Tag Archives: Food producers

04 
Dec

Good Food Show Birmingham Report

BBC good food show winter logoThe 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.

Big Kitchen

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.

Winter Kitchen

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.

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Published Date: 4th December 2018
Category: Blog, Events, News
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27 
Nov

Let’s Talk Christmas Turkey

Christmas turkeyTradition plays a major role in choosing Christmas food. At some point before the big day, we decide where and when to do The Big Shop. And it’s a major event in the calendar. Whether it’s off to one of the high street supermarkets or down to the local butcher for the Christmas turkey.

But tastes change significantly: more and more people, especially younger members of the family are making life choices. Some become vegans or vegetarians, some are gluten or lactose intolerant, others demand free range…so as a commercial buyer, where do you source your Christmas turkey?

Turkey All Round

Wherever you are in South West England and South Wales, there is an easy way to find your closest turkey farm by using the NFU finder . Just enter your postcode and set the range. The list of local farms pops up for you to contact like Harts in Gloucestershire 

If you are near Exeter, Rosamondford Turkey Farm provides traditional, naturally reared Devon turkeys. The turkeys roam the pastures and are fed on the finest locally produced ingredients. All turkeys are dry-plucked and hand finished to avoiding bruising or marking of the bird. All birds are grown, prepared and supplied on the farm premises. They are only fed a natural cereal and vegetable protein diet without additives or animal proteins. The flavour comes from dense meat and natural marbling.

In South Devon is Scobbiscombe Farm,  a National Trust owned farm in Kingston. The turkeys have been specially bred to grow slowly. The farm also supplies the ‘TINY’ breed of turkey. This is a smaller bird without compromising on the importance of rearing to full maturity.

As a member of the Traditional Farmfresh Turkey Association, assurance is provided of the highest quality turkey and the highest standards in welfare, traditional methods and hygiene. As far as the turkeys go their welfare is identical to that of birds reared on well−run organic enterprises. The turkeys arrive as day-old chicks at the end of June each year and are carefully reared under heat lamps until 5-6 weeks of age. They are fed on a proprietary turkey food which is supplemented with home-grown cereals from 10 weeks of age and they live until approximately 23 weeks of age twice the age that many supermarket turkeys will live.

Organic Turkey

Organic turkey is available in many places but if you are catering in Wales, there is the award-winning organic and free range poultry from Capestone Organic Poultry Ltd . Today the business is run by Justin Scale, the fifth generation to farm at Capestone with all poultry reared, produced and processed on site.

Traditional organic farming methods and working with nature produce a slower-growing bird, reared and produced from slow growing bronze strains. The turkeys have constant daytime access to lush organic pastures on which they are free to roam and forage from four weeks of age.

Don’t Forget the Sprouts

Just space to mention fruit and veg: from fruit to vegetables and from dairy to salads, Milfords supplies a vast area in the south west supplying loose and pre-packed fruit across Devon, Dorchester and Somerset locally from the West Country whenever possible.

In Wales, Peter Broughton Cardiff, is one of Wales’ largest independent fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers. Their fleet of refrigerated trucks, trailers and vans are ready to distribute food, offering exceptional freshness and quality. From kale to carrots, from swede to purple sprouting broccoli, everything is catered for! 

Wherever you get your Christmas turkey, it’s still not too late to source locally.

 

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Published Date: 27th November 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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16 
Oct

Low Cost of Food UK Reality Check

Low cost of food in UKWe 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.

No Loyalty

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%.

Marmitegate

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.

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Published Date: 16th October 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Local food, News
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25 
Sep

September South West Food News

South West and Wales Food NewsThis week has seen storms batter the UK, with Storm Bronagh wending its way across the isles with gusty intent.

Mince pies have been spotted in the shops and some stores have already set up their Christmas stock. Light yoghurt has been removed from WeightWatchers no-sin list. The oldest cheese in the world has been found in Egypt dating back 3,200 years. 

Meanwhile closer to home, it has been revealed that South West food and drink exports have reached £838m which is very good news for the region.

Unsurprisingly, seafood has been the biggest export at £176m with dairy products the second most popular at £147m. Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, including nuts and olives, showed the largest increase of any food and drink product, up 26% to £17m. This represents an increase year on year of 8.7%.

South West Triumphs

Paul Shand, head of exports in the South West for the Department for International Trade, said: “South West food and drink producers are rapidly developing a reputation around the world for their high quality food and drink.” It goes to show that the food and drink industry is thriving and despite the uncertain economic background, people are still demanding quality food from reputable sources.

In Wales, there are also a few pats on the back with Welsh food and drink businesses triumphing in this year’s Great Taste awards, proving once again that food and drink from Wales has a deserved reputation for quality and taste. A whopping 153 products from Wales, from independent artisan producers to larger distributors, were recognised in the awards, with 110 Welsh products achieving one star, 31 getting two stars and 12 being deemed worthy of the three-stars accolade.

Great Taste

Described as the Oscars of the culinary world, Great Taste is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. Among the winners were Forte’s Ice Cream’s mascarpone and caramelised fig ice cream and organic Zambian forest honey from Tropical Forest Products.  The latter was the first company to import organic honey and beeswax from Africa, nowadays importing honey and beeswax from forest beekeepers in Zambia, Ethiopia and Cameroon. Apart from the delicious flavour, the company’s development work makes a change to the livelihoods of beekeepers and their families, and ensures the continued protection of the forest by the local communities who benefit from them.

Forte’s finds the purest and finest ingredients in the world and use them to produce the best ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt available. This has led to the creation of over 35 flavours of ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts all made with fresh milk, double cream and only the finest ingredients.

Finally, a Somerset restaurant has been named the best in the whole of the South West, a nice surprise for the restaurant during its 25th year. The New Farm Restaurant in South Petherton stormed to two major awards: Best South West Restaurant and No 1 Place to Go – the latter being the biggest award of the night. 

John Sheaves, chief executive of organisers, Taste of the West, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response from the South West’s food and drink industry to our awards programme this year. These awards underpin our core values and strengthen our regional brand, a brand which is attracting considerable interest from new markets.

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Published Date: 25th September 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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04 
Sep

Fish and Ships

Fish stock worriesIn the week of Anglo-French scallop wars beginning again with lapsed agreements and nothing to replace them; the next in AC Services series of food under threat. Our focus is on cod and the need for co-operation for mutual benefit by protecting fish stocks.

Since 2006, the cod levels in the North Sea have been causing alarm to a variety of organisations. These range from the fishermen catching their livelihood, to the sustainable brigade worried about responsible farming levels. And then there’s the government concerned about revenue.

However, since last year, North Sea cod is now sustainable and can be eaten with a “clear conscience”, according to The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which has given this great British fish its “blue tick” label. This shows that North Sea cod caught by English and Scottish fishermen is not only sustainable but fully traceable.

Cod Depletion Levels

Here’s a little bit of fishy history. By 2006, anxiety began to grow about the stock levels in the North Sea which were at historically low levels. Levels had actually fallen to a mere 44,000 tonnes. This was a dramatic fall from the 200-300,000 tonnes witnessed in the 1960s and early 1970s. Obviously these figures cannot be exact. No one is entirely sure how many fish there are but the estimates are as scientifically accurate as possible.

This news called for a collaboration between the fishing industry, government and scientific research enterprises. They pulled together to recover the stocks to a level which saw North Sea cod reach the gold standard of full MSC certification.

The causes of this fall in levels were multiple. Pressure from European fisheries resulted in high takes of haddock, cod, whiting and saithe caught in the North Sea causing over-exploitation beyond a sustainable level until the 2000s. As a result, cod in particular was at risk of falling outside safe biological limits.

Subsequently, the European Union and Norway initiated the ‘Cod Recovery Plan’.  This plan included measures to control and reduce the fishing effort, as well as introducing restrictions on catches of cod and other stocks. Other measures included new nets and closing spawning areas to fishing, modified fishing gear, catch controls, well-managed fishing practices. The fishing industry worked closely with the Scottish government and the EU Fisheries Council on the recovery plan.

Want Plenty of More Fish in the Sea?

The stocks have to be independently assessed before they can be given the MSC blue tick. If you can see the mark, the cod is guaranteed to come from a sustainable source and by choosing fish with that label, buyers and customer are helping to protect future stocks.

There are some who believe that overfishing and endangered stocks is a myth: people in Newfoundland, Canada believed it too until 1992 when the cod fishing industry came to a sudden stop with no cod appearing at the start of the fishing season. Overfishing caused by fisheries mismanagement was the main cause for this disaster.

We have made the decision to leave the EU and to withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention. These currently allow foreign vessels to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of UK coastline. No one knows what this means in terms of North Sea fishing management. But by everyone pulling together, crises can be identified and averted. So next time you buy fish including cod, look for the blue tick so we can all win.

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Published Date: 4th September 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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28 
Aug

Regional Meat, Cheese and Pickle

South West FeastWiltshire has a long history of traditional food and drink. Wiltshire bacon has long been famous. Rumour has it that the name, Swindon, is derived from Swine-toun, or pig farm.

Tradition states that local resources offered a diet to Wiltshire pigs that gave their flesh special flavour. This is supposed to be acorns from the plentiful oak forests nearby or imported molasses.

In its heyday, Wiltshire in the 19th century had a far superior cheese-making heritage than Somerset although cheese-making died out almost completely after the 2nd World War. But today both counties have some great complementary food producers.

Artisan Food

Today, however, there are many food producers and artisans who supply the county with fantastic food, from bread to cakes to pies and cured meats. Lovett Pies has a popular regional following, with the owners claiming that the pies are meticulously designed with well-balanced fillings encased in homemade shortcrust pastry. The ingredients are all sourced to bring out the very best flavours, with recipes such as beef, bellringer ale and Bath blue cheese to puy lentil, Welsh rarebit and kale. Vegetarian options include sweet potato, goats cheese, squash, spinach and plum chutney.

The Somerset Charcuterie uses traditional artisan methods with a Somerset twist with owners, Andy and James having been hobby charcutiers for several years. Over a pint of cider at a local lawn-mower race, the idea for a quality British Charcuterie business was conceived. Today, the friends have a range of products that follow traditional Spanish, French and Italian methods but are adapted to the British market. Everything is handmade to preserve the artisan texture, flavours and look.

Cheese and Pickle

White Row Farm’s motto is ‘from crop to shop’. This farm deli stocks cheeses such as Bath soft cheese, Wyfe of Bath, Cheddar Gorge cheese, Bath blue, sheep’s milk cheese, organic cheese, goats cheese, quince jelly, Snowdonia cheese, Wookey Hole Cave aged cheddar. It also stocks meats and cured meats such as sliced White Row ham, chorizos, cured sausages and homemade terrines.

Finally, if you are looking for a pickle, then look no further than Wiltshire’s Rosie’s Relish and Pickle. We all like a bit of relish to accompany our pies and cheese and Rosie has a range of interesting flavours that perfectly suit any food. All chutneys, pickles, relish and preserves are all handmade in small batches using traditional and innovative recipes. Bread and Butter Pickle comprises sliced cucumber and onion in a spiced vinegar, delicious when added to a salad or sandwich and suitable for vegans.

Look out for AC Services next blog on local food producers in our region to help catering businesses with local sourcing and ideas.

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Published Date: 28th August 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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31 
Jul

Coffee Time

Coffee TimeLet’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.

Italian Influence

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.

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Published Date: 31st July 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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10 
Jul

What’s New in Restaurant Food This Year?

Restaurant food trendsAccording to the BBC’s Good Food guide, there are new restaurant food trends that diners are enjoying in 2018.

The keywords are health, the environment and the community which have translated into exciting new trends in food and drink.

One of the most innovative is gut-friendly foods, which comprise probiotics like kimchi, kefir and miso and prebiotics such as onions, garlic and other alliums. It’s all about plant-based diets and root-to-stem eating.

Diets are focused on produce rather than meat with people shifting away from highly processed foods towards whole foods. In addition, there are now a reported 550,000 vegans in the UK, up 360% over the past 10 years. This means that tastes are shifting and restaurant food is having to become more adventurous and creative to accommodate this new demographic.

Faux Meat

The faux meat industry is booming as more chefs embrace ingredients such as chickpeas, falafel, tempeh and tofu, and food technicians globally are working hard to develop a range of faux meat products.

In America, there’s a company that not only produces a totally plant-based burger but there’s a secret, not-on-the-market-yet added ingredient called heme which gives the faux meat a blood-like appearance for those who (used to) like their meat rare.

The Arrival of Hemp

Hemp is the new superfood. It is a highly nutritious source of “quality plant-based protein” according to Paul Benhaim, the CEO of Elixinol Global, which makes hemp product.

Hemp is an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Perhaps the easiest way to consumer hemp is via the seeds which a number of restaurants are now using as a garnish. Despite coming from the same plant species as cannabis, the tetrahydrocannabinol (the hallucinogenic component in cannabis) level in hemp is minimal.

The Environment

Increasingly, restaurants are using all parts of a food to minimise waste. This root-to-stem eating is a fantastic foodie trend requires diners to eat the whole fruit or vegetable.

For example, don’t throw broccoli stems away. Simply slice them into little discs and roast them as an alternative to croutons. In the same way, pickles can be made out of watermelon rind and crunchy garnishes made from baked potato peelings.

I Can’t Believe …

Keep an eye out for the new craft cultured butter. Butter Culture has produced a new batch of churned cultured butter. This uses local Jersey cow milk produced from English bred Jersey dairy cows, a healthy bacteria culture and a dash of naturally mineral rich Himalayan pink rock salt. It is a traditional Scandinavian recipe. The lactose eat the sugars and carbohydrates in the cream and produce specific lactic acids. These are incredibly rich in butter flavours.

Also note that the unicorn trend so popular at the beginning of the year is out and purple is in. Apparently, instagram is responsible in part for this trend…purple food is incredibly photogenic.

Finally, drinks. 2018 is seeing the return of historic small beers with low ABV, mead, port and vermouth appearing on cocktail bar menus. This reaffirms the idea that alcohol should be for enjoyment, rather than just the obvious side effects. Confirming once again the key restaurant food trends are health combined with flavour.

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Published Date: 10th July 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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03 
Jul

Putting the Fizz Back

CO2 shortageThis 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.

Football Fever

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?

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Published Date: 3rd July 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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12 
Jun

Somerset’s Food Producers

Somerset Cheddar gorgeSomerset is synonymous with Cheddar cheese, but there are so many more delicacies that the county offers.

The Bath Bun, sprinkled with sugar and coloured with saffron is as famous as the doughy Sally Lunn Cake, piping hot with lashes of cream. The Bath Oliver cracker biscuit goes nicely with Bath Chaps. These are pigs cheeks or lower jaws salted and smoked then boiled and coated in breadcrumbs.

But it is the Cheddar brand that has been a favourite for centuries. When poor imitations started to crop up by the 18th century, stringent rules were put down to protect it.

Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the UK. Its accounts for 51% of the country’s £1.9 billion annual cheese market. It is also the second-most popular cheese in the US (behind mozzarella). 

Not Just Cheddar

The first cheese made at Willet Farm near Taunton was a sheep’s milk cheese. This was shortly followed by the product after which the company is named and which is the flagship of the business; Exmoor Blue.  Made from Jersey cows’ milk, it was the forerunner of the range of cheeses now produced on the site of the farm.

All cheeses, including Somerset Blue, Partridge’s Blue and Buffalo, are handmade to traditional recipes and methods using only the milk from local herds. To the milk is added vegetarian rennet, starter cultures, penicillin roqueforti (which gives the characteristic blue tang as the cheese is matured) and salt. Exmoor Blue has been awarded Protected Geographical Indication status. This ensures that the cheese is made to specified standards using local milk from within the designated area.

Honey and Vegetables

Honey, the natural sweet nectar is also produced in quantity in Somerset. Sedgemoor Honey  is situated on the outskirts of Taunton. It produces the finest Somerset honey available through local shops, farm shops and National Trust outlets.

From two hives on the back garden in the 1970s, owner Chris Harries now runs 300 colonies of bees. Divided between 20 apiaries, they forage for nectar in the fields and hedgerows of Somerset. During the summer months many of the hives are relocated to changing nectar flows. This includes the purple heather of Exmoor, with its distinctive aroma and flavour. As well as providing a much desired pollination service for local farmers and growers, the company also rears queen bees and nucleus colonies for sale to other beekeepers.

Stoneage Organics specialises in organically grown produce. In addition to a farm in Oake, the family run business also has a farm near Bishop’s Lydeard. This has been fully organic since 1st January 2001, where the majority of the growing is now done.

Stoneage has been growing organic vegetables since 1988 and introduced the Vegetable Box Scheme in 1993. Each week, a selection of fresh, seasonal produce is packed into three sizes of box. Potatoes and carrots appear virtually every week, and onions most weeks. The remainder of the box is made up of various items depending on the time of year from aubergines, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, broad and runner beans, cauliflower, celery, chard, Chinese leaves, courgettes, fennel, pak choi, parsley, parsnips, peppers, radish, spinach, squash and more! 

There are many more local food producers in Somerset that need a shout out. So no doubt the AC Services series will feature some more soon.

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Published Date: 12th June 2018
Category: Blog, Local food, News
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