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The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend is fast approaching to celebrate her 70 years of service to the country and Commonwealth.
She has served longer as the British monarch than Queen Victoria, who managed almost 64 years. And in case it comes up in a quiz, she needs to go beyond 72 years and 110 days to beat Louis XIV of France for the ultimate record as longest serving monarch.
Any way you look at it, it’s an impressive feat of service in the many senses of the word.
Four Day Weekend
The official Platinum Jubilee celebrations take place over the 4-day weekend from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June:
- 2nd June Trooping the Colour from 9-12.30, followed by the official fly past at 1pm
- 2nd June lighting of the beacons across the country at 9.45pm
- 3rd June Service of Thanksgiving at St Pauls
- 4th June Queen to go racing for the Epsom Derby
- 4th June Platinum Party at the Palace broadcast by the BBC
- 5th June Platinum Pageant Procession with a carnival atmosphere at Buckingham Palace
- 5th June official Big Jubilee lunch
In all a good mixture of celebration, fun and traditions, old and new. Trooping the Colour always happens on the Queen’s birthday weekend, but has been moved to a June spot to coincide with the weekend. Beacons have always been lit on the Queen’s Jubilees in what seems to be increasing numbers of sites. While the Queen’s favourite hobby gets a look-in at the Derby, because life cannot always be about work perhaps?
Parties, processions and lunches always provide opportunities for catering businesses of all kinds. So, the question for all is what could you do for this weekend with your catering business? If, for example, it’s hospital catering, how could you mark the key days for staff and patients unable to join the main festivities? If you’re a sports bar is there a link to the Derby to be made? And for all what links could be made to national or local events?
It’s not too late to plan so that food, drink and staff are all available in this opportunity to celebrate and create memories. Start by checking out the many planned events on the official government website. This is a listing of events already planned by geographic area, so there may be an easy link to something already happening. A pre-beacon lighting drinks/meal or watching the beacons in comfort? Even better there is the opportunity to submit your own event to help publicise it more widely as well as telling your local media.
The Big Jubilee Lunch has its own website for more ideas. The key here is that lunches can and will take place on any of the 4 days, not just the Sunday. It’s all about pulling local communities together to celebrate in whatever format that works. This could be a single venue lunch or getting together with others for a multi-stop tasting menu. Or working with local groups to help their fundraising and awareness on one of the days.
Above all the Platinum Jubilee is the opportunity to celebrate service and those who have managed to overcome the challenges that life has thrown at them along the way.
The Office for National Statistics confirmed last year what British beer drinkers have been complaining about for the past decade. Over the last ten years, the price of a pint has risen by more than 30%.
In May 2009, you could buy a pint for £2.81 and as of March 2019, the price was £3.67 on average. However, this varies from city to city: a beer in London was more than double in 2019 (55%) of the price of a beer further north.
A survey by St Austell Brewery’s Proper Job IPA also revealed that the perfect pint should:
- have a head of 9mm,
- be served in a ‘proper’ pint glass preferably at 5.30pm on a Saturday,
- with a partner or best mate in a beer garden accompanied by a bag of crisps and
- a singular lack of mobile phones!
However, this may all be academic in light of various issues encircling the brewing industry. The first is climate change: over the past few months globally we have seen severe drought, rising temperatures and epic floods. All have a substantial effect on barley yields worldwide impacting the supply used to make beer. They also affect all the other key ingredients.
Don’t think you’re safe if you drink wine…combining long-term records with global data, researchers have suggested that if temperatures rise by 2°C, the regions suitable for growing wine grapes could shrink by as much as 56%. Stoke that up by a further 2°C and 85% of those regions would no longer be able to produce good wine.
In addition, there has been an ongoing constant battle with the tax burdens facing the pub industry. UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls spoke about the issue of rising prices overall across the trade. She commented “costs continue to increase for businesses. So it is no wonder that the average price of a pint continues to climb. Even with the scrapping of the beer duty escalator, many businesses have no choice but to pass costs on to customers.”
Rise of Independents Affects Style
Also affecting British beer consumption is consumers shifting from mass-produced, low flavoured lagers from well-known, well-established beer companies to quality independent beers from craft brewers. A recent report points out a considerable growth of the no- and low-abv category. This registered a massive 381% sales increase compared to its market share only two years ago.
Traditional British beer styles such as mild, bitter and golden ale are experiencing challenges with overall production dropping from 14% in 2016 to 5% in 2019 and the percentage of featured producers brewing these styles decreasing accordingly, from 44% in 2016 to 31% in 2019.
Finally, the drinks trade has warned that the UK government’s announcement this week to deny visas to low-skilled workers is set to cause a massive challenge to the UK’s pub, bar and restaurant sector.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the points-based immigration system would present significant challenges for the pub sector. She commented “many pubs rely on workers from overseas. So it is hard to see how they will cope with such fundamental changes coming into effect in just ten months. Pubs will especially struggle with the costs and complexities of becoming a sponsoring employer in order to take on staff from outside the UK.”
As an authorised Rational Service and Spares Partner, AC Services Southern repairs and maintains the complete range of Rational units. This includes the VarioCookingCenter previously sold under the Frima brand. So this week we’re focusing on that as one of the units we service for clients across South West England and South Wales.
Rational’s VarioCookingCenter® is the ideal multi-functional appliance for any kitchen because it can do a multitude of cooking tasks at the same time. The beauty of the appliance is the value it offers – savings in time, cost, speed and ultimately, profits.
The VarioCookingCenter® is suitable for any catering requirements, from small caterers to high-end restaurants. With over 95% efficiency, it cooks up to four times faster than conventional appliances. And uses up to 40% less power consumption.
Moreover, it has cooking versatility, letting you cook several different dishes quickly at the same time. The multi-functional cooking technology lets you bake, boil, roast, toast, braise, deep fry and a host of other cooking techniques. So if you are serving a full English breakfast; you can serve up the fried bacon, boiled eggs, sautéed tomatoes and toast all at the same time.
The appliance also offers a pressure-cooking feature, enabling the reduction of cooking times for a range of dishes. Times for soups, stews, casseroles and braised dishes can be cut by 30% without compromising taste or quality. The built-in cooking intelligence VarioCookingControl® ensures the desired cooking level is achieved precisely.
Another major benefit of the VarioCookingCenter is its space-saving value. If you are tight on space, then this system is the perfect solution. It has an integrated water outlet which allows draining without any movement to the pan. This prevents scalding and allows the appliance to be installed without a floor channel drain. Furthermore, because nothing sticks or overcooks, cleaning time is minimised.
The appliance has been designed by experts using intensive R&D, testing and analysis to attain the optimum cooking intelligence. As a result, the VarioCookingCenter works day and night with minimal monitoring or checking required. Because the appliance sensitively regulates the temperature at the touch of a button, you get a perfect cooking result the next morning. This is a major boost for larger cuts of meat that need overnight boiling like ham or cured pork, beef and brisket.
The VarioCookingCenter is a sustainable and holistic approach to everyday cooking designed for resource savings using the very latest technology. Contact us here at AC Services (Southern) for more details if you need it serviced or maintained on 01454 322 222.
If you’d like to buy one, contact Rational UK or attend a local cooklive demonstration to see its suitability for your business.
There’s good news for a change. Reports published today show that for the first time in a decade, UK pub numbers have risen. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number rose by 0.8%. And the main reason is down to food sales.
In 2003, four in 10 employees within the UK pub industry worked behind the bar and three were employed in the kitchen; but today, the story is very different. Pubs and bars across the UK now employ 457,000 people and of this, food staff make up 43.8% of employees.
It seems that going for a pint has transfigured into going out for a meal. This is very good news for the industry. Despite the significant closures seen over the past few years, there has been an increase in jobs. With 7,000 (an increase of 16%) more jobs in the sector in 2019 compared with 2018.
There is no doubt that our consumer habits are changing with pubs having to diversify to accommodate these changes. It may come as a surprise that one of the largest chains, J D Wetherspoon, serves more coffee than any other restaurant, except for Costa.
But the chain has proved it can put its money where its mouth is. It announced last month that would inject £200m into the business over the next five years, with the creation of 10,000 new jobs and new pubs.
In the same vein, independent and smaller pubs are serving coffee, tea and breakfast to attract a different demographic such as women and families.
These changing habits are further reflected in a report just out. This confirms vegan food to be on the increase, with sales of meat-free foods expected to exceed £1.1bn by 2024.
In 2019, more than one in four new food product launches were labelled vegan. Last year, a smorgasbord of meals and snacks aimed at vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians went on the market. The uncontested leader of the pack being the outrageously popular Gregg’s vegan sausage roll.
14% of Britons consider themselves flexitarian, meaning they consume meat occasionally but their diet is mainly plant-based. This is twice as many as vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians combined. And those cutting down on meat soared from 28% in 2017 to 39% in 2019. Sales of meat-free foods rose to an estimated £816m in 2019, up 40% from £582 million in 2014.
Still Pressure for Smaller Pubs
It was also reported that the number of micropubs, small pubs and bars in the UK saw a rise in 2019 by 0.4%, the first time in over 15 years that the net figure has increased. This category is defined as those with under 10 employees, however, it is also under a great deal of strain faced with challenges such as business rates, beer duty and price matching with the big chains.
Hugh Stickland, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “While smaller pubs have been struggling to survive in recent years, bigger pubs have been growing in number. We’ll have to wait to see if this marks a revival for smaller ‘locals’.“
This year has started somewhat explosively, with concerns about the environment, bush fires, international political escalations and the future of certain members of the monarchy in jeopardy. But people still have to eat. So putting the news aside, it’s time to consider the next twelve months for catering businesses. Here are our top tips for catering businesses for 2020.
Firstly, there are no guarantees about the impact of Brexit. The best route to take is the one that is already benefiting your business directly. Top of the list is the maintenance of your appliances. Put in place a maintenance programme for your ovens. This will ensure that whatever disasters or decisions may befall us over the next twelve months; a substandard, under-performing oven won’t be one of them.
It’s All About the Planning
Secondly, plan for regular and irregular annual events. There are always catering opportunities linked to traditional dates, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, food festivals and so on. Take a look at our sporting calendar for additional opportunities in 2020. It’s an Olympic year as well as Euro 2020 for football fans and the start of the new cricket Hundred game. So if you are catering for sports fans, take advantage or provide an alternative for non-sports fans.
Staff training is essential. Don’t stint on training because if something goes wrong, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make sure that your staff are fully familiar with all relevant health and safety requirements and appliance operation, and make this an ongoing exercise. There is a plethora of H&S legislation and come Brexit, there is bound to be more. Educate your staff so that in your absence, your business will still thrive.
Set goals in terms of time management and profit and loss, and make them realistic. There is nothing more demoralising than not reaching your target within the time frame allotted but be reasonable on yourself. We have endured a turbulent and uncertain few years politically, and it’s not over yet. Continue working to the highest standard professionally and don’t cut corners.
Invest in catastrophe training. As we have seen from the traumatic scenes in Australia, sometimes we are at the mercy of unforeseen and unpredictable forces. These may be natural or man-made but either way, they can cause the loss of business. Be prepared. If you are a mobile catering company, plan for both rain and shine at events. If you live in flood-prone areas, check weather predictions and plan for the safe removal or protection of appliances and staff.
The last of our top tips for catering businesses and perhaps most importantly, keep an eye on current trends. We have seen a momentous rise in vegan and vegetarian demands for restaurants and fast food outlets in the past few years. With culinary trends changing constantly, there is always an opportunity for savvy operators to gain a foothold in a new market.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and always check out the news on AC Services Southern’s blog and like our Facebook page.
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair celebrated a landmark birthday last week and the show provided a special 20th anniversary edition at Olympia, London. The event held between 1 and 3 September attracted over 10,000 visitors, food producers, exhibitors, speakers and VIPs.
The Fair has always had an excellent reputation as an environment to reach out and make connections with existing or potential new partners and customers. As a result, The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is eagerly anticipated by those involved in artisan and speciality produce. These include independent retailers, chefs, delicatessens, hoteliers, importers, restaurateurs, distributors and wholesalers. Each are given the unique opportunity to source, network and get up to date with the latest trends.
2019 saw nine Welsh artisan food and drink companies exhibiting under the Food & Drink Wales banner. The country has a long established status at the show for innovation and this year was no different. Halen Môn, the Anglesey Sea Salt Company launched DIY Brine kits for Christmas poultry. While Daioni Organic showcased its coffee range with 100% Fairtrade single-origin organic Arabica coffee beans from Mexico.
South Caernarfon Creameries featured its new handcrafted range of cheeses. These include Dragon Cavern Aged Cheddar with Penderyn Whiskey and Dragon Welsh Slate Cavern Aged Cheddar. The Parsnipship showcased its full range of vegetarian and vegan produce such as Glamorgan Crumble, stilton and spinach potato cake and tandoori mash-up.
The Welsh Government supported the nine companies to attend Speciality & Fine Food Fair in the dedicated Cymru/Wales Pavilion.
Seminars and Features
Elsewhere at the Fair, the Food for Thought speaker programme featured successful entrepreneurs and industry experts. Their topics covered sustainability, the reduction of food waste, customisation, plant-based food, fermentation and Made in Great Britain.
The Savour the Flavour live demonstration kitchen created dishes inspired by products from the show. The Fair’s portfolio director, Soraya Gadelrab commented: “Kitchens are so vibrant. It’s all about the taste and visual appeal of dishes so we’re delighted to translate this directly at the fair through the live demo kitchen…the Food for Thought programme offers an unrivalled insight into the latest trends set to influence menus, from fine to casual dining”.
In recognition of the expanding success of the booming drinks market, the Drinks Cabinet returned for its second year. This features luxury small and large batch spirits, beers, ales, wines and ciders, as well as the burgeoning low- and no-mixers and soft drinks sectors.
The Discovery Zone enabled visitors to find innovative brands created in the past three years. It included everything from antipasti to oils, seasonings, cheese and charcuterie, dairy and dairy alternatives and fish and seafood.
The Shop of the Year competition had a stand. It offers small independent retailers the opportunity to shine, with five main categories, namely delicatessen and grocer; specialist cheese shop; farmer owned farm shop; food hall; and specialist food or drink shop. There is also a Newcomer Award. Entries close on September 20th. So if you missed the Fair, there’s still time to enter the Awards to celebrate your success and generate more interest.
The summer is coming to an end and although we’ve had a blistering Bank Holiday, thoughts will soon be turning to the next major event in our calendar, the Big C. There’s even a Christmas tree up in my local heralding the start of the party season. Too soon, far too soon!
Meanwhile, the food industry is as busy as ever and more Bristol food producers are springing up offering alternative and sustainable produce. Farm Wilder is an excellent example of producers taking sustainability to another level. The company was set up in January 2019 in Bristol. It selects and labels the highest quality produce from the most wildlife-friendly farms. The rapid decline of the wildlife in the UK led the company to source the best produce from SW farms. It supports “farmers’ restoration of biodiversity and sequestration of carbon back into the soil.”
What’s in a Name?
The farmers producing Fritillary butterfly beef help protect Marsh Fritillary butterflies in Devon. These cattle are slower growing than modern breeds, but produce the tastiest and healthiest meat. Farmers producing Cuckoo beef help Devon’s cuckoos in Devon with native hardy cattle thriving on the meadows and moors.
Cuckoo lamb is also available, with the same aim as the beef. Grazing native sheep like Scottish Blackface, Welsh Black Mountain and Dorsets, maintain the habitat needed by cuckoos to thrive. All of the animals are pasture-fed feeding on a natural diet of pasture and forage such as hay in winter. They are less likely to suffer from disease and require little veterinary attention or antibiotics.
Bristol Community Producers
Once upon a time, Elm Tree Farm was used as an occupational therapy resource hospital farm. It now offers adults with learning disabilities and autism gain work skills such as animal husbandry, market garden, nursery or woodwork. With around four acres of growing land, including several polytunnels and an orchard; the farm produces fruit, vegetables, chickens and other livestock using native breeds. As the behaviour of the animals suits the landscape and the quality of the meat is higher. The meat is all slaughtered and butchered locally, then kept frozen and sold from the on-site farm shop.
Edible Futures was set up as a Community Interest Company, seven years ago. With almost 1.5 acres here and two 90ft polytunnels, fruit, herbs and vegetables are grown. The company sells around 50% of their produce directly to local restaurants. The rest is sold through a Community Supported Agriculture model called Salad Drop, where members get a small, medium or large share of salad once a week, delivered to one of three drop off points around Bristol.
Finally, if you are ever in need of goat, then Troopers Hill in East Bristol offers Street Group. This is a group of people who keep goats in the city. As well as female milking goats, the group have also raised male offspring; initially using them to clear overgrown allotments, then buying castrated males goats for conservation grazing on overgrown land to restore important habitat for wildlife. The male goats are then sold for meat.
Bristol food producers consistently offer variety and the new. Ideal for the catering businesses that AC Services Southern serves locally.
The hotel industry as a whole is doing quite well in 2019. Europe’s hospitality industry is reporting positive results with an ever-increasing number of hotels being constructed. 1,504 projects accounting for 192,352 rooms were in construction as of July 2019. This is a 52.4% year-on-year increase in the number of rooms in the final phase of the development pipeline.
Germany leads the European table with 52,704 rooms, equal to 7.9% of the country’s existing supply. It is followed by the UK, Spain and France.
In the UK, London is set to add 11,600 rooms to its hotel market by 2020. It holds its place as a world class destination for both business and leisure with a number of different styles of establishments opening across a range of price bands. The weakness of the pound has attracted numerous overseas hotel operators and investors to invest in hotel real estate.
This rise of hotel investment is a result of the increase in demand for operational and alternative property types. Several novel hotel ideas are springing up around the world. Some of these are spectacular and unique. Such as the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, labelled the world’s first underground five-star resort with the bottom two floors underwater. There is also the Game of Thrones themed hotel in Finland, which is attracting much attention.
UK Apprentice Recruitment
While some chains are concentrating on design; others such as the independent hotel group Elite Hotels are looking closer to home. It is calling on the hotel industry to change its view on apprenticeships. Working with local schools, colleges and charities, Elite Hotels has embedded apprenticeships into their business structure to create a “unique” form of training in five-star hospitality service.
Paul Coley, group personnel and development manager at Elite Hotels, said: “…we knew just how valuable apprenticeships can be – creating a pipeline of talent is key to our recruitment strategy and apprenticeships offer a great opportunity to welcome young people into the world of hospitality and help develop talent to combat the skills gap in our industry.”
Similarly, Travelodge launched a new recruitment scheme in May . It offers students a permanent job with flexible working hours designed around their study programme in their university and home locations. The brand looking to fill 3,000 jobs this summer.
Maximising Space Use
Another novel idea is Spacemize. This enables guests access to book hot desking space across designated areas within high-end partner venues. At the moment it’s only available in London. Hotels turn their empty tables into a work area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. While users get complimentary tea and coffee as well as discounts on food and beverage at the locations.
Spacemize provides a solution to entrepreneurs with a flexible place to work from in luxury venues; and it offers hotels an additional revenue stream and increased customer loyalty to the venues.
The hotel industry is not sitting on its laurels but is attempting to expand for the future, by adopting new ideas and pushing forward to provide value as well as quality accommodation.
In a week that saw the highest temperatures ever recorded in July not only in the UK but in other parts of Europe, talk has turned to peanuts and other crops that might be at risk.
Global peanuts consumption has grown at the rate of 2.53% and expected to grow further during 2019-2024. China and India are the largest consumer and exporters of peanuts in the world, accounting for more than 36% of the global consumption.
But according to reports, peanuts might be extinct by 2030. The reason is that peanuts are considered “fairly fussy plants”, and need five months of consistent warm weather, along with 20 to 40 inches of rain. If there is not enough rain, the pods won’t germinate. If there is too much rain, the plants will wilt making the peanuts inedible. We know from America’s peanut production that droughts and heat waves can destroy entire peanut crops. With the weather getting record-breakingly warmer, this is a worry.
Last week, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands recorded their highest ever temperatures. Several cities in France broke previous temperature records with Bordeaux and Paris exceeding 40 degrees. Here’s the science: the latest heatwave has been caused by an omega block which is a high-pressure pattern that blocks and diverts the jet stream, allowing a mass of hot air to flow up from northern Africa and the Iberian peninsula.
All of this climate change is putting crops at risk in harvest yields worldwide. It’s not just the heat however, crops are affected by unusually cold nights, weeks with no rainfall and storm-driven precipitation. All of which account for up to 49% of yield losses for maize, rice, spring wheat and soy beans.
Extensive studies have been carried out in Europe, the US and Africa to measure the cost to the grains, pulses and tubers that feed 7.7 billion people. These now have the aim of isolating the factors within climate change that might affect harvests.
Researchers have found that the maize yield in Africa is in a dire situation. Africa’s share of global maize production is not large, but the largest part of that production goes to human consumption. When compared to just 3% in North America, it is clear why maize is critical here for food security. Consider also that in the UK and Europe, maize is a key foodstock for cows, milk and beef and so indirectly human consumption.
Crops at Risk
The climate is crucial to most growth with food items such as avocados and chickpeas needing an awful lot of water to be produced. 72 gallons in fact to make just one pound of avocados. More than 80% of America’s avocados are grown in California, where there’s a drought. Similarly, chickpeas need almost the same amount of water. Global production of these legumes has gone down 40-50% due to worldwide droughts.
And what about coffee? The unimaginable could happen. Most coffee comes from Arabica beans, which grow best between 64 F and 70 F. If the temperature rises above that, the plants ripen too quickly, which affects the quality of the yield.
The bottom line is that climate change is happening and will affect the food we grow and eat. The extremes of British weather over the last week emphasises our vulnerability and allows us to reflect.
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.
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.
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.