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With the ongoing debates on climate change and with plant-based foods on the increase in terms of both popularity and availability; the meat industry is being vocal in explaining the “vital importance of livestock farming” to the South West region.
At a recent seminar, stakeholders heard from a panel of industry experts and farmers. They educated visitors on a sector often unfairly blamed for its contribution to global warming.
The seminar focused on long-standing reports that livestock farming involved a choice between food production and caring for the environment. This has long been a contested issue. As Jonathan Foot, head of environment at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) pointed out, producing one kilo of beef takes a fraction of the water used to produce two pairs of jeans. He also highlighted the high nutritional value of meat.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “UK farming has some of the highest standards in the world both in terms of animal welfare and the environment…we need to encourage a return to whole foods.” The seminar also advocated the benefits of livestock resources to improve the quality of soil. This is becoming degraded but good soil equates to better crops. Livestock is also a source of natural fibres which will become more important in the move away from plastics.
Farmers in Wales are also having their say. This follows a statement by the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change hinting at the need for taxes on meat and dairy products to curb consumption by a fifth. There is also the suggestion of increasing UK tree cover from 13% to at least 17% by 2050.
According to the Farmers Union of Wales; even if all UK food production ceased overnight, the carbon emissions of the country would fall by just 10%. Farmers believe that introducing such measures will simply increase Britain’s reliance on food imported from countries with greater carbon footprints. This clearly defeats the object.
FUW president Glyn Roberts commented: “as acknowledged by the Committee, switching away from UK red meat would increase the nation’s carbon footprint because we have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of meat reared anywhere in the world.” In addition, farmers in the uplands of Wales argue that on windswept thin soils; only livestock rearing is suitable as crop production is impractical.
Moreover, the union stressed that plant-based foods aren’t necessarily more environmentally friendly. All manufactured food, it argues is very dependent on agricultural systems and available natural resources; as well as transportation and how far the product has travelled.
Give Us Your Food
Meanwhile, down in Devon, ‘imaginative’ stallholders and food sellers are being sought for the 2020 festival in Exmouth in May. The four-day event is the largest free festival in the South West and now in its 24th year.
An Exmouth Festival spokesperson said: “We’re looking for imaginative and customer-focused local food sellers, offering a wide variety of tasty choices for our hungry festival-goers to cater for their different tastes and diets”. Time to get your applications in!
With chaos in the world of politics, rain toppling World Championship cyclists in Yorkshire and Japan upsetting Ireland rugby; it is good to have sensible regional food news for catering business in South West England and South Wales.
Wales has received a pat on the back from new Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers who recently toured South Wales. She discussed opportunities for Welsh agriculture as the UK leaves the EU with key representatives of the farming, food and drink industries. This visit coincided with the publication of the latest export figures for Wales. They indicate that £231.5m of produce has already been exported in 2019. This includes a 14% increase in Welsh meat compared to the same period last year.
Elsewhere, food and drink from West Dorset has been recognised for its excellence. The Taste of the West Awards celebrates the best products and establishments in the region. Finalists included Bridport-based Bayside Bakery for its salted caramel brownies and Cedrics at the White Swan in Misterton for its beekeepers orange and honey marmalade cake.
Curious Pig beech-smoked dry cure back bacon by the Curious Food Company made the finals; as did the Devon-based Salcombe Brewery, which won the best drinks category for its Island Street Porter. While West Bay’s Baboo Gelato was in the finals of the Producer of the Year category.
Also in the South West, Bristol-based Swoon is celebrating being awarded supreme champion of the Great Taste Awards. Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. It’s considered the Oscars of the food world. The gelateria serves a huge range of exceptional desserts including Neapolitan coffee, pistachio and hazelnut gelatos and its chocolate sorbetto.
Swoon’s nocciola gelato won over the judges, made from hazelnuts from a small property in Piemonte, a region of Italy. John Farrand, Managing Director of the Guild of Fine Food, said: “Simplicity has won the day at Great Taste again this year, rising to the top in a field packed with new concepts, innovative flavour combinations and products from every corner of the world”.
In North Wales, a micro-brewery with a range of vegan beers has also bagged one of the Great Taste Oscars. Dovecote Brewery in Denbigh produces exclusively vegan-friendly beers. These include Dove Down Under, a 4.8 per cent strength ale made with New Zealand hops. All Dovecote’s ten regular beers are vegan as are the 16 seasonal specials brewed. The brewing process adheres to the 503-year-old German Purity Laws, which insist that beer can only be brewed from barley, hops, water and yeast.
Finally, if you are looking for somewhere to go at the end of summer, try the Orchard Street Food & Craft Market taking place on Saturday 5 October and Sunday 6 October at Gloucester Quays. It features stalls and live music for all of the family by bringing the finest local food, drink, art design, vintage and modern craft all local to the South West.
AC Services Southern is always happy to share good news about food and catering companies in the region we serve. Look out for our next regional food news round-up for fresh ideas and successes.
The summer has arrived in style, crowning the England cricket team champions of the world in what must be the most nerve-racking and exciting sporting final ever broadcast. The subsequent celebrations involved food and drink galore, which leads nicely on to our latest regional round-up of all things to be eaten and drunk.
First, keep an eye on social media as Cardiff is getting ready to host its month-long street food celebration with the Summer Feastival returning for summer 2019. Last year, a host of street food traders took over Sophia Gardens. This year, it will be held at City Hall Lawns from Saturday, August 10 until Sunday, September 8. It’s free entry to the festival featuring a changing line-up of different street food traders from across Wales and the South West. A stage will feature live music performances.
South West Business Booming
In the year ending March 2019, HMRC has reported that businesses in the South West exported more than £850m of locally produced food and drink with a surge in trading with Singapore, growing by 31%. Overseas sales of drinks from this region showed the largest growth over the period, increasing by 17% to reach more than £134m. Food Minister David Rutley said, “it is fantastic to see the growing appetite for the South West’s quality produce in markets such as France, Spain and Singapore.” In the first three months of 2019 the nation’s food and drink exports were £5.7B.
There’s a new scheme taking place in Bristol this summer. Some of city’s restaurants and cafes are serving green-inspired dishes to support food redistribution charity, FareShare South West’s #ActiveAteBristol campaign. The campaign’s aim for 2019 is to provide over 40,000 meals to children at projects and holiday clubs throughout Bristol during the long summer holidays.
School food support stops in the holidays and the charity wants all children to eat properly over the six-week break. By ordering a dish inspired by the green in FareShare’s logo at a partaking cafe or restaurant; a donation will be made to FareShare South West. The scheme runs from July 19 to September 1.
Wales Does Well
The Development Bank of Wales attended the Royal Welsh Show last week, Europe’s largest agricultural show. The Development Bank has a range of funds available to help all sectors including farming, tourism, retail, and food and drink. The fund’s key aim is to finance tourism projects, which have the opportunity to create positive impact on growing the sector and Welsh economy. In the last financial year the Development Bank supported Welsh businesses with 220 micro loans.
The show saw Welsh food and drink business support programme, Cywain, celebrating a decade of nurturing talent in the sector by showcasing some of the new enterprises. Cywain guides and encourages small food and drink businesses. Support is achieved through packages of business support targeted to individual requirements. These include expert advice and mentoring, product development, networking, clustering, and test trading and market opportunities.
AC Services News
At AC Services our new Engineer Steve Miles joined us in March and attended Rational’s 3 Day training in Luton in April. He continued his side-by-side training with our two Senior engineers and is now out in his own van helping customers.
Helen commented: “Steve is doing extremely well helping our full range of customers big and small, old and new with their Rational oven breakdowns, service and installations. It is great to have him in our team”
Every couple of months AC Services takes a look at what’s been making the regional news in the area it serves in the food and drink industry. This time Welsh news is uppermost.
It seems that Wales is thinking ahead and planning for any contingency caused to the industry by Brexit. The Welsh government has pledged to pump £22 million into the food and drink industry. It cites its support for agri-food as a “strategic priority”. In 2018 the Welsh food and farming sector was worth £6.8 billion employing 217,000 people. The cash will support innovation and help navigate the post-Brexit landscape.
It has a particular emphasis on strengthening European partnerships. This is an attempt to minimise the chaos surrounding Brexit which threatens to damage trading relationships. Food Innovation Wales has become a network partner of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Food KIK. With the funding from Wales, a dedicated EIT presence will be established in Wales. This links the Welsh industry to a wider consortium of industry players across Europe.
Denbigh fruit from the Vale of Clwyd has been given protected food name status by the European Commission. It now stands proudly up with the likes of Welsh lamb and Caerphilly cheese. Denbigh boasts the only native variety of plum in Wales. Over the past ten years, it has witnessed a resurgence of plums being grown in the area.
It is only the 16th Welsh product, and Wales’ first fruit, to gain the EU’s prestigious protected food name status. It will now receive Europe-wide protection against imitation, misuse and fraud.
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said: “I’m delighted The Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has been honoured with protected food name status. I hope it will prove a welcome boost for businesses in the area. With Brexit fast approaching, we are determined to support Welsh food and drink businesses and ensure they are given all necessary help in a challenging marketplace.”
South West English News
The opening of a new vegan street food café serving vegan pizzas, wraps, smoothies and homemade pancakes and crumpets to the residents of Teignmouth has taken place. Nourish Plant Based Cafe has a tantalising menu on offer. This includes garlic mushrooms, rocket, sundried tomatoes, soft cheese, refried beans, roasted veg, spinach, creme fraiche, guacamole, bean salad, tomato salsa and house aioli.
In nearby Seaton, a café serving all-local ingredients has been opened to support West Country food producers. All the food and drink at Taste of the West @ Seaton Jurassic is guaranteed to be produced locally in the South West. Devon Wildlife Trust is providing the venue.
“This is the perfect partnership for us,” says Richard Drysdale, Head of Visitor Centres for Devon Wildlife Trust. “We are committed to supporting local businesses and offering the very best food and drink to our visitors.” Taste of the West plans to roll out the café franchise throughout the South West.
And finally, there’s good news for the seafood industry. According to the most recent HMRC statistics (March 2019), the South West now exports more seafood than any other region in England. Overseas sales now total more than £155.7m in 2018.
Sales to China jumped by 25.9% in 2018, compared to the previous year. This is driven by increasing disposable income within China’s rapidly expanding middle class and the UK’s strong reputation for the quality of its catch.
Sad news for all sweetie lovers as the demise of the Tootie Fruitie sweet was announced by Nestle. It will take its place alongside Spangles, Toffo and Cadbury Fry’s Five Centres as a defunct and sadly missed treat. But in other news, it’s been a good week for Wales . An additional £22 million has been promised to boost the Welsh food and drink industry.
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths announced that the new investment will span the sector “offering new support to realise business growth opportunities and ambitions and to propel innovation forward. It will directly support the foundation sector in Wales respond to the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.”
The Welsh food and drink sector has shown significant growth recently. The Food and Farming sector was worth £6.8 billion in 2018. Welsh food and drink exports were worth £539 million over the same timescale. This is up £10 million on the previous year.
Moving away from Wales to the sunny Devon coast, a new vegan street food cafe is opening up in Teignmouth. Nourish Plant Based Cafe is being opened by Liz Perry. She will be bringing a selection of vegan street food as a cafe and takeaway that will serve pizzas, wraps, falafel and cakes. “Opening up my own cafe serving plant-based food is something I have always wanted to do,” Liz said. “So many people choose to be vegetarian or vegan now so I think there’s definitely a gap in the market for something like this in Teignmouth.
Another event to be held locally is Exeter’s huge food and drinks festival. This is heading back to the city in May with a new line-up of celebrity chefs including Mitch Tonks, Michael Caines, Gareth Howarth and Josh Eggleton. The food festival is to be held at Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens between 4 May and 6 May.
The event is supported by Visit Exeter and celebrates the start of the May season. Visitors will experience artisan produce, live music, chef demonstrations together with real ales and ciders. There will be two food and drink marquees and the Fresh at the Festival initiative will be launched, a new venture created to champion those who have been in business fewer than three years.
Finally, if you are veggie or vegan, then Bristol is the place to be. The UK city was found to have the most Google searches related to the vegan movement than anywhere else in the entire world! Bristol came first, followed by Portland, Edinburgh, Vancouver and Seattle according to research from Chef’s Pencil. They used data from Google Trends to look up the number of vegan-related searches made in any language. Globally, Australia was found to be the most vegan country, with the UK coming a close second.
September 2018 saw the opening of the first fully plant-based restaurant in Bristol, Suncraft, and a vegan food market, House of Veg opened earlier this year. A spokesperson for Chef’s Pencil said “Bristol’s concentration of vegan-related searches on Google surpassed every other city in the world. There are lots of vegan restaurants, cafes, vegan hair and beauty salons and even an active Bristol vegan community.”
So catering businesses in AC Services Southern’s region seem to be right on trend this month with a range of vegan news.
The headlines are currently dominated by Brexit, the snowy weather, the great American stand-off and the Oscars. But what is making the headlines in the world of food and drink?
There is a greater call of allergen labelling following the death of a schoolgirl from an unlabelled baguette. Proposals unveiled by environment secretary Michael Gove would see all prepackaged food labelled to help the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers decide whether they can safely eat it.
There are celebrations down in Devon as a popular fish and chip shop has been crowned as the best chippy in the UK. Krispies Fish & Chips in Exmouth has “battered its way to the top” winning the coveted award as UK’s best fish and chip shop at the National Fish and Chip Awards 2019, organised by Seafish. Krispie’s is owned and operated by husband and wife team Kelly and Tim Barnes, offering “true excellence in the fish and chip industry” with factors such as “sustainability, menu innovation, catering for special dietary requirements, customer service and marketing activity” all part of the judging process.
It’s also been getting spicy down in Devon with the humble ketchup being the focus of attention. The South Devon Chilli Farm has been listening to market research and is giving fans their signature chilli twist to the UK’s favourite condiment. Three new delicious chilli ketchups – cool jalapeno, smoky chipotle and hot habanero –have been added to the range as an alternative to the tomato option. Presented in a smart glass bottle, the range is suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets and contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Over in Taunton, the newly-introduced ‘bleeding’ vegan burger has been a new year triumph for TGI Friday. The completely meat-free burger, which was one of the most talked about burgers in the USA last year, is high in protein and has zero cholesterol. As well as beetroot, which gives it the iconic bleed, the flame-grilled burger is made from coconut oil, mushrooms, herbs, plant proteins, and spices.
Terry McDowell, TGI Fridays’ head chef, said: “Friday’s flame-grilled, hand-crafted burgers are one of the most popular dishes on our menu and now everyone can enjoy their legendary taste, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, trying to cut down on meat, or anything in between!”
Over in Wales, the Welsh government has just published a consultation considering a range of proposals to encourage people to change their eating habits and be more active. As well as banning energy drinks to under-16s, other measures in the ‘Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales’ include “restrictions on the positioning of products in stores, restrictions on the amount of marketing of certain products in stores, restrictions on promotions and discounting of certain products in stores, mandatory calorie labelling for food purchased and eaten outside of the home.” If you want to be heard then respond to the consultation.
And staying in Wales, following the huge success of the inaugural event in in 2017, BlasCymru / TasteWales returns March 20 and 21 2019. The show will bring together buyers, producers and food industry professionals for this signature international food and drink trade event and conference, held once again at the world-class Celtic Manor Resort.
Food SupportThe 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 BackWales 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 SuccessCelebrity 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 NewsHere 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.
South West TriumphsPaul Shand, head of exports in the South West for the Department for International Trade, said: “South West food and drink producers are rapidly developing a reputation around the world for their high quality food and drink.” It goes to show that the food and drink industry is thriving and despite the uncertain economic background, people are still demanding quality food from reputable sources. In Wales, there are also a few pats on the back with Welsh food and drink businesses triumphing in this year’s Great Taste awards, proving once again that food and drink from Wales has a deserved reputation for quality and taste. A whopping 153 products from Wales, from independent artisan producers to larger distributors, were recognised in the awards, with 110 Welsh products achieving one star, 31 getting two stars and 12 being deemed worthy of the three-stars accolade.
Great TasteDescribed 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.”
Scorching New FlavoursIt’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 ExportsFood 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.
Bristol FashionFinally, 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!“
Best Use BeforeAlso 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 StartThere 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.