Tag Archives: Catering business
The BBC Good Food Shows have kicked off the season. Last week, it was the turn of the NEC to host one of the most eagerly-awaited food shows of the year.
With Christmas just around the corner, the flagship Winter Show offered a feast for visitors of produce and entertainment. Top chefs joined exhibitors to present a veritable smorgasbord of culinary delights. These included demonstrations, new products and fabulous retail opportunities.
The Birmingham Winter Show combined the UK’s greatest cookery experts, with plenty of festive inspiration and live entertainment in the Big Kitchen and other stages. Greeting visitors to the NEC was the show’s new contribution, Street Food. Brand new for 2018, delicious street food made a successful appearance at the Show. An army of street food vendors in the outside areas, brought a huge selection of ready to eat food for all visitors.
The Big Kitchen is always the highlight of the show. Here top celebrity chefs cook festive recipes and share tips for seasonal winter foods. Tom Kerridge and Michael Roux Junior were just two of the famous names demonstrating their skills to the public. The highlight was the demonstration by everyone’s favourite Bake Off judge, Mary Berry.
This year, the Big Kitchen was sponsored by Travelsphere, who offered additional free themed sessions to the menu. This included a taste of India with Cyrus Todiwala, chef patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, award-winning Pan-Indian restaurant in London and also Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen and The River Restaurant (in Goa). A taste of Spain was presented by José Pizarro described as the Godfather of Spanish cooking.
BBC Good Food Stage
Barney Desmazery hosted the BBC Good Food stage. There, he offered live interviews into our favourite chefs’ success and seasonal advice from some local foodie experts too. The sessions involved an interview with Nadiya Hussain and a masterclass from Stacie Stewart.
The BBC Good Food Pop-Up Restaurant offered a sit-down meal, of two or three courses, inspired by some of the most popular seasonal dishes from the country’s leading food website, www.bbcgoodfood.com. The succulent menu presented delights such as:
- chicken, leek, smoked bacon and apricot terrine with watercress salad,
- baked goat’s cheese with beetroot, honey and thyme and
- main courses including garlic cheese-stuffed turkey breast wrapped in pancetta, with parmesan roast potatoes, buttered sprouts and glazed carrots.
The Winter Kitchen, sponsored by Magimix inspired by a range of seasonal dishes for the festive season with contributions from Mary Berry, James Martin, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith amongst many other top chefs. Complementary to this was the Skills School where a number of experts shared their secrets from knife skills with Zwilling to sourdough masterclasses.
At AC Services Southern, we think it’s always a good idea to attend the Good Food Shows. These help us to learn new trends and to judge consumer reactions. That way our business never gets stale.
We may moan about the cost of living and in particular, the cost of food but a report commissioned from data research company Euromonitor shows that in the UK, in fact, we are better off than most of the world.
On average, Britons spend 8% of their total household expenditure on food eaten at home. Only America and Singapore spend less. In context, Nigerians spend 59% of their household budget on food to be eaten at home with Greeks spending 16%.
What is more, UK food consumption is the cheapest in Western Europe at 8% less than the EU average. We are spending less on food than our grandparents ever did! While housing and leisure costs have doubled in the past 60 years, the amount of household income spent on food has more than halved.
Why is this? There are many reasons, notably technology, loyalty and discounters.
Constantly advancing technology has led to food production becoming more efficient with the mechanisation of farming and speeding up of production. Transportation, storage and distribution have also improved considerably. UK trade between other countries also plays a major role. The UK currently imports about half of all its food simply because it works out cheaper to do it that way.
Nowadays, people shop around. There is very little loyalty to brands or stores and large weekly shops have given way to more frequent shopping. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl and Jack’s are also key to the shopping routine. The former two stores have 13% of the UK’s grocery market.
Are there any threats to this state of affairs? Of course there are. The weather is a variable as always. Take 2018 as a classic example. Huge storms (remember the Beast from the East?) followed by a summer of scorching heat have wreaked havoc on crops with increased prices in supermarkets. For example, between March and July the wholesale cost of carrots rose by 80% and wheat by 20%.
Then there is the reliance on imported food. Here we must mention Brexit which has already caused the fall of the pound against the euro and the dollar, and trade disputes. Marmitegate led to Tesco temporarily dropping Unilever products when the manufacturer increased its prices. An update on the sales of Vegemite over this period is currently not available.
According to Lord Price, Conservative trade minister, a no-deal Brexit will lead to “a pretty significant increase in the cost of fruit and veg, the cost of meat and the cost of dairy products“. We will see.
Finally, our global tastes and habits are changing. There is much more demand for fresh produce rather than processed food. The vegetarian/vegan movement is extremely popular and there are more calls for organic food. Countries like China (a massive population) are becoming more affluent and making different choices when it comes to food.
It seems that the low cost of food in the UK may not be long lasting. Manufacturers and food producers will have to keep their eyes and ears open. They will need to be amenable to diversification and innovation to keep prices as low as possible through the coming uncertainty of variables such as Brexit and the weather.
Innovation has always been the catchword for this Show. Exhibitors, seminars, live demos and new features all showcase the latest in the food industry. Billed as the number one event for business growth and expansion in the food profession, the Show was well attended by a range of food and drink entrepreneurs striving for success.
The Show ranges from the food demo arena to the franchise area, where there were businesses opportunities for sale aplenty. From sustainability through to plant-based sustenance to plastic straws, it seemed there was no subject matter left unturned.
The Delivery Zone focused on the increasing demand for delivery with more restaurants providing this option to their customers. The zone highlighted the many suppliers of the transport to get food to the customer. It also included new packaging methods to keep the food safe along the way.
The Show had discussions touching on a variety of contemporary issues. Many of these featured advances in technology as a baseline. For instance, the discussion on how to leave better feedback at a restaurant brought up digital comment boxes, such as Blurtbox. This is an intuitive app that allows guests to log in and leave private, anonymous feedback. The restaurant can then respond to these in real time. The app is centred upon the massive impact of smartphone usage, which is perfect for the modern consumer.
One of the most interesting and modern issues featured street food. A street food trader was frustrated with the outdated process of finding a pitch so he founded StreetDots. This has resulted in a network of premium trading pitches or ‘dots’ to be booked via an app. The technology gives traders the freedom to trade with no long-term commitment.
Another seminar covered the way technology helps retain staff and customers, as what happens at the table is key to their satisfaction. Customers want their order to be taken quickly and accurately. Staff want to be equipped with technology that works quickly and efficiently making their jobs easier. The forum suggested many ways to improve the service, for example by centralising customer information, analytics and marketing database in one system. Or investing in intuitive touchscreen interfaces, making them easier for staff to use and which are less likely to cause problems for customers.
Technology and innovation were at the forefront of the Food Entrepreneur Show 2018, with ideas and advice on how to ensure that the catering industry is up to date with new ideas and techniques to keep up with modern demands from discerning customers.
Summer has all but evaporated with the promised Indian summer failing to materialise. It’s time to put away the flip-flops and sun-cream and turn our attention to the winter months. For most, it’s terrifyingly close to the countdown to Christmas. Even John Lewis is confusing us with a pre-Christmas Christmas advert. For thousands of people in care homes, autumn as with winter bring other worries.
Hundreds of care homes are not meeting legal standards. These specify that food should be “suitable to sustain life and good health” says a report published in the Independent. Over the past three years, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have found numerous older people’s care homes failing on the legally required standards for nutrition and hydration. The most serious cases involve residents lasting almost a week with the equivalent of two cups of water and “minimal food”.
To meet the standards, regulations specify people’s religious and dietary needs must be catered for and adequate food provided. A survey conducted in March suggested “abuse” of older people, such as not giving enough time to complete meals, occurs in 99% of care homes. This is driven largely by staff shortages.
This is an issue that has to be addressed fast. A recent study shows that demand for care home places will rocket by more than three quarters in less than 20 years. Almost 190,000 more elderly people will require care by 2035.
If we look at catering, there’s a very worrying issue in that qualifications for care home catering are virtually non-existent. In fact, the first professional catering qualification for health and social care catering (Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care) was only officially approved by the Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework in 2017.
The National Association of Care Catering (NACC), Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and the awarding body of the Institute of Hospitality (IOH) developed the Level 2. It is designed for health and social care settings and offers an awareness of diet and appetite issues. It covers nutrition, hydration, food modification. Also included are the effect of dysphagia on patients and how to plan, prepare, cook and finish food for this condition.
Peter Ducker, Chief Executive, Institute of Hospitality, said: “Caterers in hospitals and care homes now have their own rigorous and specific qualification for their unique training needs. This may encourage more people to choose health and care catering as a…profession and we would urge all organisations that work in the field of health and social care to make the new qualification available.”
Funding for care homes is high on the agenda for all political parties. Not least because the belief is that the industry is at crisis point. This means inevitably that something will change soon, hopefully for the better. Having an infrastructure in place, such as specialist qualified catering staff is a positive and proactive move. With apprenticeships now back on the agenda as an alternative to higher education, there is the opportunity to recruit a new generation of chefs with a brand new qualification.
AC Services (Southern) maintains a number of Rational appliances at care homes across the South West and South Wales. We recommend Rational ovens to those care homes looking for reliability, performance and quality with their cooking requirements.
For the first time since 1976, we have enjoyed a blisteringly hot summer. The sun has shone relentlessly down on the country, bringing hordes of holidaymakers onto the motorways of Britain, heading for the sea.
So much so that Cornwall issued a ‘cannot cope’ warning last week. Visitor numbers are already up by about 20% on the 4.5 million who usually flock to the region at this time of year.
Cornwall’s tourism chief Malcolm Bell claims the county is “struggling to cope” and the tourist board has decided to stop promoting a few of the most popular beaches.
And the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands is under siege from a massive surge in visitors. This has put the island’s infrastructure under pressure. Trends elsewhere suggest that the UK hotel industry will need to be able to cope with higher demand.
But on a positive note, imagine the joy of hotel owners and caterers as the mercury rises. It’s not just coastal areas that are eagerly looking forward to profits at the end of the year. London is expecting over 9,000 hotel rooms to open. This is more than the 8,000 rooms that opened in 2012, the Olympic year.
2017 had a boost to inbound holidays from the weak pound. But despite fears of a lull in 2018, there is a lot of optimism. Factors influencing travel to the UK in 2018 were the Royal Wedding, Farnborough International Air Show, the European Sports Championships in Scotland, the Gymnastics World Cup in Birmingham and the Terracotta Warriors to the World Museum in Liverpool.
The International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF2018) was held back in March and good news came from it. Last year economic outlook at the time was cautious, but this year, there was plenty of optimism.
Marc Socker, Managing Director of investment management firm Invesco, asserted that there was more interest than he had ever seen in the sector. “First and foremost, hotels is a growth sector,” also pointing out that only 4% of Chinese nationals currently have passports and 5% of Indians. In addition, it is quite mind-boggling to realise that 90% of Americans do not have passports. “Every increase of 1% (in those populations with passports) leads to tens of millions of new travellers coming into the European market,” he maintained.
After this summer, with the forecast for more similar sun-baked summers to follow, investors could do worse than put their money into resorts and complexes. The UK has a wealth of coastal accommodation. With hotter and longer summers, the UK hotel industry is ideally positioned to attract new investment and offer the UK as an alternative to other European or Mediterranean destinations.
The UK has one of the best heritages of any country. It is renowned for its historic locations and its excellent cuisine. Some of the best chefs in the world were if not born here, then settled and opened restaurants here. The UK hotel industry has to seize every opportunity to attract visitors and tempt them to the country’s shores.
Let’s talk about coffee, the favourite drink for all age groups. There is no getting away from the fact that coffee drinking has expanded exponentially over the past decade. Coffee franchises, independent sellers and street vendors on virtually every high street corner now cater for our coffee time.
Today, the trend is not so much the product taste, but the product provenance. And this is making a difference in the economic fortunes of less affluent coffee-producing countries.
Coffee Time History Lesson
Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th century. By the 17th century, had made its way to Europe. Today, the ideal conditions for coffee trees are found along the Equatorial zone called The Bean Belt . Coffee now grows in around 50 countries in the world from the USA to Mexico to East Africa and Asia. Good coffee beans depend on plant variety, soil chemistry, the weather and even the precise altitude at which the coffee grows.
Instant coffee represents by far the biggest share of the global coffee market. As with any coffee, it needs to be roasted relatively near to the end consumer so that it maintains its taste until it is actually drunk.
Ethical Coffee Trends
There is a growing call for ethical coffee, with an increasing number of consumers willing to pay more for ethically sourced coffee. The argument is that ethical sourcing benefits everyone from the farmers who grow the beans to the cafes selling the beverage.
Contemporary consumers are more interested in the provenance of the coffee beans. which has a direct influence upon their choice of coffee. According to statistics from the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), “smarter processing, branding and marketing makes a huge difference to growers and their communities”.
And with baristas armed with knowledge about the provenance of what they are serving, consumers are making the choice to help struggling individual farmers in less affluent countries. This trend means that farmers in the developing world are getting a better share in the global value chain.
For this trend to continue, we should look to the Continent for a different approach to coffee drinking. Takeaway coffees are the norm for busy people on the go but in some European countries, this is not necessarily the most popular way to enjoy a cup of coffee. Take Italy for example. The majority of Italians prefer their local coffee shop rather than a coffee to go for these very good reasons.
Firstly, it takes no time at all to walk into a coffee shop, order a coffee and drink it. Downing a freshly brewed espresso shot takes a matter of seconds and the coffee is fresh, readily available and tasty. Secondly, drinking coffee has become a ritualistic break. Those on the go can take a moment to recover, regenerate their batteries. And above all enjoy a quiet moment to enjoy the coffee. And finally, Italians do not like their coffee so hot that it burns the mouth. They prefer coffee served cooled down at the right temperature, so it can be drunk immediately.
The Cloud on the Horizon
For the third year running consumption has outstripped production. So far the good years have provided a buffer but this cannot last.
As Dr Tim Schilling, director of the World Coffee Research institute, an organisation funded by the global coffee industry, says: “The supply of high-quality coffee is severely threatened by climate change, diseases and pests, land pressure, and labour shortages – and demand for these coffees is rising every year“. In some coffee areas, temperatures have already risen enough to begin having quality impacts, he adds.
In the future production areas in Ethopia could be halved and Brazil reduced to a third of today’s. This can only mean that new varieties will come to the fore and the taste of coffee will change. So the next coffee time, ask where the beans come from and then enjoy the moment.
So far this year we have been spoiled rotten. Not only have we had the best run of good weather since 1976 but the World Cup has boosted the country like never before…well, not since 1990. Images of English football fans enjoying themselves have been flashed around the world.
There is no doubt that had we won the World Cup, the economy would have benefited exponentially. In the short term it has provided a major boost for pubs and clubs as people gathered to watch the games. These are the sort of in-country tourists that are often forgotten.
And don’t forget Mr Trump’s ‘I’ll Fix Brexit Singlehandedly’ tour. His controversial presence in the UK has sent pictures around the world, with people from all nations curious to see how he was received. The myriad snaps of him in Marine One on his way to iconic locations such as Blenheim Palace, Chequers, Windsor Castle and the inside of the Sun newspaper offices put the UK at the forefront of the world’s media.
2018 Inbound Tourism Forecast
The VisitBritain forecast for 2018 is for 41.7 million visits, an increase of 4.4% on 2017 which saw record highs with overseas visitors reaching 40.3 million. £26.9 billion in visitor spending is forecast, an increase of 6.8% on 2017.
Brexit looms with uncertainty as always and the ongoing value of the pound is a key variable. In financial terms, the pound remains much lower than its pre-referendum level and is forecast to continue to be weak throughout the medium term, indicating that Britain will remain a good value-for-money destination.
A spokesman from GlobalData commented: “The pound’s Brexit drop has rendered business and leisure trips to the UK more affordable, luring a growing number of European travellers.”
The UK economy has been boosted also by the emergence of countries such as Russia and Brazil from recession. China, India and much of South East Asia are continuing to grow at a rapid pace and residents of these countries are making plans to visit Britain.
Regional Success and the Future
Figures show 2017 was a record year for tourists in the South West, with South Devon particularly bolstered by a rise in tourism numbers. Some of the towns that attracted the most attention were Teignmouth, Dawlish, Salcombe and Exmouth, with 75% of visits to the website in 2017 from new visitors.
Bristol is hoping that its new museum, Being Brunel will attract more visitors. And the amazing weather has led to more and more people heading for the South West beaches.
With all indications that tourism will remain constantly buoyant over the next five years, it is an ideal opportunity for the food industry to capitalise on the current food diversity trends. Street food, pop-up restaurants and alternative food venues can help to create a Britain that can be lauded for its food as well as its locations. Catering should remain confident in its future investments to profit from tourists from home and abroad.
This summer has thrown up a few curve balls in football etiquette. We are experiencing new behavioural patterns. Such as how to react to England winning their opening matches and Germany being knocked out by a nation not exactly famed for its prowess on the football field. However, true to British tradition, there is always one constant in football to turn to – beer!
But it appears that the unthinkable is happening – we are running out of the fizzy stuff. It sounds like a spoof headline, an internet scam, FAKE NEWS. But we are far from April 1st and the truth is that Europe is suffering a CO2 shortage which is causing unfathomable consternation: the rationing of beer and cider.
It’s endemic. From the big drinks companies to the small bottling firms, the effect is being felt across the country. Heineken’s John Smith’s Extra Smooth and Amstel are hit, Tesco-owned Booker has started rationing customers to ten cases of beer.
The Ei Group, Britain’s biggest pub operator, said some beer brands were in short supply or not available. In possibly the most understated quote of all time, Brigid Simmonds, head of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said the timing was “unfortunate”.
How can there be a CO2 shortage?
Carbon dioxide is a by-product of the ammonia producing process for use in fertilisers. Other sources are bio-ethanol plants. It puts the fizz into beer, cider and soft drinks, and is used in food packaging to extend the shelf life of salads, fresh meat and poultry.
It also serves other purposes, such as being the most humane way to stun pigs and chickens before slaughter. Or to create dry ice, another product extensively used in the food industry to help keeps things chilled in transit.
What has happened recently is that some of the major mainland European fertiliser plants have closed down for routine maintenance. Here in the UK, only two of five plants that supply CO2 are fully operational.
Because peak consumption for fertiliser is the winter months, chemical companies have traditionally scaled back production towards summer. There is also the question of the low cost of ammonia at present which de-incentivises producers to restart production quickly.
The whole of Europe has been hit. But because the UK relies heavily on imports from the continent, we are the hardest hit.
And it’s not just beer, livestock is at risk, in particular pigs. Scotland’s biggest abattoir QPL has been forced to halt operations when it ran out of CO2 used to stun the animals before slaughter. Andy McGowan, chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers, said: “we’re pretty dismayed. The top priority is animal welfare – we will not have ourselves in a situation where the welfare is suffering.” Poultry slaughterhouses have already called for priority supplies when more CO2 comes onto the market.
It is not known how long the CO2 shortage will last. The government has admitted that it can do nothing to help as the issue is purely industry led. So savvy pubs and clubs are ordering in more stocks of real ale and promotions are being hastily put together with other alcohol beverage suppliers.
Let’s look on the bright side: we’re still in the World Cup, Germany are out (worth mentioning again), the sun is shining…beer and sausages are not too much to ask for, are they?
Well, it appears not, in fact in a recent poll, Britons favour a second referendum by a 23 point margin. And support for staying in the EU is now 53% compared to 47% who still back Brexit.
Nearly half of voters want a final say before Britain formally leaves the EU, according to the survey. The majority also want a soft Brexit. This is where the UK would stay both in the single market and the customs union.
Last week, the Government scored a victory by having its Brexit bill passed through Parliament after Theresa May saw off a revolt by Tory MPS. The bill now goes for Royal Assent becoming law.
The Government won the vote 319 to 303, only after assurances were accepted by would-be rebels that MPs would have a meaningful say. Exactly what this ‘meaningful say’ will be is up for scrutiny. But according to the Prime Minister, “today has been an important step in delivering the Brexit people voted for, a Brexit that gives Britain a brighter future, a Britain in control of its money, laws, and borders.”
“Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the EU in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons.”
However, there are clear signs that industry is losing patience with the Government’s seeming inability to negotiate a proper, clear-cut deal.
Airbus has threatened to pull business from Britain in the event of a ‘no-deal’ becoming the first big manufacturer to pull investment from Britain. Airbus generates a significant amount (£1.7 billion) in tax revenues, but the company is prepared to abandon plans to build aircraft wings at its British plants. Instead, production will move to elsewhere in Europe, China or the US.
“In the absence of any clarity, we have to assume the worst-case scenario,” warns Tom Williams, Airbus’ chief operating officer.
Key Dates for Brexit News
There are some key dates coming up that are crucial to the negotiations.
The first is this week, 28 June 2018 where the EU summit may include Northern Ireland border discussion.
On 18 October 2018, there is a key EU summit where both sides hope to agree outline of future relations. This allows time for UK parliament and EU members to ratify the deal by the deadline of 29 March 2019.
13 December 2018 will be a fallback option if the deal is not done by October. The Houses of Commons and Lords will vote on the withdrawal treaty.
Unravelling 43 years of treaties and agreements covering thousands of different subjects is massively complicated. And has never been done before. However, without an agreement on trade, the UK would operate with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules. This could mean customs checks and tariffs on goods as well as longer border checks for travellers.
As catering logistics depends on just in time delivery for optimum freshness and use, the knock-on effects of this could be significant. So it really is a case of watch this space until we in the catering businesses can plan sensibly!
A recent report from Pulse reveals that events have now become a rich tool for marketing organisations.
Experience-driven marketing is the way forward apparently, with people preferring a sense of “camaraderie and shared culture. Why eat luxury cheese at home when you could tap into a community of cheese lovers at a festival or pop-up marketplace?”
80% of millennials reported that they would prefer to make sacrifices of material or luxury goods to participate in experience-driven exercises. This is very welcome news in particular for the festival industry.
The report continues to say that more creative events in increasingly creative spaces have become the norm in 2018. Passive marketing techniques which were previously employed are now being replaced with “more personable, and intimate event spaces… as brands look to engage each individual customer.”
More than 7,000 major outdoor events are held each year. Outdoor events cover all activities from major festivals, agricultural shows, sporting and charity events through to small village and craft events.
Following the Olympics in 2012, the UK has established itself as a world leader in outdoor events. Now many UK companies export their events industry expertise. The sector has witnessed huge growth; between 2005 and 2009 there was an average annual increase of more than 1.64M adults attending outdoor events in the UK.
Festival Food Trends
One trend that has expanded over the years and has now become a sophisticated part of festivals is catering. Once upon a time, when festivals started, visitors were lucky to find anything more than a greasy burger or a curled up sandwich. Those days, however, are long gone. Today the culinary credentials of a festival have become increasingly important, and this is an accelerating trend.
Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, Paul Reed says that spending on food and drink at independent festivals was 36% higher in 2017 than in 2008. “Customer expectations have shifted considerably and, in some cases, food and beverage options can be as important as the music and arts programming itself,” he comments.
In March 2018, CGA Strategy, a consumer research group, published a report on festival-goers’ attitudes towards food and drink based on 5,000 interviewees.
The research revealed that the range of food and drink was an important factor when choosing which festivals to attend. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (61%) cited “a diverse selection of food and drink stalls” as a significant factor when choosing a festival.
On average, a music festival ticket cost £150. This is a significant amount and attendees expect a more luxurious experience. In addition, and more importantly, they also bring the cash to pay for it. Thus festival organisers are placing more emphasis upon the catering, from gourmet burgers to fresh, healthy smoothies, sushi and vegan options.
For the catering fraternity in the events industry, the options are endless and accelerating to provide a variety of food for every palate.