Posts Tagged ‘food’
Ah, BhS. Home of ugly clothes and haunted looking post-menopausal women, sitting alone in the bleak cafe. A place where retail dreams go to die. Yet it keeps going, buoyed by that most buoyant of billionaires, Sir Philip Green, who is probably at this very moment lounging on his yacht playing Solitaire on his iPad and eating quails eggs out of an ivory bucket.
Since last year, Sir Phil has been banging on about introducing a food department into his stores, and now he’s ready to launch BHS Food in two stores in glamorous Staines and Warrington. His plan is to undercut Tesco by 10%, thus leading a budget department store supermarket revolution – or something. If his discounted Bisto gravy granules and fizzy drinks are a hit, BHS Food will be introduced into 140 stores around the UK.
Sir Phil is taking a gamble on this – after all BHS suffered losses of £71million last year and nobody in the industry has any confidence in it. But he seems unperturbed about it in the way that only billionaires can be.
‘On the basis that everyone is going into the high street and convenience maybe it’s an opportunity.’ He shrugged. ‘If you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win the lottery.’
While it’s doubtful that BHS Food will become the new cheaper version of M&S Food, if all goes well, a large supermarket could buy into the deal and take advantage of BHS’s 180 locations. But if it fails, Sir Philip might have to sell the business completely.
The UK has always been good when naming a food crisis. We had ‘Mad Cow Disease’, ‘Salmonella’ and ‘The Horse Meat Scandal’. Our newest one needs work – ‘The Food Adulteration Crisis!’ As ever, we ask you, the reader, to do the heavy lifting and come up with a catchy name for this scandal, which we’ll use in all future coverage.
So what is the Food Adulteration Crisis? Well, according to the president of the Trading Standards Institute, an investigation in Yorkshire showed that a third of goods tested were not what they were claimed to be on their label.
Baroness Crawley said that tests showed a third of food samples showed had been adulterated with other substances.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Crawley said: “Reporting of food fraud has increased by 66% since 2009, while the number of samples taken by local authorities has decreased by 26%. Call me old fashioned but I like my ham to actually be ham not poultry died pink or meat emulsion, whatever that is. I want fruit juice to be just that and not laced with vegetable oil that is used in flame retardants.”
“What is the Government doing about the depletion of trading standards departments across the country whose job it is to track down organised criminal gangs in the food sector?”
So what are they doing? Well, Lord de Mauley who is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister, said that the government take the threat of food fraud “very seriously”, adding: “Following the horsemeat fraud last year, we have been working with industry and local authorities to improve our intelligence sharing to target sampling and enforcement better.”
“The sample carried out by the West Yorkshire Trading Standards demonstrates the action being taken by local authorities across the United Kingdom to tackle known problem areas.”
So there we have it – cheapo food tends to be filled with all manner of crap, which everyone knew anyway. However, if this is going to take off, it really does need a catchy name. Readers, it is over to you.
Another day, another story about man-eating spiders in bananas. A family have once again been forced out of their home by armies of potentially deadly Brazilian Wandering spiders who hitched a ride on a bunch of bananas.
Arachnophobe and father of two Jamie Roberts bought the bananas from his local shop, and when he was putting them in the fruit bowl he noticed they were covered in white spots.
EXCEPT THEY WEREN’T WHITE SPOTS.
They were bazillions of baby spiders, who then scattered all over the windowsill, contaminating the family home. Pest control ordered the family to evacuate the house for three days while the spiders were smoked to death with toxic fumes.
While pest control have yet to identify the species, if they ARE Brazilian Wandering spiders, then they had a lucky escape. They’re world record holders for being the most venomous spider, and if they inject you with their venom, you can look forward to loss of muscle control, breathing problems and death.
‘It was like something out of a horror film,’ gasped Mr Roberts, clutching his chest.
It’s not the first time that Wandering spiders, also known as Banana Spiders, have terrorised the British public. Last year, 29 year old Consi Taylor from London bought bananas from Sainsbury’s that were also crawling with the deadly critters.
Got a banana in your lunchbox? You might want to double check it.
Dame Sally Davies told a committee of MPs that the government needs to get tough with those who produce food and drink and that she believed “research will find sugar is addictive”, and that “we may need to introduce a sugar tax”.
Dame Davies said: “We have a generation of children who, because they’re overweight and their lack of activity, may well not live as long as my generation. They will be the first generation that live less, and that is of great concern.”
Yeah. Those poor children might not live to see retirement age, which has been pushed back thanks to irritatingly healthy people who live until they’re 103 and crap everywhere. Davies reckons that being overweight had been “normalised” and added: “I worry that we have re-sized a women’s dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student.”
“We have to find a new way – not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves – but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.”
Of course, ministers have been arguing about food packaging for a while and no-one can really agree to anything. More pertinently, does anyone really care? If manufacturers start sticking warnings on food that is bad for you, surely it’ll only end up being like the red triangle Channel 4 used to put on things that would guarantee you a sex scene? It wouldn’t be a deterrent, but rather, a hallmark for what you want.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “To help the nation to be healthier by eating fewer calories, including sugar, we are working with industry through the Responsibility Deal. This work has already delivered results but we have always been clear that, if food and drink companies fail to act, we will look at other options and are keeping all international evidence under review.”
We’ve already had Jamie and his empire of Italian chain restaurants that charge £15 for an underwhelming bowl of pasta. But who is the next sweaty, corpulent and bad tempered chef to gain UK wide domination?
Step forward Gallic bad boy and uber-wanker Marco Pierre-White, who has put down his beefy stock cube for five minutes and signed a deal to roll out 50 new restaurants in his name across Britain in the next five years.
The deal is with a hotel development company, and will incorporate his two brands – Marco-Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill and Marco’s New York Italian restaurant. The latest will be in the Indigo Hotel in Manchester, which will open next year. There are already three successful restaurants in Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle, and he plans to spread like a culinary PAN-demic around other major cities very soon.
The depressing onslaught of the celebrity chef continues unabated, and their cache means they can charge £60 a head for food that couldn’t give the Berni Inn a run for its money. And the chef with the name above the door (and on the walls, and on the menu) is invariably conspicuously absent.
But will this be different? Well. Jay Rayner, food critic of the Observer, visited White’s Steakhouse in London and said ‘everything we ate was awful in that “someone must be punished” sort of way’.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s just over a year since we first found out that beefburgers weren’t, and trust levels in consumers are still down on those polled before the scandal- an One Poll survey a year ago found that trust in foodstuffs fell from 69% to 35% . A new YouGov survey for the National Farmers’ Union shows the level of trust is now back up to 52% , but apparently trusting British is the way to go.
NFU President Peter Kendall said that the results of the YouGov survey showed that “79 per cent of British people think British supermarkets should sell more food produced on British farms.”
“This survey shows very clearly that consumers want more British food, so I hope they will take this on board and act on it,” he concluded.
The NFU comments come as farmers, particularly in the South, have faced terrible weather conditions and waterlogged land, that will likely impact on their produce and livelihood.Not to mention denting the supply, and presumably, increasing costs. Mr Kendall wants retailers, like the giant supermarket brands, to “commit to stocking more British food” and to “develop committed, fair and beneficial relationships” with farmers.
Of course, it is no surprise that a British farmers’ union would advocate buying British rather than buying cheap foreign muck -“We’re not saying that supermarkets should not stock any foreign produce. But we would urge the retailers to listen to what consumers are saying.” However, do consumers really want British food, or is cost still king? With renewed reports that incomes are not keeping pace with the rising cost of living, and record numbers of families taking in lodgers, would you steadfastly buy British, or would you rather have enough to eat, regardless of where it came from?
They’ll also be making a move into giving everyone the opportunity to make mobile phone payments when they go in to pay £1.09 for a pastie.
The company want to increase sales of products below 400 calories, when maybe, they might see a growth if they make the most unhealthy food imaginable, thereby making it a guilty pleasure and joining in the Britain’s current fetishisation of greasy burgers and the like.
Less health. More junk!
“We’ve got a significant number of products, particularly in the sandwich range, that qualify under that banner and we want to make more of that as part of the sandwich work that we’re doing,” Chief Executive Roger Whiteside told Reuters on Wednesday.
Either way, they’ll have more butties, won’t be stopping the sale of sausage rolls and you’ll be able to pay for stuff with your phone, so there you go. Welcome to the Greggs of the future.
Everyone loves a bit of sausage on Valentine’s Day, so how about a salami bouquet? From $50, you can despatch some meat to your loved one via Olympic Provisions.
Offered in 3, 6, and 13 stem bouquets:
- The 3 stem includes 1 Italian salami, 1 French salami, and 1 Spanish salami
- The 6 stem includes 2 Italian salami, 2 French salami, 1 Spanish salami, and 1 Greek salami
- The 13 stem includes one of each of the 12 salami and 1 chocolate salami.
What an amazing world we live in.
If your kid thinks that oven chips come from ovens and tuna is a kind of chicken, then Tesco’s ‘Eat Happy’ project is designed to help them find out where food comes from. (er…Tesco?)
The first part of this new project is the Farm to Fork initiative, where bored school children will tour factories and farms (possibly missing out abattoirs) and be forced to talk to coffee growers from Costa Rica. BOR-iNG. I mean, GREAT!
Tesco, in their continuing attempts to shed their reputation for being heartless megalomaniacs, will be investing 15 million in the scheme, which includes a digital launch and cookery classes in store. The aim is to help ‘the next generation have a healthier and happier relationship with food.’
So kids will go from garbage eating, clueless idiots to food bores who will say pretentious things about ‘provenance’ in restaurants.
Chris Bush, Tesco’s MD added:
‘We know parents are concerned that kids don’t always understand how food is made and where it comes from, which is important to developing a strong positive life-long relationship with food.’
I don’t know what he’s on about. Personally I’ve had a life-long relationship with Jammie Dodgers, Findus Crispy Pancakes and whatever the hell is in Rustler’s microwaveable burgers.
McDonalds gets a bad rep, but things have turned around in the company’s reputation in the last couple of years – their coffee isn’t terrible, Big Macs have less fat in them than most pre-packed sandwiches, and you can make a Filet o’Fish last a couple of hours while you use their wifi.
But McDonalds’ grip on the world’s munchies appetite is slipping. Admittedly with 34,000 branches of the chain, an overall sales fall of 0.1% isn’t that big a deal, and sales have actually increased by 1% across Europe in Q4.
The company, in a ‘no shit’ kinda way, have claimed that 2013 was a “challenging year”, but still plan to open up to 1600 new outlets across the planet. Globally they still face big competition from Burger King and Wendy’s, but over here in the UK it looks like they are fast being outnumbered two-to-one by Tesco Express.
Maybe they should go back to being outrageously unhealthy and not giving a shit because that’s precisely the reason you go? Sod being healthy.
Ok, so we all know that Marmite polarizes opinion and Irn Bru tastes like rusty orange bubblegum, but surely they’re not a health risk?
Well, Canada has a different opinion. Apparently some of the lovely additives in our favourite British treats are illegal in Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is busy shutting down stores who stock British products for homesick ex-pats.
One of the issues they have with our products are synthetic colourings, some of which are banned in Canada. Irn Bru contains the excellent sounding Ponceau 4R, which give it its otherworldly ginger glow.
But they’re also not allowing any foodstuff that’s ‘enriched with vitamins and minerals.’ Marmite has extra vitamin B12 and Riboflavin (B2) so contravenes their regulations. Other ‘enriched’ foods include Penguin biscuits, Bovril, Ovaltine and Lucozade.
Irn-Bru have managed to get round the ban by creating a Canada-specific recipe that doesn’t include Ponceau 4R. But it’s sad news for the rest, and it means that British born Canadian citizens can’t get their Marmite fix – even though there’s nothing wrong with it at all.
Meanwhile, Canada gave the world Celine Dion, and if she isn’t a health risk, then nothing is.
The UK could soon be overrun with branches of Subway, as the American chain announced a major expansion across Britain and Ireland, creating 13,000 jobs. They plan to increase the amount of franchises from 1,731 by 3000 by 2020 – that’s a hell of a lot of not-very-nice sandwiches.
Some might say that the last thing the UK needs is another dire US fast food chain that pumps sugar and additives into everything and creates entire generations of kids who think that food should be 5 foot long and covered in Ranch dressing that looks like Satan’s semen.
But the response to the Subway chain in the UK has been so strong that we represent their biggest market outside America. Their new £2 breakfast range – which includes something terrifyingly visceral called a ‘Mega Melt’- is going down a storm.
Subway Europe’s assistant regional director Mike Charest said (in retail robot speak): ‘The UK and Irish markets have been fantastic success stories for the Subway brand and we see opportunities for further growth as more and more consumers demand great tasting food at a value price-point.’
But what we really need to worry about is this. What will happen to Greggs if Subway take over the country? Will the Meatball Marinara triumph over the sausage roll? Or will Subway be squished by the sheer lardy power of the cheese savoury Big Softee?
It seems that the British public has long memories when it comes to horsemeat, and they never want to risk accidentally eating perfectly edible and safe horsemeat ever again. Instead, people have started using their local butcher – who probably scratches his dandruff into the sausages – but at least he’s not a horse, or worse still, a FOREIGN HORSE FROM ROMANIA.
According to the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, the good old independent British butcher is experiencing an upturn in fortunes, with reports of a 15%-50% increase in demand. Customers are keen to know the provenance of their meat since the horsemeat scandal, and butchers have managed to hold onto their trade – as stripy-aproned random guys with massive knives are seen to be more of a trusted source of local produce than the supermarket.
Still, although it might be borne out of unfounded squeamishness and xenophobia, people buying their food from a local small business is a nice return to the butcher/baker/candlestick maker high street shopping of old. Roger Kelsey, CEO of the NFMFT said:
‘Independent butchers have the benefit of local supply and in most cases they know the farmer up the road and have a one-to-one relationship with them.’
Eeee, I remember when it were all Asda superstores round here, as far as the eye could see…
There’s a new scheme that has been launched which want to give Scotch whisky some protection from crappy, sub-standard products. And it really is about time. The French have made huge amounts of money by having their famous produce protected, like champagne and most of their cheeses.
The Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme, set up by the government, is hoping to do the same with our booze, so you know that, if you’re spending your money on whisky, you’re not getting an inferior product. If we could do the same for our cheese and sausages, that would be great (Lancashire cheese should be made in Lancashire and Lincolnshire sausages should be made in Lincolnshire, rather than anyone from anywhere simply following the recipe for a regional cheese).
This protection will be extended to other geographically specific drinks, such as Somerset Cider Brandy and whiskey made in Northern Ireland, with blenders, producers, bottlers and importers needing to apply to HMRC if they want to be verified. It might seem like a trivial thing, but the country stands to make much more money on drink and food, so it can’t be a bad thing.
Producers will have to sign up for the scheme if they want to sell within the EU.
Scotch Whisky Association chief executive David Frost said: “This is a step change in the protection of Scotch whisky and should be warmly welcomed. We fully support the introduction of the verification scheme by the UK government. It will give even more protection to consumers of Scotch whisky.”
“It will greatly improve the industry’s ability to stop the sale of adulterated Scotch whiskies bottled abroad.”