Tag Archives: mass catering

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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07 
May

Food-to-go Trends 2019

Food-to-go trends 2019

In the past, fast food or food-to-go comprised a burger, chips, pizza, chicken or a sandwich grabbed from a supermarket. Today, the choice is immense and growing rapidly.

Food-to-go is defined as a product that is ordered, bought and collected (or delivered) over the counter usually a portable single portion, designed for out-of-home consumption and not served on a plate.

According to the HIM and MCA UK Food To Go Market Report 2019, the UK market is set to be worth £21.2bn in 2019. This is 3% up on the previous year.

Evolution of Taste

This evolution of the food-to-go requires innovation and diversity and the industry is responding fast. When searching for a snack, more than a third (34%) of consumers look for a healthy product; while almost half (49%) say they would chose a savoury snack over a sugary option (Mintel 2018).

Both food-to-go specialists and leading supermarkets have seen a strong recent focus on hot food with consumers preferring this over the traditional lunchtime sandwich and crisps. However, sandwiches still hold a massive market share. The traditional egg and cress or tuna and sweetcorn fillings are being challenged by more adventurous choices. These include chimichurri flatbread pockets, halloumi toasts and avocado with vegan dressing.

The trend for more interesting, nutritious, healthier food has been fuelled hugely by social media. In particular Instagram, which acts as a visual diet platform. Users are constantly posting images of their food. The key influencers are having a significant impact on food trends, especially among the younger generation. If it looks good in a photo, it’s good enough to eat!

Methods Adaptation

It’s not just menus that are being adapted – key catering companies are changing the way that they operate too. For instance, brewery S.A. Brain & Co has invested heavily in the development of chef talent with the launch of the Skills Hub and Creative Kitchen (SHACK). This is a state-of-the-art training concept set to benefit its own kitchens and those of the wider industry.

Based in Cardiff, SHACK includes equipment trials and training on food-specific creations, menu launches and essential kitchen techniques. This 24-week programme involves category management, recipe building, market research and capacity management.

The changes can also be seen in more traditional events such as the Iftar. This is the historic breaking-the-fast meal during the month of Ramadan. According to a report in Eastern Eye, plates of curry, biriani, samosas and pakoras are giving way to lighter and healthier options. More restaurants are now catering to the trend with small plates menus for sharing.

The report says there is less of an appetite for fried and fatty foods and a shift towards grilled meats, salads and sharing desserts. This is particularly among young Muslims after 19 hours each day of going without food and drink.

Many pop-up kitchens, fast food outlets and catering vans are embracing new food-to-go trends and challenges. Food festivals are on the rise in virtually every city in the UK at some point in the year. People are more willing than ever to experiment with new tastes, from vegan to meat-free to tastes from other continents.

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Published Date: 7th May 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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30 
Apr

Picking What’s in Season in May

Spring lamb and asparagus

Food is seasonal and spring is the time for new crops to be harvested. There is an abundance of all-year round produce which we enjoy as part of our staple diets, such as potatoes, onions, beef, bananas, chicken and cabbage.

But some food sparks great anticipation. Not least in this category is asparagus which is coming in to fruition as we speak.

Around the world, we herald the arrival of this humble vegetable with excitement and even festivals. The British Asparagus Festival, celebrates the start of the asparagus season where a fleet of vintage cars takes the crop to its final destination from the Vale of Evesham.

From Asparagus to Lamb

Asparagus is the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant. It is one of the delicacies of the vegetable world although it is notoriously labour intensive to grow. French asparagus is purple, the British and American varieties are green whereas in Spain and Holland, asparagus is white. And as far as nutrition goes, all types have high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium.

Other food coming in May includes strawberries, gooseberries, carrots and tomatoes. At their very best are spring greens, sorrel, peas, new potatoes, halibut, crab, rhubarb and of course, spring lamb. Spring lamb, also called early or summer lamb, is three to five months old.

Also keep an eye out for aubergines, the fruit that thinks it’s a vegetable and which has gained new interest with the vegan and vegetarian options now readily available. Although it is native to South-East Asia, it now grows all over the world with a huge range of varieties from the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zeppelin-shaped version to the scarcely-bigger-than-a-pea variety.

Fruit Picker Shortage?

Last summer, the great British farming community began to raise concern about fruit pickers. The majority of pickers come from abroad on a seasonal basis. In fact, according to the National Farmers Union, only 1% of the annual 60,000 seasonal farm workers are British. The industry relies on overseas labour which they worry will be deeply affected by Brexit. The vast majority come from Eastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania. With a stay of execution until Halloween, the farmers might breathe a sigh of relief for this year, but the problem still looms.

Last year, labour shortages driven by economic shifts affected strawberry crops in particular; with produce left rotting in the fields and hydroponic poly-tunnels. At the time, there was also a reported 30 to 40% shortfall in labour.

Some are campaigning for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme that could include countries outside of the EU. This would allow pickers to come and work for a defined and limited period of time as a solution. Or some maintain that the best way to avoid a crisis is to entice more Brits to work the field. The early hours, long days, physical toll and seasonality are offset by the joy of working in the open air and earning as much as you can pick.

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Published Date: 30th April 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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09 
Apr

Food Festivals Summer 2019

Food Festivals

The weather is changing and the nights are getting lighter, which can only mean one thing…summer. And with summer comes festivals, in particular food festivals, and we have gathered some of the best to consider.

Music or Not?

The Big Feastival is taking place on Alex James’ Farm in the Cotswolds from Friday 23 August to Monday 26. It will welcome some of the world’s top chefs. They will demonstrate their expertise in cooking skills live on The NEFF Big Kitchen stage. Raymond Blanc and Tom Brown are just two of the names who will headline, together with a host of music acts including the Zutons, Elbow and the Fun Lovin Criminals. Look out for the Collaboration Kitchen. Here special edition dishes will be served up with all proceeds going to Charity Partner, Action Against Hunger.

The Food Rocks festival will take place on 7-8 September 2019 in Lyme Regis. This presents some of the best food, producers and suppliers that Dorset and the South West has to offer. The festival brings together top chefs, exhibitors, locals. The main stage will showcase a diverse mix of interactive cookery demonstrations, talks and tastings across the weekend. Highlights include the Glenarm Estate beef supper club and the crab and mackerel supper club

Venue-based Food Festivals

Smoked & Uncut at THE PIG near Bath on 15 June features a line-up of handpicked classic and contemporary artists, including Imelda May and the Kaiser Chiefs, home-made festi-food, local ales and cocktails. Family style feasts will feature heavily with the focus on alfresco dining under canvas. While Mark’s ‘Ruby Murray House’ which will be dishing up indulgent home-style Indian curry.

24 and 25 August sees The River Cottage Festival taking place at River Cottage HQ, Axminster with food, music, talks, master-classes and a host of children’s activities. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free food will be available and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall himself will be in attendance.

Coming Together Locally in May

Moving across the border, the Caernarfon Food Festival is on May 11 2019. It promises to be “perfect for foodies to explore the food and drink producers from the local area.” The event will feature market stalls of food and drink, live cooking demonstrations and freshly cooked street food, celebrating local food and drink produce. There will also be live music from local bands, artists and choirs.

Also in May (18-19) is the Spring Tide Food Festival on Hive Beach near Bridport. This is a food festival jam-packed full of activities and things to eat and drink. The aim of the festival is to combine the network of artisan food and drink producers from Somerset, East Devon and Dorset to “welcome in the new season of food and ingredients in style, to celebrate the pleasure that can be had in the growing and cultivation, the production and cooking and consumption of tasty food and drink.”

Any Reason to Hold a Festival?

Finally, there must be a mention of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling on May 27, 2019 when a 4kg cheese is thrown off a terrifyingly steep hill chased by people in Brockworth, Gloucester. In theory, the aim of cheese-rolling is to be the first person to catch the wheel of cheese; but nowadays, the majority of people participate in the event to raise money for local charities and other good causes.

Lots of food festivals this summer in the South West of England and South Wales. So if you’re a catering business, think what food festival could you hold this summer to boost trade? Or where you might go as a mobile caterer?

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Published Date: 9th April 2019
Category: Blog, Events, Local food, News
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30 
Oct

October SW and Wales Food News

South West and Wales Food NewsAutumn is well and truly upon us. With the best summer in decades behind us, it’s now time to look forward to the Christmas season. In the South West, plenty  has been going on involving the food industry. Not least the beginning of construction on the new South West food innovation centre. And elsewhere in Wales food is in the news.

Wilmott Dixon secured the £11.3 million construction contract from North Somerset Council to build the FoodWorksSW facility in Weston-super-Mare. This will provide specialist facilities and technical support and will create around 250 new jobs.

Food Support

The facility is designed to provide a range of specialist facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the South West region. It will help new businesses to get started and established producers to expand. A private sector-led project advisory group is liaising with the council on the ins and outs of the food industry.

In other news, it appears that the South West is on schedule for a record breaking year of exports. Somerset exported £10.5bn worth of goods in the first half of 2018, up on the same period last year. A lot of the credit is down to the region’s food and drink sector with new businesses popping up constantly.

One of these is a new wine school for the South West. This has just been launched with the support of a trio of the region’s well known wine experts. The South West Wine School will offer WSET Level 1 and 2 courses at Kenton Park Estate in Devon from the beginning of next year. The venture aims to make learning about wine “fun and enjoyable for enthusiasts of all levels”.

Wales Food Fights Back

Wales has also been in the news recently, with an alarming statistic about the presence of fast food restaurants. It seems that in part of Wales, a staggering 73% of all restaurants are selling fast food.  The culprit is Blaenau Gwent with 55 out of 75 outlets takeaway venues. According to a recent report, Wales has seen a rise of 48% in fast food outlets from 2010 to 2018. While in the UK average increase is 34%.

Based on figures from the Office of National Statistics, Wales has had 670 fast food outlets open in the past eight years. Neath Port Talbot saw its numbers more than double from 50 to 105. People are simply too busy to cook, says Professor Haboubi, chair of the Welsh Obesity Society adding, “it is not the businesses’ fault, we have a societal disease“. However, Wales is not taking this lightly, with many initiatives planned to address the issue including the opening of a new food academy.

Recipe for Success

Celebrity chef Bryn Williams launched a Wales food academy offering Coleg Cambria students the opportunity to work and train in his restaurants. Launched last week at Cambria’s Y Celstryn restaurant in Deeside, the Bryn Williams Academy is aiming to help plug the ever-increasing skills gap in catering and hospitality.

There are so many more places to eat, so many more kitchens and restaurants… the talent pool has spread so there is a very thin layer now and that needs addressing. It’s so important we inspire the children of today to become chefs in the future because the industry has grown beyond all comprehension,” he explains.

AC Services October News

Here at AC Services we’re investigating the advantages of the Rational connected cooking function. Launched last year this is an intelligent cloud-based networked solution that enables the setting of remote cooking functions and maintenance monitoring. We’ll let those in the SW and Wales food businesses know more in 2019.

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Published Date: 30th October 2018
Category: Blog, News
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09 
Oct

The Restaurant Show 2018

The Restaurant Show 2018 logosIt barely seems any time at all since the last Restaurant Show but apparently, it has been a whole year. And last week, it returned to Olympia in London. The Restaurant Show 2018 incorporated The Bar and Pub Show and the Catering Equipment Expo.

These three brought the hospitality industry together. Catering for those owning, operating and working in restaurants, hotels, pub, bars and hospitality establishments across the UK.

As always, the event attracted hordes of visitors for companies showcasing their products. Seminar subjects were wide ranging. From digital storytelling: the secret ingredient for social media success to what’s next for casual dining and some strong advice on creating the ultimate cheeseboard!

Other topics included combining the art of hospitality with smarter technology and the influence of the fast-moving world of coffee as well as the importance of the correct background music to create exactly the right ambience.

National Chef of the Year

One of the highlights of the three-day event was the National Chef of the Year competition. This has been running since 1972 and has become one of the UK’s most respected and sought-after culinary titles.

The ceremony saw Kuba Winkowski, head chef from The Feathered Nest Inn crowned as the new National Chef of the Year. His menu included native lobster, oyster emulsion, Yorkshire grouse, quince, and sticky toffee dessert. The runner-up spot went to George Blogg, head chef at Gravetye Manor. With Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle taking third place in the dramatic cook-off.

The Catering Equipment Expo proved to be the place to get a great deal on the latest products. A range of catering equipment was on display, from cookers to fridges and those strange-looking but essential items that only a cook can recognise. Among the exhibitors was Rational displaying its SelfCooking Center and VarioCooking Centers. 

Food Glorious Food

Food and drink, obviously were plentiful with over 400 suppliers exhibiting at this year’s event. New products included Drunken Dairy Ltd’s selection of booze-infused dairy and free-from ice creams and vegan sorbets. The Handmade Cake Company launched its Vegan Belgian Chocolate Cake, specially designed to be 100% vegan.

The Restaurant Show 2018 celebrated its 30th birthday with an abundance of products, seminars and events aimed at anyone involved in the catering industry. Visitors were delighted with the range of advice and new initiatives aimed at maintaining the restaurant industry’s standards in the modern world, with everything needed to sustain a successful business under one roof at Olympia.

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Published Date: 9th October 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, 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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07 
Aug

Theme Park Trends 2018

Theme ParksThis summer has reinforced the great British love of visiting amusement and theme parks. The fabulous weather has been a godsend to these venues. An increased amount of visitors are taking advantage of a thoroughly enjoyable, dry day out.

Globally, attendance at the world’s top theme park groups increased by 8.6% from 438 million to 476 million visitors in 2017. Figures suggest that this year, it will be even higher. Globally, Disney theme parks dominate the market, with the USA leading the way in numbers and profit.

In 2017 in the UK, surprisingly, Legoland came out ahead of both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in terms of attendance and profit. However, the usual suspects of bad weather, economic decline and political instability last year are the main reasons behind a less-than-enthusiastic public and lacklustre results.

Pressure for New Experiences

There is constant pressure on theme park and amusement parks to enhance the experience to attract more visitors. Unfortunately, confidence has been hit when it comes to new rides. Too many teething problems and horror stories have emerged in the past few years and the public are therefore wary of racing to try new rides. So the call is for new attractions to be multifaceted to embrace new technologies.

Technology to the Rescue

Virtual reality is well established in the gaming world and some believe that it has a future in theme parks. The idea is that VR can revitalise an old ride with significantly less cost than building a brand new one. It can also add a new dimension to a branded attraction. This is exemplified by Europa-Park in France developing a new VR Paddington attraction and Hong Kong set to open its first VR roller coaster.

Augmented reality is another revelation that can be of use to theme parks. AR overlays the real world with the digital world, rather than replacing it. Both Disney and Apple are expressing interest in the AR trend. Disney filed a patent for projection-based AR to enable visitors to experience AR without headsets. The technology is in its infancy but it is one to be watched.

Disney is also looking further into bots, filing a patent for robot characters. Japan based theme park Huis Ten Bosch has announced that two thirds of its staff will be replaced by robots. This leads to speculation that bots could have a future in managing the infrastructure of attractions and reducing labour costs.

Finally, facial and voice recognition are expected to play a major role in the design and operation of interactive rides in the future where guests control the outcome or path of the experience. Disney is believed to be looking into rides that can be customised from reading the visitor’s emotional reactions based on facial recognition.

Keep Up With Modern Trends

Amusement and theme parks are constantly evolving to make the experience even better for visitors. Modern technology is expected to play a major role in the future. With this new level of sophistication comes an opportunity for street vendors and caterers to provide food and beverages that challenge the traditional fare of burger, chips, pizza and hot dogs.

The price of theme park entry encourages a full day visit rather than a few hours. Catering must therefore optimise the opportunity to offer a wide variety of food for all mealtimes.

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Published Date: 7th August 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, 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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