Tag Archives: monthly news
Autumn 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.
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.
Mince pies have been spotted in the shops and some stores have already set up their Christmas stock. Light yoghurt has been removed from WeightWatchers no-sin list. The oldest cheese in the world has been found in Egypt dating back 3,200 years.
Meanwhile closer to home, it has been revealed that South West food and drink exports have reached £838m which is very good news for the region.
Unsurprisingly, seafood has been the biggest export at £176m with dairy products the second most popular at £147m. Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, including nuts and olives, showed the largest increase of any food and drink product, up 26% to £17m. This represents an increase year on year of 8.7%.
South West Triumphs
Paul Shand, head of exports in the South West for the Department for International Trade, said: “South West food and drink producers are rapidly developing a reputation around the world for their high quality food and drink.” It goes to show that the food and drink industry is thriving and despite the uncertain economic background, people are still demanding quality food from reputable sources.
In Wales, there are also a few pats on the back with Welsh food and drink businesses triumphing in this year’s Great Taste awards, proving once again that food and drink from Wales has a deserved reputation for quality and taste. A whopping 153 products from Wales, from independent artisan producers to larger distributors, were recognised in the awards, with 110 Welsh products achieving one star, 31 getting two stars and 12 being deemed worthy of the three-stars accolade.
Described as the Oscars of the culinary world, Great Taste is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. Among the winners were Forte’s Ice Cream’s mascarpone and caramelised fig ice cream and organic Zambian forest honey from Tropical Forest Products. The latter was the first company to import organic honey and beeswax from Africa, nowadays importing honey and beeswax from forest beekeepers in Zambia, Ethiopia and Cameroon. Apart from the delicious flavour, the company’s development work makes a change to the livelihoods of beekeepers and their families, and ensures the continued protection of the forest by the local communities who benefit from them.
Forte’s finds the purest and finest ingredients in the world and use them to produce the best ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt available. This has led to the creation of over 35 flavours of ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts all made with fresh milk, double cream and only the finest ingredients.
Finally, a Somerset restaurant has been named the best in the whole of the South West, a nice surprise for the restaurant during its 25th year. The New Farm Restaurant in South Petherton stormed to two major awards: Best South West Restaurant and No 1 Place to Go – the latter being the biggest award of the night.
John Sheaves, chief executive of organisers, Taste of the West, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response from the South West’s food and drink industry to our awards programme this year. These awards underpin our core values and strengthen our regional brand, a brand which is attracting considerable interest from new markets.”
Food and drink have hit the headlines again over the past week. With the sighting of a nine-foot shark off the coast of Cornwall and four smaller, but nonetheless impressive sharks caught in Devon. SW food buyers are checking supermarket fish carefully for fins.
The nut industry has been given a boost with the news that a diet rich in nuts could improve male fertility. According to a new study, “nut-rich diets produce a higher sperm count and more powerful swimmers.” A clinical trial was conducted over 14 weeks that found better sperm in the healthy young men aged 18-35 who supplemented their usual diet with 60 grams/day of mixed nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Those in the nut group had significant improvements in their sperm.
Scorching New Flavours
It’s good news for ice cream manufacturers too, with retailers reporting a sales increase of over 100% on this time last year. Waitrose has experienced a massive lift in sales with ‘adult’ ice lollies topping the frozen treats charts with an increase in sales of 188%. This is a perfect example of diversity: from Fab to Ab Fab! Ice cream manufacturers have found a new grown up market although a frozen old-fashioned orange jubbly is still hard to be beat when it comes to cooling down.
SW Food Exports
Food and drink have been in the news in the South West and Wales this week with news that exports of SW food and drink have increased year on year to £760 million to March 2018. This is an increase of 7% compared to the previous 12 months, according to the latest HMRC figures. Meat was the most popular product (£97m) followed by dairy products and eggs (£148m).
It appears that China is benefiting the most from these exports, perhaps capitalising on the Brexit uncertainty and the trade tariffs enforced by the Trump administration. 24% more food and drink was exported to the country compared to the previous 12 months.
Food Minister George Eustice said: “Our food is known for its high quality and great taste and there has been a huge growth in the worldwide demand for British produce. Through the Food is GREAT campaign the government provides invaluable support to food and drink companies in the South West so they can access foreign markets and see their businesses grow.” It seems to be working then.
Finally, Bristol is being defiant in the face of fears that cheese, milk, butter and yoghurt imported from the EU could become much more expensive after Brexit. Yes, haloumi is at risk. But a Bristol-based agricultural expert has said it is an “opportunity” for those West Country dairy farmers and businesses to expand and diversify.
Food and drink industry expert, Graeme Fearon said: “before Wallace and Gromit think about emigrating, perhaps the market can be relied upon to save itself. In theory, every EU producer which finds itself unable to sell competitively to the UK is an opportunity for West Country farmers and businesses to expand their ranges and diversify their offerings.”
And the news from AC Services this month is our engineers are saying “if you think it’s hot in your kitchen, try driving my van in this weather to get to you on time!“
In the week following the wedding of the year, food has yet again been making the headlines. Eggs in particular seem to be popular with experts, via the food news media, urging people to eat at least one egg a day to stave off disease.
A study of nearly half a million people in China suggests a daily egg may reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Eggs contain high levels of protein, Vitamins A, D, B and B12, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin that can help prevent eye damage in old age. So egg consumption is the key according to some experts.
“At the very least up to one egg a day is not linked with raised cardiovascular risk, and at best up to one egg a day may even have health benefits,” says Prof Nita Forouhi, of the University of Cambridge.
This is good news for the egg industry following decades of concern including cholesterol fears and salmonella. Not to mention Edwina Curry. Indeed, the British Heart Foundation has now dropped its advice to limit egg consumption to three a week.
Best Use Before
Also in the news, Tesco is removing “best before” labels from about 70 of its fresh produce lines to reduce waste. These include apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons, other citrus fruit and onions. Best before labels mean that the food can be sold, redistributed and safely consumed after this date.
Instead, “use by” dates will be shown. This label means that food cannot be sold, redistributed or consumed after this date. The hope is that this will make easier for consumers to know when to discard food.
SW Festivals Start
There is much happening in the south west, where festival season is kicking off. Vegfest took place over the Bank Holiday weekend with great food and great music. Bristol played host to Europe’s biggest vegetarian and vegan event with hundreds of stalls selling their wares. As well as ethical and vegan friendly food, the event also involved comedy shows, cooking demos, a cinema, informative talks on health and nutrition and kid’s workshops (featuring Captain James Tea Cook).
And the Clovelly Seaweed Festival made its second annual appearance to introduce us to the wonderful world of seaweed. Chef demonstrations and a surprising variety of dishes are mixed with live music. It includes an exhibition by the Marine Biological Association titled ‘Amazing World of Algae’.
There’s still time to arrange a visit to the Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival, taking place on 2 June. Usually associated with burning barrels, the town is hosting the event which is now in its fourth year. “A passion for local produce and community links the founders of the festival.”
The following weekend, 9 and 10 June sees the Cheese & Chilli Festival being held in Christchurch, Dorset. Visitors can look forward to buying local cheeses and chillies of all strengths and listening to informative talks about these two foods. And then enjoying live music and joining in activities such as free circus skills workshops, magic shows and balloon-building sessions.
And in AC Services Southern news, Denise our new Service Administrator has settled in well having started on 9 April. Carolyn is also enjoying her move from Service to Accounts Administration.
Food has been in the regional and national press this week. Just in time for our new monthly food news round-up. With Easter looming, some unusual chocolate constructions have been unveiled. These include the mighty Creme Egg Yorkshire pudding which has been created by a Cardiff pub.
The Cedar Tree Farm has ingeniously combined sponge cakes with Crème Eggs, white and orange fondant inside a giant Yorkshire pudding. Claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the dessert is the latest Easter treat being served up in Wales, after The Cottage Coffee Shop & Lunch Bar launched cheesecake-filled Easter eggs.
Staying in Wales, it was announced this week that pies made by prisoners have been crowned champion at the renowned British Pie Awards. The Custodial Pie Corporation is a joint scheme between HMP Berwyn in Wrexham and Dylan’s restaurant company.
The hard work of the restaurant and a group of prisoners plus catering staff and three senior chefs from Dylan’s made the perfect pie and pasty recipe, using Welsh produce.
Nutrient Content of Food
Of course, this is not the only food news. KFC’s chicken crisis continues and a new debate has sparked up over the sugar content in fruit and vegetables. According to a recent analysis, different types of fruit and veg can contain up to twice as many nutrients. While others have significantly lower levels of sugars and calories. Here’s a summary of some facts:
- Purple cabbage is better than green with ten times more Vitamin A and twice the amount of iron. It also has 36 antioxidants that have been shown to ward off cancer and even improve memory.
- Canned sweetcorn contains 44% more beta carotene than fresh. The canning processes breaks down corn’s tough cell walls, making it easier for the body to access this important nutrient.
- Red dates contain about 60% fewer calories, 10% more fibre and half the sugar content than regular dates.
- Red and black grapes as opposed to green grapes contain resveratrol, catechins and proanthocyanidins. These are all linked to the prevention of various cancers including breast, colon and lung.
- A Granny Smith apple has around 6g less sugar than a Gala.
Long Lasting Ice Cream
And it’s good news for ice cream. Researchers are claiming this week that banana plant extract could be key to creamier, longer lasting ice cream. “Adding tiny cellulose fibres extracted from banana plant waste to ice cream could slow melting, increase shelf life and potentially replace fats used to make the tasty treat,” say the scientists involved.
Insects and Yeast
A paper released last week explains how our understanding of insect-yeast ecology could inform the search for new yeasts. It looks specifically at insects that feed on sugars, such as beetles, wasps, bees and fruit flies.
The scientists are particularly interested in those yeasts that can produce fruity and floral aromas, which can add a new dimension to the food industry.
AC Services News
And finally at AC Services this March, we closed two days because of the Beast from the East part one. Fortunately the Beast from the East part two hit on the weekend and didn’t affect work, only a social activity that Helen had organised for our Service Engineers . But the Go Karting will be re-arranged for a warmer month.
Weather forecasters are now forecasting Beast from the East part three, but it’s looking like more northerly parts of the UK will be affected. Even if it does snow and we can’t get to you, we are always on the end of the phone on 01454 322 222 to help you with your Rational oven needs. Or to hear what you think about our monthly food news round-up.