In the Know: The Frantic Foodie’s Guide to Sustainability

"just one look at McDonald’s recent plastic-to-paper straw fiasco proves that good intentions can come a cropper."

Less plastic! Zero waste! We have the best of intentions when it comes to living more sustainably but sometimes life, laziness or an overwhelming number of options gets in the way.  

Inspired by a gathering of some of the food and hospitality industry’s most respected women – Melissa Hemsley, Skye Gyngell, Grace Dent, Anita Rani and Jules Pearson – for The Sustainability Sessions: The State of Your Plate at Ennismore Sessions House last week, we’ve compiled a quick, easy guide to the waste warriors who get the thumbs-up from some of the best in the business.  


Great Plates  

More than 90% of consumers expect operators to act sustainably, but just one look at McDonald’s recent plastic-to-paper straw fiasco proves that good intentions can come a cropper. So which places are doing things properly? 


London on the Inside’s Jules Pearson can’t speak highly enough of this zero-waste restaurant that has just opened in Hackney alongside Crate Brewery.  Plates formed from plastic bags, crockery from crushed wine bottles and even its own flour mill, Silo’s chef and owner Joost Bakker takes sustainability seriously and it has never tasted so good.  


The lady who warmed our hearts when she declared ‘veganism is not the answer!’, celebrated chef Skye Gyngell has ditched all single-use plastics at her restaurant Spring (including a momentous crackdown on the 800km of cling film they were using each year).  But what we really love is the daily Scratch Menu. Served from 5.30pm-6.30pm the dishes are created using ‘waste’ produce. Beetroot tops and potato skins turned into simple soups. Trimmings from house-made pasta baked with leftover cheese, or yesterday’s bread transformed into warm bread pudding served with a spoonful of last year’s Fern Verrow gooseberry jam. The price reflects the produce (£20 for three courses) so it’s also a great way to experience Spring at a lower price point and enjoy a top quality and interesting pre-theatre feed.  

The Small Holding 

This gem, nestled in the Kentish countryside, was top of restaurant critic Grace Dent’s recommendation list.  The kitchen, led by award-winning chef Will Devlin, harnesses the fresh ingredients grown (or reared) in the farm on site in Kilndown, along with foraged bounty. Super seasonal, loyally local, and fiercely fresh.     


Shop Smart 

While the supermarkets are making promises to minimise pointless plastic packaging, smaller, independent, more nimble shops are just getting on and eradicating it altogether.    

Hero Market 

We already love Crystal Palace as a destination for independent shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants and now they’ve got their own plastic free grocery store, we heart it even more.  As well as cutting down on pointless plastics and single use packaging, zero waste shopping from the likes of Hero Market can help combat food waste as its very nature encourages us to only buy what we need plus helps us choose healthier ingredients. Follow them on Insta to be the first to know when they have new stock arriving.  

Plastic Freedom 

Time-poor Londoners, or those still waiting on great local options, can get online with plastic-free, vegan online shop, Plastic Freedom. Home, beauty, travel, food, clothing, even pets – all life’s categories are covered. Plus, for every order, one tree is planted in the Amazon Rainforest offsetting the usual guilt of an online splurge. Winning.   


This website (pronounced “Use Less”) is London’s first digital directory dedicated to showcasing the capital’s zero-waste shops.  As well as the interactive map to point you to your nearest zero waste shops, the site also offers a ‘survival kit’ of ethical products you can buy to help lessen your impact on the environment such as bamboo toothbrushes and cling film alternatives.   


There’s an app for that 

Yes, there’s an app for everything, but some are definitely worth the download. Who better to tell us her top three sustainable selection than Jules from our city’s food and trends bible London On The Inside?  


Who doesn’t hate throwing away good food? But with so many of us living alone or with busy last-minute life plans, that stocked fridge can soon go to waste. Olio connects neighbours so you can share food, rather than chuck it away. Just snap a photo, set the pick-up location, get notified when you get a request, and boom - you’ve reduced your waste and given a neighbour a free feed.  

Too Good To Go 

Join the world’s largest community of waste warriors. These guys bag up all the delicious, perfectly edible food that stores and restaurants have to throw out at the end of the day and sell it onto app users at a discounted price. To date, the app’s 1.4 million users have ‘saved’ 20,672,736 meals from going in the bin which equates to 52,477 tonnes of C02.  

Dabba Drop 

Love a takeaway but get post-gorging guilt when you see all the plastic tubs piled up by the bin? Switch to Dabba Drop. Currently delivering to Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, these fresh cooked curries get delivered to your door in re-useable stainless steel tiffin boxes which you swap each time you get a delivery.  Set up a subscription for one or two dabba drops per month and consider your Friday night takeaway plans sorted. They also keep for up to four days in the fridge! 


There are still tickets available for other informative and engaging Sustainability Sessions. Check out the future line-ups here 




Rosie Carr
The best of Brighton’s... seafood  

"This former boozer boasts some of the best seafood in the city. In fact, Jay Rayner raved about it on a past trip to Brighton."

To celebrate our new (ish) Brighton home in Platf9rm - a second office for William Murray PR and Marketing - our resident South Coaster Fiona takes a look at the some of the best foodie spots the city has to offer. This month... seafood.

The Salt Room

Don’t be put off by the fact The Salt Room is nestled under the Hilton Brighton Metropole hotel. This is soooo much more than a seaside hotel restaurant. The Salt Room specialises in cooking over coal, using plenty of Sussex produce and fish landed a stone’s throw down the road at Shoreham. Oh, and the cocktails ain’t half bad either. 


What’s the seaside without fish & chips?!? Wolfies is a cut above, offering skate, place, and a selection of pies as well as your traditional cod n’ chips. Can’t eat dairy? Gluten-free? No problem, the team at Wolfies will rustled up a dairy of gluten free fish supper that still delivers on taste. 

Top tip: Grab a cool bottle of local white from Country Wines next door to take to the beach and you’ll get money off when you show your Wolfies’ receipt. 

Riddle & Finns

Sitting pride of place on the seafront, Riddle & Finns offers top notch seafood with a cracking view. Tuck into oysters, whole crab, lobster, ceviche or mixed sashimi. Book the table in the window if you can. Or enjoy the late summer sun on the terrace. 

The Urchin

This former boozer boasts some of the best seafood in the city. In fact, Jay Rayner raved about it on a past trip to Brighton. Come for the fresh seafood, frequently changing specials board and relaxed atmosphere. There’s a long list of beers and their very own craft beer brewed on site. 


Rosie Carr
Summer in the Cronx

"so Croydon is usually more Stormzy than Shakespeare but this summer we'll be transported to the streets of fair Verona for a production of his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet."

Craft markets, pop-up mini golf, urban beaches and even a spot of Shakespeare, William Murray’s hometown of Croydon has pulled out the stops for summer events this year so we thought we’d share our top five picks to embrace summer CRO-style. 

Saturday 13th July - Yoga on the Roof 

Those weekend vibes will be in full flow at Boxpark this Saturday as the uplifting vinyasa yoga class from YoGlo Yoga comes to the covered rooftop deck. The one-hour class begins at 9.30am so you can start your day on a virtuous note then either continue the clean-living with delicious vegan-friendly treats from the likes of Oatopia or reward yourself with a slap-up brunch at laidback weekend hang-out The Breakfast Club.  Advanced tickets for yoga are £10 (or £13 on the door). Find more details here. 


Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st July - Pop-up Crazy Golf 

Yes you could schlep into the city for a round at Swingers, OR you could nip down to Croydon High Street between 11am and 5pm on 20 & 21 July for pop-up crazy golf. Nine holes to putt your best foot forward with friends, the kids or the work crowd. Find more details here. 


Saturday 27th July  - Made in Croydon Craft Market  

We love a browse round street markets full of independent sellers, so this one is a must. Find unique homeware, fashion, handmade jewellery and gifts whilst supporting your local artists, designers and craft-workers at the next Made in Croydon Craft Market. Made in Croydon is a local collective of creatives who are brought together to showcase their skills. Definitely worth a sunny Saturday browse between 10am and 5pm. Find more details here. 


Thursday 8th August - Shakespeare on the high street: Romeo and Juliet 

So Croydon is usually more Stormzy than Shakespeare but this summer we'll be transported to the streets of fair Verona for a production of his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet. Tickets are free for the open air, high street performance starting at 7pm so embrace your inner culture vulture and spend a balmy summer evening with a pair of star-crossed lovers. Find more details here.  


Saturday 24th- Monday 26th August, 10.30am-6pm  - Beach on the street  

Buckets and spades at the ready! We’ll be asking ourselves if we’re in Croydon or Croyde this August as 15 tonnes of pure clean sand are poured across the High Street to create our very own urban beach complete with striped deckchairs and ice-cream stalls. #Beachvibes all round. Find more details here. 

Food Tech Tuesday: A passion for plant-based
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"Our appetite for all things plant-based is firmly increasing. But what meat alternatives are hot on the high street? "

Plant-based is booming. This month alone, news broke of Nestlé launching the Awesome Burger in the States, renowned London steak restaurant group M opening their very own, wait for it… vegetarian restaurant, Raw, and Scotland playing host to the UK’s first ‘vegan hotel’

Research from our own social listening tool, Delve, highlighted this year’s Veganuary generated 50,305 mentions on social media. And apparently, more than one-third (34%) of British meat-eaters cut their meat consumption in the six months to July 2018 following a flexitarian approach - up from 28% in 2017[1].

Our appetite for all things plant-based is firmly increasing. 

But what plant-based alternatives are hot on the high street? In this month’s Food Tech Tuesday bog, we take a look at three of the meat-free alternatives that are creating a stir.


William Murray client Quorn kicked off 2019 with the launch of *that* Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Now it’s their KFC Imposter burger that’s getting us excited. Available to begin with from select KFC sites, the burger is getting rave reviews. It’s not hit Croydon or Brighton yet, but we can’t wait to try this one. 


New kid on the block This launched into Patty & Bun UK-wide with its Isn’t Bacon Rashers and Isn’t Chicken Goujons at the start of this month. The bacon (in Patty & Bun’s new vegan Pamela burger) was slightly questionable, but the nuggets really, really hit the spot. The UK-based start up is set to launch several products, all high in protein, vitamin B12 and iron, nationwide in Holland & Barrett and through Ocado. Keep your eyes peeled from July. 

Beyond Meat

Hot off the heels of its bleeding burger, Beyond Meat has launched a hot dog which it says tastes just like its pork equivalent. According to bosses, sunflower seeds are the key to replicating the ‘porky’ taste and texture. For the moment, it’s available at London’s Unity Diner. And if it’s the original you love, there’s good news as Byron has launched two new burgers with the patty: The Truffler and the Cali Cheese. 

[1]Mintel, Global New Products Database


The best of Brighton’s... coffee shops

“As a city, Brighton apparently consumes more coffee per head than anywhere else in the UK. So, it’s no surprise there are an abundance of quirky, independent places to try.”

To celebrate our new Brighton home in Platf9rm - a second office for William Murray PR and Marketing - our resident South Coaster Fiona takes a look at the some of the best foodie spots the city has to offer. This week... coffee shops.

As a city, Brighton apparently consumes more coffee per head than anywhere else in the UK. So, it’s no surprise there are an abundance of quirky, independent places to try. Here are a few of our faves not to miss if you’re in town.


Take a break from shopping in Brighton’s colourful North Laine at Pelicano – a stripped back space where you can enjoy their house roasted Smoky Bird Espresso and some of the most beautiful cakes in the city. Bag the table upstairs by the window and watch the weird and wonderful world of Brighton unfold below you. There’s now a second site in city centre park The Level - perfect for post walk refuelling. 

Top tip: Check out the funky branding on the coffee bags and takeaway cups

Small Batch

Small Batch opened in Hove in 2006 and has since taken the city by storm. There are now seven coffee shops and two carts to choose from, where you’ll find expertly made coffee and some of the friendliest service in town. And the settings are as on point as the coffee. Check out Portslade’s Art and Believe graffiti, or enjoy your flat white in one of two grand old banks: Seven Dials or Norfolk Square.

 Flour Pot

Flour Pot has quickly won the hearts of Brighton and Hove thanks to its winning bread and damn good coffee. There are seven shops across the city, but if you can, take a look at the newest addition on Portland Road where strong coffee and beautiful bakery meet an Insta-worthy interior thanks to a collab with Gunn’s Florist. 

Top tip: Look out for donut Fridays. 😍🍩 


Tucked away down a cobbled backstreet a few minutes walk from Hove station, Pharmacie is a roaster first, coffee shop second. But pop down on a Saturday and you can enjoy a range of single origin, hand brewed filter coffees and espresso-based drinks from beans roasted on site. 

Top tip: Keep your eyes peeled for veggie/ vegan pop ups. Last weekend A Tribe Called Veg.  

Fiona Hamilton
Brand power: the food ads that made us think
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Twelve years since M&S’ infamous ‘This is not just food’ campaign was taken off the air, it’s making a comeback this Spring/Summer - but with a twist. For many, the campaign’s much mimicked phrase “This is not just food, this is M&S food” became a household joke. Thanks to the campaign, M&S food signified indulgence, quality and comfort.  

This got us thinking, what makes a great advert? Does it make you sit up and think? Humour you? Get you to take action? 

The team weighed in on memorable ads of past and present. Ads that inspire, humour and intrigue us (or that just make us really damn hungry!). 




“For me it’s got to be KFC’s FCK campaign. Hot off the heels of running out of chicken, they placed a cheeky, full place apology ad in The Metro. Sometimes it pays to be bold, admit you’re wrong, and say sorry. Crisis management at its best.” 

Fiona Hamilton – associate director 


KFC - ‘Guys, we’re flattered’ 

“This campaign takes aim at all the other little chicken shops that try to be like KFC. Very simple but quite cheeky and very clever.” 

Lois Spall – senior account manager 


Australian Bananas and Aussie Mandarins fruit adverts 

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“When I was growing up in 90s Australia there were some classic ads played during after school TV shows to encourage kids to eat fruit. The most popular – and enduring, if my renditions around the William Murray fruit bowl are anything to go by – are the banana and mandarin adverts. They clearly worked, I still eat mountains of both!” 

Anna Berry – account manager 


Carlsberg’s - “Probably NOT the best beer in the world” rebrand and NPD  


“I was quite impressed with the new Carlsberg advert – probably not the best beer in the world. Recognising that they’ve gone after profits rather than quality so they held their hands up and used it as an angle to promote their new quality product.” 

Emma Hawley – account director

"It’s refreshingly honest and great brand perception. I personally don’t drink Carlsberg because I don’t think it stands up to the taste of my preferred Heineken or Peroni (which is more expensive) however as Carlsberg have read consumers’ minds and acknowledged this, it makes me want to try the new drink in order to see if they have changed.” 

Charlie von Wedl – new business development exec 


KFC – Try one before you turn vegan 


“A cheeky little ad. I love the way it takes a trend and uses it to stimulate customer loyalty. Nice one KFC!” 

Anita Murray – CEO 


Cadbury - Gorilla  


“The Cadbury’s Gorilla ad is without a doubt one of my favourite ads of all time. Simply put, it was just a commercial that had a large gorilla sitting at a set drums who goes on to play along to Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” but really it was just so much more than that. I loved it as it really broke the mould and moved away from the traditional advertising approach that can often feel overwhelming with its messaging.  

“This ad is simplistic yet so powerful – which explains why it went viral. It captures your attention immediately and evokes feeling whilst being entertaining. How can you not watch it over and over?” 

Victoria Joseph - account manager 


Lurpak - Be wonderful and wise  


“Lurpak adverts always catch my attention. For such a simple product, home cooking is brought to life with Lurpak’s signature style - vivid colours, short and sharp frames and crisp sound effects. I really like the ‘Be wonderful and wise’ TV ad – it encourages anyone to get creative in the kitchen and you simply can’t look away!”   

Rosie Carr – content strategist  

It’s safe to say that KFC’s bold, brave and cheeky ads were a big hit at WM HQ. Kudos to its ad team, as well as Carlsberg and Lurpak. Big, bold and brave really does pay off.  

Rosie Carr
Food Tech Tuesday: text generation ordering

"In another world first, food and drink start up Matcha Works has launched a food SMS ordering system which it says is set to disrupt the consumer packaged goods landscape."

Welcome to Food Tech Tuesday - a round-up of our favourite food tech stories. From next gen food & drink to the latest tech that’s tackling food waste or driving the industry forward.

This month…

Moo-ve over out of date milk

Out of date milk may soon be a thing of the past thanks to Aussie company Naturo who has developed a technology that will keep it fresh for up to 60 days. Yes, you heard that right.

In a world first, the team at Naturo has figured out how to keep cows’ milk fresh, and, they claim, improve its nutrition compared to regular milk. The innovation has won the backing of The Queensland Government too, who has given $250,000 in funding.

According to its founders: “It’s a healthier product, it lasts a long time and it tastes great.” Watch this space.

Seaweed pods cut waste at London Marathon

Three cheers for London Marathon and Skipping Rocks Lab who saved using an estimated 215,000 plastic bottles at this years’ event by switching some of the plastic to Ooho seaweed pods.

Their clever team of chemists, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs have designed the pouches to biodegrade in 4-6 weeks, roughly the same time as a piece of fruit.

The company also make biodegradable sachets for sauces, salad dressings and condiments. We’re sold.

Moving Mountains launched veggie hot dog

Moving Mountains – founders of the bleeding burger – is set to launch its latest innovation this week, a hot dog which it says tastes just like its pork equivalent.

According to bosses, sunflower seeds are the key to replicating pork’s ‘porky’ taste and texture.

Get your hands on it first in London’s Unity Diner from Thursday, before it lands in supermarkets later this year.

Text generation ordering

In another world first, food and drink start up Matcha Works has launched a food SMS ordering system which it says is set to disrupt the consumer packaged goods landscape.

The premise is simple. Customers who pre-register on their website can order Matcha products via text message delivering an on-demand service.

The team will also be showcasing its text to order vending machine at London Food Tech Week later this month.

Fiona Hamilton
Food Meets Finance: food trends and the opportunities for ambitious businesses 
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"With ‘no or low’ alcohol brands such as Seedlip proving that spirits don’t need a hefty alcohol content, and new offerings popping up such as Heineken’s 0.0% beer, mindful drinking is definitely on the public’s and industry’s agenda. "

Earlier this month, the team had the pleasure of attending Food Meets Finance, an Informed Funding event focused on the opportunities for ambitious food, drink and hospitality businesses.    

After a day of finance consultancy sessions, we sat down for the ‘Profiting from Trends in Food, Drink and Hospitality’ panel to hear about the current trends in the space. The panel consisted of Laura Willoughby MBE, co-founder of mindful drinking movement Club Soda; Mark Francis, coach and mentor at The Uspire Group; Patrick Ryan, equity fundraising manager at Crowdcube; and our very own CEO, Anita Murray. 

As you can imagine, Brexit is an inevitable subject cropping up both for the finance and food, drink and hospitality industries, especially when it comes to supply.  

For finance, Patrick Ryan described a dip in the investment market as a result of Brexit, questioning whether we will experience a recession in the coming years. However, this could present new business opportunities such as export and increased manufacturing. Building upon this point, Anita Murray agreed there is opportunity for British suppliers, foreseeing a growing support for local British products in light of Brexit.  

So what are the other hot topics for food and drink businesses in 2019? 

Mindful drinking 

With ‘no or low’ alcohol brands such as Seedlip proving that spirits don’t need a hefty alcohol content, and new offerings popping up such as Heineken’s 0.0% beer, mindful drinking is definitely on the public’s and industry’s agenda. 

Both Patrick Ryan and Laura Willoughby agreed that the mindful drinking movement isn’t going anywhere. Innovation in consumer goods continues to drive forward, alongside impactful research and development based on consumer insight.  

To this point, Willoughby explained her background in the Mindful Drinking Movement, having launched Club Soda (likened to a ‘club’ similar to Weight Watchers!) after recognising the need to take a break from alcohol.  

Referencing a stagnation in alcohol sales over the past few years, she mentioned how Club Soda organised the Mindful Drinking Festival, which is a popular event amongst the organisation’s 30,000 members.  

The rise of meat-free  

Anita Murray drew our attention to continued growth in the meat-free sector, and how more consumers are adopting meat-free or reduced meat diets. With ingenious products and innovations popping up from the likes of Oumph and Quorn, the meat free market is showing no sign of slowing down.  

In recent years, dairy alternatives have cropped up in our supermarkets, and in cafes and restaurants too. Innovations in this space keep on coming, with oats, soya and coconut widely used alternatives, as well as newcomers such as hemp milk.  

Health and wellness 

In many aspects, health and wellness is a significant trend not only in the food industry but increasingly within modern culture. From #selflove, veganism, keto or meditation (the list goes on), people are prioritising physical and mental wellbeing and incorporating different and new healthy practices into their lifestyles.  

Laura Willoughby mentioned the growing trend of health and wellness amongst hospitality employees. With long hours, demanding physical work and intense environments, the wellbeing of hospitality professionals should be a growing priority for employers and the industry. Laura mentioned that Club Soda is looking at how it can develop its tools to help people stay healthy whatever the industry they work in.  

Widespread sustainability 

Consumers and the industry are becoming more planet-conscious than ever. Sustainability is now defining ad campaigns, business practice, government policy, product development, and even down to how consumers recycle and small, everyday life choices. Anita Murray noted a real, growing appetite for ethical consumerism, and how more businesses are rightfully putting sustainable practices on the agenda. For instance, supermarkets are joining the fight against plastic, with Morrison’s banning plastic bags, and Lidl banning black plastics.  

Rosie Carr
All in Good Taste #4: Brands on the Brexit bandwagon

Welcome to your latest All in Good Taste, the monthly round up of PR gold stars and faux pas.  

Whether we like it or not, Brexit is the word on everyone’s lips. 29 March AKA “Brexit day” has been and gone and we’re still none the wiser. Brands have jumped on the bandwagon, with a mixture of creative and downright distasteful campaigns – from food stockpiling loans to Brexit boxes.   

Talking of Brexit, have you heard what our new social listening tool, Delve Insights, found about consumer Brexit concerns

Elsewhere, McDonald’s snubs coffee snobs in its latest ingenious ad promoting its back to basics campaign.  


Peachy’s rotten ad pulled

In an ill-fated campaign to entice customers amid Brexit uncertainty, short term loan company encouraged consumers to take out loans so they could stockpile for potential food shortages. Unsurprisingly, the ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), rightly deemed “irresponsible” and leaving a bad taste in our mouths.  



Nothing compares to EU

Worried how you’ll get your hands on truffle oil or Nduja spread post-Brexit? Not to fear, DIFORTI’s ‘Brexit Box’ is here. With the future of food imports under serious question, the Italian delicatessen has packaged up a box of tasty essentials in case continental products become harder to find.  

After all, DIFORTI warns that the price of olives has hit a seven-year high, and an impending cheese shortage looms. The gouda news just keeps on coming! (sorry)  

Ingenious marketing method or a distasteful deal? We honestly can’t decide. One thing’s for sure – we're hungry. Someone pass the bread and olives? 


A cheap shot?

In the latest ad promoting its back to basics coffee approach, McDonald’s mugs off pretentious coffee drinkers in a series of hilarious scenarios. 

Expect hipster coffee scientists, pretentious coffee connoisseurs and an interpretative dance. Yep, prepare for a roasting.   

While some may call it a cheap shot, they’ve hit the habits right on their head and successfully snubbed the coffee snobs in the 60 second ad.  

The power to turn insight into action

“Social media listening  is an endless source of real time customer insight. You can listen and track data from digital conversations to find new opportunities, create actionable insights and share targeted, relevant content to influence your audience.

I’m going to start this blog with a question. We have all dreamt of having a superpower bestowed upon them. Or is that just me? But if you could have any superpower, what would it be?  

I understand that not all superpowers are created equal. But, consider this. 

What if you could listen to millions of conversations your customers are having, at the touch of a button? What if you could accurately predict the type of content and offers that will influence their decision to buy or stay loyal to your brand? 

Well that day could be closer than you think. Say hello to Delve Insights - our intelligent social listening insight tool.  

In a first for foodservice. Delve Insights gives you the competitive edge. We’ve developed this clever tool to help you understand what your audience has to say about you, your competitors, and your market in general.  

Use Delve Insights to create bespoke research for you and your clients and receive unique insights to gain market advantage. Collect and act upon the data that’s most important to you.  

When you can make informed decisions with real insights, why would you leave it up to guesswork?  

To give you an idea of the power of Delve Insights, we tapped into the online conversations taking place around Brexit and food.  


Listening is powerful. Insight is priceless.  

Get in touch with our expert team to learn how we can help you gain a competitive edge.    To understand more on what’s being said about you and your competitors, get in touch with our specialist team.

Greggs’ vegan sausage roll most talked about during Veganuary

With 50,305 mentions, it was a widely debated topic with the majority (75%) of consumers conscious of health benefits”

In light of booming success in the vegan market (such as Greggs’ recent £1bn milestone thanks to its vegan sausage roll), our research has tapped into ‘Veganuary’ – a month-long veganism challenge during January which saw a record 250,000 sign ups this year.(1)   

Using our social listening tool, Delve Insights, our team kept track of what people were saying online about the much-anticipated month. After weeks of indulgence over the Christmas period, Veganuary was a welcome change for many, who considered it as a personal challenge for 2019.  

McDonald’s and M&S were quick off the mark to announce new vegan-friendly products in January, with vegan Happy Meals and the Plant Kitchen ranges appearing on shelves across the country. But it was Greggs that won the battle of the brands for NPDs with its vegan friendly sausage roll, owning 67% of product mentions.  

When it came to brand share of voice, plant-based meat alternatives Oumph and Quorn were the top two most talked about brands over Veganuary, proving the nation’s willingness to adopt plant-based proteins in place of meat. This was also true for individual ingredients, with tofu (44%) and jackfruit (34%) popular choices.  

So, why did people take part? With 50,305 mentions, it was a widely debated topic with the majority (75%) of consumers conscious of health benefits and 16% talking about environmental impact. What’s more, the social listening tool saw a spike in Veganuary conversations around on Monday afternoons and Saturday mornings – times of the week where health is more likely to be front of mind.  

Overall, Veganuary was generally well-received online, with more than two-thirds (64%) considering the month-long lifestyle challenge a positive change. Cities known for their cosmopolitan culture - London, Manchester, Brighton and Bristol - were most vocal and positive on Twitter.   

To understand more on what’s being said about you and your competitors, get in touch with our specialist team.

See below for an infographic of our findings:   


All in Good Taste #3: Face palm Feb

Welcome to your latest All in Good Taste, the monthly round up of PR gold stars and faux pas.  

Last month, PR was briefly redefined as ‘Piers’s Reactions’, but this month has been about ‘Leeds generation’ as Pizza Hut just about clings on to a bandwagon by serving up ‘Spygate’ Championship banter by the slice.  

Elsewhere, Iceland’s palm oil palaver raises eyebrows over its planet friendly pledge, and M&S’s Valentine’s Day ‘Love Sausage’ leaves a sniggering nation seriously considering vegetarianism. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom in the ad world. In their latest effort to tackle childhood obesity, ITV and Veg Power’s latest ad humorously villainises veg so kids ‘defeat’ their five a day


Banter by the slice

Joining the ‘Spygate’ debate about Leeds United’s snoop on Derby City’s training session, Pizza Hut took to Twitter to serve up Championship banter by the slice. It could have gone really badly but it managed to salvage it with some quick wit and half decent comebacks.

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Face palm moments

Since promising to remove palm oil from all own-brand products by the end of 2018, Iceland was found to still be selling products containing the stuff. Apparently just a technical hitch, they clearly have their work cut out, with the news hitting just weeks after the company’s infamous orangutan Christmas ad was banned.

“Many own-brand products on Iceland’s website appear with a “no palm oil” logo, while others – many of which do not mention palm oil in the ingredients – do not have the logo attached, leading to scepticism among some consumers, while others praised the brand for making an effort.”

- Independent


Wurst dates

Can you think of anything more romantic than ‘saying it with a sausage’? Well, apparently M&S can’t. In an offputting attempt to jump on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon, the retail giant’s ‘Love Sausage’ caused an innuendo fuelled Twitter storm of the wurst kind.

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Villainous veg

What to do when your kids won’t eat their five a day? Make veggies evil, of course. Veg Power and ITV have taken an unconventional approach in their latest ‘Eat Them to Defeat Them’ campaign ad, where sinister sprouts and creepy cauliflower descend upon an army of fearless kids.
All in Good TasteRosie Carr
Download our latest insight report

“The key is to understand and contextualise your data, using it to make informed decisions.”

Big data, data science or data mining. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear, data has become an increasingly valuable asset for hospitality businesses to capitalise on. And in creative ways too.  

BUT the key is to understand and contextualise your data, using it to make informed decisions.    

To move the conversation on and create this insight, we teamed up with data analytics provider Zizo to host a hospitality industry roundtable, ‘Big Data: The Gamechanger’ at The Foodservice Show 2019.

Matt Napleton, sales and marketing director, Zizo on the event: “It’s clear that despite some initial reticence about data and its value to the hospitality business, the volume and variety of data created by the industry means there is clear value to be had.

 “The roundtable brought together a wide spectrum of organisations from the industry, with data creators engaging with data consumers to understand how we can pull data together to create new opportunities. As we have seen in other sectors (such as retail, logistics and  finance in particular) the ability to pull together diverse data sets into something that delivers value will be key for future growth, of both wallet share and consumer voice. Even if you feel you are not ready to use data yet – you would be best to start thinking about new ways to use it – before somebody else does!”

Industry experts within the hotel, drinks, foodservice, purchasing, food waste and software development sectors joined us to debate some of the challenges associated with retrieving, understanding and acting upon data. 

Anita Murray, William Murray CEO, said: “Over the last few years, data science or ‘big data’, has become widely valued and utilised in the technology, finance and retail industries. However, in the hospitality sector, I think we’ve only scratched the surface in knowing exactly what gathering and understanding our data can do for our businesses. By gaining valuable insight, hospitality businesses of any size are better equipped to make informed decisions, using data to improve efficiency, build customer loyalty, predict behaviours and increase profits.”

Drawing upon these discussions, this report considers the most valuable types of data and whether the hospitality industry is ready to evolve with it. 

 Click here to download our latest insight report


Changes to the hospitality industry – past, present and future

"it seems that Brexit isn’t necessarily the issue as most companies have a plan in place for either direction. The problem is the state of limbo we are currently in, which causes uncertainty."

I recently attended The Foodservice Show at the NEC in Birmingham and we already have an early contender for show of the year. It had the bustling nature you would want at any show, matched with the glorious smells being produced by demonstrations across the floor.

Between tasting sample after sample, I had the pleasure of listening to an interview with Jan Matthews who spoke about her career, her time at with Olympic Committee and the hospitality industry as a whole.   

Challenges facing the industry

It’s widely accepted that the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry right now is Brexit, in terms of the challenges facing labour and food shortages. However, it seems that Brexit isn’t necessarily the problem as most companies have plans in place for either direction. The issue is the state of limbo the country is in because of it. Will it? Won’t it? With the current state of affairs it’s particularly hard for the industry to prepare effectively.

Matthews mentioned that the skill gap is widening with the industry not looking as “sexy” as it did in the past. Sure, many young people fall into hospitality who thrive and pursue a career from it, but not many actively choose it. Matthews went on to say that celebrity chefs have improved the perception of working in the kitchen by making it look appealing, but front of house is suffering. The way to improve this is to offer genuine career paths to incentivise and improve learning, an example Matthews used was that after ten shifts the employee could be given more responsibility. 

Legislation is another challenge faced by the hospitality industry. Allergens came out of nowhere following the Pret backlash Pret, with most businesses quickly having to adapt and re-evaluate their allergen policies. This caused a full on industry change and led to a change of strategy for most venues.

The Future of Hospitality

And there is no doubt that recycling is going to become more and more important as we try to achieve a carbon neutral footprint. Matthews mentioned that during her time on the Olympic committee she was responsible for the catering and waste management at the London 2012 Olympic Games. They had a zero to landfill policy, which taught her that in order to achieve an efficient waste management system, you need to have a perfect streaming service otherwise it ends up in landfill. Matthews also stated that another hurdle is that charities do not have the infrastructure to collect spare food. So, whilst they would want the waste food to go to charities, they needed to make sure they had covered the logistical side.

Talking to exhibitors and listening to speakers at the show there is level of optimism, no matter what happens on the 29 March. The future looks bright for hospitality.


Charlie Von Wedl
Q&A: Anita Murray on sailing, singing and Springboard’s best charity panto yet
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"Performing definitely draws people closer together, as we’re working towards the same goal."

Later this month, our CEO Anita Murray is swapping her laptop for a panto script in the hospitality industry pantomime, Dick Whittington. Oh yes she is!  

On 29 January – 1 February, Anita will join familiar faces from the likes of The Ritz, The Caterer, Marriott, Handpicked Hotels and Searcy’s in the all-singing all-dancing West End extravaganza, raising funds for hospitality industry charity Springboard.  

We catch up with Anita on how rehearsals are going, taking to the seas with Springboard, and why Dick Whittington will be the charity’s best show yet.  

Tell us a little about your involvement with Springboard.

Springboard has been one of the main hospitality industry charities I’ve connected with since I joined William Murray ten years ago. 

I’ve been involved in a number of initiatives and activities, as I really believe in what Springboard is doing, giving disadvantaged youngsters a leg up in what is a fantastic industry. After all, the industry needs new waves of people coming in to make it even better.  

I’m involved in Springboard’s fundraising committee, which looks at all the ways to raise funds through different events and activities. I’ve also been lucky to take part in sailing regattas with the charity. It’s a magical experience of racing with a team, and the camaraderie you get dealing with rope burns when winging your way across the water! Last year the Springboard boat came second, which we were pretty chuffed with! This experience and the panto have been real personal highlights for me - truly creative and inclusive ways of bringing the industry together to fundraise.  

Springboard has always been incredibly inclusive, promoting team work and collaboration that ultimately break down barriers. One minute you're being introduced to someone from The Ritz and the next minute you’re hugging them because you’ve been involved in a great panto performance, or you’re commiserating with them while struggling with them on a boat. All of this makes for developing better relationships in the industry.

What part are you playing in Dick Whittington? 

I'm one of four singers. We're performing some great numbers and I get to fulfil my lifetime ambition of being in Abba! The question I the blonde or the redhead? 

How are rehearsals going? 

As we’re now at the stage to rehearse the whole performance together, it's amazing to see how all individual rehearsals and scenes are meshing together to form one show.  

Rehearsing the opening number has been particularly uplifting. Having a cast of 50 people dancing together means we all leave rehearsals on a high with massive grins on our faces! Without a doubt it will be the best Springboard panto yet. There’s funny parts, amazing songs and witty dialogue that’s very hospitality focused of course! 

Have you formed new friendships with your panto castmates? 

I’m getting very close to my Abba comrades ‘Benny’, ‘Bjorn’ and ‘Agnetha’ - we're having an amazing laugh together. Performing definitely draws people closer together, as we’re working towards the same goal.  

Why do you think the panto will be a hit this year? 

We've harnessed momentum from the first and second years and come into the third show so energised. Everything’s bigger and better – the performances are more professional than before, and the dancing numbers are more ambitious. From the get-go, everyone’s been so focused on making it special for the audience.  

What would you say to anyone who hasn’t bought their ticket yet? 

What other chance will you get to see your industry peers perform in the West End?! And it’s all for a fantastic cause. Buy a ticket – you'll be doing good and feeling good!   

Break a leg Anita!  

A limited number of seats are still available, click here to secure yours now.

Rosie Carr
Bisto gives competitors a roasting as UK’s most talked about gravy

Bisto was the consumers’ go-to gravy brand for the festive period, with 66.5% share of voice, followed by Oxo (24.3%), Maggi (7.5%), Knorr (1.2%) and Kallo (0.6%). 


Using social data from the 2018 Christmas period, we kept track of what people said about gravy and the foods they associate with it and the go-to gravy brands for that perfect roast or winter warmer. After all, what would Christmas be without gravy?

Managing director Dave Greenwood said: “We have developed a new social listening tool, Delve. This means we can keep our ears close to the ground on what consumers are talking about online, as there’s a great deal we and our clients can learn from these conversations and attitudes.

“During Christmas 2018, over 2,000 unique UK authors spoke about gravy. It’s clear the traditional, iconic Christmas dinner is still just as important to consumers, and it has been interesting to understand their preferences for the biggest meal of the year.”

When it came to perfect flavour combinations, UK consumers had their eyes on the festive prize – turkey. It was by far the most popular meat mentioned alongside gravy, (68.6%), followed by beef (14.6%), chicken (11.8%), lamb (3.3%) and duck (1.6%). 

Further proving the nation’s obsession with the traditional Christmas Day roast, the most popular keywords used alongside gravy were ‘Christmas’, ‘dinner’, ‘roast’, ‘xmas’, ‘turkey’, ‘stuffing’ and ‘potatoes’. Consumers also enjoyed posting about their Christmas dinners, with the biggest spike in traffic on 25 December between 4-6pm.


In true 2018 fashion, the topic of veganism was front of mind for many. In posts discussing special dietary requirements, 56.4% mentioned veganism, followed by vegetarianism (29.9%) and gluten free (13.7%). 

Through Delve we can understand social trends and influence at play and use this unique insight to map out a client’s marketing strategy based on real time information. 

Want to know more about how Delve can give you unique insights into your brand, competitors or customers? Or how we can help you understand more about a category and what’s really being said about it? Then pull up a chair.

Big Data: The Gamechanger
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“If you’re able to understand and act upon business data, your decisions are smarter, operations more profitable and customer experience is more personalised.”

With less than week to go until BigData: The Gamechanger roundtable at The Foodservice Show on Tuesday 22 January, we thought we’d share just some of the questions we’ll address during the session.

  • What does big data actually mean?

  • How can big data help businesses evolve and become more efficient?

  • And how can we use it to personalise the customer experience? 

Matt Napleton from Zizo software, who works with Marks & Spencer, the BBC and Experian is co-hosting the event with us to share his expertise and insight. 

All attendees will be offered a review of how to leverage the commercial benefits from their data and a competitor social media audit. 

This exclusive roundtable is a fantastic opportunity to connect with CEOs, buyers, chefs, and food, drink & hospitality business leaders. We’ll also be publishing a report, which will be shared with everyone who attends. 

 We’re excited to have representatives from:


Keep an eye here on our blog. Shortly after the event we’ll be releasing an exclusive report shining a light on the key talking points of the day. But, for now, visit the Eventbrite page to secure your place.

You can find us in the Concourse Suite 23, Hall 9 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on 22 January between 13.30 and 14.30.

All in good taste #2: Tears for Piers

Welcome to your latest All in Good Taste, the monthly round up of PR gold stars and faux pas. Gregg’s refused to rollover this month, briefly subbing out baking for roasting with a series of witty twitter retorts around the launch of its vegan sausage roll.

Elsewhere, Doritos’ development of a female-friendly chip unsurprisingly landed on the shoulder of feminists nationwide, and Cadbury’s adopted a golden (plated) egg style competition with a poor prize pot. Here’s this month’s mostly-meaty marketing moments and mishaps:


Tears for Piers

Demonstrating ROI in modern PR is a doddle if you can coax a public reaction from UK media marmite Piers Morgan, generating huge amounts of opportunities to see and audience engagement. So, when Gregg’s launched its vegan sausage roll (had you heard?), all-out war broke out between the two most vocal groups on Twitter, behind One Direction’s legion of pre-teens; vegans, and the Morganite daytime talk show enthusiasts.

Fortunately, Greggs came prepared. Instead of misused memes, and empty pre-approved apologies, the Greggs’ team rightly embraced a bit of personality, and flew out with the witty retorts, building more authentic engagement than any ad-campaign would have. You go Greggs’, you’re on a roll.

And at the centre of this sausage-ish roll are our good friends and long standing client Quorn – so we couldn’t not take the chance to mention some of the great work we’ve delivered for them over the years.

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Chip off the old block

From BIC to Brewdog, you’d think the lesson in sexist marketing, tongue-in-cheek or not, would have been well learned by now. Doritos, it’s nacho place to tell the world how ladies like to crunch their crisps, even less so to make a misjudged marketing gimmick of it. But, as is the way of the free market – if it’s not your bag, you don’t buy it. And while they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity – we’re not expecting to see #boycottdoritos appearing on packets any time soon. 


Golden ticket, or bad egg?

Before an ill-fated recipe change, Cadbury’s had the crème-of-the-crop in the filled chocolate egg space. But without despairing at the £6m in lost revenue – they’ve come up with a cunning, ingenious marketing move to get back in the good books – an egg hunt. Hidden among the millions of eggs on the market, lie a handful of white chocolate eggs worth £50-£10,000 in prizes to the lucky few finders.

ButThe Handbook’s Phil Clarke has done the maths, and he wasn’t eggsactly eggstatic (sorry); the verdict is that the Willy Wonka impression is lacking enough Willy Wonga to have any impact, after all if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. In summary, if you’re burying fabled white eggs, maybe dig a little deeper

2018 food trends: what really happened

"Confused as we were? The ‘Cronut’ combination achieved global fame, but ‘Crossushi’ is another matter entirely. You’ve guessed it. Fish meets pastry."


When each new year begins, our screens and inboxes are filled with crystal ball predictions on the hottest new trends in food and drink.  

The cronut? (croissant/doughnut hybrid). That happened. Sugar loaded Freakshakes? We were bouncing off the walls. Mushroom lattes? We’re not so sure... 

They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so with this in mind we’ve dug out six foodie trends that were predicted to cook up a storm in 2018. Did they stick, or die out as fast as you can say “Dry January”? 

Culinary crowd pleasers…


Many 2018 predictions surrounded our increased awareness about the foods we’re eating, where they come from and ethical and environmental concerns.  

Research group Mintel predicted food traceability to be a hot topic and concern for consumers, regardless of their social background or income.  Whether this is due to a growing mindset of ethical responsibility, or recent scandals such as the horsemeat fiasco, knowing where our food (in particular, our meat) comes from has become increasingly front of mind. In a 2018 poll of 2,000 Brits conducted by The Grocer and Harris Interactive, 65% of meat shoppers say traceability is important to them.  

The power of plants  

In an Eater London survey with some of the UK’s most influential voices in food, plant-based dining was a hot topic for 2018. Suze Olbrich (freelance food writer and Eater London contributor) and Laurel Ives (former food editor of The Sunday Times’ The Dish) predicted a continued surge in plant based products and menus in 2018.  

According to Mordor Intelligence, the global plant protein market is currently worth £4.6bn, and expected to deliver annual growth of 7% between 2018 and 2023.  

This surge in plant-based products has definitely been the case for Waitrose. Take milk alternatives.  25% of the supermarket’s milk range is made up of non-dairy options. According to the Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018/19, sales of almond milk were up by 26%, coconut milk by 60% and oat milk by a whopping 116%. Find out more about the boom of plant based dairy alternatives in this article.  

With the plant based food trend recently becoming mainstream, it’s even being advised as a savvy business concept for 2019. 

‘Dirty vegan food’ 

Vegan food was definitely not new in 2018, but it continued to transform and be celebrated in many different ways. In Eater London’s survey (above), food writer Victoria Stewart predicted a surge of ‘dirty vegan food’ in 2018. She wasn’t wrong.  

Talking of London’s obsession with vegan food, Laurel Ives wrote for Eater London “Meanwhile, the other major new strand of veganism is a thriving, so-called “dirty” food scene which is shattering an old-fashioned and once arcane image, as well as repudiating the assertion that vegan food, by necessity, has to be “healthy.” There are now fast food offerings like kebabs, fried “chicken,” and doughnuts, which appear designed to appeal to a wider — and younger — generation.” 

Last year, the Great British Bake Off even taught us that vegan doesn’t mean boring or necessarily healthy, with challenges featuring vegan pastry and pavlova.  

What’s more, the popular American comfort food chain, Dirty Bones, known for its ribs and burgers, thrived with a ‘Dirty Vegan’ menu. ‘Dirty Vegan’ pop ups in Shoreditch, London, proved incredibly popular, serving vegan mac and cheese, waffles and even ‘hot wings’, with sessions selling out within an hour in March 2018. 

foodie flops... 

Funghi fad

In late 2017, Whole Foods made a number of predictions on the food products lining our shelves. Among the strangest was a fascination with all things funghi. Don’t get me wrong, mushroom soup on a cold winter’s day? Champion. Mushroom SOAP? Not so much. The health focussed brand also hedged their bets on bottled drinks, coffees, chocolate and smoothies with mushroom inclusions. It looks like this one hasn’t hit mainstream in the UK, with (thankfully) no mushroom flavoured high street coffees or Dairy Milk in sight.   

Breakfast pizzas 

As much as we wished for it, predictions for the Italian masterpiece to feature on the breakfast menu flopped like a soggy slice of pepperoni. Eurostar predicted we’d be eating small, nutritious ‘grab and go’ pizza portions for breakfast, a concept popular in Italy’s Roma region for fuelling energy for the day ahead. We’re sad to report no sighting as yet. Maybe this year? 


Confused as we were? The ‘Cronut’ combination achieved global fame, but ‘Crossushi’ is another matter entirely. You’ve guessed it. Fish meets pastry.  

Perhaps it’s a Marmite thing, you’ll either love it or hate it? Either way, we’re in no real rush to find out. 

Despite being put up for debate by the likes of the Evening Standard and Mashable as 2018’s biggest food trend, the ‘Crossushi’ combo of the croissant and sushi doesn’t appear to have made its way to the UK yet. We can’t speak for everyone though - with restaurants in LA, San Francisco and Seoul, serving up the fish/pastry combo.

Rosie Carr
All in good taste #1: Fowl Language

While the timing of any ill-fated PR stunt-turned-disaster can be way off, ours is spot on. Enter All in Good Taste, our new monthly round up of PR gold stars and faux pas, which is landing just in time for a retrospective round-up of the year’s best and worst foodie FCK ups and how they were handled. Is all publicity good publicity? It would make our job a lot easier, but we’ll leave it to you to decide.


KFC pulling legs 

With a disasterclass in crisis recovery, an ill-advised change in supply chain left the colonel’s crew short of chicken, and having to shut stores. Keeping abreast of the public’s reaction, they published a series of ads in The Sun & The Metro under a clever FCK motif, apologising for the lack of chicken.

The puns came thicker and faster than the chain’s gravy side – ‘The chicken crossed the road, just not too our restaurants’ – but are the chicken quips enough to placate a nation of hungry customers, or is this one to chuck in the family sized FCK-it bucket.


Brewing up a storm

‘Craft’ beer brewing bastion, Brewdog, made the headlines most months this year. But the standout was a stab at a stand over the gender paygap; with an overtly sexist rebrand of their Punk IPA – Pink IPA – which would be cheaper for female identifying drinkers. Cynical headline-grab making light (beer) of a serious issue, or heartfelt attempt at effecting change? 


Don’t be an idiom

PETA, the group that divides opinion with its radicalisation of anti-animal cruelty messages, in an attempt to stop people ‘trivialising animal cruelty’ with every day sayings, managed to trivialise the struggle of victims of homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and for that matter – most other ism’s. While we’re sure carnivores and vegans alike are about to stand side-by-side in dropping ‘bringing home the bacon’ for ‘bringing home the bagels’, I’m not sure they’ll be making 2019’s Oxford Dictionary.


If all else fails, quit

Not all comments will sit well, Will Sitwell, and while the inbox of any journalist would be enough to drive most of us to murder – we’d proceed with caution when verbalising it, or in this case emailing. The social-media bandwagon takes no prisoners, and in no time at all Will’s reply to a PR pitch suggesting ‘a series on killing vegans, one by one’ went viral, the only actual casualty being a career.


Frozen festive feels

Finally, a festive feel-good as Iceland managed to make a monkey out of mainstream media. When the ode to the palm oil was found to be too political to broadcast, the budget supermarket managed to save a few quid on ad-slots by posting the full advert, and reason for not broadcasting, on its own channels. Queue the viral uproar, and more impact then the TV spots could ever have made.

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