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Big freeze brings food shortages and price rises – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

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Big freeze brings food shortages and price rises – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say
Written by:

Big freeze brings food shortages and price rises
The big freeze looks set to create food shortages and push up prices as farmers are unable to harvest their vegetables, hauliers struggle to deliver fresh produce and consumers resort to panic buying. According to the Guardian, growers of Brussels sprouts and cabbages have reported problems with harvesting, cauliflowers have turned to mush so only imported varieties are available at £2 each, and 6,000 acres of potatoes remain unharvested in Ireland amidst predictions that three-quarters of the crop could be lost. Greengrocers in hard-hit areas are reporting shortages, with the price of carrots and parsnips soaring by 30% in some shops, and Somerset milk suppliers fear they will have to dump 100,000 litres of organic milk because the tankers cannot get through. – 9 January, Read the full article in the Guardian >> 

Older pupils still shunning healthy meals, finds report
Secondary school pupils are shunning healthy meal options despite the campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to improve eating habits. A study of 6,400 pupils across 300 schools by Edinburgh University found that only 28% of 15-year-olds ate school dinners, while 42% bought food from a shop or burger van and 14% had a packed lunch. By contrast, 43.2% of 11-year-olds ate a school dinner while 49.2% brought in a packed lunch. The research has revived calls for pupils in Scotland to be banned from leaving school at lunchtime, or for burger van exclusion zones. According to figures from the Scottish government, the number of pupils registered for free school meals has dropped by 17% since 2005 to 101,953. Last month, figures revealed that one in five children starting school in Scotland were overweight, 8% were obese and 4% were severely obese. – 10 January, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

TGI Friday’s UK franchise to be auctioned

The UK franchise for US-themed restaurant chain TGI Friday’s will be put up for sale in the first half of the year as private equity group AAC Capital Partners seeks to auction its 60% stake in the 46-store chain for around £50m. US co-owner Carlson, which owns and operates the franchise rights to the brand, has exclusive rights to buy out AAC until March, after which AAC can seek an external buyer. TGI Friday’s has increased Ebitda from £8m to £10m since AAC acquired it from Whitbread in 2007. It is believed that TGI’s managing director Karen Forrester is considering a management buyout. Carlson, meanwhile, is said to be prepared to extend the franchise to a couple of other countries to attract international interest. ¬– 10 January, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Anglian Water seeks operator for £50m hotel at Leith Shore
The City of Edinburgh Council has given the green light for a £50m ten-storey hotel to be constructed at Leith Shore which will be the first hotel built in the area since the late Nineties. The plans for a 0.6 hectare site by Ocean Terminal were submitted by AWG Property, the development division of Anglian Water Group which has invested heavily in the regeneration of the area. The property is being marketed by Chris Dougray of DTZ, which is currently seeking an operator for the hotel. – 10 January, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

Scottish tourism lags rest of UK and other Scottish sectors in innovation

Scotland’s tourism industry is trailing other sectors of the economy  in terms of innovation and is lagging behind tourism in the rest of the UK, according to the new Tourism Key Sector report. It found that hotels and restaurants in Scotland spent an average £620 per employee on innovation – less than half the average UK spend of £1,309 and just a third of Northern Ireland’s £1,788 investment. It warned that the failure of Scottish hotels and restaurants to modernize and invest in marketing and staff training would make it harder to attract new customers and retain existing ones. The report also noted that Scottish tourism would perform better if national brands could be persuaded to open in rural areas outside of cities. VisitScotland said that the issues – which will be addressed by Scottish Enterprise’s Tourism Innovation Fund – was being tackled by the Tourism Framework for Change and groups such as Tourism Innovation Group. – 10 January, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Parents must accompany teenagers to the loo in Glasgow restaurants

Glasgow city council has ordered restaurants and other licensed premises to ensure that all children under the age of 16 remain within sight of their parents – even if they go to the lavatory. It claims this is required under the 2005 licensing act, which came into force late last year, but critics point out that it presents problems when a teenager is accompanied by a parent of the opposite sex. Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, described the rules as “absolutely ridiculous” while Francesco Longo, manager of the Barbarossa restaurant, said: “We can’t risk not to [comply], even if a youngster is 15, for fear of putting our license at risk.” The council said that, while there were no legal provisions to make a distinction between toddlers and teenagers, licensees should apply the rule with “a degree of common sense”. – 10 January, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

McDonald’s funds study to cut methane emissions from cows
Fast food giant McDonald’s is to spend thousands of pounds on a three-year study into methane emissions from its beef cows in the UK in a bid to reduce levels of the greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane from cows accounts for 4% of the UK’s total carbon emissions and a US study calculated that producing a single cheeseburger produced a total 3.1kg of carbon dioxide. McDonald’s uses the forequarters and flanks of beef of 350,000 cows a year from 16,000 British and Irish farmers. The study, which will be run by the E-C02 Project, will cover 350 farms across the UK, with the first report due in April. If successful, it will be rolled out to Europe. – 10 January, Read the full article in the Observer >>

Europe’s fine-dining restaurants develop taste for Highland cattle

A campaign is underway to persuade more Scots to eat the meat of native shaggy, red-haired Highland cattle, which is becoming increasingly popular in fine-dining restaurants from France to Finland. One third of Highland cows put on the market last year were sold to foreign buyers keen to pursue the growing restaurant market. Breeders and chefs insist Highland cattle provide one of the finest, healthiest and most eco-friendly red meats available. “You can tell Highland beef,” said celebrity chef Nick Nairn. “Because, unlike a lot of beef, its flavour stays until the last chew.” Highland cattle take longer to mature and feed outdoors on a diet of fresh grass instead of the cereals given to winter shed-reared cows. The result is a rich, dark, moist flesh marbled with thin layers of fat that is leaner and lower in cholesterol than faster-grown cattle. The pedigree register, which dates back to 1885, has been computerised, making the meat highly traceable. ¬– 10 January, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

By Angela Frewin

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