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“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


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
One Week to go .jpg

“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.

The brands championing sustainability

"Shops, retailers and cafe chains are rolling out a host of eco-friendly packaging, using weird and wonderful alternatives to plastic."

With Christmas on the way, indulging by eating out more and stocking up with all the festive favourites at home becomes the norm throughout December in the lead up to the big day.  

We’ll no doubt be making our way through tubs of Celebrations, slurping festive hot drink concoctions and testing out this year’s Christmas menus.  

But let’s think about this for a second. UK shoppers are set to spend £21.6bn on groceries this Christmas, and no doubt indulging at restaurants and bars too. That’s a lot of plastic. 

The good news is that both consumers and the hospitality industry have woken up to the reality of careless consumerism, becoming more cautious and smarter about what they are using. In its recent report, Waitrose has revealed that 88% of people have changed how they use plastics since watching the eye-opening final episode of Blue Planet II. While our efforts to reduce consumption of materials have picked up, we could be doing more to achieve a sustainable planet for 2019 and beyond. 

Shops, retailers and cafe chains are rolling out a host of eco-friendly packaging, using weird and wonderful alternatives to plastic. So if you agree that small changes create a big impact, why not get behind these eco initiatives popping up across the UK?  

Here are just a few brands and innovations joining the fight for a greener planet.  

Walkers launches crisp packet recycling scheme 

Partnering with recycling company TerraCycle, Walkers has launched the UK’s first crisp packet recycling scheme to address the public’s environmental concerns of plastic waste. The UK’s largest crisp brand is rolling this scheme out via established recycling points across the UK. There’s even a dedicated courier service free of charge for those who can’t get to recycling centres. There’s no excuse now! 

Find out more at  


Stocking more than 300 items in the pop-up shop in Hackney, Bulk Market is London’s first plastic free shop. Huge glass kilner style jars and dispensers allow customers to measure out products such as whole grains, nuts, herbs and spices, pasta, fruit and veg and bakery. Therefore, the need for plastic is eliminated.  

Pret’s plastic pledge 

To reduce the amount of cups used, Pret gives a 50p discount for customers who bring their own reusable cup.  

The café chain also partnered with start-up Chilly’s to create branded reusable bottles suitable for both hot and cold drinks. Once purchased, they can be filled up with free water at many Pret locations across the UK.  

Earlier this year, it also promised to launch a new line of cutlery in 2019 that can be composted once used, in a move to limit plastic waste.  

View Pret’s global plastic pledge here:  

costa’s contactless cups

Pret isn’t the only one championing the reusable cup. With contactless payments immensely popular, Costa has tapped into the trend with its ‘Clever Cup’ which allows you to make payments at both the coffee chain and other retailers. What’s more, a 25p drinks discount is given to anyone with the cup, saving single use cups and encouraging customers to be more sustainable.

Carlsberg ditch the plastic ring 

Danish beer brand Carlsberg is phasing in a new ‘snap pack’, which it says will reduce the amount of plastic used in plastic ring multi-packs by 76%. Despite being used widely in manufacturing across the industry for 50 years, Carlsberg is moving towards recyclable glue to package up multiple cans. If you’ve seen the impact of traditional plastic rings on marine life, you’ll know this will make a huge difference to reducing ocean pollution and marine life welfare.   

Vegware plant based packaging 

Vegware is developing entire ranges of compostable packaging made from plants, offering anything from cups, to salad boxes, sushi trays, bin liners and cutlery. Its products have proved particularly useful for contract caterers and foodservice companies for a range of different foods, and to considerably reduce plastic waste.  

Elior uses Vegware across its business, in stadiums, universities, hospitals, care facilities and more.

 “We use Vegware packaging because it has been produced using lower carbon plant based material and it also has the ability to be composted commercially. Our customers are really behind us using sustainable packaging due to increased awareness of environmental issues, and they also like the design of our sustainable packaging, which is a bonus! As a result of using Vegware we’ve been able to save 39 tonnes of virgin materials and 135 tonnes of carbon – that’s equal to 156 flights from London to New York. As a large business working across many sectors it’s really important for us to be using sustainable products in all of our sites.”

Charlotte Wright, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Elior UK

Further information can be found at  

Seaweed sachets from Just Eat 

In March this year, JustEat announced new measures to reduce the impact of takeaways on UK plastic waste levels. Partnering with sustainable packaging start-up Skipping Rocks Lab, it introduced a trial of compostable sauce sachets made from seaweed. The company works with 29,000 partners in the UK, and is currently assessing the feasibility of offering the sustainable sachets more broadly across the JustEat network.   

It’s safe to say that companies within the foodservice and hospitality industry in particular are recognising their role in combatting plastic waste, reducing their footprint and satisfying environmentally minded customers. We’ll be staying tuned to more weird and wonderful creations to come.

Pubco tax equality day: what does it mean for the industry?

"At the moment, food and drink in pubs is subject to 20% VAT, whereas no VAT is charged for food sold in supermarkets. "

With a day of protest planned on Thursday 13 September by Britain’s boozers (or maybe just JD Wetherspoon), we thought we’d step away from the full English and take a look at what the Pubco Tax Equality Day means for the industry.

For those not familiar with the campaign, the day is aimed at highlighting the benefit of a VAT reduction in the hospitality industry and is being backed by UK Hospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

At the moment, food and drink in pubs is subject to 20% VAT, whereas no VAT is charged for food sold in supermarkets. This means supermarkets can use the saving to sell alcohol at a discounted rate, which in theory means less people go to the pub for a bite washed down with their favourite tipple.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Wetherspoon, who must be rubbing its hands in excitement, largely drives the day. On the same day last year, it’s 900+ pubs saw like-for-like volume sales increase by 17%. No wonder Tim Martin is a fan.

And not wanting to sound cynical but Tim commented on Thursday by saying: “We’re aiming to make it the busiest day of the entire year in our pubs and would urge other pub and restaurant operators to participate too.”

The larger than life character initially backed the Jacques Borel campaign to cut VAT but pulled out in 2015, only to set up a new organisation two years later to continue driving the campaign. There was no Tax Equality Day in 2016.

Industry urged to take action

It’s reported that that the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and UK Hospitality are urging other venue owners to join in. But looking at the BBPA website, we couldn’t find a list of any other pubs taking action.

The website claims: “The BBPA will continue to lead the campaign for lower tax on beer. The Government has plans to increase beer duty again this year and we will be campaigning hard to stop this from happening. We hope you will join the campaign to #cutbeertax”.

MPs call on government to reduce tax burden

It’s got the interest of our MPs. According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), more than 100 MPs have backed an Early Day Motion that calls on the UK government to ‘reduce the tax burden’ on pubs.

The campaign is also being backed by Nigel Evans MP for Ribble Valley and President of the Parliamentary Beer Group, he said: “The hospitality campaign to recognise tax equality is a welcome and much anticipated event which now resonates with our national consciousness.

“This year’s Tax Equality Day has a special significance as it could be the final year before it achieves its goal as a result of the tax cutting freedoms which Brexit will endow the government with.” An interesting point Nigel, but very unrealistic.

But for an industry that generates £3.5 billion in beer duty alone, will the government really sit up and take note?

There was some joy last year, when Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his Autumn Statement that duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits wouldn’t rise in keeping with inflation.

It’ll take a BIG change to taxation

However, and I might be wrong, but the last time we saw a change of this scale to tax was in 2001. Then Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that the current law, in which the government collected a betting duty of 6.75% from bookmakers and passed it on to betting shop punters as a 9% tax, was being scrapped.

This was after years of campaigning by the bookies and in response to stem the loss of betting turnover to online operators, which already offered tax-free betting. As part of the deal bookmakers agreed to a tax on their gross profits at a rate of 15%.

So, what does it all mean?

But, back to the bar. For punters, they’ll save 75p for every £10 they pay up or stick on a tab. For the industry, the BBPA say it would create at least 78,000 new jobs and provide a big boost to the economy.

Tim Martin said: “A reduction in the level of VAT on a long-term basis will create a level playing field and generate jobs in an important and vital industry.”

But what’s not clear from all the hype is how the money will be reinvested into the industry.

The revenue gets less money, punters spend increases, but how much will be invested back into the industry to create the jobs and skills training that Tim is claiming? And how much will go into the coffers of pub groups like JD Wetherspoon?

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against JD Wetherspoon, and like the rest of the country I’ll be there on Thursday making my protest. In fact, I’m already looking forward to staggering home with more cash left in my pocket.