated apple overnight in juice and yoghurt, creating a creamy kind of muesli”.
AC Services loves showcasing innovative food producers from across the South West and South Wales. Wherever you look in our region, you’re sure to find someone producing some unusual food or drink not just for Christmas 2016, but the year round.
Last week a report from the Food and Drink Federation attempted to throw some light on the Brexit effect.
Although sales are at their highest for three years, 75% of FDF members have reported “soaring ingredient prices, plummeting product margins and concerns for the future raised by their EU workforce.”
This is not unexpected. There is no sector of industry that has experienced the current situation in the past and therefore, no-one can accurately forecast what will happen over the next two years before the Brexit departure is finalised.
Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. It accounts for 16% of total manufacturing by turnover (£83.7bn a year). The sector is also one of the highest employers, directly employing 400,000 people across 6,620 businesses.
3.9m jobs across the £108bn UK food chain are supported by the food and drink industry and every year, the British economy benefits from contributions of £21.5bn of gross value added (GVA). This makes the sector a formidable and influential player in the UK economy.
Unpleasant Taste from Brexit?
According to the survey of FDF members, about one in 12 (8.7%) businesses reported that their EU employees intend to leave the UK. It is estimated that around 130,000 of the industry’s 400,000 workforce are non-UK nationals (mainly eastern Europeans) with many employed to do seasonal work. Post-Brexit, one of the biggest worries is a decline in employees.
The solution may be to create more interest and more opportunities within the UK workforce. More apprenticeships are needed and recruitment should be more enticing to those who previously may not have considered a career in the food and drink sector.
The second fear is over trade barriers. Urgent action is required from the government to ensure that indispensable imports of ingredients and raw materials from the EU and EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries are not subject to tariffs or costly non-tariff barriers.
Currently, a weaker pound is helping UK exports more competitive but this is dependent on tariff-free access to the single European market.
Hard or Soft Exit
“If the UK reverts back to something akin to WTO (World Trade Organisation) status, then tariffs – and in particular cascading tariffs – become a very relevant issue for the industry,” says Andersons’ senior agricultural consultant Michael Haverty. However, he goes on to say that it depends upon the government’s choice of a hard or soft Brexit route to exit the EU. “With the softer approach retaining access to the EU market and migrant labour, the impact on the food manufacturing sector and its agricultural suppliers could result in “not a huge amount of very real change”. The hard option involves trading without an EU deal and relying on WTO rules.
The final challenge is the availability of food ingredients. A hard Brexit could have significant implications for the volume of supply coming from UK agriculture. This may affect both food exports and imports leaving UK food and drink exports to the EU being subject to new tariffs, in line with the duties paid by non-EU countries, according to WTO rules.
Domestically, the buzzphrase for the past few years has been ‘local produce’. It may seem a simplistic solution but using local provenance will have an effect on the economy and the job market.
According to a government spokesman: “As a nation, we’ve sold over £10 billion worth of food and drink overseas in the first six months of this year, and exports are up almost 6% compared to 2015. We are building on that success and, through our Great British Food Unit, are working with industry to establish new trading relationships across the globe to help boost the sector.”
Brexit will undoubtedly provide further challenges and opportunities until it’s concluded. At AC Services Southern, we will periodically share objective views when they arise.