Today (24th April) marks International Stop Food Waste Day, a campaign which calls for us all to become food waste warriors and raise awareness of the global food waste crisis. It’s no surprise that there is now a dedicated day aimed at educating and igniting change regarding the global food waste epidemic.
The topic of food waste has been discussed and debated endlessly in the media over recent years. Whilst we all know that we should be trying to limit our food wastage by freezing leftovers, measuring our portions, considering what we buy and when, and understanding the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ to prevent throwing away tonnes of edible food every year, many of us admit to contributing to the growing problem.
According to WRAP’s (Circular & Resource Efficiency Experts) research, compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), it is estimated that approximately one-third of all food produced in the world is lost to waste. This equates to a staggering £20 billion worth of food waste in the UK annually and an average of £810 worth of food being thrown away by the average UK family per year.
Wasting food is not only bad for the environment including the climate, but it’s also having a negative impact on our finances. Equally, hungry mouths are a stark example of the cost of food waste with the FAO estimating that 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to afford a meal, despite the UK wasting billions through food waste every year.
Last year, we addressed the topic of the food waste epidemic at our Lucre round table event (as part of our Insight and Ideas hub, which ensures as an agency we are always abreast of the latest trends and consumer behaviour), by celebrating the Innovative Waste Warriors who are making a difference in the war on waste. There are some real super-heroes who are helping to redress the balance and ensuring that unwanted food is put to good use. As well as championing the people, businesses and charities using leftover food to connect and empower, we also hoped to inspire businesses to look at the way they produce food and what they could do differently.
Fast forward a year from our round table event and we wanted to see what approach had been taken more recently to address the growing issue. The UK’s Government’s approach has been supporting the efforts of individual local organisations through a £500,000 Food Waste Reduction Fund. In an effort to reduce food waste, there have also been schemes such as the Courtaould2025 initiative and ‘LoveFoodHateWaste’ led by WRAP. To accelerate work to achieving the targets set out by Courtaould2025, the IGD (the global food and grocery experts) and WRAP have laid out milestones in a Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.
Despite the targets being ambitious, the UK’s largest retailers, food producers, manufacturers, and hospitality and food service companies have signed up to the roadmap in a bid to halve food waste by 2030 and help to drive down the UK’s annual food waste bill.
This year we will also see the introduction of a £15 million pilot scheme come into play to help reduce waste after Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced that the Government has taken steps to improve their food waste policy. Furthermore, the Government has published its new Clean Growth Strategy, detailing its plan for a low-carbon future for the UK and outlining a target to ban food in all landfills by 2020.
Despite there being some initiatives implemented since our event last year, there is no doubt that huge challenges remain when it comes to food waste concerns and that more schemes need to be put in place to address the epidemic.
Takeaways have generally been viewed as an unhealthy selection of food options which are usually ordered as a ‘treat’ on occasion. But how can you avoid being unhealthy when the likes of Chinese, pizzas and curries dominate the takeaway market?
Enter Deliveroo. The company’s state of the art technology platform has enhanced food ordering and delivery at every level.
Established in 2013 in London, Deliveroo has developed into what has been branded as ‘one of the UK’s largest tech hubs’ making fine dining in under 32 minutes possible. The company is known for their cheeky style of PR taking their amazing delivery services to the maximum and teaming up with tech-company GoPro for their ‘extreme delivery’ April Fools stunt!
Consumers already know that the brand offers fast delivery services, so they may have fallen for this introduction of extreme delivery. It certainly promotes Deliveroo’s quickness and efficiency! The company also compare quotes and buy a policy of insurance to insure their delivery agents, thus providing safety to their riders.
Through the creation of highly advanced smartphone software for delivery drivers, the company has seen a demand for skills in sectors such as algorithm development and software engineering. So, you can be sure that from the moment your order is placed to the time it is delivered, it will be tracked with exceptional efficiency. Taking note of this service, Uber also launched UberEATS in London last year, making your selection of takeaway far vaster than the likes of Just Eat.
This has revolutionised how consumers perceive the act of simply ‘ordering a takeaway’.
In recent times, Deliveroo has come under criticism in the media for their employment rights and guaranteed pay levels. But on a technological level, they are leading the way and their PR can be used to challenge such perceptions. We can see examples of this on their social media as shown through their ‘Extreme Delivery’ April fools! Did you fall for it?
The results are in and it’s official, we’re a nation of foodies – well, sort of.
Coining the term ‘Culinary Magpie’, the latest Great British Chefs Insight report has shown a real resurgence of food trends from 50-60 year ago, with foodies looking to cook things from scratch, whether that’s jams, chutneys and pickles or the more technical coq au vin, we’re willing to get our hands dirty and give it a go!
The modern-day British foodie’s kitchen contains all the bells and whistles that you might expect from a start-up restaurant. The likes of ice-cream makers, pizza stones and spiralisers have become commonplace and it turns out that around 40 per cent of us own specialist equipment needed for pickling, 13 per cent for brewing beer, and an enthusiastic five per cent curing their own salami*.
When it comes to whipping up a quick, nutritious dinner, foodies steer well clear of microwave or ready meals and takeaways are likely to be sourced from local restaurants as opposed to chain stores. The esteemed foodie has the creativity to throw something together based on whatever they can find in the cupboard, with pasta being the main go-to as it’s easy to create but still delicious, so long as you don’t use a store-bought sauce…
While foodies as a whole are a talented bunch, modesty is not their strong point. When surveyed, 82 per cent said they’re much better cooks than their parents, taking inspiration from books (88%) or online (85%)*. Eating out is another important source of knowledge with the majority recreating what they’ve been served in British restaurants or on holidays abroad. Copy-cat cooking is also on the up thanks to the boom of televised cooking shows such as Masterchef and Great British Bake Off as an adventurous 83 per cent cook dishes they’ve seen on-screen.
The famed Sunday roast is still a fighting favourite for Brits, however foodies have taken a truly global approach to eating. More of us are branching out to try exotic meats such as ostrich, kangaroo, buffalo and crocodile. A peek inside our kitchen cupboards surprisingly reveals more fish sauce than brown sauce along with copious amounts of coconut milk, soy sauce and tinned tomatoes.
Overall, the recent survey from Great British Chefs highlights exactly how the world of food has changed so dramatically from as little as ten years ago, when things like fish sauce and spiraliser machines were housed solely in expert kitchens. We’re hoping to see more unusual ingredients becoming readily available in the next five to ten years with an onslaught of eager, budding foodies to match!
Everybody has heard the old adage “you eat with your eyes” but is it true? In the last month over the course of two very different culinary dates, my girlfriend and I have really put that theory to the test. Firstly, an extremely visual food sensation at Leeds’s only Michelin-starred restaurant The Man behind the Curtain and then eating in the complete dark at London restaurant Dans Le Noir. But which was better? What did I learn about the roles our senses play in our experience of food? And wider afield what does it mean for how brands appeal to all our senses?
“It looks too good to eat,” and the antonym “it looks good enough to eat” are things we’ve all said. Both demonstrate how our perception of food and eating is closely connected to our sight. But when the option to see what you are eating, as I experienced at Dans Le Noir, is removed is one’s experience of food affected? The answer is undoubtedly yes and for me, I’m afraid, it wasn’t for the better. I can conclude categorically that I like being able to see my food and what’s more it increases my enjoyment of a meal.
The contrast between the two meals couldn’t have been starker. Michael O’Hare’s food at The Man behind the Curtain is cosmic in appearance because it resembles a nebula star whereas the experience at Dans Le Noir was cosmic because it was as black as deepest darkest space. However, intriguingly there were similarities. At both meals I didn’t always know what I was eating. At Dans le Noir this was because I couldn’t’ see my food and wasn’t told what I was eating. One had to rely entirely on taste to identify the food, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. At The Man behind the Curtain despite being able to see the food and being given very detailed descriptions of what was on the plate, I still didn’t always know what I was eating simply because the creations were so fantastical. Edible egg shell, for example, blew my fragile little mind.
Food and drink is best enjoyed when all our senses are stimulated. What’s more our relationship between food and drink and senses is well known by brands and frequently exploited. The most tempting treats (those that are bad for us) are always sold at eye-line in the supermarket, coffee shops frequently waft their aromas out on to the street, and how much do you always want a Coke when you hear that pop and fizz of someone else’s can opening? It’s just as important to appeal to all the senses in the language we use when communicating and talking about food and drink. The legendary American salesman Elmer Wheeler said it best “You sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
Appealing to all our senses is essential for all brands. The consumer today wants to have experiences and an emotional relationship with the brands they buy and one way of doing this is ensuring the products and services we use excite all our senses. Brands should consider when appealing to our senses:
Sight – The sense most closely linked to our perception of things. What colours and shapes do customers associate with your brands? What emotions do these evoke? Is your brand recognisable from just its colour, shape, or logo?
Sound – This can easily be conveyed in adverts (Breakfast cereal is sold on sound alone). What sounds and music do customers associate with your brand? Do you have a catchy theme tune or tagline? What sounds do people link to your product? Also, how do people talk about your product?
Smell – The sense that is closest linked to our memories. Smells take us back to childhood or place we once knew. What smells are used in your stores? What memories does the smell of your products evoke?
Taste – This sense is not just confined to food and drink products. If your product had a flavour what might it be? How could taste be incorporated into your brand? If not a food or drink brand what food or drink product would customers associate with your brand?
Touch – The sense that the customer closest links to quality. If it feels good we think it’s good. How tactile is your product? Does it feel better than competitors? Does the customer get the opportunity to feel before they buy?
It makes good sense for brands to appeal to all our senses and they should investigate as many ways as possible to appeal all of them. Based on my two dinner dates I can testify that an experience is definitely better when all your senses are stimulated and excited. Dining in the dark was fun but for me there is definitely more enjoyment in seeing the joy in the face of the person you are with. Call me old fashioned but if I am going on a date with someone beautiful, I want to be able to see them.
There was uproar amongst the foodies this week after TV chef, Mary Berry casually added white wine and cream to her spaghetti bolognaise – even choosing to omit the pasta altogether… Cue Twitter pandemonium with various self-proclaimed foodie experts crumbling under the thought of her ruining this classic comfort dish:
“Just watched a cooking programme where Mary Berry put white wine in bolognaise. Turned it off”
“I can’t cope with Mary Berry’s bolognaise recipe. She used white wine, not red wine. She cooks it in the oven. There is thyme but no basil”
The Daily Telegraph even had the story as one of their “breaking news” pop-ups… it seems she’s caused a stir in the industry…
So, it got us thinking here at the Lucre food and drink towers – who else has come under scrutiny for daring to push culinary boundaries? Albeit, sometimes it’s been for all for the better!
The tradition Valencian dish includes meat, fish, shellfish, and vegetables but not a whiff of the cured sausage or succulent chicken thighs. People argued, he’s just created rice with stuff… tastes good, though….
Heston Blumenthal has forged his career and created a role for himself as our go-to chef for unlikely flavour combinations (snail porridge, anyone??) yet, his Bacon & Banana Trifle, launched last Christmas didn’t go down too well with the British public… perhaps a bit too far… It certainly left customers crying out for the classic to be served throughout the festive period instead.
Nigella Lawson is famous for recommending we add a teaspoon of marmite to our spaghetti bolognaise in replacement of a stock cube. Love it or hate it, feedback is it adds depth and distinction to your standard ragu sauce
So, some food for thought… should we stick to the classics and follow a recipe to the letter? Or, should we mix it up a bit and pull a Mary by adding some flair and pizazz to our usual weeknight dinners? Think what you like about our favourite bake-off chef, her recommendation, “white or red, whatever you’ve got to hand” certainly sounds like something we can get on board with!
Brexit’s here to stay, but what does this mean for the food and drink industry?
According to The Grocer, most households feel food prices have already risen over the last six months, and they’re not wrong as illustrated by the new buzzword, ‘shrinkflation’ – a practice where manufacturers reduce the size of products, but not the price. Towards the end of 2016, many chocolate manufacturers were criticised for their part in shrinkflation with cult favourite, Toblerone, coming under scrutiny for altering the classic shape and size of the product.
With weekly shopping bills set to rise further over the next six months*, almost half of shoppers said they would switch to cheaper own-label alternatives if their weekly food shopping bills rose by 3% – the level experts predict food inflation will hit by the end of the year.
Whether you feel that Brexit and Shrinkflation will affect your weekly shopping habits, we could all benefit by cutting a few pounds off our grocery bill.
Grow your own (herbs, lettuce, tomatoes):
Whether you’re naturally green-fingered, or just fancy the idea of a herb box on your kitchen bench, keeping fresh herbs at home can save you money in the long run when whipping up your favourite dish. If you’re willing to go a step further, then planting lettuces or tomatoes is a good way to go too.
Find own brand products that you like:
When it comes to own brand products, some contain identical ingredients and are even made in the same factory, but it can be a bit hit and miss. Food critic Martin Isark has set up his own website called the supermarketownbrandguide.co.uk where he has reviewed more than 10,000 own-brand products from all the big supermarkets.
Compare prices before you shop:
We tend to be pretty brand-loyal when it comes to food shopping. Grocery comparison website mySupermarket.com helps you compare the cost of your basket at various supermarkets, and is a good way to keep on top of your spending if prices do increase.
Make a list:
It may seem simple, but saving money on your weekly shop can be as simple as making a list and planning your meals in advance to avoid any unnecessary purchases!
Weight it out:
It pays to check the price per kilogram when it comes to buying groceries to be sure you’re getting the best deal. For meats with bones however, be sure to look at the cost per serving instead so the bones and fat included in the weight of the item don’t mislead you.
Do your own slicing and dicing.
Don’t fall into the pre-packaged and single-serve trap, as these are easy mark-up territory. It may be slightly more time consuming, but it’s always cheaper to buy the block of cheese or pineapple and do the chopping yourself.
Take a look at our Waste not, Want not blog that looks at ways you can make the most of the food you have at home, rather than discarding it.
The discounters are still the darlings of the retail sector and can seemingly do no wrong. Their rapid rise in popularity is continuing to hit the big four’s sales particularly at Asda which is suffering an identity crisis with how it appeals to shoppers since it lost its Low Prices crown.
It’s therefore interesting that both Aldi and Lidl have has come out with marketing campaigns focusing not on price, but on their responsible sourcing credentials.
Aldi’s ‘Everyday Amazing’ TV ad still stays true to Aldi’s cheeky personality with skydiving grannies but highlights that it sells 22,000 British free range chickens every week and all its Specially Selected Scottish Salmon is RSPCA assured.
This follows Lidl’s ‘Lidl Surprises’ campaign which challenges customer’s misconceptions about its food sourcing by taking them to meet the farmers and producers. The series of ads tells its home-grown story using hero products such as its Deluxe Scotch Assured Beef and Scottish MSC-approved Rope Grown Mussels.
This goes to show that provenance is just as important as price to British shoppers. The narrative about low prices at any cost is well and truly behind us. With Brexit looming large there is lots of discussion about whether leaving the EU will offer an opportunity to British farmers and producers as imported food like cheese, wine and fruit and vegetables become more expensive. Or, is there a risk that we will lose our farming heritage as EU agricultural subsidies are removed?
It’s certainly an interesting time for British food. Lucre is going to explore these issues in more detail with a roundtable event Provenance Vs Price: The Future of British Food at NABIM (National Association of British and Irish Millers) on 6th October from 3pm-6pm. We’ll have supermarket food trends expert Margaret McSorley Walker talking through some of the unlikely heroes of British food and Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director at tcc Global looking at what British means to shoppers and retailers.
Apparently, the number of vegans is growing. According to new research by Ipsos Mori, commissioned by the Vegan Society, there are 542,000 vegans in Britain – the previous estimate, from 2006, was just 150,000. And an estimated 500,000 vegetarians are thinking about going vegan too, so there could be more than a million British vegans before long. Which means a whole new set of opportunities opening up for businesses not just in the food sector but in fitness, active wear, beauty and sports.
This is no fad, either. Google searches for “vegan” have doubled since 2011, while the market in animal-free food and drink is growing too. Mintel reports that the number of products launched in the UK marked “suitable for vegans” grew by 134% between 2012 and 2015.
Vegan dishes used to be restricted to wholefood cafes, but now Wetherspoon pubs – yep, you read that correctly – have launched a vegan menu, and Pret a Manger has seen sales of its vegetarian options soar, and is introducing two new vegan specials every month over the summer.
So next time you mash that avocado on your granary toast and prepare to poach an egg to go on top of it – don’t. All the cool people eat only plant-derived foods. Will you join them?