Tag Archives: mass catering
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.
There’s been constant activity in the global media over the past few years regarding climate change and the effect that it is having on the food we eat. We may be in danger of losing some of the food we are familiar with; due predominantly to the changes that are taking place in our climate.
This year, the British brassica has been affected by unusually heavy summer rains bringing flooding to the UK’s main growing region for cauliflowers, Lincolnshire. Elsewhere, the record-breaking heat-wave wilted fields of cauliflowers across the whole of Europe. This left a shortage in not only cauliflowers, but also cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
America’s organic apples, mostly grown in Washington State, are also in trouble. As is coffee, with at least three-fifths of current coffee species facing extinction, according to a recent study. More worryingly is the decline in wheat crops, a staple global food which is sensitive to temperature changes. Places like India could see a reduction in wheat harvests of between 6% and 23% by 2050.
Even the humble sushi roll is under threat. Japanese farmers are blaming warmer, cleaner seas for a decline in nori seaweed production. The nori production fell to its lowest level in 2018 since 1972, pushing up prices and decimating supply.
The 2019 maple syrup harvest has also been affected. According to The New York Times, 2012 saw production of maple falling by 12.5% overall due to an unusually warm spring. This impacts negatively on syrup production because the process depends on specific temperature conditions.
More recently, in 2018, production of maple syrup fell by 21.7% throughout Canada. The culprit was Canada’s warm weather during the winter with later than normal snow. Sugar content is determined by the previous year’s carbohydrate stores with sap flow depending on the freeze-thaw cycle.
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has even had to tap into its strategic reserves this year to avoid any shortages or price spikes for maple syrup. Quebec has put in place additional harvest areas to meet with high demands, and they are now being used widely.
From High to Low
In Vermont in America, sugar maple harvest has witnessed a renaissance in the 21st century following decades of decline. The revival comes as many Americans are turning their backs on refined sugars for natural products such as maple syrup, agaves and honey. Production of maple is now one of Vermont’s pre-eminent industries. In 2018, the value of Vermont’s maple syrup production exceeded $54.3M. This accounted for 38% of the maple syrup produced nationwide.
Producers are doing what they can to avoid any shortages; such as collecting the sap later in the season and introducing technological advancements. These cut down on traditional collection using buckets and replace it with miles of vacuum pump-operated tubing.
As Keith Thompson of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation says: “It’s not just about keeping the individual trees healthy, it’s about keeping the entire forest healthy.”
The maple syrup industry is currently keeping abreast of the problem. It’s initiating solutions to combat the inevitable changes in climate. It urges other industries to follow suit in order for our favourite foods to remain available. At AC Services, we thoroughly commend that approach.
Rugby players and supporters love food and drink. And with the Rugby World Cup about to begin in Japan comes the opportunity for originality for caterers of all kinds.
Homebound supporters not only want to enjoy the games with a beer; but can also be tempted by finer dining as well as the more traditional delights.
When one thinks of rugby forwards, the delicacy and fine detail shown by Phil Vickery and Martin Bayfield on Masterchef isn’t the first thought. But given the importance of food in their training, it’s perhaps not surprising.
Food Glorious Food
As far as food goes, Japan is taking the competition very seriously. Rugby players have a regimented approach to their diet in order to keep themselves fighting fit and at the top of their performance levels. According to a number of top coaches, protein is vital to develop and maintain muscle mass. Some coaches insist that the players consume a daily amount of 2.5g of protein per kilo of body weight. This includes eggs, dairy, beef, turkey, chicken and fish, most of which are abundant in Japan.
Many adhere to four meals a day. An example would be porridge and poached eggs for breakfast; sweet potato, vegetables and salmon fillets; steak skewers with roasted root vegetables and coconut rice for a post-training meal; and a prawn or chicken stir fry for dinner.
In the 24 hours before a match players should consume high-carb meals based around slower-digesting carbs such as potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes and oats. These are complemented with sweeter sources such as fruit and smoothies. Japan’s Yaki udon will be especially popular, as the dish is thick and chewy noodles, made from wheat flour. Yaki soba uses the thinner soba noodles made from buckwheat flour.
The Japanese national delicacy, sushi, fits well into a rugby player’s diet as does a lot of everyday Japanese food. It can be beneficial from a fuelling and recovery perspective due to increased intakes of nutrients such as omega-3 and electrolytes. Fish, stir fries and shellfish will feature heavily in menu choices as will the meat selection such as Wagyu prime cut Japanese beef. The meat fat has a very low melting point so it can literally melt in your mouth. Rumour has it that the animals are fed beer and massaged with sake.
The England team however, might be short on condiments. Supplies of tomato ketchup and mayonnaise have supposedly been sent ahead because their favourite condiments are scarce and expensive in Japan.
Japan has very good news for beer drinkers. Major Japanese sports keep spectators lubricated with vendors who patrol the stands dispensing beer into cups. These are called Uriko and they are crucial to meet the demand for beer. When Australia visited in 2017, bars were drunk dry before kick-off! So to ensure no embarrassment for the official sponsors, Heineken, the Japanese Heineken brewery has increased production by 80%.
One thing is clear, food plays an important part in the rugby world and with each country bringing their own nutritionists and food advisors, the right diet in Japan (a balance between East and West cuisine) may well go a long way in confirming the eventual winner.
The Rugby World Cup Final is on 2 November at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama; when the winner of the 20 competitor countries will be crowned. So plenty of time for catering businesses to work out their own game-plan to benefit.
The events sector is worth £42.3B the UK economy. This is the direct spend by event delegates, attendees and organisers. While the spend by those accompanying attendees at business events is worth an additional £7.7B.
This why the cancellation of events like Boardmasters at the weekend can have a significant impact locally. Most amply shown by the 200,000 unneeded toilet rolls offered for sale by the toilet suppliers!
Breakdown of UK Events Spend
Conferences and meetings are worth £19.9B, with exhibitions and trade fairs amounting to £11B. Corporate hospitality and corporate events are worth £1.2B. While outdoor events and festivals and cultural events each bringing in £1.1B. Unsurprisingly, sporting events are worth £2.3B.
The events sector employs over 25,000 businesses that sustain 570,000 full-time jobs. Over 7,000 major outdoor events are held each year. Following the success of the 2012 Olympics; the UK has become a world leader in outdoor events with UK expertise sought globally.
There are a number of events coming up that the UK government is aiming to capitalise upon, including:
- 2020 UEFA European Championships,
- 2020 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower voyage,
- 2021 Rugby League World Cup and
- 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival of Britain.
The UK government published in June a comprehensive International Business Events Action Plan 2019 – 2025. This outlines in detail how the UK government policy will “support the business events industry in attracting, growing, creating and retaining international business events”.
Events Industry Impact on Catering
Which brings us to the impact on the catering industry. For those who have attended events in the past, whether sporting, music or entertainment, there has been a significant rise in the scope and quality of food available. In the past, there were three options: hot dog, burger or fish and chips but sophistication has entered the mobile catering market big time. Today, there is a bewildering choice of street food available at any worthwhile event.
Event catering can be a high-risk business, but with high risk comes the opportunity for huge rewards. The profitability of corporate catering has been highlighted recently by the acquisition by food delivery giant Just Eat of City Pantry . City Pantry works with suppliers to provide thousands of meals for corporate events and business meetings.
“Working with City Pantry to accelerate its mission to improve and modernize the workplace dining experience is a great opportunity… it’s the right time for us to enter the corporate market and expand our offering.” Said Peter Duffy, Interim CEO of Just Eat.
Venue catering is a growing and expanding industry. It has many opportunities for start-ups and established caterers to capitalise on. Variety, quality and value are the key aspects for customers. With events drawing in more and more visitors every year, this sector of the industry has great potential.
Bob Fox, director, The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) offers some advice to those providing for outdoor events. “Experienced caterers can take five figure sums in only a few days. Before committing to any event, caterers need to ensure that the organiser knows what they are doing, that the event is well marketed and that the occasion is going to be a success. After all, the best stall in the world will make no money if there is nobody there to buy the product.”
While even the best marketing in the world can do nothing against the British weather if it decides to be bad; not planning events at all is the worst gamble given how lucrative it is for all kinds of catering businesses.
The weather, the political climate and worry about travelling abroad are all factors that help British attractions. The staycation ethos has led to more Brits staying at home and enjoying some homegrown comforts. These include visits to some of the many attractions to be found around the UK.
Brits are choosing leisure activities over holidays abroad in 2019. Spending was on average £90 a month in 2018 on leisure activities based on Office of National Statistics’ data. This is expected to jump to £163 a month this year, equating to £8.2 billion in total across the UK. Part of that increase will be spent on catering.
Legoland in Windsor emerged as the most visited amusement park in the UK in 2018; recording an attendance of 2.32 million. It was followed closely by Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures. The four dominate the list as the most visited theme parks in the UK.
But as far as other attractions go, there are plenty around the country. According to a report in March, visitor numbers at UK attractions such as museums, galleries, zoos, castles and country houses rose in this period by 9% despite fewer overseas tourists. So positive news for catering businesses able to reach this potential market.
More and Less Visitors
Tate Modern knocked the British Museum off the top spot which it held for 11 years. Statistically, Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK for the seventh year running. It had a 19.07% increase due in part to more flights to the country, investment by the Scottish government and lottery into the sector and an increase in film and TV tourism.
However, the climate, including the hot summer and Beast from the East storms played a major role in decreasing numbers for some outdoor attractions. Attendance at Bristol Zoo was down 8.6% and Whipsnade Zoo down 7.6%. The most-visited attraction outside London in England was Chester Zoo and the most-visited heritage site was Stonehenge.
Food as Part of the Attraction
Tourism is the UK’s fifth-biggest industry and third-biggest employer. Some attractions are using their imagination to entice visitors in, such as Alton Towers with its Rollercoaster Restaurant. Food arrives by rollercoaster, with the décor reflecting the roller coaster ride.
Food is part of the experience. This is shown by the success of a very unusual theme park a bit further afield. In South Korea there is a theme park dedicated entirely to cheese. The Imsil Cheese Park offers 32 acres of trails and attractions, all of which offer various tributes and nods to cheese. There is a notable absence of rollercoasters; but visitors can enjoy themed walking trails, mini cheese-themed rides, cheese-making classes, and buildings that look like blocks of cheese.
And this theme is filtering into the UK with a new restaurant under proposal in London with DC Entertainment. The application states: “the restaurant will be rooted within the DC Multiverse, taking visitors on a culinary adventure through the many fictional Universes famous for their superhero residents such as Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman. The restaurant will not be a ‘theme park’ with literal sets and costumes from the franchise, but it has the intention to invite guests to experience the DC Universe.”
All this goes to show that fast, scary rides are not necessarily the main attraction and incorporating a culinary experience with a theme may be the way forward for some enterprising food entrepreneur. Or perhaps the linking of current venues outside of theme parks for mutual benefit which worked well for Ludlow.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.