Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Fat Duck is Flying Down Under

Fat DuckIt is arguably Britain’s most exclusive restaurant – but Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck is heading Down Under.  In the New Year, Blumenthal shall be migrating more than 10,000 miles to Melbourne’s Crown Casino in what Blumenthal has billed as “the furthest migration of a duck”.  “We are going to pick up The Fat Duck, the whole team, and fly them over here”.  The restaurant shall be opening in February 2015.

The relocation has been two years in the making, and the new restaurant will seat around 45 people and have a staff of approximately 70.  “We are going to shut the Fat Duck and bring it to Melbourne,” the renowned gastronome said, adding that the menu of the restaurant would also be brought over.  “It’s somewhere between 12 and 18 courses, it’s four hours of eating and it’s pure, total theatre – like falling down a rabbit hole into a wonderland,” he said. “However, what I’d love to do is try and come up with dishes that have a historic Anglo-Australian angle and that’s what we’re going to start developing,” he said.

Heston 2The restaurant’s intercontinental relocation is the first overseas move for Blumenthal and is a significant moment in the expansion of his distinctive culinary brand.  Blumenthal added that it was “not a pop-up restaurant,” and after six months would be rebranded Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.  “We’re even going to pick up some of the bits of the restaurant – maybe the sign, maybe bits of the leather from the chairs – and incorporate it into the dining space in The Fat Duck.

The Fat Duck’s executive head chef, Ashley Palmer-Watts, will open Dinner by Heston Blumenthal after the Fat Duck returns to the UK.

Nielsen data reveals changing shopper behavior

New data from global information and insights company Nielsen has shown that shoppers are increasingly visiting a wider range of stores, spending an average of £19 per visit at the major supermarkets in February.

According to the figures, 96% of UK households visited one of the top four supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda or Morrisons), while over 40% of households visited Aldi or Lidl.

Nielsen said Aldi and Lidl are now accounting for 8.8% of all sales, a 6.6% rise on last year.

Nielsen UK head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “The range of supermarkets that shoppers now visit is the big change. Although the amount spent is falling, seven of the top 10 supermarkets managed to entice new customers over the last three months. Shopper promiscuity is the new reality.

“Of course, the discounters are increasingly popular – one in five Aldi visitors last month shopped there for the first time – yet they account for less than 9p in every £1 spent. People are still visiting the large supermarkets for the bulk of their shopping, ‘cherry-picking’ promotional items – spending £25 a visit – but buying more of their grocery staples in Aldi and Lidl, spending £17 per visit.

“Many shoppers are buying items on promotion and then going elsewhere to finish filling their basket. So, the increasing challenge for supermarkets is not only driving footfall but also getting shoppers to buy more per visit.

“That means there’s a need to differentiate their offering but this has to be more than just through promotions or lowest price. It involves engaging shoppers with the overall shopping experience and providing value for money – as well as allowing them to save money”.

Automated shop for villagers who lost their local stores

Clifton Vending ShopAn engineer has designed the UK’s first automated shop, allowing villagers who have lost their local store to stock up on provisions again.

Electrical engineer Peter Fox spent two-and-a-half years honing the shop – which he describes as a ‘giant vending machine’ – before it was installed this week outside a pub in Clifton, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

Residents can use cash or credit cards to buy milk, eggs, toiletries, kitchen essentials, pet food and even umbrellas and the machine will send out an email when its stock levels are getting low.

Peter Fox, who has submitted a patent application for his invention, said it was “not just a business”, but an idea that could serve the community.  Mr Fox, 50, said the design was “completely different” to a standard vending machine.  “Instead of having a machine which is a certain design and therefore things have to fit in it… we’ve designed the machine around the product”.  Mr Fox said tinned vegetables, milk and bread have been popular with customers.

‘Walmart to Go’ convenience-store format opens in Bentonville, US

Walmart to goAfter more than a year of planning, the American ‘Walmart to Go’ convenience-store format quietly opened in Bentonville, US, on Saturday 15 March, with the grand opening set for 19 March 2014.

The small store is a hybrid format — part traditional convenience store, part grocery, part quick serve restaurant. Walmart partnered with Bentonville Butcher & Deli, one of the more popular names around in terms of quality meat, to operate a quick serve meat counter in the back of the store.  Fresh deli sandwiches or hot barbecue brisket, ribs, smoked chicken and traditional sides were available by the plate or by the pound.

Krispy Kreme has a donut stand between the beverage stations. There is a traditional soda fountain, ‘Icee’ fountain, milk shake option and full coffee/cappuccino area.

Walmart to go 1Refrigerated food-to-go includes market fresh pizzas, sandwiches and other meat entrees. There is also fresh fruit and a Greek yoghurt smoothie station.

The convenience store also features six fuel pumps out front with a covered awning that sports the Walmart sunburst on the underside. One unusual feature is a large awning that connects the pump area to the front door. There is a picnic area outdoors to seat those wanting to eat onsite.

With this new convenience format Wal-Mart hopes to capture some of the $415 billion quick trip marketshare it is losing to Dollar General and other convenience stores. Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said earlier this month that the retailer has just 10% of that marketshare and is vying for more with the hybrid stores that can serve consumer fill-in trips, which Walmart estimates to be 40% of their grocery spend.

Flavour Forecast 2014 from McCormick

Chilli Obsession


Beyond just discovering new chilli varieties, this obsession has extended into using techniques like grilling, smoking, pickling, fermenting and candying to tease out their flavour potential.

 McC Chilli

 Modern Masala


Already familiar with basic curries, people around the world are taking their appreciation for this richly-spiced cuisine to the next level, exploring more flavours in new contexts, from food trucks to fine dining.

 McC Masala

 Clever Compact Cooking


As the movement toward more efficient compact kitchens grows, inventive urban dwellers are discovering creative, cross-functional ways to prepare flavorful meals making the most of what’s available.

 McC Compact

 Mexican World Tour


From a growing taste for regional Mexican fare in North America to early exploration in China, cultures across the world are embracing authentic elements of this bright, bold and casual cuisine.

 McC Mexican

 Charmed by Brazil


The world is about to shine its spotlight on Brazil, illuminating the vibrant flavours and traditions of a dynamic melting pot culture that includes European, African, Asian and native Amazonian influences. Brazilian tastes are poised to emerge as a powerful influence in cooking around the globe.

 McC Brazilian

See full article:

New vegetable earns award for Produce World


Produce World was awarded Best New Edible Variety at the UK Grower Awards.  The company, which has a site in Sutton Bridge, was presented with the award earlier this month.

The winning vegetable is a Chinese leaf called Tatsoi. Although a traditional vegetable in Asia, Produce World is the first company to produce it commercially in the UK. The versatile vegetable is challenging the more widely known Pak Choi.

New product development manager Dara O’Doherty said: “Produce World is committed to trialling and growing exciting new vegetables from all over the globe.

“Tatsoi has a short growth cycle, taking only a matter of four or five weeks from planting to harvest.”

Coconut water just the beginning, plant ‘water’ drinks emerge


The success of coconut water, which surged from zero in 2006 to an almost  US$1 billion business in North America and Europe by 2013, is just the first step in a massive trend, according to global nutrition business analysts New Nutrition Business.

According to New Nutrition Business there is an emerging global trend for “healthy, natural, low-calorie waters” taken directly from plants. Extraction and packaging innovations that prolong shelf life have led to products with a “subtly sweet taste” extracted from maple trees and birch trees.

“With the right marketing and distribution strategies, these new waters will be a US$2 billion business by 2025,” said Julian Mellentin, Director of New Nutrition Business.

Like coconut water, maple and birch waters offer benefits that make them good options for health-conscious consumers. New Nutrition Business said the waters are “naturally healthy with a positive nutritional profile”, “naturally sweet” with no need for added sugar, and “can be sustainably sourced with little constraint on volumes”.

Sales of coconut water have been surging for five years — with no products carrying health claims, according to New Nutrition Business — driven by consumers’ desire for drinks that are “natrually functional” and have no added sugar. In fact, according to a report by New Nutrition Business, 12 Key Trends in Food Nutrition and Health 2014, “naturally functional” was the biggest driver in the industry, and the force behind the success of beverages such as coconut water and almond milk.

Maple WaterMaple

Maple trees are known as the source of maple syrup, but they also yield a beverage much more in line with the preferences of health-conscious consumers: maple water.

Maple water, like coconut water, is “naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and 46 antioxidants” according to New Nutrition Business. Maple water also has an “inherently sweet taste”, with a taste profile that received an overall higher score than coconut water in consumer research. New Nutrition Business said the sugar content (primarily sucrose) was “only 2 to 3 per cent”.

Maple water, or sap, is the raw ingredient of maple syrup, which is traditionally process into syrup because it spoils after just a day. But New Nutrition Business said developments in aseptic packaging from packaging company Tetrapak, combined with processing maple water on the same day it is collected, mean water could now be made commercially available.

A trio of Canadian entrepreneurial brands — Oviva, Seva and Maple 3 — have been developing the market.

New Nutrition Business said maple water had the potential to reach the same market size as coconut water over the next five to seven years, provided maple water brands apply the same strategy as coconut water did, focusing initially on single-serve packs (250ml-330ml) and upscale distribution and pricing.

Birch Sap

BirchBirch sap is produced by birch trees every year in early spring and is currently harvested as a health drink in countries such as Japan, Korea, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, according to New Nutrition Business.

The sap is completely clear and “slightly sweet”, containing between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent sugars. The main naturally occurring sugar in birch sap is fructose.  The product also contains xylitol.

As with maple water, New Nutrition Business said advances in packaging and processing technology have allowed companies to begin bringing birch water to market in its “all-natural, no added sugar” form.

Brands such as Finland’s Nordic Koivu, whose patent-pending technology has allowed it to collect and bottle birch sap without adding any preservatives, and Denmark’s Sealand Birk have been rapidly developing the consumer market.

New Nutrition Business said birch sap had been shown to be “high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamin and calcium”. Uses in tradition and folk medicine include “boosting immunity, fighting fatigue, treating arthritis and joint pain, energy booster, and migraine prevention”.

Safeway to be sold to Albertsons owner Cerberus

Safeway store

The deal still needs regulatory approval

US supermarket firm Safeway has agreed to be bought by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, owner of Albertsons and other chains.

The deal is valued at $7.64bn (£4.56bn) in cash, and could eventually top $9bn (£5.3bn).

The merger will create an organisation with more than 2,400 stores and 250,000 employees.

It comes amid consolidation in the industry, with Cerberus buying five chains including Albertson’s and Jewel-Osco from Supervalu last year.

Albertsons chief executive Bob Miller said that the size of the new outfit would improve its bargaining position with suppliers.

Mr Miller is to become executive chairman of the combined company, and Safeway chief executive Robert Edwards will retain that title at the combined company.

 If the proposal receives shareholder and regulatory approval, the merger should be completed in the fourth quarter of 2014.