Tag Archives: Catering business

15 
Oct

Foods at Risk

Maple Syrup and autumn maples

There’s been constant activity in the global media over the past few years regarding climate change and the effect that it is having on the food we eat. We may be in danger of losing some of the food we are familiar with; due predominantly to the changes that are taking place in our climate.

This year, the British brassica has been affected by unusually heavy summer rains bringing flooding to the UK’s main growing region for cauliflowers, Lincolnshire. Elsewhere, the record-breaking heat-wave wilted fields of cauliflowers across the whole of Europe. This left a shortage in not only cauliflowers, but also cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

America’s organic apples, mostly grown in Washington State, are also in trouble. As is coffee, with at least three-fifths of current coffee species facing extinction, according to a recent study. More worryingly is the decline in wheat crops, a staple global food which is sensitive to temperature changes. Places like India could see a reduction in wheat harvests of between 6% and 23% by 2050.

Even the humble sushi roll is under threat. Japanese farmers are blaming warmer, cleaner seas for a decline in nori seaweed production. The nori production fell to its lowest level in 2018 since 1972, pushing up prices and decimating supply.

Maple Syrup

The 2019 maple syrup harvest has also been affected. According to The New York Times, 2012 saw production of maple falling by 12.5% overall due to an unusually warm spring. This impacts negatively on syrup production because the process depends on specific temperature conditions.

More recently, in 2018, production of maple syrup fell by 21.7% throughout Canada. The culprit was Canada’s warm weather during the winter with later than normal snow. Sugar content is determined by the previous year’s carbohydrate stores with sap flow depending on the freeze-thaw cycle.

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has even had to tap into its strategic reserves this year to avoid any shortages or price spikes for maple syrup. Quebec has put in place additional harvest areas to meet with high demands, and they are now being used widely.

From High to Low

In Vermont in America, sugar maple harvest has witnessed a renaissance in the 21st century following decades of decline. The revival comes as many Americans are turning their backs on refined sugars for natural products such as maple syrup, agaves and honey. Production of maple is now one of Vermont’s pre-eminent industries. In 2018, the value of Vermont’s maple syrup production exceeded $54.3M. This accounted for 38% of the maple syrup produced nationwide.

Producers are doing what they can to avoid any shortages; such as collecting the sap later in the season and introducing technological advancements. These cut down on traditional collection using buckets and replace it with miles of vacuum pump-operated tubing.

As Keith Thompson of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation says: “It’s not just about keeping the individual trees healthy, it’s about keeping the entire forest healthy.”

The maple syrup industry is currently keeping abreast of the problem. It’s initiating solutions to combat the inevitable changes in climate. It urges other industries to follow suit in order for our favourite foods to remain available. At AC Services, we thoroughly commend that approach.

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Published Date: 15th October 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Food Sourcing, News
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24 
Sep

Record Year for lunch! in 2019

lunch! Show logo

lunch! returned to London’s ExCel last week to the delights of food retailers, food-to-go operators, café and coffee shop buyers and owners, travel and leisure caterers.

The line-up of the show included 62 speakers appearing in 36 Keynote Theatre sessions, and more than 400 exhibitors.

This is a record number of exhibitors. They showcased a huge range of products and services; from ingredients to kitchen equipment and counter displays, food and drink to packaging, payment and business services.

Innovation Challenge

One of the highlights of lunch! is the Innovation Challenge award. Where this year, a record 110 competed with many of these innovations enjoying their official trade launch at the show. The products competing for a much-coveted gold Innovation Challenge Award were showcased in the Innovation Challenge Gallery. lunch! visitors chose the award finalists by voting for their favourites on opening day.

A significant part of the show was set aside for plant-based and ‘meat-free’ innovations. This catered for café, coffee shop, food-to-go operators and retailers looking to cater to the thriving vegan and flexitarian market. According to Marketing Week, last year, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation. This made it the country’s fastest growing culinary trend of 2018 with a market worth of £310m. Approximately 22 million people now claim to be flexitarian and one in eight Britons choose to be vegetarian or vegan. To reflect this, 52% of exhibitors at lunch! offered vegan or vegetarian alternatives.

Sustainability in Catering

Sustainability was another key theme. As some of foodservice’s biggest consumers of single-use packaging and disposables; coffee shop and food-to-go operators have been making huge strides to reduce their environmental impact. The Sustainability Panel addressed these issues with keynote speakers and included some of the top names in the industry; Ollie Rosevear, Head of Environment at Costa Coffee, Martyn Clover, Head of Food at Tortilla, Jim Winship, Director of The British Sandwich & Food To Go Association, and host Martin Kersh, Chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA).

The Panel also addressed contemporary issues such as tackling food waste, increasing food redistribution, reducing energy and water consumption, more recycling and reusing (packaging, uniforms, furniture etc), looking to alternative food sources, and encouraging behavioural change.

Hannah Squirrell, Customer Director at Greggs said: “the ‘Blue Planet effect’ has driven customer awareness of the environmental impact of their consumption choices to a whole new level. We are proud to support national environmental initiatives, including Surfers Against Sewage Beach and River Clean Series, and are committed to doing our bit to protect the health of the planet.

For reusable alternatives, visitors were able to see innovations such as the Ecocoffee Cup created with natural fibres made from bamboo waste material sourced from chopstick production. Similarly, Berrington Spring Water’s Aluminium Refill Water Bottle launched in June has tripled sales projections.

Lunch! is a great show to keep tabs on recent innovations and trends after a long summer. One for all catering businesses to put on the diary for 2020.

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Published Date: 24th September 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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13 
Aug

The Big Numbers of the UK Events Industry

UK events big and small

The events sector is worth £42.3B the UK economy. This is the direct spend by event delegates, attendees and organisers. While the spend by those accompanying attendees at business events is worth an additional £7.7B.

This why the cancellation of events like Boardmasters at the weekend can have a significant impact locally. Most amply shown by the 200,000 unneeded toilet rolls offered for sale by the toilet suppliers!

Breakdown of UK Events Spend

Conferences and meetings are worth £19.9B, with exhibitions and trade fairs amounting to £11B. Corporate hospitality and corporate events are worth £1.2B. While outdoor events and festivals and cultural events each bringing in £1.1B. Unsurprisingly, sporting events are worth £2.3B.

The events sector employs over 25,000 businesses that sustain 570,000 full-time jobs. Over 7,000 major outdoor events are held each year. Following the success of the 2012 Olympics; the UK has become a world leader in outdoor events with UK expertise sought globally.

There are a number of events coming up that the UK government is aiming to capitalise upon, including:

  • 2020 UEFA European Championships,
  • 2020 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower voyage,
  • 2021 Rugby League World Cup and
  • 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival of Britain.

The UK government published in June a comprehensive International Business Events Action Plan 2019 – 2025. This outlines in detail how the UK government policy will “support the business events industry in attracting, growing, creating and retaining international business events”.

Events Industry Impact on Catering

Which brings us to the impact on the catering industry. For those who have attended events in the past, whether sporting, music or entertainment, there has been a significant rise in the scope and quality of food available. In the past, there were three options: hot dog, burger or fish and chips but sophistication has entered the mobile catering market big time. Today, there is a bewildering choice of street food available at any worthwhile event.

Event catering can be a high-risk business, but with high risk comes the opportunity for huge rewards. The profitability of corporate catering has been highlighted recently by the acquisition by food delivery giant Just Eat of City Pantry . City Pantry works with suppliers to provide thousands of meals for corporate events and business meetings.

Working with City Pantry to accelerate its mission to improve and modernize the workplace dining experience is a great opportunity… it’s the right time for us to enter the corporate market and expand our offering.” Said Peter Duffy, Interim CEO of Just Eat.

Event Opportunities

Venue catering is a growing and expanding industry. It has many opportunities for start-ups and established caterers to capitalise on. Variety, quality and value are the key aspects for customers. With events drawing in more and more visitors every year, this sector of the industry has great potential.

Bob Fox, director, The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) offers some advice to those providing for outdoor events. “Experienced caterers can take five figure sums in only a few days. Before committing to any event, caterers need to ensure that the organiser knows what they are doing, that the event is well marketed and that the occasion is going to be a success. After all, the best stall in the world will make no money if there is nobody there to buy the product.”

While even the best marketing in the world can do nothing against the British weather if it decides to be bad; not planning events at all is the worst gamble given how lucrative it is for all kinds of catering businesses.

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Published Date: 13th August 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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17 
Jul

UK Tourism on the Move

UK Tourism

According to statistics from the ONS, visitor numbers to the UK are slightly down year on year by about 2%; with 2.9 million overseas visits in March 2019.

However, 2018 was a record-breaking year in terms of tourists so the figures are not in any way alarming.

Between January and March 2019, there were 7.8 million inbound visits to the UK. This is just 1% below the inbound visits in the same period in 2018. Overall, overseas visitors to the UK spent £22.7 B in the twelve months to March 2019. This is down a more worrying 8% compared to the previous twelve-month period.

Cricket Fever

In June and July, tourism gave a huge boost to the economy with the hosting of the Cricket World Cup. Hampshire County Cricket Club hosted five matches in the long-awaited tournament. This brought a total of £18.3 million to Southampton alone. While Birmingham is predicted to generate a staggering £32.1 million from the tournament.

Many of the fans have travelled from Pakistan and India to watch the cricket. The recent India versus Pakistan match witnessing a staggering 750,000 applications for the 26,000-seat stadium. The importance of sporting global events in terms of boosting the economy cannot be underestimated.

Government Boost

At the end of June, the government announced a deal to prepare Britain for an extra 9 million visitors per year. This is heralded as a major boost for the pub and hospitality sectors in particular. A Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board will be created to promote and market hospitality jobs as viable career options. A three-year industry led skills and recruitment campaign will also be funded.

In addition, local tourism zones will be created alongside a new business events strategy and more investment in infrastructure. The deal will also support the creation of 10,000 new apprenticeships for anyone building a career in tourism or hospitality.

Hospitality sector trade body UK Hospitality hailed it as a landmark moment as chief executive, Kate Nicholls explains. “This sector deal marks a tremendous moment for all of us in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries. The move will be absolutely critical in changing the perception of the sector within Government and the wider public opinion, and acknowledges hospitality is key to the country’s economic growth.”

The Rise of Chinese Visitors

Finally, China’s rising wealth has resulted in a huge growth of tourism abroad, making Chinese people the world’s most abundant tourists. A new travel trends study by TripAdvisor reveals that travellers from China have shown one of the biggest increases in views of UK destinations, with an increase of 133% in Chinese travellers.

Overall, these results are great news for the UK hospitality industry – we’re seeing real growth in interest from many countries and resoundingly good reviews from travellers,” said Fabrizio Orlando, industry relations manager, TripAdvisor.

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Published Date: 17th July 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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18 
Jun

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

Women's World Cup logo 2019

The Women’s World Cup is underway which gives us something to watch while the UK slowly drowns in the worst June weather in decades. The host country, France, is home over the next few weeks to 24 teams from six confederations with 17 matches scheduled to be played.

2019 is the eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with France winning the right to host the event for the first time. Matches are being played in nine cities across France.

The United States enters the competition as defending champions and firm favourites. Scotland, Chile, Jamaica and South Africa are making their Women’s World Cup debuts. Other teams include France, United States, Germany, England, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Norway, South Korea, China PR, Italy, New Zealand, Argentina, Nigeria and Cameroon.

If you were wondering, the emblem mimics the shape of the World Cup trophy football surrounded by eight decorative shards of light. This symbolises the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup. Ettie is the mascot. According to FIFA she is “a young chicken with a passion for life and football…the daughter of Footix, the official mascot of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.” How charming to see such a family-oriented tournament.

Catch up

So what are the talking points of the Women’s World Cup so far? A 13-goal fiasco from the United States team have sent fans into a frenzy. The Americans celebrated every goal with expected exuberance, adding on a fair few minutes to the end of the game. With this historic win over Thailand, the USA squad has taken the record for the biggest winning margin in a World Cup. That was previously held by Germany, who beat Argentina 11-0 in 2007.

Although as we go to press the World Cup virgins (Chile, Jamaica, Scotland and South Africa) have racked up nil points so far. But they are all performing well and are proving the theme of the World Cup slogan – Dare to Shine. And the attendance has been excellent throughout all of the venues, with the Netherlands fans seemingly the most avid. Their orange dominates the colour scene in the host French cities. Over 30,000 Netherlands fans packed PSV’s stadium against Australia.

Players to watch out for include Nikita Parris from England. Head coach, Phil Neville, claims that she could develop into one of the world’s best players. Parris scored the opening goal of England’s Women’s World Cup campaign in their 2-1 win over Scotland on Sunday. She was the Women’s Super League’s all-time top scorer last season with Manchester City before moving to European champions Lyon.

The competition concludes on 9 July 2019 where the winners will take the biggest prize in women’s football. And with the viewing figures for the Women’s World Cup, eight times that of men’s cricket, there must be an opportunity for catering businesses.

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Published Date: 18th June 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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11 
Jun

Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Food Producers

BANES region food producers

Healthy and sustainable food procurement is increasingly important and in the BANES region, they are taking it very seriously.

In 2017, the West of England Food Procurement Group was set up by four West of England local authorities including BANES. This has the aim of providing leadership on healthy and sustainable food procurement, catering and public health. The group works together to exchange information, share best practice and identify initiatives and actions; to support healthy and sustainable food procurement across the West of England.

And there are plenty of producers in BANES from which to choose in every food category. If you are looking for vegetables, try Plowright Organics. Mr Plowright started growing organic vegetables in 2000. He now runs a very successful veg box scheme as well as supplying wholesale markets.

At the end of last year, the company added an even more attractive item to its menu to offset the leeks, potatoes, carrots, onions etc. This is a fully compostable (plastic free) bag which is used to pack leafy produce. The bags are made using GMO-free starch from thistles, and will break down fully.

Family Affairs

If you really can’t live without quinoa, then the Bath Farm Girls can help you out. A family affair, the company provides the local community as well as the British Quinoa Company. The farm also produces wheat, barley and linseed grapes. It also runs a Countryside Stewardship scheme developing wildlife habitat areas and pollen and nectar mixes across the farm.

Oils and mayonnaise are the specialities of Bath Harvest Oils, pressed and bottled with love in Somerset. The company produces numerous flavoured oils such as lemon and basil as well as the trademark rapeseed oil, which contains vitamin E and Omega 3. This is produced by cold pressing small batches of seed grown on the Wilmington Farm. The family has been farming for four generations and can boast that Bath Harvest Rapeseed Oil is a fully traceable ‘field to fork’ artisan product.

Grown Green is a double award-winning sustainable market garden, based at Hartley Farm in Winsley. Founded in 2010, vegetables, herbs, salads and flowers are grown following organic standards year-round in polytunnels, herb beds and fields.

BANES Cheese and Meat

Do you need cheese? Then try Homewood Cheeses based in Ubley in the beautiful Chew Valley. The company makes its own cheeses by hand with ewes milk from two Somerset flocks. Choose from Fresh Ewes Cheese (curd), Halloumi, Ricotta, Pickled Ewes Cheese (feta-style) and a family of washed curd cheeses including Old Demdike. Homewood can be found every Saturday at the Bath Farmers Market and on the first Sunday of the month at the Frome Independent.

Finally, Larkhall Butchers is a multi-award winning shop situated in the heart of Larkhall, on the outskirts of Bath. A well-stocked traditional butcher’s counter supplements a selection of cooked and cured meats, as well as fresh fish and other accompaniments. The butcher’s is famous for its own sausages made freshly on site, using pea flour as a substitute for rusks for a range of delicious 100% gluten free sausages.

And these are just a few of the local food producers that AC Services Southern found in the BANES region.

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Published Date: 11th June 2019
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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04 
Jun

June’s Regional News Round-up

South West and Wales Food News

Every couple of months AC Services takes a look at what’s been making the regional news in the area it serves in the food and drink industry. This time Welsh news is uppermost.

It seems that Wales is thinking ahead and planning for any contingency caused to the industry by Brexit. The Welsh government has pledged to pump £22 million into the food and drink industry. It cites its support for agri-food as a “strategic priority”. In 2018 the Welsh food and farming sector was worth £6.8 billion employing 217,000 people. The cash will support innovation and help navigate the post-Brexit landscape.

It has a particular emphasis on strengthening European partnerships. This is an attempt to minimise the chaos surrounding Brexit which threatens to damage trading relationships. Food Innovation Wales has become a network partner of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Food KIK. With the funding from Wales, a dedicated EIT presence will be established in Wales. This links the Welsh industry to a wider consortium of industry players across Europe.

Plum Choice

Denbigh fruit from the Vale of Clwyd has been given protected food name status by the European Commission. It now stands proudly up with the likes of Welsh lamb and Caerphilly cheese. Denbigh boasts the only native variety of plum in Wales. Over the past ten years, it has witnessed a resurgence of plums being grown in the area.

It is only the 16th Welsh product, and Wales’ first fruit, to gain the EU’s prestigious protected food name status. It will now receive Europe-wide protection against imitation, misuse and fraud.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said: “I’m delighted The Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has been honoured with protected food name status. I hope it will prove a welcome boost for businesses in the area. With Brexit fast approaching, we are determined to support Welsh food and drink businesses and ensure they are given all necessary help in a challenging marketplace.”

South West English News

The opening of a new vegan street food café serving vegan pizzas, wraps, smoothies and homemade pancakes and crumpets to the residents of Teignmouth has taken place. Nourish Plant Based Cafe has a tantalising menu on offer. This includes garlic mushrooms, rocket, sundried tomatoes, soft cheese, refried beans, roasted veg, spinach, creme fraiche, guacamole, bean salad, tomato salsa and house aioli.

In nearby Seaton, a café serving all-local ingredients has been opened to support West Country food producers. All the food and drink at Taste of the West @ Seaton Jurassic is guaranteed to be produced locally in the South West. Devon Wildlife Trust is providing the venue.

“This is the perfect partnership for us,” says Richard Drysdale, Head of Visitor Centres for Devon Wildlife Trust. “We are committed to supporting local businesses and offering the very best food and drink to our visitors.” Taste of the West plans to roll out the café franchise throughout the South West.

Making Waves

And finally, there’s good news for the seafood industry. According to the most recent HMRC statistics (March 2019), the South West now exports more seafood than any other region in England. Overseas sales now total more than £155.7m in 2018.

Sales to China jumped by 25.9% in 2018, compared to the previous year. This is driven by increasing disposable income within China’s rapidly expanding middle class and the UK’s strong reputation for the quality of its catch.

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Published Date: 4th June 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Local food, News
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14 
May

Are We Killing Biodiversity

Biodiversity is under threat

As a company focused on servicing and maintaining Rational ovens for all sorts of catering businesses; it’s not surprising we’re also interested in food sourcing and safeguarding the future. For many of our clients the choice of ingredients and being different is important. This is why the first UN study of biodiversity set our alarm bells ringing.

This warns of “humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity”. The Food and Agriculture Organisation issued the report and the findings are pretty stark. Over the past 20 years, around 20% of the vegetated surface of the earth has become less productive. In other words, our global capacity to produce food is weakening.

What do we mean by biodiversity ? According to definition it is the “variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part…diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.” On the David Attenborough scale of climate-changing significance, it is way up there.

The Decline of Natural Assets

Scientists involved in the report found evidence the natural support systems underpinning the human diet are deteriorating around the world. Factories, farms and urban infrastructure in particular, are capturing land and pumping out chemicals. This is leading to a debilitating loss in natural assets. These include forests, coral reefs, soil biodiversity, grasslands, and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species.

There is a reduction in the amount of species indirectly involved in food production. Examples of these are crop-pest eating birds and water-purifying mangrove trees. Pollinators are at risk, and they provide essential services to three-quarters of the world’s crops.

But if we are producing more food than ever before, as we are, how is this possible? The sobering reality is that we are relying on ever-expanding monocultures. Incredibly, two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species. These are maize, sugar cane, wheat, potatoes, rice, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, cassava and sugar beet.

There are at least 6,000 cultivated plant species categorised as being in decline. At the same time wild food sources are becoming harder to find. Agriculture and urbanisation are taking much of the blame with habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, invasive species, pathogens and climate change.

Are We In Danger?

Is this overdependence on a handful of products a problem? Seemingly so, as the report cited the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s; the 20th century cereal crop failures in the US; and more recently the losses of taro production in Samoa in the 1990s as examples of when overdependence can have a brutal impact on humans.

Even the Lancett has joined the crusade, stating that “our diets are the largest cause of climate change and biodiversity loss is now overwhelming”. The global food system is responsible for around 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with the livestock sector on its own accounting for about 14.5% of that figure. Its solution? Halve global meat consumption, and more than double the volume of whole grains, pulses, nuts, fruit and vegetables.

If that’s too radical, in 2016, another report suggested an alternative solution. “Possible policy options include better protection of natural environments and ecosystems, limiting the scope of intensive agriculture, and finding alternatives to pesticides.”

Last word goes to Michael Higgins, Ireland’s president. “Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history. If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries.”

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Published Date: 14th May 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Local food, News
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23 
Apr

Healthier School Catering

Healthier School Catering

How do we ensure healthier school catering? The staple menu of choice of pizza and chips or other fast food items is one that constantly worries nutritionists; but a landmark pilot scheme by Chartwells has revealed an interesting trend.

Chartwells specialises in providing catering services to the education sector, and recently carried out research, the Nudge Nudge initiative. This discovered if there were methods linked to menu presentation and guidance that could be used to drive healthier eating in secondary schools.

The pilot scheme saw an average increase of 8% in healthier choice take-up. This has led to a new customised menu to be introduced nationwide after Easter to Chartwells’ portfolio of 450 secondary schools.

Nudge Nudge

The scheme involved school menus being tailored to include a number of ‘nudging’ techniques such as:

  • red heart stickers next to the more nutritious menu options;
  • descriptive adjectives relating to texture, taste or smell;
  • as well as information given out in assemblies, workshops and health stalls.

The most successful nudge, achieved through using red heart stickers on grab-and-go items such as selected sandwiches, fruit pots and water, increased sales by 8%.

In addition, students at the three schools targeted enjoyed a huge uplift in their knowledge. They scored 85% post-trial when asked 10 questions on nutrition and healthy eating compared to 36% before.

Richard Taylor, Managing Director of Chartwells, commented: “The results of the trial have provided us with so much insight into what more we can do to encourage healthy eating. Findings from this compelling pilot have been used to create new menus across our secondary schools. We believe that by working together and continuing to educate students about choosing more nutritious meals, schools as well as their pupils, will reap the benefits.”

Better Menus

In 2005, Jamie Oliver won the war over Turkey Twizzlers. This was followed by a ban on crisps and a restriction on deep-fat fried food in schools. In 2014, the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy was introduced in primary schools. The Department of Education issued revised standards the following year dictating that meals should include at least one portion of vegetables or a salad.

However, there are now fears that cost may send this progression leaping backwards due to Brexit uncertainty. According to the Food for Life’s State of the Nation report, the cost of school-food staples such as pasta, cheese and yoghurt rose significantly in 2018. Caterers said the cost of some fruit and vegetables had increased by 20 per cent. This they attribute to Brexit uncertainty, specifically confusion over trading arrangements.

That being said, it may be worth taking a leaf out of Ashley Painter’s book. As a kitchen manager, he helps prepare over 1,200 healthy schools a day. He is a finalist for the BBC Cook of the Year in this year’s Food and Farming Awards. This recognises that “a good canteen kitchen serving nutritious, cleverly-budgeted food transforms lives and it celebrates the people who are creating change through food.”

He works for Local Food Links in Bridport, Dorset. This is a non-profit organisation which has been providing healthy dinners to school children for more than a decade, winning numerous awards. It was recently named as one of the best businesses in the South West. With a limited budget but a lot of imagination and frugality; he manages to provide healthy, inexpensive, nutritious food to thousands of hungry children.

So the answer is we can provide healthier school catering through focused initiatives.

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Published Date: 23rd April 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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02 
Apr

International Food and Drink Event Report

International Food and Drink Event logo 2019

17-20 March saw more than 27,000 visitors travelling to ExCeL London for The International Food & Drink Event (IFE) 2019. Over 1,350 drink and food brands were exhibited. Many new products showcased including healthy ketchup, meat-free burgers and charcoal infused beverages. Talking Trends and Tasting Trends were self explanatory sections of the show. The Hub provided a networking space for visitors and exhibitors and played host to the Festival of Food and Drink.

Brexit negotiations were on most people’s minds. There were plenty of discussions on the implications of Brexit; in particular, the import and export of food and drink produce. Key seminars from The Food and Drink Exporters Association and The Food and Drink Federation debated the core issues. Their key message to the sector is to focus on the need to protect the quality, diversity and range of food and beverages produced in the UK.

Improving Sustainability in Food and Drink

Sustainability was a theme high on the agenda. More than 50% of food and drink companies revealed that their biggest challenge regarding sustainability was the task of reducing their dependency on single-use plastic. The Campden BRI Conference focused on this theme with a debate on Sustainable Packaging: smart choices and shelf-life testing.

The environmental impact of the use of single use plastics in food and drink is a huge issue. Retailers and food manufacturers are committing to make the move to sustainable packaging wherever possible. But this needs to be done without compromising the safety and quality of food.

Speakers from many industries including academia and industry schemes talked on many topics. These included sustainable packaging options to maintain shelf life of foods; reframing the plastics debate: a use phase approach; the effect of shelf life extension on household waste; the case of packaged fresh foods; and the idea of packaging design for end of life.

One of the seminars explained how to make informed choices on plastics and waste. It increased understanding of waste management infrastructure and how the packaging supply chain can work together to increase packaging reuse or recycling. Experts from organisations such as Defra, WRAP, the Packaging Collective and the Soil Association, took part.

Dead Giveaway

As part of the sustainable theme, IFE partnered with City Harvest to redistribute food surplus from exhibitors at the end of the day. This resulted in the equivalent of five million meals delivered to 66 projects within London.

Soraya Gadelrab, Event Director, said: “As one of the biggest international food and drink events, IFE has to live up to high expectations and this year certainly delivered. The 2019 event was truly the best yet with boundary-pushing products being introduced to the market from a wide-range of innovative exhibitors; thought-provoking and insight-driven debates and presentations.”

IFE certainly gave us food for thought at AC Services.

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Published Date: 2nd April 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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